Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Islam + Fascism = Double Plus Ungood?

In the past couple weeks, Bush officials have resorted to old lows--brandishing the "F" word. It wasn't enough to compare Saddam Hussein in Iraq to Hitler (remember the "appeasement" talk in 2003?), but now Rummy and others are carting out all the historical baggage they can muster to further their war against Eurasia (sorry, that was hard to resist). The creation of the term "Islamofascism" is an Orwellian gem, a double plus ungood, if you will. The major problem with this, other than being a grand example of a fallacious historical analogy, is that the concept doesn't exist in the real world (something the Bush folks seem to focus on a lot). It is useful to propagandize the masses for sure, but it is furthering a lack of understanding about the Middle East and Islam in general already ubiquitous in the U.S.

Just today, here is Bush reminding us we're at war...note the familar enemies of the past. "Bin laden and his terrorist's allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them." Reminder Maybe someone should remind Bush he dismantled intelligence units designed to nab bin Laden. Oh, well.

Below are some examples of what is wrong with historical distortion and the current trendy Islamofascist talk (other than Christopher Hitchens has made it his favorite term). Other related issues follow.

Brief Overview


Islamofascism and the Big Lie

Anatomy of Fascism

So what about the concept of fascism, as it floats around freely in our culture, as applied a bit closer to home?

"Don't think that modern fascists are like Hitler or Mussolini. Today's Big Government-Big Business tyrants are just as willing to use violence. But they do it more efficiently than the old-time fascists-- with higher tech and lower costs to them. They have the best looks, politicians, celebrities, and control mechanisms that money can buy. Yes, their own conscience tells them that true democracy would be nice. But suppressing their conscience, they undermine the rights of the working and middle classes. Their operating principle is "Might, Money,Male, Murder-- and also White--Make Right." They wreck the environment. They fool you,rule you, use you, abuse you--and make you like it. They divide you by race, sex, class, and nationality. But they fear the power of the powerless. They're afraid of what you could do if you get off the boob tube and drugs, out of the night clubs and cut-throat competition--and work with others for equal rights."

Bertram Gross, author of Friendly Fascism, South End Press,

Here's more on this idea.

Friendly Fascism

Let's also reconsider Fascism: concentrated private control of wealth, control of information, massive investment/manufacture of arms and military equipment, suppression of labor movements...sound familiar?

So, since we're playing with terms and definitions here, how about this one?

Fascism closer to home

Granted, much of the use of the term "fascism" has been hyperbolic, on all fronts. The term "Nazi" or "Fascist" has been abused to the point that it's merely a swear word, that is, it's almost lost it's historical context with its present usage (while obviously we all know it has a very specific context in the past). However, once a state begins appropriation of such radical and emotional verbiage, especially to characterize a perceived enemy, what images are conjured? How do they inform about the present and how does the term "fascist" apply to current world woes? History can be used and misused as a weapon of propaganda in the present to control future developments. As Orwell suggested, "He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future." Here's Newt Gingrich on Bush critics as enablers and appeasers of the evildoers, for example:

Words as Weapons

It is also the case that many on the right have used the term "Nazi" interchangeably with "fascist" when criticizing those who oppose the Bush agenda (think O'Reilly). Here

A bit of the pot calling the kettle black...or no? Does it cut both ways? Should we avoid this rash talk on all sides? We would do well to think and examine facts before we leap to linguistic hyperbole. However, where the facts demonstrably fit, we ought wear them. Regardless of our personal ideologies.

Would we now know fascism if we saw it? Robert Freeman piece

As we approach the fifth anniversary of 9/11 (in a highly politicized climate of midterm elections where the ruling party smells trouble), is Islamofascism the latest answer to "why do they hate us?" Is it the new red herring? Is it the rationale for "stay the course?" ("Cut and run" sounds like "appeasement" of fascism...hmmmm). It also sounds like fearmongering. This is what our government has left in its mighty arsenal...

I truly hope not. I hope there will soon be a sober analysis of the facts and issues at the root of global conflicts where the U.S. seemingly finds itself in the tempestuous center. Some departing words of wisdom from American muckraker I.F.Stone...maybe Rummy should take note.

"All governments lie." Double plus ungood, indeed.


Blogger David said...

An interesting post. Thank you for sharing.

September 05, 2006 1:10 PM  
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