Islamo- fascism in error
"President Likens Dewey to Hitler as Fascist Tool."
So ran The New York Times headline on Oct. 26, 1948, after what Dewey biographer Richard Norton Smith called a "particularly vitriolic attack in Chicago" by Harry Truman.
What brings this to mind is President Bush's assertion that we are "at war with Islamic fascism" and "Islamofascism."
After the transatlantic bomb plot was smashed, Bush said the plotters "try to spread their jihadist message I call -- it's totalitarian in nature, Islamic radicalism -- Islamic fascism. They try to spread it, as well, by taking the attack to those of us who love freedom."
What is wrong with the term Islamofascism?
First, there is no consensus as to what "fascism" even means.
As a concept, writes Arnold Beichman of the Hoover Institution, "fascism ... has no intellectual basis at all nor did its founders even pretend to have any. Hitler's ravings in 'Mein Kampf' ... Mussolini's boastful balcony speeches, all of these can be described, in the words of Roger Scruton, as an 'amalgam of disparate conceptions."'
Since the 1930s, "fascist" has been a term of hate and abuse used by the Left against the Right, as in the Harry Truman campaign.
Unsurprisingly, it is neoconservatives, whose roots are in the Trotskyist-Social Democratic Left, who are promoting use of the term. Their goal is to have Bush stuff al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran into the same "Islamofascist" kill box.
But the term represents the same lazy, shallow thinking that got us into Iraq, where Americans were persuaded that by dumping over Saddam Hussein we were avenging 9/11.
But Saddam was about as devout a practitioner of Islam as his hero Stalin was of the Russian Orthodox faith. Saddam was into booze, mistresses, movies, monuments, palaces and dynasty. Osama bin Laden loathed him and volunteered to fight him in 1991.
America faces a variety of adversaries, enemies and evils. But the Bombs-Away Caucus, as Iraq and Lebanon reveal, does not always have the right formula. Al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran all present separate challenges calling forth different responses.
Al-Qaida appears to exist for one purpose: Plot and perpetrate mass murder to terrorize Americans and Europeans into getting out of the Islamic world. Contrary to what Bush believes, the 9/11 killers and London and Madrid bombers were not out to repeal the Bill of Rights. They are out to kill us, and we have to get them first.
Hamas and Hezbollah have used terrorism, but they have social and political agendas that require state power to implement. And once a guerrilla-terrorist movement takes over a state, it acquires state assets and interests that are then vulnerable to U.S. military and economic power.
Why did the Ayatollah let the American hostages go, as President Reagan raised his right hand to take the oath of office• Why did Syria not rush to the rescue of Hezbollah• What did Ahmadinejad not rocket Tel Aviv in solidarity with his embattled allies in Lebanon• Res ipse loquitur. The thing speaks for itself. They don't want war with Israel, and they don't want war with the United States.
"Islamofascism" should be jettisoned from Bush's vocabulary. It yokes the faith of a billion people with an odious ideology. Imagine how Christians would have reacted had FDR taken to declaring Franco's Spain and Mussolini's Italy "Christofascist."
If Bush does not want a war of civilizations, he will drop these propaganda terms that are designed to inflame passions rather than inform the public of the nature of the war we are in, and the war we are not in.
Pat Buchanan edits The American Conservative magazine.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Distracted Steelers show nothing in loss to Eagles
- Will soft foes mean fast start to the season for Pitt football team?
- Friday’s scouting report: Pirates at Brewers
- Feasibility of Moon Area-Cornell merger remains uncertain
- Pirates, Brewers possess strengths up the middle
- Man shot to death in Homewood
- Alle-Kiski Valley HS notebook: Toy returns to coach Kiski Area volleyball
- Google Maps opens business doors to online views
- New coach, same expectations for Seton-La Salle football team
- NFL could delay punishment
- Take a lap of luxury in your dream car at Pittsburgh International Race Complex