Child’s Play

October 22, 2007

The decline of Christopher Hitchens into a kind of sub-Jonah Goldberg hack proceeds apace. In today’s Slate he’s lying down in David Horowitz’s manure pile, defending the use of the wingnut epithet “Islamofascism” as if it were a term adults could use without automatically branding themselves knuckleheads.

Why knuckleheads? Because no matter how devoutly the wingers may long to turn the war on terror into a replay of World War II, complete with Gregory Peck in a key role, the comparison doesn’t fly. Any number of wingers who’ve overdosed on a lethal cocktail of John Wayne movies and The Lord of the Rings have told me World War II was “the West versus Fascism” and the war on terror is simply its extension.

The trouble is, the struggle against fascism was an intramural struggle for the West. The bad guys were Germany, homeland of Goethe and Beethoven, and Italy, wellspring of classical civilization. Even the name “Fascism” derives from an ancient Roman symbol. Applying it to terrorists claiming to act in the name of a non-Western religion is the action of an ignoramus or a puerile fool. I’ve read enough of Hitchens to know that he isn’t an ignoramus.          

Hitchens tries to qualify his defense of the term, and so doing manages to turn his guns on himself:

There isn’t a perfect congruence. Historically, fascism laid great emphasis on glorifying the nation-state and the corporate structure. There isn’t much of a corporate structure in the Muslim world, where the conditions often approximate more nearly to feudalism than capitalism, but Bin Laden’s own business conglomerate is, among other things, a rogue multinational corporation with some links to finance-capital. As to the nation-state, al-Qaida’s demand is that countries like Iraq and Saudi Arabia be dissolved into one great revived caliphate, but doesn’t this have points of resemblance with the mad scheme of a “Greater Germany” or with Mussolini’s fantasy of a revived Roman empire?

Technically, no form of Islam preaches racial superiority or proposes a master race. But in practice, Islamic fanatics operate a fascistic concept of the “pure” and the “exclusive” over the unclean and the kufar or profane. In the propaganda against Hinduism and India, for example, there can be seen something very like bigotry. In the attitude to Jews, it is clear that an inferior or unclean race is being talked about (which is why many Muslim extremists like the grand mufti of Jerusalem gravitated to Hitler’s side). In the attempted destruction of the Hazara people of Afghanistan, who are ethnically Persian as well as religiously Shiite, there was also a strong suggestion of “cleansing.” And, of course, Bin Laden has threatened force against U.N. peacekeepers who might dare interrupt the race-murder campaign against African Muslims that is being carried out by his pious Sudanese friends in Darfur.

No, Christopher, bin Laden’s notion of a caliphate has no similarities with Hitler’s demand for lebensraum. Since planes were used to destroy the World Trade Center, I’m surprised Hitchens didn’t bring in the Luftwaffe to strengthen his comparison. 

These word games are just an elevated version of the kind of rhetorical retreat Jonah Goldberg stages whenever a critic steps into his sandbox and upsets his plastic pails. Of course I understand that Hillary Clinton hasn’t rounded up people and gassed them to death, but I still think it’s valid to compare her healthcare proposals to Nazi extermination campaigns. I mean, she’s telling people what to do so that makes her a kinf of Hitler, and anyway it will all be explained in my book, which I’ll finish as soon as mom gives me an advance on my allowance.

Since there’s really nowhere to go but down after you’ve made common cause with somebody like David Horowitz, I await future dispatches from Hitchens on the appropriateness of such future terms as Judeo-Taoism, Marxist-Hinduism and Russo-Latino Satanism. 

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2 Responses to “Child’s Play”

  1. Bill Bowman Says:

    Actually, there was a plan near the end of the war to turn German pilots into suicide bombers, along the lines of the kamikazee atatcks …


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