A couple of years ago, I wrote an op-ed about the support of a section of the Left for the decidedly non-progressive forces of revolutionary political Islam, usually in the name of anti-Zionism or anti-Americanism.
I described something I had personally witnessed, a demonstration in London in 2006 against Israel’s military actions in Lebanon fighting Hezbollah. Alongside the usual banners calling Israel an apartheid state etc. were placards, lofted high by white, British, card-carrying Leftists, proclaiming “We are all Hezbollah now”. I suggested a thought experiment:
Imagine a white, Christian supremacist movement that believed in imposing its racist ideology on society through violence; that persecuted religious minorities and preached and practiced the murder of Jews. How would self-defined liberals, progressives, left-wingers respond to the emergence of such a political force, anywhere in the world? We all know the answer.
And yet, substitute “white, Christian” for “Muslim” and, not only is there no mass denouncement by the Left, but there is sympathy, apologetics, and even support. Would any civilized person, let alone someone who identified with the progressive values of the Left, march down the street with a banner supporting neo-Nazis, or the Ku Klux Klan? No. But “We are all Hezbollah Now.” We are all an Islamist political party that murders its ideological opponents, launches rockets at civilians, incites Jew-hatred, and is a proxy of perhaps the only regime in the world with an explicitly genocidal foreign policy – the Islamic Republic of Iran.
I was reminded of this analogy as my Facebook and Twitter feed filled with Liberal (and, it must be said, much Conservative) disgust at President Trump’s non-response to Nazis marching through suburban Virginia. And I was no passive observer of this angry chorus. I readily contributed my own outrage, particularly in response to Trump’s description of the “very fine people” marching alongside swastika-bearing Jew-haters and Klansmen; a remark which surely renders him unfit for any public office in any democracy, let alone President of the United States.
Nevertheless, it did bring home to me the double standard I had alluded to in my previous article. Back in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn had a surprisingly good General Election two months ago, increasing Labour’s share of the vote and confounding almost every pundit (including this one) who had predicted he would lead his party to electoral oblivion. But is it conceivable that he would have been so successful had he gone beyond even Trump’s disgraceful behavior and referred to the leaders of the Charlottesville march as “his friends”? Or described them as a force for “peace and justice”? Of course not. His political career would be over. Yet this is exactly how he has referred to and described Hezbollah and Hamas – terror groups/political parties that are unapologetically antisemitic, anti-gay, ultra-conservative on issues of gender (with women’s rights simply not recognized) and, of course, that have the blood of countless innocent civilians on their hands.
I’m tired of seeing the Left denounce fascism when it looks like the Charlottesville marchers, but justify it when it has a dark skin and speaks Arabic. Conversely, those apologists for Trump and his dog whistling to white supremacists now have zero credibility when they attempt to critique Islamism and its appeasers.
If you believe in the principles of democracy, human rights and a free society then you oppose and condemn fascism from wherever it comes: from neo-Nazis and racist nationalist parties across the US and Europe; or the Sunni and Shi’a theocratic far-right murdering its way across the Middle East.
It really is that simple.