Friday, February 03, 2006

Freedom versus Religious Extremism

Cross-posted at Centrerion

(Forgive the generalization, as it is just that - obviously there are exceptions.)

One thing that continues to trouble me about, broadly, the "Left", is the tendency for leftists to ally themselves with brutal enemies of western civilization. There were many leftists during the Cold War who empathized with the Soviet Union. In the same vein, today, there are many who try to make excuses for the Islamists. The ironic thing is that they (correctly) attack Christianists for their extremism, yet remain silent when it comes to the Islamists, or if they do have something to say, it is understanding, even sympathy. A perfect example is Michael Moore referring to the terrorists killing civilians in Iraq as "freedom fighters". I wonder if he would apply the same label to the Islamists who are threatening to kidnap and murder innocent European civilians over the silly Muhammed cartoons? Well, I'll cut Michael some slack on this one - they are freedom fighters, in the sense that they are fighting freedom, along with their allies, the PC Left. Take this example of a French newspaper editor who has been sacked for printing the cartoons. Also take note of the lefties on the Wikipedia talk board attempting to get the article censored.

It troubles me because I identify much more strongly with left of centre values than I do with right of centre, yet the values of the left are so frequently and disturbingly used to make excuses for the twisted values of the far right. Political correctness is a decent idea in principle, but when it is used to justify the shutting down of free speech and expression, something is terribly wrong. Liberal ideas should not be used as a weapon against liberalism.

It becomes that much more perplexing when, as mentioned above, these same people will (again, correctly) vehemently opposed and attack the ignorant, irrational, anti-science, anti-freedom, anti-logic, anti-everything-that's-fun Christian right, but they will often go so far as to be apologists for the Islamic right.

Personally, I will have none of it. People of the left must start to recognize that what we are dealing with here is actually something even more dangerous than the Christian fundamentalists - they may be neurotic, sex-obsessed control-freaks, but they do not carry around guns and threaten to kidnap people in order to force "self"-censorship.


At 2/03/2006 9:29 a.m., Blogger AT said...

Oh My God! I thought I was the only one, who was feeling this! Because of this ultra anti-western approach and sleeping with the islamic right sometimes I feel very much alienated in the left wing. I totally agree with you.

I personally know many islamic extremists members of NDP. One such active member in toronto is Mr. Mallah, who is a tremendous supporter and member of Hezabollah, a lebanese extremist group. However, he is very much respected in NDP people. Atleast the people on the right actually don't become such hypocritic!

At 2/03/2006 10:56 a.m., Blogger eugene plawiuk said...

I think you exaggerate the left's support for Islam. If you check my blog you will see I link to the Workers Communist Party of Iran and Iraq who have fought hard as secularists against Islam, in particular around womens rights. Aslo my latest blog article on this issue is from the left and secular attack on the issue of blasphemy and freedom of speech.

Michael Moore was also making a point that not all insurgents were Terrorists, some had legitimate claims and still do. As we will see in the next few Weeks as Sunni's protest against the attacks by gunmen on their communities.

The American regime in Iraq banned unions, has held thousands of Iraqis with no charges, etc. etc. so that fuels resistance, which can be used by Islamic Fascists to fuel their cause. But that doesn't mean everyone in the Middle East is Islamicists, and the problem is that the Left in the Middle East often gets Lebanon it is stronger than anywhere else.....and again gets ignored.

See:The Need for Arab Anarchism

At 2/03/2006 11:24 a.m., Blogger lecentre said...

A brilliant post. You make a very valid point: the left needs to stop supporting Islamists. Partisanship has got the point where the expression 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' has gotten to be interpreted as the other side of the political spectrum is my enemy, so I can support rabid terrorists who oppose people who disagree with me on politics.
As to what Arnab said, it doens't surprise me that the NDP should be friendly to Hizballah supporters, because Svend Robinson has shown that the NDP is anti-Israel. Your example reinforces what Ryan said.

Again, a great post, and one I'm quite happy you cross-posted at centrerion. It was a while since ur last cross-post, but this was worth the wait. I'm going to add links at centrerion at the bottom of your post to posts of related interest, as selected by subject and author.

At 2/03/2006 2:23 p.m., Blogger Robert McClelland said...

The "left" doesn't support Muslim extremists. The "left" supports Muslims. In other words, I, as a lefty for instance, support any Muslim who takes offense to these cartoons and reacts in a civilized manner with protests and/or boycotts or by speaking out against them. I do not support any Muslim extremist who reacts with violence or threats of violence.

Now lets talk about the "right" who does not support Muslims who react in a civilized manner because they see no difference between that and the actions of the extremists.

At 2/03/2006 2:50 p.m., Blogger late said...

I tend to agree with the thrust of your argument, that Islamic extremism is more dangerous than Christian extremism and that the left has gone overboard attacking domestic christians instead of the bigger problem of radical Islam. This is also the general thrust of much of what Christopher Hitchens writes, perhaps keep that in mind when you next read an article by him.

But, there is a very good reason why some people view the anti-American forces in Iraq and the anti-NATO forces in Afghanistan as freedom fighters. If you can consider the perspective of people in these countries who are attached to their way of life, and do not think kindly of foreigners trying to impose foreign ideals and foreign systems of government on them, especially when a different religious system is involved. Especially in Iraq, it would be easy for a unemployed Iraqi to become frustrated with the American occupiers for protecting the pipelines better than it protects the electricity infrastructure or even the city streets.

So I do understand how some people there could conceivably see their fight as for freedom from occupation, which is analogous to for example from western world such as the American and French revolutions where are seen as heroic. It's really no wonder that there is some sympathy for this analogy especially amongst people who are already biased towards not liking America's involvement in the war in the first place.

But of course, that analogy breaks down quickly if you analyze it. The American and French revolutions were about throwing off the shackles of oppression for freedom, but this is not what the anti-western forces of these battlegrounds want at all. They are fighting freedom, not fighting for it... something you phrased nicely in your article I think.

I could point out that McVeigh was a Christian terrorist, and that the Ireland conflict was between Christian sects as well. Many on the left do point this out, but the analogy fails precisely because it is so shallow. They really have gotten tired of fighting in N Ireland, and aside from the occasional nutter like McVeigh and a handful of skinheads and KKK idiots, modern Christian extremism is just not as violent as its modern Islamic counterpart.

It's important to keep balance and perspective here: while domestic Christian extremists threaten to try to impose their faith on others and subtract the rights of people they do not like, islamic extremists both here and abroad. Which is "worse"? It's a false question, both must be stopped at every turn -- but it's very important to not forget about one or the other.

At 2/03/2006 5:48 p.m., Blogger tglavin said...

Good for you, Grit. I have always been unapolagetically of "the Left," but I agree with you entirely. I'd go further: In all these discussions, there is a disgraceful tendency to ignore our Muslim comrades - journalists, poets, and intellectuals - who are locked in real life-and-death struggles with the same so-called "Muslim" sensibilities that the Left too often rushes to defend.

As in "Who Offends Islam More?"


At 2/05/2006 8:08 p.m., Blogger omor said...

Well said. Earns a shoutback.


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