Anti-war left, check your assumptions. Leftist Paul Berman:
- in Islamism we face a threat not unlike such 20th century totalitarian movements as fascism and communism. Berman feels similarly about Baathism, the nationalist ideology of Iraq’s ruling party.
In fact, Berman believes that Islamism and Baathism emerged from the same
great rift in liberal society, the First World War. “Terror and Liberalism,”
Berman’s bracing new book, suggests that just as liberal-minded Europeans
and Americans doubted the threats of Hitler and Stalin, enlightened
Westerners today are in danger of missing the urgency of the violent
ideologies coming out of the Muslim world.
….A lot of people have misunderstood the nature of Islamism for a whole series of reasons. The biggest and most important of those reasons is Eurocentrism, which prevented people from looking at these movements at all. And the Eurocentrism has a flip side, a soft-headed multiculturalism in which
movements in other parts of the world are regarded as hopelessly and wonderfully exotic and not to be judged or analyzed. In the last 20 years literally millions of people have been slaughtered by these movements and the wars they’ve begun. All of this has received a shockingly small amount of attention.
Another reason that these movements have received very little attention has to do with anti-Zionism, the true origin of which is anti-Semitism, the assumption that the Jews are the center of the world and therefore the center of the world’s evil. So the problems of the Muslim world in the Middle East can be located in the tiny issue of a border dispute in a place the size of Connecticut. Across the world people are convinced of this. It’s a preposterous idea, but this idea is really widely shared. Anybody who holds this idea therefore has carte blanche to ignore the fact that the Iran-Iraq war killed a million people or that Islamism in the Sudan has killed between 1.5 million and 2 million people, or that 100,000 people have been killed in Algeria. [Salon]
And the French?
- the French socialists in the 1930s. They wanted to avoid a new outbreak of the First World War; they refused to believe that millions of people in Germany had gone out of their minds and supported the Nazi movement. They didn’t want to believe that a mass pathological movement had taken power in Germany, they wanted to be open-minded to what the Germans were saying and to the German grievances of the First World War. And the French socialists, in their open-minded, warm-hearted effort to avoid seeing anything like the First World War occur again, went out of their way to try and find what was reasonable and plausible in the arguments of Hitler. They really did end up thinking that the greatest danger to world peace was not posed by Hitler but by the hawks in their own society, in France. These people were the antiwar socialists of France, they were good people. Yet one thing led to another, they opposed France’s army against Hitler, and many of them ended up supporting the Vichy regime and they ended up fascists!
Where’s the parallel to today?
It’s not impossible to see something like that today. People want to avoid a
war in the Middle East, they say they’re not for Saddam but yet they don’t
really want to do anything against Saddam. They see Iraqi liberals and
Kurdish democrats struggling against Saddam, and they really don’t want to
help these people. They see pathological movements in Palestine and
elsewhere engaging in acts of random murder for the purest of irrational
reasons and these people, the warmhearted, good-souled antiwar socialists of
the Western countries, fall all over themselves in finding ways to justify
the terrible things that are happening elsewhere and find ways to prevent
themselves from showing solidarity with the victims.
We do see some of the same things. With the French socialists of the 1930s,
there was even a slippage into outright anti-Semitism, and no one can doubt
that some of that has been occurring in the antiwar movement in the United
States and above all in Europe. Of course most people in the antiwar
movement are against that. But signs of it exist and it would be foolish to
close your eyes to that.
While Chirac puckers up and kisses the collective ass of his 10% Arab population, French Jews are suffering:
- Jérémy Bismuth is Jewish, though he doesn’t wear a yarmulke or Star of David pendant or adhere to a Kosher diet or leave school early on Fridays to be home before sunset. Nothing identifies the 15-year-old French boy as Jewish except his birth.
Yet because he is a Jew, he was attacked by a group of other children, mostly Muslim, at the private Catholic school he then attended. They dragged him into the school’s locker room showers shouting that they were going to gas him as the Nazis had gassed Jews. He was beaten and flogged with a pair of trousers whose zipper scratched one of his corneas.
For Jérémy and his parents, the incident a year ago was the harrowing confirmation of a trend that many say is gathering momentum: a resurgent European anti-Semitism, coming not from its traditional source among Europe’s right-wing nationalists, but from the Continent’s growing Islamic community, egged on by the political left.
“The political climate is too pro-Arab, and in the past year it has become intolerable,” said Michèle Bismuth, Jérémy’s mother at the family’s home last week. She said her traumatized son would not leave the house for 10 days after the attack.
….Swastikas, slogans and physical assaults against Jews in Europe have reached a frequency not seen since the 1930’s when Fascism was on the rise. But in the vast majority of the cases today, the assailants are young Muslims of North African heritage whose parents emigrated to Europe in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
The greatest number and most violent attacks have come in France, which, with an estimated six million Muslims and 650,000 Jews in the country, has Europe’s largest Jewish and largest Muslim populations.
Some Jews have left France for Israel, driven as much by the deteriorating climate in Europe as they are drawn by solidarity with the Jewish state. According to Israeli government figures, 2,556 French Jews emigrated to Israel last year, double the number a year earlier and the most since the 1967 Six Day War.
….The word “feuj” – from the inversion of the French word “Juif,” which means “Jew” – is now a playground standard, both as an insult against Jewish students and as a contemptuous adjective. Children say a pen that does not work is “completely feuj,” for example, and the Hebrew salutation “mazel tov” is used in the same way. [NY Times]
Right now, France, like the Iraqi regime still struggling to maintain control, is choosing very poorly. The future is not theirs, and their pandering to a viciously anti-Semitic Arab population and their leftist sympathizers will rank historically with the infamy of Vichy.