We’ve all heard the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword,” though sometimes, like after last Friday’s unspeakable act of terrorism, it’s hard to believe that could be true. It’s fascinating, therefore, that mixed into the analysis of past, present and future foreign policy, immigration laws, and our overarching fear of what’s next, is a conversation about the importance of language.

The word “Daesh” is essentially a slur on ISIS. It’s meaningfully insulting, which is why we should use it every time we reference the group that killed 130 (and counting) people in Paris. To a member of that group, being called Daesh, according to writer Zeba Khan, can mean ‘to trample down and crush’ or ‘a bigot who imposes his view on others.’ As Kahn said on KQED today, “The US should be leaning into the narrative and the worldview of the people that we’re supporting, and not the narrative of the terrorists.”

We will fight back with guns, missiles, bombs and every other weapon you can think of. We can also fight back with our words.

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