Now, I had thought my postings here were done for a while, at least until I had something to post on FS and SOL. And then I read my e-mail yesterday night and sat composing a response for two hours. I will post the e-mail and the response but first a word. I am usually gratified by the responses sharing my work with the world sends my way and try to be appreciative, as I know it takes time out of people's lives to read my stuff and respond to it. Time that could be spent doing much more important things. So my responses are always as genuine, dosed liberally with humility and gratitude, as I can make them. You deserve that much for giving me your time. However, when something like this comes my way and pushes as many buttons as it does, my response is not humble nor is it particularly grateful. Some may take in my response and be offended, and for that I apologize. I merely answered an e-mail full of assumptions and a rather condescending tone from the place that lived through growing up knowing the Russians could come over the East German border at any time and be shooting me within hours or minutes and watching nineteen lunatics destroy nearly three thousand lives for a cause as barbaric as that of Crusaders slaughtering Arab villagers in the Holy Land or Roundheads butchering Roman Catholics in Ireland. A lifetime of being interested in history and an adulthood spent being fascinated by politics, especially international politics, also came into play in my response. Was it a little much? Perhaps, perhaps not. But I took my time to respond fully to the e-mailer's points and added some of my own as well as some things which I have thought about from time to time over the years. I also had plenty of time to not send it, especially since I won't have sent it until after I finish this post and others, and I still thought the writer deserved my honest and frank reply. I tried to keep it as respectful as I could while still making sure the writer knew how the e-mail was taken by me. I guess if it was a little much, you can let me know. By the way, I kept the e-mailer's name out of things out of respect for their privacy.
"Islamofascism" is a nonsense term coined by
propagandists to manipulate public opinion.
Islam is a religion.
Fascism is "a political philosophy, movement, or
regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts
nation and often race above the individual and
that stands for a centralized autocratic
government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe
economic and social regimentation, and forcible
suppression of opposition"
The LAST thing Islamists want is a state
government supplants religion as the primary force
The LAST thing fascists want is a bunch of clerics
running around challenging their authority.
The last thing the people who coined the term want
is for you to actually think about what it means
or does not mean. They just want you to attach the
negative associations you have with fascism to the
negative associations you have with Islam.
Islamic THEOCRACIES can be very repressive. Most
theocracies put their religious values ahead of
You just look like a dupe when you use a nonsense
term to describe something that does not exist,
Response by Me:
While I appreciate those who read my work and reply to my blog postings, I must say that this e-mail has, like no other, brought me the closest to wanting to intellectually smack someone who has written to me. The tone assumes ignorance of geopolitical and historical realities as well as the use and power of words. Having lived on the front lines of the Cold War and through the War on Terrorism in its first phases, and having studied and been a student (not the same thing by the way) of history and politics, I know full well what I mean and am talking about when I use the term "Islamofascism." Unlike your rather narrow definition of fascism, I have studied and seen the effects of the Era of Fascism in its fullest historical bloom. Even were I to take your definition as the only one, I would still apply it to many of the sects of the Islamic fundamentalist movement, especially those that gave rise to the regime in Iran and those who look to al-Qaeda as the standard-bearer of a philosophy that "exalts" the idea of a pan-Islamic and imperialistic Caliphate, embraces the ideology of the cult of personality embodied in their "Great Leader," views non-Muslims as inferior and worthy of destruction, scorns and destroys works of art, literature, and academia that do not fall in line with their beliefs and the rigid rules those beliefs set down regarding art and expression of ideas, would use economic repression and oppression as tools of state, and kills (not merely suppresses) opposition.
I know that was a bit of a run-on sentence so let me take them one at a time. The stated goal of many of those to which I would apply the label of Islamofascist is the establishment of a pan-Islamic Caliphate (adhering to their own brand of Islam, of course). While I do not ordinarily study things I think of as being bad ideas, one does pick up a lot habitually watching the C-SPAN, History, and Discovery Channels, and reading this and that.
This leads me to believe that said Caliphate would look something like the Islamic Republic of Iran's government, with the clerics on top and a front man as the "President" that the people get to vote for in "fair" elections but has no true authority of his own, only authority given to him by the clerics. Such veneers of choice are the hallmark of totalitarian governments the world over, including fascist governments where there were votes and somehow the fascists still managed to take over, despite not getting a majority at the polls.
This is where the concept of "one man, one vote, one time" sort of rears its ugly little head and what people fear every time an Islamist party comes to power in the Islamic world. Every Islamist movement seems to hold up one man as being the receptacle of all the holy wisdom of Allah. Whether it be Iran and its Ayatollah, the PLO and Yasser Arafat, al-Qaeda and Usama bin Laden, or so many others, they embrace the kind of cult of hero worship seen under Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco.
A state would not replace religion under Islamofascism; religion is the state in a way not even theocracies like Tibet or the Vatican ever dreamed. The closest analog is probably the Pharaoh being venerated in Ancient Egypt.
And little needs to be said of the respect these people have for life. Death is a tool to be used often and with as many going down for the cause as possible, be they non-Muslims or simply Muslims who do not espouse their particular brand of Islam. Destruction of art, literature, intellectual works, and those who practice them is also a hallmark of both this more modern movement as well as those who originated fascism eight decades ago. Whether they be cartoonists expressing political beliefs, movie-makers and animators doing the same, authors being critical of them, or centuries old statutes carved by those of another faith, all are subject to threats, assassinations, and destruction.
As for opposition and economics, the mere selection of targets for their death and destruction should suffice to show that: moderate leaders of Muslim nations, clerics who stray from the fold or follow differing tenets, academics urging peace and strength in the face of terror, oil refineries and pipelines, strategic waterways through which world commerce flows, air traffic and mass transit, night clubs and tourist destinations in countries dependent on tourism, the World Trade Center. Tools and targets not dissimilar from lessons the Nazis tried to teach with their pogroms, Kristallnacht being the most notable example, where businesses and places of worship were targeted in order to pound the message of the fascists home. The only intellectual pursuits lauded by those who espouse this kind of ideology are studying religion/philosophy and subjects that can be used to build weapons in the pursuit of more efficient means of killing their enemies and making more of them. Ask a nuclear scientist in Iran how free he is to go where he wants and do as he pleases. The answer will be not very and anything that makes the regime think he is disloyal will be a danger to himself and to his family and friends. Similar things would have been said of rocket scientists and nuclear physicists in Nazi Germany. The same could be said of a jihadist who actually thought about the nonsense he spouted in his suicide video and decided to live or the friendly journalist who had second thoughts about regurgitating Islamist propaganda. The same would go for the Lebanese parliament member bucking the Hezbollah party line or Afghan village headman backing the coalition against the Taliban.
I guess the bottom line is that I have thought about this subject. I have watched militant Islam over the past thirty years. I have contemplated where their ideology fits into the scope of human lunacy and depravity. I have compared it to other theocracies, authoritarians, totalitarians, dictators, and absolutists. And with that contemplation I have found that those who murder innocents with as much joy and ruthlessness as those who are called Islamofascists (by myself and others) in the name of their ideology and their political goals for the last three decades and more are right to be compared to those who killed innocents in the name of their ideology and political goals almost eight decades ago. It does not make me look like a dupe for thinking so or using such a term. What it does is make you look like one of those who seem to find every reason under the sun not to call a spade a spade. It is a form of political correctness and propaganda that is going to get some of us killed be-cause the rest of us are trying to keep everyone safe despite you instead of with your help.
I suppose more could be said, but why? If you are still reading this by this point you probably already get my point and if you aren't you never would anyway.