July 02, 2007

The Islamist's War Against Liberalism

By Lee Smith

(Editor’s note: Friend, colleague, and all-around smart guy Lee Smith, whom I know well from Beirut, Lebanon, wrote this essay specifically for this Web site. – MJT)

In an article in the June 4 New Republic, Who’s Afraid of Tariq Ramadan, Paul Berman reviewed some of the writings of Tariq Ramadan, and his career among the Western intelligentsia, specifically the New York Times, which has run several pieces on Ramadan, including a profile written by Ian Buruma. Berman concluded his article arguing that something in Western intellectual culture has changed. When journalists and intellectuals glide over the illiberal ideas of illiberal ideologues like Ramadan and attack liberal activists like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, then something has changed.

Ian Buruma.jpg
Ian Buruma

Now Ian Buruma has responded, sort of. In an op-ed last week syndicated in the Guardian and the LA Times among others, Buruma shows what has changed. It is an article riddled with errors of fact, inconsistencies and indirection. I want to go through parts of the article in detail. Buruma begins:

Bernard Kouchner, France's new foreign minister, has a long and distinguished record as an advocate of intervention in countries where human rights are abused. As a co-founder of Doctors Without Borders, he stated that "we were establishing the moral right to interfere inside someone else's country." Saddam Hussein's mass murder of Iraqi citizens is why he supported the war in Iraq.
Kouchner, one of the subjects of Paul Berman’s last book Power and the Idealists, has held his new job now for a little more than a month, during which time he has traveled to Africa in an effort to redirect French policy there, in Chad and Sudan especially. So why is he being called to account for his stance on the Iraq war at this point? Does Buruma believe this might affect his credibility and thus his ability to perform his new job effectively? No, he is writing about France’s number-one diplomat in order to explain why Jews support the use of US force.
One should always be careful about attributing motives to other people's views. But Kouchner himself has often said that the murder of his Russian-Jewish grandparents in Auschwitz inspired his humanitarian interventionism… The fact that many prominent Jewish intellectuals in Europe and the United States - often, like Kouchner, with a leftist past - are sympathetic to the idea of using American armed force to further the cause of human rights and democracy in the world, may derive from the same wellspring. Any force is justified to avoid another Shoah, and those who shirk their duty to support such force are regarded as no better than collaborators with evil.
Kouchner, whose late father was Jewish, has consistently polled as the most popular political figure in France because his countrymen believe that he represents something important about the nation to the rest of the world, not because he is a Jewish intellectual. With the significant exception of Tariq Ramadan and his followers, Europe thinks of Kouchner not as a Jewish intellectual, but rather as a figure driven by humanitarian principles and universal values.

bernard-kouchner.jpg
Bernard Kouchner

And as is it is not just the shoah that motivates prominent Jews, intellectuals and otherwise, from drawing attention to genocides like Darfur, it is not only the Jews who wish to prevent “another Shoah” – a Hebrew word for “catastrophe,” and synonymous with the noun typically used in the English-speaking world by Jews and non-Jews alike to refer to the murder of six million Jews.

If we were less haunted by memories of appeasing the Nazi regime, and of the ensuing genocide, people might not be as concerned about human rights as they are. And by no means do all those who work to protect the rights of others invoke the horrors of the Third Reich to justify Anglo-American armed intervention.

But the term "Islamofascism" was not coined for nothing.

It invites us to see a big part of the Islamic world as a natural extension of Nazism. Saddam Hussein, who was hardly an Islamist, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is, are often described as natural successors to Adolf Hitler. And European weakness, not to mention the "treason" of its liberal scribes, paving the way to an Islamist conquest of Europe ("Eurabia") is seen as a ghastly echo of the appeasement of the Nazi threat.
No one has ever called Saddam an Islamist, nor has Islamofascism ever been used to describe Baathism, though its ideological affiliations with National Socialism are well known.

As for the Islamist movement, it has long been compared to fascism and, as Martin Kramer shows, by some distinguished Orientalists with first-hand experience of both fascism and the Islamic world: Maxime Rodinson, a French Marxist whose parents died in Auschwitz, and Manfred Halpern, who was born in Germany, fled the Nazis in 1937, and joined the US Army to fight in Europe during WW2.

Of late the word Islamofascism been used, most notably by President Bush, not to elide Hitler and Saddam/ Ahmadinejad/ Bin Laden/ Nasrallah/ Hamas/ Bashar al-Asad, but rather to distinguish militant Islam from traditional Muslim practice as a way to signal that the US war on terror is against a type of Islam, not the world’s one billion Muslims.

What’s puzzling is that Buruma co-authored a book a few years ago with the Israeli historian Avishai Margalit, Occidentalism, arguing that militant Islam was consonant with a number of anti-Western, or anti-liberal ideas that had antecedents in the West, like fascism. It appears he is no longer interested in elaborating the thesis.

At any rate, what invites us to see Saddam as a natural extension of Nazism are the mass graves he filled with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. As for Ahmadinejad, there is his exterminationist rhetoric directed at Israel (“a world without Zionism”) and the US (“a world without America”) and threats to attack the Arab Gulf states.
Revolutionary Islamism is undoubtedly dangerous and bloody. Yet analogies with the Third Reich, although highly effective as a way to denounce people with whose views one disagrees, are usually false. No Islamist armies are about to march into Europe - indeed, most victims of Revolutionary Islamism live in the Middle East, not in Europe - and Ahmadinejad, his nasty rhetoric notwithstanding, does not have a fraction of Hitler's power.
Is Buruma still talking about Kouchner? The French Foreign Minister understands that most of the victims of Muslim-word authoritarianism are in the Middle East – his work with the Kurds dates back many years. Even in Europe most of its victims are Muslim and many of them women, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali who, as Berman and others have shown, gets mixed grades from Buruma.

Paul Berman.jpg
Paul Berman

It is true that Ahmadinejad has a fraction of Hitler’s power and many people are eager to keep it that way by preventing the Islamic Republic of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons program.

So why the high alarm about European appeasement, especially among the neoconservatives? Why the easy equation of Islamism with Nazism?
What does this have to do with Bernard Kouchner? Is Buruma trying to make an easy equation between a French socialist famous for his humanitarian work and American policymakers, military strategists and journalists affiliated with the Republican party? Kouchner has offered to mediate a dialogue between all parties in Lebanon, including Hezbollah, hardly a gesture that would bring him within the embrace of the neoconservatives, who understand the Party of God as part of a dangerous Iranian axis. So what is the connection between Kouchner and the neocons?
Israel is often mentioned as a reason. But Israel can mean different things to different people. To certain Evangelical Christians, it is the holy site of the Second Coming of the Messiah. To many Jews, it is the one state that will always offer refuge. To neoconservative ideologues, it is the democratic oasis in a desert of tyrannies.
It seems that in Buruma’s worldview even Christians are motivated primarily by self-interest. To most Christians, whether they have apocalypse on their mind or not, Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, as described in both testaments of the Christian Bible, and attested to in historical documents and the archeological record. To many Jews it is not a “refuge,” but a Jewish state where Jewish people have the right to determine their own fate, as a nation and as individuals. And while we are listing what Israel means to different people, it is worth noting that to some Muslims, including the president of Iran, the General Secretary of Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, it is a curse that must be wiped off the face of the earth.
Defending Israel against its Islamic enemies may indeed be a factor in the existential alarmism that underlies the present "war on terror." A nuclear-armed Iran would certainly make Israel feel more vulnerable. But it is probably overstated as an explanation. Kouchner did not advocate Western intervention in Bosnia or Kosovo because of Israel. If concern for Israel played a part in Paul Wolfowitz's advocacy of war in Iraq, it was probably a minor one. Both men were motivated by common concerns for human rights and democracy, as well as perhaps by geopolitical considerations.
If defending Israel was a factor, there is nothing odd about upholding the right of a UN member state to exist when its many enemies have threatened it with extinction. On a similar principle, Great Britain entered WW2. But if concern for Israel was a “minor one,” if it was indeed a factor at all, why does Buruma raise the issue to begin with? And how did Paul Wolfowitz get dragged into this? What is the connection between him and Kouchner?
Still, Islamist rhetoric, adopted by Ahmedinejad among others, is deliberately designed to stir up memories of the Shoah. So perhaps the existential fear of some Western intellectuals is easier to explain than their remarkable, sometimes fawning trust in the U.S. government to save the world by force.
Actually, Ahmadinejad’s rhetorical tactics are a bit more complicated. One, he denies the Holocaust ever happened, two, argues that the Palestinians should not have to pay for the sins of Europe (while also imploring Germany to stop succumbing to Zionist blackmail), and, three, threatens destruction of the Jewish state. I cannot think of any Western intellectual who supported the Iraq war without qualification at the outset or since. However, the fact that some Western intellectuals are not automatically suspicious of US force does not need to be theorized or psychologized; it as easy to explain as their existential fear of another genocide. This is especially so in France, which US force liberated in 1944 from none other than the Nazis. While some French intellectuals are well known for their anti-Americanism, consider Andre Glucksmann who coined the phrase “the right to D-Day,” or the right to be liberated by a foreign power from a totalitarian and genocidal regime.
The explanation of this mysterious trust may lie elsewhere. Many neocons emerged from a leftist past, in which a belief in revolution from above was commonplace: “people's democracies" yesterday, "liberal democracies" today.
It is true that many neocons, at least from the first generation, emerged from a leftist past, but they were socialists or Trotskyists, and “revolution from above” was a Stalinist “commonplace.” “Peoples’ democracies” was the euphemism by which the Soviet Union maintained its hegemony over its Eastern European satellite states; only in Buruma’s mind is there a facile correlation between “peoples’ democracies” and liberal democracies.
Among Jews and other minorities, another historical memory may also play a part: the protection of the imperial state. Austrian and Hungarian Jews were among the most fiercely loyal subjects of the Austro-Hungarian emperor, because he shielded them from the violent nationalism of the majority populations.
How did we get from the City College cafeteria to the Austro-Hungarian empire? And now we have moved from Jews of the political left to Jews of the political right. Austrian conservatives were loyal to the emperor. The socialists obviously did not love royalty. Moreover, it is worth noting that many Austrian Jews were loyal subjects not because they expected “protection,” but because they believed in the enlightenment values of Europe. The playwright Theodor Herzl did not think of himself a Jew, never mind expect to be shielded as one, but rather as an Austrian by nationality and a German by culture. It was when the founder of Zionism recognized that Europe had no intention to live up to its universalist principles that he began advocating a Jewish state where Jews could live as free men.
Polish and Russian Jews, at least at the beginning of the communist era, were often loyal subjects of the communist state, because it promised (falsely, as it turned out) to protect them against the violence of anti- Semitic nationalists.
It is not obvious that Russian and Polish Jewish communists who risked jail and death for their political commitments in the pre-communist era were motivated primarily by a desire to protect themselves. One could pick a better place to hide from the Cossacks than at the head of the Red Army, for instance. Nor is it clear how at the end of the communist era Jewish prisoners of conscience, like Natan Sharansky, were looking mostly to save their own skins. At any rate, what does this have to do with Kouchner? Or, how did Buruma get from a Jewish humanitarian to Jews ostensibly acting on self-preservation instincts?
If it were really true that the fundamental existence of our democratic Western world were about to be destroyed by an Islamist revolution, it would only make sense to seek protection in the full force of the U.S. informal empire.
If it were really true that Jews mostly look out for themselves and other Jews, and humanitarian Jews are moved to act by the specter of past Jewish catastrophes, and Jewish US officials are desperate to prevent future Jewish disasters, where Israel is considered a “refuge,” and the Jews of the Austro-Hungarian empire and the Soviet Union sought to be “protected” and “shielded” by their overlords, then according to such logic it would only make sense to believe that Jews now seek American “protection.”
But if one sees our current problems in less apocalyptic terms, then another kind of trahison des clercs (treason of the intellectuals) comes into view: the blind cheering-on of a sometimes foolish military power embarked on unnecessary wars that cost more lives than they were intended to save.
In other words, Iraq is the price we are all paying for a Jewish interpretation of modernity.

*

In 2003 Tariq Ramadan posted an article on a Muslim Web site, www.oumma.com, in which he condemned several French writers of forsaking their reputations as "universalist" thinkers by taking positions based on narrowly sectarian, or what the French call “communitarian,” concerns. How else to explain that these intellectuals failed to condemn the policies of Israel’s then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the war in Iraq. Ramadan's charge rested on the premise that these positions could not plausibly be rational, and must therefore be extra-rational, or emotional. Ramadan argued they took these positions because they are Jewish. Kouchner was one of the figures Ramadan accused. To Ramadan, Kouchner the humanitarian, the socialist and co-founder of Doctors without Borders, was a Jewish intellectual.

Tariq Ramadan.jpg
Tariq Ramadan

I am not sure Buruma meant to replicate so closely the argument of his New York Times profile subject. In fact it seems he disagrees in places. “The architect of this operation in the heart of the Bush administration is Paul Wolfowitz,” wrote Ramadan, “a notorious Zionist, who has never concealed that the fall of Saddam Hussein would guarantee a better security for Israel with its economic advantages assured." No, writes Buruma: “If concern for Israel played a part in Paul Wolfowitz's advocacy of war in Iraq, it was probably a minor one.”

“One should always be careful about attributing motives to other people's views,” Buruma writes, and then proceeds to attribute communitarian motives to Jews from Kouchner to Wolfowitz and other “prominent Jewish intellectuals” who may talk about humanitarianism, communism or liberal democracy but really see the world primarily as Jews. One should refuse to engage Islamists on their own terms, because this is what happens to liberal discourse when such ideologues are legitimized by Western journalists and intellectuals. And no doubt, compared to Sayyid Qutb, Ramadan is indeed a “moderate,” and according to that scale Ayaan Hirsi Ali is definitely an “enlightenment absolutist,” because anyone who stands for such universalist values is an “extremist.” But that is their scale; on ours, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a feminist and liberal activist, and an op-ed published in Western papers by a famous journalist that resorts to communitarian reasoning is a gross exception and not the rule.

Hirsi Ali.jpg
Ayaan Hirsi Ali

In his article, Berman attributes the “string of bumbles, timidities, gaffes, omissions, miscomprehensions, and slanders” to two developments: First, “the unimaginable rise of Islamism since the time of the Rushdie fatwa. The second is terrorism.” I think that what he means by this is not that journalists and intellectuals are necessarily terrified of getting blown up in a London car bombing, but that they have incorporated the fearful messages of their subjects and responded accordingly. The issue has been with us much longer than we usually recognize.

In 1969, the American academic Richard P. Mitchell published a groundbreaking work on Egypt’s Islamist movement, The Society of the Muslim Brothers. Some of the Brothers didn’t like what Mitchell had to say in his largely sympathetic book and circulated a letter that asserted he was a CIA operative. The effort was meant to discredit and threaten him, a scholar who, according to the Muslim Brotherhood, was actually a front-line agent in the war to destroy Islam.

It is among the oldest of Islamist conceits, dating back to the end of the 19th-century, that any foreigner researching Islamic societies who is not writing primarily out of sympathy with his subject is an agent of Western empire. Edward Said’s Orientalism merely recast the Islamist paranoid style as postmodern critique. He found agents of empire everywhere in the Western media and academy; it was the basis of much his career. Since power determined textual strategies, there was no such thing as disinterested intellectual work and thus anyone whose work was not sympathetic to the subaltern was a racist. If you were in the academic industry, jobs, publishing contracts, committee appointments, etc., depended on it. If you were outside the academy, you were merely tarred as a racist, or, if an Arabic-speaking Middle Easterner like Fouad Ajami and Kanan Makiya, a “native informant,” that is to say, a traitor, just as progressive-minded Western intellectuals and journalists today question Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Muslim “authenticity.” Maxime Rodinson found more than a hint of Stalinism in Said’s methods; the author of Orientalism was an American takfiri.

It was Said who first naturalized Islamist discourse over a quarter of a century ago and as such helped set the terms by which Western intellectuals and reporters could exercise their vocation with respect to the Muslim world. Said was apparently surprised by the Rushdie fatwa and wrote an essay in defense of his friend, only showing that the bourgeois academic had failed to grasp his sources. The key historical episode then is Michel Foucault’s 1979 dispatches from Tehran. It is hardly coincidental that the guiding intellectual spirit of Orientalism was in love with Iran’s Islamic revolution. Foucault, the apostle of purgative violence, Foucault the suicide and the blood-letter, was hardly a useful idiot; unlike Said, he knew exactly what was unfolding before him.

By the time Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and decapitated in Pakistan everyone already knew the rules. What was so shocking? That his captors had been very public about their hatred of Jews? But we have internalized Islamist grievances enough to know the many, many issues the Muslim world has with the Zionist movement. What is new? That Western journalists and intellectuals are now manufacturing those arguments by invoking the ethno-religious background of a person to determine the quality of an idea. It can’t possibly derive from objective sources of universal principles, rather it must be serving some particular interest. If not Jewish interests, then maybe others.

Daniel Pearl.jpg
Daniel Pearl

Remember that the journalistic outrage over the Pearl murder wasn’t about the anti-Semitism of his assassins, but that the US government hadn’t done enough to explain to the murderers of American citizens that American law prohibits clandestine operators from using journalist cover. Didn’t they know that Pearl wasn’t really a CIA agent? Didn’t they understand that he was a sympathetic listener? And today, don’t they know that Haleh Esfandiari has counseled the US to engage with Tehran? Why do they go after the good guys? I mean, not that it’s ok to kill anyone, but Theo Van Gogh pissed off everyone and Ayaan Hirsi Ali has definitely hurt a lot of Muslim feelings.

Why do extremists go after Western moderates? Because that is how they redraw the boundaries of liberal discourse to their own liking. Because that is how they get Western journalists and intellectuals to mainstream their ideas about Jews and ostracize figures like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and other Muslim and Arab liberals. Because that is how Islamist moderates like Tariq Ramadan acquire shares of power. But really this is the same as asking, why do terrorists attack civilians? Because that is terrorism.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 2, 2007 10:33 PM
Comments

I'm not sure what the point is in trying to promote Hirsi Ali as someone muslims should look to for inspiration. She's not a muslim and has made incendary comments about mohammed, all of which might very well be true. However, she has no standing in muslim communities and will have almost 0 influence to do anything positive with regard to moderating muslims.

Posted by: tg at July 2, 2007 11:24 PM

tq:

If Muslims can't be reformed internally, then it's up to the West to break them, no? I don't see how it's tolerable to let them continue to fester and provide succor for terror cells.

Posted by: manco at July 3, 2007 12:20 AM

This is a pretty ridiculous article for a lot of reasons, which are too numerous to lay out in a blog comment. But I\'ll address the most flagrantly and patently absurd of the \"arguments\" laid out by Smith (who by the way is a fellow of the right wing Hudson Institute) about Edward Said: \"the author of Orientalism was an American takfiri.\"

How, pray tell, could a protestant be a takfiri? Smith either knows nothing about takfir or nothing about Said (or possibly nothing about either).

Posted by: Abu Lawrence at July 3, 2007 02:27 AM

Excellent essay.

This line from Buruma deserves extra attention, I think:

"To neoconservative ideologues, [Israel] is the democratic oasis in a desert of tyrannies."

What a remarkably bizarre statement. By any objective standard in which commonly understood definitions are applied, Israel is a democratic oasis among tyrannies. That would be true even during the Sharon era, and whatever legit objections one had against settlements etc. The simple fact remains that only one country in the region has regular and fair elections, a free press, rule of law, rights for prisoners, women, gays, civilian control of the armed forces, etc. etc. while the rest do not-- yet somehow, with a single twisted inversion, Buruma reduces all of these cherished principles into a hobby horse of the American Enterprise Institute.

Which, of course, proves Lee's point.

Posted by: WJA at July 3, 2007 02:29 AM

Itis little bit childish to put Austrian Empire versus nationalists. It seems that journalism loves this word. But you could find nothing in the postAustrian Czechoslovakia for ex. suggesting any threat to the Jews by the implied nationalistic government as opposed to the abolished Austrian Empire. It is somehow too easy to paint a picture of nationalists, just like Said painting the picture of orientalists. A game of words, no details/surprize involved.

Posted by: Czechmade at July 3, 2007 02:52 AM

Islamism is not the mortal enemy; 'jihadism,' as re-defined since Qutb, Maududi, Khomeini and even Ibn Wahhab, is.

Also, there is no such thing as "Islamofascism," unless there is also "Christofascism," "Judaiofascism," "Hindufascism," or even "Buddhofascism." Fascism, like Marxism, is a homicidal/suicidal ideology (a 'duocidal' ideology), whose adherents psychologically seek suicide by committing homicide. It is vital not to label someone as "fascist," unless strict standards are met for the term, and 'Islamofascism,' while wonderfully popular to use as propaganda, badly distorts the nature of the enemy we face.

Islamism and 'Islamofascism' are not duocidal; however, "theofascism" is. Ruhollah Khomeini's "learned jurisprudent" is actually theofascist, the welding of an honored theology with fascist ideology. But so long as we continue to carelessly lump millions of Muslims into the derisive term, 'Islamofascists,' we lose the ability to unite with moderate Muslims to kill the enemy which seeks to kill us all: the duocidal theofascist, where ever he is found.

Posted by: a Duoist at July 3, 2007 03:51 AM

a Duoist,

Fascism is a modern (post industrial) form of feudalism. That's all it is. It has none of the psychological properties you claim for it.

Islamofascism encompasses both the jihadists as well as anyone who supports the idea of reshaping the modern world as a kind of islamic feudal state. Not all such people confess to being jihadists. Moreover the ranks of such people would include many modern Arab aristocrats who, though hardly pious Mulsims, would do very well for themselves in such an islamofascist world.

This article does a pretty good job of showing how such a fascism can be introduced first through the manipulation of intellectuals, then the media, etc. It doesn't have to be instant Taliban all over the world to be a real and vibrant fascist movement. It can be and is more subtle.

Posted by: AD at July 3, 2007 05:01 AM

tq is good, very good. He just demonstrated how correct the article is. Hirshi Ali is critical of Islam and also disobey some Muslim tenants, therefore she is excommunicated and is not a valid authority concerning Islam. By such criteria Bernard Kush. is as much a Jew as Hirshi Ali is Muslim, in many things even less, does he mix meat with milk? Drink christian wine? Yet he is judged as a Jew. M. Rodinson a vociferous communist critic of Israel and an author of numerous pages in the Islamic Encyclopaedia but as a Jew he is not allowed to say a word about saint E. Said. As for Abu Lawrence playing with the identity of E. Said like tq playing with Hirshi identity,my analyst would have said some thing about the identity game of Muslims in the west like Iraqi MD in England & Scotlnd versus MD Kushner in France. As for the alleged E. Said protestant christianity. Some belived he was realy a Shiaa practicing taqqia. Even his stories of his youth do not fit. In NY, when advacing in the Academia, he played the almost Jew. In London he was anti-zionist liberal to suit the Guardian and the Indepedent. In Jewish Jerusalem he was a liberal musician. In Ramalla he was a resistance hero with a kuffaia and in Shiaa south Lebanon he played the Muslim stonning the devil ( Israel) on Mount Arafat, he even brought a photographer with him. So it is OK, once in a while, to talk about him as muslim.

Posted by: hazbani at July 3, 2007 05:41 AM

I'm not sure what the point is in trying to promote Hirsi Ali as someone muslims should look to for inspiration.

Please note the title of MJT's post is "Islamist's war against Liberalism," not muslims. Thus, Hirsi Ali is not being held up as someone muslims admire, but as someone Liberals should admire. Instead she's treated by most Liberals like some neocon monster (for all the usual Bush hating reasons).

Posted by: Carlos at July 3, 2007 06:54 AM

Liberals help Islamism makes war on Liberalism:

"When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British Jihadi Network - a series of British Muslim terrorist groups linked by a single ideology - I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy.

~~Reformed jihadi comments on the Western Liberal intelligentsia cutting their own throats.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=465570&in_page_id=1770

Posted by: Carlos at July 3, 2007 07:22 AM

"Fascism is a modern (post industrial) form of feudalism. "

I disagree. Fascism in the strict sense means "Rule by Mussolini". He was as much a one-man ruler as is Ghaddafi today, and his movement died with him.

But a major feature of Mussolini's world view was that violence is desirable and should be the first solution to most problems. In this sense, both the Nazis and Baathists, and many extreme religious movements such as Al Qaeda are Fascists.

However, violent extremist Islam has been with us since the late 19th century at least.

Although violence may be needed to impose Feudalism, it isn't inherently violent once established.

Posted by: Don Cox at July 3, 2007 08:00 AM

Good article. But i think it is pretty obvious why Buruma sides with a Tariq Ramadan over Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ramadan has the right enemies -- Wolfowitz, etc. and Hirsi has the wrong allies -- Wolfowitz etc.

So it's not only in the middle east where "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

And by the way, apropos of nothing, Buruma is jewish (which just goes to show how "communitarian" thinking gets you nowhere).

Posted by: Al at July 3, 2007 08:24 AM

Smith (who by the way is a fellow of the right wing Hudson Institute)

God forbid, Lawrence, can't have a guy associated with the right defend liberals against the Islamist right. That's just too weird for you, isn't it? It screws up your categories and your narrative.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 3, 2007 08:40 AM

Lee is a life-long Democrat, by the way, pushed toward the right against his will by people like you.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 3, 2007 08:41 AM

Jihadism is an ideology aiming at reestablishing a theological-imperial entity which does not recognize international law and all human rights declared since 1919. Jihadism aim at imposing itself via fascist methods and Terrorism. Hence it is an outlaw doctrine comparable to Nazism. This is the bottom line. For more read Walid Phares' The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Demoracy.

Posted by: Sami Abdallah at July 3, 2007 09:13 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 07/03/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M at July 3, 2007 09:17 AM

Bush finally gave Liberals a war against religious extremists, and now they don't want to fight it. For that they would have to overcome their hatred of conservatives-- who are their neighbors and co-workers and fellow Americans-- but that just doesn't appear to be possible. Much more sympathetic, apparently, are these poor downtrodden islamic extremists who'd cut these Leftwing intellectual's throats at the first opportunity.

Posted by: Carlos at July 3, 2007 09:23 AM

Don,

I don't think we're so far apart. I acknowledge your point about the roots of the term. The rest of our disagreement is probably not interesting to most people here so I'll skip it. The bottom line for me is that I consider the Saudi royal family, and fellow travelers, to be a fascist force loose in the world. They're feeding jihad as a means to increase their influence in the world and, judging from their success in international institutions (UN), in academia and in the media, they're being very successful at it.

Sadam was basically a half-wit thug and we exploited his vulnerability to establish a cultural beachhead. The really dangerous fascists vacation in Aspen and Monaco.

Posted by: ad at July 3, 2007 09:42 AM

Lee's explanation of Iran's attitude toward the holocaust:

"'Still, Islamist rhetoric, adopted by Ahmedinejad among others, is deliberately designed to stir up memories of the Shoah. So perhaps the existential fear of some Western intellectuals is easier to explain than their remarkable, sometimes fawning trust in the U.S. government to save the world by force.'

Actually, Ahmadinejad’s rhetorical tactics are a bit more complicated. One, he denies the Holocaust ever happened, two, argues that the Palestinians should not have to pay for the sins of Europe (while also imploring Germany to stop succumbing to Zionist blackmail), and, three, threatens destruction of the Jewish state."

Reminded me of this from The Onion:

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/44701

Posted by: drlemaster at July 3, 2007 10:04 AM

Buruma says "A nuclear-armed Iran would certainly make Israel feel more vulnerable. But it is probably overstated as an explanation."

There's a veritable clamor of reasons for intellectuals, in the USA and everywhere else, to worry about Iran. It's not just about Israel.

Iranian fatwa approves use of nuclear weapons, by Colin Freeman & Philip Sherwell in Washington, Feb 19, 2006, The Telegraph (UK): "Iran’s hardline spiritual leaders have issued an unprecedented new fatwa, or holy order, sanctioning the use of atomic weapons against its enemies." The article discusses how this is likely to mean the USA among others.

"Ahmadinejad: Britain, Israel, US to 'vanish like the pharaohs'," AFP, Dec 20, 2005. Ahmadinejad: "Today, it is the United States, Britain and the Zionist regime which are doomed to disappear as they have moved far away from the teachings of God. It is a divine promise."

Compare Ahmadinejad's "divine promise" of a disappearance of the US, the UK, and Israel, with Ahmadinejad's threat to wipe Israel off the map. It doesn't mean that Ahmadinejad has explicitly threatened to wipe the US and the UK off the map. Yet stop and think about what it does mean.

And read about Ahmadinejad's advisor Mohammad-Ali Ramin in "Hard To Survive This Crisis" by Arash Bahmanni, Iran Press Service, Mar 21, 2006, and in "Introducing The Angel Of Death" by Alexandra von Maltzan, All Things Beautiful, Mar 23, 2006, 4:20 AM, and you can also look at the Wikipedia article Mohammad-Ali Ramin. Ramin said, in a debate response to remarks about nuclear weapons: "We will acquire this technology and export it to all the 150 countries" (the 150 countries which Ramin says support Iran).

Posted by: ForNow at July 3, 2007 12:53 PM

To anyone who liked this article, there's an interesting interview with Magdi Allam in Haaretz:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/877090.html

Posted by: Outsider at July 3, 2007 02:01 PM

So the entire terrorist phenomenon and the ongoing war against those who carry out these insane acts are doing so through the prism of a Jewish interpretation of the world?

WTF?

Why is this jackass jew hater even relevant?

Have I missed something?

Why the Jews? Someone fucking explain it to me?

Email me if you like.

Posted by: AG in Houston at July 3, 2007 03:34 PM

It would relieve a lot of confusion if we came up with a couple of new labels. Liberals (and Liberalism), as it is mostly used today, has the same relationship to actual liberalism as Conservative, as used by Bush and company, has to actual conservatism. Which is to say, damn little -- in many ways they are diametrically opposed.

Actual liberalism is necessarily opposed to (and opposed by) the Islamists and all their works. But what is mostly called Liberalism cannot oppose the Islamists for one simple reason: The Islamists oppose America and oppose Western culture. And since that view is the defining characteristic of today's so-called Liberals, they must support the Islamists. The fact that the Islamists have all of the same characteristics that those Liberals loudly abhor in America, only much more so, is a rude fact which must be ignored in service of a higher truth.

Posted by: wj at July 3, 2007 03:50 PM

wj;
It turns out that it really is GW's fault that Liberalism is now totally appeasement-isolationist. See, till 9/11 all the liberals and Liberals were pro-interventionist, pro-nation-building. And GW and conservatives were very dubious about both. But within hours of 9/11, GW had a revelation, an epiphany. The Democrats were right! So he committed to rooting out the vile bastards who would bring down liberal democracies everywhere.

Well, what were the Liberals to do? GW had eaten their international policy pantry bare? And since GW was evil and stupid, so must be interventionism and nation-building. Since it is impossible to admit to having changed their basic policies and philosophy, elaborate verbiage and ad hominem attacks became the order of the day. And year. And decade.

The contradictions and bubbling resentment are amazing to behold.

Posted by: Brian H at July 3, 2007 09:29 PM

I am afraid that Brian H's explanation of the Democrat's about-face on nation-building and intervention is as good as I've seen anywhere.

I realized a long time ago that the deranged lefties didn't despise Bush because of his policies, they despise him because he's a Republican President.

Posted by: rosignol at July 3, 2007 10:23 PM

First of all, I think it\'s important to know what someone\'s affiliations are. I pointed out that Smith was a fellow at the Hudson Institute, and I think that\'s relevant to his point, just as it would be equally relative to know if he were a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, the Heritage Foundation or the Council on Foreign Relations. No more and no less.

Otherwise, way to not actually address my point, which is that I would be really curious to know how an Anglican Protestant could be a takfiri. I maintain that anyone who says Said was a takfiri knows very little about Edward Said or takfir.

Posted by: Abu Lawrence at July 4, 2007 12:26 AM

Heh. In the 30s, the Jews also thought they could get away with warning the West against Hitler.

When will the Jews ever learn....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at July 4, 2007 12:30 AM

Alan Johnston released.....

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6267928.stm

I am very happy about this....

:)

Posted by: Microraptor at July 4, 2007 02:22 AM

The center-right blogosphere invented the term, "Islamofascism," a few years ago, and it has become a staple. The term is so wholly pejorative, so 'over-the-top' and intellectually inaccurate that its use actually is counter-productive, just as characterizing President Bush as "Bushitler" is extremist partisanship, completely devoid of an honest understanding of fascism.

This misunderstanding of fascism is the result of the Left, for long years, simply labeling any repressive regime as being "fascist," even when the government they are criticizing is Marxist-Stalinist. For example, the Left in Zimbabwe criticizes President Mugabe as a "fascist"; anti-intellectual nonsense: Mugabe's government is Stalinst, complete with Politburo and Central Committee.

There are more than 50,000 books written on fascism, by scholars concerned about intellectual rigor and accurate reporting. In the vast scholarly literature, Saudi Arabia and all other Arab states, as repressive as they may be, are not fascist. Again, only Iran presently can be accurately described as "fascist," by meeting the strict standards for what is, and what definitely is not, fascism.

That said, Lebanon could become a theofascist state, because unfortunately it alone of the Arab states meets the necessary pre-qualifications. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria, Jordan, et al: none of them can qualify as fascist states.

For some enlightening scholarship on fascism: Ledeen; Mosse; Goldhagen; Griffin; Weber; and especially Columbia University historian, Robert O. Paxton.

The Right will continue to use "Islamofascism" to describe what is certainly not fascism; by doing so, the Right is imitating the Left's game of sloppy scholarship. By its continued inaccurate use, the exaggeration inherent in "Islamofascism" will eventually put the body politic to sleep.

Posted by: a Duoist at July 4, 2007 03:40 AM

The term "Fascism" is a description of an ideology, not a specific dictator. I tire of the BS on this.

The article leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. I can't give exact reasons why, as I will not waste my time to do a serious study of it. Needless to say, it feels disjointed, like someone put together a jigsaw-puzzle using a hammer.

The strange mix of ideas found in the Pseudo-Intelligencia often remind me of McNamara--I really don't know how they do it. I can not hold opposite ideas, strange conspiracy theories, and supposed deep motivations applied to people I don't know; at the same time. My head would explode.

I try to have the self-discipline to listen to debate and different ideas from my own--sometimes I fail. At least I try.

We have accumulated nearly 5,000 years of empirical evidence of Government, Child-rearing, Economics, and many other things. It is pretty much a given as to what things appear to actually work in "the real world". Yet, all of this is sacrificed on the altar of sophistry and pseudo-Intellectualism. I tire of it all. Both "sides" are guilty of it.

There is a total lack of common sense these days--common sense being personally defined as a working knowledge of what has happened in history, and the consequences of decisions and actions which took place in similar circumstances.

The whole "neo-con" thing, and "liberal" thing needs to be abandoned--those are just things used as an excuse to ignore the obvious.

Occam's Razor still works: Follow the money, power, and prestige. There lies the reason for things. Who benefits? Certainly not the "common man"; he is the one who gets "pluked" either way.

Posted by: Eric at July 4, 2007 06:12 AM

an op-ed published in Western papers by a famous journalist that resorts to communitarian reasoning is a gross exception and not the rule.

Yes. Why would a reputable newspaper do this? The only explanation I can think of is to preserve its sources, as in "You publish what I want, and I'll give you the information you want". Journalism is very difficult without sources. If an American administration tried this, it would be savaged in the press. But if, say, a foreign embassy official does it, then the journalist has three possible courses of action: (1) He can publicly complain and have the official deny everything, thus ruining the journalists' reputation; (2) he can do nothing, which means he has wasted his time as far as his boss is concerned because he has nothing to write; or (3) he can comply with his source's wishes.

That's a big reason why I seek out blogs, rather than newspapers, for the real scoop on events.

Posted by: Solomon2 at July 4, 2007 06:39 AM

Abu Lawrence: I think it\'s important to know what someone\'s affiliations are.

That's because you don't think freely.

The finger points at the moon and the idiot looks at the finger.

Even Pat Buchanan and Noam Chomsky are right about some things. The messenger is irrelevant.

Hell, Hamas is even right sometimes. I quoted their spokesman last summer who wrote an excellent article in a Palestinian newspaper. (No, I am not kidding.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 4, 2007 07:30 AM

A Duoist: The center-right blogosphere invented the term, "Islamofascism

No, Stephen Schwartz invented it. He is a Jew who converted to Islam.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 4, 2007 07:32 AM

What Is 'Islamofascism'?

A history of the word from the first Westerner to use it.

by Stephen Schwartz

"Islamic fascists"--used by President George W. Bush for the conspirators in the alleged trans-Atlantic airline bombing plot--and references by other prominent figures to "Islamofascism," have been met by protests from Muslims who say the term is an insult to their religion. The meaning and origin of the concept, as well as the legitimacy of complaints about it, have become relevant--perhaps urgently so.

I admit to a lack of modesty or neutrality about this discussion, since I was, as I will explain, the first Westerner to use the neologism in this context.

In my analysis, as originally put in print directly after the horror of September 11, 2001, Islamofascism refers to use of the faith of Islam as a cover for totalitarian ideology. This radical phenomenon is embodied among Sunni Muslims today by such fundamentalists as the Saudi-financed Wahhabis, the Pakistani jihadists known as Jama'atis, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. In the ranks of Shia Muslims, it is exemplified by Hezbollah in Lebanon and the clique around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran.

Political typologies should make distinctions, rather than confusing them, and Islamofascism is neither a loose nor an improvised concept. It should be employed sparingly and precisely. The indicated movements should be treated as Islamofascist, first, because of their congruence with the defining characteristics of classic fascism, especially in its most historically-significant form--German National Socialism.

Fascism is distinguished from the broader category of extreme right-wing politics by its willingness to defy public civility and openly violate the law. As such it represents a radical departure from the tradition of ultra-conservatism. The latter aims to preserve established social relations, through enforcement of law and reinforcement of authority. But the fascist organizations of Mussolini and Hitler, in their conquests of power, showed no reluctance to rupture peace and repudiate parliamentary and other institutions; the fascists employed terror against both the existing political structure and society at large. It is a common misconception of political science to believe, in the manner of amateur Marxists, that Italian fascists and Nazis sought maintenance of order, to protect the ruling classes. Both Mussolini and Hitler agitated against "the system" governing their countries. Their willingness to resort to street violence, assassinations, and coups set the Italian and German fascists apart from ordinary defenders of ruling elites, which they sought to replace. This is an important point that should never be forgotten. Fascism is not merely a harsh dictatorship or oppression by privilege.

Islamofascism similarly pursues its aims through the willful, arbitrary, and gratuitous disruption of global society, either by terrorist conspiracies or by violation of peace between states. Al Qaeda has recourse to the former weapon; Hezbollah, in assaulting northern Israel, used the latter. These are not acts of protest, but calculated strategies for political advantage through undiluted violence. Hezbollah showed fascist methods both in its kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and in initiating that action without any consideration for the Lebanese government of which it was a member. Indeed, Lebanese democracy is a greater enemy of Hezbollah than Israel.

Fascism rested, from the economic perspective, on resentful middle classes, frustrated in their aspirations and anxious about loss of their position. The Italian middle class was insecure in its social status; the German middle class was completely devastated by the defeat of the country in the First World War. Both became irrational with rage at their economic difficulties; this passionate and uncontrolled fury was channeled and exploited by the acolytes of Mussolini and Hitler. Al Qaeda is based in sections of the Saudi, Pakistani, and Egyptian middle classes fearful, in the Saudi case, of losing their unstable hold on prosperity--in Pakistan and Egypt, they are angry at the many obstacles, in state and society, to their ambitions. The constituency of Hezbollah is similar: the growing Lebanese Shia middle class, which believes itself to be the victim of discrimination.

Fascism was imperialistic; it demanded expansion of the German and Italian spheres of influence. Islamofascism has similar ambitions; the Wahhabis and their Pakistani and Egyptian counterparts seek control over all Sunni Muslims in the world, while Hezbollah projects itself as an ally of Syria and Iran in establishing regional dominance.

Fascism was totalitarian; i.e. it fostered a totalistic world view--a distinct social reality that separated its followers from normal society. Islamofascism parallels fascism by imposing a strict division between Muslims and alleged unbelievers. For Sunni radicals, the practice of takfir--declaring all Muslims who do not adhere to the doctrines of the Wahhabis, Pakistani Jama'atis, and the Muslim Brotherhood to be outside the Islamic global community or ummah--is one expression of Islamofascism. For Hezbollah, the posture of total rejectionism in Lebanese politics--opposing all politicians who might favor any political negotiation with Israel--serves the same purpose. Takfir, or "excommunication" of ordinary Muslims, as well as Hezbollah's Shia radicalism, are also important as indispensable, unifying psychological tools for the strengthening of such movements.

Fascism was paramilitary; indeed, the Italian and German military elites were reluctant to accept the fascist parties' ideological monopoly. Al Qaeda and Hezbollah are both paramilitary.

I do not believe these characteristics are intrinsic to any element of the faith of Islam. Islamofascism is a distortion of Islam, exactly as Italian and German fascism represented perversions of respectable patriotism in those countries. Nobody argues today that Nazism possessed historical legitimacy as an expression of German nationalism; only Nazis would make such claims, to defend themselves. Similarly, Wahhabis and their allies argue that their doctrines are "just Islam." But German culture existed for centuries, and exists today, without submitting to Nazi values; Islam created a world-spanning civilization, surviving in a healthy condition in many countries today, without Wahhabism or political Shiism, both of which are less than 500 years old.

But what of those primitive Muslims who declare that "Islamofascism" is a slur? The Washington Post of August 14 quoted a speaker at a pro-Hezbollah demonstration in Washington, as follows: "'Mr. Bush: Stop calling Islam "Islamic fascism,' said Esam Omesh, president of the Muslim American Society, prompting a massive roar from the crowd. He said there is no such thing, 'just as there is no such thing as Christian fascism.'"

These curious comments may be parsed in various ways. Since President Bush used the term "Islamic fascists" to refer to a terrorist conspiracy, did Mr. Omesh (whose Muslim American Society is controlled by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood) intend to accept the equation of Islam with said terrorism, merely rejecting the political terminology he dislikes? Probably not. But Mr. Omesh's claim that "there is no such thing as Christian fascism" is evidence of profound historical ignorance. Leading analysts of fascism saw its Italian and German forms as foreshadowed by the Ku Klux Klan in the U.S. and the Russian counter-revolutionary mass movement known as the Black Hundreds. Both movements were based in Christian extremism, symbolized by burning crosses in America and pogroms against Jews under the tsars.

The fascist Iron Guard in Romania during the interwar period and in the second world war was explicitly Christian--its official title was the "Legion of the Archangel Michael;" Christian fascism also exists in the form of Ulster Protestant terrorism, and was visible in the (Catholic) Blue Shirt movement active in the Irish Free State during the 1920s and 1930s. Both the Iron Guard and the Blue Shirts attracted noted intellectuals; the cultural theorist Mircea Eliade in the first case, the poet W.B Yeats in the second. Many similar cases could be cited. It is also significant that Mr. Omesh did not deny the existence of "Jewish fascism"--doubtless because in his milieu, the term is commonly directed against Israel. Israel is not a fascist state, although some marginal, ultra-extremist Jewish groups could be so described.

I will conclude with a summary of a more obscure debate over the term, which is symptomatic of many forms of confusion in American life today. I noted at the beginning of this text that I am neither modest nor neutral on this topic. I developed the concept of Islamofascism after receiving an e-mail in June 2000 from a Bangladeshi Sufi Muslim living in America, titled "The Wahhabis: Fascism in Religious Garb!" I then resided in Kosovo. I put the term in print in The Spectator of London, on September 22, 2001. I was soon credited with it by Andrew Sullivan in his Daily Dish, and after it was attributed to Christopher Hitchens, the latter also acknowledged me as the earliest user of it. While working in Bosnia-Hercegovina more recently, I participated in a public discussion in which the Pakistani Muslim philosopher Fazlur Rahman (1919-88), who taught for years at the University of Chicago (not to be confused with the Pakistani radical Fazlur Rehman), was cited as referring to "Islamic fascists."

If such concerns seem absurdly self-interested, it is also interesting to observe how Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, dealt with the formulation of Islamofascism as an analytical tool. After a long and demeaning colloquy between me and a Wikipedian who commented negatively on an early book of mine while admitting that he had never even seen a copy of it, Wikipedia (referring to it collectively, as its members prefer) decided it to ascribe it to another historian of Islam, Malise Ruthven. But Ruthven, in 1990, used the term to refer to all authoritarian governments in Muslim countries, from Morocco to Pakistan.

I do not care much, these days, about Wikipedia and its misapprehensions, or obsess over acknowledgements of my work. But Malise Ruthven was and would remain wrong to believe that authoritarianism and fascism are the same. To emphasize, fascism is something different, and much worse, than simple dictatorship, however cruel the latter may be. That is a lesson that should have been learned 70 years ago, when German Nazism demonstrated that it was a feral and genocidal aberration in modern European history, not merely another form of oppressive rightist rule, or a particularly wild variety of colonialism.

Similarly, the violence wreaked by al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and by Saddam Hussein before them, has been different from other expressions of reactionary Arabism, simple Islamist ideology, or violent corruption in the post-colonial world. Between democracy, civilized values, and normal religion on one side, and Islamofascism on the other, there can be no compromise; as I have written before, it is a struggle to the death. President Bush is right to say "young democracies are fragile . . . this may be [the Islamofascists'] last and best opportunity to stop freedom's advance." As with the Nazis, nothing short of a victory for democracy can assure the world's security.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 4, 2007 07:35 AM

> Saudi Arabia and all other Arab states,
> as repressive as they may be, are not fascist.
> Again, only Iran presently can be accurately
> described as "fascist," by meeting the strict
> standards for what is, and what definitely is
> not, fascism.

again, there's debate as to it's meaning. I've always understood fascism to be a kind of free market authoritarianism. There is some degree of economic freedom but no civil liberty. There's centralization of power, so that Oligarchy does not arise, and there does tend to be a cult of violence as was previously suggested. It replaces feudalism historically, as far as being an economic model that is nakedly exploitive while honoring traditional social structures, and is made possible by the increased wealth, technology and organizational ability that arise in the modern age.

SA fits the bill to a T. The country is a business enterprise with religious overtones.

I'm not the best student of Iran, to be honest, but it does appear to me that they are truly driven by theological motives and that they're not all that good at business. A Theocracy.

So again, there IS such a thing as an Islamofascist. They use jihad as a tool of intimidation to help build an empire that includes components of legitimate and illegitimate business interests, including extortion on a global scale and other highly creative enterprises.

Posted by: ad at July 4, 2007 07:38 AM

I posted that not knowing that Michael was posting at the same time. So I stand corrected and schooled.

Posted by: ad at July 4, 2007 07:53 AM

So, how would I solve the problems in many areas of the world then?

Occam's machine gun: Find out who benefits from the chaos and kill them. All of them. In public.
Sorry to harsh anyones mellow, but "going Roman" is sometimes the only way to make a point. Indoctrinating children to become martyrs is a form of genocide/suicide. Either the people who benefit from the madness need to be gotten rid of, or. . .

Case in point: Doctors and Surgeons aren't the best at making bombs--we know that from empiric evidence; don't we? BUT, what would have happened if they had-had access to active cultures of small-pox? Do you think that they might have done a better job with that? Hmmm?

Or, since scientists have recovered and revived the virus which caused the Spanish Flu Pandemic--how about that one? Especially now, with far more ubanization and world-wide travel? Even China would not be safe this time. (Was the death-toll one-in-five or one-in-three? I don't remember.)

With the advent of Chemical, Biological, and Nuclear weaponry, the world has become too small a place to be able to ignore "brush-fire" wars.

When open discussions of the "survivability" of nuclear weapons going off in metropolitan areas are considered "main-stream", I think that it is time to abandon "ideology" and take a real hard look at what is going on in the world.

Cut the crap, folks.

I don't care what perceptions you may hold dear.

I happen to like having all of the amenities of a wealthy country. The cost of cleaning up after a series of "dirty bombs" or real "nuclear events" would make hurricane Katrina look like child's play. It could very easily bankrupt the country. Should that happen, the following world-wide depression would make the 1930s look like child's play.

I really don't want to go there; do you? Really?

Condemn me all you want. It's okay. But whilst all of these people discuss theory and ideology and motivation ad nauseum, "Joe-sixpack" is putting together "go-bags" and is accumulating emergency supplies--something the public has never bothered to do before. (Hurricanes and bad weather are not new.) Doesn't that tell you something?

Why don't you review a little history, and see what happens when the general public start getting fearful as well as angry; hmmm?

The consequences are dire.

The rhetoric and downright hatred flying around are wreaking havoc on the social fabric of this country. It is creating deep anger and fear. Please stop it. Try to set aside the invective and calm the waters before it is too late.

Oh yes, people speak of Democracy and other high-faluting things--of "saving the c-h-i-l-d-r-e-n".
Until, of course, there is a direct impact on their lives--then, overnight, it becomes "KILL THEM ALL AND LET GOD SORT THEM OUT".

Did FDR prevent a revolution in this country? Thank God we don't really have to know. It is a subject for debate--instead of thousands of mass graves for millions of people.

The bitterness and anger that FDR had to deal with was comparable to what is going on right now, with two very glaring exceptions; The amount of Urbanization, and the incredible speed (and breadth) of communications. No one has control over the communications anymore.

No one politician is going to be able to pull the collective chestnuts out of the fire if things start to go south this time. It could be very bad--I'm just sayin'.

Just stop. Okay?

Posted by: Eric at July 4, 2007 07:57 AM

I take it from the fact that after three posts you still have yet to actually address my point, that you are not actually going to, most likely because you do not have a rebuttal.

Otherwise, if you think that one is not "thinking freely" when taking into consideration the source of an argument, then I am afraid you are being either disingenuous or naive. A good example would be the "fake citizens' groups and bogus scientific bodies that have been claiming that science of global warming is inconclusive." You would also do well to check out Ken Silverstein's impressive undercover journalism on lobbying firms in the July edition of Harper's Magazine.

In it, these firms offer up the services of think tanks and academics to Silverstein, who is purporting to represent the interests of the government of Turkmenistan:

The second element of the strategy was a “media campaign.” In a slide entitled “Core Media Relations Activities,” APCO promised to “create news items and news outflow,” organize media events, and identify and work with “key reporters.” As this was her field of expertise, Dyck presented this slide. The media would be receptive to stories about Turkmenistan with the change of government, she said, plus “energy security is an additional hook. We can also bring things like Internet cafés to their attention.”

In addition to influencing news reports, Downen added, the firm could drum up positive op-eds in newspapers. “We can utilize some of the think-tank experts who would say, ‘On the one hand this and the other hand that,’ and we place it as a guest editorial.” Indeed, Schumacher said, APCO had someone on staff who “does nothing but that” and had succeeded in placing thousands of opinion pieces.

Discussion about the strategy’s third item—building “coalition support,” which meant developing seemingly independent and therefore more credible allies to offer favorable views about Turkmenistan—was brief. As a slide on the topic put it, we would need to start small, given that the “closed nature of country has inhibited investment and exchanges.” For now, the best coalition partners would be current and potential corporate investors in Turkmenistan, as well as “think tank experts and academics.”

How could we use think tanks and academics? I wondered. “I’m glad you asked,” Schumacher said with a chuckle. He flipped to the next slide, which discussed the fourth element of the campaign: “events.” One possibility, Downen said, would be to hold a forum on U.S.-Turkmen relations, preferably built around a visit to the United States by a Turkmen official. Possible hosts would include The Heritage Foundation, the Center for Strategic & International Studies, and the Council on Foreign Relations. “Last week I contacted a number of colleagues at think tanks,” Downen went on. “Some real experts could easily be engaged to sponsor or host a public forum or panel that would bring in congressional staff and journalists.” The only cost would be refreshments and room rental—Schumacher joked that APCO would bake the cookies to save The Maldon Group a little money—and could yield a tremendous payoff. “If we can get a paper published or a speech at a conference, we can get a friendly member of Congress to insert that in the Congressional Record and get that printed and send it out,” Schumacher said. “So you take one event and get it multiplied.”

Another option, he explained, would be to pay Roll Call and The Economist to host a Turkmenistan event. It would be costlier than the think-tank route, perhaps around $25,000, but in compensation we would have tighter control over the proceedings, plus gain “the imprimatur of a respected third party.” In order that the event not seem like paid advertising, the title for the event should be “bigger than your theme,” Schumacher explained, even as it would be put together in a way “that you get your message across.”

But yeah, you're probably right, Michael: since I mention that this guy is from the Hudson Institute when showing that one of his claims is patently absurd and betrays a deep misunderstanding of his subject, I am obviously not showing myself to be a "free thinker" like yourself.

Posted by: Abu Lawrence at July 4, 2007 08:45 AM

Italics should go to the second to last paragraph. My apologies.

Posted by: Abu Lawrence at July 4, 2007 08:46 AM

Finally, another example is your own employer, Michael:

***********************************************
Flak over “Fast Food Nation”

Fast-food chains ready campaigns to fight "allegations"

By JANET ADAMY and RICHARD GIBSON
The Wall Street Journal

As "Fast Food Nation," a fictionalized movie based on Eric Schlosser’s book, readies for major release, an array of U.S. food companies are sharpening a campaign to rebut the allegations in the film and a new book that fast-food chains contribute to the nation’s obesity epidemic and other problems.

The film, to be distributed in the U.S. as early as this fall by News Corp.’s Fox Searchlight Pictures, tells the story of an executive from a hamburger chain called Mickey’s who visits a Colorado meatpacking town to determine why there’s something wrong with the meat in the company’s popular sandwich, the Big One. The plant is staffed with illegal immigrants who work in unpleasant conditions. Other story lines include a teenager who works at a Mickey’s who is frightened by a string of robberies at nearby fast-food restaurants. Actors Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke are among the cast.

In addition, Schlosser and co-author Charles Wilson this month released "Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want To Know About Fast Food" that makes similar arguments as the earlier book, which ties fast-food to health problems, the decline of small farmers and American cultural homogenization. The new one, however, is aimed at 11- to 15-year-olds — an important demographic for fast-food companies.

Now, more than a dozen trade groups representing producers of beef, potatoes, milk and snacks, along with restaurant groups, are fighting back with a media campaign to counter what one groups contends is the "indigestible propaganda" Schlosser is spreading. They’ve launched a Web site called Best Food Nation that quotes employees from Tyson Foods Inc., Cargill Inc. and other food concerns praising the quality and safety of the food supply. They’re also encouraging consumers to write letters to local school boards and contact government officials to voice their support for the U.S. food industry.

Kendall Frazier, a spokesman for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says the groups came together after hearing Schlosser had written a book geared toward young people. "We felt like there are an awful lot of factual errors in this book," Frazier says. Frazier didn’t elaborate, but asserted that "a lot of people have misconceptions about food production and what American agriculture is all about."

The aligned groups include the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Meat Institute, the U.S. Potato Board, the National Restaurant Association and the Snack Food Association.

McDonald’s Corp. has been trying to counter Schlosser’s message with a public-relations campaign that plays up the chain’s new healthy offerings and spotlights workers who have climbed through the Oak Brook, Ill., chain’s corporate ranks.

The nation’s largest fast-food chain is also funding TCS Daily, an arm of the Washington lobbying and public-relations firm DCI Group, that is making more pointed attacks against Schlosser and his work. Last week, TCS Daily launched a Web site called Fast Talk Nation that called his theories "rhetoric" and argued that he wants to decriminalize marijuana, based on excerpts from one of his other books, "Reefer Madness," about sex, drugs and cheap labor in the American black market.

Last Friday, TCS Daily abruptly closed the Fast Talk Nation site two days after its launch. James Glassman, who says he "hosts" the TCS Daily site, says he closed the Fast Talk Nation site because he wanted to pool his resources with the broader industry’s Best Food Nation site.

Schlosser says he supports some lighter sentences for marijuana possession but opposes legalization. "What bothers me is the use of third parties to attack me when the people who are paying for it aren’t standing up and taking credit for it," he says of the sudden surge of criticism against him.

McDonald’s is one of a handful of companies that funded TCS Daily. Anna Rozenich, the McDonald’s spokeswoman, said the chain was not involved in the creation of Fast Talk Nation or the decision to take it down, and that it isn’t using third parties to attack Schlosser and his co-author, Wilson. "We certainly on some points disagree with their opinions but, all in all, we appreciate feedback," Ms. Rozenich says.

The new book, "Chew on This," contends that fast-food companies bombard kids with carefully constructed marketing and promotional campaigns and support mistreatment of animals in slaughterhouses and employees in restaurants. It profiles fast-food-eating teenagers who have had gastric bypass surgery and a young man who helps unionize a McDonald’s franchise, only to see it close.

Schlosser’s 2001 title, "Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal" was published by HarperCollins and has at least 1.4 million copies in print.

McDonald’s also was criticized after the 2004 documentary, "Super Size Me," chronicled filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s deteriorating health when he went on an all-McDonald’s diet for a month. Around that film’s debut, McDonald’s removed the super-size option from its menu although it said the decision wasn’t prompted by the film.

This time, McDonald’s planned well in advance on how to respond to Schlosser’s new film and book. In a memo to franchisees, the fast-food chain said it was considering dispatching what it called a "truth squad" to get out the message that McDonald’s offers a healthy menue and provides good jobs as part of a full-scale media campaign to "set the record straight."

Last week, Schlosser wrapped up a book tour that took him to middle schools in cities including Berkeley, Calif., and a Chicago suburb located several miles from the McDonald’s headquarters. His presentations included pictures of manure piles linked to meat processing and human organs harmed by fat consumption. Some students wore buttons saying their schools "won’t chew on this" in support of the talk.

Conservative political groups mobilized to blunt the impact of the visits. In Chicago, the Cook County Republican Central Committee last week sent a news release to local media outlets encouraging them to attend a book-signing by the authors and "ask a challenging question or two."

The Leadership Institute, an Arlington, Va., organization that says its mission is to further conservative causes, recently sent a letter to the headmaster of a California school before Schlosser was scheduled to appear there, warning that his message would "be harmful to your school and to your children," and that the author "undermines and assaults American businessmen." Ms. Rozenich, the McDonald’s spokeswoman, says the fast-food chain was not involved in either effort and does not fund either of those groups.

Benjamin Wetmore, a spokesman for the Leadership Institute, says the group wrote the letter because of "general concern over Schlosser’s anecdotes around the country."

The Cook County Republican Central Committee did not return calls seeking comment. Representatives from Burger King Corp. and Wendy’s International Inc. declined to comment.
***********************************************

Otherwise, the Washington Monthly has a more exhaustive piece about Glassman's TCS lobbying:

But TCS doesn't just act like a lobbying shop. It's actually published by one--the DCI Group, a prominent Washington "public affairs" firm specializing in P.R., lobbying, and so-called "Astroturf" organizing, generally on behalf of corporations, GOP politicians, and the occasional Third-World despot. The two organizations share most of the same owners, some staff, and even the same suite of offices in downtown Washington, a block off K Street. As it happens, many of DCI's clients are also "sponsors" of the site it houses. TCS not only runs the sponsors' banner ads; its contributors aggressively defend those firms' policy positions, on TCS and elsewhere.

James Glassman and TCS have given birth to something quite new in Washington: journo-lobbying. It's an innovation driven primarily by the influence industry. Lobbying firms that once specialized in gaining person-to-person access to key decision-makers have branched out. The new game is to dominate the entire intellectual environment in which officials make policy decisions, which means funding everything from think tanks to issue ads to phony grassroots pressure groups. But the institution that most affects the intellectual atmosphere in Washington, the media, has also proven the hardest for K Street to influence--until now.

Posted by: Abu Lawrence at July 4, 2007 09:05 AM

Abu Lawrence: Finally, another example is your own employer, Michael

I don't have an employer. I am self-employed and on nobody's payroll.

Your intellectual laziness and "guilt by association" mentality is just lame.

You dismiss Lee Smith because of his affiliation with the conservative Hudson Institute. What about his affiliation with Slate and the Village Voice? He's as much left as he is right, and so am I.

Try adding a dose or two of nuance to your black-and-white world. You remind me of Sean Hannity, and I doubt I'm alone.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 4, 2007 09:12 AM

I mean, really, Lawrence, what are you getting at? Are you suggesting that Lee Smith was paid by the Hudson Institute to write this piece on my blog? That this is just some propaganda-for-a-paycheck chore that he needed to do to pay his rent? That he's a rent-a-scribe? That he's a right-wing robot? What is your point?

Keep your answer to one sentence if possible.

I would also be curious to know if you think anyone has ever told me what to write or demanded I adhere to a party line in order to receive a paycheck.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 4, 2007 09:20 AM

Have you or have you not been paid money to write articles for TCS? Over forty of the "published articles" linked to on your side bar are from TCS, which is a branch of a lobbying firm. Are you saying that you did those for free? If you got paid, then you were employed by that lobbying firm's journo-lobbying outlet. You may not get a monthly pay check from them, but they have certainly been one of your employers -- unless, of course, you wrote all those article for free.

I just find it ironic that part of your schtick is being an "independent journalist," even though most of your published writing has been for a lobbying firm.

As for Smith, I don't know him. I do, however, know that fellows at think tanks are generally paid to write articles for publication, amongst other things. So the fact that he writes for Slate and used to edit part of the Village Voice doesn't make him any less affiliated with the Hudson Institute.

I believe in honesty, Michael. And when writing, full disclosure if part of that. This is not to say that Smith is dishonest -- not at all -- but I think it would have been fair to have put a single line at the beginning or end of his piece stating that he was a fellow at the Hudson Institute.

As for why I dismiss his article, that's because it is full of nonsense. I have mentioned no fewer than twice his ridiculous claim that Edward Said, an Anglican Protestant, is a takfiri. That's past being silly, and things like that are why I'm dismissing his article. But you seem unwilling to discuss that point on its merits, presumably because it's such a silly charge that there's nothing really to discuss.

Posted by: Abu Lawrence at July 4, 2007 09:36 AM

Abu,

actually the point about Said being a takfiri is very astute, well explained, and is clearly meant in a secular context, so that it makes perfect sense while your criticism of it is quite off the mark.

Posted by: ad at July 4, 2007 10:05 AM

>>>I realized a long time ago that the deranged lefties didn't despise Bush because of his policies, they despise him because he's a Republican President.

In other words, the deranged Lefties don't despise Bush because of his policies, they despise his policies because of Bush. Brian H nails it.

Posted by: Carlos at July 4, 2007 10:10 AM

I mean, really, Lawrence, what are you getting at? Are you suggesting that Lee Smith was paid by the Hudson Institute to write this piece on my blog? That this is just some propaganda-for-a-paycheck chore that he needed to do to pay his rent? That he's a rent-a-scribe? That he's a right-wing robot? What is your point?

Keep your answer to one sentence if possible.

I would also be curious to know if you think anyone has ever told me what to write or demanded I adhere to a party line in order to receive a paycheck.

I do not think that Smith was paid to write on your blog but that he is paid to write in general. All I'm asking for is full disclosure. Like I said before, a sentence at the beginning or end of the piece would have sufficed.

As for you, I have no idea what you were or were not told to write by DCI's journo-lobbying site. I do know, though, that they would not have published anything that was contrary to one of their sponsors' corporate lines.

That's their business. Try pitching an anti-fast food article, and see if it gets picked up by TCS. It is not a reputable source. In fact, it is the opposite of a reputable source, since their job is propaganda, which they call lobbying and PR.

So congratulations when you write for the WSJ or LA Weekly, that's great. But anyone who writes for TCS should be ashamed, because regardless of whether or not you believe what you're writing TCS is advertising work, not journalism.

Posted by: Abu Lawrence at July 4, 2007 10:23 AM

Yes, I was paid by TCS for the freelance articles I wrote. The articles were, by the way, unedited and published as they were written, with the exception of occasional copy edits.

As for you, I have no idea what you were or were not told to write by DCI's journo-lobbying site.

No one tells me what to think or write, ever.

I mean, for God's sake, which "lobbyist" would pay to have something like this published? It has no lobbyist value for anyone whatsoever.

I do know, though, that they would not have published anything that was contrary to one of their sponsors' corporate lines.

So what? If I wrote, for example, "The Case for Bombing Iran" (I'm being totally hypothetical here, I would not write such an article today) The Nation wouldn't publish it. If I wrote an article advocating socialized medicine, Reason wouldn't publish it. All media outlets have a point of view and are owned by somebody. There is nothing even remotely new about that. TCS does not claim to be a source of objective news. Every single article is very clearly opinion.

Not once, ever, did the subject of "sponsors" come up in my conversations with TCS editor Nick Schulz. I was more lightly edited by him than by any other editor I have ever worked with. In fact, he invited me to write for him because my point of view differs somewhat from his. He said he doesn't learn much from conservative writers anymore and wanted to publish articles by someone who thinks outside his own box.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 4, 2007 10:43 AM

Abu Lawrence: I do not think that Smith was paid to write on your blog but that he is paid to write in general. All I'm asking for is full disclosure.

Is his entire CV required for "full disclosure," or only his association with one think tank that you have personal problems with?

Should his job as Editor in Chief of the Village Voice Literary Supplement be "disclosed" also, to satisfy conservatives who may have issues with the liberalism Smith is defending?

You don't even publish your name, Mr Anonymous, so you're hardly in a position to demand full disclosure.

This conversation is over.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 4, 2007 10:51 AM

One last point.

he is paid to write in general

Lee and I are adults with mortgages to pay. We long ago gave up the myth and ideal of the pure "starving artist," which only makes any sense to subsidized college students or spoiled brats with trust fund accounts.

No one ever tells us what to think. Money comes from naturally like-minded people. That is the way things work in free societies. No matter what a writer happens to think, if he or she writes well someone will pay. Changing our natural point of view for money is stupid. If I change my point of view, the money will just come from somebody else.

All professional writers understand this perfectly well.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 4, 2007 11:05 AM

I'm fairly sure that you know the difference between a magazine having an editorial line and being a branch of a lobbying firm. So you're obviously being obtuse on purpose, which is called arguing in bad faith.

As for Smith again, if he's still the editor of the literary supplement at the Village voice, then yes, that should be disclosed. Again, a single sentence would suffice. This is standard practice and seems far from unreasonable.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm posting in the comment section of an online blog, and these posts have no pretension to being academic or journalistic writing. If anyone calling himself a journalist is looking to my comments on this blog for direction in the area of academic or journalistic integrity, then we're in sad shape indeed, my friend.

Posted by: Abu Lawrence at July 4, 2007 11:11 AM

"If anyone calling himself a journalist is looking to my comments on this blog for direction in the area of academic or journalistic integrity, then we're in sad shape indeed, my friend." Abu Lawrence

Sad shape, pitiably sad shape and perhaps irredeemably pitiably sad shape. If a grade-schooler or middle-schooler is looking to your comments, Abu, for much of anything that might be considered helpful or possessing insight, they that grade-schooler is in sad shape. On the other hand it's entirely possible that someone from academe might look to your comments for insight, but that's a reflection of the state of academe vs. elementary school children.

Posted by: Tucson Elementary at July 4, 2007 02:12 PM

>>>I'm fairly sure that you know the difference between a magazine having an editorial line and being a branch of a lobbying firm.

And what difference would that be? It seems to me a distinction without a difference. Both are pushing their view. That one has a client and the other one doesn't isn't a material difference. You're going to tell me the folks at the Guardian aren't lobbyists just because they don't have a "client"? LOL. Good one. In fact, lobbyists are far more honest about their agenda than most journalists as far as I'm concerned because the former are up front about it, the latter aren't. The only difference that matters is intellectual honesty. If their writers are honest (as MJT surely is), then you've got nothing on them.

Posted by: Carlos at July 4, 2007 02:18 PM

The thing about "sources" is a way to avoid confronting the issues presented in an article, this one for example.

Right away, instead of debating the propositions put forth by Smith and comparing them to one's own reading of Buruma's piece, plus one's own perceptions of what is going on, the source is attacked along with MJT and his career.

That's a propaganda tactic people on the blogs have been encountering for several years now. In fact I have used it myself - immediately discrediting a right wing writer for example - simply because he was Right Wing - until I realized how stupid it is.

Abu Lawrence, et.al., do the work. Stop relying, please, on your preconceived ideas about the Hudson Institute or whether MJT gets paid to write. Talk about the article, ok? I myself have issues with Melanie Phillips' dispargement of the global warming argument but her articles about judenhass are right on and I have yet to see them refuted. True, people disparage her - call her a right winger - but do they confront and disprove her argument? No.

For myself I thought this piece by Lee Smith was a pretty decent attempt to clarify some of the problems with the Buruma article, which also troubled me although I am not sufficiently articulate to have framed them.

I do think that the prism of The Global Jewish Conspiracy is increasingly and disturbingly being used by left and far right alike, by Westerners and by Islam, to attack both Israel and the West and to avoid a discussion about the consequences of ignoring threats we're facing - by "we" I mean people who broadly support and respect Western values: democracy, minority, women's and gay rights, secular government, freedom of expression.

Moreover, when people talk about "only" Israel, as if, "well if Iran ONLY blows Israel off the map so what" or "if it's ONLY Israel which is threatened with national annihilation so what" or if "well it's only Israeli civilians who are terrorized therefore it isn't really terrorism actually" - this reflects something deeply wrong in our civilization.

One aspect of communal Jewish thinking I can attest to: we've heard THAT before. Historically, when times got tough, the Jewish community was attacked.

This is clearly happening again. Israel is used as a convenient scapegoat for all the problems in the world and this isn't me inventing things. Look at the record in the UN. Illegal boycotts have been levelled against the Jewish people for decades - by the Arab League, by Nazi Germany, increasingly attempts by British "intelligentsia" are underway to isolate and boycott Israeli academics and goods. Israeli artists are already discriminated against in Europe. Israel has been slandered with terms like "apartheid" and Zionism equated with racism; Israel bears the entire stigma of all Western imperialism even though the Jews of the Yishuv fought the British Empire!

Worst of all the argument is framed as the "Israeli-Palestinian" conflict, as though you have this mighty Jewish Goliath victimizing the poor Palestinians - when in fact the war against Israel has been pan-Arab and even pan-Islamic and included the Soviet Union and its power as well - and Israel's Western allies have been fickle at best and are themselves beholden to Middle Eastern sources of oil and are afraid or unwilling to confront this issue squarely.

Rather than grappling with reality, then, people who try to frame and discuss it are attacked because of their employer. Nobody really wants to discuss the truly ugly aspects that are being used to deflect attention from an increasingly dangerous and disturbing situation. The Left has gotten deeply confused - as MJT writes, it's driving many principled and thoughtful people to the Right against our wishes. When the Left supports systems which oppress women and gays and minorities, there's something amiss. Therefore if a thoughtful person from the Right has something to say we should drop the polemicizing and read it.

We need to stop this finger pointing and discuss the problem.

Please.

Posted by: Sophia at July 4, 2007 02:23 PM

Sophia: Right away, instead of debating the propositions put forth by Smith and comparing them to one's own reading of Buruma's piece, plus one's own perceptions of what is going on, the source is attacked along with MJT and his career.

Thanks for the spirited defense. You have just convinced me to make Abu Lawrence's behavior a bannable offense.

Consider yourself fairly warned, Abu Lawrence. Any further posts along these lines and you're out of here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 4, 2007 02:59 PM

MJT: You have just convinced me to make Abu Lawrence's behavior a bannable offense.

I agree that it's irritating to have people jump off topic, especially when it gets personal.

At the same time, I've seen much worse on this blog. I'm actually surprised that you let so much slide. People have mocked and insulted you numerous times, and you only banned them, finally, after several warnings.

I don't think Abu Lawrence is attacking you personally.

Posted by: Edgar at July 4, 2007 03:57 PM

Edgar,

I don't think its a matter of making a personal attack, per se, but argument by insinuation instead of substance that is MJT's concern here. Instead of addressing the subject matter of the post, the insinuation is made that the author is untrustworthy and, therefore, there argument is unpersuasive. While attacking the credibility of a fact witness is an approrpriate rhetorical tactic, it is no basis for attacking an opinion piece and detracts from the general tenor of debate (in fact clouding it beyond recognition). While I agree that MJT has frequently been overly generous with more overtly offensive posters, I can't fault him for ruling out a line of discussion that is not only offensive to the authors as individuals, but fails to advance the discussion, as well.

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at July 4, 2007 05:34 PM

One problem with Abu Lawrence's conspiracy theorizing is that every single article ever published here could be subjected to it, regardless of its content.

That is not acceptable. The comments box is here so readers can comment on content and so we can discuss relevant topics.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 4, 2007 06:59 PM

Interesting/disturbing article. Makes you realize that the "Lib-Left" types got one thing right: the Islamists are not the biggest danger facing the West. They themselves represent a far more lethal threat to our Western civilization. I don't understand why but it's apparent that these "intellectuals"" have come to despise the very society they were so instrumental in creating and the only viable social model that would allow them to exist. Like a virus that kills its own host. I agree with Smith that it's a kind of terrorism but I don't understand its genesis. Can someone explain this to me? I've observed it for some time in the comments of acquaintances who aren't (obvious) members of the tinfoil hat brigade and it just leaves me shaking my head.

Posted by: liam at July 4, 2007 08:52 PM

Saddam was more Islamist than we think, if only for political expediency. This started after Iran's revolution and continued up until the present. He was not Kemal Ataturk, but a leader who added Islamic words to his flag. Sure, he did this for cynical reasons, but obviously he was courting the Islamists if only defensively.

Posted by: Aaron at July 4, 2007 09:04 PM

Ian Buruma's book Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of its Enemies is absolutely terrific. He doesn't hate the West, not even remotely. He literally wrote the book about people who do.

The fact that he now sticks up for Tariq Ramadan while giving Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Bernard Kouchner a bunch of crap is very strange.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 4, 2007 09:06 PM

The fact that he now sticks up for Tariq Ramadan while giving Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Bernard Kouchner a bunch of crap is very strange.

Because he believes we cannot end hatred of the West by answering it with intolerance. Hirsi Ali and Kouchner must therefore fall under the "intolerant" category to him. He may be right about that, but neither should we be required to be tolerant of all that islamism and anti-West crap. It is viewed as weakness, not charity.

Posted by: Carlos at July 4, 2007 10:32 PM

Abu Lawrence is banned.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 4, 2007 11:41 PM

One post by Abu Lawrence has been deleted. Any future posts by Abu Lawrence will also be deleted.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 4, 2007 11:43 PM

been reading the exchange and saw that last post. he must have hit a nerve,because i don't think there was much reason to delete it. he asked you to respond t the edward said thing. lol. guess it's your blog though, so if you don't want to asnwer questions, delete away...

Posted by: DP at July 4, 2007 11:59 PM

I am not Lee Smith, and I cannot explain precisely what his point was regarding Edward Said, although another reader took a pretty good stab at it already.

I am not going to be the subject of conspiracy theories about me doing the bidding of "lobbyists" on my own Web site, especially when it has been more than a year since I even associated with the people in question. I warned Abu Lawrence to knock it off and he refused. If I ignore my own warnings I might as well stop giving warnings and surrender to trolls, and I will never do that.

Abu Lawrence knew what would happen if he didn't knock it off. He chose the consequences for himself.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 5, 2007 12:13 AM

In other words, Iraq is the price we are all paying for a Jewish interpretation of modernity.

In my words, Iraq is the price we are all paying for
a modern interpretation of modernity. Or perhaps a Western interpretation of modernity? The wonderful (to me) thing is that Israel is both Western and Middle-Eastern, thereby confounding all but the most astute analysts. No wonder they (mostly) dislike us!

Posted by: savtadotty at July 5, 2007 07:01 AM

liam,

In their quest to abolish hierarchy, some very brilliant people undercut the developmental line they themselves followed. They have arrived at a pluralistic stance yet fail to grasp the hierarchy of values necessary to go from rationalism to pluralism (using Jean Gebser's model here).

There's also a blurring of lines; most truths are contextually situated, becomes, ALL truths are contextually situated. Universal pluralism then becomes extreme pluralism. Witness the central performative contradiction of many bright people: there is no universal truth (umm, except that statement?!).

If all cultures are to be honored, then the one doing the most dishonoring gets the most angst. Is there a worse way to not honor a culture than by invading their land? Or so the thinking goes.

I just gave a boiled down sample of Ken Wilber's critique of modernity and post-modernity. Perhaps he can answer your questions more fully.

Posted by: dajida at July 5, 2007 09:44 AM

mjt,

i came to this thread late, but i must say i am with lawrence on this one. not because of the specifics -- lee smith's piece, or your writings for TCS -- but in general.

i have been an author and writer for more than 15 years and i have learned the hard way the concept of journalists internalizing what publishers want without them ever imposing anything on them (although there is explicit imposition too).

if you want to make a living off writing, it's gonna be practically impossible if you're not astute enough to figure out what publishers want and give it to them.

the problem is that such internalization is very subtle and the writer does not, psychologically admit it to himself. because he deems himself free, he either tends to be in denial about it, or is genuinely unaware of it.

the notion that "everybody knows that these are opinions" is also disingenuous. opinions must also be justified based on knowledge and reason to deserve attention. thus, if the reader's knowledge and/or reasoning is not sufficient to see through flawed ones employed by the writer, then the opinions may appear quite valid when in reality they are not. this is, in fact, one of the main reasons for the current state of western journalism.

Posted by: fp at July 5, 2007 11:26 AM

even though in general i am not in favor of banning I do accept that often it is inevitable, and in general I concurred with your banning decisionz.

however, unless you banned lawrence based on some comments i did not see because you deleted them, i must say i am at a loss as to why you banned him. does not put you in a good light here. did he strike a nerve?

Posted by: fp at July 5, 2007 11:33 AM

i do not think his point was conspiracy theory. and even if it were, there's enough in his comments to address regardless of that.

your decision seems more emotional than rational, which has not generally been the case in he past.

Posted by: fp at July 5, 2007 11:35 AM

So in other words, fp, you and Abu and all the rest of us who comment here are the only people who get the benefit of the doubt, since we're doing this for free?

Posted by: Gene at July 5, 2007 11:37 AM

FP,

Of course people internalize what other people want to hear. That's not the point. The point is that a argument should be accepted or rejected on its own merits.

Therefor, if you're talking about how a wrong-headed idea becomes generally accepted, you have a point. But of you are talking about an individual person's commentary, ad-hominem attacks are nothing more than rhetorical tricks aimed at muddle-headed thinkers - an honest argument should stick to the facts!

Posted by: Yafawi at July 5, 2007 12:47 PM

and if you read my comments you will find references to knowledge and reason as justification of opinion, hence the merit-base that you refer to.

i did not find lawrence's comments ad-hominem attacks, at least not of a nature that justified banning.

Posted by: fp at July 5, 2007 01:25 PM

gene,

there are all sorts of motivations other than money to push nonsense, so nobody should get automatically the benefit of a doubt.

for example, political activists should be read accordingly. and so should be those who get paid for writing.

iow, knowledge and reason should always be applied, no matter what, but a background is often useful for interpretation.

Posted by: fp at July 5, 2007 01:37 PM

fp, I'll agree with you in a general sense, but Abu posted a 1300-word comment spelling out the background of TCS Daily, etc., in a clear attempt to insinuate that Lee Smith's analysis was specious, as opposed to arguing the merits. Hell, I'd ban the guy too for subjecting us to that.

Posted by: Gene at July 5, 2007 01:59 PM

Michael, best to you in Iraq; hope you will be safe.

We will just have to agree to disagree (the formulation for the philosophy of freedom, by the way), about "Islamofascism" as an accurate description of the lethal ideo/theology ripping apart Islam during the 21C, but permit me one last brief attempt:

Repressive and authoritarian governments are not 'fascist,' but the Left's--and now the Right's--too broad use of the term to describe anti-liberal forms of governance unfortunately also masks fascism's committed anti-conservatism, as well. Certainly most of the Arab states are considered to be deeply conservative, which makes using the term 'Islamofascism' puzzling, since fascism is just as fiercely anti-conservative and anti-bourgeoise as it is anti-liberal.

One of the key features required of an accurate description of the ideology of fascism is the failure of the existing democratic governance to protect itself from fascism's take-over of power. There are dozens of proto-fascist, para-fascist, and neo-Nazi groups around the world, in every country whose culture is influenced by one of the four salvific religions, and in every country which had to fight Mussolini and Hitler to the death. But these many 'wanna-be's' have not been able to defeat the existing 'democracy'; thus making Hitler's Protestant Germany, Mussolini's Catholic Italy, and Khomeini's Shi'a Iran the only real-world examples of three different forms of fascism.

From your copy of 'Mein Kampf,' page 510:

"Thus, it may be that centuries, dissatisified with the form of their religious life, yearn for a renewal, and that from this psychic urge dozens and more men arise who on the basis of their insight and their knowledge believe themselves chosen to solve this religious distress, to manifest themselves as prophets of a new doctrine, or at least as warriors against an existing one."

If we are intent on stopping the actual fascism in Iran, we emasculate the effectiveness of our argument by lumping conservative Arab states, or homicidal theologians following Qutb, Maududi, or Ibn Wahhab, under the broad pejorative, 'Islamofascism.' It's much like the tale of the irresponsible boy too often crying out "Wolf!" when a wolf wasn't actually there, and then no one finally came to his aid when the wolf actually appeared. The too-broad use of "Islamofascism" to describe what is not fascism in the Middle East will have the unexpected consequence of isolating and negating our efforts at halting the theofascism in Iran.

'Be free,' Michael, and be safe in Iraq.

Posted by: a Duoist at July 5, 2007 06:13 PM

Iran may be your hang-up, but although they are presenting a heavy short-term threat, their maximum threat potential is currently limited, just because Sunni outnumber Shia and Arabs outnumber Persians. Circumstances conspire to limit a purely Iranian hegemony.

The threat of a hegemonic Islamic Caliphate is not Iran-centric and unlike the Iranian threat (which is, theoretically, apocalyptic and existential at the margins, but not hegemonic) has historic precedent and wide appeal.

This is the goal, the vision which OBL and AQ foster. OBL or his successors in partial or total control of a domain stretching from North Africa to Western Europe to the outskirts of Russia, India and China is a greater threat to our civilization, less readily controlled, than an Iranian eschatology which can after all be cauterized with a dozen nuclear weapons.

Iran can practically be tolerated in the cause of suppressing the Caliphate. At least it can be managed as a spot threat. Were it not for Israel's vulnerability and the coefficient of irritant it presents, we could cheerfully watch everybody over there slaughter each other, buying our oil from the clique du jour.

Israel in this sense is almost a hostage - to the extent that Europeans prate about honest brokerage and complain about US support, there is a degenerate logic in the sense that a valued hostage is worth more to the kidnapper than a valueless one - hiding behind a bank patron is more likely to make the cops hold fire than hiding behind another bank robber.

Please never doubt my support or enthusiasm for the State of Israel, but in terms of game theory it is possible to see the side of Israel's existence that presents a problem. Sure, in this case the hostage wears body armor, is armed, knows Krav Maga; but then the bank robbers hold hostage (or at least at risk) a cop instead of a little old lady.

...I am rapidly losing the thread. The point is, your beef, Duoist, seems to be that we are calling OBL & Co. names that should be applied only to Iran. This is bootless.

The fact that OBL & Co. do not employ fasces, wear jackboots or reject religion in the name of social control is not really important. You haven't told us what to call them; you've only said what not to call them.

In other words, you're no help to anyone, except the fraction of linguistic or political purists who a) care more about their pet peeves than the clash of civilizations and b) agree with your stance.

Ayn Rand split this baby very neatly. Under fascism, the individual is nothing, the Race (or Tribe) is all. Under communism, the individual is nothing, the State is all. Which better coheres to the vision of our stateless enemy?

Posted by: nichevo at July 5, 2007 10:51 PM

Iran may be your hang-up, but although they are presenting a heavy short-term threat, their maximum threat potential is currently limited, just because Sunni outnumber Shia and Arabs outnumber Persians. Circumstances conspire to limit a purely Iranian hegemony.

The threat of a hegemonic Islamic Caliphate is not Iran-centric and unlike the Iranian threat (which is, theoretically, apocalyptic and existential at the margins, but not hegemonic) has historic precedent and wide appeal.

This is the goal, the vision which OBL and AQ foster. OBL or his successors in partial or total control of a domain stretching from North Africa to Western Europe to the outskirts of Russia, India and China is a greater threat to our civilization, less readily controlled, than an Iranian eschatology which can after all be cauterized with a dozen nuclear weapons.

Iran can practically be tolerated in the cause of suppressing the Caliphate. At least it can be managed as a spot threat. Were it not for Israel's vulnerability and the coefficient of irritant it presents, we could cheerfully watch everybody over there slaughter each other, buying our oil from the clique du jour.

Israel in this sense is almost a hostage - to the extent that Europeans prate about honest brokerage and complain about US support, there is a degenerate logic in the sense that a valued hostage is worth more to the kidnapper than a valueless one - hiding behind a bank patron is more likely to make the cops hold fire than hiding behind another bank robber.

Please never doubt my support or enthusiasm for the State of Israel, but in terms of game theory it is possible to see the side of Israel's existence that presents a problem. Sure, in this case the hostage wears body armor, is armed, knows Krav Maga; but then the bank robbers hold hostage (or at least at risk) a cop instead of a little old lady.

...I am rapidly losing the thread. The point is, your beef, Duoist, seems to be that we are calling OBL & Co. names that should be applied only to Iran. This is bootless.

The fact that OBL & Co. do not employ fasces, wear jackboots or reject religion in the name of social control is not really important. You haven't told us what to call them; you've only said what not to call them.

In other words, you're no help to anyone, except the fraction of linguistic or political purists who a) care more about their pet peeves than the clash of civilizations and b) agree with your stance.

Ayn Rand split this baby very neatly. Under fascism, the individual is nothing, the Race (or Tribe) is all. Under communism, the individual is nothing, the State is all. Which better coheres to the vision of our stateless enemy?

PS: Hope this is not a double post. Got about 200 windows open in FireFox ;>

Posted by: nichevo at July 5, 2007 10:52 PM

MJT writes The fact that [Buruma] now sticks up for Tariq Ramadan while giving Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Bernard Kouchner a bunch of crap is very strange.

It's not strange. Buruma hasn't changed, he's trying to find a real point of understanding between Islam and the West. Maybe you and Lee should make more of an effort to understand his argument instead of moving further right towards the "all believing Muslims are our enemy" position that Berman has implicitly taken. Buruma believes that the only hope to reach out to moderate Muslims in Europe is through other Muslims, like Ramadan. Ali is no longer a Muslim, she carries about as much weight with the European Muslim community as Bill Maher or Madonna do with practicing Catholics, or Richard Dawkins does with Protestants. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Ali, but I can certainly understand why practicing Muslim believers are not going to find her persuasive or a good example for their children. A lot of what Ramadan says is fairly ugly, true. But if you can't work with people like Ramadan, then you have basically decided that there is no such thing as moderate Islam in Europe.

Posted by: vanya at July 6, 2007 07:52 AM

A lot of what Ramadan says is fairly ugly, true. But if you can't work with people like Ramadan, then you have basically decided that there is no such thing as moderate Islam in Europe.

So "moderate Islam" is "fairly ugly" and you want to make excuses for it? It sounds like you are the one who agrees that "all believing Muslims are our enemy".

Posted by: Yafawi at July 6, 2007 08:11 AM

To make myself clear, why not find a genuinely moderate Muslim? If you claim that "fairly ugly" is the best you can do, then you are basically agreeing that all of Islam is ugly.

Posted by: Yafawi at July 6, 2007 08:13 AM

because there is really no such thing as a moderate muslim. there are muslims who do not apply all the tenets of islam, but that does not mean they are moderates, but rather not muslims all the way.

this is why the islamists have a relatively easy time recruiting and why it's so hard to tell when or what muslims will be radicalized. and also why
why muslims don't denounce the islamists -- they know they have a theologically weak position.

a vast manjority of muslims will increasingly apply all the islam tenets, including sharia law, in the proper circumstances -- that is when they reach a position of power. they don't do it only if and when they are weak.

Posted by: fp at July 6, 2007 09:53 AM

No moderate Muslims? FP, it must be all of the Knowledge & Reason that you have that makes you such a smart and wise fellow.

Must be that there are no moderate Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons also. Oops, sorry, forgot to apply your K&R and just say that they are not ALL THE WAY (pick your favorite religion).

Posted by: Ron Snyder at July 6, 2007 02:34 PM

Must be that there are no moderate Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons also.

Dunno about bhuddists and hindus, but there most certainly are christians (including mormons) who do not take everything on the Old Testament literally, or treat it as the basis of how to live one's life. To 'moderate christians', the old testament is an important and interesting history, but day-to-day ethics, practices, etc is based on the New Testament & various apostles, and a great deal of it is treated as allegory, not literal truth.

Islam is still running on it's Old Testament, with a heavy dose of old tribal arab culture and "mohammed did this (fourteen centuries ago), so it must be ok" (aka the hadiths).

There is no islamic 'new testament'. Nothing supersedes the old teachings. If you're arguing theology, the jihadis are going to win the debate, because the holy book supports their side of the argument. And if you want to argue with the jihadis, you have to argue theology, because they don't recognize any other line of reasoning as valid.

This means is that the conflict between the jihadis and the secular, tolerant west is not going to be resolved via dialogue. The best we can get from the jihadis is a hudna- a strategic truce the jihadis will use to prepare for a resumption of hostilities.

This is what the leftie peace-at-any-cost types refuse to understand. In their transnational postgovernmental model of how the world should work, everything can be resolved if the involved parties talk at each other for long enough.

If talking doesn't work, it's because you didn't talk long enough. There is no amount of talking after which it is appropriate to act instead of talk.

Posted by: rosignol at July 6, 2007 04:49 PM

actually, there aren't those either. there are those who do not apply all the tenets of their religion.

the difference is that their religions are not political and legal, so they are allowed to do their thing. but islam does not, and all muslims know it.

and yes, this is based on knowledge and reason. it's a lack thereof that cause people to fail to recognize this.

Posted by: fp at July 6, 2007 05:57 PM

Rosignol, agree that the time for talking with Islamic Extremists/Terrorists is long past. To paraphrase General Sheridan, "A dead terrorist is a good terrorist".

I'm uncomfortable with lumping ALL Muslims into the same pot, even though my personal experience with Muslims and their culture has not been positive.

Perhaps if I had a chance to live in various Muslim countries, as I did in a few Oriental countries many years ago, my perception of Muslims and their culture would be more positive.

FP, thank goodness we have such a wise man as you that can with certitude and confidence state "...and all muslims know it." If only all us of were blessed with your mantra of Knowledge & Reason. BTW, meant to thank you for not marketing your blog anymore.

Posted by: Ron Snyder at July 6, 2007 06:52 PM

one does not have to be wise, only knowledgeable.
if you educate yourself on islam -- living with muslims is not enough -- you will come to the same conclusion. it does not take a lot of brain.

the main reason muslims can be radicalized almost instantly by islamists is because they base themselves on the quran and sharia -- had that not been the case, they would have had a much harder time.

just read what apostates or those who left terrorism say about the motives of the terrorists: unlike the western stupidity and ignorance that it's western policies, they say it's theology.

Posted by: fp at July 6, 2007 08:59 PM

I'm tired of this comment area being polluted by issues of access and control - which covers when people debate who should be banned, when you ban them, and when people including myself argue about the banning. So I'll save my anger and dissapointment on that for email save only:

The next time you lament your comment area being a sink of paranoia and wingnuttery, blame your own pruning.

So here's my comment on Lee Smith's article.

Frankly, I didn't like it. I thought it was muddled and vague. I thought it tried to smear Tariq Ramadan as an Islamofascist and Buruba as an appeaser- two stereotypes which make me very angry - because Tariq Ramadan may - or may not, but may - overassociate aggressive military policies advocated by Jews with Zionism/Judaism.

All I'm going to say about that is that the extent to which Islamofascism is associated with Islam is a debate which rages on this board every single day, so to claim that making the equivalent debate between Zionism and neoconservatism is automatically beyond the pale is intellectually inconsistent. Either you can debate the link between a religious affiliation and a policy proposal, or you can't. Let's not cherry pick.
I'm a

So Smith's article is, beyond his anchor observation about Ramadan's views on Zionism, which is at least factual and relevant - is sloppy, insinuative, and misleading, in my eyes.
He seems to claim that "liberals" are ostracizing Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but doesn't provide any example of Buruma, his only "liberal" target, doing so.
His detailed critique of Buruma's historical discussion of where Jews may or may not have taken political stances based on communal identity is okay point by point, but silly - is he trying to prove that Jews don't ever take political stances based on their Jewishness? Why would Jewishness be the single historical exception to the relationship between identity category, including religion, and politics in the whole world?

His core argument seems to be that dialogue with moderate Islamists, whoever that might be today, or tomorrow, inevitably turns you into bumbling patsy carrying the water of terrorists, which seems to be contrary to the message of your own blog, and also happens to be a message I loathe. Rejection of dialogue, and the advocacy of rejection of dialogue, ushers in xenophobia and violence. Smith wants to promote the blackballing of Islamic thinkers everyone agrees are nonviolent, and then tomorrow ask "where are all the moderate Muslims taking a path other than violence?"

Posted by: glasnost at July 6, 2007 09:46 PM

This is what the leftie peace-at-any-cost types refuse to understand. In their transnational postgovernmental model of how the world should work, everything can be resolved if the involved parties talk at each other for long enough.

If talking doesn't work, it's because you didn't talk long enough. There is no amount of talking after which it is appropriate to act instead of talk.

This is a silly stereotype. Name the last time you heard a liberal publicly advocate for dialogue with Osama Bin Laden instead of punishment. I'll wait.

Liberals, like everyone else, think it's appropriate to act against people who are actively trying to kill you. We're not willing, however, to take the dictation of conservatives at face value that for every violent conflict in the world between two parties, one of them is really actually out to kill Americans - when they're not actually killing Americans.

The cornerstone of the 'surge' in Iraq right now involves talking to ex-baathists who were trying to kill us a short time ago. So, by your standards, General Petraeus must be a peace-at-any-cose leftie? Because, somewhere, somehow, he attempted to resolve a violent dispute using methods short of surrender/extermination?

What's up this false dichotomy between either talking, or else acting, anyway? Has anyone ever won a counterinsurgency without making some sort of deal with some variant of original enemy? I doubt it.

Posted by: glasnost at July 6, 2007 09:55 PM

"Name the last time you heard a liberal publicly advocate for dialogue with Osama Bin Laden instead of punishment. I'll wait."

What else will you do? Is Rosie O'Donnell a liberal? Is she a liberal who believes that "this is the first time in history that fire has melted steel?" Is she alone?

If Bush, Cheney, Jews or the Cigarette Smoking Man from The X-Files blew up the WTC and the Pentagon, then indeed, why should we be mad at OBL? Why punish him? For criticizing our culture? You do that, it seems, every minute of every day.

(Now go ahead and redefine "liberal" so you don't look like a chump. Tick tock.)

"Liberals...think...act...We're not willing...when they're not actually killing Americans."

Okay, so then, what? As long as Americans are not being killed, let 'em fight? Let the stronger win? What the hell do you MEAN?

"...using methods short of surrender/extermination"

I don't even know where to start. Keep talking and I'll wait for you to flip yourself.

Posted by: nichevo at July 6, 2007 10:55 PM

I'm self-censoring meta discussion, but I felt I owed you some applause on your dissent here, fp.

Posted by: glasnost at July 6, 2007 11:25 PM

Rosie O Donnell's beliefs on the WTC/Pentagon, as you've stated them are not liberal beliefs. They're stupid beliefs. Your strawman, which I can only conclude is that "liberals think Bush blew up the world trade center", manages to be much obviously stupid than Ros' stereotype, plus being logically inconsistent with Ros's criticism of leftism, which assumes that leftists understand that Osama wants to kill us and wants us to talk to him anyway. Furthermore, you've failed to provide an example of Rosie advocating dialogue with Osama Bin Laden.

I don't even know where to start.

That should probably be a signal statement that you shouldn't, in fact, start.

Posted by: glasnost at July 6, 2007 11:45 PM

"All I'm going to say about that is that the extent to which Islamofascism is associated with Islam is a debate which rages on this board every single day, so to claim that making the equivalent debate between Zionism and neoconservatism is automatically beyond the pale is intellectually inconsistent. Either you can debate the link between a religious affiliation and a policy proposal, or you can't. Let's not cherry pick."

Breathtaking degeneracy of moral equivalence displayed here by Glasnost. How many "neoconservatives" claim to be acting on behalf of Judaism as a religion? How many are even observant Jews?

Posted by: Gary Rosen at July 7, 2007 12:08 AM

glasnost, you may think that a belief that Bush (or Cheney, or those working for them) blew up the WTC is not held my many liberals. If so, I can only conclude that you spend time with a very tiny number of liberals.

You may think that such a belief is merely stupid. I happen to think it is a pretty stupid view myself. But among the many self-proclaimed (and otherwise reasonably intelligent) liberals that I know, a substantial percentage believe exactly that.

Posted by: wj at July 7, 2007 07:52 AM

i don't think that the so-called lefties of today merit any response. they can't be reached by knowledge and reason.

they lost the socio-economic game and now they hate the west and us so much that they blindly get into bed with the anathema of their own so-called progressive principles. they're no longer left, they are leftofascism. that's why the fascism part is confortable with the same part in islamofascism. they deserve each other. pathetic. no intellectual integrity whatsoever.

it is best to ignore them.

Posted by: fp at July 7, 2007 10:23 AM

"The cornerstone of the 'surge' in Iraq right now involves talking to ex-baathists who were trying to kill us a short time ago. So, by your standards, General Petraeus must be a peace-at-any-cose leftie? Because, somewhere, somehow, he attempted to resolve a violent dispute using methods short of surrender/extermination?"

He is talking to ex-Baathists for the purpose of getting them to join with non-Baathists so together they can exterminate Al Qeda. If the ex-Baathists are at all amenable to this it is because they have decided that tolerating or allying with Al Qeda is a bad idea, especially since AQ is rampaging around mutilating whole villages and blowing up people. The ex-B's have decided that we are not the bad guys after all. Petraeus is mediating the negotiations.

Posted by: Yehudit at July 7, 2007 06:01 PM

About the TNR article..... I can't help but think Marty Peretz wouldn't have allowed this kind of insinuating crap.

Maybe Leon Weiseltier will take a crack at Buruma. He's very good at slicing and dicing deserving fools. Google his articles on Tony Judt, Spielberg and Kushner and "Munich," and Mel Gibson. Actually I don't think Buruma is a fool, but as Lee says, he's being co-opted.

Posted by: Yehudit at July 7, 2007 06:07 PM

"The wonderful (to me) thing is that Israel is both Western and Middle-Eastern, thereby confounding all but the most astute analysts. No wonder they (mostly) dislike us!"

Hi Savta! I have noticed people have the same problem with Jews in general. It's a religion! No, it's an ethnic group! No, it's a nation!

Hey guys, it's both a floor wax AND a dessert topping!

Posted by: Yehudit at July 7, 2007 06:12 PM

re: glasnost jabber of

"Posted by glasnost at July 6, 2007 11:45 PM"

OK, before I consider pulling on my waders to deal with that flood...who is Ros? Do you mean Rosie O'Donnell?

Then we can get to considering whether she is a liberal, etc.

Posted by: nichevo at July 8, 2007 01:05 PM

fp,

maybe we should start educating people by analogy:

"a tiny group of extremists": Do you think that the population of Russia in 1917 was mostly communist and extremist? Not at all? What went wrong then? Do you think that the "moderate bolsheviks or communists could quarantee then
a decent life under their rule?" No? Why not?

The only difference is that Marx/Engels stipulated violence and did nothing, the Lenin/Stalin did the job later (surprizingly with no stipulated "working class" in the country). Mohammad stipulated violence and did it after some 10 years wasted in Mekka having only 150 followers. Then he did the violent job from Medina. If you follow his religion, you have a little problem: Somehow you must agree totally with whatever he did or said, with his ruthless grasp of power.

Are you "moderate" while not being able at all to denounce the acts of violence? Whoever imitates the acts of Mohammed is blessed and pious. Can the moderate guy say one word against it? No.

Posted by: Czechmade at July 9, 2007 07:38 AM

i'm afraid not only people are not educated, but they cannot be educated anymore. that's because there are no longer proper teachers, and the population is no longer aware there is something called education that's important.

Posted by: fp at July 9, 2007 08:12 AM

waaaa.it is very great,and the picture is very good,i like it

Posted by: runescape at July 9, 2007 01:01 PM

I want MORE WAR!
Let the west draw a line in the sand and fight over the principles of our civilization.
I REFUSE to become a dhimmi.

Posted by: Seattle Patriot at July 9, 2007 04:06 PM

Fuck Arabs they stink like shit, kill them all. arrest and deport all Arabs ,moslems from America and Europe before they cut your throat, convert your children to islam, put women in burkas.

Posted by: harrislam at July 9, 2007 07:14 PM

This is a silly stereotype. Name the last time you heard a liberal publicly advocate for dialogue with Osama Bin Laden instead of punishment. I'll wait.

If you re-read my post, you will see that I did not use the word 'liberal'.

I specified 'leftie peace-at-any-cost-types', which you probably wrote off as gratuitous mud-slinging, but is in fact precisely the group I was referring to. The reason I specified them is because they dominate the debate on the left, with other leftists and even liberals (not the same thing as a leftist) split on the issue, remaining largely silent and not offering alternatives to either the surge or withdrawal, or quietly (or even not-so-quietly) supporting the surge as the least bad approach.

[irrelevant sentence removed] We're not willing, however, to take the dictation of conservatives at face value that for every violent conflict in the world between two parties, one of them is really actually out to kill Americans - when they're not actually killing Americans.

Oh, for fuck's sake, Glasnost... If you don't think what someone is saying about something is true, present your facts and people will decide who's got the better case. Be careful that your facts are actual facts, though- asserting something isn't the same thing as proving it, and "I heard it somewhere" with no supporting link isn't exactly convincing. Oh, and if all you're going to do is complain, criticize, call names, and cast aspersions, don't be surprised when most people decide to go with the other side of the debate.

The cornerstone of the 'surge' in Iraq right now involves talking to ex-baathists who were trying to kill us a short time ago.

Actually, the cornerstone of the Surge is sending enough troops to clear and then hold territory, denying the insurgents safe areas in which to operate and making it clear to the population that protecting them from reprisals is a priority, which greatly reduces the ability of a bunch of armed and vicious people to intimidate the rest of the community into tolerating their actions.

The really amazing thing is that for years now, the most common criticism of Rumsfeld's approach to pacifying Iraq was that he didn't have enough manpower to do it. So now Rumsfeld's out, and his successor ups the manpower levels, and lo, it seems to be working... so do the critics say "I told you so?" No, they just find other reasons we can't win.

Feh.

So, by your standards, General Petraeus must be a peace-at-any-cose leftie? Because, somewhere, somehow, he attempted to resolve a violent dispute using methods short of surrender/extermination?

Historically, the most effective way to establish a lasting peace is to make it absolutely clear to the aggressor that continued aggression will bring them nothing but death and destruction. Usually, when an aggressor realizes that there is nothing to be gained from continued conflict, they surrender, and accept a treaty explicitly spelling out what is theirs and what is not. This is not a diplomatic formality, it is an essential step in the process.

Stopping short of surrender when you have the ability to compel it is a mistake.

What's up this false dichotomy between either talking, or else acting, anyway? Has anyone ever won a counterinsurgency without making some sort of deal with some variant of original enemy? I doubt it.

Thank you for demonstrating your ignorance of history.

ps to nichevo: Rosie O'Donnell is not a liberal in any sense that I would use the word.

pps: if anyone really wants to know what I mean when use the word 'liberal', and why I'm not using it now, the long answer can be found here-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_liberalism

The short answer is that our current crop of 'liberals' aren't.

Posted by: rosignol at July 9, 2007 08:11 PM

...plus being logically inconsistent with Ros's criticism of leftism, which assumes that leftists understand that Osama wants to kill us and wants us to talk to him anyway.

I make no such assumption.

Posted by: rosignol at July 9, 2007 08:34 PM
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