Throughout most of the last political year, the GOP continually made the effort to chastise former President Barack Obama for not addressing the terror problem in the Middle East and around the world. They claimed that by not calling it “Radical Islamic Terrorism” we cannot begin to confront this problem.

This turned into a concern for the people as well, both Democrat and Republican alike. People were legitimately confused about the president’s terminology and political correctness.

When I first heard of the issue, I dismissed it as one of the many trivial attacks by an opposition party to a president; however, as I pondered it more and more, I too was confused by the president’s language.

We all agree the problem is terrorism, and with much of recent attacks being made by ISIS affiliates – which are a form of radicalized Islam – how is it wrong to call it Radical Islamic Terrorism?

The answer is not that such terminology is wrong, but that it promotes a message that is harmful to our image in the Middle East.

In the United States, we have a tendency to be quite myopic. We never seem to consider the rest of the world and the the image we project. The phrase “Radical Islamic Terrorism” is the epitome of myopic.

For us, it might not seem that big of a deal; but for others, it means everything. When extremists across the globe hear these words continually uttered by the leaders of our country, they are more likely to participate in radicalized behavior and convert others to do the same. To them, our constant condemning of “Radical Islamic Terrorism” suggests that we are declaring war on Islam itself. They view this as proof that the West and Christianity for that matter are against Islam.

I am definitely not affirming that this perception is true in any way, but perception is reality. If extremists think that we are anti-Muslim and that we are a Christian-sponsored nation, then it really does not matter if we disagree with them because ultimately we may be the ones who pay the price for something so petty.

The war on terrorism is a tricky conflict. Instead of going to war with a specific nation or government, we are going to war with an idea. This idea is frankly that the West is evil and at war with Islam, and a drone strike here and there won’t stop people from thinking that.

However, if the leadership of the United States can project a better image of Western benevolence and end anti-Muslim rhetoric, we might have a better chance at ending the conflict. Combat operations do serve an important role, but sometimes our words may be more important.

So, in conclusion, if you were ever confused why some refuse to use the term “Radical Islamic Terrorism,” it is simply because it makes those who want to do us harm more likely to do us harm, and it perpetuates the idea that Christianity and the West are at war with Islam.

This political game of semantics will not help us in the long run. I’ve always heard that the pen is mightier than the sword, so let’s give it a shot and rewrite the way we approach terrorism.

Jarrod Dickens (a pseudonym) is an area high school student and a columnist for The Highland County Press.