Posts

On “Islamofascism”

Last seen preciously explaining why "[t]he discussion of [Che] Guevara is still divisive and complicated, years after his death, and it should be," the good folks over at Campus Progress have launched a jihad on use of the word "Islamofascism." … Read More

By / October 29, 2007

Last seen preciously explaining why "[t]he discussion of [Che] Guevara is still divisive and complicated, years after his death, and it should be," the good folks over at Campus Progress have launched a jihad on use of the word "Islamofascism." They've been prompted to do so by David Horowitz's "Islamofascism Awareness Week," a right-wing roadshow that the former left-wing radical is taking to college campuses across the country. Anyways, it would be nice if liberals expressed as much outrage over actual Islamic Fascism as they have at David Horowitz's supposed exploitation of it for his own, nefarious political purposes.

The first (of many) errors in the piece is its authors' (Annika Carlson and Sarah Dreier) attempt to label the use of "Islamofascism" a "conservative smear tactic." It's true that many of those who use the word are "conservatives," but it was neither originated by conservatives nor is there anything inherently "conservative" about it's use." Christopher Hitchens, no conservative he, wrote about "fascism with an Islamic face" to describe the September, 11th terrorist attacks. Paul Berman is also a popularizer of the term. The authors attack Stephen Schwartz (a Jewcy contributor) without bothering to mention that the man is himself a Muslim and a scholar of Islam. But, alas, he is brushed off as a writer for the Weekly Standard, and thus his thoughts can be discarded.

Carlson and Dreier also take issue with the fact that "the term Islamofascism is offensive to Muslim Americans." Boo-hoo. There's nothing remotely offensive in the use of this phrase unless one is an intended target of its wrath, in which case, you're already offended by America's lascivious culture. Simply put, Muslims who are not themselves fascists — who do not believe in the imposition of Sharia law, the stoning of women, the beheading of gays, the abolition of secularism — have a duty to distinguish their peaceful Islam with that of the type that's trying to destroy Iraq and acquire nuclear weapons.

There's a lot of this walk-softly, lets-hold-hands type of stuff in the essay, and the best case for the continued use of the "Islamofascist" descriptor comes, unsurprisingly, from Christopher Hitchens. He was not responding to the Campus Progress piece in particular, but likely anticipated the liberal reaction that would likely follow from Horowitz's deliberately provocative campus outreach project. Hitch first points out that the Left has never had a problem using the word fascist to describe its political enemies (and I'll add that "fascist" flows from liberal lips today like shit from a goose when describing the Bush administration), particularly when referring to the ties between the Catholic Church and right-wing, authoritarian governments in Latin America, Spain and the Balkans. It appears then, that the Left's aversion to use of "Islamofascism" has much to do with the simple fact that Islam is a non-Western religion, supposedly comprised of the wretched of the earth, and thus, a different standard must apply to its most fanatical adherents, whose real motivation must, at "root" be a legitimate anti-imperialist impulse (for the most sinister and perverse form of this sort of thinking, see my essay on Columbia University professor Joseph Massad's rationalization of Muslim state homophobia as just that).

Read Ali Eteraz's Reply to this post, and Jamie Kirchick's Counter-Reply

Tagged with: