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More on Islamofascism,

from Christopher Hitchens, in Slate. An excerpt:

The most obvious points of comparison would be these: Both movements are based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind. ("Death to the intellect! Long live death!" as Gen. Francisco Franco's sidekick Gonzalo Queipo de Llano so pithily phrased it.) Both are hostile to modernity (except when it comes to the pursuit of weapons), and both are bitterly nostalgic for past empires and lost glories. Both are obsessed with real and imagined "humiliations" and thirsty for revenge. Both are chronically infected with the toxin of anti-Jewish paranoia (interestingly, also, with its milder cousin, anti-Freemason paranoia). Both are inclined to leader worship and to the exclusive stress on the power of one great book. Both have a strong commitment to sexual repression -- especially to the repression of any sexual "deviance" -- and to its counterparts the subordination of the female and contempt for the feminine. Both despise art and literature as symptoms of degeneracy and decadence; both burn books and destroy museums and treasures.

I think he treats the other similarity -- both are repressive of political, religious, and social dissent -- as too obvious to need mentioning. He also goes on to acknowledge differences, related to corporatism and racial superiority (though suggests that Islamofascism does in some measure involve some claims of racial or ethnic superiority).

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on Islamofascism,
  2. Islamofascism:
Vovan:

Does Bin Ladenism or Salafism or whatever we agree to call it have anything in common with fascism?



In the attempted destruction of the Hazara people of Afghanistan, who are ethnically Persian as well as religiously Shiite, there was also a strong suggestion of "cleansing."


Notice that Hitchens in the article, distinguishes between the Sunni and the Shi'a, when under the umbrella term that he defends, no distinction is accorded to them.

A mere slip? Or willful ignorance - one can only wonder...
10.22.2007 7:37pm
PLR:
This is maybe the least interesting item relating to Hitchens that I've seen in the last 30 days. But I won't say he's farshikkert, that would be a fallacy.
10.22.2007 7:41pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I have 2 problems with the term Islamofascism:

1. We need to bring moderate Muslims over to our side, and whether or not their hatred of this term is justified, many of them hate this term. It's like if you wanted to woo Christian conservatives on an important issue you wouldn't go on and on complaining about "Jesus freaks" and "religious zealots".

2. Americans have a woefully bad understanding of the internecine conflicts within Islam, which contributed to the widely-held false belief that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11, and beliefs about how easy it would be to conquer and place a friendly government in Iraq. Indeed, there is quite a lot of racism and bigotry directed by some segments of the American population against Arabs, Persians, and Muslims. The term Islamofacism does nothing to educate Americans about the distinctions between various types of Islam, and various ethnic groups. Rather, it encourages Americans to believe we can go over there and kick unspecified ass, which is an awful thing to believe.
10.22.2007 9:11pm
cvt:
Hichens writes, "People like Tony Judt write to me to say, in effect, that it's ahistorical and simplistic to [compare fascist and jihadist ideology]." Too bad there's no link to Judt's critique. I'm sure he's right. Hichens' use of the term fascism is polemical, not historical.
10.22.2007 9:19pm
cvt:
Hitchens also notes that glorification of the nation state was an essential part of fascist movements, apparently absent in "Islamofascism." That's a pretty big difference. Hitchen then asks whether al Qaeda's demand for a revival of the caliphate doesn't "have points of resemblance with the mad scheme of a 'Greater Germany' or with Mussolini's fantasy of a revived Roman empire?" The answer is no. Both of those were consistent with the glorification of Germany and Italy as nation states. bin Laden's program is in opposition to any existing Muslim nation.
10.22.2007 9:51pm
cvt:
10.22.2007 10:05pm
Seamus (mail):
Hichens' use of the term fascism is polemical, not historical.

As is almost every use of the term in contexts other than Italy between 1922 and 1943. (Since he used the term himself, I'll concede that the gang surrounding Sir Oswald Moseley is appropriately termed "fascist" as well.)

Orwell was right in saying that the term has come to mean little more than a pejorative epithet (of a vaguely political nature; calling someone a "fascist motherfucker" does in fact convey slightly more information than simply calling him a "motherfucker").
10.22.2007 10:06pm
wb (mail):
Such comparisons based on how a mass movement presents are at best a shallow analysis and as likely to be misleading as revealing. The case for similarity would be far more convincing were the comparisons and contrast based on systemic and structural considerations. As an example consider the analysis of Voeglin, Jonas and others of communism and fascism as manifestations of gnostic-inspired ersatz religions. Such analyses reveal the emotional appeal of ersatz religions without resorting to name-calling and scare words. They also expose the intellectual lacunae that underlie and potentially undermine such mass movements - that is, the questions that one is forbidden to ask - that lie outside the range of discourse and political analysis

I expect an interesting systemic analysis of islamism can be made along these lines. Doing so might reveal the emotional soft underbelly that may be the only successful way to defeat islamism without resorting to protracted guerilla warfare.
10.22.2007 10:15pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Both are hostile to modernity (except when it comes to the pursuit of weapons)

Hitler was hostile to modernity . . . WTF?!?!?! His regime was actually one of the most obsessed with scientific advances as any in world history. The only real similarities between fascism and Fundamentalist Islam is that both are bad.
10.22.2007 10:44pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Crazy. Hitler was obsessed with military technology. That's not modernity. He was also obsessed with a mythical Aryan past, possibly by Wagner, and wanted nothing to do with the fundamental aspects of modernity such as the individual's freedom to contribute in his own way. He preferred the dull, drilled, brutish masses--armed, of course, with the latest wonder weapons.
10.22.2007 11:10pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It's got to be Islamo something.
Fascism is not correct because of one or two items in which a difference can be discerned, with some effort.
Would those living under one regime envy their counterparts living under the other?

Islamic fundamentalism fails because it hides the fact that fundamentalist Islam calls for conquest and oppression. It does have the happy effect of implying it's similar to, say, hard-shell Baptists who are, all the right sort agree, a worse threat anyway.

Islamoaggression? It should be descriptive.

If moderate Muslims want not to be included in the eventual winner category, they need only behave so as to distinguish themselves. Simple.
10.22.2007 11:14pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Scott McLeemee said it well:

Not all Islamophobes are fanatics. Most, on the contrary, are decent people who just want to live in peace. Islamophobia forms only part of their identity. They grew up fearing Islam, and they still worry about it from time to time, especially during holidays and on certain anniversaries; but many would confess to doubt about just how Islamophobic they feel deep down inside. They may find themselves wondering, for example, if the Koran is really that much more bloodthirsty than the Jewish scriptures (Joshua 6 is plenty murderous) or the Christian (Matthew 10:34 is not exactly comforting). . . .



“The best way to preserve one’s values,” writes Eagleton, “is to practice them.” Well said; and worth keeping in mind whenever the Islamophobofascists start to rush about, trying to drum up some business.

We shouldn’t regard them as just nuisances. They are something much more dangerous. Determined to turn the whole world against us, they act as sleeper cells of malice and stupidity. There are sober ways to respond to danger, and insane ways. It is the demagogue’s stock in trade to blur the distinction.
10.22.2007 11:27pm
Randy R. (mail):
I don't think of modernity as being a concept of 'contributing to his own way.' To me, modernity is using the comtemporary technology (not necessasarily the latest), and living as the rest of your community does. So eating out a lot, microwaving your dinner, going to day spas, eating organically, watching too much tv, spending time on the internet, getting fat, driving big cars everywhere, listening to the latest music on itunes, allowing women to wear jeans -- this is evidence of modernity.

But that's outward symptoms. Being 'modern' probably also means accepting the fact that your marriage is failed and filing to divorce. (As opposed to just suffering until death parts you). Accepting your son's boyfriend as your own, realizing that if your daughter needs an abortion, she can get one, being happy that your wife is the senior VP of a corporation -- all these might be examples of living modern.

Of course, whether you accept modernity or not, you are still required to personally handwrite thank you notes for every gift you have received, and every dinner party you attended. On that, I'm sure we can all agree.
10.22.2007 11:28pm
frankcross (mail):
Under this reasoning, couldn't you argue that communism was fascism? Does that make sense?
10.22.2007 11:36pm
randal (mail):
I still don't buy it.

1. The common defense of "Islamofascism" is to trot out a bunch of comparisons between radical Islam and fascism. Both EV and CH resort to this tactic. The tactic itself is evidence enough that radical Islam is not fascism, otherwise the argument would just say that. It's merely like fascism is some respects.

2. The advocates of "Islamofascism" (neocons, etc.) have achieved their main objective, which is to get everyone arguing over the word. Not because it's a "distraction from the real debate" as much as because it gets people to spill a lot of ink on comparisons between fascism and radical Islam! Obviousy, to the extent such comparisons have any truth to them - which in this case is significant - it's actually a boon (for the neocons) to have a substantial bloc of people objecting to the word. The word is designed to smear radical Islam, so a debate over the word inevitably leads to a lot of defenses of the smear, furthering the propagandistic ends.

Both EV and CH admit - at minimum through omission - that radical Islam is not fascism. They only claim that the word is defensible since the connotations of "fascism" are mostly in line with the reality of radical Islam.

Well, that's insufficient. Just because a word is defensible doesn't mean it should be advocated, especially as the title for a group. The obviously propagandistic overtones of "Islamofascism" alienate fair-minded people, they have pointed out the negative consequeces of the word, these objections have given the other side the opportunity to announce the ways in which the propagandistic overtones are accurate, helping to realize the negative consequences in question, further aggravating fair-minded people, and around and around.

The word shouldn't be the focus. There are real objections to this word. Even granting that it's defensible, wouldn't a less objectionable (i.e. more accurate) term be better?
10.22.2007 11:37pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
randal.

Give us some more descriptive words which won't annoy Muslims who don't consider themselves in favor of extending the ummah despite the feelings of the currently un-ummahed.

Let's also recall that a moderate Muslim is one who is moderately Muslim. Is being moderately Muslim the same as the kind of moderate we wish to see? Or is it just a coincidence based on the use of the term "moderate" in two separate contexts and wishful thinking?
10.23.2007 12:07am
randal (mail):
EV said (on a previous thread on this topic) that "Islamofascism" is "sufficiently accurately pejorative". (That's not an exact quote, but as I recall, "accurately" and "pejorative" were both in it.)

That perfectly expresses why "Islamofascism" is not a good word for Americans to promulgate.

I am a believer in American exceptionalism. America is not a peer to radical Islamists and the countries that harbor and nurture them. America is not a peer to any country for that matter.

Intentionally pejorative terms like "Islamofascism" are equivalent to a playground taunts. Playground bullies and others that resort to cheap taunts are rightfully perceived as peers of their victims. If America is exceptional, it is not appropriate for us to use cheap taunts against our enemies. Teachers don't like some of their students. But it's inappropriate for teachers to call them names - even when the students' behavior is grossly damaging to the teacher's interests.

The term "fascism" is merely descriptive when applied to entities that are in fact fascist. It is a taunt when - as in this case - it is applied to non-fascist entities, such as President Bush. There are lots of terms that follow this pattern, such as "retarded." Retarded people are in fact retarded, and it's not a taunt to say it. It's a taunt when applied to non-retarded people, such as President Bush.

So when EV says that "Islamofascism" is "sufficiently accurately pejorative," he's admitting that it's inaccurate. It wouldn't be pejorative at all if it were fully accurate - i.e. if radical Islamists were in fact fascists. It's a taunt, and the claim is only that the taunt is close enough to the truth to be acceptable.

In other words, "Islamofascism" is in the same category as "Islamoretards." The term isn't talking about in-fact retarded Muslims, it's just a taunt. It's in some ways accurate. Retarded people often act against their own self-interest, as do radical Islamists. Retarded people typically require assistance and protection to survive, as do many radical Islamists (in the form of non-Islamist countries that harbor terrorists). Retarded people have sexual dysfunctions, as do radical Islamists. At some point, and this is what CH and EV do with "Islamofascism," I decree my list of similarities long enough to justify "Islamoretards" as "sufficiently accurately pejorative."

How about if we simply not resort to taunts.
10.23.2007 12:25am
Elmer (mail):
As I said, before, I doubt the people the term applies to are offended by it. Can anyone cite evidence to the contrary?
10.23.2007 12:39am
randal (mail):
Elmer, there are only three reasons to taunt someone.

1. To offend them.
2. To build solidarity with your friends by ridiculing a common enemy.
3. To make yourself feel (falsely) powerful.

You're saying #1 is off the table (and I tend to agree).

#2 is no longer effective because our would-be friends are sick of this sort of behavior from us. Kindof like when the 6th grade bully realizes by 9th grade that he has no more friends because they've grown up and developed a distaste for juvenile games.

So we're left with #3, which is too pathetic for words. Is America really that guy?
10.23.2007 12:55am
abb3w:
randal: So we're left with #3, which is too pathetic for words.

Point of order: you have failed to establish that the potentially offensive term is being used as a taunt, rather than an accurate characterization. "Raghead" and "camelf---er" are taunts. Is "Islamofacist" merely an accurate characterization of this faction of anti-western Islam?
10.23.2007 1:30am
neurodoc:
Randal: Retarded people are in fact retarded, and it's not a taunt to say it.
It is amusing to hear someone so righteously and self-assuredly exercised over "Islamofascist" tell us that "retarded" is a perfectly acceptable label except "when applied to non-retarded people." Refer to someone of subnormal intelligence as "retarded" in the presence of family or medical specialists and see the reaction you get.
It's merely like fascism...The obviously propagandistic overtones of "Islamofascism" alienate fair-minded people...further aggravating fair-minded people...The word shouldn't be the focus...
Merely like fascism? There must be a perfect identity according to the most precise and exclusive criteria political scientist types will allow?

I understand the implications of this label and I am not alienated by its use, so does it follow that I must be other than "fair-minded"? Clearly you are greatly aggravated by "Islamofascist," so does it follow that you must be "fair-minded," or more "fair-minded" than someone such as myself who accepts the label for what it is?

Will you and like-minded (fair-minded?) others all go the way of Rumpelstiltskein if EV, CH, and us less enlightened, but "non-retarded," go on speaking of "Islamofascists"?
10.23.2007 1:33am
randal (mail):
abb3w: See two posts up where I conclusively establish that "Islamofascism" is being used as a taunt. Do you care to refute my logic?

In particular, are you aware of any convincing arguments that radical Islamists are in fact fascist, rather than just have a lot in common with fascists?

I haven't seen a single reasonsed defense of radical Islamists as fascists in fact. All defenses either merely list similarities, or try to redefine "fascist," or both. (The ones that try to redefine "fascist" usually redefine it in terms of its common use as a taunt, so that doesn't get very far.)
10.23.2007 1:41am
randal (mail):
You bring up a fair point neurodoc. So let me clarify. I have no problem with individuals who choose to employ "Islamofascist" as a pejorative term. I may think they're sortof transparently petty, but that's not a big deal to me. Pretty much everyone is sortof transparently petty in one way or another.

My beef is with all these defenses of "Islamofascist" as some sort of descriptive term that we should all embrace. My beef is with the President and military and State Department officials using nakedly pejorative terms. It isn't good term for Americans - in the general, public sense - to adopt as a label.
10.23.2007 1:54am
sashal (mail):
Hitchens is a drunken commie retard.
And this is not a taunt
10.23.2007 1:58am
Doc Rampage (mail) (www):
I don't see the point of making up new terms like "Islamofascism" to describe a movement that already has a well-known name. The name is "Islam". It is a movement that has been a danger to the West for centuries. How can we oppose it when we can't even name it?
10.23.2007 3:00am
neurodoc:
Randal: You bring up a fair point neurodoc. I have no problem with individuals who choose to employ "Islamofascist"...I may think they're sortof transparently petty, but...(p)retty much everyone is sortof transparently petty in one way or another.
I'm not sure what you grant as "a fair point." You think those of us "who choose to employ 'Islamofascist'" are "sort of transparently petty," but think "pretty much everyone is sort of transparently petty in one way or another"? (BTW, not pellucidly petty, only sort of transparently petty?) Might we be counted among the "fair-minded," or only those like you who eschew "Islamofascist" can be that?

Randal, feel free not to use "Islamofascist" to label them (you do have a pretty good sense of who we have in mind, don't you). You can have a "standing objection" to its use, which means you don't need to jump up every time you hear/read the term in these threads. And you won't have to listen to more defenses of the arguments you keep repeating endlessly, to no useful ends. Shouldn't "fair-minded" people, both the petty and non-petty, be able to agree to a mutually respectful compromise of this sort?
10.23.2007 3:18am
randal (mail):
I agree wholeheartedly, neurodoc. Let's agree to agree. You can be fair-minded and use "Islamofascist" pejoratively - I won't even call you petty since that would be hypocritical. (You just can't be fair-minded and use "Islamofascist" purely descriptively, i.e., with no intent to denigrate.)

In return, I would like to stop hearing advocacy of the term as an objectively valid descriptive label. (A clarification from EV on this point would go a long way towards keeping me quiet.)
10.23.2007 3:35am
spectator:

Crazy. Hitler was obsessed with military technology. That's not modernity. He was also obsessed with a mythical Aryan past, possibly by Wagner, and wanted nothing to do with the fundamental aspects of modernity such as the individual's freedom to contribute in his own way. He preferred the dull, drilled, brutish masses--armed, of course, with the latest wonder weapons.

It is true that Hitler personally had a romantic vein; he was a failed artist after all. However, it is not true that such a nostalgic, romantic sentiment was characteristic for the National-Socialistic movement, or for the Fascist movement (which must not be confused with the former). Rather, National-Socialism stood for extreme rationalistic progress in all forms -- scientific in the form of (social) Darwinism and eugenics, moral in the form of materialism and logical positivism, economic in the form of (state) capitalism. Polemics against the 'old way of life', which was blamed for Germany's misery, were one of the primary propagandistic tools of the NSDAP.

For that reason, I am dumbstruck by the attempt to draw an ideological connection between the National-Socialists and the anarchic and restorative Mujaheddin.
10.23.2007 3:39am
Harry Eagar (mail):
What Doc said. Islam is the enemy. People who don't understand that, who look for reasons to subdivide the enemy into bad/not bad are doing the civilized world a bad turn.

cvt sez: 'bin Laden's program is in opposition to any existing Muslim nation' and concludes that makes it different from German or Italian triumphalism.

This is crazy. The whole point of dar al-Islam v. dar al-Harb is that god has promised dar al-Islam worldly supremacy, as a single state. Thus, the triumph of Islam will absorb all lesser states.

That people still aren't getting this at this late date suggests to me that not many Americans, even those who claim to be taking Islam seriously, know what they are talking about.

If the world-state dar al-Islam matches any European political theory -- and there's no reason it should -- it would be primitive Marxism, or perhaps one of the 17th c. millenial sects.

If you want to know whether a particular Muslim is your friend or your foe, you can make a first cut by asking: Do you reject that Allah has promised the eventual triumph of dar al-Islam over the last remnant of dar al-Harb?

You're not gonna get many 'yesses.'

It isn't one of the Five Pillars, but it's as profound a part of Islamic thought as any of them.
10.23.2007 3:55am
Elmer (mail):
I should have been more specific. I am ignoring the question of how similar the current Islamo-bad-people movement is to fascism. I'm asking whether the word is taunting or pejorative to the people it attempts to describe, or is seen as flattery, or just makes no sense.

Insults, like humor, vary widely across cultures. Though the differences between participants here seem large to us, I'd bet we are indistinguishable to those who think the Saudi government is way too liberal. Across that gulf, attempts to taunt will usually fail, just as Osama's latest is hilarious, though perhaps unintentionally.

If I'm right about this, the word used to describe Those People is for domestic consumption. As with any new thing needing a name, different subcultures tend to use different words, but certain requirements must be met before a coinage is successful. Though I don't use Islamofascist, I am unaware of a better term. Any attempt to capture the complexity of the situation results in something too unwieldy to use.

Also note that the use of less than respectful terms for an enemy is common during a war. Islamofascist strikes me as almost fawning compared to Jap or Hun, and perhaps nicer than some of the terms allies use for each other.

I think I just spent 20 minutes saying I don't really care. I need to go on the wagon.
10.23.2007 4:06am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
We can't call the problem "Islam" because that would declare over a billion people to be our enemies. Rather, what we want to do is to separate them from the OBL's, etc. of this world, who would use the tenets of their religion to attack us. We see plenty of Moslems in this country who get along just fine. They aren't the enemy.

We have been through this before. While Islamofascist isn't optimal, it is better than anything else we have. And while Fascism (and Naziism) was nationalistic, and Islamfascism is not, there are far more parallels than differences. Indeed, part of the intellectual heritage of current Islamofascism comes from the Fascists and Nazis of the 1930s on the Sunni side, and Communism on the Shiite side. Also, swap the Caliphate for the nation state, and you overcome the nationalistic difference.
10.23.2007 4:56am
Karl (mail) (www):
Islamists collaborated with the Axis; Fascist thought influenced the works of Sayyid Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood. It's not a secret. Note that the linked essay begins, "Islamism, or fascism with an Islamic face," which is precisely the phrase Hitchens uses. I doubt that's a coincidence.

I would also note that Hitchens refers to both Sunni and Shiite in his piece to show that both types of regime have had these characteristics, not to distinguish between them, as one commenter suggested above.
10.23.2007 5:15am
PersonFromPorlock:
Richard Aubrey:

He preferred the dull, drilled, brutish masses—armed, of course, with the latest wonder weapons.

"[T]he dull, drilled, brutish masses" pretty much were 'modernity' in the Thirties. It was a time of mass movements (communism, fascism, unions, the Klan, religious revivalism and so on) and individualism was very much in abeyance.
10.23.2007 7:34am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Porlock. I don't agree with the equivalence of communism, fascism, and, say, religious revivalism, although to some it's perfectly clear, or useful, depending.

Nevertheless, the point is that Hitler preferred the masses. Like liberals, he loved (a certain version of) humanity but couldn't stand people.

Religious revivalism is a group of individuals making a decision, usually in a meeting, and carrying it out after wards mostly on their own. And it started earlier than the Thirties. Had a prof who referred to a region of upstate New York as "the burned-over district" and I might even recall he said there was a book by that name, about the number of revivals coming out of that area by the time of the American Revolution.

The Klan, for all its influence, wasn't "mass".

Unions were mass movements only in that it took a lot of people. (So do public schools.) They didn't start actually affecting the way people thought for decades.

So I disagree with a good deal of that.

However, Islamofascism is apparently not quite quite because there are one or two differences of little import between Islamofascism and earlier fascism.

Seems like weak excuses to me.

Historical accuracy is not always a hallmark of how we refer to our enemies.

We ought to have a descriptive term which includes both some hint of the evil involved and a distinction from the moderate Muslims who aren't interested in spreading the ummah. Islamofascist seems to work. Anybody got an improvement?
After all, any Muslim who wants not to be one can simply choose not to be one.
10.23.2007 9:29am
A.C.:
Randy R. - Did you really make that remark about "allowing women to wear jeans"? Good grief! In my book, modernity means that individual women are free to choose whether to wear jeans, or long skirts, or business suits. (I have all three in my wardrobe.) No central authority can dictate these things for modern society as a whole, even if a woman who insists on wearing jeans to black-tie weddings will see her invitations drop off.

Regimes that try to force everyone into uniforms, whether or eastern or western design, are opposed to modernity in that sense. But they are also modern in the sense that the central authority picks the outfit and tries to impose it. The truly traditional approach is to let things evolve how they will, and it's that tradition that imposes the jeans-at-weddings rule.

Fascism and Islamo-whatever (I'm in the camp that is willing to consider better words, but I haven't seen one yet) are modern in the second, nasty sense of the word, and they trash real traditions every bit as much as they violate individual rights norms.
10.23.2007 11:00am
Marklar (mail):

We see plenty of Moslems in this country who get along just fine. They aren't the enemy.



YOU may see it that way. But many, many, on the right, with their enthusiasm for "culling" - the Steyns, the Wests and yep, the Hitchens - DO see the billion, as the enemy. And from what I've read, that includes good Republicans like Ambassador Khalilzad. Democrats, like Ellison, need not apply, and I doubt the rest of the swarthy billion are considered even human.
10.23.2007 11:03am
Marklar (mail):

If you want to know whether a particular Muslim is your friend or your foe, you can make a first cut by asking: Do you reject that Allah has promised the eventual triumph of dar al-Islam over the last remnant of dar al-Harb?




Talk about a loaded question offering a false dichotomy. Why not try translating that question into terms readily comprehensible to a Western readership: Do you believe that God has promised the eventual truimph of good over evil?

If thats doesnt exclude enough possibilities for you, ask: do you believe there is anything wrong (or even unIslamic) about the U.S. Constitution?

As former Fox News commentator Mansur Ejaz used to say, (and many American Muslims, including myself believe this), in ensuring equality of all before the law, and opportunity for rich and poor alike, the United States is the most "Islamic" society the world has.

Of course, if you see "Islamic" in horrific burka-wearing, camel-toting, flogging, mutilating, beheading, banning-anything-fun terms, than that term doesnt apply.

But just like the term "religious", "Christian" and "Jewish" depend on perspective, so does "Islamic."

To those who see Islam as history's primary evil force (the Crusades/Barbary pirates/Fox News/Little Green Footballs crowd) that doesnt gel. I dont know how prevalent these views are outside the world of Murdoch and the blogosphere. But for all our sakes, I hope they dont become universal.
10.23.2007 11:15am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Marklar. You're smart enough to know the triumph of good over evil has no--none--relation to the spread of Islam, since Islam and its spreaders includes government. Rules.
The Christian good will be from the inside by free choice.

You are looking at dissimilar items and insisting they'd be the same if the perspective were the same. Nonsense.

After the Canadians busted (earlier post didn't make it, apparently) the plot to blow up Parliament, somebody polled Canadian Muslims. Twelve percent of those polled thought it was a good idea.
Ten percent of Indonesians polled thought killing Aussies in the nightclub as a defense of the faith (east Timor) was a good idea.

So we have, say, ten percent of a billion plus people, making more people than Germany and Japan together at the begining of WW II, hiding among ten times that many who look pretty much the same, and who have some sympathy.
Hell, I feel so much better now that I have Marklar's assurance that nothing can go wrong, I think I'll go back to bed.

Ellison is getting the eye because, in part, of things said in his church. It would be strange if people who profess to be horrified at what is supposedly said in conservative Christian churches objected to wondering about what is said in Ellison's church. No. On second thought, it wouldn't be strange at all.
10.23.2007 11:47am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Oh, yeah. Look up the Tulsa mosque. They had a moderate Muslim. Threw him out. Threatened violence. Some of the apologists told me the other moderates were leaving, too. Going to build their own. When, some months later, I asked how the alternate was going, I was banned.
If anybody knows Tulsa, they might be able to tell me where the new mosque is holding services. Renting a school auditorium like new Christian congregations do????
10.23.2007 11:49am
Marklar (mail):
You have no "assurances." (Though I would note that the absence of any major attacks on the Homeland since 9/11 is an indicator that maybe, just maybe, that "10%" figure is a wee, shall we say, inflated).

Indeed, I can't even "assure" you that the planet wont be invaded by aliens tomorrow who will enslave us all. I think its very improbable yes. But I cant give you a categorical "assurance."

What you've done is cherry picked a couple of blogosphere distortions ("Tulsa" "Ellison's Church is bad, bad!"), and extrapolated those to cover a billion people.

Richard, its clear that I'm not going to change your mind. But I do think that making national policy on the basis of ancient prejudices leads us down a very dangerous road.

After all, taken at its face, the rights' "Muslims are inherently bad/evil/homicidal" leads to just one "policy solution." And its not a very pleasant one.
10.23.2007 12:43pm
abb3w:
randal: See two posts up where I conclusively establish that "Islamofascism" is being used as a taunt. Do you care to refute my logic?

Ah, missed that; sorry. I'd hardly call it conclusive, though. First, accuracy does not preclude pejorative connotations, nor vice versa -- which seems to be the your only argument that it's a taunt. I'm keenly aware of pejorative but accurate terms as a Hacker and a Mick. Second, there is evidence of historical connections of association, and of similarities in objectives, doctrine, propaganda, and overall world view to leave it a reasonable (though not indisputable) taxonomic classification.

In particular, are you aware of any convincing arguments that radical Islamists are in fact fascist, rather than just have a lot in common with fascists?

How would you distinguish between the two states of being? In biology, we still call the light-sensing organs of humans and octopi "eyes", even though they have completely independent evolution. In the world of politics, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, one usually calls it a duck... though one may sometime be more specific such as "homosexual necrophiliac mallard anas platyrhynchos".

The most obvious distinction I see is that the Islamic variant focuses on a religious basis, rather than a statist basis. Given the primary suggested alternative is Caliphascism, and that the Caliphate was (among other aspects) a political entity, this suggests it is insufficient. Since Islam itself fails to admit distinction between Church and State, as has most of the world throughout political history, I don't feel this is sufficient to make it an entity sui generis.

Whether it shares the attitude of Fascism towards corporations and the rest of the economic sphere is less clear. However, this may only be due to limited interaction between members of this strain of Islam and the semi-political powers of modern corporations. Islam's objections to interest coincide with fascist rejections of traditional finance capital. The overall attitude of Islam that All Is Subordinate suggests corporate subordination may be a common element. Some of the interactions between Birdas and the Taliban also coincide.

The question then becomes, is a Fascist attitude to economic policy an absolutely necessary precondition for any movement to be Fascist, without which it is something else? At what point in the evolution of Fascist economic policies (which changed extensively over the course of the few decades it was a major world phenomenon.) And if not fascist, what? Anyone aware of any scholarship on the subject?
10.23.2007 1:23pm
lrC (mail):
Some name is needed to distinguish the extremists from the moderates and progressives, lest they all be treated as one. The name must be reasonably short, and should accurately express at least these two parts of the nature of the extremists: they are Muslims, and they are tyrannical. Continue the apologetic hairsplitting until a satisfactory name is determined; until then, "Islamofascism" will do and should lend impetus to the search for an alternative.
10.23.2007 2:06pm
randal (mail):
First, accuracy does not preclude pejorative connotations, nor vice versa...

Standard descriptive words, such as "fascist" and "retarted," are not necessarily pejorative when used accurately (although they may be insensitive, and certainly have negative connotations). They are necessarily pejorative when intentionally used inaccurately. My argument depends only on the latter. That "fascist" and "retarded" (and "hacker") can be used pejoratively and accurately only means that "Islamofasicst" could be used as a slur even if it were accurate.

How would you distinguish between the two states of being?

I'm only distinguishing between arguments at this point. No one's even making the case.
10.23.2007 2:18pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Marklar.

Nobody said all Muslims are bad. Problem is, their idea of moderate may or may not be our idea of what we need.

And, no, you're not going to change anybody's mind with bogus logic and by changing the subject when confronted.

Just "one" mosque. Wrong. Just one mosque I know about. Is it an outlier or not?

Why are Saudi funded Wahhabi-influenced mosques in this country not empty?

Ellison gets the eye because, in part, of what his church has said, not because he's Muslim. As you know and attempted to dismiss. And I guess no conservative Christian church's dogma should be of concern when one of its members is seeking high office? That would be implying a church is "bad". Or is it only Ellison's of which we cannot ask questions?

A US soldier from Dearborn was getting some local ink for his service. He's so loyal that when he goes home, some of his neighbors call him "Uncle Tom". I know. Means nothing. One, two nutcases next door? Half the block? And if the latter, does that mean something?

Nobody has any trouble distinguishing the soldier from his nutcase neighbors. Problem is, distinguishing him from his nutcase neighbors is a concern for some. We're not supposed to think there are any nutcases around.
Certainly not like Europe.
10.23.2007 2:34pm
quaker:
Elmer: "The use of less than respectful terms for an enemy is common during a war. Islamofascist strikes me as almost fawning compared to Jap or Hun."

From my tattered copy of the Volokh Conspiracy, 1941 edition: "Your use of the term "Kraut" wrongly condemns all cabbage-eating peoples, lumping in the good with the bad." "Don't you understand, it not just cabbage-eaters, it's all cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, kale, and radish!!!"

And two quick observations:

1. We must be awfully nice folks if we expend such energy on coming up with precise, descriptive, non-insulting polysyllabic names for people who wish to saw off our heads.

2. The war must not be going too badly if [ditto].
10.23.2007 3:56pm
Brian K (mail):
Ellison gets the eye because, in part, of what his church has said, not because he's Muslim.

really? so that whole controversy about him swearing in on the koran was all about his church? and had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it was not a bible?
10.23.2007 5:12pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Brian K. See "in part". Look it up. Take a literacy class. Get back to us.
10.23.2007 5:15pm
Brian K (mail):
richard,

thanks for the ridiculously stupid comment...i know exactly what "in part" means.

i just wanted to point out the majority of the scorn heaped on ellison is because he is a muslim...a fact you appear to be glossing over.
10.23.2007 5:26pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I think the problems with the term are

(1) it is inaccurate, because these Isalmists are not fascists in an economic or corporatist-state sense. Sorry Eugene, but a few historical connections between the Axis powers and the Grand Mufti, anti-Semitism, and a shared ruthlessness or evil conduct don't cut it for me. Was the Spanish Inquisition "fascist?" (I bet you didn't expect me to bring up the Spanish Inquisition, nobody expects them). By this definition, it was, but I don't think being fanatically anti-semitic and cruel makes one a fascist.

(2) it is being used as a type of propaganda by the neo-cons to rally support for the war in Iraq. By equating the jihadists with the Nazis, the term makes the point that there are some battles that we can't walk away from, such as the struggle against fascism during WWII, and this usage makes others who are against the continued war in Iraq reluctant to embrace it. Hitchens, who is a former Trotyskite, has probably called a lot of people fascists in his day, as this was a favorite term of the left. That doesn't make his usage correct.

(3) the term offends muslims who are not radical or jihadist, so it is counterproductive for the cause it seeks to advance. I am not talking about PC speech, just not being stupid tactically by needlessly offending muslims who are pro-Western, so we don't make more converts to Al Qaeda.

Other than those problems, I am fine with "Islamofascist."
10.23.2007 5:31pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Brian K.
Then take a composition class. Get back to us.

The concern about Ellison--not "scorn"--and his being a Muslim has more to do with some of his local activities than any potential loyalty to the ummah. But if he votes as most dems to to handicap the WOT, his motivation will be presumed to be his faith, not BDS. So if he wants to get along with the dems, he's going to have to be careful.

And, as a matter of fact, the recent references I've heard about Ellison have been all about his church, none about his ethno-religious background.

Neat to recall that the Koran was available because Jefferson wanted to understand those whom he was fighting.
10.23.2007 6:03pm
Hey Skipper:
How about:

Caliphantasist: n. Someone possessed of the wholly fantastical notion of re-imposing Caliph’s Islamic rule of the 13th century. Also, any desire to impose Islamic rule over the entire planet, in accordance with Quranic dictates. See splodeydope
10.23.2007 6:20pm
Elmer (mail):

Your use of the term "Kraut" wrongly condemns all cabbage-eating peoples, lumping in the good with the bad."


Actually, Kraut may mean cabbage in German, but as used in English it is shorthand for sauerkraut. Studies that I just made up have proven that sauerkraut increases fascist feelings. The word was used in an attempt to show that the Germans were not personally to blame for any unpleasantness. Unfortunately, others insisted on blaming the people, not the fermented cabbage product, and the term became pejorative.
To my knowledge Germany has not sought reparations over our wartime use of the term. Is there a statute of limitations that prevents action being taken?
10.23.2007 7:40pm
Prof. Ethan (mail):
1. Though in my opinion Christopher Hitchens is not wrong in general on the justified use of the term "Islamofascism" to describe jihadist totalitarianism, he *is* wrong about the origins of the term "Islamofascism." Its origins lie much earlier. are academically very respectable, and are more specific than Malise Ruthven's article 1990. (Ruthven, incidentally, had no trouble calling current Islamicist totalitarian movements "neo fascist" in the latest NY Review of Books.)

2. A leading textbook of the 1960s, Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa (1963) by the late Princeton professor of Middle Eastern History Manfred Halpern, included the thesis that the neo Islamic totalitarian movements are essentially fascist movements. They concentrated on mobilizing passion and violence to enlarge the power of their charismatic leader, their form of Islam, and the solidarity of the movement. Halpern pointed especially to the totalitarian and fascist elements in the ideology and the practice of the Muslim Brotherhood.

3. At the time Halpern wrote, the Muslim Brotherhood had been weakened by repression by Nasser. But with the fall of Nasser and the breakdown of Arab nationalism and communism, the Brotherhood, and Islamism had a strong
revival. The Muslim Brotherhood, with its branches in various Arab countries, is both the direct ancestor of Hamas, AND, through Ayman al-Zawahiri, exercises strong influence in al-Qaeda.

4. The Muslim Brotherhood also had strong ties to the Nazis, esp. via the activity of SS Ensatzgruppe Egypt which accompanied Rommel in 1941-1942, and this was followed by daily radio broadcasts from Berlin throughout the war. And meanwhile the Baathists had their origin in the elements behind the Rashid Ali coup in Baghdad in April 1941, which brought a pro-Nazi
regime to power in Iraq, and a Luftwaffe squadron to a base outside of Baghdad (!). The British overthrew the Rashid Ali regime in June of 1941, but not before a major massacre of Jews in Baghdad by that regime.

5. And for those of you who find this intellectual ancestry of the term Islamo-
fascism too abstruse, just google-image “Hezbollah + salutes” and check out all those terrorists making the Nazi salute." (Those, of course, are Shiites, not Sunnis--but I'd say this shows, precisely, a common fascist thread.)

6. For those of you who live in Washington D.C. take a look at the horrific image on the cover of today’s Sunday Bookworld to see what the real issue is.

7. On the newly established connections between Nazism and the Muslim Brotherhood (in part through the Nazified Palestinian Grant Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini, one of only two non-Germans indicted for war-crimes at Nuremburg): see Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers Halbmond und Hakenkreuz. Das "Dritte Reich", die Araber und Palästina.Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft; Auflage: 2., durchges. Aufl. ( 2006). A book in English: Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism, and the Roots of 9/11 (2007), by Matthias Küntzel. Küntzel, like Mallmann and Cüppers, is a distinguished German historian, and all three base their work on new research in the German archives.

8. NONE of the above means that one is equating Islamofascism with Islam in general. And *true* moderate Muslim intellectuals are perfectly comfortable with terminology such as this, viewing the Islamofascists as their enemies. Example: the very prominent Middle Eastern expert Professor Bassam Tibi of Gottingen and Cornell. See his latest article, "The Totalitarianism of Jihadist Islamism and its Challenge to Europe and Islam," in Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 8 (2007), pp. 35-54. In this article Tibi (a Muslim) shows that Jihadist Islamism fits with Hannah Arendt's definition of totalitarianism.

And we're not supposed to *talk* about this?? Or only with kid gloves??
10.23.2007 10:24pm
Prof. Ethan (mail):
1. Though in my opinion Christopher Hitchens is not wrong in general on the justified use of the term "Islamofascism" to describe jihadist totalitarianism, he *is* wrong about the origins of the term "Islamofascism." Its origins lie much earlier. are academically very respectable, and are more specific than Malise Ruthven's article 1990. (Ruthven, incidentally, had no trouble calling current Islamicist totalitarian movements "neo fascist" in the latest NY Review of Books.)

2. A leading textbook of the 1960s, Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa (1963) by the late Princeton professor of Middle Eastern History Manfred Halpern, included the thesis that the neo Islamic totalitarian movements are essentially fascist movements. They concentrated on mobilizing passion and violence to enlarge the power of their charismatic leader, their form of Islam, and the solidarity of the movement. Halpern pointed especially to the totalitarian and fascist elements in the ideology and the practice of the Muslim Brotherhood.

3. At the time Halpern wrote, the Muslim Brotherhood had been weakened by repression by Nasser. But with the fall of Nasser and the breakdown of Arab nationalism and communism, the Brotherhood, and Islamism had a strong
revival. The Muslim Brotherhood, with its branches in various Arab countries, is both the direct ancestor of Hamas, AND, through Ayman al-Zawahiri, exercises strong influence in al-Qaeda.

4. The Muslim Brotherhood also had strong ties to the Nazis, esp. via the activity of SS Ensatzgruppe Egypt which accompanied Rommel in 1941-1942, and this was followed by daily radio broadcasts from Berlin throughout the war. And meanwhile the Baathists had their origin in the elements behind the Rashid Ali coup in Baghdad in April 1941, which brought a pro-Nazi
regime to power in Iraq, and a Luftwaffe squadron to a base outside of Baghdad (!). The British overthrew the Rashid Ali regime in June of 1941, but not before a major massacre of Jews in Baghdad by that regime.

5. And for those of you who find this intellectual ancestry of the term Islamo-
fascism too abstruse, just google-image “Hezbollah + salutes” and check out all those terrorists making the Nazi salute." (Those, of course, are Shiites, not Sunnis--but I'd say this shows, precisely, a common fascist thread.)

6. For those of you who live in Washington D.C. take a look at the horrific image on the cover of today’s Sunday Bookworld to see what the real issue is.

7. On the newly established connections between Nazism and the Muslim Brotherhood (in part through the Nazified Palestinian Grant Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini, one of only two non-Germans indicted for war-crimes at Nuremburg): see Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers Halbmond und Hakenkreuz. Das "Dritte Reich", die Araber und Palästina.Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft; Auflage: 2., durchges. Aufl. ( 2006). A book in English: Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism, and the Roots of 9/11 (2007), by Matthias Küntzel. Küntzel, like Mallmann and Cüppers, is a distinguished German historian, and all three base their work on new research in the German archives.

8. NONE of the above means that one is equating Islamofascism with Islam in general. And *true* moderate Muslim intellectuals are perfectly comfortable with terminology such as this, viewing the Islamofascists as their enemies. Example: the very prominent Middle Eastern expert Professor Bassam Tibi of Gottingen and Cornell. See his latest article, "The Totalitarianism of Jihadist Islamism and its Challenge to Europe and Islam," in Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 8 (2007), pp. 35-54. In this article Tibi (a Muslim) shows that Jihadist Islamism fits with Hannah Arendt's definition of totalitarianism.

And we're not supposed to *talk* about this?? Or only with kid gloves??
10.23.2007 10:24pm
Prof. Ethan (mail):
Sorry folks--evidently this got posted twice! I'm *not* trying to beat you over the head with it, however!

Prof Ethan
10.23.2007 10:25pm
Brian K (mail):
Richard,

Then take a composition class. Get back to us.
do you only know of one insult? this is just a variation of your previous one.

The concern about Ellison--not "scorn"--and his being a Muslim has more to do with some of his local activities than any potential loyalty to the ummah.
no. scorn was the right word. does you handy dandy dictionary you have not have it? i would have thought that if it defines "in part" it would also define "scorn". if what you say is true, then why all the controversy over the koran? how does swearing in on a koran support the local activities?

But if he votes as most dems to to handicap the WOT,
wow...political hackery is strong in you. this already your second hackish statement. ("concern" being the first)

"not BDS"
this is number 3. so everyone who doesn't fully agree with bush is suffering from BDS?

And, as a matter of fact, the recent references I've heard about Ellison have been all about his church, none about his ethno-religious background.
how does this disprove my statement? its also self contradictory...what church he goes to his part of his religious background. also for you to disprove the fact that the fact that he his a muslim has nothing to do with the church incident, you would need to show that statement made at the place of worship that every other senator goes to is under similar scrutiny...which i highly doubt you could do. (to make this even clearer for you...you need to show that ellison's is treated exactly the same way as other non-muslim senators to show that his religion doesn't play a role in the current controversy)
10.23.2007 11:51pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Brian K. See, again, "in part".
Ellison got some eye because he's a Muslim. Latterly, it's the church he attends. Those are separate issues.
And it's possible to disagree with Bush without being afflicted with BDS. But it's easy to tell the difference.

"Scorn" is to hold in contempt. What Ellison got was concern he might have more sympathy for Islamism than we would want in an elected official, due to his background. That might generate scorn, if true, along with a number of other things, but scorn comes after.

And some of his background--anticop and so forth in his earlier positions--were part of the reason he got some extra attention.

And you can bet there'd be some talk about what other people hear at church. Haven't you heard the Methodists are trying to start a theocracy? Bush is a Methodist. You must be afflicted with BDS to think nobody is interested in the effect of Bush's faith on his politics. Or to pretend to think it.
Does a guy agree with Dobson? Blammo.
Abortion????
C'mon. You know better.
10.24.2007 12:18am
abb3w:
Christopher Cooke: I think the problems with the term are (1) it is inaccurate, because these Isalmists are not fascists in an economic or corporatist-state sense [...]

Is that a necessary and essential property of Fascist movements? The WP article on the Economics of Fascism leads me to wonder if Nazi Germany qualifies as fascist in the sense you imply.

Christopher Cooke (still): By this definition, [the Spanish Inquisition] was, but I don't think being fanatically anti-semitic and cruel makes one a fascist.

There's also the expansionism component of Fascist ideology, plus the sense (as Wikipedia quotes Paxton) of "belief one’s group is the victim, justifying any action without legal or moral limits". I don't see the Spanish Inquisition meets either criteria.
10.24.2007 1:08pm
abb3w:
Prof. Ethan: And *true* moderate Muslim intellectuals are perfectly comfortable with terminology such as this, viewing the Islamofascists as their enemies.

This sounds suspiciously reminiscent of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy, a form of redefinition fallacy. I would be more inclined to characterize such Muslim intellectuals as "liberal", or perhaps even "open minded", "reasonable", or "rational" myself, although I expect many reasonable people might disagree with me.

Aside from than that minor quibble, I believe that post should (until rebutted) settle the question of whether "fascist" is an accurate characterization of that aspect of the movement.
10.24.2007 1:35pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Richard Aubrey sez: 'who aren't interested in spreading the ummah'

Nothing any more wrong with spreading the ummah, by persuasion, than with spreading Buddhism or Christianity by persuasion.

But if you substitute 'impose' for 'spread,' then you get the actual program of Islam.

Marklar asks me as series of would-be rhetorical questions. But, in fact, the answers to all of them are 'no.'

I'll cite just one: 'Ejaz used to say, (and many American Muslims, including myself believe this), in ensuring equality of all before the law, and opportunity for rich and poor alike, the United States is the most "Islamic" society the world has.'

If you believe that, Marklar, then you must also reject the tax on non-believers. Do you reject this? (Not a rhetorical question; I'd like to hear what you think about it. If you do reject it, what argument to you present to Muslims who do not reject it?)

It's another good first-cut question to determine whether, in fact, a Muslim is my enemy or not. An anonymous Internet poster once put it pithily: The only good Muslim is a bad Muslim.

As long as the political program of Islam is complete world domination, and as long as Muslims have faith that god has promised them eventual success, then Islam is the enemy of all.

The only difference among different Muslims is not as between 'moderates' (or perhaps 'modernizers') and 'Islamofascists' but between those who are willing to let god's promise work itself out slowly -- without too much exertion on their part -- and those who, like bin Laden, want to hurry things along.

As long as the religion itself presents the divine promise, then each generation of Muslims will produce a fraction of bin Ladens and there can never be peaceful co-existence.

There never has been peaceful co-existence. Islam has always made war on all its neighbors, to the extent of its earthly capacity.
10.24.2007 1:45pm
Prof. Ethan (mail):
Thanks Abb3--yes, I think until rebutted that post settles the intellectual respectability of the term "Islamofascist" too: it is intellectually respectable.

I accept your characterization of Bassam Tibi as a "liberal" in Muslim terms. I do think there are a lot of people who call themselves "Muslim moderates" who are anything but (the very very slick Tariq Ramadan comes to mind)--and that was the distinction I was seeking to draw by saying that Professor Tibi was a "true" Muslim moderate and as such was unafraid of and unoffended by the term "Islamofascism" because in his view it *only* applies to Muslim radicals he himself finds to be repulsive totalitarians, not to Islam in general, and his type of moderate or liberal Islam ("Euro-Islam", he calls it) in particular. So HE feels no reason to feel "offended."
10.24.2007 2:38pm