Monday, April 28, 2008

The enemy of my enemy

The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend.

Conservative and neoconservative writers are among the most vocal and strident critics of Islam. My long-time readers will know that I'm no friend of Islam, but the neoconservative critique of Islam cuts no ice with me.

Any critique of Islam coming from a Christian, especially someone raised Roman Catholic such as Fitna creator Geert Wilders, cannot be considered a critique against religion in general, not even against irrational, violent, hateful or extremist expressions of religion; Christianity is every bit as irrational, violent, hateful and extremist as Islam. The neoconservative critique of Islam is similar to the Christian fundamentalist critique of Hitler. They don't condemn the genocide per se, (the Christian Bible explicitly condones instances of genocide), it's that Hitler didn't have the proper authorization to kill six million Jews. There's really no way to look at any neoconservative critique of Islam except as a complaint that these [brown] people are violent and hateful in service to the wrong imaginary friend.

The neoconservative critique is not necessarily racist, although not just neoconservatives but garden-variety conservatives rarely shy away from exploiting racism in the population. The neoconservative critique exists to justify American imperialism, especially the war in Iraq and the coming war in Iran. Islam has to be presented as not only an putrid example of human superstition (which it is) but as a terrifying threat to the very existence of the West (which it's not).

The neoconservative critique is not necessarily pro-Christian, but again, they rarely shy away from exploiting religious fundamentalism. The neoconservative critique also exists to justify political authoritarianism, necessary to turn back the onrushing hordes of stinky brown wogs Islamic extremists... while ignoring and excusing the clean, pure white folk Christian extremists who form the rock-solid base of the neoconservative movement and the Republican party they dominate.

I agree completely that Islam, like Christianity, deserves the harshest criticism. But when that criticism is employed to justify racism, imperialism, militarism, authoritarianism, Christian theocracy, torture, wars of aggression and the clear-cutting of our civil rights, I'm going to complain. Not to protect or demand respect for Islam, but to protect and demand respect for humanism, democracy and liberty.

1 comment:

  1. The thing to remember about neo-conservatives is that they're essentially neo-Platonists that embrace a bifurcated "philosopher king" model of governance, like that advocated by Plato in The Republic. They are not explicitly Christian, but encourage a Judeo-Christian outlook, a belief in a firm moral framework and -- ironically, for a movement founded by "reformed" Trotskyites -- an opium for the masses being profoundly necessary to a smoothly functioning society in their view.

    You hit it on the head when you bring up authoritarianism: Neoconservatives are essentially plutocrats. If you read their seminal texts, such as the compilation of Irving Kristol's writings entitled Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, you are inescapably drawn to the conclusion that their ideal model is authoritarian, with the philosophers -- the neocon intellectuals -- providing the guiding hand for the "men of action" (as Eric Hoffer would put it), with moral agency providd by religious authority, together forming a plutocracy.

    In all, neoconservatism exemplifies the pattern of mass movements Eric Hoffer observed with Communism, Nazism, fascism, and religious movements, in The True Believer and The Ordeal of Change.


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