All Spelled Out: Review of Unholy Alliance
by Jay Nordlinger
Originally published October 25, 2004 in National Review
Politically speaking, it’s probably the most explosive suggestion you can make today: that the Left has joined hands with radical Islam. That it is fellow-traveling with it. Such a suggestion will get you branded a McCarthyite, immediately. But is it true (the suggestion, that is)? Afraid so. And this case is powerfully, sickeningly made in David Horowitz’s new book.
At first blush, it may seem an odd alliance: the leftists and the Islamists. After all, Islamists are premodern “conservatives.” Reflecting on a big anti-war rally in London, Mark Steyn pointed out that militant lesbians were marching alongside militant Muslims. Did the former care that the latter would have them dead? Not really.
What unites the Left and Islamism, above all, is a deep-seated hatred of the United States (and, secondarily, Israel). Also, an absolutist, totalist view of the world. Those are enough.
The anti-war movement has burgeoned greatly since early post-9/11 days. It’s prevalent in academia, of course, and in the press, and in Hollywood. Some foresaw this. In February 2002, Norman Podhoretz–the veteran intellectual–gave a major speech in Washington. He spoke of the “new patriotic mood” that had emerged after the terrorist attacks. But from the beginning, he “could not fully share the heady confidence of some of my political friends that this was a permanent and not an ephemeral change.”
He recalled the Vietnam period, in which “elite opinion trumped popular opinion.” Would such opinion work its will again? It would depend, said Podhoretz, on the progress of the war. “Of one thing we can be sure: As the war widens, opposition will widen along with it.” And conservatives, among others, should “mobilize” to “fight off . . . appeasement and defeatism.”
After Podhoretz’s speech, some conservatives rolled their eyes. He seemed to be stuck in the past, fighting the last war, not realizing that 9/11 had “changed everything.” One critique in particular had an air of, “Thanks for your service, Grandpa, but you’re just out of touch.” Well, the last two and a half years have shown that Grandpa was spot-on.
Opposition to the War on Terror shades with alarming ease into apologetics for Islamism. In June 2003, National Review published a signal essay by David Pryce-Jones, “The New Fellow-Traveling.” He wrote that, while there are differences between Islamist fellow-traveling and the old Soviet kind, “the cast of mind is the same.”
The common premise that Western society is responsible for the world’s ills generates . . . guilt for the present as well as fear for what is to come. The conviction then develops that whatever “we” do must be wrong, and whatever “they” do is justified. Fellow-travelers in both cases come to apologize for those hostile to Western society, even to identify with them. I suggest the following: One moment you’re calling terrorists “insurgents” or “rebels”; a moment later, you may be rationalizing their actions, and if you’re really far gone, thrilling to them.
More recently, Pryce-Jones delivered a paper–at Boston University–in which he listed a string of Western accommodations to Islamism. He then said, “To point out these things is to attract the accusation of Islamophobia as surely as realism about Communism was once McCarthyite.” Ah, but today we are both Islamophobic and McCarthyite!
In sad truth, many liberals are simply repulsed at the idea that America can accomplish some good in the world, particularly with military force. This is why they’re unable to take pleasure in the toppling of obscene dictatorships, even theocratic ones. An odd mixture of self-blame and misdirected sympathy kicks in. Thus a Democratic senator, Patty Murray of Washington, can ask, “Why is [Osama bin Laden] so popular around the world?” and answer, “He’s been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building daycare facilities [!], building health-care facilities–and the people are extremely grateful. We haven’t done that.”
The senator was wrong about bin Laden’s largesse, and wrong about America’s. Take merely Afghanistan: The United States was the largest donor to it even during the Taliban period. It contributed more to it than the rest of the world combined.
Last summer, I attended a conference, which featured another prominent liberal Democratic politician. During a panel discussion, someone mentioned the good that could flow from America’s liberation of Iraq, including greater opportunities for women. Our politician was aghast at the suggestion, and moved quickly to put it down. Women, she declared, had enjoyed full rights under Saddam Hussein, but now those rights were in question, thanks to this new, U.S.-imposed regime. Members of the audience burst into applause–almost a desperate, inordinately grateful applause. No good could come from a George W. Bush-led effort.
Excuse-making is widespread. You may have seen Ron Silver at the Republican convention. (He is the liberal actor who is supporting Bush, because of the War on Terror.) Referring to 9/11, he cried, “Never excuse!” He did not elaborate, but everyone knew what he meant.
David Horowitz certainly knows. An ex-radical himself–like Norman Podhoretz, as a matter of fact–he knows the mind of the Left, and he knows its web of groups. He is at pains to state, at the beginning of his book, that he is not critiquing honest critics of the war: but rather “the leaders of the organized anti-war movement,” who give “practical support” to “America’s enemies and their agendas.” A tough statement, but amply backed.
In this taut, well-paced book, Horowitz traces the arc of the Left, from World War II, through Vietnam, to now. He notes that a pivotal event took place only a few days before 9/11: the U.N.’s Durban conference. This saw the international Left feeling its oats, condemning the United States and Israel in the most brazen terms–as Nazi-style states, really. Before that, the broad, disparate Left had come together in such places as Seattle, to protest globalization. And they meet annually–usually in Brazil–for the World Social Forum.
The Ford Foundation funds this gathering; it funded parts of the Durban rabble; it will fund about anything, nefarious.
Here at home, the anti-war movement got going well before U.S. forces entered Afghanistan. “By the radicals’ own count,” writes Horowitz, “there were 247 ‘anti-war’ demonstrations in the United States and in countries overseas between September 11 and September 30, before a shot was fired in response to” the terrorist attacks. This was augmented by “150 ‘peace vigils’ and ‘teach-ins.’” The talk was of “root causes” and of America’s hopeless “racism”–race having replaced class as the Left’s fixation. Students and professors chanted, “One, two, three, four, we don’t want your racist war.”
At the conclusion of a key paragraph, Horowitz writes that the “decision to oppose the war in Afghanistan was a defining moment for the American Left, analogous to its response to the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1939.”
We read about a host of influential leftists, chief among them Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. Conservatives, as a rule, ignore these men, or dismiss their importance, which is a mistake. (They once did this with Michael Moore, but no longer.) Chomsky is read, imbibed, followed, by countless people, many of them young. Zinn is merely the author of the top-selling, most widely assigned U.S.-history textbook. Who’s to say these men aren’t mainstream? They have more readers and admirers than David Horowitz–or I–ever will.
At first, outright Communists took the lead in the anti-war movement. Though the media greatly sanitized their rallies, Horowitz has the goods (always). But then the radicals got smarter. Out went the Palestinian flags and in came the American flags, by the thousands. Groups like International ANSWER and Not in Our Name gave way to Keep America Safe and United for Peace and Justice. Some factions are pro-bin Laden and pro-Saddam; some factions are merely anti-war; sometimes it’s hard to tell. All are pleased to embrace the name “progressive community.”
Radicals have accommodated “moderates,” “moderates” have accommodated radicals. Again, that question of mainstream is confused. Michael Moore’s movie has grossed how many millions? At the Democratic convention, Jimmy Carter invited him to sit in his box. Later, the ex-president declared Fahrenheit 9/11 his favorite movie, along with Casablanca.
As we know, the experience of McCarthyism has sunk deep into Americans. Even now–almost 50 years after the tailgunner’s death–it’s hard to say that someone is on the “other side,” even when he is screaming in your face that he is on the other side. What more does Harold Pinter, for example, have to do to convince you that he hopes you lose? And the language of the Islamists and that of the leftists can be indistinguishable.
Horowitz quotes a Hamas statement issued on September 11, an “Open Letter to America.” (Sample: “Have you asked yourself about your actions against your original inhabitants, the Indians, the Apaches? Your white feet crushed them and then used their name for a helicopter bearing death . . .”) Put it in any college syllabus, or the New York Times, and no one would blink.
The author of this book is known as a hothead, a “flamethrower”; indeed, when Horowitz plays at his keyboard, fireworks can result. But this is a coolly argued book. It is eloquent, unrelenting–devastating. It records what has occurred thus far, and explains why it has occurred. Horowitz may be as valuable to us today as his ex-radical forebears–many of them associated with this magazine–were in their own day. Horowitz utterly understands the War on Terror and its opponents, in all their flavors. Unholy Alliance is, in fact, a weapon in this war.
Review of Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left
by Harry Antonides
The nature of political doublespeak never changes and its agenda is always the same: Obliteration of historical memory in the service of power…. Only a restored memory can demolish totalitarian myths and make men free.
(David Horowitz, in Big Lies, Center for the Study of Popular Culture, 2005)
David Horowitz, born in 1939, grew up in a Communist household, and at first followed in his parents’ footsteps. He became one of the leading lights of the 1960s revolution.
He was already beginning to question his Marxist faith when in 1974 one of his colleagues, Betty Van Patter – a mother of three children – was brutally murdered by members of the Black Panthers Party for Self-Defense, a ruthless gang of fanatic believers in the socialist revolution.
A Life Mission
Profound soul-searching followed and led to a complete break with his former friends. He became an eloquent and courageous foe of his erstwhile comrades. In scores of essays, books and interviews he has exposed the treachery and hatred that animate the radical Left in America.
Horowitz recently explained that his mission is “fighting Marxism in all its forms, not as a conservative ideologue but as a seeker after truth and the meaning of life…. My mission is a personal mission – to undo what I did as a leftist, to witness to the truth that I learned and to try to save even if it’s only one or two individuals. That’s what I do.” (He is president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture and the founder of online newsmagazine FrontPageMag.com)
At first sight, a merger of the secular political left and the Islamist radical believers is an anomaly. But this book carefully dissects the secret of their partnership: their shared hatred of America. This explains why they have made common cause in their venomous opposition to the American-led war against Islamic terrorists.
The author stresses that this book is not about war critics as such, “but about the leaders of the organized anti-war movement and the practical support they are willing to give to America’s enemies and their agendas.” And what a gripping and deeply disturbing story this is.
Horowitz describes how the Left receives its inspiration from the Marxist ideology that has inspired millions in their search for a perfect world. One of its guiding principles is the belief that the existing world, especially the West, is rotten to the core and must be totally overthrown. As Marx put it: “Everything that exists deserves to perish.”
This totalizing and revolutionary principle at one time made American Communists look to the Soviet Union as the land of promise. That promise collapsed, but the same motive continues to inspire the post-Communist radicals including the anti-war Left. Horowitz convincingly demonstrates that this ideology is still firmly ensconced on American campuses.
Betrayal by the Intellectuals
This explains why patriotism is one of the prime targets of the radical protesters. A number of prominent university professors led the way mapping out a radical stance against their own country. Professor Eric Foner of Columbia University quoted Paul Robeson, an “icon” of the Communist Left and a winner of the Stalin Peace Price, who had claimed: “The patriot is the person who is never satisfied with his county.”
Foner, like Horowitz, grew up in a family of Communists but he never left the fold. His history of the United States, The Story of American Freedom, has been described as “his attempt to rehabilitate American Communism.” The same can be said about the influential book by another “fellow traveler,” the historian Howard Zinn, A People’s History, which, according to Horowitz, “reflects a left-wing culture that despises America in its very roots.” It is this type of source material that has given generations of American students not merely a warped but a bitterly antagonistic view of their own country. Here is Horowitz take on this reality:
As a result of the Left’s colonization of the academic social sciences, this anti-American culture is now part of the educational curriculum of America’s emerging elites, and as much an element of the cultural mainstream as any other historical tradition. Indeed, it is a dominant element. In 2004, the Organization of American Historians devoted an evening at its annual convention to honor Zinn and his work.
The shocking events of 9/11and their aftermath was the “defining moment” that set off a massive movement of opposition to the policies of the Bush administration. Again, the tenured university professors led the way.
Right after the beginning of the war in Iraq, a group of professors at Columbia University held a “teach-in” where they denounced the American-led military action. Professor of anthropology Nicholas De Genova called for “a million Mogadishus,” a reference to the 1993 humiliation of American soldiers in Somalia. He said that U.S. patriotism is a form of imperial warfare and white supremacy and that the “only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military.”
Behind such shocking and hate-filled comments at a time when their own country is at war lies the conviction that America is not just afflicted by faults and shortcomings, but that it is an unjust society to the core. (In other words, a form of “total depravity” that calls for total “redemption.”)
Therefore, all its wars are also unjust, no matter what the alleged purpose may be. This premise leads many in the protest movement (especially in Europe) to the outrageous conclusion that President Bush is no better than Saddam Hussein.
One of the most notorious spokesmen for this view is Noam Chomsky, a prestigious professor of linguistics at the MIT. He is best known for his numerous books, articles and speeches as a relentless critic of the United States. He did not spend any time empathizing with the victims of 9/11, but the day after he proclaimed that the attacks amounted to a turning point in the war against imperialism, since “for the first time, the guns have been directed the other way. “
Despite his vitriolic language Chomsky has a large following not only in the U.S. but all over the world, spreading his hatred of America to overflow crowds and in his voluminous writings where he brazenly re-writes history.
At the beginning of the war in the Middle East, Chomsky addressed large Islamic crowds in India and Pakistan where he called the United States “the greatest terrorist state” that was planning to commit genocide in neighbouring countries. This attempt to turn his Muslim audiences against his own country in that volatile part of the world must have been his personal effort to “turn the guns around. “ In normal times such explosive falsehoods would be called treason.
Birds of a Feather
Horowitz provides a deft overview of the transition American radicalism underwent in order to survive the post-Stalinist disillusionment. He details the various phases of that transition from the old to the neo-Communism, which he describes as the time of the “forerunners,” including the “Utopians,” and the “nihilist Left,” to arrive at the current “Anti-American Cult” stage. At this point the Left has found common cause with the radical Islamists who believe that America is the “Great Satan,” responsible for the survival of the equally-detested nation of Israel.
Islamist radicalism originally was hostile to Communism, but that changed in the 1950s. The writings of Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) have been influential in the shaping of the extremist Islamic movement and such leaders as Ayatollah Khomeini and Osama bin Laden, as well as the Islamic terrorist organizations Hizbollah, Hamas, and al Qaeda.
Qutb wrote that sharia amounts “to a universal declaration of the freedom of man from servitude to other men and from servitude to his own desires.” Horowitz points out that despite the libertine inclinations in some factions of the political Left, “Western radicals’ efforts to purify their tainted souls of ‘racism, sexism, and homophobia’ reflect parallel inclinations.”
Both movements, the secular Left and the Islamic radicals, are totalitarian in their ambition to control all of life and both are exacting in their demand for loyalty. Their radicalism makes them believe that the ends ultimately justify any means, including murder. As Horowitz writes: ”Like the salvationist agendas of jihad, the Left’s apocalyptic goal of ‘social justice’ is the equivalent of an earthly redemption.”
Marx said that people turn to religion (like opium users) to dull the pain and suffering caused by injustice and exploitation – under capitalism. He predicted that eliminating oppression and creating a society of justice will do away with the need for religion. The secularist half of this strange partnership is banking on Marx’s prediction; in the meantime they turn a blind eye to the religious zealotry of their newfound partners.
No Enemies on the Left
The final sections of this book detail how this combination of secular and religious fanaticism is played out in sabotaging the American government’s determination to respond forcefully to 9/11. This campaign is conducted by treachery and by cleverly exploiting the very freedoms in America that its enemies are determined to destroy.
The FBI and the CIA were hindered in their fight against crime and terrorism by the so-called “wall” that separated the two agencies. The Patriot Act intended to overcome that deficiency, and it has been an essential tool in exposing and convicting a number of key members of terrorist and terrorist-related organizations.
Horowitz names organizations and individuals who have consistently fought against the efforts of the Justice Department to bring to justice people who support and actively work for Islamic terrorist organizations. No matter how clear their guilt, the National Lawyers Guild, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Bar Association, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the American Muslim Council, and others in that fold are ready to defend them. They invariably do so by claiming victim status for the accused and denouncing the government as a destroyer of human rights.
Lynne Stewart is a prominent member of the Left establishment. A lawyer activist, she has made a name for herself as a staunch defender of the “victims” of the American government, which she denounced as a “poisonous government that spreads its venom to the body politic in all corners of the globe.” In the same breath she said that Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedung, Lenin, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara are modern heroes.
She acted as counsel for the blind sheik Omar Abdel Rahman who was convicted as the mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Stewart was found guilty of providing material support for the sheik’s terrorist activities. No matter, she continues to receive a hero’s welcome on university campuses and other events sponsored by the despisers of America.
When asked whether she would defend the right of citizens to protest against a revolutionary government that had “liberated” its people from the oppression of capitalism, she said: “I don’t have any problem with Mao or Stalin or the Vietnamese leaders or certainly Fidel locking up people they see as dangerous. Because so often, dissidence has been used by the greater powers to undermine a people’s revolution.”
The shame of it is that a person proclaiming such nonsense is a revered member of the American Left. This is historical revisionism at its most evil. The good news is that people with the determination to tell the truth are still with us.
David Horowitz’s Unholy Alliance is a remarkable and insightful book. It helps us to see through the veil of falsehood and secrecy that protects those who want to do us harm. It is an indispensable source of information to counter the twisted imaginations of the secular and the Islamist participants in this conspiracy.