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Romancing  the Jihad

 by Clifford D. May on National Review Online_



April 16, 2009 12:00  AM


Why are so many on the  Left enamored with Islamism?


By Clifford D.  May


Ask those on the  Left what values they champion, and they will  say

equality, tolerance, women’s rights, gay  rights, workers’ rights,

and human rights.  Militant Islamists oppose all that, not  infrequently

through the application of lethal  force. So how does one explain the

burgeoning Left-Islamist alliance?


I know: There are  principled individuals on the Left who do not condone

terrorism or minimize the Islamist  threat. The author Paul Berman,

unambiguously  and unashamedly a man of the Left, has been more incisive

on these issues than just about anyone  else. Left-of-center

publications such as  The New Republic have not been  apologists for

radical jihadists.


But  The Nation has been soft on Islamism for  decades. Back in 1979,

editorial-board member  Richard Falk welcomed the Iranian revolution,

saying it “ may yet provide us with a  desperately-needed model of

humane governance for a third-world country.” Immediately after  Sept.

11, 2001, longtime Nation  contributor Robert Fisk complained that

“terrorism” is a “racist” term.


It  is no exaggeration to call groups such as

pro-appeasement. Further left on the  political spectrum, the

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition sympathizes with both Islamists and the

Stalinist regime in North Korea — which is in  league with Islamist

Iran and its client state,  Syria. Meanwhile, Hugo Chávez, the

Bolivarian-socialist Venezuelan strongman, is  developing a strategic

alliance with Iran’s ruling mullahs and with Hezbollah, Iran’s

terrorist proxy.


In a new book, _United in Hate: The Left’s Romance  with Tyranny and

Terror_ ( ,

Jamie Glazov takes a hard look at this unholy  alliance. A historian by

training, Glazov is the  son of dissidents who fled the Soviet Union

only  to find that, on American campuses, they were  not welcomed by the

liberal/Left lumpen professoriate.


Glazov’s book indicts  artists and intellectuals of the Left —  e.g.

George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht,  and Susan Sontag — for having

“venerated mass  murderers such as Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro,  and Ho

Chi Minh, habitually excusing their  atrocities while blaming Americans

and even the victims for their crimes.”


Following the  fall of the Berlin Wall, the Left spent several  years

wandering in the wilderness. Many of them,  Glazov suggests, looked upon

the terrorist  attacks of 9/11 less as an atrocity than as an

opportunity to revive a moribund revolutionary  movement.


Jimmy Carter, Michael Moore,  Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark, Lynne Stewart,

and  Stanley Cohen are among the luminaries of the  Left Glazov accuses

of having found common  ground with Islamists.


He notes that the  novelist Norman Mailer called the 9/11 hijackers 

brilliant” and their terrorism “understandable”  because

“everything wrong with America led to  the point where the country

built that tower of  Babel which consequently had to be  destroyed.”


Dario Fo, the Italian Marxist  who won the 1997 Nobel Prize for


said that Wall Street speculators “wallow in an  economy that every

year kills tens of millions  of people with poverty, so what is twenty

thousand dead in New York?” Similarly, media  mogul Ted Turner called

the 9/11 terrorists  “brave,” adding that “the reason that the

World Trade Center got hit is because there are a lot  of people living

in poverty out there who don’t have any hope for a better life.” The

German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen called 9/11 “the  greatest work

of art for the whole  cosmos.”


And then there is Ilich Ramírez  Sánchez, a.k.a. Carlos the Jackal,

who in 2003,  from his prison cell, published a book called

Revolutionary Islam that urged “all  revolutionaries, including those

of the left, even atheists,”

to accept the leadership of  militant jihadists, Osama bin Laden key


them. His reasoning: “Only a coalition of  Marxists and Islamists can

destroy the United  States.”



Glazov quotes the  British lawmaker, George Galloway, elaborating  on

the rationale for this coalition. “Not only  do I think [a

Muslim-leftist alliance is]  possible, but I think it is vitally

necessary  and I think it is happening already,” Galloway  said.

“It is possible because the  progressive movement around the world and

the  Muslims have the same enemies. Their enemies are  the Zionist

occupation, American occupation,  British occupation of poor countries,

mainly  Muslim countries. They have the same interest in opposing savage

capitalist globalization, which  is intent upon homogenizing the entire

world, turning us basically into factory chickens which  can be

force-fed the American diet of everything  from food to Coca-Cola to

movies and TV culture  and whose only role in life is to consume the

things produced endlessly by the multinational  corporations.”


#ad#There also is an older  tradition to build on. In the 1970s, the Red

Army Faction — West German Marxist terrorists  also known as the

Baader-Meinhof gang — went to  Jordan to train with the Palestine

Liberation Organization. And in 1979, the success of the  Islamist

Revolution in Iran depended, in large  measure, on the support given by

the Iranian Left to the Ayatollah Khomeini. Once firmly in  power, the

clerical regime repaid its leftist enablers with executions,

assassinations, and prison sentences. Evidently, no lessons were



Glazov concludes that the Left’s  “romance with Islamism is just a


continuation of the long leftist tradition of  worshipping America’s

foes. . . . The Left  clearly continues to be inspired by its undying

Marxist conviction that capitalism is evil and  that forces of

revolution are rising to  overthrow it — and must be supported.” On

that basis, militant Islamism is regarded as a  “valiant form of

‘resistance’ against American imperialism and oppression.”


If such  values as equality, tolerance, and human rights  are crushed in

the process, that’s a price many  on the Left are willing to pay.

Those on the

Left who disagree should perhaps speak up more  loudly and more often.


— Clifford  D. May, a former New York Times  foreign correspondent, is

the president of the _Foundation for Defense of  Democracies_

( , a  policy institute focusing on



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