Friday, July 22, 2005

Liberals v. Jihadists

The Moose urges progressives to follow Tony's lead.

Yesterday, once again, we were reminded of the Jihadist threat. Fortunately, the damage was minimal in London, but the threat continues to be severe.

As the Moose has previously noted, the Jihadist threat is a fight against the modern variant of the reactionary fascist scourge. It is not a generic fight against terrorism, but rather a specific battle against a totalitarian ideology that has hijacked a faith.

The person who has best articulated the challenge has been the British Prime Minister. In a speech earlier this month Blair eloquently stated,

"What we are confronting here is an evil ideology. It is not a clash of civilisations all civilised people, Muslim or other, feel revulsion at it. But it is a global struggle and it is a battle of ideas, hearts and minds, both within Islam and outside it. This is the battle that must be won, a battle not just about the terrorist methods but their views. Not just their barbaric acts, but their barbaric ideas. Not only what they do but what they think and the thinking they would impose on others."

Far better than the Bushies, Blair understands that this is ultimately a battle of ideas, not just military force. The Prime Minister has also suggested convening an international conference on Islamic extremism "to try and take concerted action across the world to try to root out this type of extremist teaching."

Of course the Saudis have long financed a world-wide network of religious schools that have spread the extremist hate. That might be a particular interesting area of examination.

Some on the left mistakenly believe that the Jihadists are motivated by legitimate grievances rather than a fascist ideology. No, it is neither American presence in Iraq nor Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West bank that motivate these fascist killers but dreams of extremist Islamic dominance. Lefties cannot become "excuse makers." Tom Friedman writes in today's New York Times,

"We also need to spotlight the "excuse makers," the former State Department spokesman James Rubin said. After every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us why imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed. When you live in an open society like London, where anyone with a grievance can publish an article, run for office or start a political movement, the notion that blowing up a busload of innocent civilians in response to Iraq is somehow "understandable" is outrageous. "It erases the distinction between legitimate dissent and terrorism," Mr. Rubin said, "and an open society needs to maintain a clear wall between them."

If this fight is to be victorious, it needs the passionate participation of progressives. After all, the liberal values of liberty, women's rights and individual autonomy are most threatened by the Jihadists. One effort that is underway to unite international progressives against the Jihadists is Unite Against Terror (hat tip to Andrew Sullivan). They write,

"These terrorists do not hate what is worst in the societies they attack, but what is best. They despise individual liberty, critical thought, gender equality, religious tolerance, the rights of minorities and political pluralism. They do not criticize democracy because it sometimes fails to live up to its principles; they oppose those principles."

The case for the liberal war against the Jihadists is also passionately articulated in an article by Peter Ross Range in the forthcoming Blueprint,

"If it weren't already obvious that liberals should be leading exponents of the war on terror -- rather than only its sharpest critics -- then the London terror attacks should have had a clarifying effect. By striking one of the most liberal-minded cities in the world, the jihadists showed their disdain for the place where more Muslims have found greater refuge from the failings of their own societies, politically and economically, than anywhere else. Nowhere else do they experience greater freedom of speech -- including the right to use their mosques to incite violence against non-Muslims."

Democratic and progressive leaders must speak often, clearly, specifically and unambiguously against the Jihadist threat. At the moment, too few do. Yes, they occasionally make the obligatory comments against terrorism, but all of their passion is directed to criticism of President Bush. While we certainly should not curb or curtail our critique of the Bushies, the primary focus of our ire should be the greatest enemy of international progressivism - Jihadist terror.
-- Posted at 8:27 AM | Link to this post | Email this post