The attempt by David Horowitz and his allies to launch “Islamofascism Awareness Week” on American campuses has been met with a variety of responses. One of these is a challenge to the validity of the term itself. It’s quite the done thing, in liberal academic circles, to sneer at any comparison between fascist and jihadist ideology. People like Tony Judt write to me to say, in effect, that it’s ahistorical and simplistic to do so. And in some media circles, another kind of reluctance applies: Alan Colmes thinks that one shouldn’t use the word Islamic even to designate jihad, because to do so is to risk incriminating an entire religion. He and others don’t want to tag Islam even in its most extreme form with a word as hideous as fascism. Finally, I have seen and heard it argued that the term is unfair or prejudiced because it isn’t applied to any other religion. [complete article]
Editor’s Comment — The word “Islamofascism,” is not a conceptual tool of discrimination. It does not circumscribe a phenomenon and thereby shine light upon and bring clarity to our understanding of the world. Hitchens implicity admits as much by focusing all his attention on what he sees as the suitability of the second half of the formulation — fascism — and nothing on how “Islamo” fits. Google, on the other hand, makes it perfectly clear how the prefix “Islamo” fits — almost exclusively as a lead in to fascism/ist. By this self-fulfilling coupling, the term Islamofascism displays itself as a purely political tool used to twist perceptions and bolster support for reckless policies.
When Hitchens speaks up in defense of the word Islamofascism, he should recognize that the use of this term has nothing to do with semantics and everything to do with the promotion of fear and hatred.
During my current trip to the UK, I met a young family from Syria. After their recent arrival and within a few hours of entering the country, a British child exclaimed in their direction, “I hate terrorists.” The object of this child’s hatred was the meekest looking couple cradling a bonneted six-month old baby. They had rudely been informed what it means to be visibly Muslim in a nation that has loudly and repeatedly been warned about the Islamofascist threat. Christopher Hitchens, Tony Blair, David Horowitz, Norman Podhoretz, and George Bush — these are among the prominent voices that have been watering the seeds of fear, suspicion and hatred inside those who see, in the Muslims they encounter, the face of terrorism.
“Islamofascism” is Islamophobia. It is the anti-Semiticism of our era.