I went on Al Jazeera television yesterday to debate this whole “Islamic fascist” issue with Nihad Awad (executive director of CAIR) and some lunatic in Cairo whose name I don’t even want to know.
I credit Mr. Awad for making a comment to me after the show that left me in somewhat of two minds. Mr. Awad makes the point that Pat Buchanan makes, namely that Fascism, Nazism, and even Communism were the product of Christendom and that we should therefore say “Christo-fascist,” etc., to be consistent. The point is at least partly well-taken, because, while it may have an explicitly Islamic veneer, today’s terrorism was invented by a generation of Arabs who owed more to the Soviets than to the Koran, so we should perhaps discount their current religiosity. And if it is true, as President Bush has repeated many times, that our enemy now is just another totalitarian political ideology, and has little to do with the beautiful religion that is Islam, then it’s hard to see what we gain from including “Islamic” in the terrorists’ appellation.
But even if you disagree with that, the Al Jazeera show highlighted a much more serious word-choice problem. At one point, the lunatic in Cairo proclaimed (in response to me) that “America is the plague upon the world, America is the disease upon the world.” It was then Mr. Awad’s turn to speak next, and he used it to criticize the generality and imprecision of . . . Donald Rumsfeld’s use of terms.
Mr. Awad should explain why he seemed so distraught over the mote in Rumsfeld’s eye and so little concerned with the beam in that of his coreligionist. Considering that he was speaking to some 40-60 million Arab households, he might have done a better thing for American-Islamic relations if had concentrated more on the latter.