Saturday, February 26, 2005

Islam and its Denial. Part I

The inability to face the Islamic threat, indeed, the outright whitewashing of Islam, has striking similarities with past difficulties coming to grips with the nature and threat of Communism. During the first thirty years of Communism, from the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 to Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech of 1947, social democrats refused to face the stark evilness of Communism. Seen as a brave “social experiment” to engineer a new human nature devoid of “selfish” impulses, the left denied, apologized, diminished, trivialized, or otherwise excused the Soviet catastrophe.

Few social democrats or left-liberals were immune to the collectivist dream, one that turned into a nightmare in Russia and eventually China, Cambodia, etc. Even that most respected of American intellectuals, John Dewey, went through a sympathetic period in the late 20s but come to his senses and spearheaded a critical examination by the mid 30s. Both The New Republic and The Nation downplayed the problems of International Communism during the whole decade of the 1930s – the “Red Decade”.

Today, Islam is new to most people in the West, and we are going through a similar denial stage. Only this time the denial is on the left and the right. The left dismisses the threat of Islam as a mere epiphenomena reflecting what they see as the underlying dynamics of American empire and oppression. On the left, there is sympathy of our Islamist enemy even if the religious form is seen as an unfortunate by-product. I’ve written about this in detail here and here.

The right has a hard time believing a religion can be bad – especially the ecumenical intellectual conservatives who dominate the main venues of conservative discourse. Fresh from victory in the Cold War, where they see Godless Communism defeated by the Judeo-Christian West, they are unprepared for the threat of a super-religion. How could trust in God lead one astray? I’ve discuss the conservative’s mistake here.

Currently, I’m reviewing the denial phase during the rise of Communism. I suspect the parallels will be revealing. I’d appreciate references on this period. Leave a comment or e-mail your suggestions.