Friday, August 05, 2005


Jonah Goldberg outdoes himself today:
It turns out that the famously "homegrown" terrorists of the London bombings were much more like John Walker Lindh or even the Patty Hearst types of the 1960s and '70s. Radical chic may be as a big a part of the story as radical Islam.

We've always understood this was the case to a certain extent. Osama bin Laden's prattling about the Crusades, for instance, merely shows how poisoned Islamism is by Western Marxism and anti-imperialism. Muslims used to brag about winning the Crusades. It was only after the West started exporting victimology that Islamic and Arab intellectuals started to whine about how poorly they'd been treated.

I really don't know from where Jonah drew this analysis. It takes a very, very, very special kind of dumb to look at the phenomenon of radical Islamism and see...Marxism. There may be some element of radical chic in young Western Muslims turning militant, but I've seen no evidence for this among militants from the Muslim world, and of course, true to form, Jonah doesn't present any. His claim that Islamism is "infected by Marxism" only makes sense when you understand that he is very angry about not having been around to peddle his unique brand of smug during the Cold War, and thus must continue to discover Marxism's pernicious effects everywhere.

Regarding anti-imperialism, maybe it's me, but I think you're entitled to be anti-imperialist when you've been colonized, as much of the Arab world was at the time that modern radical Islam was born. There was really no need to import victimhood into the Arab world, because Arabs were actual victims of imperialism.

As I've written before, radical political Islam grew up and should be understood primarily as a response to imported Western secular ideologies such as fascism and socialism. It's true that some Islamists have incorporated a quasi-Marxian critique into their ideology, but to locate the source of the problem with Marx, or with "whining intellectuals" or with whatever other conservative bogeyman Goldberg comes up with, and ignore the factors which made such ideas attractive, specifically Western support for authoritarian regimes in exchange for access to oil, is just bafflingly ignorant.

One more comment about "victimhood." It's funny how Goldberg condemns this mentality in America's enemies, but absolutely revels in it and helps to cultivate it among conservatives in regards to American media's purported hostility to right-wing ideas. To the extent that a sense of victimhood must be fostered in order to consider one's self a "radical" fighting against "the system," American conservatives do this about as well as anyone.

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