Home/Daniel Larison/“Islamofascism”


Speaking of “Islamofascism,” Marc Lynch picks up on this recurring error in his very thorough review of Paul Berman’s Flight of the Intellectuals:

Many of the valuable debates that The Flight of the Intellectuals could have sparked are drowned out by Berman’s ludicrous efforts to construct an intellectual and organizational genealogy linking Nazi Germany and contemporary Islamism. His insistence on the usefulness of the concept of “Islamic fascism” — despite the fact that virtually all Muslims consider it a profound insult to their faith and identity — is one of the surest clues to his indifference to Muslim reality in favor of intellectual gamesmanship.

For the last three yearsat least, I have been railing against the complete stupidity of the term Islamofascism and all such related concepts. It is ludicrous to keep trying to tie modern Islamist movements to fascism, but there seems to be some sort of compulsion among anti-jihadists such as Berman to keep recycling this claim, if only to defy the “apologists” they think they are so brilliantly chastising. As I was suggesting in my 2007 column, the attempts to blur the differences between Islamists and then to link Islamists to Nazis are obviously not aimed at understanding the groups in question, but they are intended to vilify and tar all of them with ideological association with a movement everyone loathes. It is an exercise in propaganda and political mobilization instead of analysis, and so it is little surprise that the analysis written in support of it is so shoddy. Perhaps the most important thing the confusion between Islamism and fascism does is to grossly inflate the power and threat from Islamism to Western countries and to frame any remotely accommodating approach towards Muslim countries or Muslim communities in the West as “appeasement” and “surrender” on par with making concessions to Hitler.

Update: Thanks to commenter Norwegian Shooter for alerting me to this Lynch post that led me to his review.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles