Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Islamofascists and their apologists

Charles Evans asks "Who is the Fascist Here?" but is unqualified to answer his own question, as we'll see. Like most political science professors I've talked to or whose writings I've read, he either doesn't know what real fascism is or redefines it to suit his purpose. Let there be no mistake: his agenda as an apologist for "radical Islam" ("only" 10% of a billion-plus people who want to see the West go down in literal flames) is to paint George W. Bush as a fascist while whitewashing the religious tyranny of a major religion's "fringe element."

I'm far from a GWB apologist, but this retired professor just doesn't know what he's talking about. Let's take his claims one by one.

First, it is untrue that "Calling one's opponents unpleasant names is known in philosophy as an ad hominem argument, and it is recognized as a logical fallacy." Evans should know better, if he really is so acquainted with logical fallacies. He's making one himself, asserting a ludicrous absolute that because ad hominem arguments involve "unpleasant names," therefore all usage of "unpleasant names" are ad hominem. It would have been proper for him to say, "An ad hominem argument in philosophy includes calling one's opponents unpleasant names." By reversing the statement, Evans immediately discounts the possibility that an "unpleasant name" could be very true and appropriate. Is it ad hominem to call Hitler and Mussolini "fascists" despite the universal opinion that they were?

In fact, an ad hominem (literally "to the man" in Latin) argument is to refute someone's statement by personally attacking him and declaring that his statement therefore cannot be true. It is not necessarily ad hominem just because you happen to define someone with a term that happens to offend him. A perfect example is from a little while ago, when our friend Keith Burgess-Jackson called Brian Leiter's anonymous lackey a "jock-sniffer." While derisive, the term aptly described Leiter's sycophant, and moreover, KBJ did far more than attack the "jock-sniffer" personally. Similarly, if certain Muslims are indeed fascist in their beliefs and actions, then Bush, I and many others are perfectly proper to call them the "Islamofascist" neologism.

Of course, I'm calling Evans an "Islamofascism apologist," which I'm certain he'd find "unpleasant," and no doubt he and his supporters would accuse me of hypocrisy by making my own ad hominem attack. However, the difference is that calling him an "unpleasant name" is hardly the crux of my argument.

"Sound logic requires us to understand that bad people and bad ideas are not synonymous, and in the same way, good people do not always have sound ideas. But, bad logic often makes for good propaganda." A student of logic will see another fallacy here: an obviously true, extremely general statement near the end is insufficient to validate the preceding arguments. After all, to disagree with those two sentences is on par with opposing motherhood and favoring sin.

Evans' is already up to his third logical fallacy in the second paragraph. He makes an "appeal to authority" by referencing Georgie Ann Geyer, a noted liberal op-ed writer who has a anti-Republican (not necessarily anti-conservative) axe to grind. But how much can we regard Geyer's cited op-ed, when she waves off George W. Bush's use of "Islamic fascist" as merely "his way of signaling that any young Muslim who doesn't like him (or freedom, for goodness's sake) is almost certainly a fascist"? Geyer is making her own logical fallacy, a straw man argument, by distorting who Bush is calling an "Islamic fascist."

After rambling on about the "imprecise" definitions of fascism, Evans presents his own 14-point amalgam of two others' 14-point definitions of fascism. And who is to say that any of those three are correct? If anything, Old American Century's attempt to "prove" GWB is a fascist falls more than flat, and not just because it distorts news headlines and presents them out of context:

1. Nationalism is hardly a unique trait of fascism. "Mother Russia," anyone? And what is so wrong with having pride in your country, particularly this one with its traditions of freedom and self-determination?

2. "Disregard for human rights" is likewise not confined to fascism, as Lenin and his successors proved. Also, how is it violating anyone's "human rights" for the U.S. to oppose the International Criminal Court, which is deliberately anti-American and whose claimed authority violates our U.S. Constitution?

3. "Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause" is a logical fallacy. "Identification of Scapegoats" would have been correct about tyrants in general, but Britt refused to admit that an enemy can be very real. September 11, 2001, proved that we are fighting a very, very real enemy.

4. "Supremacy of the military." Military spending in the United States, as a percentage of GDP, is far less than historical fascist regimes. The characteristic of the federal government, as it has been for the last seven decades, is the supremacy of the welfare state. The forced redistribution of wealth at the hands of government is socialism, not fascism.

5. "Rampant sexism." Is sexism why GWB chose Condoleeza Rice for National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State? Is sexism the reason Cynthia McKinney was all but given a free pass by mainstream media when she shouted "Do you know who I am?" and struck a Capitol Hill police officer?

However, sexism has never been a historical characteristic of fascist regimes because it never really mattered. Women could be just as important to the state.

6. "Controlled mass media" is the stupidest claim of all these. Is GWB so in control of all mass media outlets that he allows them to spend most of their time attacking his administration, either directly (e.g. RatherGate) or by giving time to his opponents? There are a few links to allegations, but let's "get real" here: I'm not excusing any criminal wrongdoing now, but "dirty tricks" have been happening for decades under both Republicans and Democrats. If you're going to point the finger at Bush, let's also talk about how Clinton sicced the IRS on his enemies.

7. "Obsession with national security." So what about every Democratic candidate accusing Bush of not doing enough, or doing the wrong things, for "national security"? When the White House (not really Bush himself) approved the handover of six U.S. ports' administration to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates, Democrats were the first to accuse him of ignoring the potential threat to "national security." So just who is obsessed?

8. "Religion and government are intertwined." When Barack Obama made very pro-religion statements, did those make him a fascist? It's not ok for Republicans to appeal to a majority of their base, and it's not ok for a North Carolina lawmaker to propose allowing a preacher to talk about politics, but it's ok for Hillary to attend a black church and accuse Bush of running the White House "like a plantation"?

I'm a fundamentalist Christian, but I still have a problem with religious conservatives who use the force of government to impose their values on others. However, there are so many activist courts that nullify conservatives' endeavors, and in fact, the courts often tip things toward liberals.

9. "Corporate Power is Protected." This is wholly incorrect, because fascism seeks to exert its power through controlling business, while preventing business from wielding its own influence. I wrote "influence" because even the largest corporation has no inherent "power." Its only "power" is what customers give it through their patronage, and/or what government gives it via charters/monopolies and other preferential treatment.

10. Fascism suppresses labor no more than socialism and communism: whether a tyrant is fascist or socialist, he will try to destroy any form of organized resistance. What was Lech Wałęsa doing in Poland but organizing a trade union not permitted by the government?

And by the way, how is it bad that GWB "suppressed labor power" by removing their government-protected abilities to coerce campaign money from others? It's not just union members who disagree with their leadership, but the taxpayers who must indirectly hire union workers. If labor unions lose power because they cannot use government to coerce money from me, then that's too bad for them.

11. How is it "disdain for intellectuals and the arts" when government stops taking money from people to give to others? I think science and art are great, but I think it's immoral that money is taken from me to pay for others' enjoyment.

One of the links alleges conservatives' suppression of freedom of speech, but if you check the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, you'll see that the real threat is from the liberal PC crowd.

12. "Obsession with crime and punishment" is in what way restricted to fascism? Wasn't the USSR even more obsessed with definining as many crimes as possible so it could punish/banish dissidents to Siberia? Isn't the "People's Republic of China" still doing the same? Are they fascist?

13. Likewise, "cronyism and corruption" are not only a trademark of fascism, but any other regime based on absolutism. Ferdinand Marcos was not really a fascist, but his dictatorship in the Philippines was marked by "cronyism and corruption" -- then again, it wasn't to any further degree than the rest of Philippine politics.

14. Here we go again with the "fraudulent elections" schtick, which liberals haven't been able to shake since the 2000 presidential election. As usual, there are a lot of links to sites and people with only allegations, but nothing concrete. And there's no mention of Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold, which reportedly received more ballots on Election Day 2004 than were registered voters.

Now let's play Evans' own game and go through his points.

1. "Tradition" is a hallmark of conservatism, which is often confused with fascism. But if you want to talk about a true "cult of tradition," most Muslim nations are far more steeped in their homogenous traditions (often at the point of a gun scimitar) than the extraordinarily heterogenous United States.

And if we're wrong to believe the U.S. is a great nation, the first to be founded directly on the principle of liberty, and that it deserves a special place in history, then who is right? Should we go the Noam Chomsky route and beat ourselves over the head, because we're so evil to be proud of the ideals and innovations we've brought to the rest of the world?

Score: Islamofascists 1, Bush 0.

2. "Fascist governments reject modernism and rationality, although they embrace the instrumentality of technology. Fascist regimes are marked by irrationality, anti-intellectualism, and emotion." How is George W. Bush "reject[ing] modernism and rationality," and is he "anti-intellectual" just because he disagrees with liberal intellectuals? I disagree with them too, so does that make me a fascist?

As a perfect example of how Islam has embraced intellectuals, look at what Muslim rulers did to suppress the great Muslim scholars and authors. While Europe languished in the Dark Ages, Muslim intellectuals advanced human knowledge of mathematics and science (especially algebra and astronomy) and produced wondrous literature. That reversed itself by the Renaissance.

Score: Islamofascists 2, Bush 0.

3. Here Evans is doing nothing more than redefining fascism to suit his own agenda. Fascist leaders have generally favored military conflict because they don't want peaceful solutions, but so have tyrants of all political persuasions. That is simply the nature of absolute rule.

Score: Islamofascists 2, Bush 0.

4. It's nothing new that Democrats and Republicans accuse each other of treason (with libertarians like me accusing both of them), but it's nothing new: the Federalists and Democrat-Republicans did the same to each other in the late 1700s. Fortunately, our Founding Fathers had the foresight to include a very narrow definition of "treason" in the Constitution. And unlike what occurs regularly in a true fascist regime, no one in the United States has yet to be convicted of treason during GWB's presidency. John Walker Lindh could easily have (and should have IMO) but wasn't.

Was George III a fascist? No, he was an absolute ruler but not a fascist, although it was certainly "treason" (and often punishable by death) to oppose him. So Evans is employing a logical fallacy again: fascists consider it "treason" to dissent, but a government that quashes dissent and considers it "treason" is not necessarily fascist.

On the other hand, try dissenting in "secular" Egypt or "moderate" Saudi Arabia, let alone Iran or Syria, and see where that gets you.

Score: Islamofascists 3, Bush 0.

5. GWB must have a strange brand of "fear of diversity or difference" that prompted him to appoint more minorities to prominent positions, and support a guest worker program. On the other hand, how well do Christians fare in "moderate" Saudi Arabia? How respected are their "differences"?

Score: Islamofascists 4, Bush 0.

6. Evans should have stopped at "social frustration of groups or classes of citizens." The rest could have been eliminated entirely, because it refers to everyone: internal, external, above or below. It's akin to saying, "The answer could be a positive number, a negative number, zero, or imaginary."

That said, Bush has no more drawn on voters' emotions than anyone else, whether American politicians or Muslim rulers. Are any particularly bad, though? Though GWB has led the United States into a war, I have yet to hear him call for wiping any nation off the map, unlike certain Muslim leaders. Now that is preying on a people's "social frustration" of others.

Score: Islamofascists 5, Bush 0.

7. Ah yes, there's such hyper-nationalism in the United States that Noam Chomsky was sent off to a concentration camp long ago, right? And Madman Mahmoud is rallying his entire nation against Israel for humanitarian purposes?

Score: Islamofascists 6, Bush 0.

8. This is nothing unique to fascist regimes. Look at Cuba or any other Third World nation that tried socialism. Look at the Muslim nations who attacked Israel three times, and each time got their asses kicked harder than the previous conflict.

Score: Islamofascists 7, Bush 0.

9. Finally Evans stated a somewhat true characteristic of fascism. Fascism views history as purely a struggle of the state, with the individual seen as but a small component. Also, war is not essential, but justified if necessary to preserve the state. Unfortunately for Evans, there just isn't anything in GWB's presidency to prove that he believes this, but the Islamofascists are all about jihad -- literally "struggle" -- to effect Muslim domination across the world.

Score: Islamofascists 8, Bush 0.

10. Politican "elitism" in the United States is not unique to GWB; it's the nature of American politics. However, cultural elitism is a major part of Islamofascism (see #9), and Arabs are well-known for disdain of anyone they perceive as "weak."

Score: Islamofascists 9, Bush 0.

11. Evans is really stretching it here. According to him, the Greeks were fascists? After all, they venerated their heroes and promoted the ideal. Are the people of New York fascist to mourn the loss of firefighters, recently as well as on 9/11, as "the passing of heroes"?

On the other hand, which culture promotes the glorious, heroic martyrdom of young men blowing themselves up to kill the infidels, with the promise of 72 virgins in paradise?

Score: Islamofascists 10, Bush 0.

12. Stretching it again, Evans ascribes qualities to fascism that aren't necessarily so. Nazi Germany was in fact noted for sexual depravities of its own, not counting the "experiments" that its doctors performed on women in concentration camps. Also, if fascism is so "conservative" in its sexual convictions, then why have so many fascist leaders had mistresses? Hint: Hitler didn't die with his wife.

Evans can't even get his list straight, throwing "chastity" in with homosexuality, abortion, promiscuity, and extramarital sex. He was probably rushing too much in making his stuff up.

As far as I'm aware, the United States doesn't execute people for these crimes. On the other hand, Allah help you if you're convicted of homosexuality in Saudi Arabia or Iran...

Score: Islamofascists 11, Bush 0.

13. So modern-day Germany is still fascist, because the children of foreigners born in Germany are themselves considered foreigners? On the other hand, the United States under any administration is very welcoming of virtually all peoples and cultures, regardless of who the President and Congress are. As stated before, Bush is the one pushing for a guest worker program (bucking his own party). Also, he's the one who has defended Islam as "a peaceful religion." When has Madman Mahmoud defended Judaism and Christianity as peaceful religions? And when are the people of these hardline Muslim countries ever permitted to live according to their own consciences?

Score: Islamofascists 12, Bush 0.

14. It would be nice if Evans gave specifics here, instead of making a blanket accusation. But if you want to talk about Newspeak, how about Madman Mahmoud claiming that Iran's nuclear program is for peaceful purposes? There are some terms that just don't belong together, especially "Muslim nation" and "nuclear capability."

Score: Islamofascists 13, Bush 0.

So in the end, by Evans' own standards, "Islamofascist" is a very appropriate term for these nations and their leaders, but Bush really isn't a fascist. Nonetheless, I have very serious problems with him and his administration, not the least of which is the unconstitutional, sans-warrant spying on American citizens. I personally am forgiving about Iraq, because war is unpredictable, and I think most Americans are too optimistic about how effective we -- even we -- can be in combat. Perhaps my biggest problem with GWB is his rubber-stamp on the biggest growth of government spending since LBJ, based on his modern liberal belief (uttered post-Katrina) that "When someone is hurting, government must move." That's the redistribution of wealth, i.e. socialism, and it can't be balanced out by any quantity of tax cuts.

Bush isn't (yet?) really authoritarian, despite his centralization and expansion of government police powers, and despite his trampling of individual rights for the sake of effecting greater "national security." (On the other hand, Rudy Giuliani and Rick Santorum are authoritarians.) Most fundamentally, Bush is a party man: he'll do whatever it takes to keep his party in power. I don't think he's inherently a fan of big government, but he'll (ab)use it if it will advance fellow Republicans. Either way, he's definitely not a "true" conservative, but most Republicans aren't either. The party began with big government traditions, so it's not a post-1994 phenomenon that they turned out to be "big-government conservatives." They adhere to some conservative values, but not to the core value of limited government. Just like the scripture says, "Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof."

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3 Comments:

Blogger septagon said...

Nice take down Perry. Since the end of World War II, leftist have been trying to deny the fact that Fascism and National Socialism are far-left ideologies. Umberto Eco, Charles Evan and Laurence Britt prey on the average joe's ignorance of history and political philosophy to convince them that fascism is rightwing. This enables them to throw around loaded epitaphs at their political adversaries when the term more aptly applies to themselves. One could easily read Mussolini's own word on the subject and it would leave no doubt:

QUOTE
Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal, will of man as a historic entity. It is opposed to classical liberalism which arose as a reaction to absolutism and exhausted its historical function when the State became the expression of the conscience and will of the people. Liberalism denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts

The rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual. And if liberty is to he the attribute of living men and not of abstract dummies invented by individualistic liberalism, then Fascism stands for liberty, and for the only liberty worth having, the liberty of the State and of the individual within the State. The Fascist conception of the State is all embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism, is totalitarian, and the Fascist State - a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values - interprets, develops, and potentates the whole life of a people.

No individuals or groups (political parties, cultural associations, economic unions, social classes) outside the State. Fascism is therefore opposed to Socialism to which unity within the State (which amalgamates classes into a single economic and ethical reality) is unknown, and which sees in history nothing but the class struggle. Fascism is likewise opposed to trade unionism as a class weapon. But when brought within the orbit of the State, Fascism recognizes the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which divergent interests are coordinated and harmonized in the unity of the State.

Grouped according to their several interests, individuals form classes; they form trade-unions when organized according to their several economic activities; but first and foremost they form the State, which is no mere matter of numbers, the suns of the individuals forming the majority. Fascism is therefore opposed to that form of democracy which equates a nation to the majority, lowering it to the level of the largest number; but it is the purest form of democracy if the nation be considered as it should be from the point of view of quality rather than quantity, as an idea, the mightiest because the most ethical, the most coherent, the truest, expressing itself in a people as the conscience and will of the few, if not, indeed, of one, and ending to express itself in the conscience and the will of the mass, of the whole group ethnically molded by natural and historical conditions into a nation, advancing, as one conscience and one will, along the self same line of development and spiritual formation. Not a race, nor a geographically defined region, but a people, historically perpetuating itself; a multitude unified by an idea and imbued with the will to live, the will to power, self-consciousness, personality.
UNQUOTE

Excerpt - The Doctrine of Fascism - Benito Mussolini (1932)

Thursday, August 31, 2006 9:48:00 PM  
Blogger Ernest said...

Perry,

Re: No. 12, Braun and Hitler were married just before his death, so that's -technically- untrue, but your main point still stands.

A good source on this subject is "The Mystery of Fascism" by David Ramsey Steele, which sums up the findings of the Israeli socialist political historian Zeev Sternhell.

http://www.la-articles.org.uk/fascism.htm

Monday, September 04, 2006 2:26:00 PM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

I didn't see your comment till now, ernest. That's true, although Hitler was having an affair with Eva for quite some time while married.

Monday, September 24, 2007 12:25:00 AM  

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