Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Another reason "Islamism" is a useful concept

Islam has a history that makes it more than what its true believers often argue; both Muslims and anti-Islam polemicists often think the question of what is Islam is exhausted by the foundational texts and so, given the relentless pitting of believers against (frequently cursed) unbelievers in these texts, it is pointless to distinguish, say, radical "Islamism" from Islam. Yet Islam remains a work in progress, as great propagandists have always known, and we need ways to denote what is particular to our times:
Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World :: Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Ideas the Nazis spread in the Middle East have had an enduring twofold legacy. First, as in Europe, they built on existing prejudices against Jews to transform that prejudice into something far more paranoid, aggressive, and murderous. One U.S. intelligence report from 1944 estimated that anti-Jewish materials constituted fully half of German propaganda directed to the Middle East. The Nazis saw virtually all developments in the region through the Jewish prism and exported this obsession.

The fruits of this effort are seen not only in decades of furious Muslim anti-Zionism, personified by Arafat and Ahmadinejad, but also in the persecution of ancient Jewish communities in countries like Egypt and Iraq, which have now shriveled to near-extinction, plus the employment of Nazis such as Johann van Leers and Aloïs Brunner in important government positions. Thus did the Nazi legacy oppress Jewry in the Middle East post-1945.

Second, Islamism took on a Nazi quality. As someone who has criticized the term Islamofascism on the grounds that it gratuitously conflates two distinct phenomena, I have to report that Herf's evidence now leads me to acknowledge deep fascist influences on Islamism. This includes the Islamist hatred of democracy and liberalism and its contempt for multiple political parties, preference for unity over division, cult of youth and militarism, authoritarian moralism, cultural repression, and illiberal economics.

Beyond specifics, that influence extends to what Herf calls an "ability to introduce a radical message in ways that resonated with, yet deepened and radicalized, already existing sentiments." Although a scholar of Europe by training, Herf's detective work in the U.S. archives has opened a new vista on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Islamism, as well as made a landmark contribution more broadly to an understanding of the modern Middle East.


Paul said...

Way too much deep thinking.
Just look at the reality of Islam and there is no doubt that the entire frigging Muslim religion is a crime against humanity!

truepeers said...

Well you know that kind of "obvious" comment offers no ideas about how to deal with this "crime against humanity". There are many situations in which it might be useful to know why the entire political scene of the Islamic world is, in its own self-conception, today divided between an "Islamist" movement - a self-conscious global movement that wants a return to a global caliphate - and the established regimes of the various Islamic countries that are less ambitious in holding on to power and thus even willing, behind the scenes, to make allies with Israel (while publicly indulging in antisemitism) against the likes of Iran and Hamas/the Muslim Brotherhood.

Paul said...

truepeers, I get all that and I've said this previously. Put the whole frigging religion on trial for human rights violations in a Human Rights Commission for disseminating hatred and violence against others. (as is clearly evident in their worship of the Koran.)

If the HRC can trump Freedom of Speech, logic would dictate it should trump Freedom of Religion.

Hopefully, this kind of action would blow both institutions apart and with any luck, for good.

Heck it would be bigger than the Scopes monkey trial me thinks.

In any case, there just comes a point where there's no point in even trying to understand psychotic behavior. It's just simply criminal.

What else can you say about people who worship an Arab Pedophile Warlord?

truepeers said...


It seems to me that if we are going to denounce a religion for denying our common humanity, it is incumbent on us not only to denounce the ideology that leads to violence but also to ask how it is that our shared humanity can be twisted to serve this ideology. No one's hands are entirely clean and we only truly reveal evil (both to ourselves and to Muslims) by looking at how it is common to humanity in general. We only hurt ourselves, our own understanding of the world, when we turn the entire Muslim world into a scapegoat. So, I think we should struggle to understand psychotic behaviour and we should struggle to see how many Muslims are not aware that they "worship" Mohammed, let alone what we call a pedophile. Then we might begin to talk to them in a way that might actually lead to the decline of bad religion. You can't destroy Islam just by putting it on some show trial. You have to reach out to at at least some Muslims where they are

Paul said...

In theory you are correct.

Unfortunately in practice, the notion of "belief" is not logically theoretical (as it should be in my opinion), and the only thing Muslims truly understand (as divined to them by Mohamed the Warlord), is "force".

You may think you can use logic and reason, but those notions are based on ancient Greek precepts and are not accepted as Allah's way.

It's sad but true. Muslims have a severe mental disease and as the evidence shows, there is no arguing with crazy people.

truepeers said...

Well you know, there is a lot of space between logic and reason, and force; it's where we spend most of our time. While it's true that there's no point trying to talk with people who are at war with you, when you're not at war you can communicate (most communication is not deeply in the mode of logic or reason) as long as we have the courage to recognize our common humanity guarantees that possibility.

In some situations the only thing people will bow to is force, but Muslims generally understand much else besides - desire, sex, drugs, money, shame, honor, etc. etc. I can understand why someone might not want to dance with Islam, but the real question is do we have the choice any longer to live in a world where we can remain safely apart. And if all we know by way of interaction is war, will we not destroy ourselves, sooner or later? The future belongs not just to those who can kill an enemy but who can kill and still live with a purpose and a sense of right and wrong that is not overburdened with self-destructive guilt. It's easy to talk tough but what's the point if there is little likelihood in the foreseeable future that Western society will see itself as rightly needing and able to colonize by force the entire Muslim world?

Paul said...

you wrote:
"what's the point if there is little likelihood in the foreseeable future that Western society will see itself as rightly needing and able to colonize by force the entire Muslim world?"

I'm confused.
I am not advocating going to war to subdue the Muslim World. Personally, I don't give Islamic countries a second thought.

I'm simply stating that the ONLY currency Muslims relate to is "force". (it's THEIR culture)

My concern is here in Canada and the rabid hate-mongering being incited by this country's Muslim leadership.

Years ago I lived next to a very nice family of Aga Khan Muslims. I actually first thought they were Mormons, they HAD that kind of mannerism.

These days, as a result of a very failed immigration policy, we have a fast growing population of insane Muslims coming from the rat-holes of the Middle East and North Africa, having been nursed on the Koran's satanic verses of hate and intolerance; - lock, stock and barrel. They are anything but representative of "humanity".

I'd rather say that contemporary Muslims are actually representative of "inhumanity" in much the same way as Nazism is antithetical to "shared humanity".

The Koran is a monstrosity in the way it promotes hate and violence and without a doubt is "inhuman" in its teachings.

And yes, a show trial would be quite in order as a way to "force" change.

truepeers said...

Unfortunately, and this was my point, inhumanity is an all too common human deformation. It's worth study because, as you suggest, we're likely to be seeing a lot more of it in the coming years. But it's the kind of thing you can never really see very well as long as you're pinning it all on a bad guy everyone is pointing at. We need to ask how the humanity in which we all share can be twisted and deformed. Angry, violent people can teach us something about ourselves even if we are not particularly violent or angry.