Monday, January 15, 2007

Read: "Anti-Racism"*

To counter Rousset and his like—and keep “progressive” intellectuals in line—Communist parties exercised the moral lever of “anti-Fascism.” This had the appeal of familiarity. For many Europeans their first experience of political mobilization was in the anti-Fascist, Popular-Front leagues of the 1930s. For most people the Second World War was remembered as a victory over Fascism, and celebrated as such in France and Belgium especially in the post-war years. “Anti-Fascism” was a reassuring, ecumenical link to a simpler time.
—Tony Judt, Postwar, A History of Europe Since 1945

*Per MQ in the comments, I see this might be better titled: "Read: 'Islamo-fascism' "


Anonymous said...

Let's not forget "Islamo-Facism". The force using WWII and facism to brainwash the populace most energetically these days are the neo-cons.

The left doesn't use WWII too much, really. They use the civil rights movement. A time they were indisputably in the right, references to which can drown out the sneaking possibility that they might be wrong today.


Dennis Dale said...

That's precisely the point I was trying to make, about the civil rights movement being viewed and invoked with a nostalgia that obscures the very different debates of today.

And no I wouldn't limit it to the left; as you point out about the "islamo-fascist" business, some conservatives are invoking the moral comfort of the Unambiguous Good Fight to promote ill-advised military adventurism. The frightening part is how many buy into it (including perhaps, the President).
It's really a process as old as history; it just takes on the terms of the times. Whoever said we are always "fighting the last war" instead of the current one could have applied the point to politics as much as military strategy and tactics.

Condoleeza Rice is a good one for invoking her upbringing in Birmingham Ala. as a wholly inappropriate analogy to Iraq.

But here I was just trying to brace myself for Silly Rhetoric Day, otherwise known as Martin Luther King Day. I want to comment on tomorrow's silliness, but I don't know, then I might have to actually sit still for it. Ugh.
I can't wait to watch Hillary try to inflect with a bit of soul tommorrow; or Barak try to frame his upbringing in Hawaii as the Urban Black Experience. Hoo-boy.

al fin said...

A leftist will label something "racist" merely to censor discussion and disqualify a speaker. The same for "sexism" and "homophobe." Now, "islamaphobe" is fashionable among leftists to shut up anyone who appears a little bit uncomfortable about the racist, sexist, and homophobic tendencies among the more "enthusiastic" muslims--the ones who want to expand Islam to encompass the entire world. (any shouts of homophobia! out there? ;-))

It's ironic that leftists seem to embrace the racism, sexism, and homophobia of the islamic supremacy movement.

But the good commenter above brings up an interesting point. Does the term "islamo-fascist" possess any merit, or is it merely another "buzz word?" In other words, although the terms "fascist", "nazi", "hitler", and so forth are much over-used epithets of triteness, are there valid parallels between the movement to rid Germany and Europe of Jews, and current efforts to rid large regions of the middle east of Jews (already there in Saudi Arabia), and to establish Islam as the political/religious dominion wherever it can be accomplished, by any means necessary?

Big Bill said...

"Islamo-fascist" is probably just a bit of reflexive residual Trotskyism from the neo-cons.

Having used "fascist" and "anti-fascist" through their post-pubescent political formative years at CCNY, Columbia, Berkeley, Madison and Ann Arbor, it still has resonance for them.

Dennis Dale said...

I think they use it because of the resonance it has for the rest of us. The F-word is a sort of free-rider, meant to activate the ingrained associations created in our minds from lifetimes spent watching film and tv about the great, unambiguous evil of the Nazis. It is our mythology; our great triumph and perpetual existential challenge.

Never mind that it's as much a gross simplification of history as it is of the present.

It's an attempt to disambiguate today's challenge by conflating the Shia Revival, the crisis in Arab nationalism (Ba'athists in Syria and Iraq), and al Qaeda's Sunni fundamentalism; all as one united front. These are three distinct, and opposed, things.
Furthermore, they want different things.

We are not at war with a great, united global force. We would be better served disengaging from the MidEast and leaving them to duke it out amongst themselves.
But our interests remain. That's why we fight. Now that Iraq is falling apart even some of the hawks are allowing themselves to hint at this, warning that we'll have to come back later should Iraq fall into chaos. A chaotic Iraq we can handle; a chaotic or Iranian-allied Shi'ite Iraq in control of the last great undeveloped oil field, well, that's something else entirely.

"Islamo-fascism" is also a way to overstate the size and capability of that small hard core of terrorists that feed off of Muslim resentment and Islamic fundamentalism.
Islamism only threatens us if we are foolish enough to allow it to thrive in our midst as is happening in parts of Europe. The threat of terrorism on American soil isn't lessened but aggravated by war abroad, that much should be obvious.

Why we would want burgeoning Muslim communities in our midst is beyond me, however.
Like Steve Sailer says, this is why we have separate countries, after all.
Oil. Still, oil.

Anonymous said...

Dennis's last comment is an excellent piece of analysis. The only thing European facism and Islamic fundamentalism have in common is a strain of anti-semitism (even there, there is not really a good analogy -- anti-semitism due to a heavily armed nuclear power conquering land you traditionally regard as yours is rather different than traditional European, Christian-inspired anti-semitism). In fact, the closest analogy to European facism in the Middle East would probably be the now corrupt and decrepit secular Arab nationalist governments that the Islamists are rebelling against.

If our national leaders had one half the understanding, knowledge, and common sense shown by this unknown blogger in the hinterlands of the net, we would now be almost a trillion dollars richer and much more secure. Amazing when you think about it, but this observation has become so commonplace over the last few years that I rarely bother to remark on it any more.