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In Further Defense of “Islamofascism”

My co-blogger Ali Eteraz has published a thoughtful critique to my post in defense of the word "Islamofascism" to describe the Islamic fascist enemy. But he does not provide much in the way of argument to oppose the use of … Read More

By / October 31, 2007

My co-blogger Ali Eteraz has published a thoughtful critique to my post in defense of the word "Islamofascism" to describe the Islamic fascist enemy. But he does not provide much in the way of argument to oppose the use of this admittedly provocative (but entirely correct) word, other than fault my defense as "unsatisfactory."

Rather, Eteraz lists a plethora of academics and academically-affiliated individuals who stand four-square against Islamism as a way of challenging my secondary charge that large segments of the left are insufficiently concerned with the threat it poses to our way of life. I too, however, could just as easily make a list of feckless, terrorism-apologists at American universities, beginning with the execrable Joseph Massad, a prominent disciple of Edward Said, who is very much considered (or, at least, considers himself) a man of the left and was defended as such several years ago when Columbia's Middle Eastern Studies department made national headlines for its anti-Israel faculty. "Why honor him by pretending that he's 'the left?'" Eteraz asks. I agree, but he should be asking that question to the post-colonial theorists who very much populate the academic left and fawn over him and his truly sinister work, blurbed his book, and the prestigious University of Chicago Press which published it.

The problem with this whole debate, of course, is one over nomenclature, what Eteraz characterizes as my having "little focus on keeping the terms 'the left' and 'liberals' straight." I plead guilty to over-generalizing, and perhaps from now on we should differentiate between the Hitchens's and Massad's by employing Michael Walzer's language of the "decent" (and its corollary, the "indecent") left. But for every Haleh Esfandiari he throws down on the table, I'll match him with a Joseph Massad and raise him a Hamid Dabashi (and I've got the entire Columbia University MEALAC department in my hand). To respond to my argument about the troubling state of the anti-totalitarian left with a list of a handful of anti-totalitarian leftists does not negate the existence of the problem.

It goes without saying that David Horowitz is a blunt object, but he nonetheless has an important message about Islamic fascism, as much as liberal smart-asses like Max Blumenthal and Josh Marshall would like to ridicule it. One of Andrew Sullivan's readers put it well:

There are many people on college campuses as prestigious as Harvard and Yale, that genuinely hope that the Islamofascists in Iraq and elsewhere in the Muslim world prevail, just to poke a finger in America's and the West's eye.

Perhaps like so many leftist[s] do, they don't think past their intentions and their feelings to what outcomes would actually take place if say, Iraq became a nation state ran by the equivalent of a Taliban. They of course would claim that they are violently against "fascism," but wouldn't dare apply that term to a non-white, non-Western group.

There is a sickness as vile and nihilistic as the Islamofascists themselves. Whether or not they consciously support the beheaders and bus bombers, they for all practical purposes do support the Islamofascist enemy. I don't think Horowitz's comment is out of line in the least.

This element exists on the left, and it's bigger and more influential than Eteraz would care to admit. It's up to him and other decent men of the left to ensure that it does not grow.

Read Kirchick's Original Post and Eteraz's Reply to it.

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