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Sanity on the left

Posted by Richard on July 8, 2005

Yesterday, I posted samples from the sewers of Democratic Underground. But not everyone on the left is a moonbat, so today, let’s look at some voices of sanity from the left. As Joe Katzman said at Winds of Change, "The leftists at Harry’s Place rock." Start with david t’s A letter to a friend. Here’s a sample (emphasis added):

Perhaps you think that Islamism is the same thing as Islam. Perhaps you think that it is some form of national liberation struggle, or a reaction against imperialism or Bush’s failure to sign up to Kyoto.

It is not.

Radical Islamism – in its most important strain – is a political doctrine which was developed principally by two arab thinkers in the first part of the 20th century – Qutb and Banna – who were deeply immersed, not in the culture of the middle east, but in the theoretical perspective of the European romantic movement. It is not an alien, exotic or even really an "oriental" doctrine. It is directly inspired by the same intellectual currents which gave rise to romantic nationalism in the 19th century, and fascism in the mid 20th century.

You might think that its main aim is to oppose military action in the middle east.

It is not.

Its main aim, explicitly, is to restore the Caliphate, abolished by Ataturk when modern Turkey was established. It is not an anti-imperialist movement. It is an imperialist movement, yearning for an imagined golden age which it hopes to recreate.

Qutb saw the primary enemy, not as the foreign policy of Western states, but as Modernity: and in particular materialism, liberalism, and democracy. This is the primary reason that London has been bombed: not because it has "attacked muslims" but because they fear that materialism, liberalism and democracy are damaging to the values which Islamists hope to promore: piety and submission to the will of god.

But don’t stop there. Please. Go read the whole thing. Read. Every. Word.

Then, go to the Harry’s Place main page and just keep reading. There’s one worthwhile post after another, including excerpts from some wonderful columns. Christopher Hitchens contrasted the jihadists with the IRA bombers from the 70s:

 And, even as I detested the people who might have just as soon have blown me up as anyone else, I was aware there were ancient disputes involved, and that there was a potential political solution.

Nothing of the sort applies in this case. We know very well what the "grievances" of the jihadists are.

The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won’t abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. …

Gerard Baker made an important point, one that Brits should repeat often and with defiance (emphasis added):

There’s another way in fact of looking at the question that offers a rather more optimistic perspective. Is this the best they can do? Is this what we have reduced them to? The damage to al-Qaeda wrought by four years of war is clearly impressive. …

There’s an excerpt from Johann Hari, but follow the link and read the entire (updated) piece. This is but one of many good points and interesting observations:

As everybody mills outside the mosque, there are groups forming to go and give blood at the Royal London Hospital up the road. Many people make a point of smiling at me, an obvious non-Muslim in their midst. There is an awareness here – although not yet in the rest of the country – that the Bin Ladenists who planned these massacres despise democratic, non-violent Muslims who choose to live in the West as much as they despise the rest of us. Anybody who tells you these bombers are fighting for the rights of Muslims in Iraq, occupied Palestine or Chechnya should look at the places they chose to bomb. Aldgate? The poorest and most Muslim part of the country. Edgware Road? The centre of Muslim and Arab life in London and, arguably, Europe.

This is not a fight between Muslims and the rest of us. It is a civil war within Islam, between democratic Muslims and Wahhabi fundamentalists who want to enslave or kill them. Yassin Dijali, 31, says, “It could have been our children on those trains too. This is where we belong. These people are insane.”

Hari closes his column with a note of optimism and defiance:

On Friday morning, sitting outside a café on Whitechapel High Street, one of the lingering Jewish residents of the old East End, an 86 year-old called Henry Abelman, is drinking tea, as he does every day. He was here the last time fascists attacked London; he says with a laugh that he expects to be here the next time they toss some bombs at us too. “Not so long ago, we had bombs like this every day for six years coming from an army backed by twenty million people. That didn’t destroy us or divide us, so what do you think a few spoiled brats with home-made bombs are going to do?”

Like Henry, I’ll see you all on the tubes and on the buses Monday morning.

Over at Labour Friends of Iraq, Alan Johnson also wrote an "open letter to a comrade":

But to large parts of the left, yourself included, the terrorists of Al Qaeda were no more real than were the rats of Oran to the dreamy city-dwellers in Camus’s allegorical novel The Plague. You used to quote Michael Moore at me, a man whose appeal to you is beyond me. Moore said ‘There is no threat! Repeat after me, there is no threat!’. Well, there was, and there is. I recall you would also repeat other words Moore (words I thought demented). ‘The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not “insurgents” or “terrorists” or “The Enemy.” They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win’. Do you still believe all that?

And you simply must go to normblog and read Nick Cohen’s review of Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman:

Although I like to present myself as an open and rational chap, I can remember very few times when I’ve admitted being in the wrong. Not wrong in detail, but wrong in principle. …

Actually, ‘very few’ is a self-serving exaggeration. The only time I realised I was charging up a blind alley was when I read Paul Berman’s Terror and Liberalism. I didn’t see a blinding light or hear a thunder clap or cry ‘Eureka!’ If I was going to cry anything it would have been ‘Oh bloody hell!’ He convinced me I’d wasted a great deal of time looking through the wrong end of the telescope. I was going to have to turn it round and see the world afresh. The labour would involve reconsidering everything I’d written since 11 September, arguing with people I took to be friends and finding myself on the same side as people I took to be enemies. All because of Berman.

The bastard.

Terror and Liberalism is an essay rather than a history and its arguments come from the almost forgotten tradition of the anti-totalitarian left. Its central point is that Islamism and Baathism are continuations of Nazism and communism, not only in their fine points – founders of the Muslim Brotherhood and Baath Party were admirers of Hitler and Franco – but in their fundamentals.

Cohen recounts what he considers the best part of the book, Berman’s telling of "the history of the French Socialist Party in the 1930s as a parable for our time."  It’s too long to quote here, but it is indeed a parable for our times — eye-opening, chilling, and a must read. Seriously. I’m going to have to buy the Berman book just to have this one chapter at hand.

So there you have it — lots of worthwhile stuff from Brit leftists who get it regarding Islamofascism. Just to prove that being economically illiterate doesn’t necessarily mean you’re divorced from reality in all respects. 🙂

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