“At War with Islamic Fascists”

Posted by permission from Dr. Daniel Pipes. Its appearance is independent of this blog, and should not be construed to either agree or disagree with the opinions expressed on this blog, or on any other website.

“At War with Islamic Fascists”

by Daniel Pipes
August 14, 2006

In his first response to the major terror airline scare in London, President Bush said on Aug. 10 that “The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation.”

His use of the term “Islamic fascists” spurred attention and controversy, especially among Islamists.

At a pro-Hizbullah rally in front of the White House, on Aug. 12, the crowd (in the Washington Post‘s description) “grew most agitated when speakers denounced President Bush’s references to Islam.” In particular, the president of the Muslim American Society, Esam Omesh, won a massive roar of approval when he (deliberately?) mischaracterized the president’s statement: “Mr. Bush: Stop calling Islam ‘Islamic fascism.'”

Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called the term “ill-advised” and “counter-productive,” repeating CAIR’s usual conceit that violence in the name of Islam has, in fact, nothing to do with Islam. Even more preposterously, Awad went on to suggest that we “take advantage of these incidents to make sure that we do not start a religious war against Islam and Muslims.”

CAIR’s board chairman, Parvez Ahmed, sent an open letter to President Bush: “You have on many occasions said Islam is a ‘religion of peace.’ Today you equated the religion of peace with the ugliness of fascism.” Actually, Bush did not do that (he equated just one form of “the religion of peace” with fascism), but Ahmed inadvertently pointed to the evolution in the president’s – and the country’s – thinking away from bromides to real thinking.

Edina Lekovic from the Muslim Public Affairs Council repeated the MPAC argument of the need to cultivate Islamists for counterterrorism: “When the people we need most in the fight against terrorism, American Muslims, feel alienated by the president’s characterization of these supposed terrorists, that does more damage than good.” (Supposed terrorists?) Her case, however, has recently been undercut by the example of Mubin Shaikh and the Toronto 17, in which an Islamist informer has been widely shunned by fellow Muslims. Lekovic did, however, make a valid semantic point: “It would have been far more accurate had he linked the situation to a segment of people rather than an entire faith, along the lines of, say, radical Muslim fascists.”

The Muslim Association of Britain announced that it “condemns” Bush’s wording and worries that such comments “gives yet another excuse for the targeting of the Muslim minority by extreme right-wing forces in the West.” This fear is disingenuous, given how few anti-Muslim incidents do take place in the West, compared to the number of Muslim attacks on Westerners.

There are also rumblings of a more aggressive Muslim response. “Some hypermarkets in Riyadh,” reports the Arab News, “had already withdrawn American products from their shelves in response to the US’ anti-Islam campaign.” Will this incident lead to a further separation of civilizations?


(1) This is hardly the first time Bush has used the term Islamic fascist (or Islamofascist); it has become a part of his routine vocabulary since his path-breaking speech on this subject in October 2005, a speech that, oddly, was dismissed by the mainstream media as a retread, while this glancing reference is treated as major news. (Newsweek calls it a “rhetorical bomb.”) Go figure.

(2) What was new on Aug. 10 was his formulation that the United States is “at war with Islamic fascists.” That was more direct and forceful than anything prior.

(3) Islamic fascist and Islamofascist are more used than ever before, as can be confirmed by a search for those words in my weblog entry, “Calling Islamism the Enemy.” Notably, Senator Rick Santorum gave a powerful speech on July 20 in which he 29 times used the term fascist or fascism with reference to Islam. MSNBC and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution have both suggested that Santorum’s use of this term accounted for its adaptation by the White House.

(4) Protests from Islamists notwithstanding, Bush has indicated that he plans to continue using this term. His spokesman, Tony Snow, explained in an e-mail interview with the Cox newspaper chain that Bush has gradually shifted from the “war on terrorism” to “war with Islamic fascists.” With this new specificity, Snow continues, Bush “tries to identify the ideology that motivates many organized terrorist groups. He also tries to make it clear that the label does not apply to all or most Muslims, but to the tiny factions,” such as Al-Qaeda.

(5) It appears that Islamist protests have been counterproductive, managing the negative double play of bringing more attention to the term and irritating the White House.

(6) I applaud the increasing willingness to focus on some form of Islam as the enemy but find the word fascist misleading in this context. Few historic or philosophic connections exist between fascism and radical Islam. Fascism glorifies the state, emphasizes racial “purity,” promotes social Darwinism, denigrates reason, exalts the will, and rejects organized religion – all outlooks anathema to Islamists.

In contrast, Radical Islam has many more ties, both historic and philosophic, to Marxism-Leninism. While studying for his doctorate in Paris, Ali Shariati, the key intellectual behind the turn to Islam in Iran in the 1970s, translated Franz Fanon, Che Guevara, and Jean-Paul Sartre into Persian. More broadly, quoting the Iranian analyst Azar Nafisi, radical Islam “takes its language, goals, and aspirations as much from the crassest forms of Marxism as it does from religion. Its leaders are as influenced by Lenin, Sartre, Stalin, and Fanon as they are by the Prophet.” During the cold war, Islamists preferred the Soviet Union to the United States; today, they have more and deeper connections to the hard left than to the hard right.

(7) Nonetheless, some voices gamely argue for the accuracy of “Islamic fascists.” After himself using the term on television, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff justified it by noting that bin Laden has

talked about restoring the Caliphate, the empire that existed in the southern Mediterranean centuries ago. That is nothing-it’s deranged, but essentially it is a vision of a totalitarian empire with him leading under some kind of perverted conception of religion. That comes very close to satisfying my definition of fascism. It might not be classic fascism that you had with Mussolini or Hitler, but it is a totalitarian intolerance-imperialism that has a vision that is totally at odds with Western society and our freedoms and rule of law.

The Washington Times also endorsed the term in an editorial titled “It’s Fascism.”

Fascism is a chauvinistic political philosophy that exalts a group over the individual-usually a race or nation, but in this case the adherents of a religion. Fascism also espouses centralized autocratic rule by that group in suppression of others. It usually advocates severe economic and social regimentation and the total or near-total subordination of the individual to the political leadership. This accurately describes the philosophies of Hitler, Mussolini, the leaders of Imperial Japan and other fascistic regimes through history. It also describes Thursday’s terrorists. It very accurately describes the philosophy of al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and many other stripes of Islamism around the world.

(8) The use of Islamic fascists should be seen as part of a decades-long search for the right term to name a form of Islam that is recognizably political, extreme, and often violent. I have already confessed in that I am on my fifth term (having previously used neo-orthodox, fundamentalist, and militant, and now using radical and Islamist). While Islamic fascists beats terrorists, let’s hope that a better consensus term soon emerges. My vote is for Islamists.

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Posted on August 14, 2006, in News and politics. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. The issue, I see, is that the Muslim community and leaders who seek acceptance and understanding ( ie. Muslim American Society, Council on American-Islamic Relations and others) do nothing to separate these terrorists/facists/miltants, or whatever term we finally decide, from their Muslim religion and community.
    They need to be more proactive in isolating these dangerous people, because whatever the West may do only ‘fuels’ their evil cause.
    Just as the leaders of the West isolate neo-facists, white supremacists, and Christian fundanmentalists, so also the Muslim community needs to strongly counter their own extremists.
    And if I may add, they need to directly attack the extremist beliefs and propaganda about ZIonism, in particular the Arab community’s promotion of the lies in “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. This is well-proven to be pure fabrication and lies, yet many Arab leaders and Muslims believe it to be true.
    People do not go to war or fight without belief in a cause. The Anti-Semitism produced by Hezbullah, Hamas, Fatah and Al Quedah, and openly promoted on TV in Syria, Egypt and Lebanon, Jordan should be openly and strongly countered.
    Of course, the extremists won’t believe the West. So the Muslim community must accept responsility and do something themselves to stop these extremists. Or like the Germans in WWII their own innocent civilians will get hurt and killed because they didn’t do enough to stop their extremists, and had to wait for the rest of the world to do it.
    I hope the Muslim community and Arab world wakes up and realises the false doctrines they are teaching their people in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”.
    But then what better way for a corrupt government to deflect away economic and democratic mis-management than creating an external cause to their problems – the Jews.
    The Muslim religion and community of true believers must make their governments accountable instead of letting their governments use them. In the West, we have found the sad and terrible result when in our own history governments have used religion for their own purposes of power and control.

  2. Franklin Roosevelt took three and a half years to fundamentally alter the entire world in his World War. Bush has had FIVE YEARS to defeat his enemies. Not only are they NOT defeated, but they still plan out massive attacks against us.

    The Israelis are holding their leaders accountable for the debacle in Lebanon. Why do the Americans not follow the Israeli example?

    We should be shocked that five years into this we are still being threatened so strongly and truly ask ourselves why Bush’s policies are not working. If this GWOT is truly a fight for our lives, we don’t have much room for mistakes, right?

    Or…..do Republicans use this GWOT for political purposes back home?

  3. Alan, your post is one of the best summaries I’ve read; excellent!

  4. Dan, apples to oranges, therefore a false analogy.

    A more apropos comparison is the Cold War, which America eventually won after decades of policy goals of determent and containment.

    Dr. Pipes writes in Militant Islam Reaches America, “Just as the deviant Western ideologies of fascism and communism challenged and then had to be expelled from the West, so it is with militant Islam and the Muslim world. The battle for the soul of Islam will undoubtedly last many years and take many lives, and it likely to be the greatest ideological battle of the post-Cold War era.”

    Will you pick up Pipes book and read it? http://www.danielpipes.org/books/militantislam.php

  5. A false analogy? Then why do Republicans, Bush and his supporters, neo-cons all use World War II as an analogy to the current “war?”

    What’s the reason Bush uses the ill-termed label “Islamo-fascim?” Quite simply so he can tie the current conflict to a more clearer war that all Americans backed. There is nothing fascist about stateless terrorists. What Bush is doing is destroying what the term means.

    So sorry, but these apples and oranges are the same fruit.

    And no, I probably won’t read Mr. Pipes’s book. From what you’ve quoted extensively on your blog from Mr. Pipes, I can tell he has no clue what he is talking about when it comes to Islam. As is clear from the fact that we are still being threatened, and from Britain no less, Bush’s policies are a dismal failure.

  6. Dan, yes, your analogy is false because the function of time-to-victory is too dissimilar to warrant a comparative analysis. If all terrorists were in a single state or two, wore uniforms and represented a specific country, then time would be on our side.

    As you know, terrorist range from Iran (State) to al-Qaeda et al (guerilla), are in all countries, and simply cannot be identified nor stopped as easily German and/or Japan soldiers. It is more like the Cold War in respect to time-to-victory; the Cold War lasted for 44 years!

    Being that terrorist are secret combinations it should come as no surprise to you this will be a very Long War.

    Related post:
    Pattern of Secret Combinations in the Book of Mormon

  1. Pingback: LDS Patriot » Profiling is needed

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