Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Historical Connections

Carol Iannone concedes that there's some "Clarification Needed on Use of the Term 'Islamo-Fascism.'"

On the one hand, she says, it's used to "highlight the historical connections between the Muslim world and Nazism and Fascism"; on the other, it's used "in a generic sense [!], to say that Islamic sharia law constitutes a form of fascism, a form of totalitarian control of society."

My interpretation is a bit simpler. I think that like long-playing records of people repeating "Polly wanna cracker," this endlessly reiterated term gives parrots something to say. Accuracy is completely beside the point; it makes good people sound bad and bad people sound worse, and encourages our stateside racists, dupes, and rageaholics to view themselves as The New Greatest Generation (even as they wax indignant at the idea that this unprecedented Battle for Civilization might require more seriousness and competence than BushCo has displayed so far).

Iannone does deserve some credit. While she blithely assumes that Islamofascism is a "factual and probably unexceptionable" term for the Grand Mufti's anti-Zionist marriage of convenience with Hitler - an assumption that raises some interesting questions a lot closer to home - she worries that using it in regards to al-Qaeda "forces the uniqueness of Islamic fundamentalism into the familiar mold of European fascism and national socialism."

You don't fucking say. I'd applaud this sentiment, if it weren't for my suspicion that the uniqueness she's insisting on has more to do with ethnicity than with any plausible definition of fascism.

In conclusion, Iannone suggests that philosophers, scholars and people of good will should explain whether they're using "Islamofascism" in the historical sense, to imply that Islam is historically fascist, or in the generic sense, to imply that Islam is inherently fascist.

Eventually its spelling should be regularized too.
Thus shall a hundred flowers bloom, and a hundred schools of thought contend.


The Kenosha Kid said...

It's the wingnut Gleichschaltung. They are all going to line up with Jonah Goldberg's talking points. The word "fascism" can now only be used when talking about liberals (sic).

CKR said...

Nonononononono! It's all the liberals' fault! They started calling everyone fascists back in the 1960s.

Seriously, the word means nothing any more but a generalized opprobium, with possibly a whiff of totalitarianism.

I wouldn't mind going back to the old meaning of a combined totalitarian-corporatism.

Oh wait...

olvlzl said...

Having used the term "religio-fascism" but never this one, isn't it the more useful one? "Islamo-fascism", I suspect, is an idea which in 2008 can't be divorced from the tension between the Islamic middle east and Israel. I'm not an expert on the popularity of Nazism or its predecessor in the middle east but I can't see any way to avoid the uncomfortable idea that the influence of that form of lunacy, in many of its manifestations racist and Euro-centric, in people who would have been its logical targets, eventually, would have been on the basis of a shared enemy. The emergence of Zionism provided an enemy where there didn't need to be one.

I've come to the conclusion that there is no way to confront the problem of anti-Jewish bigotry among Moslems, many of whom are Semites and so would have been targeted eventually by European fascists on that basis as well as on the basis of imperialism,.... without facing the most obvious consequences of the establishment of Israel.

Since Israel isn't going to disappear, at least not except as the result of a nuclear war unprecedented in its horror, it is essential to face up to the fact that its existence on land appropriated from Palestinians and others is the cause of much of the anti-Jewish bigotry and violence in the world today. Neither Palestinians nor the Islamic religion are going to disappear either, except under equally horrific circumstances. Ignoring the uncomfortable facts of the case aren't only unproductive, they endanger the lives of billions.

We have to go on from the reality of where we are today, the past can't be changed but it has to be consulted. This kind of crap generated by what passes in as an intellectual class from the relative comfort and safety of North America are no help whatsoever.

Phila said...

Nonononononono! It's all the liberals' fault! They started calling everyone fascists back in the 1960s.

Not sure whether you're joking, but I do think there's some truth to this....

facing the most obvious consequences of the establishment of Israel.

You'll notice I don't spend a lot of time talking about Israel...better minds than mine have run aground on those rocks.

That said, I agree with you. The unwillingness to concede that a certain amount of effect stems from that cause is a huge, intractable problem.

CKR said...

Partly joking, partly serious. Got to blame it all on the libruls.

But they did begin the devaluation of that word.