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.
Whatever Nazis are in the political taxonomy, Islamists are in the same rough neighborhood. So it perhaps won’t surprise the reader to learn that in fact, during the war, one of Adolf Hitler’s most powerful allies in the Middle East was the grand mufti of Jerusalem, one of the most powerful Arab leaders at the time. Their alliance was forged in November of 1941, a little over a week before America’s belated entrance into the war, in which they expressed their shared goals for world domination:
The Fuhrer…made the following statement to the Mufti, enjoining him to lock it in the uttermost depths of his heart:
1. He (the Fuhrer) would carry on the battle to the total destruction of the Judeo-Communist empire in Europe.
2. At some moment which was impossible to set exactly today but which in any event was not distant, the German armies would in the course of this struggle reach the southern exit from Caucasia.
3. As soon as this had happened, the Fuhrer would on his own give the Arab world the assurance that its hour of liberation had arrived. Germany’s objective would then be solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power. In that hour the Mufti would be the most authoritative spokesman for the Arab world. It would then be his task to set off the Arab operations, which he had secretly prepared. When that time had come, Germany could also be indifferent to French reaction to such a declaration.
After the war, and after the trials at Nuremberg, Nazism as not just a military force, but even a potent political force, had been smashed. In Germany, it was completely banned. In America, there remained scattered bands of men who still reveled in dreams of ultimate racial domination, who were even allowed to continue to ineffectually parade in Illinois and other places with their swastikas, but few took or take them seriously, and they have little effect on policy or politics.
But the mufti remained. No one occupied the Middle East and deposed or tried and hung the heirs to Hitler there, though their goals were his. Rather, the British, having been on the winning side of the war in Europe, but spent as an empire, abandoned the Middle East, and he went on to become a mentor to the terrorist Yasser Arafat and others. And now, with Mein Kampf a best seller there to augment their own, the dreams of Jewish destruction live on for Hamas and al-Qaeda and others, in the West Bank, Gaza, and much of the Arab world. And due to immigration policies and multiculturalism, the infection has spread to France and other places.
Such thoughts, of course, arouse a painful cognitive dissonance, particularly in France, which has its own anti-Semitism problem, as a result of which Jews have been engaged in a new exodus from the country for years. This is partly because of the increase in attacks on them by the growing Muslim population, but also an intrinsic sense of anti-Semitism among the elite, disguised (as is often the case) “as a hatred for Israel, that ‘sh***y little country,’” as a French diplomat so delicately put it a few years ago.
But it has to be troubling for French who know their own history. After the war, everyone had been a member of the Resistance (of course), but they know that during the war, there were many who were happy to turn in the Jews to the Nazis to be shipped off to the ovens. Now, in the banlieues outside of Paris, Toulouse, and other French cities, the French face a new occupation by people who would take up Hitler’s lost cause with enthusiasm, though it is one they brought on themselves rather than through an armed invasion. So when they talk of neo-Nazis, they should ask themselves what that word really means, and whether it is left, right, or just wrong.