Thursday, January 03, 2002

MORE FROM THE NEW REPUBLIC: Peter Beinart has the new TRB on Muslims in South Africa, and why Islamism has its origins on the right, not the left. (As far as you can speak about such divisions these days.) Says he:

There's a lesson here for both the American left and the American right. For the left, it's that viewing militant Islam as a successor to the Third World "liberation" movements of the twentieth century (and therefore worthy of sympathy) is nutty. The Taliban surely showed that Islamism represents the opposite of gender and sexual liberation. And PAGAD and Qibla--which have allied themselves against the ANC's notions of "black" unity and empowerment--show that it often represents the opposite of racial liberation as well.

The lesson for the right is strangely similar. It's that militant Islam isn't a phenomenon of the left--powered by the anarchic poor and the intellectuals who harness them to create futuristic utopias. It's often a phenomenon driven by the American right's favorite class, the petit bourgeois: the people who tend small shops and tiny houses, who believe in family, faith, property, and order. And who see those values threatened by rising lawlessness, and by governments too corrupt and too ill-equipped to keep them safe. Such people turn to fundamentalism because it offers security, structure, and the perverse pride that comes from "standing up" to the West.

The "lesson" is based on the fact that the ANC wants to bring Muslims in, and thus can't really obviously jump in with the War On Terrorism.

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