pageok
pageok
pageok
Islamofascism:

When I first came across the term "Islamofascism" years ago, in a column by Christopher Hitchens, I was repulsed. It struck me as the usual knee-jerk leftist (and yes, I think Hitchens remains a leftist, though an unusual one) response to any ideology one doesn't like--call it "fascist." Last I heard, college libertarians were still being called "fascists" by some of their peers on the left, despite the absence of any overlap between libertarianism and fascism--except, I guess, that both fascists and libertarians intensely dislike Communism, albeit for entirely different reasons.

In any event, it turns out I was wrong about the term "Islamofascism," as modern Islamist ideology does have roots in fascism, at least if one interprets fascism broadly enough to encompass Naziism, and not just Italian fascism. The Weekly Standard has one of several articles I've seen about the links between 1930s fascism and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Al Qaeda (and Hamas) sprang.

Speaking of which, I heard someone on NPR today, an American who served as Yasser Arafat's advisor, claim that Hamas is America's "natural ally" against Al Qaeda. Sure, perhaps in the same way that Mao was America's "natural ally" against the Soviet Union, or for that matter the USSR was America's "natural ally" against Nazi Germany, but such alliances with the devil should be entered into only in the most dire of circumstances, and it hardly strikes me that we're there yet.

UPDATE: The term "Islamofascism" may be appropriate, but is it wise to use as a political/propaganda strategy? I'm not taking a position on that, but I always thought the purpose of the term was to rally the reluctant left into the cause, by pointing out the similarities, and, indeed, the common ideological origins, of modern Islamic radicalism and the right-wing totalitarian movements of the 1930s that the left vigorously opposed. It appears that this has almost entirely failed. OTOH, those who argue that the term is "insensitive" to Islam, but seem to have no compunctions about blanket condemnation of domestic "fundamentalist Christians" or "the Christian right" don't seem to have a very strong leg to stand on, either.

Chris Bell (mail):
Your link just links to yourself.
9.11.2007 9:18pm
Mark H.:
"Islamofascism"

Early on, I was somewhat concerned about using it, as those that believe it too harsh (for whatever reason) would deflect the argument to the name used, rather than address the substance of the given debate.

Over the years I've come to believe that the term is the best overall description and that it matters not what term is used, as the same people that object to this term, would object to any term; because it suits that actual deflection purpose.
9.11.2007 9:20pm
Frog Leg (mail):
"I heard someone on NPR today, an American who served as Yasser Arafat's advisor, claim that Hamas is America's "natural ally" against Al Qaeda."

Actually, Iran is the "natural ally" against Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, Bush burned that bridge 6 years ago, and now we not only have to deal with Al Qaeda but also the moron he indirectly helped to put in power in Iran.
9.11.2007 9:26pm
Anderson (mail):
Nothing's good or bad, but thinking makes it so ....

I can see where a given strain of Islamic radicalism might merit the term "Islamofascism." But there are pitfalls.

(1) The inference from "Islamofascism" to the notion that historical lessons from the 1930s (say) are particularly applicable to today.

(2) The insulting implication that Islam = Islamofascism. Compare "Christofascism," where the term does not mean the totalitarian aesthetic of wrapping up big stuff in shiny plastic.

(3) The notable difference that fascists called themselves fascists, whereas Islamofascists have their own words for themselves. Our failure to know enough about them to call them what they call themselves, and our superimposition of a Western ideology, does not bode well for our understanding of the enemy.

That's three -- I'm sure you can think of others.
9.11.2007 9:27pm
O. Hutchins (mail):

Sure, perhaps in the same way that Mao was America's "natural ally" against the Soviet Union, or for that matter the USSR was America's "natural ally" against Nazi Germany, but such alliances with the devil should be entered into only in the most dire of circumstances, and it hardly strikes me that we're there yet.

You're absolutely right.
9.11.2007 9:28pm
O. Hutchins (mail):
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/
9.11.2007 9:29pm
Minipundit (mail) (www):
Regardless of whether or not some specific Islamist groups took inspiration from fascist groups (and Sayid Qutb, it could be argued, did), using the term is idiotic, as it offends the very people we need on our side.
9.11.2007 9:32pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Anderson, did either Franco or Hitler (and his minions) ever refer to themselves as "fascists?" I don't think so, but I'm open to contrary evidence.
9.11.2007 9:34pm
Groucho Marxism:
How many trollish arguments can fit into one post? My word.

Do you have any context for what "some of [college libertarians'] peers on the left" are saying in calling them fascist? Someone can easily detect a similarity between fascism and Ayn Rand, say, in glorifying power and strength over the weak and meek.

And was "Hamas is the U.S.' natural ally against Al Qaeda" said in a vacuum? What was the reasoning? There could be an alliance made, who knows, but why should such a thing be dismissed out of hand without knowing more about it?
9.11.2007 9:34pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Compare

It struck me as the usual knee-jerk leftist . . . response to any ideology one doesn't like--call it "fascist."

with

I think Hitchens remains a leftist

Project much?

Bernstein calls people he disagrees with "leftists" much like certain strains of leftists call everyone they disagree with "fascists."
9.11.2007 9:35pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Also, I think Bernstein would be very offended (as would I) to references to the far, far right in Israel as "Jewofascists."
9.11.2007 9:37pm
CDU (mail):

Actually, Iran is the "natural ally" against Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, Bush burned that bridge 6 years ago, and now we not only have to deal with Al Qaeda but also the moron he indirectly helped to put in power in Iran.


I think Iran burned that bridge in 1979.
9.11.2007 9:38pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Bernstein is a leftist? Seems so
9.11.2007 9:38pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Groucho, allegedly, unlike Al Qaeda, Hamas believes in "democracy". Actually, I'm not certain if the American said that part, or that was the editor of the Lebanon Star, also on the program. The latter also praised Hezbollah as "democratic" and thus a natural ally against Al Qaeda. The obvious potential conflict between Hamas and Al Qaeda is that Al Qaeda's goal is a global caliphate, and they'd be willing to sell out the Palestinians in a second to achieve that goal, whereas Hamas, though it has ties to international Islamism, is primarily a nationalist Palestinian Islamist movement.
9.11.2007 9:43pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
CT, are you saying "leftist" is a term of derision like fascists? I thought a lot of leftists are proud to call themselves lefists (as a Google search for "proud leftist" confirms).
9.11.2007 9:46pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
OTOH, those who argue that the term is "insensitive" to Islam, but seem to have no compunctions about blanket condemnation of domestic "fundamentalist Christians" or "the Christian right" don't seem to have a very strong leg to stand on, either.

The BS that spews from Berstein really is incredible. Many (probably most) of us who argue that Islamofascist is a stupid term (both inaccurate and offensive) believe that the correct term to use is "Islamic fundamentalists" which, like "Christian fundamentalists" distinguishes the mainstream from the "fundamentalists." It really is amazing sometimes that you are a law professor as you cannot distinguish between these things. Outrageous.
9.11.2007 9:47pm
tarheel:
I think this post can safely be summarized thusly:

When I thought Islamofascist was a term used by the left, I hated it. When I found out it was actually used by the right, I changed my mind suddenly realized how accurate it really is.

Can I assume that if the article above had been published in the Nation you would have been similarly swayed?
9.11.2007 9:48pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
I think Iran burned that bridge in 1979.

More idiocy. If you subscribe to realist philosophy (which most on the right used to do before the rise of the Stalinists neo-cons in the Republican party), you would know that states must adjust their alliances to deal with new threats, and little grudges should not get in the way of that. Have you ever heard of a country called Vietnam? If so, you would know that the current regime running the place is responsible for more American deaths than the current regime in Iran could ever dream of. Yet we have allied ourselves with them in many ways. Why the problem with Iran? Because Michael Ledeen tells you so. Also, riddle me this: if Iran "burned a bridge" with us in 1979, why did Reagan sell arms to them in 1986???? I am sure you will be unable to answer these questions.
9.11.2007 9:52pm
SenatorX (mail):
It seems to me that fascism and sharia law have a lot of common properties.

I don't have a problem with the word except maybe I would hyphenate it.
9.11.2007 9:53pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
th, I've been meaning to post about this for a while, and the WS piece gave me a chance to do so. The previous article I read, like the WS one, were written by scholars, not political writers. The author of the WS piece is a German scholar who has written a book on Islam and anti-Semitism, and I have no idea what his ideology is. For all I know, he'd be at least equally happy to publish in the Nation, though there's the question of whether the Nation would be willing to publish something like this. For that matter, I generally dislike the WS's underlying ideology ("National Greatness Conservatism"--yuck!)

And CT, check your premises. Elementary logic is that a reference to "Those who argue A &B" doesn't mean everyone who argues A also argues B.
9.11.2007 9:54pm
tarheel:
Fair enough. I think my reaction was based on the fact that this term, as far as I have been aware, has been used exclusively by those on the right and the neocon crowd at the Weekly Standard. I am sure that is not completely true, but it has been my perception.
9.11.2007 10:01pm
Smokey:
There are well over a billion Islamists in the world. Can anyone name ten of them who regularly stand up and say, ''Sawing the heads off of innocent civilians is WRONG!! Recruiting 8-year old suicide bombers is evil!! Stop it right now!!''

If you can't even name ten, then that means that not one Islamist in 100 million disagrees with Islamic evil enough to speak up. Not one in 100 million.

Islamofascism is way too mild a term. How about Islamic PolPotism? That fits.
9.11.2007 10:10pm
cathyf:
The notable difference that fascists called themselves fascists, whereas Islamofascists have their own words for themselves. Our failure to know enough about them to call them what they call themselves, and our superimposition of a Western ideology, does not bode well for our understanding of the enemy.
Well, Muslims call the islamofascists "takfiri". In other words, they are perfectly hunky-dory-A-ok with the islamofascists murdering real kafir's, but outraged that they would dare to declare that some Muslims aren't really Muslims. Since I strenuously disagree with the underlying assumption of the terminology, I reject the term, too.
9.11.2007 10:11pm
Proud Leftist:
Hitchens may be, on balance, a leftist overall (though, indeed, an unusual one), but his position on Iraq is certainly not leftist in any sense. It may simply be confirmation bias, but I recall hearing "Islamofascist" used by right-wing commentators much more so than by those on the left. I agree with you that it's an absurd term, but it seems quite a stretch to assign it to the left. For what it's worth, Wikipedia says that the term had been around for a while before Hitchens latched on to it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamofascism
9.11.2007 10:12pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
I think it was Richard John Neuhaus who not long ago suggested "jihadist." It has the merit of not sounding like a cheap slur. Also it's not impossible to imagine an adherent of the ideology in question using the word of himself.

"Islamic fundamentalist" is IMO not quite right, since there are many, many Muslims who are religiously conservative but not intent on building the dar-al-Islam, yes?
9.11.2007 10:13pm
whit:
"The BS that spews from Berstein really is incredible. Many (probably most) of us who argue that Islamofascist is a stupid term (both inaccurate and offensive) believe that the correct term to use is "Islamic fundamentalists" which, like "Christian fundamentalists" distinguishes the mainstream from the "fundamentalists." It really is amazing sometimes that you are a law professor as you cannot distinguish between these things. Outrageous."

crazytrain, you miss the distinction.. astoundingly so.

the reason why islamofascist is a better term than islamic fundamentalist is that it is much more precise and factually correct. here's why

fundamentalist (and fundamentalism), moreso describes BELIEFS. the term fascist, while also being consistent with underlying beliefs - describes people by their ACTIONS. cause we all know what fascists DID and do. on the other hand, fundamentalists are very varied in what they do. some isolate themselves from modern society and just hang with themselves (amish come to mind), etc. but fascists have quite a history in attempted world domination, extreme violence, etc. so, clearly the term islamofascist is much more appropriate because it more correctly describes what these people DO, in addition to WHY they do it (because of their beliefset)

fwiw, one can be a jewish fundamentalist, a mormon fundamentalist, a christian fundamentalist, etc. although the term started with protestantism.

it is entirely possible to be a islamic fundamentalist, or any kind of fundamentalist and not believe in taking over the world for "your side", that killing others is totally groovy, that suicide bombing is the way to go, etc.

islamofascist is a good term for that reason.

and many on the left hate it so because to them fascism (specifically nazism) is the ULTIMATE evil and the metric by which they compare other evils to.

consider that when sum of all fears was made suitable for the movies, they replaced the islamofascist culprits of the book with EVERYBODY's favorite villain, neo-nazis iow fascists.

people who don't like the term islamofascist often reflexively dislike it because they want to accept neither the structural (so to speak) similarities between the islamofascists and the fascists of yore (hitler's and mussolini's) nor the equally dangerous nature of these groups (they want to take over the world and kill everybody that is not like them)
9.11.2007 10:19pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
Much of this thread reminds of the that famous Molotov quote, when during the lead-up to the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, Molotov assured Ribbentrop that "[f]ascism is just a matter of taste."

Those who do not find it convenient to conflate Islamist extremism with fascism just won't.
9.11.2007 10:19pm
Hewart:
Dr Bernstein,

The term "Islamofascism" is not one that is in common usage by "leftists" in this country to anything near the degree that right-wingers have been using it. It's a knee-jerk term, yes. But by far and away, it's right-wing pundits, bloggers and politicians (including Bush) that have been jerking their knees and using it since the term was coined in 2001.

Indeed, many leftists and progressives, while recognizing some elements of aptness of the term, have derided its use as a shallow-minded and, yes, knee-jerk attempt by neoconservatives to cast the whole GWOT into the frame of a cross between the Crusades and WWII.

So it is remarkable that a term spread about most broadly by neoconservatives (and Hitchens is effectively a neocon when it comes to Iraq and the GWOT, even if he has leftist fundamentals, otherwise) and argued against by many on the left is laid at the feet of leftists and offered as evidence of their knee-jerk response to current events.
9.11.2007 10:24pm
whit:
"Hitchens may be, on balance, a leftist overall (though, indeed, an unusual one), but his position on Iraq is certainly not leftist in any sense"

MAY be? cmon. get real. read any of his books? for pete's sake, the guy made the American Spectator enemies list over a decade ago (iirc) which is pretty much proof positive that one is a leftist.

seriously, though... just because he comes down on the opposite side of the fence from MOST leftists when it comes to calling an islamofascist and islamofascist and how to fight them, nobody who is familiar with his writings can deny he IS a leftist.

it's amazing how a guy who can be a reliable contributor to the nation for pete's sake, all of a sudden loses all "cred" among the left because of his position in re: islamofascists.
9.11.2007 10:26pm
Anderson (mail):
Anderson, did either Franco or Hitler (and his minions) ever refer to themselves as "fascists?" I don't think so, but I'm open to contrary evidence.

I don't think I said that they did; "fascists" were of course Italian. Hitler's people called themselves "Nazis," right? (So why not "Islamonazism"?)

We talk about "fascism," I think, because Mussolini is more readable than Hitler and wrote a bit on fascism -- my college political-theory text had one of his essays, if I dare call it that. So professors looking for a label seized on that.

I confess myself skeptical that there is such a thing as "fascism" that usefully describes the governments of Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco. Too many differences; the common thread, dictatorship, already is a perfectly good word.

So perhaps that's a reason why "Islamofascism" meets my jaundiced eye -- if "fascism" is intellectually clumsy, all the moreso "Islamofascism."

(Re: DB's update, I recognize his neutrality on the policy issue, &didn't mean to suggest otherwise.)
9.11.2007 10:33pm
Groucho Marxism:
nobody who is familiar with his writings can deny he IS a leftist.

Have you read anything from him since six years ago this day?

it's amazing how a guy who can be a reliable contributor to the nation for pete's sake, all of a sudden loses all "cred" among the left because of his position in re: islamofascists.

Actually he lost all "cred" because he went totally bonkers after 9/11, much like Dennis Miller. He bought all of Bush's arguments on the way to the Iraq war, apparently still believes that Saddam wanted to buy uranium in Niger, and downplayed Haditha and Abu Ghraib.
9.11.2007 10:35pm
Old33 (mail):
Man...between Bernstein's "Islamofacists" post, and Adler's earlier post about "Sandy Burglar"...this has been an intellectually disappointing day here at VC.

Hopefully tomorrow we can move beyond the world of right-wing cliche and name-calling.
9.11.2007 10:35pm
b.:
"alliances with the devil"?

easy with the rhetoric, cowboy.

and as Old33 suggests in the comment above my own: better luck tomorrow.
9.11.2007 10:49pm
Elliot Reed:
I always thought the purpose of the term was to rally the reluctant left into the cause, by pointing out the similarities, and, indeed, the common ideological origins, of modern Islamic radicalism and the right-wing totalitarian movements of the 1930s that the left vigorously opposed.
My impression has always been that the purpose was to legitimize the various policies that together comprise the "War on Terror" by implying that we're facing an enemy as dangerous as Nazi Germany. It's part of the slew of WWII-comparison tropes regularly employed to defend Administration policies that purport to be aimed at fighting terrorism.

Also, I do think "leftist" is mostly a term of derision these days. You can find people who use it as a positive self-description, but if you do a Google blog search for "leftist" you get scores and scores of derogatory uses. Compare progressive or even liberal. A few regular Google searches also reveals that "proud liberal" is way more common than "proud leftist" even taking into account the fact that "liberal" is used more anyway.
9.11.2007 10:52pm
whit:
"Actually he lost all "cred" because he went totally bonkers after 9/11, much like Dennis Miller."

dennis miller was never a leftist like hitchens is. hitchens is a classic nation/mother jones leftist and his writings PROVE that.

miller was a liberal with pretty strong libertarian leanings. and 911, among other things (iirc, there was another issue that caused miller to split with the left on, and it wasn't 911 but my mind is drawing a blank on it right now) caused him to reassess his beliefs/fealty and he HAS had somewhat of a road to damascus conversion. he is still pretty much libertarian - pro-choice, pro-gun rights, and iirc pro-gay marriage.

hitchens had no conversion or side switch. he is reliably leftist on most issues from welfare, to socialized medicine, to labor issues, etc. etc. etc.

also hitchens, UNLIKE miller, thinks ALL religious belief is a cancerous detriment to society. and while that is not a view shared by all leftists (to put it mildly) it is certainly not a rightwing viewpoint either. his ideas about islamofascism fit inside his larger framework view of religion and society in general - that religion is basically poison. frankly, his viewpoint about religion (read his latest book) is very "opiate of the masses", or maybe "crystal meth of the masses" in regards to islamofascists, since opiates tend to make you melllllooooow.

my point stands. hitchens has "reliably" leftist viewpoints on NEARLY everything, with the exception of his stance/understanding of the whole islamofascist thang.

the nation et al disavowed him ( as is their right) because of THIS issue.

without getting into a long wank about what is and isn't leftism, you cannot know about christopher hitchens and deny he is a leftist.

there ARE leftists (and liberals) who think similarly about iraq. another that comes to mind is ed koch.

" He bought all of Bush's arguments on the way to the Iraq war"

not to get into tangents - but they were not "bush's' arguments.

", apparently still believes that Saddam wanted to buy uranium in Niger, and downplayed Haditha and Abu Ghraib."

again, this is largely irrelevant. on nearly EVERY social policy issue, hitchens is reliably leftist. heck, if you needed a paradigmatic example of "what does a leftist think about X" you could just insert hitchens.

EXCEPT for the whole islamofascist thang

sorry, but ONE thing does not mean all of a sudden he loses all leftist-cred (tm)/ideology.

leftists can disavow him all they want but it doesn't change reality.

clearly, miller is NOT a leftist.

clearly hitchens IS
9.11.2007 10:58pm
TJIT (mail):
CrazyTrain says
If you subscribe to realist philosophy (which most on the right used to do before the rise of the Stalinists neo-cons in the Republican party)
You mean the same realist philosophy that let much of the middle east remain a human rights disaster for decades?

You mean the same realist policy that led bush 1 to ask the Iraqi's to revolt against Hussein and then said never mind and offered no support when they did?

In the long term that philosophy does us more harm then good.
9.11.2007 11:07pm
Toby:
What if bin Laden wrote a biography and called it "my Jihad"
9.11.2007 11:14pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
I think that "Qutbist" is a good label for Al Qaeda-types. They hate it, I've read, which is one positive, and their Muslim opponets use it in a deragotory way. The reason is that "Qutbist" pins them as a follower of a man, and a man's philosophy, in sharp contrast to following God and the Koran. This usage, if I am correct, would align us with Al Qaeda's opponents and irritate them.

But I think many prefer exagerrating the threat and their role in combating it, so linking Al Qeada to real, terrifying threats from recent history is more useful.
9.11.2007 11:18pm
sashal (mail):
whit.
And neocons came from the far left movements , lusting for violence( can't get that Utopian Bolshevism out of them, even if they call theselves cons now )
Finally they and Hitchens meet.
9.11.2007 11:19pm
O. Hutchins (mail):
Congratulations, Smokey. You win the prize for the nastiest, most bigoted filth I've ever read on this blog.
9.11.2007 11:25pm
m:
The issue I see with that term is that it is generally used as a blanket term or piece of political propaganda, and aids not one bit in understanding or distinguishing between the various Islamist groups. Do some Islamist groups have roots in fascism? I've got no clue - I'll take your word for it. The real question I'd ask is, does the term Islamofascism illuminate or obscure?

And I tend to think it obscures. The current focus of most of the groups described as "Islamofascist" seems to bear only cursory resemblance to the program of the Fascists or the Nazis. If we want one big term to link all the groups, I think "Islamist" or "Islamic fundamentalist" do well enough, as they pick out the real distinguishing issue - a placement of Islam above pretty much everything else. Even that isn't perfect, but at least it doesn't imply that all these groups are fascist groups. Also, I'm leery in general of calling a group something just because they were long ago influenced by another group that bore that label. Focus on the now, not the past.

Also, on the topic of the comparison to "fundamentalist Christians" or "the Christian right" - the huge difference I see is that "fascism" is an insult, no matter who uses it. That is its only purpose. I tend to think that in most people's ears, it has actually ceased to have any real meaning and simply become a term indicating "bad, evil, mean". Being on the right, however, is a decently defined term that is descriptive, not insulting, just like being on the left. I mean, I don't think referring to the "secular left" is insulting either. It's descriptive. But referring to the "secular fascists" is automatically an insult, just like "Christian fascists". So ultimately, why use a term that obscures more than it illuminates, is more focused on the long ago past than the present, has lost most of its meaning, and is automatically an insult?
9.11.2007 11:41pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
CT, are you saying "leftist" is a term of derision like fascists? I thought a lot of leftists are proud to call themselves lefists (as a Google search for "proud leftist" confirms).

David Bernstein -- Strawman arguments are really your forte. Not a surprise you chose to teach law rather than practice it . BTW, a google search of proud fascist reveals that many fascists are proud of that label as well. So, I am not sure what your point is.
9.11.2007 11:52pm
Hardy700:
This is so blatantly biased and subjective I don't know where to start. Hamas in no way, shape or form threatens the US. Comparing them to the USSR or China is not only absurd, it's an utter joke that you are going to such great lengths to make those comparisons.

Let's be real here, Hamas is a threat to Israel and conflating that threat with al-Qaida or Islamofacism or whatever you want to conflate it with, serves Israel's interests in a very convenient way. We know how you love to make things convenient for Israel, huh, David?
9.12.2007 12:00am
Groucho Marxism:
again, this is largely irrelevant. on nearly EVERY social policy issue, hitchens is reliably leftist.

From Hitch himself:

I'm a single-issue person at present, and the single issue in case you are wondering is the tenacious and unapologetic defense of civilized societies against the intensifying menace of clerical barbarism. If in the smallest doubt about this, I would suggest a vote for the re-election of George Bush, precisely because he himself isn't prey to any doubt on the point... Civil unions for homosexuals, or prescription-drug programs, are not even going to be in second or third place if we get this wrong. And presidents can't make much difference to the stock market or the employment rate or to income distribution.

Feel free to spin someone suggesting a vote for W as a reliable leftist.
9.12.2007 12:01am
CrazyTrain (mail):
<i>You mean the same realist philosophy that let much of the middle east remain a human rights disaster for decades? </i>

Yes. Exactly. Most of the world is a human rights disaster -- we don't have the resources to save them all from that, and frankly, I am not willing to fight for their rights and I doubt you are either. If you're not, you should STFU about it.

<i>You mean the same realist policy that led bush 1 to ask the Iraqi's to revolt against Hussein and then said never mind and offered no support when they did? </i>

Uh, no. The same policy would have led Bush to not pursue Hussein into Iraq (which has clearly, clearly been proven correct). But nothing in realism would have compelled Bush or even encouraged Bush to encourage Shiites and Kurds to revolt. That was fucked up.
9.12.2007 12:01am
Jeff Eaton (mail) (www):

I always thought the purpose of the term was to rally the reluctant left into the cause, by pointing out the similarities, and, indeed, the common ideological origins, of modern Islamic radicalism and the right-wing totalitarian movements of the 1930s that the left vigorously opposed.

My understanding was that the term was meant to give greater moral weight to the "Fundamentalist Islam Is Just Bad" view of the world while sparing the speaker the trouble of explaining why and how.
9.12.2007 12:05am
Elliot Reed:
CrazyTrain - now that I think about it, a large number of hits for "proud X" might mitigate in favor of X being bad rather than supporting it. A locution like "I'm a proud X" is often a defiant response to a perceived presumption that it's bad to be X. I think that's why you see so many more hits for "proud liberal" than for "proud progressive", for example--"liberal" has become a term of derision over the past thirty years, which is precisely we've collectively decided to rebrand ourselves.
9.12.2007 12:13am
Elliot Reed:
rather than in favor of X being good, I mean.
9.12.2007 12:14am
eric (mail):


From Hitch himself:


I'm a single-issue person at present, and the single issue in case you are wondering is the tenacious and unapologetic defense of civilized societies against the intensifying menace of clerical barbarism. If in the smallest doubt about this, I would suggest a vote for the re-election of George Bush, precisely because he himself isn't prey to any doubt on the point... Civil unions for homosexuals, or prescription-drug programs, are not even going to be in second or third place if we get this wrong. And presidents can't make much difference to the stock market or the employment rate or to income distribution.


Feel free to spin someone suggesting a vote for W as a reliable leftist.


The quote actually confirms the very point you are trying in vain to refute. Hitchens is advocating voting for Bush despite his disagreement with Bush's social agenda. The fact that Hitchens places a great deal of importance on one political view is absolutely irrelevant to the existence of his other political views.

Single issue voters are nothing new. Some candidates attract support from more divergent viewpoints (Ron Paul comes to mind). The fact that a person advocated a vote for Bush does not automatically disqualify that person from being a leftist.
9.12.2007 12:17am
whit:
"Feel free to spin someone suggesting a vote for W as a reliable leftist."

i said on NEARLY EVERY SOCIAL ISSUE ( my exact words, he IS a reliable leftist)

however, since he believes that islamofascists could (and want to ) destroy society as we know it, that he would vote for bush over a chamberlin like appeaser.

so, what he is saying is he is a single issue voter. he has a litmus test - there are many in the left and right who would say similar things about having a "deal breaker" issue.

but i get your "point". you can't simultaneously (in your eyes) be a leftist AND support "bush's war".

imo, that's ridiculous and it redefines the term leftist to mean what you want it to mean, vs. its historical meaning, but if that's how you want it, take it away.
9.12.2007 12:21am
Bart (mail):
Fascism is an ideology where the the individual subsumes him or herself to a movement to become part of a greater collective power. Members are recruited among those who feel powerless by blaming their plight on some enemy which can only be defeated by joining the movement.

The modern Islamic fascist movement fits this definition to a "T."

The Islamic world has been decaying socially and economically for decades and is filled with highly educated people who feel they have little or no future. Islamic fascism tells these people that their problems are caused by infidel Jews and Christians. The infidels can be defeated and Muslims restored to their proper place in the world by joining the Islamic fascist jihad against the infidels.

If you have any doubts about the nature of this movement, I would suggest that you go read the book The Wave by Martin Rhue (Puffin Books 1988) or watch the outstanding ABC Afterschool Special by the same name. For those who have not come across this little classic, The Wave is based on a real experiment done by Ron Jones, a teacher in California who tried to illustrate his history lesson on Nazi Germany by running a realistic experiment in fascist thought. The experiment was far more successful than he had intended and Jones had to break it off after a week. I have never seen a better example of the power and attraction of the fascist ideology anywhere.

Then go watch Part 1 of National Geographic's Inside 9/11, which discussed the formation of the Islamic fascist movement (although they do not use that term). Listen carefully to the translation of the recorded speeches of the Imams leading this movement. I sounds exactly like the speeches of Hitler and Goebbels - First the Middle East, then the World kind of stuff.
9.12.2007 12:27am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Hardy, there is a very basic problem with your comment, which is that I never said that Hamas was a threat to the U.S. on the scale of Maoist China or Stalin's Russia. What I said is that allying with Hamas to combat Al Qaeda would be a "deal with the devil," as was allying with those lovely dictators. The implicit point was that the USSR and China were both "devils" and allies of convenience, not allies with whom we shared values (as the NPR guest suggested) about Hamas, and the same would apply to Hamas.
If you want to dispute THAT point, then go ahead.
9.12.2007 12:44am
Jeff Eaton (mail) (www):

Fascism is an ideology where the the individual subsumes him or herself to a movement to become part of a greater collective power. Members are recruited among those who feel powerless by blaming their plight on some enemy which can only be defeated by joining the movement.

As a former member of the Evangelical church in the American midwest, I can say with great conviction that your description describes the most popular and visible flavor of Western Christianity to a "T" -- that doesn't mean that koz wannabees who mutter that 'Dobson is a Fascist' are correct. It just means that your definition of 'Fascist' has grown so broad that it's nearly useless as a descriptive term.
9.12.2007 1:05am
Groucho Marxism:
so, what he is saying is he is a single issue voter. he has a litmus test - there are many in the left and right who would say similar things about having a "deal breaker" issue.

Yes, he said that "social issues" do not matter to him, therefore how can you say he is a "reliable leftist" on them? Since he doesn't care about them at all any more, apparently, where would that place him on a left-right spectrum?

but i get your "point". you can't simultaneously (in your eyes) be a leftist AND support "bush's war".

When one's entire political ideology flows from unequivocal support for Bush's war on terror, then yes, you cannot be a liberal (or "leftist"). Please name other prominent "leftists" who also support Bush's war on terror wholeheartedly.

imo, that's ridiculous and it redefines the term leftist to mean what you want it to mean, vs. its historical meaning, but if that's how you want it, take it away.

What is the use of the "historical meaning" of a political label when we are talking about someone whose ideology narrowed to a single issue after 9/11?
9.12.2007 1:08am
TJIT (mail):
CrazyTrain says,
Yes. Exactly. Most of the world is a human rights disaster -- we don't have the resources to save them all from that, and frankly, I am not willing to fight for their rights and I doubt you are either. If you're not, you should STFU about it.
Why thanks for your courteous input on what I can and can't talk about. Did it feel good to scratch that totalitarian itch you have?

The realist philosophy you are so fond ruled the day through late 2001. It has left the mideast an unstable powder keg and provided the United States a smoking hole in New York city where the towers used to be.

But apparently that counts for good policy results in your world. Leading you to conclude that maintaining the policy that gave us those two results is a good idea.
9.12.2007 1:15am
DavidBernstein (mail):
FWIW, there were quite a few leftists from Social Democrats, USA, who voted for Ronald Reagan because their primary issue was opposition to the Soviet Union.
9.12.2007 1:24am
whit:
groucho, you are missing the point

i'll explain it again. hitchens is saying that GIVEN his perception that islamofascism represents a threat to the liberal west, that he is a one issues voter... because if our society ceases to EXIST, then (to quote metallica...) "nothing else matters"

iow, he would rather vote for a person whom he disagrees with in nearly all internal social issues (and he is nearly a "perfect" leftist in regards to these issues), but who has a steadfast desire to fight islamofascism and the threat it represents.

because in his opinion, liberal society in GENERAL will cease to exist if they win, thus he'd rather cede various social issues to a bush type because if western society in general is destroyed, nothing else matters.

again, he is a leftist, but he happens to have a different view on THIS issue than most leftists.

despite what you say, "his entire political ideology" does not flow from support of the GWOT. but GIVEN his perception of the threat, social issues are SUBORDINATE because if western society is destroyed, it will be FAR FAR FAR worse for the left.

iow, he detests bush's domestic policies, but if western society is destroyed, the policies imposed by the islamofascists will be a million times worse.

iow, what's worse. a president that doesn't support gay marriage, or living under a ruler that would execute gays.

do you get the point?

i think you do, but you just CAN'T stand to admit that a leftist could support the GWOT.

clearly, they can. hitchens does.

again, you want a litmus test for leftists on this one issue. sorry, it doesn't work that way.

"Please name other prominent "leftists" who also support Bush's war on terror wholeheartedly"

blair...

hth
9.12.2007 1:35am
kerouacbum (mail):

There are well over a billion Islamists in the world


Um, no. There are just over one billion Muslims in the world. Islamists is another word used to describe al Qaeda types.

On the proper name for them, jihadist doesn't really fit, because all Muslims believe in jihad as defined as a "struggle." Conflating jihad with "holy war" has been a common mistake these past six years.

How about Islamo-extremist? Then you avoid the historical comparison problem that has spawned countless fights on websites like this and many less civilized ones. No peaceable Muslim would likely be upset by that. You can't avoid the part about Islam, even if it's a gross perversion of the religion, because the terrorists base their entire identity around the fact that they profess to be Muslims.
9.12.2007 1:40am
BGates (www):
Islamofascists have their own words for themselves.

Yes, Anderson, like 'Muslims'.

If we want to get moderate Muslims and the left to side with America, we need to replace 'Islamofascist' with a word that connotes something those groups would be willing to oppose. How about 'Jews'?

CrazyTrain - I think the guy who said "Actually, Iran is the "natural ally" against Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, Bush burned that bridge 6 years ago" is itching for a nasty, name-calling fight with the guy who said "More idiocy....states must adjust their alliances to deal with new threats, and little grudges should not get in the way of that." So why don't you go work that out.
9.12.2007 1:51am
whit:
"How about Islamo-extremist?"

much like the previous 'fundamentalist' thang, it's inferior. there are lots of people who are extremists. but who were the fascists? they wanted to take over the world. that's extreme, but it's a specific kind of extreme - just like the islamofascists.

the nazis (everybody' favorite fascists) thought all non-aryans were a inferior type of human being, and at best deserved to be allowed to live, albeit as second class citizens, and at worse needed a final solution. hmm, so do the islamofascists.

etc. etc. etc.

i'm all for a BETTER term than islamofascist, but i have yet to hear one. of course islamofascist is imperfect. but it more aptly describes the specific nature/threat of the enemy than any other term i've heard.

i have a problem with using terminology that is incorrect (at worse) and less correct at best in order not to "upset" people. that's the very definition of POLITICAL correctness. subordinating factual accuracy out of sensitivity to other's feelings.

show me a group of (insert other religion here) that want to kill infidels and apostates, take over the world by force, that condone suicide bombers, etc. and do it in the name of (insert religion here) and they would be (insert name of religion here)-fascists as well.

again, PEACABLE muslims should be (and are) UPSET with what islamofascists are doing in the name of their religion, vs. the terminology applied to these enemies of freedom.
9.12.2007 1:52am
Jason Steed:
1. Islamofascism is fine, as a term, so long as by its usage it is clear that it refers to a particular movement or faction, and that it does NOT refer to the Islamic world in its entirety. I think the problem most "Leftists" (or, really, anyone with half a sense of decency) have with the term is that it is often used (predominantly by conservatives) as a blanket derogation of Islam and Muslims, whereby Islam and Muslims are demonized and an irrational, uncritical fear of "them" is generated.

2. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Hamas is rooted in Marxist and nationalist ideologies -- not in right-wing, fascist (or fascist-like) ideology. Perhaps their nationalism is what is giving rise to the inference that they have fascist roots or ties? Assuming this is the inference, I think we can all agree to dismiss it, can't we? I mean, lots of nations are nationalist without warranting a connection to fascism.

3. The Left believes fundamentally in protecting rights, in equality/egalitarianism, and in peace and cooperation. And the true Left is international in its scope and project (i.e., not nationalist, even anti-nationalist). Hitch's (hyper)nationalism, his (hyper)hawkishness, his unbridled demonization of an entire class of people around the world, and his willingness to trample their rights and our own in his war with them, clearly trump any endorsement he might offer for civil unions or prescription drug programs. It is rare to find an individual who is wholly "Leftist" or wholly "Rightist" -- but I am dumbfounded by the fact that anyone would seriously contend that Hitchins remains, predominantly, a "Leftist."
9.12.2007 1:55am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Islamofascist is, from what I hear, fairly accurate, but a bit clumsy. Those of that movement indeed derived a fair number of their attitudes from fascisim (and in the case of Qutb, from Marxism as well). Still a bit clumsy.

Islamic Fundamentalist ... I believe that all of serious Islam would seem fundamentalist to our eyes, and that a goodly number of Moslems who would describe themselves in this category are quite nonviolent.

Islamist... might describe a scholar studying Islam.

Islamic extremist seems the best fit. Altho many a moslem might consider them more like heretics.

But how about "Those Who Must Be Killed?"
9.12.2007 1:58am
Darth Scalia:
"Fascism is an ideology where the the individual subsumes him or herself to a movement to become part of a greater collective power. Members are recruited among those who feel powerless by blaming their plight on some enemy which can only be defeated by joining the movement.

The modern Islamic fascist movement fits this definition to a "T."

Now if only this was anything close to an accurate and encompassing (at least as close as one can get with something as complex as fascism) definition you'd be on to something.

Ultimately this is a perfect example of why fascism serves as such a handy epithet: It is large and vague enough to allow you to pick and choose it's application, while the general ignorance of it's nuances and general complexity allow it to be sold. The fact that most (if not all) of political discourse/thought is simply picking and choosing what you want (i.e. what fits your ideology) makes fascism an attractive dart to throw.
9.12.2007 2:04am
kerouacbum (mail):

much like the previous 'fundamentalist' thang, it's inferior. there are lots of people who are extremists. but who were the fascists? they wanted to take over the world. that's extreme, but it's a specific kind of extreme - just like the islamofascists.


Good point. I think a truly accurate branding has to somehow include the idea of the caliphate. These wackos seem to legitimately believe that they can remake the glory days of Islam when the caliphate ruled from Baghdad and the empire stretched from Spain to India.

Neo-Caliphates?
9.12.2007 2:06am
whit:
"The Left believes fundamentally in protecting rights"

wow. honestly. what partisan rubbish! i could choke my way through the rest of your post's inaccuracies, unsupported generalizations, etc. but this just takes the cake

do you HONESTLY believe that? first of all, both the left AND the right (and i admit this as a member of the right... a right moderate libertarian specifically) have shown a tendency to restrict rights when placed in power. to state otherwise is pretty silly. but that's more a statement about what they DO vs. what they believe.

the left may (to some extent) have a different view of what rights are important and what aren't (second amendment anyone), and what constitutes an abridgment of rights (the left tends to use results based analysis, and the right a process based one), but you are living in a dreamworld if you believe (which what i think you are implying... ) that it is THE LEFT that believes in protecting rights, and NOT both the left and the right (although they do a poor job in practice)

i'd also like to point out that you can't HAVE both equality and egalitarianism. they are often mutually exclusive. that is, among other reasons, why i gave up on the left's solutions (generally) because i prefer equality to egalitarianism.

as for your last post, you apparently are dumbfounded. yes, one can be a leftist and support the GWOT. it's that simple, and it's already been explained how.

even if hitchens were the only one (which he aint), he is still a GWOT supporting leftist. how you (or anyone) can keep ignoring his near perfect adherence to leftist policy stances is beyond me. but that's how cognitive dissonance works. you ignore the evidence that hurts.
9.12.2007 2:08am
advisory opinion:
"Hitch's (hyper)nationalism"

Laughable. Hitchens has dual citizenship, taking on American citizenship only recently. He was originally British.

So much for his hyper-nationalism.
9.12.2007 2:10am
Brian K (mail):
why can't you have both equality and egalitarianism?

definition of egalitarianism
9.12.2007 2:19am
Frater Plotter:
"Fascist" is indeed a slur, but it's a slur with a particular meaning. Fascists denigrate individualism. Fascists promote group identity as an ideology. Fascists talk like classroom bullies: anyone who disagrees with them is a freak, a degenerate faggot, a subhuman who may be freely humiliated, subjugated, or killed.

This characterization basically true of Islamic advocates of sharia law: in every sense the slur of "fascist" describes, they are indeed fascists. But it is also true of Scientologists, of Stalinists, and of U.S. Christian Dominionists.

The struggle here is not between Western Civilization and the Islamofascist Barbarians, as Hitchens seems to think. The struggle (that's English for "jihad") is within each and every society: between ordinary folks who want to live their (individual) lives, and fanatics who would rather that the world go up in flames than that their ideology fail to dominate the world.

In Denmark and in France, the threat is Islamofascist immigrants. But in the United States, it's Christofascist nativists.
9.12.2007 2:27am
kerouacbum (mail):

The struggle here is not between Western Civilization and the Islamofascist Barbarians, as Hitchens seems to think. The struggle (that's English for "jihad") is within each and every society: between ordinary folks who want to live their (individual) lives, and fanatics who would rather that the world go up in flames than that their ideology fail to dominate the world.

In Denmark and in France, the threat is Islamofascist immigrants. But in the United States, it's Christofascist nativists.


You forget one minor detail. The religious right isn't going around killing people to instill their ideology.
9.12.2007 2:36am
Jason Steed:
Whit,
I think we're at risk of talking past one another. You seem to use "the Left" (and "the Right") to refer, more or less, to the two political parties and their respective stances on various issues (guns, Iraq, etc). Only by doing this is it possible to claim that "both the left and the right tend to restrict rights when in power."

To clarify, I was speaking ideologically. Ideologically speaking, it is the Left that is interested in egalitarianism and empowering the masses (the protection of rights being one aspect or method of doing so); by contrast, the Right is interested in consolidation of power and hierarchical structures.

Let me put it this way: It is not that the Left and the Right each pick and choose which rights to favor, as you suggest; rather, it is that the Republicans and the Democrats each choose to move Leftward or Rightward, depending on the right in question, or the issue at hand.

To repeat: You are using "Left" and "Right" to refer to parties, or at least to popular American political groupings, whereas I am using the terms to refer to ideologies.

And yes, you can have equality and egalitarianism -- unless you choose to define the terms in such a way as to make them mutually exclusive, which you apparently do. Here (as is often the case), the argument is over definitions.

Finally, as I tried to explain previously, one can NOT be a Leftist and be a (hyper)nationalist, (hyper)hawkish, hierarchy-espousing squasher of rights. You might lump Hitch in with the Democrats, or with a political grouping of people who have X,Y,Z stances on X,Y,Z issues -- a grouping which you refer to as "the Left" -- but it is only by this sloppy use of the term that you are able to claim that a Leftist can also be all those things.

Ideologically, it just isn't so.
9.12.2007 2:38am
Jason Steed:
advisory opinion,
One needn't be an American citizen, or a citizen of any particular nation-state, for that matter, to be nationalist. The neo-Nazis are nationalists, and it is the White Nation that they champion (across political and geographical borders).

Hitch is a (hyper)nationalist in the sense that he pits the Anglo-Western world (or "nation") against the "Islamofascists," which seems to be his word for the Islamic-Nonwestern world.

His U.S. or Canadian citizenship is irrelevant.
9.12.2007 2:42am
Jason Steed:
...sorry: I meant British, not Canadian...
9.12.2007 2:55am
neurodoc:
kerouacbum: How about Islamo-extremist?...No peaceable Muslim would likely be upset by that. You can't avoid the part about Islam, even if it's a gross perversion of the religion, because the terrorists base their entire identity around the fact that they profess to be Muslims.
If those you would label "Islamo-extremists" only profess to be Muslims, while in fact what they preach and practice is "a gross perversion of the religion," then exactly which of Islam's essential tenets do they violate? Is it because Islam is said by its followers to be a religion of "peace" and your "Islamo-extremists" are not peaceable that they should be seen as "only profess(ing) to be Muslims," when they are effectively schismatics, deviators, not "true" Muslims? Or is it because your "Islamo-extremists" would impose Islam by force when followers of Islam maintain that there is no "coercion" in their religion? Have those "Islamo-extremists" been widely and loudly condemned by the Islamic world at large, most especially its clergy, as unequivocally perverters of the faith, and are they as aberrant an expression of the Islamic world as for example Aum Shanrikyo is of the Japanese people?

You might like to read those you style "Islamo-extremists" out of Islam, distinguishing them from "good" (peaceable) Muslims, and indeed they may be discomfortably embarrassing, and threatening, to some of their fellow Muslims. I challenge you, though, to make the case that your "Islamo-extremists" are not "upholders" of the faith. If your "Islamo-extremists" are not loathsome to almost all Muslims, and polling data, as well as practical evidence of the support they enjoy (the place of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the safe harbor they have in Pakistan, the enormous sums contributed to support them, the endorsements of Muslim clerics not silenced by the Saudis, the number of newborn males named Osama by their parents, etc.) would indicate they are not, then I don't think your case is at all convincing.

And styling them "Islamo-extremists" doesn't help, since it says nothing of truly defining nature; it may suggest these are just individuals who are more fervid in their Islamic faith then some of their co-religionists; and it is little more than a feeble attempt to avoid giving offense.
9.12.2007 2:57am
Brian K (mail):
Have those "Islamo-extremists" been widely and loudly condemned by the Islamic world at large, most especially its clergy, as unequivocally perverters of the faith, and are they as aberrant an expression of the Islamic world

I was waiting for someone to bring up this blatant falsehood yet again. just because you refuse to hear it doesn't mean it's not out there. a quick google search proves you wrong...you can find denouncements of terrorism and refutations of terrorists beliefs by nearly every major muslim group in the US and many throughout the world.
9.12.2007 3:07am
advisory opinion:
"The neo-Nazis are nationalists, and it is the White Nation that they champion (across political and geographical borders)."

Funny. On that definition leftists are nationalists - it is the Workers/Proletariat/Socialist Nation that they champion (across political and geographical borders).

So Hitchens' purported nationalism is no bar to Hitchens being a leftist after all.

Your argument is self-defeating.
9.12.2007 3:18am
neurodoc:
Jason Steed: The Left believes fundamentally in protecting rights, in equality/ egalitarianism, and in peace and cooperation.
Jason Steed: Ideologically speaking, it is the Left that is interested in egalitarianism and empowering the masses (the protection of rights being one aspect or method of doing so)
Karl Marx, Engels, Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Enver Hoxha, Mr. and Mrs. Ceausescu, Walter Ulbrecht, Fidel...(space does not allow us to credit all of this ilk who deserve it)...they were committed to "the protection of rights"?! What "rights" would those be that these great Leftists so assiduously protected?
9.12.2007 3:18am
Brian K (mail):
neurodoc,

would you agree that the KKK is just another group of christians?
9.12.2007 3:28am
neurodoc:
Brian K: I was waiting for someone to bring up this blatant falsehood yet again. just because you refuse to hear it doesn't mean it's not out there. a quick google search proves you wrong...you can find denouncements of terrorism and refutations of terrorists beliefs by nearly every major muslim group in the US and many throughout the world.
You have in mind such stalwart opponents of Islamic terrorism as CAIR?

Since I gave you the opportunity you were waiting for, why don't you run with it and cite for us the most impressive "denouncements (sic) of terrorism and refutations of terrorists (sic) beliefs by nearly every major muslim group in the US and many throughout the world." While you are at, please explain all that might be considered evidence of vast reservoirs of sympathy, if not support, for the Islamofascists in the Islamic world, even if not by every Muslim. (If even 10% of Muslims around the world view the Islamofascists favorably, it is reason for fear as great as was the fear of global Communism not so long ago. And 10% is probably a low estimate of the numbers of Muslims who find the Islamofascists anything but abhorrent.)

Please go to it with citations of those denunciations, and tell us why those should be so reassuring, and why the indications of sympathy and/or support by other Muslims so inconsequential.
9.12.2007 3:32am
neurodoc:
Brian K: neurodoc, would you agree that the KKK is just another group of christians?
?????
9.12.2007 3:37am
Brian K (mail):
would you agree that the KKK is just another group of christians?

reflecting back, i realized i poorly phrased it.

would you agree that the KKK accurately represents christianity, given your post that muslim terrorist accurately represent islam?
9.12.2007 3:39am
CDU (mail):
More idiocy. If you subscribe to realist philosophy (which most on the right used to do before the rise of the Stalinists neo-cons in the Republican party), you would know that states must adjust their alliances to deal with new threats, and little grudges should not get in the way of that. Have you ever heard of a country called Vietnam? If so, you would know that the current regime running the place is responsible for more American deaths than the current regime in Iran could ever dream of. Yet we have allied ourselves with them in many ways. Why the problem with Iran?


Because unlike Iran, Vietnam isn't currently funding terrorist organizations that attack the U.S. and our allies. The problem isn't what Iran did in 1979, it's that they have continued on the same fundamental course since 1979. If countries that have once done us wrong are willing to change their behavior, as Vietnam, Libya, and many others have, I am perfectly willing for the U.S. to adjust our policy towards them. If Iran is willing to do likewise (stop supporting Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Shiite insurgents in Iraq) then a rapprochement would be perfectly appropriate. Until then, they are an adversary and should be treated as such.

Also, riddle me this: if Iran "burned a bridge" with us in 1979, why did Reagan sell arms to them in 1986???? I am sure you will be unable to answer these questions.

While I generally like Regan and share his ideals, he was dead wrong on this one. Selling weapons to Iran was wrong (selling them to indirectly negotiate with hostage-taking terrorists in Lebanon was even worse). In fact, I regret that he skated out of the Iran-Contra scandal so easily. If the political consequences and the damage to his legacy had been more potent, future presidents would be less likely to follow in his footsteps in a similar situation.
9.12.2007 3:39am
Brian K (mail):
Please go to it with citations of those denunciations, and tell us why those should be so reassuring, and why the indications of sympathy and/or support by other Muslims so inconsequential.

you just proved my point. you are only hearing what you want to hear. you have dismissed all of the denunciations out there for some reason that eludes me. no wonder you only see (dubious) support of terrorism and generalize to "all muslims must support terrorism"
9.12.2007 3:44am
whit:
"To repeat: You are using "Left" and "Right" to refer to parties, or at least to popular American political groupings, whereas I am using the terms to refer to ideologies. "

no, im not. im referring to ideologies. i've read practically every issue of the nation and mother jones for over 2 decades. so, i'm pretty familiar with what it means to be a leftist.

hitchens is. if you want to ignore that, so be it. he is, and the fact that on ONE issue, he disagrees with most leftists does not change that.

very few democrats are LEFTISTs. so, i am well aware of the difference.

"Let me put it this way: It is not that the Left and the Right each pick and choose which rights to favor, as you suggest; rather, it is that the Republicans and the Democrats each choose to move Leftward or Rightward, depending on the right in question, or the issue at hand."

no, my point was that lefties or righties WHEN in power (which in the US usually means either dems or repubs, but is not the SAME thing) tend to restrict rights. and the idea that the left is more concerned with, let alone more protective of rights is absurd, but i would expect that's your bias creeping in.

"And yes, you can have equality and egalitarianism -- unless you choose to define the terms in such a way as to make them mutually exclusive, which you apparently do. Here (as is often the case), the argument is over definitions. "

no, you can't. egalitarianism refers to equality of RESULTS. equality, otoh, is equality of opportunity. if i want egalitarianism in the senate (such that it is 50% men and 50% women) as some nations would like, then i necessarily cannot have equality. anytime you seek egalitarian outcome, you must discriminate and go against equality.

"Finally, as I tried to explain previously, one can NOT be a Leftist and be a (hyper)nationalist, (hyper)hawkish, hierarchy-espousing squasher of rights."

first of all, i don't concede that hitchens IS such a person, but even if he was, the argument that leftists cannot be squashers of rights is so absurd as to be laughable

try studying politics in the 20th century. yup, the left was squashing rights left and right. did u miss it?

last i checked, gulags are pretty restrictive of rights. so are killing fields. and then ... there's fidel.

" You might lump Hitch in with the Democrats,"

no, i wouldn't. because he is far to the left of the dems. get real.

the dems are not LEFTIST (certain dems could be described as leftist - kucinich comes to mind) but the dem party is merely LEFT of center. they are not leftist. another word for leftist, if you don't understand the term is "progressive", one preferred by the folks at the nation, etc.

" or with a political grouping of people who have X,Y,Z stances on X,Y,Z issues -- a grouping which you refer to as "the Left" -- but it is only by this sloppy use of the term that you are able to claim that a Leftist can also be all those things. "

it's not sloppy at all, and i explained why. on this ONE issue (the threat of islamofascism and how to fight it) hitchens diverges from (the vast majority) of leftists.

and again, SO WHAT. on nearly every other issue, and on pretty much all social/domestic issues, he is consistently, avowedly leftist and he STILL holds those ideas that got him so much press (and books) loved by leftists (and reviled by rightwingers) for decades.

you don't want to admit that a person who is a leftist could DARE support "bush's" war so you ignore evidence. it's been presented, and you ignore it. i have been surrounded by the left (growing up next to an ultraliberal college) most of my life, and i know what leftists believe. hitchens has been a POSTER boy of the left UNTIL this issue. one issue does not define one's place on the political spectrum

your argument is as absurd as me claiming that pat buchanan is not a rightwinger because he DOESN"T support bush's war on terror (he's a paleocon, but i digress.
9.12.2007 3:48am
Brian K (mail):
definition of equality
9.12.2007 3:50am
Ken Arromdee:
The struggle (that's English for "jihad")

I always thought the English term for "jihad" is "crusade". Of course, "jihad" does mean "struggle", but "crusade" is closer because it has a similar secondary meaning as well.
9.12.2007 4:22am
Groucho Marxism:
hitchens is saying that GIVEN his perception that islamofascism represents a threat to the liberal west, that he is a one issues voter... because if our society ceases to EXIST, then (to quote metallica...) "nothing else matters"

Yes, and his perception, such as it is, has nothing to do with "leftism." He has grown so paranoid that he will vote for someone who will spy on him! Since you admit that Hitch believes that nothing else matters besides Bush's crusade, how is he still on the left?

iow, he would rather vote for a person whom he disagrees with in nearly all internal social issues (and he is nearly a "perfect" leftist in regards to these issues), but who has a steadfast desire to fight islamofascism and the threat it represents.

And what threat is that? It is a delusion to think that some religious nuts in Afghanistan/Pakistan/Iran/wherever can destroy liberal society. The Nazis couldn't destroy liberal society, heck the USSR couldn't destroy liberal society and that was with thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at us!

Why do you think Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization? They have no army, they have no country, they have no possible way to impose their vision of society except by causing us to overreact in response to their threats of terror--and it is indeed Bush's overreaction (war in Iraq in response to 9/11--could it get more comically tragic?) that Hitch loudly supports!
9.12.2007 4:29am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
would you agree that the KKK accurately represents christianity, given your post that muslim terrorist accurately represent islam?
I am struck by your failure to capitalize "christianity" and "muslim" but that you did capitalize "KKK".

Nevertheless, it should be noted that though the President Pro-Tem of the Senate was (but allegedly quit being) a KKK leader, it is condemned by probably 99% of Christians in this country for any number of reasons, including, importantly, being non-Christian. If you are worried about the Klan, then you are fighting the battles of 40+ years ago that were settled for almost all of us.

Contrast this with the Islamofascist or whatever you decide to call this movement. If there is a parallel with the Klan, it is of the Klan during Reconstruction and into the 1930s, when the group had fairly widespread support throughout the South, and even into the west here (In Golden, CO, we can still see where they met in the 1930s up on one of the Mesas before the building burned down).

I frankly don't know how widespread the support is for Islamofascism (or whatever you want to call the movement), but there is a lot of evidence that it is at least not openly opposed by a majority of Moslems around the world today (as contrasted to the KKK which is openly opposed by almost all Christians in this country these days).
9.12.2007 8:02am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I, for one, have come to the conclusion after reading this thread that "Islamofascism" is probably the best term we have here, unless you want "IslamoKlan" or something like that. The former reflects the totalitarian bent of the movement, as well as its willingness to do what it takes to gain power and its racial or, in this case, religious supremecy.

"Islamoterrorism" isn't nearly precise enough, if for no other reason that it ignores why groups like al Qaeda are working towards and willing to use violence to obtain a New World Order.

"Islamist", "Islamic Extremist", or "Islamic Fundamentalist" don't really point out the willingness of those involved to use violence to gain world supremacy. In partiuclar, the first and last of these would tend to drag in a lot of non-violent members of the Muslim faith who have no apparent interest in world domination. Something like trying to treat all Christian fundamentalists as members of the KKK. Yes, it appears that a far larger percentage of Islamic fundamentalists agree with the Islamofascist ideals than Christians do with the Klan's, but by all indications, most Islamic fundamentialists don't agree with al Qaeda, et al.
9.12.2007 8:14am
A.C.:
I agree with those who say that "Islamofascism" is the best descriptive term for the phenomenon we are describing. I think of the phenomenon as the overlapping area of a Venn diagram -- one circle is all the different kinds of fascism that have ever existed, and one circle is all the different interpretations of Islam that have ever existed. Where the two circles intersect, there you find Islamofascism.

For me, the main purpose of using this term is not to support the left or the right or any particular policy, but to have a term that is much NARROWER than "Islam" to refer to the part of Islam that is the problem. When I say it, I'm not saying that all Muslims are fascists. Rather, I'm trying to call out a specific subset and NOT include the rest.

"Islamic fundamentalism" doesn't work for me for most of the reasons cited, and also because I'm convinced that the relevant ideology isn't necessarily "fundamental" to Islam. It seems to be a fairly modern spin, in fact, and anyway Islam has generated a lot of different schools of thought over the centuries. (I'm not overly fond of "Christian fundamentalism" either. Catholics and Baptists have different ideas about what is "fundamental" to the Christian faith.)

Islamo-extremism isn't as bad, and it may actually be more useful in some political contexts, but it doesn't have the same content when used as pure description. Also, if you're going to look for politically useful expressions, you can do better. I might propose "violent extremism based on a misinterpretation of Islam." It's wordy, but it has nuances that you won't get with any short expression.
9.12.2007 10:46am
Passing By:
"Islamofascist" is a very useful term.

When you hear somebody use it, you know immediately that they know little to nothing about either Islam or fascism, which can save you a lot of time if you might otherwise have been inclined to listen to them on the subject.
9.12.2007 10:49am
Jeff Eaton (mail) (www):

Neo-Caliphates...

This is probably the best I've heard yet. As quite a few other commenters have mentioned, 'Fascists' is a label that's become so broad as to be meaningless. Even the 'precise' definitions mentioned above cover everything from Islamic terrorists to Christian pentacostals to Rush Limbaugh fans. Simply tacking 'And They Kill People' on the end is meaningless as well -- even ignoring cases where ideologies we're friendlier with have motivated individuals to kill, 'being a murderer' is not an ideological distinction and its certainly not specific to Fascism.

The distinguishing characteristics of the AQ-led movement that we're ostensibly fighting is the goal of a resurgent Caliphate and a restoration of Islamic theocracy to its former glory in the Mideast. Western nations have been targeted because they (in the language of AQ) prop up corrupt and unworthy Arab governments.

"Neocaliphates" makes sense, and points the listener to useful distinctions rather than huffy nazi-calling.
9.12.2007 10:54am
A.C.:
I disagree with Passing By, of course. To show why, I'll start with this paragraph from the Wikipedia article on Islamofascism. Keep in mind that this quote is meant to criticize the use of the term, not to support it.

"Journalist Eric Margolis agrees: 'There is nothing in any part of the Muslim World that resembles the corporate fascist states of western history. In fact, clan and tribal-based traditional Islamic society, with its fragmented power structures, local loyalties, and consensus decision-making, is about as far as possible from western industrial state fascism. The Muslim World is replete with brutal dictatorships, feudal monarchies, and corrupt military-run states, but none of these regimes, however deplorable, fits the standard definition of fascism. Most, in fact, are America's allies.'"

My response is, the Islamofascist movement (or whatever you want to call it) is in large part about sweeping all these characteristics away, or else coopting them into a new social order that the Whatever-You-Call-Ems are promoting. So, the fact that many current Muslim societies are tribal or feudal doesn't say much. The Islamofascists aren't tribal -- many live in the west and are at least partially assimilated into Western society. Their vision opposes diverse local loyalties and traditions and tries to level such things out.

It's DIFFERENT from a lot of things in Islam, not the same. Which is why Iraq's Sunni tribes can turn on it without necessarily turning into Western liberals.
9.12.2007 11:50am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Frater Plotter writes:

The struggle here is not between Western Civilization and the Islamofascist Barbarians, as Hitchens seems to think. The struggle (that's English for "jihad") is within each and every society: between ordinary folks who want to live their (individual) lives, and fanatics who would rather that the world go up in flames than that their ideology fail to dominate the world.

In Denmark and in France, the threat is Islamofascist immigrants. But in the United States, it's Christofascist nativists.
Christofascists believe that Christian prayers should be allowed at high school commencement (along with prayers by Jews and even Muslims, if there are any in the community).

Islamofascists believe that apotasy should be a capital offense.

Christofascists oppose recognizing marriages between homosexuals and homosexual adoption, and would prefer that homosexuals go into the closet.

Islamofascists oppose recognizing the right of homosexuals to breathe, and hang homosexuals, then drag their bodies through the streets.

The scales have fallen from my eyes! The parallels are so obvious!
9.12.2007 12:01pm
Jeff Eaton (mail) (www):
Islamofascists oppose recognizing the right of homosexuals to breathe, and hang homosexuals, then drag their bodies through the streets.

Last I checked, we were talking about the threat of terrorism, the underlying ideological footprint of AQ-esque groups, and the accuracy and usefulness of the term 'Islamofascist.'

Are you suggesting, now, that a group's position on human rights for homosexuals should be used as the basis for the 'Fascist' label? And that the line between 'not fascist' and 'fascist' lies between ostracism and capital punishment? I'll definitely give you points for novelty.
9.12.2007 12:16pm
Jason Steed:
Whit,
Too many other comments have intervened for our exchange to have any continuity. I will only say this (because I think it gets to the heart of our disagreement):

If a party or a group purporting to espouse a certain ideology comes to power and then behaves contrary to that espoused ideology (e.g., they claim to protect rights but then restrict rights once in power), this is not the same as saying that the ideology changes once in power.

The party or group has abandoned its ideology; the ideology cannot abandon its ideology.

So...if "Leftists" come to power and proceed to restrict rights and oppress the masses, then these "Leftists" are no longer Leftist. They have shifted ideologies.

Others on this thread have listed Stalin, Mao, etc. as "evidence" that Leftists oppress the masses and restrict rights. This displays a misunderstanding of the distinction between the ideology itself and those who claim to espouse it (but then later abandon or betray it).

Also, to advisory opinion:
You cannot defeat my argument so handily. Championing workers/the proletariat/the masses is NOT the same as championing a "nation." What is laughable is your belabored attempt to stretch the definition of nationalism so far that the championing of any group becomes tantamount to nationalism. That's ridiculous. Fighting for gay rights is not nationalism. Fighting for civil rights for Blacks is not nationalism. And fighting for workers' rights is not nationalism.
9.12.2007 12:24pm
Halcyon (mail):

Christofascists believe that Christian prayers should be allowed at high school commencement (along with prayers by Jews and even Muslims, if there are any in the community).


Really? You might want to tell that to the people who shouted down the Hindu Prayer at the Capitol, or to this Jewish Family in Delaware. 'Christofascists' (which is just a silly term really) are all for their prayer, but only their prayer.
9.12.2007 12:46pm
whit:
"Yes, and his perception, such as it is, has nothing to do with "leftism.""

nor did i say it did. the point, which you keep missing is that ON THIS ISSUE, he breaks with (most ) leftists, but is reliably leftist on nearly everything else.

"He has grown so paranoid that he will vote for someone who will spy on him!"

it's not paranoid, if they are actually out to get you. furthermore, oh so liberal england IS a surveillance culture, put in place LARGELY by the left.

you can't walk 5 feet in london without being filmed by GOVT surveillance cameras. the idea that leftists and surveillance is incompatible is laughable and historically inaccurate.

" Since you admit that Hitch believes that nothing else matters besides Bush's crusade, how is he still on the left? "

again, you are being obtuse. if society can be destroyed by threat X, than other threats to liberty are necesarily subordinate to threat X. that is tangential to the fact that he is a leftist.

again, your "logic" is that he believes in the GWOT and you can't be a leftist if you believe in the GWOT.

again, that's absurd, and redefines leftism, but we've already established that you want to redefine leftism to suit your preconceived notions.

furthermore, by injecting your subjective bias (hitchens, believing what he believes is "paranoid") you show that you are not willing (no surprise) to discuss this rationally, and in an adultlike manner. not surprisingly, this is essentially the same reaction that the nation et al had to hitchens when he "came out". the idea that the left is more tolerant of intellectual diversity, and is more open minded is clearly not the case. that's why i see more diversity of opinion in a rightwing mag (like national review) where several prominent posters have widely divergent views on the GWOT (is it justified, etc.) you can expect near lockstep uniformity on the left. same with abortion fwiw. many leftists think that being pro-life (i happen to be pro-choice) is completely incompatible with leftism. which is also absurd, but certain gatekeepers of ideological purity remain
9.12.2007 1:01pm
whit:
"If a party or a group purporting to espouse a certain ideology comes to power and then behaves contrary to that espoused ideology (e.g., they claim to protect rights but then restrict rights once in power), this is not the same as saying that the ideology changes once in power. "

except that when it nearly ALWAYS happens, one starts questioning the results as the near inevitable results OF that ideology. again, i have no quarrel with the fact that leftists BELIEVE (such as your claim) that they are the side that is interested in protecting rights (but only the rights THEY deem important as such. only a couple of leftists i know would ever deem the NRA as a civil rights organization, since they conveniently don't consider THAT right... a right. they will talk about the right to be "free from gun violence" instead). i am saying that, based on experience, leftists are thus wrong. furthermore, you cannot bring about a leftist society WITHOUT trampling on rights.

"So...if "Leftists" come to power and proceed to restrict rights and oppress the masses, then these "Leftists" are no longer Leftist. They have shifted ideologies. "

and yet, they nearly ALWAYS do, which might say more about human nature, than ideology. but imo, leftism is based on false perceptions about the very nature of man. thus, they cannot instill their society and move towards their goals WITHOUT restricting rights because otherwise, it does not work. not that it works anyways, but i digress.

"Others on this thread have listed Stalin, Mao, etc. as "evidence" that Leftists oppress the masses and restrict rights. This displays a misunderstanding of the distinction between the ideology itself and those who claim to espouse it (but then later abandon or betray it). "

right. this is the old "communism is great, it's just the communists that don't "do it right""

that gets a bit tired, when you look back at the 20th century.

breaking eggs is one thing.

torturing the chicken in the gulags is another.
9.12.2007 1:08pm
whit:
"Even the 'precise' definitions mentioned above cover everything from Islamic terrorists to Christian pentacostals to Rush Limbaugh fans"

or mike malloy fans, or randy rhoads fans.

see, two can play that game
9.12.2007 1:10pm
Smokey:
O. Hutchins:
Congratulations, Smokey. You win the prize for the nastiest, most bigoted filth I've ever read on this blog.
Well, O, I asked if anyone could name ten Islamists who regularly stand up and proclaim, ''Sawing the heads off of innocent civilians is WRONG!! Recruiting 8-year old suicide bombers is evil!! Stop it right now!!''

If that's your idea of being 'nasty' and 'bigoted,' I've got another question for you: What's it like, being an apologist for cold-blooded murderers?
9.12.2007 1:11pm
Jason Steed:
No, whit, it is YOU who wants to redefine Leftism by whatever so-called "Leftists" do. If "Leftists" do it, according to you, then that is "Leftism."

But I can call myself a "Christian" while acting in ways that are unforgiving, uncharitable, immoral, etc. -- Does that mean it is "Christian" to be unforgiving, uncharitable, immoral, etc.? Of course not.

Leftism is an ideology -- a set of ideals, a way of seeing and approaching the world, etc. If someone acts in ways that are contrary to these ideals or this view, then they cannot be said (fairly) to espouse the ideology.

No one (or almost no one) is monolithically "Left" or "Right" -- we all tend to move one way or the other depending on the question or issue at hand. The only designation of "Leftist" or "Rightist" that is justifiable is the one that seeks to mark where one is predominantly, ideologically.

Where one stands on parochial political issues such as gay marriage or prescription drug programs is lower, in prominence and priority, for the Leftist ideology, than where one stands with regard to global socioeconomic issues such as peace vs. war, "us" vs. "them", egalitarianism vs. hierarchy, etc.

In other words, in trying to peg a person as "Leftist," it matters more where they stand on the global socioeconomic issues and questions than where they stand on parochial political issues and questions.

Hitch might make moves Leftward on certain issues -- maybe on all parochial political issues (according to you) -- but his fundamental ideology, with regard to the big, global, socioeconomic issues and questions, seems to have shifted significantly Rightward. And since the latter matters more, ideologically speaking, than the former, it isn't very accurate to describe Hitch as a "Leftist."
9.12.2007 1:14pm
whit:
jason, i give you props for ignoring the evidence, with all reckless abandon, so i'll leave it at that.

my favorite "maybe on all parochial issues". the record is there. like i said, prior the whole GWOT thang, every book he read was pimped on mother jones, the nation, etc. but it's just MY opinion, that "parochial social issues" find him a leftist.

because we all know that the nation, etc. publishes rightist ideology all the time (rolls eyes)
9.12.2007 1:18pm
Jason Steed:
whit,
You are correct: almost all the "Leftists" who have come to power, or tried to come to power, have moved significantly to the Right once in power. Ever heard the cliche? (Power corrupts...etc.)

The problem is that you keep wanting to insist that this application of Rightist policies is indicative, somehow, of the "true" nature of Leftism. Again, you're repeatedly confusing the ideology with the people who claim to espouse it (but then later abandon or betray it).

This conversation is getting repetitive, so I'll bow out. Thanks.
9.12.2007 1:19pm
whit:
"You are correct: almost all the "Leftists" who have come to power, or tried to come to power, have moved significantly to the Right once in power. Ever heard the cliche? (Power corrupts...etc.) "

false

you are confusing the concept of authoritarianism with being rightwing.

a rightwinger or a leftwinger can be more or less authoritarian.

leftwingers, IN PRACTICE tend to be extremely authoritarian when they come to power. as do many rightwingers

but authoritarianism says little about whether one is right or left wing. it is a statement of tactics and power, not of ideology.

that's not repetitive. what it is, is a demonstration of your bias and lack of understanding. that you associate authoritarianism with the right and not the left shows a complete ignorance of history, as well as political ideology
9.12.2007 2:05pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Really? You might want to tell that to the people who shouted down the Hindu Prayer at the Capitol, or to this Jewish Family in Delaware. 'Christofascists' (which is just a silly term really) are all for their prayer, but only their prayer.
This case in Delaware is bizarre. It reads like something from another century. It almost makes me wonder if this is a completely accurate account.
9.12.2007 2:23pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Jeff Eaton writes:

Are you suggesting, now, that a group's position on human rights for homosexuals should be used as the basis for the 'Fascist' label? And that the line between 'not fascist' and 'fascist' lies between ostracism and capital punishment? I'll definitely give you points for novelty.
I wrote that as part of pointing out that the use of "Christofascist" by analogy to Islamofascist is a bogus comparison. One group murders homosexuals. Another doesn't want the government recognize their marriages. I suppose that you think those are equivalent situations.
9.12.2007 2:26pm
Halcyon (mail):
This case in Delaware is bizarre. It reads like something from another century. It almost makes me wonder if this is a completely accurate account.


Everything I've caught so far seems to back this up, but you can read it here at the NY Times as well for more info
9.12.2007 3:07pm
Vivictius (mail):
Not to get off topic, but even though it is popular to claim that the KKK was/is radical christian organization that claim does not hold up to the facts. The origional Klan was formed by former Confederate soldiers to fight the Reconstruction and the Republican Party in general. It was essentialy wiped out in the early 1870s.

In 1915 a new Klan was formed that was mostly anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, and anti-Communist. It pretty much doesnt exist anymore either except as several unconnected groups of nuts.

While most of the members have always been Christian (non-Catholic of course) that is simply because it was mostly southern organization and most people in that area at that time where Christian.
9.12.2007 3:29pm
Jeff Eaton (mail) (www):
Clayton:
I wrote that as part of pointing out that the use of "Christofascist" by analogy to Islamofascist is a bogus comparison. One group murders homosexuals. Another doesn't want the government recognize their marriages. I suppose that you think those are equivalent situations.

No, I do not. However, I do understand that the distinction between outlawing something and killing people is completely unrelated to the 'Fascist/Not Fascist' question at the heart of this thread.

'Fascism' means something. Those who have defended the use of 'Islamofascists' in this thread tend to fall back on uselessly broad definitions (like ones that would include fundamentalist Christians) or arbitrary criteria like, "They kill people to further their goals." When this broad definition of fascism is paired with huffy hair-splitting to keep Christian/Conservative/American groups out of the umbrella definition, it demonstrates profound intellectual dishonesty. It reveals that the 'Islamofascist' label is not being used for any meaningful reason -- not because it convey important information about the beliefs or ideas of those so labelled -- but because the American public understands that Fascists Are Bad, and Nothing More Need Be Known.

This is why I feel 'Neocaliphates' would be far more useful. It captures the important distinction between, say, local insurrectionists with strong religious beliefs and the large-scale plans of those who would restore the Caliphate.
9.12.2007 3:35pm
Brian K (mail):
I am struck by your failure to capitalize "christianity" and "muslim" but that you did capitalize "KKK".
i always capitalize acronyms and/or abbreviations. you are more than welcome to check out my notes for proof. NE is capitalized while norepinephrine is not, EPI is capitalized while epinephrine is not, TH is capitalized while tyrosine hydroxylase is not. if you don't like it, your free to ignore it and not post stupid comments about my grammer.


I asked the question to determine if you were applying a different standard to islam than you apply to christianity or other religions (<- see not capitalized as they are not abbreviations or acronyms). and i got a resounding yes.

when was the last time there was an anti-KKK rally? when was the last picketing of a KKK meeting? when was the last time oreilly or some other self described defender of the christian faith slash pundit denounced the actions of the KKK? when was the last time your typical priest had a sermon on the evils of the KKK? you appear to want muslims to jump up and shout "terrorists are evil" everytime a terrorist who happens to be a muslim says or does something stupid. historical or recently past denunciations just don't cut it. but all you can point to are battles between christianity and the KKK that happened 30+ years even though both groups still exist today. you also seem to accept that the terrorists are muslim because they say they are and commit evil in the name of islam, but you don't accept that KKK are christian even though they say they are and commit their brand of evil in the name of christianity.

I got the answer i thought i would and know which people are more (or less) trustworthy as a result.
9.12.2007 3:36pm
Brian K (mail):
While most of the members have always been Christian (non-Catholic of course) that is simply because it was mostly southern organization and most people in that area at that time where Christian.

The same can be said about islamic terrorist. see jeff eaton's most recent post for a more eloquent description than i could have given.
9.12.2007 3:41pm
Jeff Eaton (mail) (www):

when was the last time there was an anti-KKK rally?

http://asheville.indymedia.org/article/107Clowns

Best. Protest. Ever.
9.12.2007 4:29pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
'Fascism' means something. Those who have defended the use of 'Islamofascists' in this thread tend to fall back on uselessly broad definitions (like ones that would include fundamentalist Christians) or arbitrary criteria like, "They kill people to further their goals." When this broad definition of fascism is paired with huffy hair-splitting to keep Christian/Conservative/American groups out of the umbrella definition, it demonstrates profound intellectual dishonesty.
Hairsplitting. Yup. There's so little difference between executing homosexuals and refusing to recognize same-sex marriage. Next thing you know, I'll be claiming that there's a difference between capital punishment and not shaking your hand.
9.12.2007 4:39pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
In 1915 a new Klan was formed that was mostly anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, and anti-Communist. It pretty much doesnt exist anymore either except as several unconnected groups of nuts.

While most of the members have always been Christian (non-Catholic of course) that is simply because it was mostly southern organization and most people in that area at that time where Christian.
This isn't quite correct. The Second Klan sold itself as a traditional morality response to big city corruption--but fell apart when one of the businessmen in charge raped and mutilated his secretary, who committed suicide afterwards. It was somewhat damaging to the self-image of the membership, unsurprisingly.

I suppose if Muslims in large numbers from the very beginning had repudiated al-Qaeda and friends, not just for their tactics, but their long-term goals, there would be less identification of their movement with Islam. But the fact is that many of al-Qaeda's goals--a single state religion, legal discrimination against non-Muslim religions (with even worse for those who aren't Christians or Jews), anti-capitalism, etc.--are goals of most devout Muslims.

Imagine if the response to abortion clinic bombers had been either wild enthusiasm from Christians, or complete and utter silence. That would be the analogy.
9.12.2007 4:51pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
when was the last time there was an anti-KKK rally? when was the last picketing of a KKK meeting?
How many KKK meetings have there been in the last 20 years? The media give enormous coverage to KKK or neo-Nazi ralies, because they fit into the left's image of Middle America--and I can't recall seeing more than five or six events covered in that time. The counterprotesters always outnumbered the idiots.

when was the last time oreilly or some other self described defender of the christian faith slash pundit denounced the actions of the KKK? when was the last time your typical priest had a sermon on the evils of the KKK? you appear to want muslims to jump up and shout "terrorists are evil" everytime a terrorist who happens to be a muslim says or does something stupid. historical or recently past denunciations just don't cut it.
Yeah, and the KKK is a major organization, killing thousands of people a year, just like al-Qaeda.

In case you haven't figured it out, the KKK, neo-Nazis, and related kooks commit fewer murders each year than al-Qaeda does on any single day (sometimes in any single hour) in Iraq.
9.12.2007 4:55pm
Jeff Eaton (mail) (www):
Hairsplitting.


Desperate topic-shifting, more like it.

I reiterate: "human rights for homosexuals" and "the definition of fascism" are two very separate issues. The fact that you see them as inherently linked highlights the diminishing usefulness of "Fascist" as a descriptor. To you, it seems to mean nothing more than "Bad Men."

I'm concerned that the word used actually conveys accurate information. You and others seem to be more concerned that accurate names (like 'Neo-caliphate') are insufficiently evil-sounding. This is the sort of reasoning that leads to dorky, meaningless acronyms for bills introduced in Congress.

Yup. There's so little difference between executing homosexuals and refusing to recognize same-sex marriage. Next thing you know, I'll be claiming that there's a difference between capital punishment and not shaking your hand.

Perhaps you'd like to wander off to another discussion? One where people are actually saying the things that you're arguing against?
9.12.2007 5:10pm
Jeff Eaton (mail) (www):
Imagine if the response to abortion clinic bombers had been either wild enthusiasm from Christians, or complete and utter silence. That would be the analogy.

As a card-carrying member of the religious right and a donor to Focus On The Family through the 1990s, I can say that the response to those events among the rank and file of the Pro-Life community was generally "Sympathetic disappointment."

There's a strong argument inside the pro-life movement that, because abortion is murder, bombing a clinic is no different than bombing a military installation where chemical weapons are beign manufactured. The fact that the majority of Pro-Life activists do NOT do this is a testament to the stability of our nation, and the fact that they believe political and legal means of ending abortion are still realistic options.

All of this, of course, is a distraction from the fundamental question raised by the post: Is it accurate to call AQ and AQ-esque groups 'Islamofascist?' If the phrase means "Islamic Fascists," I would say no. If the phrase means "Bad Men Who Are Muslims And Kill People,' sure. It's accurate.

I apologize for my insistence on words that have meaning.
9.12.2007 5:16pm
Morat20 (mail):
I can't get past Hitches being called a "leftist". He was once, but whatever he is now "leftist" is horribly inaccurate.

As to the term Islamofascist -- I agree with another poster upthread, who said that the use of the term was a good indicator that the person using it was a moron and could be safely ignored.

And thirdly -- those using the term tend to identify as strongly conservative or Republican, at least here in the US.

So, in short, it's not a "leftist" term, it's not a "liberal" term -- it's a term used by flaming morons, and the particular flaming morons who seem enamored of it are on the right.

The flaming morons on the left have their own stupid terms that mean they can be safely ignored.
9.12.2007 6:26pm
advisory opinion:
Too funny.

Jason Steed at 1:42am:
"The neo-Nazis are nationalists, and it is the White Nation that they champion (across political and geographical borders)."
Jason Steed at 11:24am:
"You cannot defeat my argument so handily. Championing workers/the proletariat/the masses is NOT the same as championing a "nation." What is laughable is your belabored attempt to stretch the definition of nationalism so far that the championing of any group becomes tantamount to nationalism. That's ridiculous. Fighting for gay rights is not nationalism. Fighting for civil rights for Blacks is not nationalism. And fighting for workers' rights is not nationalism."
What's funny is that you can't even remain consistent for the duration.

So: championing the white "nation" is nationalism, but the championing of the socialist/proletariat/workers "nation" is not? You contradict himself. You do realize, don't you, that your comments apply to your own stretched definition of a white "nation" across geographical borders?

Your argument is self-defeating. And you prove the point inadvertently by admitting that it is "ridiculous" for the championing of any group to be tantamount to nationalism. In which case your definition of Hitchens' nationalism - his championing of the West - cannot be tantamount to nationalism. According to you, such a definition would be "ridiculous".

Good job tying yourself up in a pretzel.

If it helps, your logical confusions have names. The No True Christian fallacy (which you repeatedly employ in your replies to whit) and the reductio ad absurdum (which forced you into conceding that your own argument was ridiculous). Educate yourself.
9.12.2007 6:45pm
theobromophile (www):

Last I heard, college libertarians were still being called "fascists" by some of their peers on the left,

Well, someone called me a fascist a few weeks ago, so yes, said tradition is alive and well. My attempts to distinguish fascism (a push for coercive state control over every aspect of life) and libertarianism (the opposition to state control) fell on deaf ears.
9.12.2007 7:59pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
As a card-carrying member of the religious right and a donor to Focus On The Family through the 1990s, I can say that the response to those events among the rank and file of the Pro-Life community was generally "Sympathetic disappointment."
Can you give me some examples? I was in the same category in the 1990s, and the closest that I saw to "sympathetic disappointment" was a statement by some Catholic archbishop about the evils of using explosives to destroy empty clinics because of the danger of killing innocent bystanders. What I saw a lot of was criticism of people who claimed to be "pro-life" running around risking, and occasionally killing people.
9.12.2007 8:05pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

There's a strong argument inside the pro-life movement that, because abortion is murder, bombing a clinic is no different than bombing a military installation where chemical weapons are beign manufactured. The fact that the majority of Pro-Life activists do NOT do this is a testament to the stability of our nation, and the fact that they believe political and legal means of ending abortion are still realistic options.
You don't suppose that it is because they see this as the left's sort of actions?


All of this, of course, is a distraction from the fundamental question raised by the post: Is it accurate to call AQ and AQ-esque groups 'Islamofascist?' If the phrase means "Islamic Fascists," I would say no. If the phrase means "Bad Men Who Are Muslims And Kill People,' sure. It's accurate.
What defines fascism? The word itself is derived from the "fasces," the symbol of state power in Rome. It emphasizes the power of the collective and the state. Hence, Mussolini's description of fascism as more a process than an end, and his statement that fascism was opposed to capitalism, individualism, and nineteenth-century liberalism.

And this is different from al-Qaeda in what way? Al-Qaeda believes that the collective of Islamic believers, as a government, is the highest goal. Like fascism, it believes in a strong government (strong enough to ban smoking, for example), and one that considers the collective good (as the leadership defines that) the most important goal of the government.

Like fascism, it opposes laissez-faire capitalism.

Like fascism, it opposes freedom of speech.

Like fascism, it glorifies the use of violence, both in official and unofficial ways.

Like fascism, it regards the rights of the individual as insignificant compared to the caliphate.

I can think of only a few ways in which al-Qaeda's ideology does not qualify as fascism. Fascism was anticlerical, but prepared to make an accommodation with the Catholic Church. Al-Qaeda is strongly tied to Islam in a Talibanesque form.

Can you name some other ways in which they are different?
9.12.2007 8:14pm
Jeff Eaton (mail) (www):
Can you give me some examples? I was in the same category in the 1990s, and the closest that I saw to "sympathetic disappointment" was a statement by some Catholic archbishop about the evils of using explosives to destroy empty clinics because of the danger of killing innocent bystanders.

Perhaps 'quietly conflicted disapproval' would be more accurate? If asked flat out, "Is bombing an abortion clinic wrong," almost all the people I knew would say yes. Whenever specific instances came up, however, responses were always conflicted. Pained expressions and statements that the bombers had "only hurt the cause" and "Well, it was wrong but..." were the most common. Finding someone who says that such bombings are justified is about as easy as finding someone who says that liberals should be deported.

You don't suppose that [the emphasis on civil disobedience, political activism, and lawsuits] is because they see [violence] as the left's sort of actions?

No, I don't suppose that. In my years working with the Family Research Council, the American Life League, local pro-life groups, area churches, and so on, I never once heard that idea floated. Objections were purely moral and ethical, and the conflict was at that level too. If bombing a clinic is wrong because taking life is wrong, would bombing a clinic to SAVE more lives than would be TAKEN be acceptable? This is an important fundamental question that is grappled with. And the answer for most has been "it hasn't come to that yet -- we have many other options."

I'd like to make clear that I am not suggesting that anti-abortion violence is numerically equivalent to 'neocaliphate' terrorism. That would be absurd, and all reasonable individuals acknowledge it. Only dozens-to-hundreds of instances of clinic bombings are on record. What I object to is the implication that Christian philosophy and ideology is inherently incompatible with such ideas. There is ample history, both distant and recent, to demonstrate that Christians can justify violence just as easily as any other belief-group.

What I saw a lot of was criticism of people who claimed to be "pro-life" running around risking, and occasionally killing people.

We've got some No True Scotsman going on here; I think we must honestly admit that if someone blows up a clinic because the people there are performing abortions, they are a member of the 'anti-abortion/pro-life' crowd philosophically, if not socially.

I can think of only a few ways in which al-Qaeda's ideology does not qualify as fascism.

Perhaps the fact that they are not corporatists? Perhaps the fact that they wish to establish a theocracy rather than a totalitarian regime? One can argue that the two are synonymous at a functional level, but philosophically they're quite different and are justified in very different ways.

More importantly -- and this is the crux of the discussion as far as I'm concerned -- is that your relatively broad use of the 'Fascist' label leaves out critical elements of the AQ and AQ-alike ideologies. Simultaneously, you split hairs to exempt Christian movements that fit the Fascist label just as easily. Christian Dominionists, for example, demonstrate the nationalism, authoritarianism, militarism, collectivism, and so on. And they, arguably, are much closer to the halls of power in Washington than AQ has been in any country save Afghanistan.

I oppose the 'Fascist' label for Dominionists based on its nearly content-free implications, and I oppose its use when referring to AQ and AQ-esque organizations as well. "Islamofascists" is a mark of silliness in the same way "Clintonistas" and "Bushocracy" are marks of inane partisanship.
9.12.2007 8:51pm
Jeff Eaton (mail) (www):
I'd also like to clarify that my experiences in the midwest nexus of Evangelical and Pentacostal communities may be outside the norm. There's likely to be a large mix of opinions in any large group, with large-ish clusters contradicting themselves. That's why my general assumption is that condemning any community for being insufficiently vocal in condemning one of its own is tricky when the community contains over a billion people.

And that, of course, is a separate issue from the 'Is Islamofascist an accurate descriptive term' question. I've never once heard the term used by anyone who'd taken time to study and understand the ideologies, motivations, and actions of the groups in question. "Pro-caliphate Islamic radicals," sure. But like I said earlier, that doesn't have the punchy Internet/BBS Flame War zing of "Islamofascists."

The term spreads to the extent that branding is more important than meaning.
9.12.2007 9:03pm
Lede (www):
I believe, actually, that proper credit for the term, "Islmo-Facism" should go to right-wind radio host Micheal Savage whom first espoused the term in 1993.
9.12.2007 11:31pm
Gaius Marius:
Ummmm...Radical Islam predates Fascism by about 1300 years.
9.13.2007 1:03am
Seamus (mail):
Al-Qaeda believes that the collective of Islamic believers, as a government, is the highest goal.

Well, that's an important distinction, for one. Al-Qaeda would like to overthrown existing states, and substitute for them the Islamic ummah. It has no wish to aggrandize any particular existing state, the way Mussolini wanted to aggrandize the Italian staet. Fascism believes, as Mussolini said, that "all [should be] within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state." This formulation definitely does not provide room for a religious movement outside or against the state.

You'd be on much more solid ground if you suggested that Ba'athism was analogous to fascism, but even that analogy isn't quite exact. Ba'athism doesn't glorify the state per se, but the Arab nation, which makes it closer to National Socialism, with its glorification of the German Volk. But neither fascism nor Naziism had any room for a religious movement that claimed loyalties above those owed to the state (in one case) or the Volk (in the other).
9.13.2007 1:12pm
Seamus (mail):
I should have said that Ba'athism was closer *in that respect* to National Socialism.
9.13.2007 1:13pm
Seamus (mail):
Anderson, did either Franco or Hitler (and his minions) ever refer to themselves as "fascists?" I don't think so, but I'm open to contrary evidence.

I wouldn't call either of them fascists. I think the term has little meaning, other than as a general term of disapprobation, outside of Italy between ca. 1922 and 1943.

That Naziism is generally referred to as "fascist" is a tribute to the propagandizing success of the left, who in the 1930s who refused to acknowledge that the National Socialists were any kind of socialists at all, and preferred to use the term "fascist" (or, in the Soviet Union, "Hitlerite") rather than "Nazi," and who liked to use the term as a catch-all to tar any right-wing political group of which they disapproved. (Or, in the case of Trotskyites, to tar the Stalinists, who they regarded as having betrayed the revolution.)

So when I hear people applying the term "fascist" generally to political movements of which they disapprove (unless, as I say, those movements were ruling Italy between 1922 and 1943), my inclination is to suspect that the speaker is a person of the Left, and if not that, then at least a former leftist--or perhaps a neo-conservative (which is to say an adherent of a political movement whose roots are in the left)--who probably smiles nostalgically at "This machine kills fascists," written on Woody Guthrie's guitar case.
9.13.2007 1:26pm
Jeff Eaton (mail) (www):
Well, you have to admit.

It was a pretty cool guitar case.
9.13.2007 2:24pm
Seamus (mail):
Well, you have to admit.

It was a pretty cool guitar case.


And "Joe Hill" was a pretty cool song, too, but it's still leftie agitprop.
9.13.2007 3:07pm
Jeff Eaton (mail) (www):
Mmmm, I tend to put it in the same category as "Calling democrats communists if they advocate single-payer health care." One could make the argument, if one really tried, but it's better just to admit hyperbole and move on...
9.13.2007 4:05pm
neurodoc:
Gaius Marius: Ummmm...Radical Islam predates Fascism by about 1300 years.
Perhaps that is said tongue-in-cheek, but the fact that today's "Radical Islam" might not have been so "radical" 1300+ years ago, and that "fascism" takes its name from a 20th century political model, has no bearing on "Islamofascist" to describe Osama and his admirers.
9.13.2007 5:29pm