Here’s what you call a terrorist

I was talking to Rep. Mac Thornberry the other day about the decision to try Khalid Sheik Muhammad in New York City on charges that he masterminded the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

The Clarendon Republican lawmaker then threw me a bit of a curve. He referred to Muhammad as “KSM.”

Since that conversation, I’ve heard other officials and even a few commentators use the term.

I don’t get the initials being used to refer to this guy. Customarily, we Americans refer to folks in such a manner who have a considerably higher standing than a man who reportedly has confessed to killing thousands of innocent people. You know who I’m talking about: JFK, LBJ, FDR, TR, RFK. These are presidents or, in RFK’s case, someone who was running for the office. They’re generally iconic political figures. We often use nicknames — some flattering, some not — such as Honest Abe, Tricky Dick, Condi, Ronnie, Dubya, Goodhair, Ike, or Give ‘Em Hell Harry while referring to our leaders.

But I truly prefer to save the initials and informal monickers either for American leaders or public figures, or those for whom we have something other than utter loathing and contempt.

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