February 13, 2020

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: The Left and the Theocrats.

Kim Ghattas, a correspondent for the BBC, gave a remarkably frank interview to her home network about her new book, Black Wave, an account of the Saudi–Iranian rivalry that has warped life and politics in much of the Islamic world.

What struck me about the interview is that the Beirut-born Ghattas is much more plain and direct about the disastrous role played by leftist Western intellectuals — particularly French thinkers such as Michel Foucault, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir—in encouraging and enabling the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini and his repressive model of Islamic government.

It is worth remembering that the Iranian theocracy was a great project of the secular Western Left.

Foucault welcomed Khomeini’s revolution as “the first of the grand insurrections against global systems.” Sartre traveled to Tehran to flack for Khomeini. The French Left celebrated Khomeini as “the Islamic Lenin.” (American conservatives might have said much the same thing, but the French Left meant that as praise.) Andrew Young, Jimmy Carter’s ambassador to the United Nations, hailed Khomeini as a “saint.” Many of those intellectuals stood by their judgment, though some of them, such as Simone de Beauvoir, recoiled from Tehran’s treatment of women and minorities.

Read the whole thing.

Related: Roger Kimball on The perversions of M. Foucault.

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