Revolution #103, October 7, 2007
David Horowitz' Reactionary Road Show Must be Confronted and Exposed
You Can't Defeat Fascism By Ignoring It
Multiple choice: If a nationwide group of fascists announces a week of programs at over 100 campuses across the country, openly designed to gain support for the “war on terror” and to intimidate and silence its opponents, what is the best course of action?
A) Ignore them. Their highly paid well-publicized speakers, their hounding of progressive professors, and their harassment of women’s centers and Muslim student organizations will have no effect. Their monopolization of the discourse—and their manipulation of the language—is really best left unchallenged. Their thug-like intimidation shouldn’t really be taken seriously. The professors that they’ve already driven out of academia shouldn’t bother us. After all, “it can’t happen here”—can it?
B) Confront them and expose them with the truth, and in doing so create openings to involve thousands of students in debate and critical thinking on the crucial issues of our time, and to transform the complacency and passivity on the campus. That will mean struggle and turmoil – but the stakes are too high for anything less.
All too many people, even some with an understanding about how fascism arises and then becomes dominant, are answering A. There is too much bitter history, and too much at stake in the present and future, to accept that. What makes it urgent to get the answer right is that just such an event—“Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week”—is being planned at over 100 campuses around the country. Indeed, it is less than three weeks away, set to begin on October 22.
An Offensive Too Dangerous To Ignore
Many academics know of David Horowitz, the organizer of this “week.” They may know of his poisonous Frontpagemag.com website; they may remember his campaign against reparations for slavery in the ’90s (in which he actually claimed that African-Americans should be “grateful” for their ancestors having been kidnapped and enslaved!), or his role in the hounding and eventual firing of Ward Churchill. But there is a strong tendency to simply dismiss him as an academic charlatan and marginal extremist who poses no fundamental danger to universities. And there is a corresponding failure to grasp the seriousness of the “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.”
Horowitz plays a strategic intellectual function—to lie and distort, to whip up and rally reactionary foot-soldiers and put others on the defensive, especially in academia. Horowitz has mastered the "art" of packaging the aggressive agenda of the most reactionary section of the ruling class in the progressive language of academia. His "Academic Bill of Rights" is actually an assault on critical thinking. His "Students for Academic Freedom" are really a cadre of aggressive right wing student bullies and snitches bent on forging a Nazi youth movement on college campuses.
"Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" is a conscious effort to bring together, mobilize and cohere a social base of diverse reactionaries and outright fascists, both on and off campuses—anti-immigrant nativists and hardcore racists, reactionary military and veterans’ groups, College Republicans and other right-wing student groups, Christian fascists and Zionists. At the same time, well-known right-wing extremists like Ann Coulter, Rick Santorum, Robert Spencer, Horowitz himself and others hope to gain "legitimacy" on campuses like Columbia, Penn State, DePaul, the University of Michigan, UCLA, UC Berkeley and more by portraying themselves as champions of the rights of women, and of gays and lesbians in Islamic countries, and as opponents of Islamic "fascism."
If "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" succeeds, it will put even more teeth in the "you're either with us or against us" position of the Bush administration by bringing forward the aggressive social base needed to enforce it. For example, their targeting of the national Muslim Student Association is aimed at unleashing a pogromist hatred of Muslims. And they are screening the film Borders during this week in order to lump together the fight to "protect our borders" with the battle to defeat "Islamo-fascism" and enlist the anti-immigrant crowd in their crusade.
The U.S. rulers face both a strategic and an immediate necessity to mobilize a right wing campus student pole to intimidate and challenge the growing opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq, and to actively prepare for war with Iran. People have to soberly come to grips with what "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" represents, and to recognize that there is a big need to deal them a political defeat.
But within this situation there also lies the potential to actually turn the tables and create a more favorable polarization on campus and in society. But this can only happen if this IFAW offensive is met by a "U.S. Fascism Awareness" counteroffensive.
Sowing Ideological Confusion
An essential part of the danger—and effectiveness—of "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" is how it spreads ideological confusion. It highlights actual horrors of Islamic fundamentalism—its treatment of women, gays and lesbians, and much else. But it does so in order to recruit people into the global military crusade launched by U.S. imperialism. As a result it is actually bringing people forward who shouldn't be on their side, while paralyzing many who should be fiercely opposing them.
To bring clarity to the way these forces are exploiting the current complex world situation, two things need to be recognized. First, these forces claiming to be champions of equality for women, opponents of theocratic rule, and fierce opponents of terrorism are proven liars and utter hypocrites. We can never forget—and must constantly confront these liars on the fact—that they consciously supported and continue to support Bush’s and Cheney’s calculated lies. Lies which have killed hundreds of thousands in Iraq and uprooted millions more from their homes.
In this country, these same forces work closely with the most extreme Christian fascist forces, including Rick Santorum, who have an agenda that is out to ban not only abortion but birth control as well; that unleashed terror and killing on doctors at abortion clinics; and that vilifies homosexuals and aggravated the conditions that led to the killing of Matthew Shepperd. Champions of women and homosexuals? These people are fascists posing as anti-fascists. (It should also be noted that where it suits their purposes—as it did in Afghanistan and Israel in the 1980's, the U.S. ruling class which Horowitz fronts for has had no compunction about supporting severely oppressive Islamic movements.)
Second, we cannot be held back by the argument that if you do not support the U.S. crusade, you are objectively siding with Islamic fundamentalism. There is no reason to allow these choices to set the terms. Islamic fundamentalism is indeed a reactionary force. Like other brands of religious literalism, it is a program full of oppressive and outmoded content: patriarchy, bigotry, religious warfare and the all-round promotion of superstition and ignorance. Harnessed to the force of state power, it creates societies that no one should want to live in, and people who are truly fighting for revolution and progressive change in those societies should be politically supported.
But the U.S. is the far more aggressive and dangerous reactionary force. And those who live in this country have the particular responsibility to oppose this power. The idea that anyone who refuses to line up with the unfolding crimes of U.S. imperialism is “working for the enemy” must be fundamentally opposed. Sitting on the sidelines ends up strengthening both of these reactionary forces—imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism—when neither represents liberation for the people.
A Vision of Resistance
Horowitz means what he says, and it's not at all an idle threat. What's called for is nothing short of inflicting political defeat on them. In some ways, Horowitz has provided an opening for progressive and revolutionary-minded people to pry open and seriously change the terms of the whole debate, on campus and beyond. There is a basis for this—but it will require a major leap in awareness, mobilization and determination.
People need to step back and look at the whole picture, the whole sweep of U.S. society and where it is heading. Students especially need to recognize what it would mean to have such a week go uncontested, to allow such forces to set the terms of discussion and political life, to have a genuinely fascist political program and ideology not just legitimized but widely promoted as the main trend on campuses.
Work needs to be done immediately to transform the campuses across the country. Horowitz and "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" need to be exposed for what they are, in diverse and creative ways. There need to be public forums and classroom discussions about "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" and the threat it poses. Campuses need to be saturated with posters. Those who are planning protests against the fascists, and defense of Women's Studies departments and Muslim student groups should be supported. The forces behind "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" need to be exposed and isolated. Other forces caught up in it need to be presented with the truth about Horowitz and what "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" is all about.
These people are not the champions of anything progressive. They are proven liars who are responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and laid that country to waste. They are readying a strike against Iran, which could include the use of nuclear weapons, as part of a global crusade which they say will last a generation. They engage in torture on an industrial, world-wide scale. They include biblical literalists who want to create a world which would be a horror for women, and for gays and lesbians.
“Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” must be repudiated and politically defeated. Work needs to begin now with distributing materials, like this paper, that expose what this is really all about. When the week comes, people need to be informed and mobilized, ready to deal this fascist offensive a decisive political defeat. Horowitz needs to be thoroughly called out and identified as persona non grata, someone with no right whatsoever to try and impose his fascist vision on universities. At the end of "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week", these fascists need to be defeated, deflated, discredited and sent packing. If this offensive is thrown back, their ability to launch further attacks on professors and on critical thinking and dissent will be undermined. The momentum of campus brownshirts could be reversed. A very different dynamic in the universities is possible.
The battle against "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" and the brownshirt offensive may be the crucible through which a new generation cuts its teeth and finds its place in history. All who want a better world should relish this fight.
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