Walzer: Islamism & the Left

Writing in Dissent, longtime Jewish enthocentrist lefty Michael Walzer discusses “Islamism and the Left“. It’s almost embarassing to listen to (or read) the Left contort itself into a pretzel while discussing Islam.

As the reality of contemporary Islam becomes more apparent to even NYC Jews, the cognitive dissonance begins to hit higher and higher registers.

In the opening paragraphs, Walzer writes surprisingly candid paragraphs like this:

One reason for this failure is the terrible fear of being called “Islamophobic.” Anti-Americanism and a radical version of cultural relativism also play an important part, but these are older pathologies. Here is something new: many leftists are so irrationally afraid of an irrational fear of Islam that they haven’t been able to consider the very good reasons for fearing Islamist zealots—and so they have difficulty explaining what’s going on in the world.

But then rapidly falls into standard leftist tropes in paragraphs like this:

The Christian Crusades have sometimes been described as the first example of Islamophobia in the history of the West. The crusaders were driven by an irrational fear of Islam. I suppose that’s right; they were also driven by an even more irrational fear of Judaism. They were fierce and frightening religious “extremists,” and that assertion is not anti-Christian.

Or this:

It’s true that Europe’s Muslims (and America’s too, to a lesser extent) are a harassed minority; they rightly receive sympathy and support from the left, which also hopes, rightly again, to win their votes as they become citizens. There are many right-wing groups that campaign against Islam—not only far-right splinter groups like the English Defense League in the UK or Die Freiheit or Pro-Deutschland in Germany, but populist parties that command considerable electoral support, like the National Front in France or the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands. Since the political leaders of all these groups claim to fear the “rise” of Islam in Europe, Islamophobia has become for everyone on the left politically incorrect; more important, it is morally incorrect.

Islamophobia is a form of religious intolerance, even religious hatred, and it would be wrong for any leftists to support bigots in Europe and the United States who deliberately misunderstand and misrepresent contemporary Muslims. They make no distinction between the historic religion and the zealots of this moment; they regard every Muslim immigrant in a Western country as a potential terrorist; and they fail to acknowledge the towering achievements of Muslim philosophers, poets, and artists over many centuries. Consider, for example, the Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom, who describes the Koran as a “fascist book” and calls for it to be outlawed (as Mein Kampf is) in the Netherlands. Or Hans-Jurgen Irmer, deputy floor leader of the Christian Democratic Union in Hesse, Germany, who claims that “Islam is set on global domination.” There are indeed Islamists with global ambitions (even in Germany—remember Mohammed Atta), but it is wrong to hold all Muslims responsible for Islamist zealotry, which the greater number by far of German Turks, for example, certainly reject. People like Wilders and Irmer, and there are many others, go a long way in explaining the left’s aversion to Islamophobia.

One thing I learned from the piece: There is actually something called the Islamophobia Studies Journal, a bi-annual publication put out by UCAL-Berkeley’s “Center for Race and Gender”.


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