Like the previous installments of The Black Book of the American Left, this volume addresses the role progressives played in undermining the defense of Western civilization against the totalitarian forces determined to destroy it. The present volume focuses on the holy war or jihad waged by totalitarian Islamists in their quest for a global empire. It is divided into three sections, the first and third of which contain narratives of campaigns I organized to confront the growing Islamist presence on American college campuses. While these accounts describe a cultural conflict in university communities, they have implications for a parallel culture war in the society at large.
The Achilles’ heel of democratic societies, as the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski once observed, is also their moral foundation—the principle of tolerance, which they extend even to those who want to destroy them. The Islamists understand this vulnerability and therefore have exploited it as a central strategy along with the intimidation they conduct through terror. By deploying defamatory expressions like “bigotry” and “Islamophobia,” they seek to stigmatize their opponents, namely anyone who attempts to draw attention to the political nature of their movement, its imperialistic ambitions, its support for terrorism, its oppression of women, its hostility to other religions, and its virulent hatred of Christians and Jews. By casting themselves as the victims of religious persecution, Islamists have succeeded to a remarkable extent in censoring and marginalizing these critics. The narratives included in this volume illustrate these strategies and their agents in action.
The Islamists’ success in the wider society is evidenced in the censorship that even government agencies have imposed on their own utterances, and on the institutional guides they have developed for dealing with national security threats. For example, the 9/11 Commission Report on the Islamic attacks of September 2001 referred to “Islam” 322 times, used the word “Muslim” 145 times and ”jihad” (holy war) 126 times. But even though Osama bin Laden called his jihad a religious war against “the Jews and Crusaders,” the Bush administration described its response to the 9/11 attacks as a “War on Terror” without any reference to Islam. By using the neutered term “terror” to describe the Islamist threat, the administration obscured not only the religious nature of the attacks but the fact that the Islamists did not confine their tactics to military strikes but also pursued their goals through sophisticated political movements designed to infiltrate and subvert non-Muslim societies.
By the end of more than a decade of pressure from domestic Islamists and the political left, the religious nature of the war had become practically invisible, even to American counter-terrorism organizations. In the words of one member of the House subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security, “The current FBI counterterrorism lexicon, [which describes] the language they can use, does not include ’jihad,’ does not include ‘Muslim,’ does not include ‘Islam.’ It includes ‘violent extremism’ many times, but it does not include ’sharia’ [the Islamic law jihadists are seeking to impose globally]. It does not even include ‘Al-Qaeda,’ ‘Hezbollah,’ or ‘Hamas.’ Even the National Intelligence Strategy 2009 does not include references to ’jihad,’, ‘Muslim,’ or ‘Islam.’”
When the Obama administration took office in 2009, even more changes were instituted to shield not only the public but also the Department of Homeland Security and counter-intelligence agencies from the fact that the war against the West was based on an ideology shared by millions (probably hundreds of millions) of devout Muslims and sponsored by heavily armed Islamic regimes; or from the fact that it was a war at all. Under Obama, even the denatured term “War on Terror” was dropped from official pronouncements and replaced by the meaningless subterfuge, “overseas contingency operations.” The Obama administration designated the largest post-9/11 attack on American soil, the 2009 massacre of 13 American soldiers by a jihadist screaming ”Allahu Akbar,”as “workplace violence,” denying the 39 soldiers wounded in the attack the Purple Hearts they had earned.
“Islamophobia,” the opening chapter of this volume, is an essay co-authored with Robert Spencer, one of the foremost scholars of Islam and a valued colleague. It describes the international campaign to marginalize and ultimately silence critics of the jihad through the passage of what would amount to anti-blasphemy laws. Anti-blasphemy laws are the cornerstones of totalitarian states, outlawing speech that challenges their rule. Such laws have already been adopted by several Islamic governments. The agenda of the Islamophobia campaign is to make them universal—a goal reflected in resolutions the Islamic states have been able to push through the UN. Until such time as Islamists are able to establish these laws in the western democracies, the strategy of the jihadists is to use the principle of tolerance to justify suppressing criticism of Islam-inspired terror or Islam-mandated oppression by characterizing it as an attack on all Muslims, and therefore as “racist” and “bigoted” hate speech.
The first half of this volume contains a running account of the campaign I organized in the fall of 2007 to publicize the term “Islamo-Fascism,” and make it part of the national debate. The idea crystallized during an evening event I held on March 2, 2007 at a Conservative Pac Conference (CPAC) attended by 500 college students. One of the attendees, Michael Abdurakhmanov, a student from Pace University had attempted to screen the film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West on his campus. Because Obsession documented the jihadist agendas of Islamist organizations like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, the film became the target of a nationwide campaign led by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Hamas-linked Muslim Brotherhood front group. The campaign claimed the film was Islamophobic, racist, and an attack on all Muslims, although it was nothing of the kind. Another Brotherhood front, the Muslim Students Association, complained to the Pace administration, prompting the president of the university to issue an order that the film not be shown, a blatant violation of the First Amendment that was reversed months later.
Our speaker for the CPAC evening, former senator Rick Santorum, related how during a White House visit he attempted to persuade President Bush to use the term “Islamo-Fascist” to describe America’s global enemy. He said Bush did use it but only one time because of the immediate uproar from Islamist groups like CAIR and the political left, which claimed it was “offensive” to Muslims. Santorum’s words prompted me to do something about the suppression of the film and the term. Taking the microphone, I announced that I was declaring April 4 “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Day” and would show Obsession simultaneously on 100 college campuses on that date. There had never been such a coordinated conservative event, and, as the words left my lips, I realized that I had stepped out on a very long limb. There was little time to organize such a demonstration, but when the day came we were able to put together showings of the film on 96 college campuses and at four other locations. When it was over, I thought, “If we can do this with a day, we can do it with a week,” and began planning to do just that in the fall.
From the attacks of September 2001 until the fall of 2007, the term “Islamo-Fascism” had been all but banned from public discourse—most incomprehensibly in the university community, the center of the nation’s intellectual discourse, where presumably every idea exists to be examined. Aside from a handful of conservatives and Christopher Hitchens, a radical chastened by the attacks of 9/11, virtually no one was using this term. Or, more precisely, no one was willing to take the risk of using this term, given the kind of slander that CAIR and its supporters on the left were ready to direct at them. I called our campaign “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week,” which effectively introduced the words and concept to the university public.
The term “Islamo-Fascism” properly identified the religious nature of the jihadist threat along with its totalitarian implications—two hitherto-suppressed realities that were vital to understanding the enemy we faced. Beginning October 22, 2007, we held events on over 100 college campuses and were able to organize repeat campaigns, with new themes added, through three semesters. By the fourth semester, the novelty had worn off and we were obliged to come up with a new but related effort, which is described in Part II of this volume.
The most interesting revelations of the Islamo-Fascism campaign were the tacit alliances revealed between the campus Islamists and a broad spectrum of the progressive left. Those on the left who did not actively protest against our events were still not ready to welcome a debate over the appropriateness of the term, or to stand up for our right to express such a view without being subject to vilification; nor were “liberal” faculty members willing to invite us to university platforms to discuss our case. We were universally treated as unwanted intruders in the academic environment. Unlike the Israel-hating “apartheid” weeks organized by the Muslim Students Association and Students for Justice in Palestine, our events received no support from campus administrators or faculty. Instead, the academic community tolerated vicious personal attacks, reckless slanders and even physical threats—all of which violated the “principles of community” and “diversity” it claimed to honor—against the students who organized our events. In any other case, such behavior would have called forth stern admonitions and disciplinary actions from university authorities; but in this case they elicited none. No university or faculty spokesman or organization came to the defense of the students who held the events, or spoke up for their right to express opinions without being subjected to malicious slanders and threats. The campus press also showed itself to be a one-party affair, printing one-sided misrepresentations of what transpired, providing a platform for smears of speakers and student organizers alike, and denying a platform to the targets of this malice when they sought to defend themselves and set the record straight. These attacks were common to every event our students organized, despite the fact that our Islamo-Fascism Awareness Weeks focused on the oppression of women and other minority groups in Islam as their official themes.
The chapter titled “Why Islamo-Fascism,” also co-authored with Robert Spencer, is a statement we published to explain our rationale for the use of the term. Unfortunately, given the hysteria of the campaign against us and intimidation of anyone who might speak up in our defense, there was no possibility of stimulating a public discussion of the issue. The conviction that some ideas were too “offensive” to be permitted on a university campus was too prevalent. Despite this, I have no doubt the campaign had a significant impact. While people prudently kept themselves out of the line of fire and did not speak up, privately they could not help being provoked to new thoughts about these issues.
The second half of this volume contains two parts. It is introduced by a summary account of the Middle East conflict, titled, “Why Israel Is the Victim, and the Arabs Are the Indefensible Aggressors in the Middle East.” With the facts of this history known, and the genocidal intentions of the Palestinians understood, it is puzzling that any self-respecting liberal or progressive would not be repelled by the Palestinian cause; or, worse, would actually support it. The other chapters in this section were written during the Second Lebanon War, which was caused by Israel’s unilateral evacuation of Gaza, its occupation by Hamas and by the ensuing terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas and its Hezbollah allies. Nothing could demonstrate more clearly that the only peace acceptable to the Palestinians and their supporters is one in which the Jewish state no longer exists.
The next section describes the campaign that followed the conclusion of the Islamo-Fascism Awareness weeks. It was organized to counter the anti-Israel propaganda campaigns conducted by two campus fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood—Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Students Association. The campaigns took the form of “Israeli Apartheid Weeks,” accusing Jews of committing genocide against a defenseless people, stealing their land, imprisoning them behind “apartheid walls,” and forcing millions of “refugees” to live in squalid camps where they remained homeless and oppressed. These campaigns were designed to demonize the Jewish state and mobilize support for its destruction. Based on blatant lies and promoting ethnic hate, they violated established university codes of behavior that no other campus organization would be able to violate with impunity. Yet they were supported by university funds and university departments, and tolerated by university administrators.
On many campuses there was no public opposition to these anti-Israel events,; nor was there official disapproval towards their sponsors on any campus. Moreover, when our students put up an opposition, they were attacked not only by the Muslim Brotherhood groups but by leftists and the liberal organization Hillel, the largest Jewish group on campus. These episodes are described in “Genocidal Acts at U.C. San Diego,” and “Jews Who Stand With Their Enemies,” but the same themes run throughout the campus narratives in this volume. The stories of these encounters with the Islamist fifth column provide a sobering insight into the education of America’s future leaders and thus into political conflicts waiting down the line.
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