Thursday, August 31, 2006

Islamic fascistssss (make sure you get Bush's sibilance right)

The war over the word "Islamofascism" is underway!'s...underwhelming. Slate magazine's blog-crawler reports here on "Islamofascism" and "appeasement." The socialist left has its own take here. No one's going to be putting down this term for some time now, especially not Michael Savage, Andrew Sullivan, the National Review, and others who have popularized it. Indeed, it's a twistedly useful piece of propaganda, albeit an utterly inacurate one from a historical point of view. The recent brouhah over it, however, has opened up avenues for critiquing it, because it's becoming apparent very quickly that proponents of the term have no idea what they're talking about when questioned seriously about it. Here, for example, is conservative blogger "Sister Toldjah": "They're not just interested in hurting and killing the 'infidels' -- they're interested in forcing people to convert to Islam, and on an even bigger scale, turning democratic Western nations into Islamic states. That is what fascism is."

You'll notice that that last bit links to this definition of "fascism." Unfortunately for the Sister's analysis, the dictionary defines it thus:

1.a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
2.the philosophy, principles, or methods of fascism.
3.a fascist movement, esp. the one established by Mussolini in Italy 1922–43.

I have highlighted the above terms to show the complete incongruence between terrorism, "Islamic" and otherwise, and fascism. First, note the key term "governmental." What terrorist organization is an actual, formal government, in any country, that possesses complete power? Next, who is "Islamic fascism"'s supreme dictator? Osama bin Laden? Ahmadinejad (who does not possess supreme power in Iran)? Hassan Nasrallah (who does not run the state of Lebanon)? Moving right along, there's "regimenting all industry." This was one of fascism's main accomplishments in Germany: the merger of an authoritarian state with capitalism to produce a sort of corporatist stronghold. Where is any such government-industry marriage present in any of the "Islamic fascist" regimes? (Note also that President Bush has made impossible to speak of "multiple" threats or entities anyway, since we are fighting a unified enemy.) Finally, "aggressive nationalism." What nation? Which people? Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy, I must say.

Fascism, of course, is not limited to Hitler. In addition to Mussolini and Franco, we can also look to the Greek junta of the late 60s and 70s and innumerable South American military dictatorships, such as those of Stroessner (Paraguay, and dead just two weeks ago!), Videla (Argentina), and Pinochet. There remain today several active neo-fascist political parties (whether explicitly so or just obviously), including the British National Party and the French Front National. Do any of these groups look like al-Qaeda to you? (A priori they just can't, because as I noted earlier terrorism really has no governmental, state form. At least, the kind of terrorism we're after.)

It doesn't really matter, because when our elected officials use the term "fascist" we're not supposed to think, "Oh, like those Latin American dictators we tacitly supported in the 70s and 80s in order to suppress Communism," but rather something like, "Fascism real bad. War only solution." Then we get fed a lot of "Neville Chamberlain appeasement" talk because the only thing worse than being Neville Chamberlain is being a biographer of Neville Chamberlain who wants to make him memorable for something other than being Hitler's poodle. I say Damn! the propaganda machine is set to 11! Clothe yourselves in righteousness and truth, my brothers and sisters.

P.S.- I just noticed that Sister Toldjah's definition above--"They're not just interested in hurting and killing the 'infidels' -- they're interested in forcing people to convert to Islam, and on an even bigger scale, turning democratic Western nations into Islamic states. That's what fascism is"--in addition to being the vaguest pronouncement ever, would be a pretty useful and not-altogether-inaccurate description of the United States in the mouth of any anti-American critic. Hell, it is the description of America used by our critics, if you just invert both the clause order and the direct objects: "America is not just interested in converting you Middle Eastern nations into pro-Western puppet regimes with fabulously open markets, but they're willing to hurt and kill you to do it, too!"


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Blogger FISHSTIX said...

I would like to point out to the membership the increased radicalism of scantron's posts. His earlier writings were much more sanguine. I do not think this is a result of personal afflictions. Rather, it may be the dawn of genius.

7:41 PM  

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