Towards A Good Samaritan World

Thursday, September 07, 2006

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON'S TASK in defending Bush's "Islamic fascism" phrase is embarrassingly easy...


  • There's one thing to defend the accuracy of the statement, but another to defend its appropriateness of its public utterance by the President of the United States. The semantic content of "crusade" long ago ceased to be explicitly Christian in English but it was still a fairly bad idea to use it in a public pronouncement regarding fighting actors who are overwhelmingly Islamist. Like "crusade", "jihad" is also not explicitly islamic in Arabic (though jihad remains a more religiously flavored word as one might expect in a far more overtly religious culture) but to a non-Arabic speaking non-Muslim, "jihad" is linked far more concretely to "holy war". One can easily see that to Arabs, any mention of the word "crusade" is going to translate more directly as Christian "holy war". So it's Islamic and it's Fascist. Calling it Islamic Fascism is going to seem awfully close to placing Islam under the Fascist rubrick. Sure, it's clearly not what Bush meant, but it's how it is reception rather than intention that measures diplomatic success.

    And in a side note, it would seem like a much better match to compare Islamic Fascism to Mussolini's Catholic Italy under the Lateran Treaty. Hitler's fundamentalist interpretation of Catholicism might be regarded as a semi-analogue, but Naziism in general was, I think, too ecumenically nationalist to analogize Islamic fascisms well.

    I suppose as a group, Christian European Fascism of the early 20th century might fit on the varied fascisms, Sunni and Shia, that we find in the Middle-East, but I tend to think of the explicitly Christian elements of European Fascism to be weaker than the explicitly racist elements while for Islamic Fascism the opposite is true. On the other hand, this could be historical amnesia, since folks find racism horrifying far more consistently than exclusionary religion.

    By Blogger Nato, at 9:19 AM  

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