Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 10, 2006

Truthdig racism

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 9:32 pm

Occasionally I drop in on Robert Scheer’s website at truthdig.com, which he set up after being canned by the LA Times. Generally, you can find mainstream liberal journalism of the sort that is found on Alternet, Commondreams, and Huffingtonpost. These places are in a perpetual frenzy over the latest outrage from the Bush administration but have absolutely no clue about the underlying economic and social causes of the drift to the right in the USA, which includes both Reagan and Carter, as well as Bush and Clinton.

But occasionally something so egregiously offensive crops up that it goes beyond the parameters of mainstream liberalism and practically screams out for attention. For example, Marc Cooper wrote an absolutely vile attack on Hugo Chavez that is his stock in trade. He recirculated all the rightwing lies about the lack of democracy in Venezuela, while covering his ass with a pro forma defense of the right of Venezuelans to not be invaded. He has Hitchens’s politics but is not willing to make the kind of break that Hitchens did. I guess that getting invited to Huffington’s cocktail parties is still important to him, although based on his appearance on the PBS Las Vegas documentary, he should lay off the hors d’oeuvres.

In keeping with the idiotic “free speech” campaign on behalf of the racist Danish cartoons being mounted by Kathe Pollitt on the Nation Magazine blog, Doug Ireland and Cooper (surprise–surprise) on their own blogs, not to speak of the upfront Islamophobia of the openly rightwing Harry’s Place, Norm Geras, Little Green Footballs, etc., we get a truly toxic outburst from a character named Sam Harris on truthdig. In an article titled “Sam Harris on the reality of Islam”, we learn the following:

It is time we recognized–and obliged the Muslim world to recognize–that “Muslim extremism” is not extreme among Muslims. Mainstream Islam itself represents an extremist rejection of intellectual honesty, gender equality, secular politics and genuine pluralism. The truth about Islam is as politically incorrect as it is terrifying: Islam is all fringe and no center. In Islam, we confront a civilization with an arrested history. It is as though a portal in time has opened, and the Christians of the 14th century are pouring into our world.

Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe. The demographic trends are ominous: Given current birthrates, France could be a majority Muslim country in 25 years, and that is if immigration were to stop tomorrow. Throughout Western Europe, Muslim immigrants show little inclination to acquire the secular and civil values of their host countries, and yet exploit these values to the utmost–demanding tolerance for their backwardness, their misogyny, their anti-Semitism, and the genocidal hatred that is regularly preached in their mosques. Political correctness and fears of racism have rendered many secular Europeans incapable of opposing the terrifying religious commitments of the extremists in their midst. In an effort to appease the lunatic furor arising in the Muslim world in response to the publication of the Danish cartoons, many Western leaders have offered apologies for exercising the very freedoms that are constitutive of civil society in the 21st century. The U.S. and British governments have chastised Denmark and the other countries that published the cartoons for privileging freedom of speech over religious sensitivity. It is not often that one sees the most powerful countries on Earth achieve new depths of weakness, moral exhaustion and geopolitical stupidity with a single gesture. This was appeasement at its most abject.

This is basically the Pim Fortuyn, Oriana Fallaci line. It is racist through and through. It is so nasty and so ignorant that I won’t even waste time refuting it.

In the 1920s, as the crisis of German capitalism deepened, the working class found itself represented by two utterly bankrupt parties. The SP was determined to adapt to the agenda of the bourgeois parties in order not to appear too extreme to voters (who were mostly ready to go to war in the streets at this point anyhow), while the CP was off on an ultraleft binge that makes Avakian’s cult appear sensible by comparison.Now, as everybody knows, I don’t think we are facing an immanent fascist threat in the USA today. But we are certainly faced by many of the same problems that were faced back then. If we can’t find a way to repudiate the naked racism of the “free speech” left, then we are failing our elementary task as educators and activists in the radical movement.

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