When a terrorist rampage recently occurred in Toulouse, France, the (left-wing) media was (as always) eager to paint it as another case of “right-wing” violence:
According to French Interior Minister Claude Guéant, the similarities between the assassination of soldiers in Toulouse and Montauban and the eerie butchery at Ozar Hatora were “compelling.” Moreover, investigators established that the criminal used the same weapon, a World War II 11.43 gun, in all three instances. What remained unclear, according to police, was the number of killers and whether they had received support from a larger criminal network. Motive also remained a mystery.
For 48 hours, many speculated about a neo-Nazi psychopath, some sort of French Tim McVeigh or Anders Breivik. What seemed to encourage this view was the fact that the shooter targeted only non-Caucasian soldiers and Jews and that a neo-Nazi network had been investigated and prosecuted among the Montauban military four years ago.
Sadly for their narrative, the man turned out to have a name that has become very familiar over the past decade, and admitted to being a member of al-Qaeda. So he wasn’t a “neo-Nazi” after all.
Or was he?
This latest incident just points out the continuing absurdity of both the simple-minded, single-dimensional classification of political belief systems as “left versus right,” and where on that spectrum, to the degree that it has any validity, fascism in general and Nazism in particular belong.
As Jonah Goldberg has repeatedly pointed out, fascism (and Nazism) have their roots not in the “right” (at least if by that one means a belief in individualism and liberty, as laid out by the Founders in the Constitution), but in the “left” in that it is a collectivist and ultimately totalitarian philosophy deeply wedded to an ever more powerful state. Mussolini considered himself a man of the Left, and Nazism was literally national socialism. The new twist that Hitler brought to the fascist party wasn’t racism per se (though Mussolini himself wasn’t particularly racist, and actually had Jews in his government). The leftist American progressives (admirers, at least initially, of Mussolini — some of the New Deal was modeled after Italian programs) had their own racist streak, with, for example, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger and her enthusiasm for eugenics. And it continues to this day, in their insistence on categorizing and cataloging people by race to ensure a “fair” distribution of the spoils — though the notion is intrinsically absurd. What “race” is Tiger Woods?:
…consider the issue of government use of racial classifications. Liberal justices have been willing to uphold virtually any use of race by the government — including quotas in higher education, set-asides for government contracts, and raced-based assignments of students to public schools — so long as the government claims benign motives. The conservatives, by contrast, argue that the government must treat people as individuals, not as members of a racial caste.
No, Hitler simply took racism, and particularly anti-Semitism (one of, if not the oldest, bigotries in the book) to new heights, deliberately slaughtering millions of Jews for no reason other than that they were Jews, along with homosexuals, Gypsies, Catholics, and others.
Now, if people remain confused about whether or not fascism in general and Nazism in particular is “left-wing” or “right-wing,” the confusion grows deeper when contemplating Islamists, to the point that few in the conventional media (to the limited degree that they are even willing to recognize their existence) even try to classify them along that simplistic spectrum. But it all comes down to a “duck” test.
- Do they promote a political system where the individual will is bent to that of the (Islamist) state? Check.
- Do they advocate a totalitarian regime, in which no personal decision lies beyond its reach? Check.
- Do they take as their guide a book written by the founder of their movement? Check.
- Are they willing to tell lies about their beliefs and intentions in order to gain political power? Check.
- Are they willing, even happy to kill and terrorize innocents to maintain that power? Yup.
- Do they think Jews nonhuman, and wish them exterminated from the earth? OK, that one is more specific to Nazism, but you bet.