Spreading awareness, or attacking a religion?
Muslims constitute about a quarter of the world's population and around two percent of the U.S. population. Muslims are a part of many ethnic groups. Arabs are actually a minority in the Muslim world; the most populous Muslim countries (Indonesia, Pakistan, India) are non-Arab.
The Muslim world is complex and divided religiously (into Sunni, Shiite and other groups) and politically. There are Muslim absolute monarchies, constitutional monarchies, secular states and Islamic republics. To understand this world, one needs to avoid stereotypes and dispassionately examine it.
But immediately after Sept. 11, the Bush Administration, having no patience for nuance or dispassionate examination, set about trying to link the secular republic of Iraq with the mostly Saudi al-Qaeda terrorists. The Bush Administration believed that, having been attacked by al-Qaeda, Americans would support an attack on the completely unrelated target of Iraq. But what did al-Qaeda and Iraq really have in common, besides a common ancestry?
Al-Qaeda hated Iraq for its suppression of Islamic religious activism and its tolerance of Christians and other religious minorities. Despite this rocky relationship, the administration was somehow able to conflate the two, so that even today about a third of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was involved in Sept. 11.
Those responsible for the Terrorism Awareness Project espouse this view. On Sept. 13, 2001, one of the speakers of "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week", right-wing extremist Ann Coulter, said in National Review: "We should invade [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."
They're joined by secular neoconservatives like Norman Podhoretz, who has called on Bush to bomb Iran, which he calls "currently the main center of the Islamo-fascist ideology." Iran is another country with no ties to Sept. 11 or al-Qaeda, and indeed a mortal enemy of al-Qaeda. But it is another Muslim state in the Bush administration's crosshairs, along with Syria. It is in this context of unbalanced and unsophisticated foreign policy in addition to the threat of American disillusionment with the Iraq War that the radical neoconservatives are pushing for "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week."
He founded (as a non-student in his 60s) "Students for Academic Freedom," which insists that conservative students are treated unfairly in academia. Horowitz is known for his 1990s ads in student newspapers protesting calls for reparations for slavery, stating that African-Americans should be thankful that they're here.
In 2003 he maligned Rachel Corrie, killed by an Israeli military bulldozer while protesting a house demolition in Gaza, as a "terrorist" supporter. He is not about spreading "awareness" but selectively focusing on aspects of the Muslim world that might produce sympathy for more U.S.-sponsored "regime change."
The "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" strategy is apparently to focus on gender inequality in the Muslim world. Participating students invite women's groups and gay/lesbian groups to get involved, hoping to build a united front of general indignation at Islamic oppression of women and gays.
Of course, in the Muslim world, the status of women varies. There is a big difference between the status of women in Syria and in Saudi Arabia. Recall how Laura Bush made a big deal about the burqa in Afghanistan, implying that the U.S. invasion would somehow remove it? It's still worn by the great majority of Afghan women. It was not invented by the Taliban and has not disappeared just because the U.S. has installed a client regime.
The term "Islamofascism" itself - popularized by Eliot Cohen (Condi Rice's deputy), Frank J. Gaffney and other neoconservative writers for the National Review, and used by President Bush in saber-rattling speeches - is highly problematic.
It's defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary as "a controversial term equating some modern Islamic movements with the European fascist movements of the early twentieth century."
teach Japanese fascism in the 1930s and '40s. I discuss different definitions of fascism, pointing out how some seem to fit the Japanese case, while others don't, causing some scholars to even reject application of the term. But there is precious little in any mainstream scholarly definition of fascism that applies to the Islamic world in general or even specific countries.
What "ideology" links the disparate targets of this administration - the al-Qaeda and Taliban Sunni fanatics, the Baathists of Iraq and Syria, the Shiite "mullocracy-guided democracy" of Iran - other than the common denominator of Islam? But you can't in polite company attack Islam in general, so you dub it "Islamofascism."
Those seeking to link contemporary Islam with European fascism emphasize feelings of victimization and dreams of restoring lost glory. But where in the Muslim world is the charismatic leader? Bin Laden? The Baathists and Shiites hate him. Where's the mass-based party? Where's ultranationalism or racism? Islam emphasizes the equality of peoples before God, while the Qur'an explicitly states that righteous Christians and Jews will enter Paradise.
The real intention here is to couple "Islam" with a powerful epithet, devoid of analytical content, conjuring up images of a universally-detested past. President George W. Bush insists on comparing the constitutionally weak Iranian President Ahmadinejad, leading a country that hasn't attacked another in hundreds of years, with Hitler (as his father compared Saddam to Hitler).
Similarly, the proponents of the "Islamofascism" concept want to play upon emotions rather than really spread "awareness." Their historical analogies are absurd, while their planned week is more than an affront to Muslims. It is an insult to their intelligence.
MPAC Releases Tips for Tackling ‘Islamo-Fascism’ Events at Universities
MUST WATCH: Keith Olberman, WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD: DAVID HOROWITZ!!!!