The Strange Case of the Secular Progressive-Islamist Alliance
Posted by addisethiopia on November 28, 2015
One of the frequently cited quips in the halls of Congress is that politics makes for strange bedfellows, meaning that some alliances between Democrats and Republicans, especially given today’s toxic environment in Washington, are hard to fathom. However, perhaps even more difficult to understand is the strange affinity that has developed over the past two decades between Islamists – radical Muslims – and the American progressive movement, or what Michael Walsh has termed the “unholy left.”
At first glance, the two entities seem utterly different – one proceeding from the darker recesses of Islamic culture, and the other a seemingly quintessential product of American idealism. In fact, however, what we find between the two political movements is a confluence of interests and perspectives on a variety of matters. Indeed, often the affinity of these two outlooks is frightening.
For instance, both share an animus bordering on hatred for Christianity and Judaism, with the secular progressives trying to expunge Christians from public life, while Islamists yearn to annihilate Jews. Certainly, academic progressives do nothing to discourage the anti-Semitic hatred of Muslims from being expressed on American campuses, as David Horowitz recently pointed out. Why, he wonders, do prominent American universities, such as Brandeis and UCLA, permit offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood to have free rein on their campuses? “Any other group that preached hatred of ethnic groups or supported barbaric terrorists who slaughter men, women and children as part of a demented mission to cleanse the earth of infidels would face campus sanctions, disciplinary action, and be charged with conduct code violations.”
But apparently this doesn’t bother secular progressives, who dominate American higher education. Quite the contrary: progressives luxuriate in moralistic narcissism whenever presented with the opportunity to condemn “primitive thinkers” for “Islamophobia,” sometimes even after radical Muslims have perpetrated some horrific attack, as in the Fort Hood massacre. And other times, it just takes a youngster falsely accused of bringing a bomb to school, which turned out to be a homemade clock, to trigger progressive sensibilities: “Finally,” crowed The Daily Beast, “the Muslim hero America has been waiting for.” In fact, Ahmed Mohamed’s little exercise earned him a visit to the White House and a note of encouragement from Hillary Clinton. He later departed with his family for the apparently more agreeable clime of Qatar, a Muslim country. Perhaps officials are more tolerant there.
They’re not, of course, nor are secular progressives in America or radical Islamists everywhere. Neither believes in free speech, as progressives put clamps on expression wherever they can, especially in higher education, by forbidding outside speakers to lecture and by doubling down on trigger warnings, microaggressions, miniscule free speech zones, and “safe places” for suffering souls overcome with a case of the vapors after being exposed to a dissident thought. Meanwhile, Islamist punishments for blasphemy are unforgiving, brutal, and nefarious.
Further, secular progressives and radical Islamists hold America in contempt, and they favor rule by an unaccountable elite – an administrative-bureaucratic class of experts, in the progressive case, a vision that has lurked in the progressive imagination since Teddy Roosevelt’s days, while Muslims insist on obeisance to sharia enforced by religious overseers. Both aspire to totalitarian rule under dictatorships of those who are self-selected by political or religious criteria. These presiding masters are radically anti-modern and yearn to establish or recreate primeval societies based on apocalyptic rants of environmental cultists on the one hand and atavistic seventh-century radicals on the other. Both movements lie habitually, with the assurance that deception is justified by the needs of their religious-political movements, and with the assurance of never having to face the consequences of their words and actions. Finally, both are supported by very large segments of their societies.
Of course, there are differences as well, several of which are important. For instance, radical Islamists view Western libertinism with abhorrence, do not tolerate homosexuality or feminism, and worship a higher being – all of which are anathema to secular progressive ideology. Indeed, in the long run, progressives could no more live under sharia than Islamists could celebrate the gay lifestyle. But this matters little in the short run, during which each side finds the other useful for combating a common foe – a constitutional democracy with Judeo-Christian roots. This means that secular progressives and Islamists will continue to work in concert, indefinitely, for all the reasons cited above. And in spite of isolated setbacks, they are winning.
Perhaps not such a strange alliance, after all.
Can a Dying Civilization Defeat ISIS and Radical Islam?
By any measure, we are losing the war against ISIS and radical Islam. A bigger problem is we do not yet realize we are losing or why. Their legions are growing, their ambitions are apocalyptic, and our resolve is as strong as silly putty.
Without question, our military is superior to any other on earth and we could inflict devastating damage to ISIS if we unleashed our military forces against them. But we are not going to do that—not today, not next month and not after the next atrocity strikes Cleveland, Phoenix or Richmond.
We have a President and his designated replacement-in-waiting who think “climate change” is a greater threat than Islamists with nuclear weapons, and that the way to defeat squads of suicide bombers is to welcome their brothers, sisters and cousins as our neighbors and give them the right to vote.
But we have a deeper problem than our commander in chief being AWOL. If you ask yourself how he can get away with never uttering the words “radical Islam,” then you might begin uncovering the deeper problem: Obama is not alone in willfully avoiding the truth about an enemy sworn to our destruction. He has many accomplices and coconspirators.
If we are honest we must face a very dark and sobering fact: The outcome of this war is far from certain. We are proud of being a nation of can-do optimists, but we are also a nation in denial about a culture in a tailspin.
The real enemy is not “over there” in Syria and Iraq, or in Paris or London. The enemy is already here in our homeland, and I am not speaking of terrorist cells, Syrian refugees, or radical imams. I am speaking of the accelerating rot in our own culture.
Our secular culture is adrift in a sea of relativism, escapism, and self-indulgent inanities, with our media and entertainment elites leading the parade.
Where were you, Daddy, when we were waging the war on terror?” Oh, well, I was watching reality TV. On TV, the good guys always defeat the bad guys. And I can always change the channel.
In this besotted condition, we are ill equipped to fight an enemy full of passion, idealism and self-confidence. Islamist suicide bombers believe they are dying for a higher purpose, the greater glory of Allah. What, exactly, are our ideals? The freedom to enjoy pornography and polygamy and 24-hour pizza delivery?
The war with ISIS and its Islamist allies is what historian Samuel P. Huntington called a “clash of civilizations” in a book by that title in 1996.
Tocqueville warned us 200 years ago that we would never be defeated by an invader, but we could abandon liberty by adopting a “soft tyranny” of democratic corruption.
The early 20th century economist Joseph Schumpeter gave a similar warning about the inevitable corruption of morals that comes with capitalism’s triumph. If everything is permitted in an open marketplace, higher values will be replaced by cheaper ones— and there is no principle within pure capitalism to halt that cultural degeneration.
Then in our generation, along comes “multiculturalism” to teach that there are no superior cultures, only different ones. Witchcraft is as much a legitimate personal religion as Christianity or Buddhism if that is what turns you on, and polygamy is just another “lifestyle” with its own cable TV channel.
The great Russian novelist Alexandr Solzhenitsyn saw this deepening hollowness in the West as a global development spanning five centuries, with Soviet Communism only a symptom of lost souls. In his Templeton Lecture in 1983, long before the rise of radical Islam, he warned:
“It has become embarrassing to state that evil makes its home in the individual human heart before it enters a political system. Yet it is not considered shameful to make dally concessions to an integral evil. Judging by the continuing landslide of concessions made before the eyes of our very own generation, the West is ineluctably slipping toward the abyss.”
ISIS and radical Islam have declared war on us not because of anything we have done—not because we are a friend to Israel and not because we have not yet toppled the bloody Syrian dictator Assad. ISIS and radical Islamists hate us for who we are. The irony is, we ourselves do not know who we are.
The Chinese philosopher Sun Tsu said it best in The Art of War:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
ISIS hates the West as an abominable nest of infidels, infidels who reject the Quran and Shariah Law, and so must be annihilated. We are the obstacle to the new Caliphate. OKAY— got it: We stand against the Caliphate. But what do we stand for? What is our alternative ideal to the Islamist ideal? Those happy optimists who think this is a largely academic question should consider the generational dimension to cultural identities and dissatisfactions.
While radical Islam may indeed hold little attraction for the large majority of Muslim immigrants and refugees now relocating in Europe and America, it will be different matter for thousands of their children. The mastermind behind the Paris terror attack was the son of successful, fully assimilated Moroccan immigrants.
A growing number of reliable public opinion polls of Muslim populations (Pew, Gallup, Rasmussen, among others) reveal that 13% to 32% of Muslims have a positive view of ISIS — as do 17% of Syrian refugees.
So, it is both reasonable and prudent to ask ourselves — what percentage of the children of several million Muslim migrants will choose the values of our ascendant secular hedonism over the allure of “true Islam”? One percent of two million is 20,000 potential jihadists.
Radical Islam’s principles are out there for all to see if they open their eyes. But what are our principles? In truth, they are up for grabs.