“New leftist” turned arch-conservative David Horowitz has written some great material over the years, but his writing can also be hyperbolic and provocative almost to the point of self-parody. I wasn’t sure which Horowitz wrote Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left, and the press release from Regnery Publishing – “David Horowitz exposes America’s most lethal enemy – the American Left” – did not fill me with confidence. I share Horowitz’s (and Regnery’s) animosity toward the far left, but I still think Osama bin Laden is a more lethal enemy than, say, Ward Churchill.
Fortunately, Unholy Alliance is a more sober and learned volume than the hyperbolic press release would make it appear, and it does a reasonably good job of making Horowitz’s point: that the American extreme left has entered into a de facto alliance with their nation’s Islamofascist enemies, and that the more moderate left is either unaware of or indifferent to this disturbing development. But there’s little here that regular readers of conservative weblogs – or Horowitz’s online magazine, FrontPage, from which much of the book appears to have been adapted – won’t already know about.
Tens of thousands of Americans demonstrated against the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and it would be unfair to dismiss all of them as knee-jerk radicals who hate their country. The same cannot be said about the people who organized the protests, however. International ANSWER, perhaps the most prominent of the groups which sprung up to oppose the American response to the 9/11 attacks, is a front group for the Workers World Party, an organization founded in 1959 by supporters of the Soviet invasion of Hungary, and most of America’s other (seemingly interchangeable) “antiwar” groups are similarly infested with Marxists, Maoists and “anarchists” at their highest levels. Even “Win Without War”, an organization founded to put a more moderate face on the “peace” movement, has many of the same old moonbats on its board of directors.
Far from opposing war per se, many leaders of the “peace” movement have openly expressed support for “insurgents” fighting the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention Palestinian terrorist organizations, of course, since the ultra-left sees the United States and Israel as more or less interchangeable). Lawyer Lynne Stewart, recently convicted for providing material support to the suspected terrorists she was representing, described Muslim extremist groups as “forces of national liberation” who deserve the support of the progressive left. (In the same interview, with the Marxist magazine Monthly Review, she said Mao, Stalin and “especially Fidel” were justified in jailing dissidents, who are really capitalist stooges. Gotta love these free-speech activists.)
Even ultra-leftists who haven’t explicitly come out in favor of Islamic extremism are so blinded by anti-American hatred that they will never support anything their government does; Unholy Alliance features an extraordinary account of a talk by Noam Chomsky, the David Irving of political science, in which he stops just short of saying the United States actively sided with the Nazis in World War II. Meanwhile, many Islamofascist groups have skillfully played to this crowd, adopting the left’s own rhetoric while supporting a totalitarian, sexist, racist, homophobic ideology of hate. (An “open letter” from Hamas, which savages the United States for racism and slavery, could have been written by Chomsky himself.)
Sadly, many liberals who should know better have made common cause with the totalitarians organizing their marches and rallies (as have isolationist conservatives like Pat Buchanan, a development Horowitz barely acknowledges). The mainstream media, meanwhile, has neglected the issue altogether. The likes of Leslie Cagan deserve respectability as much as David Duke does, and since the mainstream media is indifferent to this at best, it’s a good thing David Horowitz is getting the truth out. Someone has to, and it’s too bad he’s dismissed as a “McCarthyite” for doing so. (Joe McCarthy forever made anti-communism a laughingstock among the chattering classes, which is part of the reason the Che Guevara T-shirt has become respectable.)
My problem with Unholy Alliance is not with its thesis or even its content, but simply the fact that this subject has been better dealt with elsewhere – often by liberals and “social democrats”, some of whom opposed the Iraq war but nonetheless have no time for the WWP crowd, and others who see the war on terror (including the invasion of Iraq) as a legitimate conflict against fascism. Paul Berman’s extraordinary Terror and Liberalism is perhaps the best example – by comparison, Unholy Alliance comes across as slight and rushed, and merely preaching to the conservative choir.
More importantly, even Horowitz himself has done a better job with this subject elsewhere, most notably in his excellent memoir Radical Son, which describes, in excruciating detail, his disillusionment with the “New Left” of the sixties and seventies. The events took place long before 9/11, but many of the players are the same – and their attitude toward their country hasn’t changed, even against an ideology which opposes everything for which they stand. Horowitz’s point is well worth making, but he made it better in Radical Son.
Correction: the Workers World Party was founded in 1959, not 1956. That was my error, not Horowitz’s.