"Islamic Fascism": Well, It’s Half Right

News Abroad




Mr. Furnish, Ph.D (Islamic History), is Assistant Professor, History, Georgia Perimeter College, Dunwoody, GA 30338. Mr. Furnish is the author of Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads and Osama bin Laden (Praeger, 2005).

Since the 9/11 attacks President Bush has walked a politically correct tight-rope in referring to the enemies of this country operating from an Islamic geographical and ideological context. The President, and his administration, have always been careful to describe the struggle, from our end, as a war “on terror.” (In fact, the official rubric was, and remains, the “Global War on Terror,” or GWOT.) Perhaps burned by his one rhetorical sin—declaring a “crusade” to get those responsible for killing 3,000 Americans and catching hell for using that term—Bush has been bending over backwards to mollify his critics and avoid even the perceived hint of impropriety toward Muslims and Islam.

No longer. This past week, after the Brits stopped plans by Muslim terrorists on that side of the pond to blow up airliners bound for America, the President said “this nation is at war with Islamic fascists….” In doing so he seems to have finally caved in to critics, mainly of his own party, who have ridiculed the “war on terror” as inadequate, indicting merely a methodology and not the ideology behind it—akin to describing the war against Nazism in World War II as merely a “war on blitzkrieg.”

Predictably, the usual suspects—such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations—have been quick to condemn the usage of this term, accusing the President of “equat[ing] the religion of peace with the ugliness of fascism.” Indeed, CAIR is half-right: Islam should NOT be identified with fascism—but not because it is inherently a peaceful ideology. Rather, the term “Islamic fascism” or “Islamofascism” should be avoided because it’s simply another way to let Islam off the hook.

Consider: “Fascism” is a political ideology commonly said to contain the following elements: 1) extreme nationalism and/or racialism; 2) dictatorial (usually charismatic) leadership; 3) socioeconomic regimentation of some kind; 4) forcible oppression of opposition; and 5) the privileging the collective over the individual. Sometimes other characteristics, such as 6) extreme militarization of society and 7) a sense of victimization, are added.1

Does this paradigm fit with the ideology of Islamic terrorists? That ideology has four major aspects: 1) a starting point of victim-hood, especially vis-à-vis the West and Christianity; 2) an intermediate goal of re-pietizing Islamic society via imposition of “true” shari`ah (Islamic law); 3) a long-term goal of re-creating the early Islamic ummah (community) under a new caliphate, which would eventually encompass the entire planet; and 4) the preferred methodology to achieve these goals of jihad. Put up against the characteristics of fascism, Islamic-based fundamentalist ideology seems obviously to share the emphasis on the group (the ummah) and a clear sense of being victimized. Also, since a caliphate, historically, has been essentially an Islamic monarchy, the dictatorial aspect should be included as common; likewise for repression of opposition, since pre-modern Islamic regimes (and, indeed, most modern ones) have not been known for their political tolerance. The other three elements of fascism—extreme nationalism or ideas of racial superiority, socioeconomic regimentation and extreme militarization—really are not prominent themes in Islamic political thought and praxis, today or in the past. So, definitionally, while “Islamic fascism” at first glance appears appropriate, upon more careful consideration its descriptive value is nominal at best.

A second point is that the term reinforces the questionable tendency of us in the West, and especially in the U.S., to see every new global threat as a reprise of Hitler and Nazi Germany. Perhaps this is because World War II was the last war that all Americans agreed was truly legitimate, for every war since then—Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq both times (albeit much less so the first time)—has had its critics. Whatever the reason, wouldn’t it be more useful to the conduct of, and debate about, the undeniable global problem of Islamic-based terrorism if we analyzed the issue on its own terms? The differences between Nazi Fascism and Islamic-based terrorism are myriad, starting with the fact that the former was a state ideology and the latter is not (at least not yet). And whatever one wishes to say about Usama bin Ladin and his ilk, they are not devotees of racial purity. Religious purity, to be sure—but that calls for a different response.

One area where some have identified a nexus between Islam and fascism is in the anti-Jewish thought that is extant in the both, albeit less so in the former than in the latter. But—and this is a third major point—the undeniable anti-Jewish element in Islam actually long pre-existed the Nazis and their embrace of Amin al-Husayni, the then-mufti of Jerusalem, in the 1930s. The founder of Islam, Muhammad, ordered the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayzah liquidated during the early Islamic community’s sojourn in Medina, allegedly for conspiring against him and questioning his prophethood. Yes, it is true that Jews (and Christians) afterwards were, under Islamic law, accorded the protected, and second-class, status of dhimmis. But Islamic eschatological tradition also developed the idea of al-Dajjal, the “deceiver” who comes before the end of time to lead many astray and away from true Islam. And the Dajjal will be, according to many interpreters of these traditions, Jewish and his cohort of followers will consist of 70,000 Jews. So anti-Jewish thought in Islam cannot be blamed solely on the creation of the “Zionist entity”—since it long predates that development. Bottom line: “Islamofascism” strongly implies that Islamic terrorists simply adopted anti-Judaism from the Nazis, which is untrue.

The fourth problem with “Islamic fascism” is that it insinuates a parallel between right-wing Islamic thought and that of right-wing Christianity, insofar as fascism is seen as an aberrant political articulation of Christianity. Now while it might be trendy in some circles to postulate such a parallel,2 ultimately the comparison breaks down for a number of reasons, chief among which is that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have yet to order their followers to fly jetliners into al-Azhar or the Aya Sofya. Muslims and some non-Muslims scholars have always objected to the usage of the term “Islamic fundamentalism” on the grounds that the provenance of the term “fundamentalism” is a Christian context; by the same logic, “Islamic fascism” should be eschewed.

Fifth, and the most telling reason to dispense with the term “Islamofascism” and related terms, is that Islamic militancy truly does have a legitimate intellectual and ideological pedigree within Islamic thought and history.3 As I have noted elsewhere:

Yes, there are verses of toleration in the Qur’an: Surah(chapter) al-Baqarah: 256 says “there shall be no compulsion in religion;” Surah al-Furqan: 65ff says that Allah will be merciful to those who repent and do good works; and Surah al-Nisa’: 19ff enjoins Muslim men to provide financially for wives and ex-wives. But verses such as these are arguably outweighed by others: Surah Anfal: 12ff and Surah Muhammad: 3ff command the beheading of unbelievers; Surah al-Nisa’: 34ff allows for beating of one’s wives and in verses 74ff and 94ff, promises great reward for those who die fighting for Allah; Surah al-Ma’idah: 51 says “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends.” Of course there are violent sections in the Bible—or at least in the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament (Joshua and David were military leaders as much as religious ones). But no one denies that, as many—both Muslim and non-Muslim—deny these violent and misogynistic passages in the Qur’an. Many arguments can be made against such verses (they must be contextualized, they are applicable only to that time, they are metaphorical, etc.) but one cannot say they do not exist. Someone who simply rehashes that “the Qur’an teaches peace” obviously hasn’t read it. No doubt most Muslims do not read the passages about decapitation as a blueprint for today. But just as some Christians take literally, for example, the command of Christ to handle poisonous snakes (Luke 10:19), some Muslims take literally the injunction to behead unbelievers. And the latter practice is a bit more injurious to other folks than the former.4

Of course, history and not just sacred texts must be taken into account when studying political ideologies, even ones that are religious-based. And no doubt moderate Islam does exist. One good historical example of it is the Ottoman Empire, which while paying lip service to jihad as holy war spent the last several centuries of its existence struggling (but ultimately failing) to evolve into a modern state. In the religious sphere, the strain of Islamic mysticism known as Sufism has often (but not always) been more tolerant and less jihad-prone than other strains of Islamic ideology. But centuries before the Bush family even existed, Muslim scholar-activists were dividing the world into Dar al-Islam, the “abode of Islam,” and Dar al-Harb, the “abode of war;” i.e., unbelievers, who could expect nothing but conquest. Imperial dreams did not begin with Hitler or, for that matter, with George W. Bush. While most modern Muslims have abandoned this violent, expansionist aspect of Islamic thought, all obviously have not. To pretend otherwise is simply foolish. And it is dangerously misleading to use a term that implies the aggressive tendency of certain strains of Islam is imported rather than indigenous.

In the final analysis, then, “Islamic fascism” or “Islamofascism” is a term that should be dropped from our political lexicon. But what could replace it? With whom are we are at war? Islamic fundamentalists? Too unwieldy. Islamists? Confusing to non-specialists. Caliphists? Again, too specialized. Perhaps the best term is one that has already gained some resonance: Jihadists. It’s short, it’s descriptively accurate and even CAIR—although it will try—won’t be able to convince the American public that jihadists are simply mundane Muslims struggling to be pious.

1 See Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, s.v. “fascism,” and Wikipedia, “Fascism,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism

2 For just the latest example: “Religious fundamentalism is by no means confined to the Middle East. We’ve got our own brand in this country in the more extreme elements of the Christian Coalition….They are, in a sense, our very own Taliban.” John Farmer, “Main faiths must atone for turmoil in Mideast,” “Atlanta Journal-Constitution,” August 12, 2006, pp. F1-F2.

3 See, for example, my article “Islamic Fundamentalism,” Encyclopedia of Fundamentalism (2001), pp. 235-240.

4 “7 Myths about Islam,” History News Network, October 10, 2005.

Related Links

  • Daniel Pipes:"At War with Islamic Fascists"



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    More Comments:


    omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

    That was 29 DAYS not WEEKS, I am told!
    Your insistence on US media infallibility is ridiculous with the NY Times scandal still fresh in mind.
    Your allergy to official unquestionable documents is curious for a Professor.


    omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

    First it was "terrorists", without ever defining the term, now it is "Islamofascism", ditto, what next?
    That President Bush made the leap, mustered his courage and uttered the word(s) seems to be a victory; for whom?
    I contend it is a victory for facile PR, the innate enemies of everything Arab and/or Moslem and the forces of darkness.
    These forces do exist and their primary goal has been to preempt any rapprochement between the Judeo/Christian and the Arab/Moslem worlds.
    They have always existed manifesting their intrinsic enmity through disdain, then veiled "civilizing" missions and now outright hate with a concurrent linguistic escalation: from barbarian to ignorant to fanatic to terrorist and now fascist.
    Throughout this development did anything crucial change in the complex network of Arab/Moslem-Judeo/Christian relations?
    The basic relationship has not; the attempts by one to dominate the other and the reaction it elicited whether at the gates of Vienna or Jerusalem whether for trade routes and spices or for oil.
    The sporadic wars and armed confrontations always ended by subsiding and normal, as normal as could be, relations were resumed and things moved slowly but surely towards mutual accommodation, with each party realizing the limitations of its power and the advantages of a better , less bellicose and a more self interests centered relationship.
    Except that the last years of the 20th century witnessed a drastic downturn , a reversal of the direction of events with the presentation of an existential challenge to the Arab/Moslem by the implantation of the alien state of Israel in the heartland of the Arab/Moslem world.
    That was a turning point , and a reversal of direction, in the relation between two major human communities that is leading the most fanatical elements in each camp to the position of command in their respective camps.
    The linguistic escalation, inane as it is per se, is but a reflection of the dangerously worsening relationship in a shrinking, and hence, much more dangerously armed world.
    What next? It does not matter...what matters is where are our two worlds heading?


    omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

    Support for Al Mujahiddin (Jihadists) is extremely widely spread in Moslem and Christian Arab circles.
    Jihadists as the true literal meaning of the word implies are heroic freedom fighters battling American aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, Zionism in Palestine and Southern Lebanon, corruption in Egypt,Pakistan and Morocco etc etc.
    Their fight is with all forms of foreign domination, internal despotism , corruption and social/economical injustice.
    It is armed where necessary (Palestine,Iraq, Afghanistan, South Lebanon),peaceful and democratic where possible (Egypt, Jordan,Morocco, Tunisia) and through social and educational work wherever they are present.
    That the West, under the dis informing influence of Zionist and neocon media, chose to disfigure and corrupt the meaning of the word is an entirely Western phenomena that is restricted to the West.
    Jihad is an extremely popular first name and Mujahed is a dearly cherished and honourable attribute to those that through their selfless action earned it; it is not something you call yourself ,it is an honourable designation others bestow on those who deserve it.


    omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

    First it was "terrorists", without ever defining the term, now it is "Islamofascism", ditto, what next?
    That President Bush made the leap, mustered his courage and uttered the word(s) seems to be a victory; for whom?
    I contend it is a victory for facile PR, the innate enemies of everything Arab and/or Moslem and the forces of darkness.
    These forces do exist and their primary goal has been to preempt any rapprochement between the Judeo/Christian and the Arab/Moslem worlds.
    They have always existed manifesting their intrinsic enmity through disdain, then veiled "civilizing" missions and now outright hate with a concurrent linguistic escalation: from barbarian to ignorant to fanatic to terrorist and now fascist.
    Throughout this development did anything crucial change in the complex network of Arab/Moslem-Judeo/Christian relations?
    The basic relationship has not; the attempts by one to dominate the other and the reaction it elicited whether at the gates of Vienna or Jerusalem whether for trade routes and spices or for oil.
    The sporadic wars and armed confrontations always ended by subsiding and normal, as normal as could be, relations were resumed and things moved slowly but surely towards mutual accommodation, with each party realizing the limitations of its power and the advantages of a better , less bellicose and a more self interests centered relationship.
    Except that the last years of the 20th century witnessed a drastic downturn , a reversal of the direction of events with the presentation of an existential challenge to the Arab/Moslem by the implantation of the alien state of Israel in the heartland of the Arab/Moslem world, Palestine.
    That was a turning point , and a reversal of direction, in the relation between two major human communities that is leading the most fanatical elements in each camp to the position of command in their respective camps.
    The linguistic escalation, inane as it is per se, is but a reflection of the dangerously worsening relationship in a shrinking, and hence, much more dangerously armed world.
    What next? It does not matter...what matters is where are our two worlds heading?


    omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

    Mr Ebbitt
    If Professor Furnish is "an expert on Arab affairs" then I would be an expert on Chinese Antiquities (About which I know next to very, very little.)
    Aside from his unfailingly subservient attitude to any thing and everything emanating, directly or indirectly, from AIPAC&Co his essays are so immature and sloppy I pity his students.
    I never recall he ever made a book in Arabic one of his sources?
    Did he? If he did please enlighten me?
    Does he know and read Arabic ?
    I wonder.


    omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

    Professor Eckstein
    Down the line I note that you are a professor of history which makes me wonder what has happened to the presumed, preconditioned, "intellectual honesty" for such a post?

    You have consistently , willfully and consciously and dishonestly misrepresented my stand re Hizb Allah and anti Semitism:
    1- Re the New Yorker interview all I said is that it is highly unlikely that responsible leaders would say such things.If the New Yorker is your bible good for you; it is not mine.
    Media, yours particularly, have been known to slant and if need be invent facts and claim interviews that never occurred including your august NY Times at which a certain reporter conducted "field" interviews from the comfort of his desk.
    2-Re the 29 episodes TV series all I said is that I have not seen it and can not comment.
    3-However you great failure as a correspondent ,and the greatest as a professor at a university , is your persistent avoidance of my challenge for you to quote from primary ,indisputable "official" documents of Hizb Allah to support your allegations.

    Your failure to meet this challenge can be construed in either of two ways:
    a-that you have NOT searched for and studied such official documents ; a real shameful shortcoming for a professor of history of all subjects.
    -that you DID and failed to find any supporting material for your allegation.

    Accusation of anti Semitism, at the hands of the Zionists, fellow travelers and pc dupes, for you to tell which one applies to you, has become the facile, all encompassing reply to any anti Zionist and/or anti Israel stand or opinion.
    It reminds me, and should remind you, of the "communist" allegation/charge of the Mccarthy era that silenced a great number of decent American intellectuals and numberless equally decent American citizens to everybody's regret at a latter stage.

    Your endless groundless and unwarranted use and constant abuse of this charge of anti Semitism to silence dissenters will end up by making it a meaningless, worthless accusation which is a pity for it, anti Semtism, is indeed a vile and heinous phenomena that should be battled against as fiercely as against the equally vile , heinous and racist Zionist doctrine.

    Historically and universally , as you should know being a professor of history, Arab/Moslem culture and civilization could be accused of many things but NOT of anti Semitism being the MOST TOLERANT of Judaism, as a monotheistic religion, and of Jews, as people of the Book, of all major human communities.

    If you choose to discard this fact for a cheap transient political gain then your natural milieu and employment would be at the offices of AIPAC and NOT at a Faculty of History.


    omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

    I stand by my position that:
    1-Knowing how careful they are and touchy on this particular issue I still deem it highly unlikely that what was attributed to Hizb Allah leader (s), as reported in The New Yorker interview, is accurate and comprehensive.
    Did CNN vouch for the veracity of that reporter's allegation or just gave him a platform to repeat his allegations ?
    All sorts of things are said on the media some true and some, as in the NY Times case, fabrications to please the gallery and/or the owner; particularly during war time.
    Do you have the name(s) of that leader (s)?
    2- It is truly curious for a history professor, of all professions, to make such a sweeping and far reaching judgement based on a suspect interview and a TV series ONLY and ABSOLUTELY NO OFFICIAL document or position paper in spite of the multitude that are in the public domain.
    Re the TV series about which I did some inquiries with some TV people ( outside Manar) ; your statement seems to be substantially correct in that it did have an anti Semitic slant.
    I am also told that it did cause a furor in party circles, was the object of an investigation etc.
    But all that is hearsay from people in the TV business and is as good as their, not my,word.
    Except for the above re the TV series I stand by every word I wrote and every opinion I expressed on the subject particularly re the abuse of this heinous charge of anti Semitism, the infallibility of your media and your research method and sources.


    Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

    Professor Furnish,

    No 'W', no Tim this week, perhaps?

    As a regular HNN contributor/ poster/ prominent Arab expert why have you waited three years to tackle this subject? You've read this term branded about HNN, as well as I, for quite some time now. For someone in your position/ area of expertise this term should have been bells a ringing/ blazing red hot buzz word/ the front door key to Emerald City. All you had to do was pick it up.

    Whether the term Islamic fascist is appropriate or not is beside the point and I did not argue for/against your assumptions. One doesn't have to fully support/agree with the President in the response to be an apologist. Just get out in front/timing of him to take the wind out of the opposition sails or sting out of his misstatement by glossing over/ softening it with reason and rationale.

    You eased on by Bush's 'crusade' remark as if it were just a piece of casual bar room conversation of little or no consequence when in reality it was mindless/ devastatingly destructive remark especially, in light of the timing of this statement. The Islamic fascist crack is equally lamentable and will in no way ease the tensions that currently exist between the US and our Moslem brethren.

    I agree that Islam and fascism are not compatible. If I misread your intent please accept my apology.


    Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

    Andy,

    As always... prove it!

    "It was Condoleezza Rice, national security advisor, who helped her boss out of the embarrassing situation. During a conversation between the two presidents, George W. Bush, 55, (USA) and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, 71, (Brazil), Bush bewildered his colleague with the question "Do you have blacks, too?"

    Rice, 47, noticing how astonished the Brazilian was, saved the day by telling Bush "Mr. President, Brazil probably has more blacks than the USA. Some say it's the Country with the most blacks outside Africa." Later, the Brazilian president Cardoso said: regarding Latin America, Bush was still in his "learning phase"." -- Der Spiegel, 2001

    The story first appeared in Estado de Sao Paulo. April 28, 2002.

    All along, I am mistakenly calling out Professor Furnish as an apologist for GW Bush when, I need not look any further than your next post.



    Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

    Yehudi,

    Wafa Sultan: Christopher Columbus discovered American in 1492. America was founded in 1776, approximately 300 years later. You cannot blame America – as a constitution, a regime, and a state – for killing the Indians.

    WTF... This Sultan fellow is an apologist for mass murder. White America butchered 11 million Native Americans, forced the few survivors onto reservations and subjected them to the most despicable/ animalistic living conditions/treatment that any human on this planet has ever had to endure and it is happening to these people up to this very day.

    Sultan is also a racist as 'Indians' are from the Asian subcontinent while Native Americans, a nonsensical/catch all term for distinct peoples of the North American continent, is the more appropriate, though just barely, designation.

    You can do better than this Yehudi if you are trying to justify your position with the ranting of a moronic Arab turncoat/ apologist for butchers of Native Americans as there'll be no sale here.


    Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

    E.,

    I would rather gladly be tagged an anarchist any day than the defender of mass murder/genocide that you appear to be here and you need to either retake 8th grade American History or burn your college degree whichever, is more convenient.

    Between 1870 and 1900 the USG murdered millions of Native Americans and I do not recall that the orders, as signed, came by way of either WE Gladstone nor Alfonso XIII when issued at Sandy Creek or Wounded Knee.

    http://www.dickshovel.com/was.html

    Further, I am not looking for respect from anyone here especially, from a denier of a genocide far worse than a Jewish Holocaust that many here cry buckets over.


    Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

    Professor Furnish,

    Balancing a career/ family/ home and still finding time to play at HNN is challenge enough, then to write a book as well, I honestly don't know how you do it. God bless you. With your expertise a good book topic could center on the information/ propaganda war waged by both the US and Arab world during this struggle. Especially, with the advent of the internet. As a Vietnam baby I recall very little news information/ propaganda from the North Vietnamese government reaching our shores. With the net I can read Arab news although, I personally do not, 24/7.

    As an avid sports nut I cannot recall any team that has used the term 'crusade' to describe a drive to the pennant. Not even Scooter Rizzuto was that corny. Nor is the War on Drugs described by this term as D.A.R.E. is their logo. Crusade is strictly a theological/ religious based term found at a Billy Graham revival or in a history class. Being raised a strict Roman Catholic it was rarely if, ever, mentioned in the classroom/never outside it and Rome/Catholics orchestrated the real deal.

    When the Bush quote is read whole from the 9/16/2001 WH South Lawn speech the intent is clearly unmistakable and the rebuke from both Europe/ Arab states understandable.

    "We need to go back to work tomorrow and we will. But we need to be alert to the fact that these evil-doers still exist. We haven't seen this kind of barbarism in a long period of time. No one could have conceivably imagined suicide bombers burrowing into our society and then emerging all in the same day to fly their aircraft — fly U.S. aircraft into buildings full of innocent people — and show no remorse. This is a new kind of — a new kind of evil. And we understand. And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while. And the American people must be patient. I'm going to be patient. But I can assure the American people I am determined, I'm not going to be distracted, I will keep my focus to make sure that not only are these brought to justice, but anybody who's been associated will be brought to justice. Those who harbor terrorists will be brought to justice. It is time for us to win the first war of the 21st century decisively, so that our children and our grandchildren can live peacefully into the 21st century."

    The language is so simplistic highlighted by the nonsensical Rove rhetoric 'evil doers' that the term 'crusade' was no slip of the tongue but, a well planned/ placed/ intentioned/ presented term to fire up the base and to send a message to our enemies whoever, they are. When the blowback was heard from Allies/ Arabs alike the Administration backed down like they always do. These guys try to act tough but, are basically gutless cowards weak on national defense/security and only interested in thieving from our treasury. That's why we are losing this war, if that's really what it is. The Bush's are running this, for lack of a better term 'war', like they ran the S&L's scam in the 80's. Now instead of robbing banks their running a phony military campaign to bilk us dry.

    Islamic Fascist, a made up word/poor one at that, is the same type of nonsensical term of no particular meaning especially, to a populace of which 30% cannot name the year the 9/11 attacks occurred. It is used purely to incite an emotional response. Americans especially, the older/monied generation who vote remember the term 'fascist' from their youth so, it plays. It's all disinformation for a dumbed down populace. Now that 60% of Americans have soured on this failed venture, emotion and faked terror alert/ attacks is all the Bush's have left to keep the pilfering operation viable/online. These guys are total mafia.

    I agree it would be nice if the Moslems would stop attacks on civilians and maybe they would if the US would do the same. The leveling of Fallujha for example. I knew this war was a sham/over when the Bush's capitulated to Usama, like they always do, on April 23, 2003 when the Administration announced the pull out of all US forces from Saudi Arabia and began to do so beginning on April 29, 2003. Usama requested that all US forces leave the land of the two holiest sites in the Islamic world and the Bush's weakly complied. I believe this to be the real reason we haven't suffered any further al Qaeda domestic attacks is because of this act of cowardice/ concession/ following orders from a business principal.

    This war is a joke and only good for those making a buck off it. Too bad, as our troops who have suffered deserve better/so much more.

    Have a good night.


    Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

    Yehudi,

    Your second set of evidence fails to fire up on the MAC. The host may be down. I'll keep trying and comment after viewing.

    Now to revisit your first set of evidence my only error was in calling Wafa Sultan a 'fellow' instead of a lady.

    This is a history site in case you forgot, not a propaganda vehicle for the worshippers of all things Israel.

    Reading just one simple paragraph of a mere three sentences of 31 words by Sultan shows a glaringly deficient knowledge of history so how can this commentator be credible?

    1.) Columbus did not 'discover' America. He arrived in 1492 to already inhabited lands. Technically, it was the Caribbean, more precisely San Salvador, The Bahamas.

    2.) There is no America however, there is a nation/entity named the United States of America.

    3.) The United States of America was not founded in 1776 but, 1787. The Declaration Of Independence was finalized in 1776 but, some small obstacles remained like the Revolutionary War.

    http://www.faqfarm.com/Q/When_was_the_United_States_of_America_founded

    4.) 2006 - 1776 = 230 not 300. So Sultan is also math challenged.

    5.) The United States Government sanctioned/ ordered the US Army to eradicate native populations. So much for this argument.

    With the factual errors Sultan presents in one simple paragraph I will pass on the rest of this mess. Her analysis of the Crusades is suspect and not factual nor of any value/ historic context whatsoever.

    As to your second post unless, one fully conceptualizes/understands history then one is probably unable to understand current events like the Arab blowback. There is no such thing as Islamic Fascism. It is a concocted word used by racists and ignoramuses.

    How can one defeat an enemy if they first do not understand that enemy?

    http://www.virtualcitizens.com/bosworth_2006-08-14_neo_fascism.html

    That the Holocaust is a heinous crime/ tragedy/ black mark against all mankind is unquestioned. It has special meaning for you because you're Jewish but, to some it is just a very ugly chapter in history. That doesn't make us Jew haters however, it makes you paranoid, pity. For the Sioux, Crow, Apache or Nez Perce among others the Jewish Holocaust is of equal disgrace to the genocide their ancestors suffered and that they still suffer to this day. Unfortunately, you are a racist to equate a Jewish life as being of more value than any other non-Jewish life.

    That Jews did not defend themselves and by the way many did, is on them. If one is to march quietly to ones own death unwillingly then whose fault is that? I know I'd be taking out two Nazi's before I went silently into the night.

    My advise to you is what one of the pro-Israel backers here wrote last week to our resident Arabist... get over it, already.


    Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

    John,

    I do not believe this statement to be true. You will have to prove that more Native Americans were exterminated in the period of 1607-1776 than 1776-2006. I am strictly referring to North America and not Mexico/Central/South America.

    Don't forget to add to your list the (2) Native Americans the USG killed at Wounded Knee, SD 2/27/73.


    Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

    Yehudi,

    You are way too psycho. As long as people like you and I are alive we'll make sure that this sin never happens to Jews again.

    My issue with you, once more, is to take a hard opposite stand even, if I do not believe in the position presented in my posts, to steer the dialogue to the center.

    Thanks for the link. Have a good day and enjoy yourself.


    Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

    Professor Furnish,

    Good morning. No, this comment was made last week and I do not believe it was made by you. It was a 'get lost' type comment without any refutable evidence against a well thought out post by Mr. Baker. Whether or not the Baker post was grounded in fact is besides the point.

    Telling Omar to 'shut up' when he provided no substantial argument against your well founded assertions is very different from telling him to 'get over it' to the wrongs either actual/perceived that the Palestinians have suffered.


    Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

    Boys and Girls,

    As a firm believer of interactive activities to stimulate the mind/enhance the learning experience here is today's fun time exercise.

    The Middle East Buddy List.

    http://www.slate.com/features/2006mideast/middleeast.html


    Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

    Professor Furnish,

    You're the expert and that's why I am here. For me this is a lesson in life without having to shell out any tuition. Been there, done that, got the paper. However, although you provide a very balanced/sober view, I am not as sold as you on this whole Terror War soap opera plot and the war is going swell/stay the course slobber that the Administration is selling.

    You may be very well correct up to a point but, there is no denying that GW Bush and Usama bin Laden share an odd symbiosis. The long history of family business dealings, the 9/11 oddities, 2004 bin Laden election tape that some in the CIA believe was an endorsement of the Bush re-election among the most noted. We know that during all major US conflicts we have had backdoor communications with the enemy.

    Do you believe that the Administration has had any such direct contact with bin Laden?

    Do you believe that bin Laden is even alive? Last reports place him in Dir, Pakistan. If, alive why haven't we captured him?

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/08/01/terror/main1856245.shtml

    Would the Administration fake bin Laden messages or release them at opportune times to maintain control/motivation/backing of the US populace in a war that has turned quite messy?

    You do make an interesting point, even if in jest, when you write, "I almost hope Hillary wins the next election just so I can watch Bush-bashers twist in the wind when she proves clueless dealing with the bearded fanatics."

    First, please don't wish that on us. No more Clinton's as one was enough.

    George W. Bush has said as much when he stated that the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq will be decided by the next Oval Office occupant. This is a very disturbing statement/concept in that;

    1.) If the Administration is not in this war to win why are we in it?

    2.) It appears that the Administration has done everything within their power/control to foul things up. Then when the war can't get any worse they fail to adjust and keep with the same failed strategy. What really should have been a quick fight like Gulf War I has been anything but, why?

    3.) What do we need to do to win the Iraq War? The Afghan War?

    For what it is worth, I do not hate anyone. It's just not in my nature. I pray daily for the President as he holds our nations survival in his hands. Anyone who does hate him or wish the US ill even, fellow Americans, are my enemy. I would say that I am very disappointed/ angry at the Presidents overall poor job performance. I rate Mr. Bush as the worst of the (8) Presidents in my lifetime. The lies, ineptitude. confusion, dividing the nation and especially, the money grubbing is very troubling.

    As for Saddam, he is our Frankenstein creation/ tool turned menace. He does deserve to have his one wish fulfilled. That of being killed by firing squad.

    Don't be too harsh on Omar for he is a really good man and no different from anyone else here within the HNN community. That's what makes this all so confusing in that good people all across the globe/ well intentioned/ all basically the same dreams & aspirations for our children strive so hard to kill each other. I guess idealists are in short supply to lead the rest of us toward a better/ unified/ safe tomorrow.


    Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

    "Do you have blacks, too?" -- George W. Bush to Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 2001

    If another, of the far too numerous to mention, slips of the tongue 'Islamic fascists' wasn't muttered by GWB we wouldn't be subjected to this timely apologist essay.

    The term 'Islamofascist' has been posted here at HNN for the past three years. GWB has finally caught up to the HNN wingnuts proving once again, what a slow study our boy really is. No one wasted bandwidth on an Islamic fascism article then, why now? Apologists/ propaganda go hand in hand especially, when our current WH pResident is behind the microphone. This guy never learned that he needs to engage brain before flapping gums so, the rush to cover by the apologists must leave them breathless.

    Let's see, 'W' besides slurring Moslems with the 'crusade' tag that our author so deftly smoothed over as if it was just a one time tiny faux pas, has either slurred verbally/offended by action Mexican's, blacks, handicapped, the blind, women, gays... we should just create a very short list of those who this guy has not offended?


    Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

    E,

    You forgot to mention that Christianity originated from direct dissent/refute of Judaism.


    andy mahan - 9/18/2006

    Typical....

    It's false but you just wanna believe it or you don't care just as long as it makes GWB look bad.


    http://www.snopes.com/quotes/brazil.htm


    andy mahan - 9/18/2006

    Mr. Friedman,

    Your patience is remarkable. The point was made 5 posts ago.


    andy mahan - 9/18/2006

    Professor Furnish,

    I echo Patrick's remark about how you have the time to do all the research much less organize and write a book with all the other demands. It is really impressive. Maybe it just comes easier for smart guys. (which is one way I can rationalize not doing it myself).

    But anyhow, your remark about Hillary winning is true. Democrats better watch what they wish for. Sure it would be interesting, but I don't know if the world could withstand even 4 years of endless pandering and negotiation while terrorists rearm and reorganize.


    andy mahan - 9/18/2006

    Judging by the vigor with which you wrote this I suppose you really believe it. So silly. None of that was directed by the Christian Church. If you can justify attributing these things to Christianity why not blame em cause you lost your job, or cut yourself shaving. I'm sure there is a stinkin Christian Imperialist in there somewhere. Get real.


    andy mahan - 9/18/2006

    Whether liberals come to their ignorance due to circumstance or through act of will/faith the outcome is largely the same, an easily manipulated flock that can be directed to the ends of cynical leaders. In portions of the Middle East it is jihad. This is generally restrained by a totalitarian government. In parts of Israel it is blocking settlements in disputed lands or, rarely supporting terrorist groups in an Arab neighborhood or shouting from a hilltop. Liberals in Israel are restrained in part, by expectations of the West. In America it usually means voting for abortion and homosexual depravity, but sometimes leads to demonizing anyone that disagrees with them or beating up on or defaming those that do not share liberal ignorance. The liberals in the West are restrained by living in a largely moderate society.
    The effect of the church of liberalism (~22% of the population) on the internal and external politics of America is undeniable.
    If they represented a clear majority of our population how do you think our society would look?
    How do you think we would act on the World stage?


    andy mahan - 9/18/2006

    The attempt to define both groups as the same by placing the word “fundamentalist” behind the name of each religion does not make them both of the same stripe. Christian fundamentalists are churchs such as Falwell’s and the Pentecostal church. These churches ahere to what they see as a strict interpretation of the bible. That would also be the case with Muslim fundamentalists. Difference being, the Bible (or the associated Christian fundamentalist Churches) don’t intruct murder as do so many Mosques and Clerics.

    ALL of the examples of Christian fundamentalism given so far by ANYONE are either historical relics or are murdering no one. Conversely, Muslims are now killing hundreds every week by whatever means necessary being told, and believing, that they are doing it for Allah.

    Concerning the formation of Christianity, and this is REAL important. In my view it wasn’t that, “Christians began proclaiming that Jesus's sacrifice and resurrection was sufficient demonstration of God's power and love” It IS that Christians identified Jesus as the Son of God. According to Christians, Jesus was the prophet that Jews were watching for for centuries. The Jews recognized no such thing. I don’t think Christians “no longer recognized Jews as the Chosen People.” The opposite. Christians generally view themselves as being “grafted in” with the “Chosen” as were Gentiles per the passage you referenced. I also believe that the “Chosen People” concept has not been done away with and today is still central to the religion.


    andy mahan - 9/18/2006

    As usual, I can agree with your macro precept here John, it's just the tweaking that I can't get behind.

    If I assume your explanation was his intent then, what is an example of a christian fundamentalist?

    And, given that Iraq is the cradle of civilization, why then is it that the "political, economic and military positions" of Muslims and Christians are not reversed?


    andy mahan - 9/18/2006

    You're spinning. Nichols' and McVeigh's bombing didn't have ANYTHING to do with Christianity. They blew it up because of what they perceived to be an oppressive ATF and FBI. They blew it up in retaliation of the Waco and Ruby Ridge murders. Can't give youz an inch.


    andy mahan - 9/18/2006

    Patrick,

    I don't want to appear to be always beating on you, but you are again wrong about the "blacks too" attribution. He never said it. It's just one in a long list of liberal propelled urban myths. Of course you can prove it if you'd like.


    andy mahan - 9/18/2006

    Mr Huff,

    Why didn't you admonish Crocker, you free thinker. The post was a rip off of his preceding post with the label "liberal" substituted for "fundamentalist".


    andy mahan - 9/18/2006

    Mr. Getz,

    You're right. That is exactly the case. But do you really think being precise would "strengthen" my case? The way I saw it was that it IS unsubstantiated and from an antagonistic source as you say. So, why should I even consider its validity? I like your integrity.


    john crocker - 8/25/2006

    How are these people Medieval other than being poor, poorly educated and dogmatically fundamentalist?


    Rodney Huff - 8/22/2006

    I write: What I have been trying to do in these posts is show that it's wrong to assume we are dealing with a people who are determined by their religion or sacred text to kill us.

    I would just like to add that these are not people who are determined by their religion or sacred text to kill us - or people are merely waiting fo the opportunity to kill us. Your curious treatment of "opportunity" as an intervening factor leading to militant jihad still implies a religious determinism. It implies that if some Moslems aren't killing us, they are merely waiting for the opportunity to do so. Religion is still the "root cause" in your formulation.


    Rodney Huff - 8/22/2006

    N. Friedman,

    Go to this site http://www.memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=subjects&;Area=jihad&ID=SP81104, read the words of the world's most notorious jihadist, and finally see for yourself what motivates him and his followers. It is not, as you maintain, his religion. It is U.S. foreign policy - the support given by the U.S. to corrupt Middle Eastern governments (e.g., Saudi Arabia), its enabling of Israel to commit atrocities against innocent people, particularly those in Lebanon in 1982 and those in Palestine, its rushing into an unjustified war with Iraq under false pretenses, leading to the deaths of more innocents, etc.

    He wonders why the American people don't speak out against these atrocities in large numbers and hold their leaders accountable, especially when Americans, by virtue of living in a society infused with the democratic ideology, are free to criticise, censure, and remove from office those who abuse the powers of that office. He believes, then, that ordinary American citizens are caught up in complicity when they greet news of atrocities committed in their name (and supposedly on their behalf) with indifference and silence. (Indeed, it would be in our enlightened self-interest to pay attention to and be critical of even seemingly remote atrocities, for, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Sept. 11 made that abundantly clear.) For being a free and supposedly democratic people, we must seem to the rest of the world remarkably politically disengaged and apathetic, with parties perennially struggling to get out the vote. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of injustice and violence in the highest circles of power remain free to commit further atrocities in our name.

    His religion, then, is used to sanction, justify, and rationalize his actions; they are not the root cause of his actions. According to the Koran, the lesser jihad - holy war - must be defensive; it must be carried out legitimately in defense of people under attack.

    All this does not justify what he did, of course - now he cannot claim the moral high ground in his struggle against the U.S. and its allies. But neither can the U.S. claim to be morally superior.

    What I have been trying to do in these posts is show that it's wrong to assume we are dealing with a people who are determined by their religion or sacred text to kill us. It would be more accurate to say that we are dealing with a group of people who do have some legitimate grievances (and some false ones as well, of course) and who enlist a religious injunction in support of a radical course of action they feel they must resort to in order to liberate themselves and restore their human dignity.

    Historians should not find this at all surprising, as it happens again and again throughtout history that people will fall back on their traditions (or invent them) for guidance in times of great stress and uncertainty. Such conditions now prevail in parts of the world from which terrorist organizations are finding most of their recruits (Ever see Paradise Now or Syriana?). U.S. foreign policy has undoubtedly contributed to these conditions. In this way, the U.S. partially creates its own enemy.



    N. Friedman - 8/22/2006

    I think we are dealing with poorly educated people but also with a religious movement which is Medieval in its outlook. And I think that the reason for the Medieval outlook is that these societies are, in many respects, still living, mentally speaking, in the Middle Ages.


    N. Friedman - 8/21/2006

    Rodney,

    You ask what triggered the current interest in Jihad.

    I would say, primarily, opportunity: i.e. the presence of large numbers of Muslims in the West, the Intenet, the large number of young Muslims who are, like all youth, restless, the rise of indigenous thinking in a new generation of thinkers (as opposed to the ideas of the prior generation). I might add that the dismal failure of the secular regimes to make a strong Arab nation has also helped. But, primarily, the factors are those of opportunity.


    N. Friedman - 8/21/2006

    Rodney,

    Well, I do not see how the destruction of a factory in Sudan killed tens of thousands of people. I think that is nonsense. The article from the Globe plays games with words. But, even if it were true, that is not the cause of the Jihad, which had been going on for many, many years before that. In fact, Sudan was already a Jihadist state, with slavery. That state had, by that point, already managed to kill more than a million of its citizens in the course of little more than a decade. That state had reinstituted slavery. That state had used food as a weapon to force conversions. That state had done a lot of things. The US contribution to the suffering in that state was trivial and someone who claims otherwise knows nothing about Sudan.

    Again: the US does do bad things. But, the issue is the things that drive the Jihadists. And, you have not tied anything to the Jihadists. They have made themselves rather clear, in their writing. And the bombing of a factory was not the cause.

    By the way: you compare the Bible to the Koran. I have considerable knowledge of both. Show me the portions of the Koran that are being interpretted differently today than previously. I do not think you can do so becuase I do not think they are being interpretted differently today. In this regard, I suggest you pick up a book by a medical doctor, Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad. Skip his history of Jihadi acts. Turn to the section on Jihadic thought. You will see pretty much all the renowned names in Islamic history saying pretty much the same thing about Jihad. Seeing that what you claim is simply wrong will do you some good as, in this case, the matter is rather black and white.


    Rodney Huff - 8/21/2006

    Mr. Friedman,

    I never said religion fails to play a role. I have said repeatedly that religion does not constitute the root cause of militant jihadism. It certainly has been a mobilizing force, used for solidarity purposes, when times have been ripe for coordinated deadly violence.

    When are the times ripest? During times of stress, uncertainty, and social and political upheaval - precisely when people are frightened and don't feel particularly good about themselves. Then, along comes a Hitler or an OBL or some charismatic personality with a meassage that appeals to people's emotions, that galvanizes and gives hope to a distressed people.

    The Koran, like the Bible, is full of contradictory passages. Why does a certain group of people, at a particular time and place, emphasize certain passages and ignore others? Different interpretations of the same passages prevail at different times and in different places. Why?

    These are questions that lead us beyond sacred texts to the social, political, and environmental conditions under which people are likely to be persuaded by the more violent passages rather than those concerning spiritual struggle and the overcoming of the illusion of essential differences between beings - the mystical insight from which all religious thought springs. At certain times, the latter passages appear easier to overlook in favor of the ones that deal with, say, an eye for an eye.

    The U.S. bombing of El Shifa did lead to the death of tens of thousands of innocent people, who were deprived of life-saving medication as a result of the bombing (see Boston Globe article: http://www.doublestandards.org/sudan.html). The bombing is widely regarded as unjustified act and may rightly be seen as an act of state-directed terrorism (see UN press release: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/1998/19980929.ga9457.html and BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/425552.stm).

    Is this not a barbaric deed? Here, you seem to prefer to see in the deeds of our enemies that which you refuse to see in the deeds carried out by our leaders in our name.

    So let's go where the facts lead. Surely, they lead to the conclusion that there is indeed evil on both sides. Pointing out the evil on one side while ignoring the evil on the other reveals a double standard and is a move common among people who wish to escalate the violence, which, again, affects mostly the poor and disadvantaged around the world - precisley those who are likely to be recruited by terrorist organizations, which would be nothing without them. So, sadly, the cycle of violence continues. Ignorance on both sides ensures that it will.






    john crocker - 8/21/2006

    I believe you confuse Medieval for poorly educated and religiously manipulated and Westernized for secularized.


    N. Friedman - 8/21/2006

    Rodney,

    You certainly write well and make good points. I am not, however, convinced.

    First, I agree that religion is a force in history. And, Jihadism is certainly a force as well - and important force -. But that does not mean, as your comments, now and before, suggest that religion is always a force or that it is always the same. And, religion is not the same force in every place. And, each religion works a bit different.

    So, I do not make the case for religious determinism that might be made, by some, for economic determinism. I merely note that religion is the force that best explains what is coming out of the Jihadists.

    Regarding past bad acts by the US, I was not excusing them. I am noting that the Jihadists (if supporting Saddam has anything to do with the matter - which is not really the case -) ought be far angrier with France and Russia than the US over Saddam as he was their baby, not ours. We merely supported him over the lunatics who ruled Iran. Maybe that was a good idea. Maybe not. I note that the lunatics in Iran are, in their way, as bad as Saddam.

    I do not claim that bad acts by US cause no resentment in the world. What I said is that such is not the issue with the Jihadists. I stand by that.

    You write: "So the U.S. response was to kill tens of thousands of innocent people, whose lives, you believe, apparently, were not nearly as important as 220 American lives."

    The US response to the twin embassy attacks did not kill tens of thousands of people, much less tens of thousands of innocent people.

    You write: "Here, I must remind you, lest you misrepresent my argument again, that I do not blame the U.S. entirely. What I do recognize, however, is that there are evil-doers on both sides and that they try to convince their supporters that they are somehow making them safer, that they are fighting for their freedom to live without fear, when in reality the actions of both sides serve merely to ensure that the cycle of violence will continue, making everyone less safe. "

    I do not see a cycle of violence. I see one party which seeks to change the way the world is and another party which does not want the proposed change. The proposed change sought by the Jihadis would amount, so far as you and I are concerned, to barbarism and, for practical purposes, slavery for you and me.

    In disputes, it is an unfortunate fact that people will die. It is very unfortunate. But, Jihadism is a disease that is not going to go away if we use a tuning fork, as you suggest, instead of a hammer. Jihadism is an old force that is an institutionalized part of Islam.


    You write: You do not do this by saying "religion and opportunity" are responsible (again a religious determinist argument), in which case there is no need to evaluate our foreign policies that have no doubt helped create the conditions under which a miltatnt jihad looks plenty more attractive than spiritual jihad. If this were the case, then all fault lies with them, with their religion. This is the same conclusion reached by president Bush when he says that these jihadists are simply haters of freedom. It's a comforting illusion which most Americans, I'm afraid, have uncritically accepted. So you see how your contention leads to the same conclusion - that it's not us, it's them. But it's not just one or the other; it's both sides at once.

    I believe in going where the facts lead, even if the facts lead to unconfortable conclusions. If the facts show that talking to the Jihadists leads to improvement, then we should talk. I, however, do not think that is where the facts lead us.

    If, as I believe, this is a dispute born of religion, then we need to make a response that is based on the reality that is. There is no telling other people what to believe - religiously speaking - so there is not much room for dialogue. So, I see your argument as being, in effect: "I do not like hearing that religion plays a role in the dispute so I shall assume it plays no role." I call that the argument from denial.

    In this case, the evidence that the dispute is driven by religion and opportunity - not righteous overreaction to injustice - is overwhelming. So, I prefer to make my judgements based on what is, not what I wish were the case.

    In this regard, I suggest you read a book called The Appeasors, by Martin Gilbert and Richard Gott. The evidence staring the British government in the face during the 1930's was that helping Hitler would only make things worse - encouraging him to be more outrageous and bolder -. Notwithstanding the evidence, that is exactly what the British government did - making arguments just like you do, which created their own world where facts did not matter. Does the name Munich mean anything to you?



    Rodney Huff - 8/21/2006

    Mr. Friedman,

    You write, "I think that religion is a powerful force in human history, ALL ON ITS OWN and that one cannot ignore religion as a causal agent" (emphasis added). And later: "I did not argue that Jihadists hate freedom. I said that they are motivated by religion and opportunity." These seem to me very clear statements of religious determinism.

    You write, "Your argument ought to be directed at France, which supported Saddam for far longer than we supported him and for much larger sums of money and with far greater stocks of arms." So does the fact that France also supported Saddam somehow absolve the U.S. for its support of Saddam? Surely, Southern plantation owners were not the only people in history to own slaves, but does this fact absolve them?

    You seem to be saying that the U.S. has somehow managed to make a clean break with history, that there are no legacies of past injustices, in saying that "...the US stopped supporting Saddam long ago and made war against his regime in 1991. So, this is all ancient history that has nothing to do with things." Isn't it a truism that we cannot understand the present without understanding the past?

    You also seem to be saying that past, more salient forms of domination of peoples in other countries have not given way to subtler, though no less coercive, structures of power, that U.S. foreign policy has done nothing to earn the resentment of people around the world and thus has played no part in creating the immoral conditions under which people are more likely to be persuaded by fundamentalist exegeses. People who find themselves in desperate situations often resort to desperate measures - that is true of Muslims, Christians, Jews, everyone everywhere - and who often look to sacred texts for inspiration and justification for means of resistance chosen.
    You write, "You make a big deal about the attack on the pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. But, the reality is that such was not causal but the US response to the twin embassy bombings in which al Qa’ida killed more than 220 people were and injured over 4,000 wounded in simultaneous car bomb explosions at the United States embassies in the East African capital cities of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. That was on August 7, 1998. The US response followed."

    So the U.S. response was to kill tens of thousands of innocent people, whose lives, you believe, apparently, were not nearly as important as 220 American lives. And such a response and the indifference you and many other Americans, I'm afraid, display towards the suffering of these innocent people does not contribute to the indignation felt by precisely those people who are most likely to get caught up in militant jihadism? Does this not strengthen the position of jihadists and help explain their growing prestige and influence among the poor and defenseless, the people who fall victim to our "mistakes"? I imagine these people are beginning to think, "we might as well take up arms."

    Here, I must remind you, lest you misrepresent my argument again, that I do not blame the U.S. entirely. What I do recognize, however, is that there are evil-doers on both sides and that they try to convince their supporters that they are somehow making them safer, that they are fighting for their freedom to live without fear, when in reality the actions of both sides serve merely to ensure that the cycle of violence will continue, making everyone less safe.

    Mr. Friedman, throughout my posts I have shown an interest in reaching an understanding of the conflict and resolving it. Clearly, there are those who want to continue the conflict, who want to perpetuate the cycle of violence and reprisal because they are becoming empowered by it - and they are surely drunk on power. At some point, the enlightened and educated among us must have the courage to call out the evil-doers on both sides and help remove them from power and initiate a movement towards peace. You do not do this by saying "religion and opportunity" are responsible (again a religious determinist argument), in which case there is no need to evaluate our foreign policies that have no doubt helped create the conditions under which a miltatnt jihad looks plenty more attractive than spiritual jihad. If this were the case, then all fault lies with them, with their religion. This is the same conclusion reached by president Bush when he says that these jihadists are simply haters of freedom. It's a comforting illusion which most Americans, I'm afraid, have uncritically accepted. So you see how your contention leads to the same conclusion - that it's not us, it's them. But it's not just one or the other; it's both sides at once.


    N. Friedman - 8/21/2006

    CORRECTION: The sentence that now reads "Some, however, can and the current dispute is one such source," should be corrected to read:

    Some, however, can and the current dispute is one such circumstance.


    N. Friedman - 8/21/2006

    Rodney



    You write: "My response to your post in which you tout a theory of religious determinism."

    I do not think that my theory is a theory of religious determinism. My theory is that the current dispute finds its cause in religion and opportunity. My theory is not that all disputes involving Muslims can be reduced to religion. Some, however, can and the current dispute is one such source.

    You write: "If religion were all that mattered - if injunctions in sacred texts explain why people do what they do - please explain why the U.S., a presumably Christian nation, has not turned the other cheek.."

    Religion has largely been banned - rhetoric aside - from the public sphere. There is no substantial movement in the US to employ religion to change such fact. Religious groups fight over the border area between what is public - governed by the secular - and what is private - where religion has some say -. Occasionally, religion pushes into the edges of public governance (e.g. with respect to abortion). But, the US is not about to become a theocracy.

    By contrast, religiosity in the Arab regions is, by American standards, in control of good portions of the public sphere. Secularization is something that has yet to occur. In public schools in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab regions, religion dominates the education of students. In public laws, religion plays a substantial role and that role is growing and not merely along the edges, as in the US. In Saudi Arabia, girls were left to die in a fire rather than allow them to escape without wearing the correct clothing. Stoning are regularly carried out, as dictated by Islamic law. I believe Iran - although not an Arab country - also stones people to death. In Sudan, slavery has been re-introduced and blessed as being religiously required. In Egypt, one critic of the Koran was forced, by the courts, to divorce his wife on the ground that he was no longer Muslim and, as required by Islamic law, a non-Muslim male cannot be married to a Muslim woman. He was no longer Muslim because he had committed blasphemy by offering a critic of the Koran.

    I believe I have only touched the tip of the iceberg. I think, if you investigate carefully, that the role of religion in nearly all of the Arab regions is akin to the role of religion in Europe during the Middle Ages. Which is to say, religion has a profound role. While that is an oversimplification because, in fact, there are also more modern voices in the Arab regions, for the great mass of Muslims, religion plays the dominant role now that it has played traditionally.



    You write: "One of the things that jihadists are reacting to is the bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan during the Clinton administration, a bombing that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people."

    No. I think this is a misunderstanding. Jihadists were in control of Sudan already during the period at issue. They were in control, not reacting. They were advancing their goals sufficiently by that point to rule multiple countries.

    You write; "The U.S. has also supported some very nasty, oppressive regimes. The U.S. supported Saddam Hussein while he committed some of his worst atrocities. The U.S. supplied Turkey with weapons to be used against its own Kurdish population. These horrible injustices are perpetrated in our name and without our consent by people in powerful positions who have proved very good at dodging blame and distracting voters with single-issue campaigns."

    Well, the US did support Hussein for awhile. But, so did the Europeans and the Russians - and even more so than we did -. And they were not supporting Saddam to advance US goals. And, the US stopped supporting Saddam long ago and made war against his regime in 1991. So, this is all ancient history that has nothing to do with things. Your argument ought to be directed at France, which supported Saddam for far longer than we supported him and for much larger sums of money and with far greater stocks of arms.

    The Turkish government, the Iraqi government and the Syrian government have all had to dos with the Kurds. The Kurds are an unfortunate group and the US is not the cause of that. Rather, their stateless circumstance and the fact that they are neither Arab nor Turk is involved. Were the US not involved, the Turkish government and the Kurds would still have been fighting. The same for the Kurds and Iraqis and Kurds and Syrians. I might add: the government in what is now Turkey has not been shy, historically, at committing massacres. They do not need help from the US to do so. Ask any Greek or Armenian.



    You write: "It is also clear that the neoconservatives running this country are concerned about power, not justice, and in promoting the U.S. as - in Colin Powell's words - "the bully on the block" (http://www.harpers.org/DickCheneysSongOfAmerica.html#1-note) they seem to be conforming to Nietzschean metaphysics; they seem determined to make the situation worse. After all, they don't stand to lose much when the situation does get worse."

    I am not a neoconservative. However, I note that they did not cause the Jihadists to attack the US. The best available evidence is that the 9/11 attack was planned over the course of a number of years, beginning before Bush II became president. And such was not even the first attempt on the WTC, as Jihadists attacked the place back in 1993. You make a big deal about the attack on the pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. But, the reality is that such was not causal but the US response to the twin embassy bombings in which al Qa’ida killed more than 220 people were and injured over 4,000 wounded in simultaneous car bomb explosions at the United States embassies in the East African capital cities of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. That was on August 7, 1998. The US response followed.



    You write: "By arguing that jihadists are merely people who hate freedom, who are determined by their religion to hate everything "Western" (which is not the case), we pretend our foreign policy has not helped create the conditions for terrorism, and so we let ourselves off the hook and appear as hypocrites to the rest of the world."

    I did not argue that Jihadists hate freedom. I said that they are motivated by religion and opportunity.


    Rodney Huff - 8/21/2006

    Andy,

    "Homosexual depravity"? What the devil is that? Is it worse than heterosexual depravity?


    Rodney Huff - 8/21/2006

    Andy,

    Your remarks are clearly meant to inflame rather than enlighten. Kindly disengage yourself from this discussion and become familiar with the rules governing HNN discussion boards. You would also do well to put down your Ann Coulter book and begin reading the work of serious scholars.

    Mr. Friedman,

    My response to your post in which you tout a theory of religious determinism: I believe that religious dictates on which people act (or fail to act) do not explain as much as they are in need of explanation. If religion were all that mattered - if injunctions in sacred texts explain why people do what they do - please explain why the U.S., a presumably Christian nation, has not turned the other cheek. President Bush, a born again Christian who believes he was ordained by God to lead the U.S., certainly shows no intention of turning the other cheek. Yet this is precisely what Jesus admonishes.

    Although "the nastiness of the West" does not entirely explain the prevalence of anti-American sentiment - I've repeatedly acknowledged the consequences of collusion among elites in different countries - it does indeed go a long way towards such an explanation. One of the things that jihadists are reacting to is the bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan during the Clinton administration, a bombing that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people. The Clinton administration called it a mistake. Others, especially poor Sudanese people who lost access to life-saving medication, understandably saw this act as state-directed terrorism. The U.S. has also supported some very nasty, oppressive regimes. The U.S. supported Saddam Hussein while he committed some of his worst atrocities. The U.S. supplied Turkey with weapons to be used against its own Kurdish population. These horrible injustices are perpetrated in our name and without our consent by people in powerful positions who have proved very good at dodging blame and distracting voters with single-issue campaigns. (At some level, those making the big decisions in the highest circles of power must know that as the situation becomes worse and more fearful the more they will feel needed by the public for protection. So there's an incentive for mismanagement. It is also clear that the neoconservatives running this country are concerned about power, not justice, and in promoting the U.S. as - in Colin Powell's words - "the bully on the block" (http://www.harpers.org/DickCheneysSongOfAmerica.html#1-note) they seem to be conforming to Nietzschean metaphysics; they seem determined to make the situation worse. After all, they don't stand to lose much when the situation does get worse. They send other people's children to fight wars and they are unlikely to be victims of terrorist attacks. It is common people and poor people who suffer most from the ensuing violence. If the White House were at all interested in justice, OBL would not still be on the loose 5 years later.)

    By arguing that jihadists are merely people who hate freedom, who are determined by their religion to hate everything "Western" (which is not the case), we pretend our foreign policy has not helped create the conditions for terrorism, and so we let ourselves off the hook and appear as hypocrites to the rest of the world.


    N. Friedman - 8/20/2006

    John,

    I think you confuse a largely Medieval population with a Westernized population. Fundamentalists in Israel and the US are not like fundamentalists in the Arab regions. Literacy in the US and Israel is very high. And, religious Jews tend to be rather well educated; they just disagree with your view.


    john crocker - 8/20/2006

    Sorry if this is a bit rambling, but I'm a bit tired.


    john crocker - 8/20/2006

    "I might add... When dealing with a largely illiterate population, you are dealing with a more religious population, in one sense. That is not to say that educated people are not religious but, instead, that the expression of religious sentiment by illiterate people tends to be rather profound and readily manipulatable."
    This I think is a valid and important point. Illiterate populations tend towards more dogmatic and fundamentalist religious expression. That trend is easily capitalized on by charismatic leaders. When these leaders are cynical, as they often are, the message shapes the book more than the book shapes the message. The interest in Shari'a law is an expression of the trend towards a fundamentalist belief structure.

    Whether people come to their ignorance due to circumstance or through act of will/faith the outcome is largely the same, an easily manipulated flock that can be directed to the ends of a cynical leader. In portions of the Middle East it is jihad. This is generally restrained by a totalitarian government. In parts of Israel it is building illegal settlements in disputed lands or, rarely planting a bomb in an Arab neighborhood or shooting from a hilltop. Fundamentalists in Israel are restrained in part, by expectations of the West. In America it usually means voting against abortion and homosexual equality, but sometimes leads to bombing an abortion clinic or beating up or killing homosexuals. The fundamentalists in the West are restrained by living in a largely secualar society.
    The effect of Evangelical Christianity (~22% of the population) on the internal and external politics of America is undeniable.
    If they represented a clear majority of our population how do you think our society would look?
    How do you think we would act on the World stage?


    Rodney Huff - 8/20/2006

    N. Friedman,

    I believe that religious dictates on which people act (or fail to act) do not explain as much as they are in need of explanation. If religion were all that mattered - if injunctions in sacred texts explain why people do what they do - please explain why the U.S., a presumably Christian nation, has not turned the other cheek. President Bush, a born again Christian who believes he was ordained by God to lead the U.S., certainly shows no intention of turning the other cheek. Yet this is precisely what Jesus admonishes.

    Although "the nastiness of the West" does not entirely explain the prevalence of anti-American sentiment - I've repeatedly acknowledged the consequences of collusion between elites in different countries - it does indeed go a long way towards such an explanation. One of the things that jihadists are reacting to is the bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan during the Clinton administration, a bombing that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people. The Clinton adminstration called it a mistake. Others, especially the poor Sudanese people who lost access to life-saving medication, understandably saw this act as state-sponsored terrorism. The U.S. has also supported some very nasty, oppressive regimes. The U.S. supported Sadam Hussein while he committed some of his worst atrocities. THe U.S. supplied Turkey with weapons to be used against its own Kurdish population. These horrible injustices are perpetrated in our name and without our consent by people in powerful positions who have proved very good at dodging blame and distracting voters with single-issue campaigns.

    By arguing that jihadists are merely people who hate freedom, who are determined by their religion to hate everything "Western" (which is not the case), we pretend our foreign policy has not helped create the conditions for terrorism, and so we let ourselves off the hook and appear as hypocrites to the rest of the world.



    N. Friedman - 8/20/2006

    CORRECTION:

    The sentence that reads: "he books that are produced, unlike in the West, are produced mainly for a comparatively group," should, instead, read:

    he books that are produced, unlike in the West, are produced mainly for a comparatively small group.


    N. Friedman - 8/20/2006

    John,

    I shall respond to both of your posts. I certainly intend to be entirely civil.

    I start with the premise that a very large percentage of people in the Arab regions are illiterate. Egypt, the, by far, largest Arab country by population had a literacy rate in 2003 of 56.1%. Of that low percentage, presumably most people are barely literate. That means, effectively, that the group of people reading books is fairly small and suggests that the books that are produced, unlike in the West, are produced mainly for a comparatively group.

    I might add... When dealing with a largely illiterate population, you are dealing with a more religious population, in one sense. That is not to say that educated people are not religious but, instead, that the expression of religious sentiment by illiterate people tends to be rather profound and readily manipulatable.

    So, when we say that there are more books on topics of religion, by percentage, produced in the Arab regions, we are saying that the likely reading habits of the more elite group weigh more heavily toward religion than in the West. Which is to say: your point misses the mark because the audience for books is very different in the Arab, versus the Western, regions.


    The entire Arab regions produced, according to numerous reports, fewer books than Spain. And Spain is not a leading producer of books, by any stretch of the imagination.

    With a far smaller number of books produced, the opportunity for one type of book to have a skewed influence is also increased, I would think. Now, the influence might not be religious. But consider: the trend in the Arab regions has been toward religion which, to note, is shown by the increased interest in these countries for the reintroduction of Shari'a law. Such is likely a view advocated to the illiterate masses by the educated elite - a group which arguably sees a way to power by means of religion.

    And consider: in polling of Arabs in the PA, in Jordan and in Egype, upwards of 65% OF EACH area's population favored the implimentation of law based solely on Shari'a. That view comes from somewhere and I doubt that it is a view coming from the masses without manipulation by the elite.

    And again: I reiterate that the book topics of those who write in the Arab regions is astonishing. It is not likely an accident, as you seem to suggest, but, instead, highly suggestive of what goes on in such societies.




    john crocker - 8/20/2006

    I am surprised that you would quote someone so pivital in the creation of an organization you believe is anti-Jewish (the UN). Doesn't that make him a Jew hater in your world as well?


    john crocker - 8/20/2006

    Your original sentance construction could lead to three equally valid interpretations. I could have reacted to the one that supported my point of view best, as some here do, or I could ask for clarification. Which would you really rather I do?

    Our debate up to this point has been civil and on points of substance. I hope that will also be the future tone.


    john crocker - 8/20/2006

    That actually makes a weaker point in light of the few books published. If they were producing 3x as many religious books as the West and produced far less books, that would be remarkable.

    In light of this interpretation it is likely the West or maybe even the US produces far more religious texts than the Middle East. The massive production of religious literature is merely obscured by the increased secular literature.

    I am still interested in Furnish's source. I have tried several search strings and can find no reliable source for the numbers or percentage of religious texts produced in even the US much less the entire West or Arab region.


    N. Friedman - 8/19/2006

    Not everyone can read.


    N. Friedman - 8/19/2006

    John,

    Let me explain the matter this way:

    Merely for purposes of simplification, suppose that 10% of all books written in the West were on religious topics (i.e. on theology, explanations of religious concepts, on how to be devout, etc.), then about 30% of books written in Arab countries would be about such topics.

    Now, I am not saying the percentage is 30% of all books. You would need to ask Professor Furnish to indicate more exact figures, which appear in his excellent book Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden . I am merely noting that 3 times, by percentage, the number of books relate to topics of religion in Arab speaking countries than in Western speaking countries.

    I think that fact - given the very limited amount of literature produced in the Arab regions altogether - is astonishing and bears consideration when analyzing what matters to people, both the small number of literate people and, by implication, the masses, living in the Arab regions. In this, take a trip to Barnes and Nobles or to some other major general interest book store and imagine that 3x the space were devoted to books on religious topics.


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/19/2006

    I agree.
    But you've got to admit his preferred style of discussion is ad hominem.


    john crocker - 8/19/2006

    "Sorry, I am a bit confused by this sentance. Is it meant that 3x as many individual religious titles are produced in Arab countries over an explicit period of time as are produced in Western countries over that same time? If so what is the time period? If not what exactly does it mean and in either case what is his source of this information?"

    This was my first question. When you said, "On your first question, ask Professor Furnish," I thought it was in reference to that, not how many books are published in Arab regions.

    So again, what exactly is meant by the above statement?


    N. Friedman - 8/19/2006

    John,

    I know exactly what my statement means. I do not have exact figures on publications out of the Arab regions. I do know that the number of publications is miniscule.

    I have enough information to be astonished.

    OK?


    john crocker - 8/19/2006

    I attacked your argument not you personally, I'm sorry if you are unable or unwilling to see the difference.

    Many of your posts (certainly most in this thread) are little more than vitriolic rants filled with ad hominem attacks. I note that you failed to address any point I have made in any of my posts, rather you attack me personally. As this pattern continues I can only conclude that you cannot refute any of my claims and so resort to personal attacks.

    "An unfriendly reminder, the subject is islamofascism!"
    Why must the reminder be unfriendly?
    The subject of the article is the appropriateness of the term "Islamic Fascism", the topic of this thread has become the substance of the links that YOU provided. In attempting to defend the content of those links you have said things that appeared to minimize another peoples near genocide in relation to the attempted genocide of the Jewish people. You should notice that in pointing out this apparent insensitivity no one has called you an Indian hater.


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/19/2006

    Mr. Ebbitt,
    I was one of the people who told Omar to "kindly shut up" if he couldn't logically or factually critique me--because I am tired of his personal attacks. I am not, however, defined simply as a "pro-israel backer."


    Yehudi Amitz - 8/19/2006

    Don't be a pathetic cry baby, follow the advice of president Truman: "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" or in our days you can use a microwave.
    Comprende?!
    An unfriendly reminder, the subject is islamofascism!


    john crocker - 8/19/2006

    Insolent: insultingly contemptuous in speech or conduct

    I believe this is much more descriptive of your posts than mine.

    As for JEW HATER, ignorant RACIST and calling Jews Nazis, what support do you have for these epithets other than my disagreeing with you?

    Casting epithets is the province of people who are incapable of putting forth rational arguments to support their contentions.


    john crocker - 8/19/2006

    I believe that my statement is true if extermination by deliberate and incedental spread of disease is included.

    The apparent intent of Wafa in including that statement was to deflect blame from the US for its role in the slaughter. The US had an undeniable role in the slaughter and repression of Native American peoples. That some or even most of that slaughter occured before nationhood in no way absolves the US of ethical responsability for its part in this.


    john crocker - 8/19/2006

    If you aren't sure what the statement means why is it truly astonishing to you?


    Yehudi Amitz - 8/18/2006

    To get the exact link go to

    http://memritv.org/Search.asp

    do a search for "wafa sultan" with the option "exact phrase" and follow the links.

    About your "get over" and "paranoid" these are classic Jew hating patterns. My father and mother had many relatives who died during the Holocaust. I got over it a long time ago but your behavior and arguments prove that the Jews are and will be always in danger, it's not paranoia (Mr. rubber room dweller) but common sense!


    N. Friedman - 8/18/2006

    John,

    On your first question, ask Professor Furnish. What I can say is that the number is very small. As I understand it, for the entire Arab regions, the total book output is lower than from Spain.

    On your second question, I do not think that perceptions about Imperialism play the heavy role among Jihadists. I think that such view is the view of Europeans who do not read what the Jihadists write. I think Jihadists dream of conquest.


    john crocker - 8/18/2006

    "Of course Americans killed native Americans or Indians (as they are called in most of the rest of the world - so lighten up) but we discuss here the Islamofascists, so get to the point don't blabber your mouth."

    Above is where you are dismissive of the near genocide of the Native Americans.

    Screaming Jew hater is not an argument. Point to anything I have said that is indicative of racial intolerance of any kind.

    Why is the near genocide of the many Native American peoples any less horrific than the Holocaust? Many of them were killed with little or no chance to resist as well. All genocide and attempted genocide is a crime against humanity.

    "Go get your GED, learn to read and then you can dare to read my postings!"

    One of the more ridiculous ad hominem attacks I have yet read. I dare to read anything put in front of me. If you do not want your arguments to be criticized you picked the wrong place to post.


    Yehudi Amitz - 8/18/2006

    Show me, you insolent JEW HATER, where do I dismiss the killing of the Native Americans??!! You are the ignorant RACIST, I am sure that you are one of the racists who call the Israelis nazis.
    All I said is that the Jewish Holocaust was the worst because the Jews didn't fight it (with very few exceptions).
    Go get your GED, learn to read and then you can dare to read my postings!


    john crocker - 8/18/2006

    The brutal extermination of 1/3 of the World's Jewish population, the near extermination of the Roma and other atrocities commited by the Nazis certainly rank as one of the greatest crimes in World history.

    To dismiss the extermination of over 90% of all of the various Native American peoples as not on a level with the Holocaust's devastation of the Jewish people is either ignorant or racist.


    E. Simon - 8/18/2006

    Thanks. I'm not sure why this point wasn't clearer to Mr. Ebbitt in my post.


    john crocker - 8/18/2006

    Indeed most of the killing had been done before America became an independant nation. Wafa Sultan's comment about not blaming America for the killing of Native Americans would mean more if the killing and repression did not continue after the formantion of the US.


    john crocker - 8/18/2006

    "I note that Professor Furnish's book on the Madhi phenomena indicates that the percentage, out of all books written, of religion books written in Arab countries is three times the percentage of religions books written in Western countries. That, to me, is truly astonishing especially given just how few books are written in Arabic to begin with."
    Sorry, I am a bit confused by this sentance. Is it meant that 3x as many individual religious titles are produced in Arab countries over an explicit period of time as are produced in Western countries over that same time? If so what is the time period? If not what exactly does it mean and in either case what is his source of this information?

    How few books are written in Arabic to begin with?

    "I do not think that the nastiness of the West explains much of what is occurring - other than the fact that the West stands in the way of what the Muslim Jihadis seek."
    I think that Arabic perceptions of Western imperialism (nastiness) is more important than is their religion in explaining Arab opinion of and reaction to the West.


    N. Friedman - 8/18/2006

    John,

    The Christian sense of religion is very different. It does not include the political. Render unto Caesar what is his and unto God what is his. Remember?

    Islam, by contrast, views politics as the vehicle to pursue Allah's plan so that the leader and the exact politics of society is critical.

    Din - philosophy of life- is something different in Islam than in Christianity. Islam is law based, like classical Judaism. Everything is regulated, from prayer to politics to war to slavery to sex to marriage to children to business, etc., etc.


    N. Friedman - 8/18/2006

    Rodney,

    An interesting comment.

    I do not perceive myself to be an expert on Marxism although I have read, at one time or another, Marx's major texts. I do think - and correct me if I am wrong here - that Marx sought to exploit (not merely explain) the engine that operated society in order to benefit all, not just the ruling class. I am not, at the same time, at all sure - and again, please explain if I am mistaken - that Marx sought to explain international relations as rich nation exploiting poor nations and their populations.

    And, even if he did, I would assume that he viewed each society on its own ideology that allowed one party to control society at the expense of others, using state ideology and religion, etc., to coop and control.

    To the extent I understand Marx, I think that his analysis renders religion into a surface phenomena, not a causal phenomena. I, for one, think that analysis is simply wrong, if I have his view correct. I think that religion is a powerful force in human history, all on its own and that one cannot ignore religion as a causal agent.

    Now, were one to examine Western society today, I think that Nietzsche's view that Churchs are really funeral halls holds. Which is to say, religion is not the force in the West that it is elsewhere. I think this is an important point - critical to understanding the dispute with the Muslim regions. And, I think Nietzsche's point that we live in the age nihilism which, in turn, leads to great ideological fervor.

    Now, you indicate that we ought to find a way to settle the dispute. That view is premised on an assumption which may or may not be correct - namely, that there can be a settlement -. My view is that we need, first, to know what causes the dispute and, then, to determine whether the dispute can be settled.

    Returning to my view that religion is a powerful force - as important a force as economics - particularly in a society where Medieval concepts are still taken seriously (e.g. talk of Jihad, of hudnas, of dar al harb, etc., etc.) by average and, evidently, sophisticated people. Otherwise, different langauge would be employed by those seeking power. I note that Professor Furnish's book on the Madhi phenomena indicates that the percentage, out of all books written, of religion books written in Arab countries is three times the percentage of religions books written in Western countries. That, to me, is truly astonishing especially given just how few books are written in Arabic to begin with.

    Now, as a force of central importance in the Arab regions - and I think that such is the case -, I do not discount the likelihood (and, in fact, I think it the most likely centrally important) that the revival of religion among Muslims is the centrally important to understanding what is now occurring among Muslims. Religion does not merely define the language used but is causal.

    The issue here is religious dictates coupled with opportunity. And the opportunity arises due to the extraordinary birth rate among Muslims, the rise of the Internet, the rapid rise of the Muslim population in Europe and the appeasement of Islamic violence by Westerners. Such is occurring for a population which sees religion as the be all and end all of life and, as such, they believe they are doing the evangelical work that Islam requires. I think the evidence for such interpretation is overwhelming.

    I do not think that the nastiness of the West explains much of what is occurring - other than the fact that the West stands in the way of what the Muslim Jihadis seek.


    john crocker - 8/18/2006

    What fundamentalist does not consider their religion a way of life?

    Is it likely that someones way of life does not shape their politics?


    john crocker - 8/18/2006

    What fundamentalist does not consider their religion a way of life?

    Is it likely that someones way of life does not shape their politics?


    Rodney Huff - 8/18/2006

    Mr. Friedman,

    I side with neither the Left nor the Right, since my thought transcends this stale dichotomy. And you're right: Marx certainly would not approve of today's Left, if by Left you mean those who call themselves liberals. Liberals in the U.S. have proved more conservative than so-called conservatives, since they have, through welfare programs and regulation of private enterprise, impeded the formation of a revolutionary class and thus prolonged the life of capitalism. Marx had hoped that deteriorating working conditions would eventually unite working people everywhere, in which case they would demand the decentralization of control over the means of production and become the agents of their own destiny, thereby becoming a truly free and democratic people.

    Back to the problem at hand: My assumption is not that "Jihadists are a simple biproduct [sic] of past wrongs by Westerners." In fact, I have acknowledged that the U.S. may be unfairly scapegoated by powerful elites in other countries. Targeting enemies beyond the gates (real or imagined) has always provided a safety valve for regimes that may be as much responsible for the misery of the people as the scapegoat. In any case, the function of the scapegoat is to redirect anger that may be more properly aimed at the local elite. That these same elites have often forged mutually beneficial (sometimes clandestine) relationships with powerful people in the scapegoated countries should not escape our attention either - in which case these opportunistic elites are indeed collaborators in the suffering of the common people. Consider the various bananna republics throughout the world. (By the way, we are all caught up in complicity when we buy the staples of poor countries that can't even feed their own people because nearly all the land is devoted to export crops.)

    Thank you for the history lesson, but I'm not interested in deciding who's more imperial, or whose holy book is more violent. These are issues that feature pejorative and polemical arguments on both sides and therefore cannot contribute anything to a resolution of this conflict; they can only inflame both sides and make them even more impervious to reason. Besides, even if the number of peaceful passages in the Bible outnumbers those in the Koran, there's no guarantee that Christians will heed them, just as there's no guarantee that Muslims will heed the Koran's more violent passages.

    Thus, my explicit assumption has always been that we must look beyond religion and sacred books as explanations for violence (or peace) - here, I think we agree - and ask: Why at this particular time do people heed this particular passage and not others? Or, why is this particular passage emphasized or interpreted in this way at this time, while at other times a different interpretation prevails? Just as soldiers following the orders of their superiors did not constitute the root cause of WWII - though they constituted the superficial cause of war (the last link in the causal chain) - jihadists merely following orders does not explain jihad. We must look to the material conditions of life and the political realities that are shaped by, and in turn shape, those conditions under which people are more likely to feel they must resort to violence to restore their human dignity.


    Yehudi Amitz - 8/18/2006

    Getz,
    The entire blogosphere is a collection of opinions not more not less. I presented you with two opinions and you can discuss them instead of your nonsensical rant.
    Ebbitt,
    Of course Americans killed native Americans or Indians (as they are called in most of the rest of the world - so lighten up) but we discuss here the Islamofascists, so get to the point don't blabber your mouth.
    There is nothing worse than the Jewish Holocaust, because the Jews were killed, during the Holocaust, without any opposition from the Jewish victim. I, sure, understand your position, as a hater of Jews, when Jews go quietly and in order to the ovens, it's OK with you only when Jews arm and defend themselves you protest!

    Now for a better understanding I give you the link of the broadcasts themselves from Al Jazeera. watching them is quite amazing.

    http://switch3.castup.net/cunet/gm.asp?ai=214&;ar=1050wmv&ak=null

    and

    http://switch3.castup.net/cunet/gm.asp?ai=214&;ar=783wmv&ak=null


    A. M. Eckstein - 8/18/2006

    Oh, and "the party was UPSET" by the series? Then why did Al-Manar deputy director for production affairs Nasser Akhdhar state on Al Jazeera on Nov. 10, 2003: "This series presents nothing but the truth"? This man was an official Hezbollah spokesman. So: Jews eating Christian babies is "nothing but the truth"?

    In the same interview on al-Jazeera, Al-Akhdhar stated that there was no way the series could be anti-Semitic, because every single person who participated in the production, editing and broadcasting of the episodes was a Semite.

    Omar, these are intellectually ridiculous and shameful statements from a high official Hezbollah spokesman on world-wide tv about this series which was shown for TWENTY NINE vile, medieval anti-semitic episodes on al-Manar, official Hezbollah tv. Not to mention what happened the next year with the Jews spreading AIDS show on al-Manar.

    Now I really do have to stop. I don't have time to teach you the basic use of specific evidence that is obvious to any undergraduate, Omar.










    A. M. Eckstein - 8/18/2006

    1. 29 episodes of vile medieval anti-semitism broadcast on official Hezbollah TV is a VERY long series on any calculation. As I understand it, the episodes weren't shown every day but on a schedule. If "the party was upset"about the sewer of anti-semitism of this series they had PLENTY of time to cancel it, on any calculation. THEY DID NOT. Even if the show was every day-- which it was not--with this vile medieval anti-semitism going forth on Hezbollah official tv every day, they STILL had plenty of time (a month) to cancel it. THEY DID NOT. And the NEXT year official Hezbollah tv broadcast a show with Jews intentionally infecting Muslims with AIDS--another version of the most primitive and vile medieval anti-semitic mythology, so primitive and vile that it led a French court to ban al-Manar tv for anti-semitism. DOESN'T LOOK LIKE ANYBODY IN THE PARTY WAS THAT UPSET, DOES IT?

    2. Apparently you are confusing The New Yorker with the The York Times,. Jayson Blair does not appear today on CNN, or anywhere else, as an expert on anything, does he? No. By contrast, the author of the New Yorker Hezbollah article of 2002, appeared last week on CNN as an expert on Hezbollah, including Hezbollah anti-semitism, and no one on the panel questioned this status--well, is Ted Turner being paid off by AIPAC? In the absence of ANY specific evidence or specific argument that any of the vile anti-semitic quotes in the article in the 2002 New Yorker were invented, or were ever doubted or denied, you have no case. Zero.

    Omar, you shame yourself and make yourself look increasingly ridiculous with these sorts of desperate arguments.



    N. Friedman - 8/18/2006

    John,

    I use religio/political to write in Western terms. The concepts understood by a person brought up in the Islamic tradition are different than in the West and, in the Islamic tradition, the religious and the political are not distinct. They are both aspects of Islam, which is viewed not merely as a religion but a way of life - in their terminology, a din.


    N. Friedman - 8/18/2006

    John,

    I use religio/political to write in Western terms. The concepts understood by a person brought up in the Islamic tradition are different than in the West and, in the Islamic tradition, the religious and the political are not distinct. They are both aspects of Islam, which is viewed not merely as a religion but a way of life - in their terminology, a din.


    john crocker - 8/18/2006

    "The assumption, however, of your comment is that the acts of the Jihadists are a simple biproduct of past wrongs by Westerners."
    That was not his assertion or assumption. The point is that their current actions are the same as our not so distant past actions. Their religious justifications are different more in style than substance. Does it really matter to the conquered party which book was used as justification for their repression? Again the point is not that Islam is justified or morally superior, but that neither is Christianity. Religiously dominated societies tend to be aggressive, expansionist and socially repressive no matter the religion.

    Indeed both sides of the West:Middle East back and forth were imperialistic and both sides used their religion as justification for their often reprehensible actions.

    As you point out above the current conflict (and most of those in the past) are regio/political rather than religious. Religion is used to motivate the followers(again not so different as in the past). Since religion is used to motivate and justify the conflict (rather than being the root cause) it is only required that the text has passages that can be interpreted to justify the actions desired. All religious texts I have seen have passages that can be used to this effect. That one has a few more or less is immaterial. What matters far more is the fundamentalist mindset that short circuits reason and promotes blind faith in religous authorities.


    E. Simon - 8/17/2006

    Mr. Ebbitt, are you an anarchist? An American "constitution, a regime, and a state" is not the same as "White America," particularly in the 300 year time table that Sultan references when the greatest numbers of Native Americans died. You need to voice that grievance against the governments of Spain and the U.K. Was the transcript a translation or was this person deliberately using an archane English term for Native Americans just to piss (some people) off? I realize it gives you great catharsis to spout off like this but sometimes looking into such tiny/("major") details like these is what will actually earn you what seems to pass for respect in these sorts of forums. Mere protesting is more of a spectator sport.


    Trevor Russell Getz - 8/17/2006

    Ah! Yes! Mr. Amitz has proven his point by showing how two individuals, entirely lacking in official position or representative standing, have different worldviews. Clearly, one official represents the entirety of the 'modern' west (including 'westernized' Muslims), and the other the entirety of the 'medieval' east.

    Surely, Mr. Amitz, you wish to support your point with something other than entirely anecdotal evidence?


    A. M. Eckstein - 8/17/2006

    Omar--

    That anti-semitic tv series (which AT LAST you now acknowledge ws anti-semitic) was shown on al-Manar for TWENTY-NINE STRAIGHT WEEKS. Figure it out, Omar. It couldn't have caused THAT much controversy within the party, could it? They DID NOT STOP IT.

    To say "except for this 29-part tv program, I see no anti-semitic problem with Hezbollah" is like saying, "Except for that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?" It's a rediculous position.

    And don't forget this in fact IS NOT the only al-Manar episode. A year later (December 2004) al-Manar was banned from France by a French court ON GROUNDS OF ANTI-SEMITISM, specifically for broadcasting stories about Jews spreading AIDS intentionally to Arab populations. This was the recycling of medieval superstition. Evidently the "disturbances within the party" over "The Disaspora" DID NOT PREVENT THIS atrocity, did they? I guess not. Or is the French Government now being paid off by AIPAC? Wake up.

    As for all your insistance on sticking to "official" pronouncements--al-Manar is the OFFICIAL Hezb television station.

    As for The New Yorker interviews in 2002: Your position is still to deny what the New Yorker reporter reported on the basis of personal interviews and quoting Hezb leaders directly--you offer no counter-evidence and no argument, you just deny it. On this, you're still hiding your head in the sand. CNN accepted this reporter in 2006 as an authority on Hezbollah. That's what he was asked about, and neither his credentials nor his opinions were challenged; he appeared as part of a panel of experts. We are talking about CNN--NOT Fox News. Or is CNN and Ted Turner being paid off by AIPAC too?

    You simply refuse to accept facts, Omar--or, with the 29-episode tv series, after much effort on my part you grudgingly accept facts and then try to avoid their implications--and it makes you look foolish. No one can take you seriously.

    Omar, I meant to stop responding to your ridiculous arguments before, but sometimes what you write is just so ridiculous and shameful that I have to respond. However, I will now try to be more disciplined, and restrict my conversations to those who accept empirical evidence.





    N. Friedman - 8/17/2006

    Mr. Huff,

    I am not here to defend Christians or Christianity. And, I am not here to defend Europeans and European exploits. We are the beneficiaries of their behavior that is both good and bad.

    The assumption, however, of your comment is that the acts of the Jihadists are a simple biproduct of past wrongs by Westerners. I do not think that is an accurate assertion. I do not think it is even close.

    It is, instead, a political assertion made by people with a political agenda, in this case a far, far Left wing agenda. It is not, however, an agenda based on a fair reading of history. I cannot even imagine that Marx would accept the current far Left political agenda as it is simply based on a big lie, intended merely to revive the political Left. And I say this as a person who is not hostile to social democracy.

    Ignoring, for a moment, the religious dimension of the war by Muslim Jihadists and the West, let us take a look at the history of relations between the Muslim regions and "the West." I see parties competing for power and influence. And, the Muslim side was, historically, as much imperial as the Europeans. And, through much of that history, the Muslim side was successful, often far more so than the European side.

    In fact, Muslim imperialism did not come crashing down, in practice, entirely as a result of European imperialism but instead as a result of gross inadequacies in the Ottoman Empire - a vast, powerful empire that controlled nearly all of the Arab regions, substantial portions of Asia, portions of Europe (and this even into the 20th Century), much of Northern Africa, and that treated its subjects, particularly as its power and influence began to fade, attrociously -. Among other things, that empire failed to keep up its military, its educational system, it political system, etc., etc. and, in time, began to crumble as Europeans pushed back - in response often to wars instigated by the Muslim side -.

    But note: that Ottoman Empire was, in its ascendency, agressive and militeristic, fighting its way into all of the noted territories - while beginning as a tiny statelet on the rim of Constantinople -, that united first that regions and then began a vast conquest that took it, over the course of centuries of warfare, eventually up to Poland but began to fade, interestingly, on September 11, 1683 when its seige of Vienna was defeated. After that - and we are not talking ancient history -, the Empire's fortunes faded and those of Europe improved.

    The point is that the Muslim side was as imperial as the European side.

    And, then there were the Qajar Dynasty (1781–1925) in Iran - another empire. It also failed its people, politically, militarily and in every other way. And, it was no paragon of virtue when it came to treating its subjects or in its effort to expand its interests.

    So, while the Europeans did push and push at the Muslims and the Arabs, such is not the whole or even the most of it. Most of the problems they have had are of their own, not Europe's making.

    Now, the root cause of the current Jihad is, frankly, religio/political. Islam is in revival so far as its political aspects are concerned. Its leading adherents believe that they can revive their people's past glorify through religion and its Jihad tradition. Were the issue one of being pushed around by Europe, they could respond as does India - far more the victim of European power than have been the Muslim regions - and attempt to join the world. The issue here, ergo, is not one of righting wrongs. It is of reclaiming power and revival of the Islamic imperial tradition.


    Rodney Huff - 8/17/2006

    Dear Professor Furnish, Mr. Friedman:

    Like it or not, we are the beneficiaries of atrocities sanctioned, condoned, and/or committed by Christian fundamentalists who aided colonialists in subduing, exploiting, and killing peoples of the Americas, Africa, and the South Pacific. As I said in an earlier post: Today ultra right-wing Christian fundamentalists don't have to order followers to fly jet planes into buildings because equivalent orders have already been executed by previous administrations, as well as by colonialist adventurers, speculators, and missionaries. It was an ideology infused with the Christian spirit of expansion, of spreading the gospel (see Mark 16:15), that justified and supported the conquests of the Americas, which facilitated the systematic destruction of the lifeways of indigenous peoples, which led to the Trail of Tears, which justified the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, the colonizing of Africa, the colonizing of the South Pacific, and all varieties of mischief, mayhem, and murder - all of which was in part justified by Christian fundamentalism and expansionist rhetoric. Our European forbears siezed the land we now occupy and built towns and missionaries as if they were God's stamps of approval.

    Thus, it appears Islamic fundamentalists, or jihadists, are merely attempting today what Christian peoples accomplished over the past few centuries: hegemonic ascendancy in the world. Christian peoples, including fundamentalists and nonfundamentalists, have the luxury of viewing the world and their opponents from a position of power that was secured by means of violence, compared to which 9/11 seems like child's play. True, the power exercised by so-called Christian nations today is more administrative and manipulative in character than it is violent, with brute force appearing to be used primarily as a last resort (though this is not always the case, of course). However, this institutionalization of power was made possible by the sheer violence that preceded it and which periodically maintains it. For Christians most of the dirty work has already been done.

    Whether the Bible is less violent than the Koran matters little. Ambiguous passages exist in both books, and people in similar circumstances throughout history have quarried them and held them up as rallying cries in their struggles for privileges, power, and prestige (or rewards in the afterlife) they believe they have coming to them by virtue of being god's chosen people or carriers of the light of "civilization." What we should focus on, then, are the conditions under which an individual or group is likely to resort to violence and perhaps use holy passages as justification for despicable, violent acts. We should get to the root cause of terrorism instead of forever battling symptoms. A.F.C. Wallaces's classic analysis of revitalization movements holds a clue, I believe, as does Freud's Group Psychology and Analysis of the Ego.

    If one adopts a world-historical perspective, the paralells between Christian and Islamic right-wing thought are obvious. Eventually, we must come to realize that fundamentalists, in seeking to impose their values and way of life on the rest of us, using violence if necessary to create some paradise on earth, are not unlike what they despise most. Human beings, it seems, prefer to see in their enemies that which they refuse to see in themselves. It's always tempting to make such projections onto others. It's also tempting to dismiss enemies as hopelessly irrational and to dismiss their holy texts as more violent than ours - a childish my-religion-is-better-than-yours kind of argument - when in fact all religions boil down to the same mystical insight that ALL IS ONE. (The differences between religions are in the dogmatic accretions to which followers get attached over time and to which they cling in fits of idolatry, thus belying or obscuring the essential underlying message of these revered texts - a communication of that unfathomable mystery and wondrous spectacle of creation, before which we are all as nothing, cosmic equals. All religions begin with this basic insight.)

    Hence, instead of fueling the fire on one side and ensuring that this conflict will continue, thus ensuring that there will indeed be more 9/11s, we should seek understanding of the causes of terrorism, even as we bring perpetrators of heinous crimes to justice (which the U.S. leaders are clearly not interested in doing - who imagined that OBL would still be on the loose 5 years later?). Such understanding will come from not only exploring the ways in which leaders of predominately Muslim countries scapegoat the U.S. to divert attention from their own high crimes in office, but also exploring the ways in which the U.S. has earned its reputation for being, in Colin Powell's words, "the world's foremost bully," a status towards which the neoconservatives running this country (e.g., Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc.) have been pushing us since the end of the Cold War. Do you doubt that the U.S., through its historical dealings with people in other countries, has had a hand in creating the conditions for terrorism?


    N. Friedman - 8/17/2006

    John,

    You write: "If the Christians or the Jews were to switch places with the Muslims, I don't think the results would be appreciably different."

    I do not think there is any way to reach the conclusion you reach as there is no simple substitution of parties, all else being equal. First, about Christianity: the religion is not territorial; Islam is. Second, Christianity is not inherently political; Islam is. Third, Christianity has no universal goal that includes conquest as part of God's plan. So, whether or not Christians would fight Muslims so that Christians could gain territory and influence - and they certainly might -, it would not necessarily be a fight in the name of religion.

    Judaism, like Islam, is territorial but the territory is not the entire globe, as it is in Islam. The territory of interest to Jews is located in and around Israel and only there. Judaism, like Islam, also has a political aspect, mostly about the social conditions of people. And Judaism, like Christianity and Islam, distinguishes between believer and non-believer but, unlike Islam and some branches of Islam, Judaism has not wrapped that point in evangelicalism and, most certainly, not in encouraging violence to spread Jewish rule. So, again, I think your assertion makes little sense. If Jews were to seek conquest, as radical Muslims do, it would not be to conquer the entire world.

    Then, there is the question of tactics. The current behavior of Muslim Jihadis has its roots, so far as I can tell, in the caravan raids of Muhammed and the razzias employed by Muslims in order to break down the moral of non-Muslims on the borders of Muslim controlled territory. Jews do not have a similar historical example to follow as justification for the sort of barbaric activity being deployed by today's Muslims. I believe the same is true for Christians as well.

    I might also note: there is the question of what people do with their circumstances. There is, as I see it, no imaginable reason why Arabs in Arabia cannot make their land into a paradise. The country certainly has fantastic resources and it has a close political relationship with the world's most powerful country, the US - which ought not be the curse of death, since Israel and Japan, neither of which have much in the way of natural resources thrive depsite close relations with the US -.

    My bet: were Jews to move to Arabia but did not take with them Arab history, the desert would be made to bloom. I bet that such would be the case if Christians controlled Arabia but did not carry with them Arab history. Which is to say, I am not at all convinced that the substitution of peoples would yield the same results. I think that there are a myriad of reasons why the Arab regions are a mess, some of historical, some of them religious, some of them cultural and some of them politics.

    With that in mind, I do not think it quite possible to say that, put yourself in the place of Arab Muslims and you would do as they do. I think that is rather all too simple. I think you might or you might act rather differently. And, the tactics employed would almost surely be different.

    Lastly, how people interpret their conditions - the glass being half full or half empty or completely empty - is not a mere product of their condition. Arab Muslims are not the poorest or most politically abused people on Earth. Palestinian Arabs are not the poorest or worst treated people on Earth - far from it -. The same for Kashmiri Muslims. Saudis, including many of those who count themselves Jihadis, are not poor at all. In fact, some of them are down right rich, like bin Laden. Which is to say, I take their movement as not being driven by the desire to improve social conditions but, instead, as a desire, driven and reinforced by religion, for power and prestige.


    A. M. Eckstein - 8/17/2006

    One more time, Omar (and for the last time I talk to you on this thread; but I will bring this issue of your intellectual dishonesty up on any other thread on which you attempt to engage in debate as an intellectual):

    1. The author of the 2002 article for The New Yorker on Hezbollah, in which the anti-semitic remarks were made to him in personal interviews by Hezbollah leaders (including statements such as "The Jews are a lesion on the forehead of humanity"), appeared LAST WEEK both on CNN and MSNBC. He appeared on both networks as an authority on Hezbollah. No one questioned his credentials, and neither network is known as pro-Israel. We are not talking Fox News but CNN.

    Your only defense of your denial of the Hezbollah statements which this reporter quoted in 2002 is...well...to deny they actually were made. Period. You offer no evidence that they were not made, not even a Hezbollah denial that they were made. You just deny they were made. You do this because the evidence is very inconvenient for you.
    That is a profoundly unintellectual way to operate.

    Well, perhaps you prefer to believe that the appearance of this reporter last week on CNN and MSNBC was all part of a huge and secret Zionist conspiracy. That seems to be your current preferred way of dealing with inconvenient facts. You make yourself look ridiculous by adopted that stance.

    2. "The Diaspora", the 29-episode anti-semitic series (TWENTY-NINE episodes, Omar!) was shown on official Hezbollah television al-Manar (OFFICIAL, Omar--since you're so interested in official Hezb statements) in November 2003. Scenes from this series, transcripts of the episodes, including transcripts from Al Manar itself of episode 20, where Jews are depicting as eating Christian children in Passover Matzoh--ALL of this is EASILY accessible on the Web. You have known about this official Hezbollah televsion series for at least a week, because I offered this up to you as powerful evidence of Hezbollah anti-semitism last week, on the August 7 thread on Hezbollah anti-semitism based on the article by Jeffrey Herf.

    Your continued denial of the relevance of this evidence on the grounds that "I haven't seen it and so I cannot comment on it" is at this point intellectually dishonest and indefensible. You have known about the television series for a week, and it is easily accessible on the Net. If you haven't looked at this evidence, it is because you CHOOSE not to look at it. You are not engaging in scholarly dubitation here--you are simply running away and hiding your head in the ground. You've had a week to look at it, and it's all over the Net. Your refusal to "pass judgment" on, say, episode 20, whose TITLE is "Jews Eat Christian Babies"--well, this simply makes you look ridiculous. Desperately to seek a way to avoid powerful evidence you don't want to see--this is as profoundly unintellectual as denying (on no evidence) that the Hezb leaders said what they said to that reporter.

    Engaging in vicious personal insults, as Professor Furnish has also said to you, is no substitute for offering evidence and argument, Omar. It's time you learned this, also.

    Art Eckstein


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/17/2006

    Mr. Crocker,
    I was just reading an article in the "Atlantic Monthly" about some of the data in that Pew poll of Muslims. 35% of French Muslims and 25% of British and Spanish Muslims support suicide bombings! How much greater do you think the figures are in the MIddle East proper?
    So much for that "fringe element" argument.


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/17/2006

    Mr. Crocker,
    As I pointed out in the article, reading sacred texts is necessary but not sufficient to understand the religious motivations and actions of people. You have to look at history, too. And while in the Middle Ages the New Testament teachings of Jesus and the Apostles were distorted into a support for crusade, no one in the Christian world today still supports that. However, the ancient idea of jihad-as-holy-war IS different in that 1) it's extant in the sacred texts (Qur'an and Hadiths) of Muslims, and 2) it's still a legitimate concept within that faith and civilization. It is NOT simply a fringe element that maintains that position. It's frankly just silly (and, at the risk of offending, ignorant) to claim that Christianity and Islam are equally violent.


    john crocker - 8/17/2006

    I think we are talking past each other. My point is not that all religions are peace loving. It is simply that judging by the actions of religiously dominated societies that Christianity, Judaism and Islam are more or less equally warlike and the fringe groups of all of these religions are violent.

    If the Christians or the Jews were to switch places with the Muslims, I don't think the results would be appreciably different. This is not to say that what the terrorists are doing is right or should not be opposed. It is simply that Christians and Jews are not somehow better or less violent, judging from what I have seen of them.

    I can't speak to the texts until I have finished reading them.


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/16/2006

    Well, if Mr. Baker would try refuting some of my points rather than attacking me personally, I might find him a bit more palatable.
    More on your other points tomorrow--right now I'm well-nigh brain dead.


    A. M. Eckstein - 8/16/2006

    That seems a good analysis of the ideological causation of jihadism to me, Tim.

    Art


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/16/2006

    Mr. Mahan,
    Any relation to the famous military historian?
    Thanks. I don't have any hobbies (other than "Lord of the Rings" and basketball), so this is what I do for fun.
    Actually, Hillary might be tough enough to order the 82nd Airborne to drop in on the ayatollahs. But of course, you're right, that would be a last resort after months or years of slapping them with lawsuits. I'm sure the usual suspects (William Christopher, Allbright, etc.), will be around to help with that fruitless endeavor.


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/16/2006

    Good point about the blowback of certain strains of Western thought on jihadist ideology. I'm sure they all adore Wallerstein, or would if they read him. I'm not enough of an expert on post-Enlightenment thought to truly answer you well, but I seem to recall that it's been in Iran in particular that tres-chic European Leftism has been imbibed.
    No doubt jihadism, as probably the preeminent global mode of bashing the West today, is a melange of ideas. But at root it's grounded in Islam or, I should say, a certain understanding of Islam and NOT primarily in ideologies from outside that context, either from the Left or Right.


    A. M. Eckstein - 8/16/2006

    Dear Professor Furnish:

    I know you are right, Tim. I just couldn't let "Omar Baker" masquerade as an intellectual once more after his disgraceful performance in denying Hezbollah anti-semitism last week, a denial perpetrated in the face of overwhelming and disgusting evidence.

    I have promised my wife that I would make that only one entry on Omar, and then let this ridiculous person go.

    Interesting paper: but you know, lots of these jihadists draw inspiration from Guevara, Stalin and Fanon, who normally are viewed as people of the Left, and their world-view is sometimes expressed in cod-Marxist terms. Ali Shariati of Iran is a good example from the 70s, and he knew his Fanon and Sartre well. Of course, these lefist monsters were all fascists of a sort as well--but you see my point, that these writers are not usually whom we associate with the term 'fascism'. Of course, you are arguing that we should avoid this term, but a sone writer has said--it's too late at this point. This will be the "term of art", as they say.

    There is of course no contradiction between possessing a pre-Enlightenment mind-set and a fascination with modern technology, as shown by my colleague Jeffrey Herf in "Reactionary Modernism". The current leader of Iran is an engineer by training, and the same is true of several of the leaders of Hamas. That doesn't make them less "medieval-fanatical" in deepest outlook--simply more frightening.

    But what about the inspiration from the western Left on the jihadists as well as the right? How does that work into it?

    best wishes,

    Arthur Eckstein
    Professor of History
    University of Maryland


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/16/2006

    Mr. Ebbitt,
    Thanks for your gracious reply.
    Look, with all due respect, if you think we haven't been hit in the mainlaind U.S. because Bush "weakly complied" with UBL's demands, I would submit you need a really intense primer on the history of the Middle East. We haven't been hit because of intense military, intelligence and law enforcement efforts to prevent it, and because the Jihadists have been quite busy killing us, and other Muslims, in Kabul and Baghdad.
    I almost hope Hillary wins the next election just so I can watch Bush-bashers twist in the wind when she proves clueless dealing with the bearded fanatics. Almost.....
    Sometimes, in another fit of pique, I think we should just put Saddam back in control and get the hell out. Would that make the Bush haters happy?
    It's been a long day....
    About time for another attack by Mr. Baker....better go check.


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/16/2006

    Mr. Eckstein,
    Trust me, you're wasting your time (as I did on a post to Mr. Baker further down....).
    Tim Furnish


    A. M. Eckstein - 8/16/2006

    Mr. Baker--

    It's hard to see any possibility of rapprochement with Islamic "thinkers" such as yourself who are impervious to any amount of argument or evidence that contradicts their emotions and ideology. Thus, when you were confronted last week with overwhelming evidence of the most vile and medieval kind of anti-semitism in Hezbollah, including personal interviews with Hezbollah leaders and the broadcasting on Hezbollah TV of a 29-episode series concerning Jews eating Christian children, your response was: that isn't enough evidence to convince me!

    Given THAT kind of anti-intellectual behavior, why should we take anything you say--anything--seriously?

    In fact, your behavior confirms all the negative Muslim stereotypes you claim to be combatting.

    Art Eckstein


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/16/2006

    Mr. Baker,
    I was wondering where you and your lovely ad hominem attacks were! Glad to know you're back.
    As for AIPAC: I've never met anyone from there, or had contact with anyone from there, in my entire life.
    If you had a modicum of research ability, you'd easily discover that I was an Arabic linguist in the military and that both my doctoral dissertation and book (the one so prominently displayed on this article, if you'd open your eyes) used Arabic sources--which pretty much means that I read them.
    Now: how about a specific criticism of my article instead of simply personal attacks?
    If you don't have any, kindly shut up.


    N. Friedman - 8/16/2006

    John,

    To have a discussion that is historically based, not based on false views. In discussing the dispute in today's world and the fact that the disputants on the Muslim side claim they are doing so in the name of their religion, it is worth exploring how that could be. Your approach, which assumes that religions all believe in peace - which is simply not the case - leads to poor analysis, in my view.

    I note that different religions have different teachings. To assume that all have the same view about fighting is, to me, bad history.

    Take an easy example: Christianity - or at least most branches - and Judaism have very, very different teachings about sexuality. That, however, has not stopped religious people from ignoring the teachings but attitudes toward sex among believers are, in fact, rather different for Christians and Jews and such is due, for believers, to the different teachings.

    The same is true for war. Islam has a more accepting view of war than does Christianity. War is, in the classical Islamic theological scheme, part of Allah's plan. Peace, on the other hand, is something that occurs only after the entire world is ruled by Muslims under Islamic law. That scheme is different from the Christian scheme. Which is not to say that Christians never make war for religion. Rather, war is not a necessary part of that scheme as there is no such mandatory teaching for Christians.

    In short, the Islamic teaching is evangelical - like some branches of Christianity - but, where resistance to Islamic overtures occur, war is religiously mandated. Unlike in Christianity, the goal of the evangelicalism is not directly the conversion of non-Muslims but their governance in accordance with Muslim law.

    And such is the theological scheme that is taught, even today, in places like al-Azhar University.


    john crocker - 8/16/2006

    You say that the Koran exorts violence more than the Bible, Torah or Talmud. If your point is not to imply by extension that Muslims are therefor more violent than Christians and Jews what is your point?


    Yehudi Amitz - 8/16/2006

    Following are excerpts from an interview with Arab-American psychiatrist Wafa Sultan. The interview was aired on Al-Jazeera TV on February 21, 2006:

    This is the link:

    http://memritv.org/Transcript.asp?P1=1050

    The following are excerpts from a debate between Wafa Sultan, a psychologist from Los Angeles and Dr. Ahmad Bin Muhammad, an Algerian professor of religious politics. Al-Jazeera TV aired this debate on July 26, 2005.

    This is the link:

    http://memritv.org/Transcript.asp?P1=783


    N. Friedman - 8/16/2006

    Correction:

    My last sentence above should read: With that in mind, I do not think you are employing correct terminology.


    N. Friedman - 8/16/2006

    John,

    I do not think you read what I wrote with sufficient care.

    I have never said that Christians and Jews do not employ violence. And I have not said that neither seek justification in religion. I have said something very different.

    In any event, you write: "The Christian and Jewish holy books are cited by their fundamentalists as the justification for their violence. The same may be said of the Muslims."

    Again and as I said before, people do what they may with their holy books. My point was quite different.

    My point was about the books and I noted that the Koran and ahaditha and what those books, as traditionally understood and as reasonably read, teach. And I reiterate: they often exhort violence and rather little peace. That is a fact.

    The Bible, by contrast, includes episodic violence but not a general call to kill the infidel wherever you find them and not to cease violence until they convert or pay the poll tax and lower themselves. But, that is what the Koran states and such is not interpretted, traditionally, to be an episodic, contextualized requirement but a general requirement.

    And no doubt the Bible can be read to advance a particular cause (e.g. opposition to abortion or Israel's boundaries) for which violence is committed and those so acting claim justification for their violence in the holy books. But that is rather different from the generalized calls for violence and war in the Koran. I really suggest you pick up the Koran and read it.

    One last point. I reiterate that the bulk of Muslims - better than 90%, according to scholar M.J. Akbar - are what you would call fundamentalist. With that in mind, I do not think you are employing incorrect terminology.





    Yehudi Amitz - 8/16/2006

    In our political system (I am talking about USA but it can be extended to the western world with little changes) it's quite common to divide the world into "them" and "us" (which can be used from any side of the political divide) and becomes, during political campaigns, "fascists" for "them" when used from the left or "communists" (or the American term "liberals") when used from the right. The idea is to blur the other side to remove the political nuances in a very nuanced political world and especially when the animosities between left and right of the political center are at their top.
    Islamofascist is the best term describing the animosity of the Islamic world towards the West, maybe a little extreme but a good description of the Islamic enemy.
    The term "Fascist" derives from "FASCES" (rods bound in the form of a bundle, and containing an axe in the middle, the iron of which projected from them)(Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-dgra)which was a symbol of unity and power in the Antique Roman world. It defines a social and political system with virtually no dissent and the Islamic world is quite a good example of such a system. There is no real protest in the Islamic world against the extremists from within. It can be argued that Moslems are afraid to express any kind of protest because in the Islamic world a good part of the common human behavior is punished by death but in the same time we have seen this year Moslems dying because of cartoons in a Danish newspaper which isn't common human behavior but extremism perpetrated by regular people Moslems on the street. As I see it the Islamofascism is the act of a small number of Moslems which is condoned by the vast majority of the Moslems. We will talk about nuances in the Islamic world when the war will end but now, at the top of the fight, the term ISLAMOFASCISM it's very appropriate they are "THEM" who want to destroy "US"!


    john crocker - 8/16/2006

    Mssrs. Furnish and Friedman

    An undeniable slice of fundamentalist Christians also seek the death of all Jews. That these fundamentalist Christians do so by selective reading of their holy texts would be relevant if it were not for the fact that most fundamentalist Christians read the Bible selectively to support their own beliefs.

    The Christian and Jewish holy books are cited by their fundamentalists as the justification for their violence. The same may be said of the Muslims.

    Christianity and Judaism in practice have not been shy about violence either. To deny that is to be ignorant and deluded.

    The cynical leaders of the Islamist terrorists are not so much fundamentalists as are their followers. These leaders use the blind faith of their followers to craft them into weapons. Cynical leaders of Christian fundamentalists have different aims at present and so use the blind faith of their followers to different ends.

    To date Christian fundamentalists have killed more Americans than have Muslim fundamentalists. Were I African American or Homosexual and living in the Bible belt I would certainly have more to fear from Christian fundamentalists than Muslim fundamentalists.

    A mass of intollerant and willfully ignorant people are a danger to those around them. It takes very little for a charismatic leader to rouse them to violence against someone they see as an other.

    Fundamentalism leads to irrationality and that is the enemy of a society based on the principles of the Enlightenment.


    john crocker - 8/16/2006

    Religion:
    Etymology: Middle English religioun, from Anglo-French religiun, Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back -- more at RELY
    1 a : the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion> b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
    2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
    3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : CONSCIENTIOUSNESS
    4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

    To say that communism is a religion is to ignore the definition and etymology of the word religion.

    Are you postulating that the Bush administration is not attempting to spread democracy with idealism and an aggressive crusading spirit?

    "Your attempts to distinguish between 'real' communism and commmunist regimes gets it backwards. Real communism is what has existed in human history."

    By your own logic 'real' democracy is then what has existed in human history and thus is by definition a cultural construct.


    Jason Blake Keuter - 8/16/2006

    Moreover, the "support" for jihadists is a result of jihadist terror against other Muslims. The gang metaphor is apt. Jihadists don't just issue calls for prayer and give speeches. They're the ones with guns.


    Jason Blake Keuter - 8/16/2006

    Yes, there are hate mongerers in all faiths. The real question is: why is it the hate mongerers are able to dominate one and not the other? I would argue that most Christians are a lot less Christian than they profess. That even among the most reactionary, their lives are essentially secular, and, if push came to shove, they would give up Christianity before they gave up all they get from living in the modern secular world.


    Jason Blake Keuter - 8/16/2006

    Re 13 : Communism is a religion. To contend otherwise is absurd.

    Your post epitomizes the quest of true believers to disassociate the consequences of communism from the doctrine of which those consequences are a logical result.

    It is hard to be a messianic spreader of democracy. Democracy is a process of governing a society. Messianic movements like communism and Islam and Christianity postulate an end to history and insist that people be molded towards accomplishing that end.

    Just because legions of professors have spent the past decades arguing that democracy is really a cultural construct (which is code for accepting tyranny in non-democratic societies as equally legitimate as democratic societies) doesn't make it so.

    Your attempts to distinguish between "real" communism and commmunist regimes gets it backwards. Real communism is what has existed in human history. It is actual. What you call "real" is the quasi-religious opium of the intelligentsia. It is not real.


    N. Friedman - 8/15/2006

    Clarification:

    I resist making comparisons. I did so reluctantly for you.

    For what it is worth, my view of Islam is that, while it exhorts violence, the religion is quite obviously a source of great meaning to its followers. So, it is a rather successful religion. And that is, to me, interesting and important.

    But, Islam is a religion that is not shy about violence. That is a fact. And to deny that is to be ignorant or deluded. Again: read the Quran and read about Islamic theology. And do not read the nonsense that appears on Wiki. Read a real book by a real scholar. Try Patricia Crone or Professor Furnish, etc., etc.


    N. Friedman - 8/15/2006

    John,

    I resist making comparisons. I note that Christians find lots of reasons to be violent. However, the Christian and Jewish holy books are not often the source of that violence. By contrast, in Islam, it is the holy books which exhort people to violence. Like it or not, that is the truth. Try reading the Quran and you will see that I am correct.


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/15/2006

    Mr. Crocker,
    It's simply silly to "worry" about all fundamentalists to the same degree. Southern Baptists are fundamentalist Christians, and other than voting Republican en masse, just how are they worrisome? An undeniable slice of Islamic fundamentalists--what I call jihadists--on the other hand behead people, want to kill (all) Jews and, in case you haven't noticed, fly airliners into buildings. AND THEY DO ALL OF THESE THINGS WITH LEGITIMATE SANCTION FROM THEIR OWN HOLY TEXTS!
    I truly fear for the survival of Western civilization when you, and far too many like-minded, well-meaning people cannot (or perhaps choose not to) differentiate between Christian and Islamic fundamentalists.


    john crocker - 8/15/2006

    In your posts your refer to violent actions of jihadists and you imply broad support of those actions among the Muslim community, you cite their holy books only to point to their violent nature (in contrast to Christian and Jewish holy books who's violence is contextualized) and state that widespread violent behavior is "normal to Islam." In short your point was not only about the books, but about the people.

    It seems that the more religious a society is the more violent its policies seem to be, whether that society is Muslim, Christian or Jewish. The problem with Iran is not that it is Muslim, but that it is a theocracy and the problem with the Islamist terrorists is not the Q'uran it is their fundamentalism. Religious fundamentalist movements hold faith above reason and this makes them difficult to deal with in any rational way.

    The problem I have with what you have said is that you seem to be saying that Christianity is somehow less violent Islam and Christian fundamentalists are more reasonable than Islamic fundamentalists.

    You seem to focus your worry on Islamic fundamentalists and I am worried about all fundamentalists.


    N. Friedman - 8/15/2006

    John,

    Let's suppose I said that - although that is not quite what I said -. What of it? Is it wrong to note that one doctrine is more violent than another?

    Let us try a though experiment. Fascism: Is fascism inherently more violent than pacifism? Or, must we assume that all doctrines are the same?

    Which is to say, I think your point is nonsensical. In fact, I was talking about books. And the Muslim source books, by comparison with the Jewish or Christian books, seem more to exhort violence and, as I noted, there is little exhortation of peace in the Muslim holy books, something that simply cannot be said about either the Christian or Jewish books.

    Again, yours was not my point. My point was about the books and what they said, not about people and what they decide to make of and do with their books. Now, in my view, where the main books in a society have little to say in favor of peace and, instead, include substantial portions exhorting war, the doctrine taught by means of such books is not likely to be peaceful.




    john crocker - 8/15/2006

    "You write: 'Your post comes dangerously close to positing that Muslims and their holy books are inherently violent...'

    I do not think I said that."

    Here is what I was referring to:

    "And, as a result, it is a rather straightforward read of the Quran which leads one to advocate violence against infidel because the book appears to so preach - again and again and again.
    By contrast, there are numerous violent episodes in the Bible but they mostly have a very clear context. And, unlike the Bible, the Quran does not include many passages advocating peace. And, the accompanying texts of interest to Muslims - ahaditha - are in substantial part about making war and not much about making peace."

    The above comes awfully close to saying Muslims are by virtue of there faith more violent than Jews or Christians.

    When you say "...such activity is normal to Islam," you lend further credence to the above interpretation.


    N. Friedman - 8/15/2006

    John,

    You write: "The hate mongers are a minority in both the Christian and Muslim faith. // The jihadis you are speaking of are fundamentalists."

    Is there a poll you rely upon regarding the view of Muslims? Is Mr. Ahmadinejad an anomaly, unrepresentative of the views of Muslims? If so, where are the Muslim voices saying he is wrong? And, even if there have been condemnations by a few, why such a small group?

    The word "fundamentalist" is the wrong term when speaking about Islam. As scholar M.J. Akbar notes, better than 90% of Muslims are, by the Western definition, fundamentalist. That, surely, is not what you have in mind.

    You write: "Many moderate Muslims condemned the attacks of 9/11..."

    So? In the Arab regions, speaking Arabic, there were questions raised about timing, not substantive denunciation. See, Walid Phares' book Future Jihads. But, the problem is that very few voices have been raised. And, there has been almost no substantive rebuttal made to the Jihadists. Contrast that with the Muslim theological voices raised against the Mahdi - See Tim Furnish's book Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden. Professor Furnish notes substantial voices making serious, theologically based arguments against Mahdis. But, there is nothing similar going on with respect to the Jihadists.

    Which is to say, your point is nonsensical. If there were real opposition to the Jihadists, it would involve a substantial attack on their theological underpinnings. That remains to occur in any substantial way.

    You write: "Your post comes dangerously close to positing that Muslims and their holy books are inherently violent..."

    I do not think I said that. I think that Islam can be what Muslims want it to be. Historically, Islam, like Christianity, has been used to justify a lot of violence. The Islamic holy books, unlike the Christian and Jewish books, have little to latch onto for those who might advocate peace. The way Muslims have dealt with that problem - whether or not for religious reasons or for the practical need to survive in a political community - is to assign the role of making war to the Calif/ruler. And, the Califs have largely adopted an imperlial approach to their rule, which guarantees a lot of war.

    Today, as I note: the issue is the absense of the Calif, which leaves an era as in the days when Islam was on the rise, where the borders of Islam had a lot of dedicated people engaged in personal Jihad - which was called razzias. The historical record is replete with such activity and such activity is normal to Islam. If you want to call that dangerous, you are correct. But, it is not my doctrine.


    N. Friedman - 8/15/2006

    John,

    The Jihad I have in mind is Jihad fi sabil Allah.

    You mention six Jihads. Muslim theology generally speak of two, with one being substantially more important than the other. Jihad fi sabil Allah has been the dominant version of Jihad in Muslim history. That is Jihad as war.

    The so-called greater Jihad arose in connection also with a military matter: the loss of a battle by Mohammed. The view arose that by soul searching and prayer and righteous living, the enemy might thereafter be defeated, as occured when Mohammed was defeated in battle.

    I do not posit anything about Islam which is not supportable in the record. I suggest you pick up David Cook's book Understanding Jihad. Or, you might read Bernard Lewis' The Political Language of Islam. As scholar Walid Phares notes: in his years growing up and living in Lebanon, the word Jihad was used only one way: namely, to mean war.

    Now, a careful review of Islamic theology will note for you that the duty to pursue Jihad fi sabil Allah usually fell on the party in the place of the imam - the Calif. It was a collective - not an individual - duty as understood by most Muslims through history. The issue today is the absence of a Calif - that rightly guided person who can decide on pursuing Jihad as war.

    Those Jihadis today rely on the historical record by which Jihad was, in fact, pursued by Sufis and others along the borders with Christian territory. And, they rely upon the razzias pursued by Mohammed and his companions. And, they note that in the absence of the Calif, there is every reason for Muslims to follow the noted tradition.


    john crocker - 8/15/2006

    "There may be some dangerous Christian fundamentalists. So what? Does that somehow nullify the danger posed by Jihadists or make them ok?"

    There are some dangerous islamic fundamentalists. So what? Does that somehow nullify the hatred of the Christian fundamentalists or make them ok?

    The hate mongers are a minority in both the Christian and Muslim faith.

    The jihadis you are speaking of are fundamentalists.

    Jihad may be a central tenet of Islam, but Jihad by the sword (jihad bis saif) is but one of six types of jihad. Many moderate Muslims condemned the attacks of 9/11 and American in several Muslim countries was over 60% after those attacks.

    Your post comes dangerously close to positing that Muslims and their holy books are inherently violent, unlike Christians and their holy books. I hope that this is not your contention.


    Rodney Huff - 8/15/2006

    I don't think John was talking about nonfundamentalist Christians like you, Tim. I believe he was refering to people like Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, among others, who appeal to passages in the Bible in their crusades against "evil."

    So do passages admonishing violence exist in the Bible? YES. Are these passages accepted by all Christians? NO. But are there fundamentalists who consider these passages the Word of God and thus interpret them as absolute, eternal Truths? Absolutely. (See http://www.godhatesfags.com/main/index.html.) Have such fundamentalist groups created an enabling atmosphere in which people have been willing to blow up abortion clinics, lynch People of Color, terrorize Jews, and kill homosexuals? Yes. Bigotry is as American as apple pie.

    Let's not turn a blind eye to all the varieties of mischief, mayhem, and murder perpetrated by people throughout history who believed they were doing God's good work. It was the New Testament exhortation to go throughout the world and spread the Gospel that provided colonialist adventurers, speculators, and conquistadors justification for murdering and enslaving indigenous peoples the world over, and then taking their land to set up towns and missionaries as God's stamp of approval. (All of this is old news, of course, but nonetheless relevant to a discussion of whether there is fundamental difference between Christian and other sorts of religious fundamentalists, all of whom seek to impose their way of life on the rest of the world, using force if necessary to prepare the way for some paradise on earth. Strange, isn't it, how evil is introduced to the world precisely by those who profess to be crusading for the good?)


    N. Friedman - 8/15/2006

    John,

    There may be some dangerous Christian fundamentalists. So what? Does that somehow nullify the danger posed by Jihadists or make them ok?

    Comparisons are interesting but they should not become an excuse to avoid understanding. And, for the most part, those who respond to discussions about Jihadist by countering that there are violent fundamentalist Christians effectively insulate Jihadists from careful scrutiny.

    I might add: Jihadism is not a function of fundamentalism, in any event. Jihad is central, theologically speaking, to Islam. It is not, theologically speaking, a doctrine that Muslims might adopt. It is one of the central tenets of the religion.

    Now, as for your point that fundamentalist Christians point to the OT Scriptures to justify bad behavior, that may be true. My suggestion to you is that you read through the Quran. It is a fascinating book but, unlike the Bible, it is very difficult to contextualize because it reads more like a series of prayers and calls to action rather than, as in the Bible, stories. And, as a result, it is a rather straightforward read of the Quran which leads one to advocate violence against infidel because the book appears to so preach - again and again and again.

    By contrast, there are numerous violent episodes in the Bible but they mostly have a very clear context. And, unlike the Bible, the Quran does not include many passages advocating peace. And, the accompanying texts of interest to Muslims - ahaditha - are in substantial part about making war and not much about making peace.

    So, the point here is that comparisons are interesting but cannot be made by noting that all faiths have their loonies. Jihad is central to Islam, not a matter which, for Muslims, is subject to dispute - at least not yet -. Rather, the issue is a tactical, not strategic. As reported by Walid Phares in his book Future Jihads, the debates on al Jazeera after 9/11 were never - as in they did not occur - about whether the attack was justified, in Islam, morally or otherwise. The debate was limited to the timing.



    john crocker - 8/15/2006

    The current leaders of the fundamentalists movement in America regularly draw from the Old Testament. The passages you cite are are rarely the ones cited by Dobson and the like. They prefer to go to the Old Testament for their fire and brimstone.

    The prominent fundamentalist Christian leaders that I mentioned are all American. They live in a largely secular society where they cannot get away with calling for the death of homosexuals or infidels. The death threats come from fringe movements like the Klan and Christian Identity.


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/15/2006

    Mr. Ebbitt,
    Well, if you really want to know, I started writing an article on this several years ago but small children, a 5/5 teaching load and writing a book rather got in the way. By the time I got back to it, the term seemed entrenched and a foregone conclusion in terms of usage. But then, last week, the President resurrected it as a salient issue--hence, my article.
    Bush used "crusade" in the sense in which we all do normally (crusade against drugs, for good grades, against Yankee fans): in a secular sense of a great struggle. Don't be disingenuous.
    I think the "tensions that currently exist between the US and our Moslem [sic] brethren" would be eased more by the jihadists giving up their attacks on civilians and their dream of a global caliphate more than by George Bush calling them nicer names.


    N. Friedman - 8/15/2006

    or you!!!


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/15/2006

    Mr. Ebbitt,
    Well, if you really want to know, I started writing an article on this several years ago but small children, a 5/5 teaching load and writing a book rather got in the way. By the time I got back to it, the term seemed entrenched and a foregone conclusion in terms of usage. But then, last week, the President resurrected it as a salient issue--hence, my article.
    Bush used "crusade" in the sense in which we all do normally (crusade against drugs, for good grades, against Yankee fans): in a secular sense of a great struggle. Don't be disingenuous.
    I think the "tensions that currently exist between the US and our Moslem [sic] brethren" would be eased more by the jihadists giving up their attacks on civilians and their dream of a global caliphate more than by George Bush calling them nicer names.


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/15/2006

    But everyone's not as discerning as you....


    N. Friedman - 8/15/2006

    Tim,

    As a non-Christian and non-conservative, I still think you are correct on this point.


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/15/2006

    Well, as a member of a conservative (but not fundamentalist) church and denomination, I disagree (again): the most salient texts for Christians on the topic are Romans I (esp. the second half) and I Corinthians 6:9ff. As a 21st c. AD Christian, I am NOT bound by divine laws from 3,000 years ago. And even among those of my faith who would disagree with me: name me a fundamentalist Christian leader who is calling for the death of homosexuals in the same way that certain jihadist are calling for the death of infidels.


    Rodney Huff - 8/15/2006

    Andy, here are some contemporary examples of Christian fundamentalists perpetrating, encouraging, and/or condoning violence against people perceived as different and thus inferior in some way: the KKK and its various offspring organizations, the Christian Identity Church, Aryan Nations (a group based in Pennsylvania, with branches in Ohio and Idaho), European-American Unity and Rights Organization (founded by David Duke), Christian Patriots, Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church.

    And, as John mentioned, although Christian Churches were not soley responsible for the atrocities I mentioned earlier, the role of the missionaries in colonial exploits can be seen as supportive. I don't see this statement amounting to a "silly" belief on my part; it strikes me as a well documented (if not a trite) observation. I did not think I was offering anything controversial in making such a claim. Instead, I felt that by making the claim I was alerting readers of the article to an obvious bias, or a blind spot, that led the author to believe that Islamic fundamentalists are somehow qualitatively different from (and more loathsome than) Christian fundamentalists.

    Response to Patrick's post: Christianity is continuous with Judaism. Jesus was a Jew and can be seen as a reformer of the Judaic tradition in that he reduced the hundreds of commandments found in the Old Testament (there weren't just 10) to a couple basic principles: Love God and love thy neighbor. He simplified the old moral code; he didn't refute it. In fact, in the early Christian church, you had to be a Jew in order to become a Christian. Paul later changed all that, extending the opportunity of salvation to Gentiles.

    After Jesus's death, Christians began proclaiming that Jesus's sacrifice and resurrection was sufficient demonstration of God's power and love; thus the Jews, they argued, should no longer be recognized as the Chosen People; that is, those chosen by God to demonstrate His love and power through their experience of extreme suffering (demonstrating God's power - look at what He can do to you) only to be redeemed in dramatic fashion in the end (demonstrating God's love - look at what He can do "for" you). According to Christains, that part of history in which a Chosen People was needed is over; it ended with Jesus. Such an observation should not be taken to mean that the Christianity developed in opposition to Judaism. In fact it was built on it.


    N. Friedman - 8/15/2006

    Mr. Barton,

    While your comment was addressed to Professor Furnish, I note the following with reference to your comment: Would calling the bad guys "jihadists" lead a significant number of folks who are not our enemies to feel more like they belong on the other side of the order of battle? There's the rub, and I'd like to know your thoughts:

    No doubt that Jihadists would prefer that we call them "freedom fighters." But would not calling Jihadis "freedom fighters" legimitize our enemies and, by that token, encourage people to join in the battle against us? Suppose we choose the term "militant" - as some newspapers and the BBC have done -? Does that not sew doubts among our friends regarding the justness of our cause to stop the jihadis? And is that not the most serious problem, since the West is seemingly so deeply divided?

    In my view, I think that your quoted point misses the point. The main people affected by the labels we use are us, not those who would make Jihad against us. Those who would make Jihad against us are attracted to the cause by an ever shifting - and, hence, unresolvable - array of grievances, not our choice of words to describe them. Hence, whether we contribute a loathsome word or an apologetic word or a purely descriptive term to classify Jihadists or not, arguments will be made to potential Jihadists.


    john crocker - 8/15/2006

    The OK City bombing was not about Christian fundamentalism, but I had to respond to your point about the New Testament.

    Christian fundamentalists when attacking homosexuality or many of the other things they see as "evils" of the world primarily refer to the Old rather than the New Testament, primarily Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These books have some really bizarre and scary rules within an otherwise beautiful and, for its time, progressive text. Among other things children who backtalk are to be taken to edge of town and stoned to death. As for polygamy the Old Testament does limit you to 3 wives and only if you can afford them.


    john crocker - 8/15/2006

    At its core communism is a purely economic system that has absolutely nothing to do with the aims of these terrorists.

    By communist you seem to mean the Soviet/Chinese model which are arguably not actually communist but rather totalitarian dictorships.

    Points 2, 6, 9-12, 14, 15 are common to fascism and more broadly to all totalitarian regimes.

    1. Messianic:
    1 : of or relating to a messiah
    2 : marked by idealism and an
    aggressive crusading spirit
    I assume here you are using the second definition. I would characterize communism as practiced by the Soviets and China as marked by cynicism rather than idealism. Messianic would better describe the current US administration's goal of spreading democracy (if you take them at face value).

    3. Internationalist:
    1 : international character,
    principles, interests, or
    outlook
    2 a : a policy of cooperation
    among nations b : an
    attitude or belief favoring
    such a policy
    Here I assume you mean to use the first. By this definition every political movement is internationalist.

    4. Applies equally well to the current US administration and to most totalitarian regimes.

    5. I don't see how this is a defining character.

    7. It was the American right wing under Reagan who labelled the groups that grew into Al Quaeda and the Taliban as "freedom fighters." As for the rest of this, it is rubbish.

    8. The leadership of the American revolution consisted mostly of disaffected middle and upper class intellectuals.

    13. This comment is absurd. Chinese and Soviet communism is/was atheist.

    Fascism is not a perfect fit for the ideology of these terrorists, but it is a much better fit than communism.


    michael Randolph stephenson - 8/15/2006

    The support for jihadists is not as widespread as the media image portrays. I am not implying that this is by design either. First, we must understand that most Muslims around the world are just like the rest of us. They work, they pray, they hope for the best for their children. Second, the support for jihadists is more Shia than Sunni. Shia form 15% or thereabouts of all Muslim adherents. Third, if support was as widespread, then we would likely see more violence than already occurs. I will admit however that the war in Iraq and Lebanon coupled with the failure to alleviate suffering in slums like Gaza will increase support for radical Islam as the only viable alternative.


    Jason Blake Keuter - 8/15/2006

    1. Messianic

    2. Murder

    3.Internationalist

    4. Small minority trying to create galvanizing "crisis" through terror

    5. Radicals going back and forth to west and adopting west's criticism of west

    6. love to march in front of people bearing weaponry

    7. Despite all evidence of abhorrent nature of group, still considered the lesser of two evils by left-leaning western intellectuals (before 9 11 were simply considered heroic freedom fighters or generally ignored) and assumed to be moving history forward as enemy of capitalist (corporate) America.

    8. Leadership consists mostly of disaffected "middle" class...

    9. Cultish adoration of leadership.

    10. Utter disregard for well being of people over who they seek total power

    11. Cynical manipulation of anti-imperialism in order to launch an imperial crusade

    12. Relies on terror to control territory

    13. Animated by absurd religious vision that justifies violating the core principles that keep its religion respectable in the eyes of others

    14. Hates democracy

    15. Murder


    john crocker - 8/15/2006

    A couple of examples of Christian Fundamentalists responsible for the behaviors I mentioned above are: Savonarola, the Spanish Inquisition, German ghettos, African and American colonialists.

    As for modern fundamentalists that would take up that banner, Falwell, Robertson, Dobson and the various abortion clinic bombers come to mind.

    Another modern example, the Philippines has devoloved into a virtual fundamentalist state with severe restrictions of the rights of women. The fundamentalists I cited above are trying to transform the US into a similar model.

    The short answer to why the positions of Muslims and Christians are not reversed is population density. High population densities facilitated the Enlightenment and the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions.


    Trevor Russell Getz - 8/15/2006

    Mr. Mahan,

    Thank you. You probably figured out that, politically, I oppose Mr. Bush... but that's no reason to make claims that cannot be substantiated. Everyone quotes the Post, Der Speigel or Estado do Sao Paulo [sic?] articles, without realizing that they're in a single line of evidence each quoting the other, each building validity where none really exists. Trace the path to its end and there's no substance. Folks, let's investigate and use evidence appropriately!


    N. Friedman - 8/14/2006

    Professor,

    First, you have written another excellent article. I agree with you that to understand the Jihadi movement, it is probably best, first and foremost, to examine the movement in Muslim, not Western terms. That is certainly my view.

    I note that some writers - particularly Paul Berman in his rather interesting book, Terror and Liberalism, have argued that people like Sayyid Qutb, etc., have brought Western ways of thinking and merged them into Islamic thought. I think his book is worth reading even though I think he should read a bit more about Islam, not to mention the history of the Muslim regions, before he concludes that advocacy and commission of mass murder have their roots in the Western but not also the Islamic tradition and history.

    By the way: here is another pitch for your wonderful book Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads and Osama bin Laden. It should be read by anyone and everyone. Bravo!!!

    Now, for my concerns. I think that people like Pipes, etc., are not always using the term "facism" literally and probably not in the technical manner you employ. Rather, they are attempting, by and large, to place the Jihad movement so that it will be understood by non-Muslims - and, most specifically, people not interested or willing to actually study rather difficult, albeit fascinating, subjects, namely, Islam, Islamic history and Islamic culture(s).

    Although Pipes does, at least in his essays, argue that the the Islamist movement is not quite traditional Islam, I think that his argument is strained and that he does not truly believe in his argument, much less the implications of his argument. In any event, I do think there is benefit - from a scholarly point of view but only after Islam, its history and culture are first studied - to addressing what best parallel there is in the West for the Jihadist movement. Which is to say, I am not sure that it is necessary to always and only examine the Jihadists on their own terms - although, quite clearly, such does not occur in public debate enough and such ought to be the prime focus -.

    Lastly, I note that you make pains not to condemn the entire Muslim community for the Jihadist movement. You, however, leave the impression of a small group. In that there are Jihadists all over the world and no substantial movement among Muslims to challenge the Jihadists openly or, so far as I know, even quietly on theological grounds, (a) I do not see how it can be argued that the group is small or (b) necessarily even the minority (whether or not a large percentage is willing themselves to die for the cause).

    My view is that Islam - i.e. what makes the religion so powerful and all consuming to its believers - is difficult to understand apart from Jihad. The percentage of ahaditha dedicated to Jihad is astounding. The exhortation to war in the Quran, the enactment of detailed religious laws related to its conduct and to the treatment of the conquered belie the view that Jihad could be anything less than central to the faith. As a telling hadith asserts, paradise is under the shade of swords. My view is that Jihad serves the purpose of giving life a purpose, which is why it has played such a powerful role in Islamic history.

    While clearly, there are some innovations by today's Jihadists, I do not see them as being outside of traditional Islamic thinking. While the Caliphate surely controlled much of Jihad, there is a long history of individuals engaging in Jihad.

    Your discussion of the Mahdi movements in your book would seem to fit that pattern - and a particularly scarry version of it, I might add -. But, Patricia Crone also describes individual Jihadi activity along Islam's periphery in her book God's Rule - Government and Islam Six Centuries of Medieval Islamic Political Thought - another book I highly recommend to anyone on this website. I believe she notes that there was a substantial amount of Sufi involvement in such activity - just like you describe such in connection with Mahdi movements among Sunnis. Lastly, Bat Ye'or, in her wonderful book The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam - another must read, in my view -, describes bi-annual razzias from Andalusia into Christian areas of what was left of Spanish territory and in French territory. And, of course, there were the razzias engaged in by Muhammed and his companions. Your colleague David Cook also notes, in his excellent book, Understanding Jihad, that Jihad fills the role of asceticism for Muslims. My impression is that he is largely correct.

    In any event, my point here is that I think it is more political correctness than truth that Jihadism is a minority view among Muslims. I just do not think that most people prefer death and that such, if it is a, fact tends to be a deterrent to people without regard to what they really believe and I think that a large percentage of Muslims are more interested in going along and getting along than fighting.

    Again, you have written a terrific article.


    Trevor Russell Getz - 8/14/2006

    Mr. Mahan,

    I think you're probably right that Bush never said this. However, it would be more precise for you to state that the report that he did so is based on an anonymous and unsubstantiated single source (probably an antagonistic individual in the Brazilian government), and is thus very weak indeed. I think such specificity would strengthen, rather than weaken, your case.

    It is generally impossible, as many historians have discovered, to prove that somebody DIDN'T say something... which doesn't mean that it's responsible to allege that he DID say it.


    Stephen Kelly Barton - 8/14/2006

    Nice piece Prof. Furnish. I'm going to forward a link to this around for some folks to chew on.

    The problem, as you have stated, is that these bad guys arise out of an (not the) Islamic faith tradition. So the naming of the enemy is tricky.

    "Islamic fascists" is not a good descriptor except in the modern/internet-flame-war sense of everybody-I-disagree-with-is-a-fascist. Therefore, Islamic fascists = Islamic bad guys.

    "Jihadists" tells you that the bad guys are conquerors, subjugators, religious warriors -- and is Islam-specific. And you can deflect the inner-struggle-jihadists by using "Violent Jihadists."

    The thing I am not sure about, and is more in your line of study, is how many workaday, regular-joe Muslims feel a connection, a pull, a twinge for the word "Jihadist?"

    "Jihadist, yeah that's me!" Like talking with a European who says "oh you cowboy Americans..." A regular American is not going to disavow "cowboy" in his heart.

    Would calling the bad guys "jihadists" lead a significant number of folks who are not our enemies to feel more like they belong on the other side of the order of battle? There's the rub, and I'd like to know your thoughts.

    The benefit of calling the bad guys fascists is that regular Muslims can say "what's that got to do with me?" Appending the "fascist" to Islam allows us to half-name (as you say) our enemy -- and the imprecision of "fascist" is a feature, not a bug! We think "bad guy", regular Muslims think "huh?" (yes, they know what we're fighting and hopefully they don't feel threatened by us).

    The best thing about your think-piece is its reminder that what we are fighting is a genuine strain of Islam that wants to subjugate the world. They are not going away.

    Last week I saw a copy of your book stuffed next to the cash register at Garcia's, the Mexican place down from Georgetown Kroger at Chamblee-Dunwoody and 285. I didn't find out which employee is taking a course from you, maybe next time.

    -- Steve Barton, across Womack from the campus, Dunwoody, Georgia


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/14/2006

    Exactly. And had they TRIED to justify the bombing based on the New Testament, they would have appealed to....what passage? Whereas, on the other hand, the decapitators in the Muslim world have several Qur'an passages as proof texts, as do the suicide bombers, polygamists, wife beaters....


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/14/2006

    Mr. Ebbit,
    How can you construe this as "apologist" when I spend the whole essay expounding on why the term is inapt?


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/14/2006

    You're wrong, sir. Go get a Qur'an and read it. Unlike the New Testament, it postulates beheading of unbelievers, sensual rewards for martyrs, and beating of one's wives. Now, do ALL Muslims accept these verses? NO. But are they there? Yes. And is it a legitimate exegesis of the Qur'an to take them literally? Yes.


    Jeffery Ewener - 8/14/2006

    This article seems to very glibly and shamefully understate the danger of Christian terrorism. With the single and undeniably unique exception of September 11th, the worst single act of terrorism on American soil was committed by self-described defenders of Christianity, at Oklahoma City. One hundred & sixty-eight innocent people died (including the children in the daycare center), and for much the same reason as those who died at the World Trade Center -- because of where they worked.

    Maybe there should be a single category of "religiously motivated terrorism", if a kind of shorthand is deemed so necessary. This would helpfully disassociate the tenets of the religion -- any religion -- from the ravings of those who seek to kill in its name. Or is it politically or militarily useful to distinguish between the Hindu terrorism of the Tamil Tigers and the Buddhist death squads of their Sinhalese opponents, the Jewish settler terrorists in the West Bank who stop & kill random Palestinian victims on the roads, and the good Christian townsfolk who used to back up Jim Crow with lynch law? Oh yeah, and Osama bin Laden.

    None of these murderous actions have anything to do with the religions they claim to espouse. They should be denied their specious justifications.


    john crocker - 8/14/2006

    I believe the parallel he was trying to draw was with Christian fundamentalists not Christians as a whole. Religious fundamentalist of all stripes reject the ideas of the enlightenment. The freedoms of Western civilization are largely opposed by religious fundamentalists. If the political, economic and military positions of the Christian and Muslim fundamentalists were reversed the outcome would likely be very much the same. A fundamentalist is a fundamentalist.

    Indeed the events described by Mr. Huff were not directed by the "Christian Church," but that was not his claim. Christian missionaries were often the first wave in Western expansion, bringing the "heathens" to God was often a justification for reprehensible actions and the non-Christian status of native peoples was used as a justification for their displacement, murder and enslavement. I don't think that this can be denied.


    john crocker - 8/14/2006

    You may prefer to call the extreme left "red fascists," but is it an appropriate analogy? If you feel it is you need to back it up.

    Surely you are not under the misapprehension that the Islamist terror groups are ideologically aligned with the left. Again, if this is your contention you need to back it up.


    john crocker - 8/14/2006

    "the Islamists share much in common with communism as well"

    What exactly are these commonalities between the Islamist terror groups and communists?


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/14/2006

    Mr. Amitz,
    But what of my points as to why fascism does NOT fit Islamist ideology?


    Yehudi Amitz - 8/14/2006

    I prefer to call the present extreme left "red fascists" since we also call the present extreme right "neo fascists". It can be argued that we can call them "neo communists" but I believe would be inappropriate because the old communists were more responsible and used their power in a more restrained way (Hruschev was removed from power when he brought soviet union almost in a nuclear confrontation with USA).
    The islamofascist ideology is a combination of neo fascism and red fascism


    E. Simon - 8/14/2006

    The differences are also that Christendom had undergone a reformation, and an enlightenment. And an age of discovery. And capitalism. And so on.

    For all the destruction the jihadis wish, they can offer none of the advantages that Western civilization offered - and, by extension, brought - to today's globalized world, even if the less savory aspects of Christendom were also a part of that package.


    Tim R. Furnish - 8/14/2006

    Sir,
    I'd be curious to know what your data source is for the assertion that the support for jihadists is "not widespread?"
    Say only 1% of the world's Muslims support jihadists. That's certainly not "widespread," but it's still 13 million supporters.


    michael Randolph stephenson - 8/14/2006

    Unfortunately fascism is one of those terms whose meaning has evolved far beyond its original meaning. The article fails to account for a couple of ideas. Fascism is also predicated upon a socialist system. It is far from correct to equate it with communism as one gentlemen does. Communism is anti-religion. Though these jihadists are not truly religious, they are certainly not atheists. There is also a difference between fascism and Nazism ( a more viralent form). In the final analysis Hitler could not have been satisfied with just a state or even a European empire. He had to destroy because that kept him in power. Iran has been an Islamic Republic far longer than Nazi Germany has existed. I suggest a thorough reading of Roger Griffin's book, the Nature of Fascism for a far more detailed explanation of true fascism and nazism. Also Hitler and Mussolini had widespread support for their movements. The support for jihadists is not widespread, a fact that hidden when all we see is the product of terrorism. Quite simply terrorism is gang violence. It is a crime against the world and until we all truly come together, it will continue. A Pakistani jihadist is little different from a Crip or a Blood. They are sold a facade of brotherhood and higher calling, a family and loved ones, and a chance at being great (or at least rich). The gangleader, druglord, or mullah never does the dirty work. That is left to those who are expendable.


    Rodney Huff - 8/14/2006

    So the difference is one of degree rather than kind.

    These ultra right-wing Christian fundamentalists don't have to order followers to fly jet liners into buildings because equivalent orders have already been achieved by previous administrations, as well as by colonialist adventurers, speculators, and missionaries. It was an ideology infused with the Christian spirit of expansion, of spreading the gospel, that justified and supported the conquests of the Americas, which led to the government sanctioned systematic destruction of the resources on which the lifeways of those who lived here before us were based, which led to the Trail of Tears, which justified the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, the colonizing of Africa, the colonization of the South Pacific islands, and all varieties of murder and mayhem - all of which was in part justified by Christian fundamentalism and expansionist rhetoric. Islamic fundamentalists, or jihadists, are merely attempting today what Christian peoples accomplished over the past few hundred years. If one adopts a world-historical perspective, the paralells between Christian and Islamic right-wing thought are glaringly obvious.


    Ricardo Luis Rodriguez - 8/14/2006

    They killed themselves. They did not kill unsuspecting innocent bystanders.
    As far as the other "right wing lunies" who bomb abortion clinics and government buildings, I agree with you, they are evil. But they do not have standing armies, as do Hezbollah, nor do they have the support of nation-states (Iran). Comparing one to the other is like comparing the threat of attack by a half dozen fire ants to a scholl of hungry pirahnas.


    Ronald Dale Karr - 8/14/2006

    " The fourth problem with “Islamic fascism” is that it insinuates a parallel between right-wing Islamic thought and that of right-wing Christianity, insofar as fascism is seen as an aberrant political articulation of Christianity. Now while it might be trendy in some circles to postulate such a parallel,2 ultimately the comparison breaks down for a number of reasons, chief among which is that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have yet to order their followers to fly jetliners into al-Azhar or the Aya Sofya."

    If you think Jerry and Pat are extremists, you aren't that familiar with the real right wing lunies who have encouraged their followers to bomb abortion clinics, kill homosexuals, or blow up government buildings. Or even commit mass suicide (remember Jonestown?).


    John Chapman - 8/14/2006

    this is more accurate than “Islamofascists”. Good article. But I also noticed Mr. Furnish’s interesting wording. Is it really “merely a methodology”, this administration’s approach to the war on terror, which is to topple and occupy countries? A methodology that now seems overdone the avenging of 3,000 American lives for tens of thousands of our enemy). The point being the comparison to the methodology Britain used last week to stop plans by Muslim terrorists: good police-work. Hopefully this method will be used more often since it’s better than sending armies out to destroy whole countries.


    Jason Blake Keuter - 8/14/2006

    Islamofascism is an accurate parallel, although I think Islamocommunism might be better given the degree of support Islamists have among intellectuals.

    What you describe as characteristic of fascism seems more characteristic of fascism once in power. What you describe as Islamist has strong parallels to fascism ascending to power. It is vindictive; it blames its failures on perfidious minorities and those who work with them within the Islamic world (Muslim US allies =stab in the back); it seeks to "restore" a mythic past of grandeur; its cult of violence is overt (except for western intellectual audiences); and, like fascism, it is threatening existing states and could very well become the ruling party in one of those states (there were fascist parties all over Europe in the interwar years). In other words, the first state to become a radical Islamist state will, like Nazi Germany, lead the charge against democracy.

    Last, it has long received tacit and even overt support from Muslim governments who have mistakenly seen it as a manageable counterweight to (from the perspective of those governments, at least) more dangerous radicalism - namely, democrats.

    The term of Islamofascism, I think, is being used to undercut tacit approval among left-leaning western intellectuals. As for the historical profession, it is a shame that communism has yet to be held in near equal universal contempt, as the Islamists share much in common with communism as well - not the least of which has been adopting critiques of the west that it learns in the west a la Lenin and Stalin in exile in London. Also, the term Islamocommunism wouldn't be expedient given the existence of communist parties throughout western Europe - many part of governing coalitions that grant to those commmunists ministries in education from where they work to prevent a true reckoning with their ideologies almost completely ignoble past.

    For the intellectual, then, totalitarianism is probably the best descriptor; but it lacks the punch that fascism has and doesn't do much to undercut or at least put on the defensive, left-leaning intellectuals who sympathize wih it because they confuse it for some kind of progressive crusade against modernism, or, follishly beleive it to be the lesser of two evils.