Defending the Term “Islamofascism”

By Christopher Hitchens | Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The attempt by David Horowitz and his allies to launch “Islamofascism Awareness Week” on American campuses has been met with a variety of responses. One of these is a challenge to the validity of the term itself. It’s quite the done thing, in liberal academic circles, to sneer at any comparison between fascist and jihadist ideology. People like Tony Judt write to me to say, in effect, that it’s ahistorical and simplistic to do so. And in some media circles, another kind of reluctance applies: Alan Colmes thinks that one shouldn’t use the word Islamic even to designate jihad, because to do so is to risk incriminating an entire religion. He and others don’t want to tag Islam even in its most extreme form with a word as hideous as fascism. Finally, I have seen and heard it argued that the term is unfair or prejudiced because it isn’t applied to any other religion.

Well, that last claim is certainly not true. It was once very common, especially on the left, to prefix the word fascism with the word clerical. This was to recognize the undeniable fact that, from Spain to Croatia to Slovakia, there was a very direct link between fascism and the Roman Catholic Church. More recently, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, editor of the Encyclopaedia Hebraica, coined the term Judeo-Nazi to describe the Messianic settlers who moved onto the occupied West Bank after 1967. So, there need be no self-pity among Muslims about being “singled out” on this point. CONTINUE

October 24, 2007 | 6 Comments »

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  1. I think Hitchens is very nuanced and precise.

    Technically, no form of Islam preaches racial superiority or proposes a master race. But in practice, Islamic fanatics operate a fascistic concept of the “pure” and the “exclusive” over the unclean and the kufar or profane. In the propaganda against Hinduism and India, for example, there can be seen something very like bigotry. In the attitude to Jews, it is clear that an inferior or unclean race is being talked about (which is why many Muslim extremists like the grand mufti of Jerusalem gravitated to Hitler’s side). 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.” And, of course, Bin Laden has threatened force against U.N. peacekeepers who might dare interrupt the race-murder campaign against African Muslims that is being carried out by his pious Sudanese friends in Darfur.

  2. Ted,

    To the extent Muslims are not a distinct genetic race, you are right as is Hitchens to say as Hitchens did that “Technically, no form of Islam preaches racial superiority or proposes a master race.”

    The word racist however has a broader vernacular meaning. For example antisemitic comments are often described as racist or akin to being racist.

    Muslims see themselves as culturally and religiously distinct. They refer to themselves worldwide as the Umma as distinct from the rest of the non-Muslim world. They speak of the world divided between Dar el Islam and Dar el Harb.

    In the writings of many who cite relgious tracts from the Koran, Hadith and Sha’ria (for example the laws of dhimmitude, Jizyah and the lesser value of an infidel’s word then a Muslim’s) as well as historical precedent, many Muslims, especially those who follow a more radical or fundamentalist faith in Islam have characterized themselves as being tantamount to a race.

    In what these Muslims of more radical and fundamentalist Islamic faith believe, preach and teach, it is akin to advocating racial superiority and that they are on a quest to become the master or dominant world religion and culture and that means dominating non-Muslims.

    That to me is close enough to say that there is a very clear parallel to what Hitler was advocating vis a vis racial superiority and a master race and what radical Islam is advocating as the manifest destiny of Islam.

  3. Bill

    Hitchens specifically refers to “racial superiority” not “religious superiority”.

    I think he is right in this. But in practice I believe that the Arabs who gave us Islam believe in their superior status.

  4. Christopher Hitchens states:

    “Technically, no form of Islam preaches racial superiority or proposes a master race.”

    Not quite.

    There have been many experts on Islam who say Islam preaches religious superiority over all non-Muslim religions and back that up with a myriad of quotes from the Koran and Hadith.

    These same experts also make the strong case based on the Koran, Hadith, Islamic history and Islamic writings over the ages that indeed makes the case that and proposes that Islam be the dominant religion in the world and Muslims be the masters of the non-Muslim world.

    So many tracts from the Koran and Hadith have been quoted that demonize non-Muslims, calling for their deaths or submission to a life of dhimmitude within the realm of Islam and to be forced to pay the Muslim Jizyah or protection and humiliation money. While Christians are mentioned as vague reference to other non-Muslims, it is the Jews that are most reviled within the foundational Islamic religious writings.

    To add to that there is much historical evidence to demonstrate that Muslims have by virtue of and in accord with these preachings and teaching of their religion, have singled out non-Muslims for demonization, death and humiliating subjugation.

    There are however a number of Muslims who recognize this aspect of Islam for what it is. It is they who want to reform Islam to become the religion of peace, harmony and tolerance with non-Muslims that radical Muslims disingenuously insist Islam is and Western leaders, out of fear, submission or a variety of other no good reasons, humor the radical Islamists and also declare that Islam is a religion of peace, harmony and good will.

    These Muslim reformers are as of now far too few and are actually putting their lives at risk because they dare speak ugly truths about Islam that they want to change for the better. These Muslims who advocate Islamic reform are considered by the murderous radical Islamists as apostates who deserve only death. For that reason these Muslim reformers must live in constant fear for their lives.

    These Muslim reformers must be supported by Westerners standing with them and declaring Islam to be what Islam is instead of cowtowing in submission and fear to the Muslim radicals.

  5. Christopher Hitchens is a literary-type writer and not much more beyond this.

    After 1967, the “occupied West Bank” can more accurately be called “liberated”. The Israeli Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom, Gaza, was liberated in 1967. It had been captured in 1947 (repeat: 1947) by the Egyptian Army. This capture occured in 1947 because Jews were living in Gaza.

    I think Hitchens never traveled much beyond his local fish and chips shop in London and his Starbucks in Washington, D.C. How can he write about Arabie with “contempt for the feminine”? The contempt is a revival of olden times. The colonial period introduced modernity and brown-eyed Arab belly dancers were not held in contempt. They were sought after….

    The repression, sexual,political, et cetra, is new with roots from the past. The post WWII, many Arabs were drawn to Marxism because they held the older generation, with their “conservative” values in contempt. Marxism equaled modernity. When Marxism failed to achieve their nationalist aspirations, they reverted to intense religious doctrines. A benchmark is 1967 when Marxism and Arab nationalism was discredited in the war.

    (SIDEBAR: No adversary opposes Him twice. Nahum 3:13)

    To test all this, look at the rebirth of right-wing parties in Europe after Communism failed.

    The “success of the socialist movement” cannot be supported. He’s surely a nice guy and a good writer but matters of substance are not present.

    The repatriations distorted and discredited the market mechanisms, the rule of law and the international economic system. This was magnified because Weimar had to pay striking workers to prevent them from launching a Bolshevik revolution. All this accumulated so as to require artifical income redistributions. (Look at the current US programs.)

    With capitalism discredited, the Germans of Weimar looked at arrangements that required the state to control much individual civil liberties. This was the breeding ground that prduced the rest we know about in detail, frequently from family members.

    FN: Re the referenced Susan Sontag; her dad, Jack Rosenblatt, was a fur trader in China. The Jewish experience in Asia is much more than presented.

    Kol tuv,

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