When I first came across the term “Islamofascism” years ago, in a column by Christopher Hitchens, I was repulsed. It struck me as the usual knee-jerk leftist (and yes, I think Hitchens remains a leftist, though an unusual one) response to any ideology one doesn’t like–call it “fascist.” Last I heard, college libertarians were still being called “fascists” by some of their peers on the left, despite the absence of any overlap between libertarianism and fascism–except, I guess, that both fascists and libertarians intensely dislike Communism, albeit for entirely different reasons.
In any event, it turns out I was wrong about the term “Islamofascism,” as modern Islamist ideology does have roots in fascism, at least if one interprets fascism broadly enough to encompass Naziism, and not just Italian fascism. The Weekly Standard has one of several articles I’ve seen about the links between 1930s fascism and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Al Qaeda (and Hamas) sprang.
Speaking of which, I heard someone on NPR today, an American who served as Yasser Arafat’s advisor, claim that Hamas is America’s “natural ally” against Al Qaeda. Sure, perhaps in the same way that Mao was America’s “natural ally” against the Soviet Union, or for that matter the USSR was America’s “natural ally” against Nazi Germany, but such alliances with the devil should be entered into only in the most dire of circumstances, and it hardly strikes me that we’re there yet.
UPDATE: The term “Islamofascism” may be appropriate, but is it wise to use as a political/propaganda strategy? I’m not taking a position on that, but I always thought the purpose of the term was to rally the reluctant left into the cause, by pointing out the similarities, and, indeed, the common ideological origins, of modern Islamic radicalism and the right-wing totalitarian movements of the 1930s that the left vigorously opposed. It appears that this has almost entirely failed. OTOH, those who argue that the term is “insensitive” to Islam, but seem to have no compunctions about blanket condemnation of domestic “fundamentalist Christians” or “the Christian right” don’t seem to have a very strong leg to stand on, either.