President Obama and the Herr Schultz Syndrome
Berlin, 1931. Despite intimidation and overt acts of violence, Herr Schultz, an aging Jewish fruit vendor, is convinced that the Brown Shirts and Hitler Youth are just extremist aberrations and that all will return to normal soon. He understands the German people. After all, he himself is German. Nobody, especially the Germans of Goethe and Mozart, could possibly believe Nazi propaganda. Hitler and Goebbels do not represent the good German people. Their propaganda will not resonate with the good German people, who are home cooking Wiener Schnitzel and practicing their yodeling. (Herr Schultz from the musical Cabaret -- with apologies to Christopher Isherwood.)
Now we hear the same argument from the Obama camp. The vast majority of Muslims are not extremists, and, just like Americans, they are going about their daily business and want the same things Americans do. Here is a revealing quote from Obama's 2008 interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria:
... but what is absolutely true is that there has been a shift in Islam that I believe is connected to the failures of governments and the failures of the West to work with many of these countries, in order to make sure that opportunities are there, that there's bottom-up economic growth. ... But what we also want to do is to shrink the pool of potential recruits. And that involves engaging the Islamic world rather than vilifying it, and making sure that we understand that not only are those in Islam who would resort to violence a tiny fraction of the Islamic world, but that also, the Islamic world itself is diverse.
Herr Schultz is convinced, despite the growing number of jack-booted Nazis whom he hears and sees in the streets, that Nazi propaganda will not resonate with the German people. In Herr Schultz's mind, the grievance-mongers and community organizers like Hitler and Goebbels have no chance of selling their ideology to the good German people.
Like Herr Schultz, President Obama is convinced that radical Islam (Islamo-fascism, Islamism) will not resonate with the vast majority of Muslims. This despite:
* Muslim mobs attacking Christian churches all over the Levant and Maghreb. Christian churches are constantly being attacked, burned, or forced into closure -- not just in Nigeria and Iraq, but in Afghanistan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iran, Sudan, Tanzania, and Tunisia.
* Public executions of apostates.
* Huge crowds cheering Muslim leadership when they damn Israel and the USA. During the Egyptian elections, a leading Islamist candidate in Egypt's presidential election, Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, branded Israel a "racist state" and said a shared 1979 peace treaty was "a national security threat" that should be revised. He also denounced al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's assassination by U.S. Special Forces as an act of "state terrorism." The Muslim Brotherhood candidate in Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, gave an apparently inspiring stump speech before the students of Cairo University and told them, "Death in the name of Allah is our goal." Check out the crowd scenes in this YouTube video of the TV cleric Safwat Higazy telling thousands of supporters at a Brotherhood rally in the Nile Delta, "We are seeing the dream of the Islamic Caliphate coming true." The Obama administration dismisses such talk as hyperbole. They don't really mean it. They just want the same thing for the people of Egypt that the U.S. wants for its people. When they have to govern, reality will set in, and the rhetoric will fade.
* Demonstrations in the U.K., Brussels, and other European Muslim enclaves with signs proclaiming that Islam will "dominate the world," "Death to Israel," and other charming threats to antiquarian values, such as "Freedom go to hell."
For Obama and his team, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, there is nothing to see here. Just move on, please. The official line is that the Muslim street and their leaders are just upset because of lack of economic opportunity, and the U.S. history of propping up dictatorships, economic exploitation, and lack of cultural respect.
In fact, the Obama administration has taken the Herr Schultz Syndrome a step farther by placing a gag order on members of his administration criticizing any form of Islam. Censorship has thoroughly penetrated the war colleges and intelligence agencies -- evinced by a politically correct Pentagon, an assistant defense secretary for homeland defense who absurdly refuses to identify "violent Islamist extremism" as motivating al-Qaeda, and an intelligence chief who thinks the Muslim Brotherhood is "largely secular."
Even criticism of Islamo-fascism as opposed to Islam per se is verboten, as the Obama team fears that such criticism may be seen as Muslim-bashing and belittling of Islam in general and will just succeed in angering Muslims and driving them toward rather than away from radical Islam. Pursuant to this mindset, we now learn that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has even gone so far as to drop religious freedom from the State Department's human rights reports.
Yet the ideology of Islamo-fascism that the Obama administration deigns to criticize is fundamentally incompatible with Western Enlightenment values and the U.S. Constitution in particular.
Christopher Hitchens has pointed out numerous parallels between Islamo-fascism and the brand of fascism that was introduced to the world by the likes of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis:
Both movements are based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind. ... Both are hostile to modernity (except when it comes to the pursuit of weapons), and both are bitterly nostalgic for past empires and lost glories. Both are obsessed with real and imagined "humiliations" and thirsty for revenge. Both are chronically infected with the toxin of anti-Jewish paranoia ... Both are inclined to leader worship and to the exclusive stress on the power of one great book. Both have a strong commitment to sexual repression-especially to the repression of any sexual 'deviance'-and to its counterparts, the subordination of the female and contempt for the feminine. Both despise art and literature as symptoms of degeneracy and decadence; both burn books and destroy museums and treasures.
He goes on to point out a basic tenet of German fascism was the notion of a master race and its superiority to all others. The Islamo-fascist variant of this is what Hitchens calls the concept of "the 'pure' and the 'exclusive' over the unclean and the kufar or profane."
The historian and classicist Victor Davis Hanson buttresses Hitchens' observations:
Islamic fascism' [is] the perfect nomenclature for the agenda of radical Islam, for a variety of historical and scholarly reasons. ... First, the general idea of 'fascism'-the creation of a centralized authoritarian state to enforce blanket obedience to a reactionary, all-encompassing ideology-fits well the aims of contemporary Islamism that openly demands implementation of sharia law and the return to a Pan-Islamic and theocratic caliphate. In addition, Islamists, as is true of all fascists, privilege their own particular creed of true believers by harkening back to a lost, pristine past, in which the devout were once uncorrupted by modernism. ... Because fascism is born out of insecurity and the sense of failure, hatred for Jews is de rigueur. To read al Qaeda's texts is to reenter the world of Mein Kampf. ... Envy and false grievance, as in the past with Italian, German, or Japanese whining, are always imprinted deeply within the fascist mind. ... Second, fascism thrives best in a once proud, recently humbled, but now ascendant, people. They are ripe to be deluded into thinking contemporary setbacks were caused by others and are soon to be erased through ever more zealotry.
It is not just a boots-on-the-ground-war or drones-in-the-air war; it is an ideological war. Defeating an ideology by sending in the drones is an almost comical idea. Time for Obama to lift the gag order on doctrinal criticism of Islam. Gagging criticism as Islamophobic or Muslim-bashing is a sure way to lose the ideological war.
As Salim Mansur wrote in the Toronto Sun back in 2009:
When the West concedes to Islamists in the mistaken belief that subjecting Islam and Muslim history to intensive criticism amounts to "hate speech" and must not be allowed, then freedom is undermined and totalitarianism in the Arab-Muslim world gets further entrenched.
The reason why there are Islamists is because there is Islamism. The reason why there are Islamo-fascists is because there is Islamo-fascism. There would have been no Marxists without Marxism. There would have been no Nazis without Nazism. How hard is that?