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Time to Tell the Truth about Radical Islamic Terror

June 12 2017

In the wake of the recent bloody attacks on Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May announced the need for “difficult, often embarrassing conversations” about the ideological sources of terror. Jeffrey Herf agrees:

North African Muslim writers, scholars, and journalists . . . since the 1990s were drawing attention to the connections between interpretations of Islam and the practice of terror by Islamist organizations. They did so especially in what [one observer] called “the terror years” of the 1990s in Algeria, when between 100,000 and 200,000 people died in a civil war between Islamist organizations and the military regime. . . .

In their scholarship, journalism, poetry, essays, and satire, these writers disputed the idea that terror “had nothing to do with Islam.” They called [instead] for critical engagement with the sacred texts that terrorists cited to justify murder, and offered abundant and embarrassing evidence about the importance of [those] texts used to legitimate terror. They argued that a criticism of Islamism and its interpretation of the sacred texts of Islam were not synonymous with prejudice against Muslims. . . .

For many years, the [sois-disant] voices of realism in the democracies have told us that euphemism and avoidance regarding the truth about Islamism, Islam, and terror were essential to win the “war on terror.” Designed to avoid generating an anti-Muslim backlash in the democracies, the euphemisms and silences . . . have contributed to just that outcome. To refrain from stating the obvious has fostered cynicism and mistrust. . . .

It was never realistic, hard-headed, or prudent to deny in public what all Western political leaders knew—or should have known—about the ideological connection between interpretations of the religion of Islam and the practice of terror in recent decades. Realism in politics and policy demands an unflinching gaze at the facts, the evidence, and the truth. That unflinching gaze needs to be focused on the ideas and passions that have inflamed the hearts and minds of the murderers. [Portions] of the intellectual history of Islamist terror have already been written and are readily available as sources for the “difficult, and often embarrassing, conversations” that need to take place around the world.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Algeria, Islam, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam, Theresa May, War on Terror

 

Hannah Arendt, Adolf Eichmann, and the Jews

Feb. 23 2018

In 1963—a year after Adolf Eichmann’s sentencing by an Israeli court—reports on the trial by the German-born Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt appeared in the New Yorker and were soon published as a book. This “report on the banality of evil,” as the book was subtitled, outraged many Jews, including many of her erstwhile friends and admirers, on account of her manifest contempt for the entire preceding, her disgust for the state of Israel, her accusation that a wide array of European Jewish leaders (if not the majority of the victims) were complicit in their own murder, and her bizarre insistence that Eichmann was “not a monster,” or even an anti-Semite, but a mindless, faceless bureaucrat. While extensive evidence has been brought to light that Arendt was wrong both in her claims of Jewish passivity and her evaluation of Eichmann as the head of the SS’s Jewish section, her book remains widely read and admired. Ruth Wisse comments on its enduring legacy:

When Arendt volunteered to report on the Eichmann trial, it was presumed that she was doing so in her role as a Jew. . . . But Arendt actually traveled to Jerusalem for a deeper purpose—to reclaim Eichmann for German philosophy. She did not exonerate Nazism and in fact excoriated the postwar Adenauer government for not doing enough to punish known Nazi killers, but she rehabilitated the German mind and demonstrated how that could be done by going—not beyond, but around, good and evil. She came to erase Judaism philosophically, to complicate its search for moral clarity, and to unseat a conviction [that, in Saul Bellow’s words], “everybody . . . knows what murder is.”

Arendt was to remain the heroine of postmodernists, deconstructionists, feminists, relativists, and internationalist ideologues who deny the stability of Truth. Not coincidentally, many of them have also disputed the rights of the sovereign Jewish people to its national homeland. Indeed, as anti-Zionism cemented the coalition of leftists, Arabs, and dissident minorities, Arendt herself was conscripted, sometimes unfairly and in ways she might have protested, as an ally in their destabilizing cause. They were enchanted by her “perversity” and were undeterred in their enthusiasm by subsequent revelations, like those of the historian Bernard Wasserstein, who documented Arendt’s scholarly reliance on anti-Semitic sources in her study of totalitarianism, or of revelations about her resumed friendship with Martin Heidegger despite his Nazi associations.

At the same time, however, the Arendt report on the Eichmann trial became one of the catalysts for something no one could have predicted—an intellectual movement that came to be known as neoconservatism. A cohort of writers and thinkers, many of them Jews from immigrant families who had turned to leftism as naturally as calves to their mother’s teats, but who had slowly moved away from the Marxism of their youth during the Stalin years and World War II, now spotted corruption and dishonesty and something antithetical to them in some of their very models of the intellectual life.

They and their Gentile colleagues had constituted the only European-style intelligentsia to flourish in America. Most of them were only one generation removed from Europe, after all, so what could be more natural than for them to serve as the conduit of European intelligence to America? Arendt’s ingenious twist of the Eichmann trial showed them how Jewish and American they actually were—and how morally clear they aspired to be.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Adolf Eichmann, Hannah Arendt, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Neoconservatism, New York Intellectuals