A few short months ago the intellectuals were in a great snit over the use of “islamofascism” or “islamic fascism,” which many of them held to be a vulgar political ploy by Bushitler and other evil people like Rick Santorum. They were only displaying their own ignorance of the scholarly literature, in which “clerical fascism” has long been a legitimate category. I first encountered it in graduate school nearly 45 years ago, when those of us fortunate enough to participate in George L. Mosse’s seminar on fascism were required to read a collection of masterful essays in a short volume edited by Eugen Weber, called “Varieties of Fascism.” The clerical variety found its first incarnation in Romanian fascism, a horrific movement whose followers killed Jews with such brutal enthusiasm that even the Waffen-SS were impressed.
With regard to the Islamo variety, I claim a limited pride of authorship, since I described Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini as a theocratic fascist months before the overthrow of the shah in 1979, a claim that led to many vitriolic denunciations in angry letters to me and to the editors of the Wall Street Journal (where I published the article).
Moreover, when Senator Scoop Jackson of blessed memory dragged the wise men and women of the CIA to testify in public session about Khomeini, they piled on, saying that in their opinion the passages I had quoted from Khomeni’s works were probably Israeli forgeries. As you see, my problems with CIA go back many years.
We know now that Khomeini was not an Israeli invention, and the refusal of the American Government–most notably in the persona of that backwoods antisemite from Georgia, President Jimmy Carter (the teeth gnash as I type)–cost us heavily. Our refusal to see Khomeini for what he was undermined any effective action to prevent the creation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, doomed unfortunate Americans to 444 days of humiliation at the hands of the mullahs, and unleashed a terror war against us. We are still reluctant to understand the monstrous evil that rules Iran, and, just as it took us years before we reacted to the original fascism, we are still dithering about a virile response to islamofascism.
I was enormously impressed to find that a newly launched blog with the elegant title “Breath of the Beast” has now demonstrated that you don’t have to be a scholar to understand Islamofascism. You can get there by reading a bit about fascism and then thinking hard. Have a look. It’s a first class piece of work.
And when you’re done, reflect on the grim, depressing fact, that the only member of Congress who recognized the nature of this beast–Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania–was thrown out of office in a landslide last November. It’s somehow appropriate that Pennsylvania sends a considerable number of soldiers to fight the Islamofascists on the battlefield. Those guys know what’s up, even if the voters don’t.