Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Times opinion piece more suited to a particularly idiotic blog is taken apart by a not particularly idiotic blog (which is in turn then attacked by one of the most idiotic blogs going* - and you'll probably have to refresh that link as they don't like people linking direct to posts...)

I, meanwhile, will merely point out that the Times piece, by Anthony Browne, was already worthy of contempt merely for breaking Godwin's Law by the first sentence of the second paragraph. Note to idiots: Nazism was an ideology based on hatred, and the majority of true Nazis were nutters; Islam is an ideology based on religious devotion, and the majority of true Muslims are no more nutty than anyone else who believes in an all-powerful, omnipotent, omnipresent deity. Direct comparisons are doomed to make you look even more foolish than usual.

Oh, and a rather nice fisking by Talk Politics on this as well.

* I should probably point out that the response itself gives a good impression of being sane, and that David T is usually one of the less barking posters there, even if the response would tend to suggest that the blog on which it appears has a rather bad case of double-standards when it comes to people it disagrees with versus people it adores...

27 Comments:

Blogger Unity said...

I quite enjoyed Browne's ramblings - they lend themselves very well to a good solid fisking - as you see from this...

8/02/2005 05:24:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Good work - have updated with a link.

It really is stuff like that that makes me wonder why, if the nationals are so desperate for filler that they'll publish unthinking crap like that Browne piece, that they haven't asked me to write for them yet... I do unthinking crap as well as anyone, after all.

8/02/2005 05:36:00 pm  
Blogger dearieme said...

"majority of true Nazis": how I admire your neat use of 'true' to ensure that your statement is unfalsifiable.

8/02/2005 05:38:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

It's called being specific - I am more than aware that many joined the party because they had to. They would, technically, have been Nazis, but as we're talking about ideologies here surely it's necessary to restrict ourselves to the true believers?

8/02/2005 05:45:00 pm  
Blogger Eric S said...

As far as comparing Nazism to Islam...yes, that would be a silly comparison. It seems less silly to compare Nazism to Islamism as advocated by bin Laden and various other extremists, though. "Nazism was an ideology based on hatred", you say. Yes, and bin Ladenite Islamism is a religion based on hatred. Poke around on memri.org if you need a reminder of what they stand for.

In any case, Nazism was quite a bit more than a mere ideology. The Nazis were very systematic in their efforts to completely replace 'traditional' religion with their newly conceived faith. Hence you had Nazi party leaders presiding over weddings instead of priests, countless formalized quasi-religious rituals, etc. The Führer became the "all-powerful, omnipotent, omnipresent deity".

There are plenty of parallels in the rhetoric, and plenty of parallels in the fantasies of establishing a planet-wide empire ruled according to the One True Ideology/Faith. It matters not if you call it the Thousand-Year Reich or the Caliphate.

8/02/2005 06:58:00 pm  
Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

Newshog said: "Islamic extremism is as much the enemy of the vast bulk of Muslims as it is of anyone else - and moderate Muslims by-and-large already understood this."

Ho hum; I wonder about that phraseology "vast bulk of Muslims" having seen this poll. Or was that carried out by racists too?

And this is just a complete over-simplification: "Note to idiots: Nazism was an ideology based on hatred, and the majority of true Nazis were nutters".

Browne (of whose "racist" credentials I neither know nor care) wrote this, "They may not want a global theocracy, but they are like the West’s apologists for the Soviet Union — useful idiots", I find your lack of denunciation of the Soviets somewhat worrying. In what way, exactly, was Nazism "an ideology based on hatred" and Communism not?

Having said that, Talk Politics also conveniently glosses over that sentence, although he commits the further crime–whilst dwelling extensively on the Nazi comparison–of failing to mention that Communism has its supporters even now (though he does correctly flag up that Lenin did not coin the phrase "useful idiots" (although, exactly how that is relevant I'm not sure).

I also find Newshog's argument that the Islamists who want to establish the Caliphate cannot be compared to the Nazis because they are not in charge of a G8 level country somewhat spurious. And one could, reasonably, be tempted to point at Iran or, indeed, Saudi Arabia (not G8, but then radical Islamism does, almost by its nature, stifle innovation and therefore pretty much precludes a strong economy).

Furthermore, Browne acknowledges the distinction between political and religious here: The two fascisms, one racial and one religious, one beaten and the other resurgent, are evil in both their ideology and their methodology, in their supremacism, intolerance, belief in violence and threat to democracy.

In that this paragraph is talking about those who would re-establish the Caliphate, I see nothing wrong in the phrasing (unless, of course, you are one of those who does not believe in the concept of "evil", but that is something of a philosophical call).

While Browne's piece is fairly inaccurate from a semantic—philosophical (since it is my contention that all philosophical arguments boil down to semantic debates)—viewpoint (something the Talk Politics spends most of his article discussing), it is fairly obvious that pure philosophy is simply not relevant here. For instance, it may well be true that under Islamic law there is–due to the lack of Caliph–no possibility of "Offensive Jihad" it must be pretty obvious by now that Al-Qa'eda and their associates, disagree somewhat. Unless, of course, New York and London are considered to be part of the ancient Muslim world?

If "fisking" is defined as splitting semantic and philosophical hairs, whilst ignoring the main argument and the evidence of one's eyes, then yes; both of these blogs do a good job of "fisking".

8/02/2005 08:14:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

Devil's Kitchen

Spot on - very deft analysis, and quite saves me from making the same points, probably less articulately.

I'll only say that Browne's analysis isn't even that weak geopolitically (I think it is spot on ideologically): Islamofascism is not that far from serious power - it was in control of Afghanistan for instance; it may yet control Pakistan (a nuclear power), or Iran (soon, ditto); or the world's oil supplies if it seizes Iraq and/or Saudi Arabia.

Which would make it a sight stronger than Nazi Germany was, economically and militarily. Hitler had no nukes.

I don't understand the left's blind spot vis-a-vis this vile creed; can such asinine blinkeredness really be explained just by anti-Americanism?

Does the Left hate America that much that it prefers to apologise for a warped, racist, sexist, militaristic, medieval, anti-Semitic bunch of crap like radical Islam? Truly truly weird. These guys must REALLY hate Starbucks.

8/02/2005 09:55:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Eric - had he compared Nazism to the Taliban, I'd have no real problems. Even if he'd said "Nazism was prejudiced against Jews; Islam is prejudiced against women" I couldn't complain too much (other than for the implication that it's to the same extent). It's merely the silliness of the broad comparison which annoyed.

DK - I also failed to denounce the Khmer Rouge, Viet Cong, Spanish Inquisition or Smallpox. In my case, because it was a short post. Unity at Talk Politics failed (I assume) to slag off Uncle Joe because the main thrust of Browne's piece was about the Nazi comparisons. It's called maintaining focus.

It also appears worth pointing out that it is more than mere semantics to point out that "Fanatical Muslims who wish to re-establish the Caliphate are like Nazis" is very different from "Muslims are like Nazis". Browne's piece read - seemingly deliberately - as if he was saying the latter, largely due to his continues use of "Islamist", a relatively vague term for most people which can easily be mistaken for being a synonym of "Islamic".

Sean - I think (here, at least - I can't speak for the likes of the SWP and their ilk) you're mistaking "wanting to be specific about who's the enemy" with "liking fanatical Islam".

The majority of the "left", from what I can tell, actually rather dislike Islam - for many of the reasons you point out, in particular the rampant sexism and insanely illiberal approaches to the punishment of people deemed criminals - I certainly am not an especial fan of that particular faith (not that that says much, considering my views on religion as a whole), and especially in its hardcore forms - I was cheering when the Taleban were kicked out. But that doesn't mean that people on the left can't defend Muslims when their views are distored and exaggerated.

A Muslim who wants his wife to wear a headscarf or veil in public is very different from a Muslim who denies his daughters educations and stones to death women who dare to show their faces in public. It's a silly exaggeration (much like DK's "oh, you're a lefty - you love Stalin" bit above) and in the current climate rather dangerous. Because we want to stop the exaggerations does not, however, mean that we can't see that they stem from certain truths. It simply means we can see the greater potential danger that the exaggerations pose.

8/02/2005 11:15:00 pm  
Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

Nosemonkey, I appreciate what you say... however, you are an editor. I appreciate that this is a personal blog but still...

"Nazism was prejudiced against Jews; Islam is prejudiced against women"

Islam, and not even fundamentalist Islam, is prejudiced against both of these groups of people.

Talk Politics is totally wrong in his assessment of fascism anyway: to most people today, fascism means a state imposing its will upon its citizens, as articulated by this article or on Wikipedia here.

Fascism places the state foremost. The country does not serve the citizen; the citizen serves the country. The notion of plebeian sovereignty is utterly foreign to a fascist regime.

If you accept the perception of power politics as a ring—as I was taught—there is no difference between fascism and Communism or, in any meaningful sense, Sharia. All three are statist regimes that force their citizens to live as the state decrees. Thus Talk Politic's post is almost entirely obliviated. I would have a little more respect for it if he hadn't posted almost exactly the same arguments a little while ago. It is, for Unity, becoming something of a dogma.

I also failed to denounce the Khmer Rouge, Viet Cong, Spanish Inquisition or Smallpox.

None of these were cited, unlike the Soviets, and since smallpox is a retrovirus, not a political regime, I think that we can discount it, yes?

Unity at Talk Politics failed (I assume) to slag off Uncle Joe because the main thrust of Browne's piece was about the Nazi comparisons. It's called maintaining focus.

Sure, but since the substance of the regimes are essentially the same, it merely exposes his bias. That is not maintaining focus since, as the articles I've cited would suggest, they are, in the way in which they function, one and the same. Only someone who was extremely ignorant of the facts of both regimes and, indeed, the actual applications of those regimes, would argue otherwise.

largely due to his continues use of "Islamist", a relatively vague term for most people which can easily be mistaken for being a synonym of "Islamic".

None of the rest of Talk Politic's ideas were any less based on semantics: and yet you linked to his post—therefore endorsing it— and cannot therefore pick Browne up on his semantics. The fact is that—across the blogosphere, if nowhere else—these terms are becoming totally distinct from one another (just another example of the wonderful flexibility of the English language).

It's a silly exaggeration (much like DK's "oh, you're a lefty - you love Stalin" bit above)

And this is just silly. I never said that you love Stalin; however, when I looked at Browne article I saw the Communist apologists as being much more relevant than the rather clumsy Nazi comparisons that Browne drew. I also saw the glaring lack of comparison to the Communist apologists. The article compared The Guardian and the BBC to liberal apologists for the Communist regime and this was an important point that Talk Politics also glossed over; Unity, like Newshog, implied that Browne betrayed his racism through his language: the language of Talk Politics article, in fact, betrays Unity's bias far more than does Browne's* (e.g. the concept that Afro-Americans could not possibly have higher testosterone or lower IQs than Caucasian males; both these things that have been extensively and, believe it or not, credibly, researched over a number of decades).

I don't particularly endorse Browne's article: what I am pointing out is that both bloggers' responses that you have highlighted—and linked to—are not only incredibly smug, but actually wrong. The only thing that you, personally, have highlighted about the article is that the man's use of "Islamist" might be confused with "Islamic". That is simply not sufficient and, as with the last time that I left a comment here, diminishes the worth of your opinion. You have endorsed two articles, which are simply badly researched, and which miss the point because—I believe—they happen to fit with your current worldview.

This makes your "short post", in my view, not only as biased as any MSM article, but also a suicidal attack on your own credibility.

*I am going to post about this&especially Talk Politic's contribution—at the Kitchen (at the moment the article is already standing at over 3000 words) because I think that it is important. This is not just a matter of opposing ideologies, it is a matter of confronting reality as opposed to philosophical purity. I'll send you the link (you lucky Devil)...

8/03/2005 01:07:00 am  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...

Nosey...

Godwin's dead.

8/03/2005 05:04:00 am  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

DK - I get what you're saying, and can see your point. The trouble is, I don't think any 20th century comparisons really relate to our current situation, although the Communism thing (especially America 1930s-50s) certainly has parallels, and rather more, I'd say, than the Nazi business. I may or may not do a decent-length post on it at some point, depending on time constraints before I go on holiday.

8/03/2005 09:40:00 am  
Blogger Alex said...

Fascism means a state imposing its will on its citizens

Wouldn't that include income tax, drink/drive legislation, laws prohibiting me from murdering my neighbours and much, much more?

8/03/2005 10:09:00 am  
Blogger sean said...

DK, NM...

Interesting debate. Specifically, DK, you are right of course about the testosterone/IQ question.

No serious scientist doubts that there are troubling IQ differences between racial groups. For many scientists this merely proves that IQ tests are rubbish (a very arguable point) but no can honestly deny the raw IQ data.

Yet the Left acts as if this is such a rebarbative concept is must be untrue, simply by virtue of its repugnance. It's a kind of Stalinist science - the data must be made to fit the worldview, not the other way around.

Moreover if you mention this troubling data to a Lefty, they look at you as if you have justed farted in front of the Pope; it's therefore become an unacceptable solecism to mention this IQ problem, and proof that you are racist if you do (The Bell Curve etc). That is why most people are now unaware of it. Look at today's Guardian diary, for instance - it mentions the IQ difference data (with reference to Browne) just to show how horrible the people are who think this. No mention of the fact that the data is verifiable and widely credited...

That said, I do think it behoves writers and journalists to tread carefully in this area. The IQ thing can be so easily spun by real racists, it should be handled with great delicacy. But equally the Left shouldn't be allowed to get away with the great big lie that it simply isn't true.

The testosterone difference, is, as far as I know (and I have written in these areas for the Spectator and the Telegraph) rather less verifiable, and less concrete. But still interesting... and troubling... and to be handled-with-care.

8/03/2005 10:12:00 am  
Anonymous soru said...

_use of "Islamist", a relatively vague term for most people which can easily be mistaken for being a synonym of "Islamic"._

The explanation of that term has been printed in the Sun, so I rather think a blogger who posts about political stuff as much as you do should be a bit more informed.

A simple four-way analogy:

Islam:islamist:islamic fascist:Al Qaeda

Germany:nationalist:fascist:Nazi Party

the first is a thing, the second a political program to unite around that thing, the third adds in specific techniques of scapegoating propaganda, intimidatory militia and the glorification of violence, and the last is a specific organisation.

Read a standard text-book about fascism, like Paxton's Anatomy of Fascism, and you will see the analogy is about as close as anything gets in politics.

Also, please avoid terms like 'fundamentalist' and 'extremist', they are as offensive as implying that Schroeder is 'less of a patriotic german' than Hitler.

soru

8/03/2005 12:08:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

I think you're mistaking pointing out that a term could be misunderstood with actually misunderstanding a term.

As for the whole Nazi/fascist thing, I don't doubt or deny that there are many similarities between AQ and fascism - but there are less between AQ and the specific form of fascism that was Nazism, largely due to the immense military might of the Nazis in Germany. The threat we are facing today is more nebulous than the specific, overwhelming military one we faced in the 1930s and 40s, and as such the Nazi comparison is, in my view, silly. My problem is specifically with the comparison to Nazism - a more specific thing than fascism, and therefore worthy of closer scrutiny.

8/03/2005 12:21:00 pm  
Anonymous soru said...

To the best of my knowledge, the BNP doesn't have any tanks either.

Would you ridicule and dismiss anyone who compared them to the Nazis? Neo-fascism, rather than specifically neo-Nazi, might be more accurate when referring any similar group that doesn't openly have swastikas on their website and former Hitler Youth as members, but that's a point you make as a caveat, not as 'hah ha ha you are so wrong I'm just going to point and laugh'.

8/03/2005 01:14:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

But neo-Nazi is distinct from Nazi. The BNP are not true neo-Nazis, but close enough not to make any major difference. When referring to the BNP as Nazis, as I've no doubt done in the past, it's merely a convenient shorthand used when related to a group which has long been closely associated with the Nazi brand of fascism. AQ's brand of radical Islam is a more recent phenomenon, the precise aims and ideology of which still remains vague for most. As such, branding them Nazi as a shorthand isn't as excusable.

The distinction between Nazism and AQ's brand of hardcore Islamic fundamentalism is an important one - at least as far as I'm concerned. The Nazis (and the BNP) placed the emphasis on racial purity, AQ place it on ideological purity. One can be chosen, the other can't. So DK's thing above about comparisons to Stalinism are rather more valid. Browne's extended Nazi thing, however, is too simplistic and flawed to be taken seriously.

I can easily see how this could be seen as splitting hairs, but still - if you are going to make an extended comparison, make it an accurate one. That's all I'm asking.

8/03/2005 02:18:00 pm  
Anonymous soru said...

-One can be chosen, the other can't-

A fascist could easily say 'you Jews/Blacks can leave the country if you like. It's a free choice. Of course, if you do choose to stay, then anything that might happen will be a result of that freely made choice.'

Doesn't seem that different.

8/03/2005 03:39:00 pm  
Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

Strangely, no one has made the connection that Nazism was formed out of the jealous ramblings of one man (Hitler) and Islam was also formed out of the jealous ramblings of one man (Mohammed).

Odd that, ain't it. I'm sure that Stalky would understand...

8/03/2005 09:15:00 pm  
Blogger Eric S said...

-The Nazis (and the BNP) placed the emphasis on racial purity, AQ place it on ideological purity.-

Well, yes and no. The Nazis certainly worried about the size and shape of your head, the color of your hair and eyes, and whether or not you had any of the dreaded "Jewish" features (never mind that Hitler wasn't even vaguely Aryan looking, the shmuck). They hardly limited themselves to hatred based on race, though. For example, countless communists died in their camps (along with anyone else who openly doubted Nazi ideals). The Catholic Church was a competing ideology (an alternate "choice", if you will), and they were silenced quite thoroughly as well. Catholic newspapers were shut down, and most Christian holidays were replaced with Nazi fabrications. The Nazis weren't just a bunch of blonde-fetish guys who hated Jews, their efforts to control the German people were quite systematic and comprehensive (they were also rather unsuccessful in many ways, but that's another issue).

Sadly, 'ideological purity' doesn't really cover it when it comes to Al Qaeda. The difference between ideological and racial purity (and hatred of impurity) often gets blurred. It's also hardly limited to Al Qaeda. Mainstream Arab politicians and state-run newspapers routinely spew anti-Semitic remarks that make the comments we brand as "racist" look like love letters. Again, memri.org has translated and documented countless examples of this. In the West, we call someone racist because they ponder the option of profiling, or they ask Muslims to 'clean up their act'. In the Middle East, the rhetoric is a bit more, er, *direct*, shall we say? An example from the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya (2004.04.23): "It is the Jews, with their hidden filthy hands, who play their part with expertise in order to harm the Arabs and Muslims and to intensify hatred towards them. They have experience in this area. All precedents attest to this. Their black history is the best possible proof that hatred toward the Arabs and the Muslims fills their hearts and blinds their eyes. They are behind all troubles, disasters and catastrophes in the world." Hitler would be proud!

Nosemonkey has a point though. The annoying thing about this whole topic is that we're doing Browne's job for him. If he had defined his terms and been a bit more specific, we'd all be off enjoying a pint somewhere. Lazy bastard, he owes us.

DK--I think you'll find that just about all -isms originated in the minds of lonely, rambling, jealous men. No well-balanced person has the inclination or the time to invent an -ism. =)

8/04/2005 03:47:00 am  
Anonymous soru said...

Thatcherism being the exception that proves the rule, I guess.

8/04/2005 12:03:00 pm  
Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

Ferris was right...

Not that I condone fascism. Or any "isms". "Isms", in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an "ism".

8/04/2005 12:10:00 pm  
Blogger Eric S said...

Heh heh...yes, Ferris said it best. The full quote:

"I do actually have a test. That wasn't bullshit.

It's on European socialism. I mean, really. What's the point? I'm not European. I don't plan to be European. So, who gives a shit if they're socialists? They could be fascist anarchists and it still wouldn't change the fact that I don't own a car.

Not that I condone fascism. Or any "isms". "Isms", in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an "ism". He should believe in himself. John Lennon said it on his first solo album. "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." A good point there. After all, he was the Walrus.

I could be the Walrus and I'd still have to bum rides off people."

8/04/2005 12:46:00 pm  
Blogger The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...

Nosemonkey,

I have been holding off commenting on this piece of arrant nonsense, but enough is enough.

Your casual assertion that, although you insist that he has been increbibly slack throughout his article, Browne carefully and specifically used the term "Islamist" so that the uninitiated might think he meant "Islamic" is just so vile that it beggars belief.

Now that Scott Burgess comes down on our side, I think it is time to revisit his substantive point.

My displeasure on this and your earlier moral equivalence rubbish is expressed in full here

8/04/2005 01:25:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

Yeah NM, maybe you should recant on that silly post. Browne made a good analogy, you have lamentably failed to destroy his thesis.
And I had entirely failed to notice yr absurd and offensive point about his use of 'Islamist'. If Browne used 'Islamist' what's he meant, no? Time to backpedal, old son.
Apropos of zip, I'd just like to say that my blog got 1000 visitors this morning, after I used the phrase 'your vagina is in heat'.
Normally I get about 10 visitors a morning. And they say sex drives the Internet. Pah!

8/04/2005 02:11:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Part of a response I just posted at the Pedant's place:

With the Browne thing, my problem was that "Islamist" is still a fairly new term, the definition of which many are still unsure, yet at no point in his article did Browne define it (something that could have been done in a short sentence). As such, confusion was more than likely - and that confusion could lead to readers inferring that Brown was likening Islam as a whole to Nazism, which is not just silly, but in the current climate (especially with the utter lack of knowledge of Islam the majority of the public posess) potentially dangerous.

As for the sex/internet thing, I seem to be getting a lot of visitors from searches for "pissing" at the moment. It appears to be the way forward - maybe I ought to use the word "felch" in more post titles...

8/04/2005 02:33:00 pm  
Anonymous oliver said...

These lamentable 'fiskings' of Browne's article haven't raised any substantive criticisms beyond nitpicking.

Was it not Christopher Hitchens that coined the phrase 'Islamo-fascism?' One could fanny around all night worrying about whether 'radical' Islam - call it watcher will - is related to
classical fascism and the answer would probably be no (although there are interesting WWII links between Nazi G and Palestine among others, and their reading list is often similar...)

But Islamism is a new kind of totalitarian ideology that shares many characteristics with fascism and frankly, I think the conflation between Islamism and Fascism remains a potent way to both annoy the old left and show it who it was clambering into bed with...

Godwin should be invoked for Browne's piece straight off though, and that 'useful idiots' thing is getting threadbare - correct me if I'm wrong but I think its recent spate stems from Robert Harris' fine piece in the Telegraph denouncing the disgusting post 9/11 Guardian op-ed by Rana Kabbani revelling in the fact that America had 'got a bloody nose'.

8/06/2005 10:24:00 am  

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