I was watching, by accident, the opening ceremonies of the Olympics the other night and was struck by the language used by the NBC network anchors. As the U.S. delegation came onto the field and was met with a thunderous ovation, the NBC guy said (paraphrasing closely): “The Greeks clearly distinguish between the American people and the American government – most of them oppose U.S. foreign policy but they love and admire individual Americans.”
Fabulous! Is this the historic vindication of the New Left? For this is precisely the same language we old SDSers used back in the Sixties to describe how the Vietnamese felt about the Yankees who were napalming their fields (and sons).
Now, I wonder if we are allowed the same latitude in describing Islamic terrorism. Some of my friends on the Left are still having some trouble admitting such a thing exists – at least as some form of agency independent of U.S. imperialism.
And those who do, still have tons of trouble criticizing Islam itself. This is awful strange given the supposedly overwhelming secular nature of the American Left. The same people who can publicly, and rightfully, slap around the Pope and the institutionality of the entire international Catholic con game all of a sudden go mum when someone suggests that Islamic terrorism might – to some degree, just maybe, perhaps, sorta-kinda- have its roots in Islam itself!
Oh, heavens no. A thousand curses on your 72 virgins! To criticize Islam itself is ipso facto racist.
But are you sure? Why can’t we apply our Vietnam/U.S. Olympic Team standard to this question? Something like: we clearly distinguish between individual Moslems some of whom we love and admire on the one hand and on the other the obscurantist traditions of a major religion which refuses a modernizing reformation and which conspires to keep hundreds of millions (especially women) in spiritual and even physical bondage?
The interview is with Bahram Soroush, an Iranian leftist civil rights activist living in the U.K. He was interviewed for satellite TV on a program produced by the Iranian Communist Workers Party (For those of you conservatives who hiccup over this, remember that in the fight against Islamic Fundamentalism the Marxists are your allies. They sat on the Iraqi Governing Council created by the U.S. after overthrowing Saddam). Here’s some thoughtful excerpts:
On supposed “Islamophobia:”
“…That is the trouble with this term, because I think it is being used for scaremongering, for political scaremongering, for what I would call 'intellectual blackmail', and trying to stifle any criticism of Islam, which is very legitimate. Given the atrocities of the Islamic movements and organisations in countries such as Iran and Afghanistan, and the carnage of September 11, the honour killings, which are claiming hundreds of lives everyday, and so on it is very understandable that people should have a dislike of Islam and that this negative perception of Islam should have grown. So, of course, any attacks or any ghettoisation of people because they follow a particular religion should be condemned wherever we find them, but that should not be confused with racial attacks, something where I think there is a great deal of confusion…
…Well, a lot of Islamic lobbyists and their supporters, even from within the Left, like the Socialist Workers' Party here in the UK, are very fond of portraying any criticism of Islam as racism. So it has become almost politically incorrect to criticise Islam. And this is apart from the fact that even physically you should be really careful! Because in countries like Iran if you criticise Islam you should await a Fatwa against you and the punishment can be torture and execution. In the West, where at least political Islam is not in power, what you are witnessing is that you are being blackmailed into silence by this scaremongering. Racial attacks do happen and they should be confronted head on. But at the same time we should make it clear that this attempt is being made to portray anything that is directed against immigrants and blacks and members of so-called ethnic minorities as an attack against Islam…
…Take the case of the Islamic Republic in Iran. It is not just a group of pious believers in Islam who out of their purity are trying to practise their ideas. That's not the case. It's really a political movement, which has a political agenda and is using a religion that has an infinite capacity for violence and for being against freedom, against the basic rights of the people, to defend their own position, their own privileged status. This is used by Islamic organisations as well throughout the world…
Great reading, Make sure you the read the whole piece before sounding off.