Everybody Comes to Rick's
Reader DL sends this link to Unite Against Terror, a site in which British writers pledge their unwavering resistance to fascism today and explain why. It is the explanations which are interesting; and since they are expressed with the facility of accomplished writers I will reproduce them here without comment, except to add that many of these authors are men of the Left; a few are conservative. But all of them are alert to the danger. If liberal readers have ever wondered what it was like to have lived in the "Great Days" when men fought against Nazism, shake yourself awake. Those days are come.
Marko Attila Hoare (Faculty of History, University of Cambridge)
I sign this statement as a supporter of the legitimate struggle for freedom and independence of the Palestinians, Chechens and other enslaved Muslim peoples caught between the Scylla of colonial oppression and the Charybdis of Islamofascism.
To every genuine national-liberation movement, sectarian hatred and pogroms of civilians are as alien as the foreign occupier. In German-occupied Yugoslavia during World War II, the anti-Nazi Partisans preached brotherhood and unity between Muslims, Christians and Jews; they were known to execute their own officers and soldiers if they so much as stole chickens from local peasants, let alone massacred civilians. Al-Qaeda?s Islamofascist network - targeting Jews, Kurds, Shiites, women, homosexuals, moderate Sunnis and ordinary civilians everywhere - represents, by contrast, the very antithesis of a genuine liberation movement.
Everywhere, Islamic extremists have aided and abetted the oppressors of Muslims. In World War II, the Islamofascist Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini helped incite an anti-British revolt in Iraq; he subsequently visited Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia to mobilise Bosnian Muslims to fight in the SS. Islamist terrorism in Daghestan in1999 provided Russia with the pretext for its genocidal reconquest of Chechnya. Elements in the Turkish and Israeli security services encouraged Islamic extremism as a means of dividing and weakening secular Kurdish and Palestinian nationalism respectively, helping to create a Frankenstein?s monster that is claiming the lives of Turks and Kurds, Jews and Arabs alike.
There can be no freedom for Muslim peoples without the defeat of the Islamofascists and everything they stand for; and there can be no defeat of the Islamofascists without liberty for all Muslim peoples.
To sign a statement is to raise your hand
In the open view of anyone. You may
Be named, accused or slandered, made to stand
In the dock of those who shout you?re in their way.
You?re in the way, much like the scholar who
Stood before the tank and argued, although
He knew what a soldier was obliged to do
And where that tank was most likely to go.
OK, so choose your own analogy.
We like to see ourselves as David, brave
Before the giant who?s not as big as he looks,
Arguing points of ideology
Near bloody squares, over the mass grave,
While carrying our shopping bags and books.
With shopping bags and books you lumber home
To the best of your mixed blessings. It?s where you are
In the land of low turn out, millennium dome
And gradualism, your second-hand car
Your form-filling, the colours of the prism
Known, faintly contemptible and ripe
For comedy, affection, scepticism,
With nuggets of delight among the tripe.
It?s little enough to raise your hand for this,
For anyone else anywhere. It makes a strange
Human cohesion, a frayed elastic band.
Courage and generosity might miss
The mark sometimes but I believe their range
Is useful. It is for them I raise my hand.
Christopher Hitchens (Writer)
Association with this statement and with many of its fellow-signatories involves two commitments. The first is the elementary duty of solidarity with true and authentic resistance movements within the Muslim world, such as the Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq and the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, who were fighting against Ba'athism and Talibanism (and the latent alliance between the two) long before any American or British government had woken up to the threat. It should go without saying that, though the suffering of their peoples was intense, neither Jalal Talabani nor Ahmed Shah Masoud ever considered letting off explosive devices at random in foreign capitals. I have my political and ideological differences with both groups, but these differences are between me and them, and are not mediated through acts of nihilistic murder.
My second commitment is equally elementary. The foreign policy of a democracy should be determined only at election times or by votes in Congress or Parliament. It is one hundred per cent unacceptable even to imply, let alone to assert, that a suicide-murderer or his apologists can by these means acquire the right to any say in how matters are decided.
Both of these observations, and indeed this very statement, would be redundant if it were not for the widespread cultural presence of a pseudo-Left, and an isolationist Right, both of whom have degenerated to the point where they regard jihadism as some form of "liberation theology". The old slogans are often the best, and "Death to Fascism" is life-affirming in these conditions. Permalink
Alan Johnson (Labour Friends of Iraq)
When the news came through of the terrorist attacks in London on 7/7, I was at my desk writing an introduction for a seminar organised by my friend Brian Brivati. It was to be held in London the next morning and the theme was 'towards a social democratic foreign policy'. I had already written my opening lines. "A social democratic foreign policy should achieve two goals: the security of the British people in the context of new deadly threats and challenges and the pursuit of enduring and universal values in a world being rendered one by globalisation. What is the prize? A successful response to the threats that, in part at least, also advances the values". I still think that's right. Against their killers we must pit not only arms but values. Against their totalitarianism we pit democracy. Against their misogyny and homophobia, equality. Against their obscurantism, reason. Against their hate, love. Against their sectarianism, genuine community. Against their cult of violence, the ethic of responsibility. Against their hatred of the Other, the kindness of strangers. The signatories to this statement are saying, I think, 'for these values, here we stand, for these values, here we fight'. Permalink
Stephen Pollard (Writer)
Beyond the murder and the carnage inflicted by terrorists, there is a further insidious danger to our liberty, that posed by those whose words and deeds give support to the terrorists, and whose warped values lead them to side with those who murder above those who promote freedom.
The Guardianista fellow-travellers of terror, who stress its supposed causes, are the useful idiots of the Islamofascists. The terrorists are the operatives of an ideology which has no concern with Palestinians or Iraqis, whom they murder without compunction. They have no concern with anything but the destruction of the West.
At a time when Islamofascism seeks to destroy liberal, democratic civilisation and to replace it with theocracy, it is imperative that those of us who believe in democracy and liberty stand up and fight. Not just against the obvious enemy, but also against the enemy within - those who claim to be on the Left, but whose views have nothing in common with the decency for which the Left ought proudly to stand.
Oliver Kamm (Columnist, The Times)
Many years ago, Conor Cruise O'Brien identified an attitude he termed "unilateral liberalism". This is a stance acutely sensitive to threats to liberty arising from actions by democratic states, but curiously phlegmatic about threats to liberty from the enemies of those states.
O'Brien was alluding to attitudes to terrorism in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. But many of us on the Left can recognise a similar tendency, and worse, in the response of progressives to the atrocities of 9/11 and other acts of suicide-terrorism against established and emerging democracies. The terrorists give allegiance to a totalitarianism both with recognisable twentieth-century forebears and with a still more atavistic - literally mediaeval - character. They oppose the US and its allies not for our sins of commission and omission, but for what we exemplify: liberal political rights, pluralism, religious liberty, scientific inquiry and women?s emancipation. Their contempt for human life and disregard for the principle of non-combatant immunity stem not from despair and anger, but from nihilism. "Unite Against Terror" expresses a tougher-minded liberalism on this central political issue of the early-21st century. More than that, it is a call for simple human decency and an insistence that human rights are indivisible.
Adrian Cohen (London)
London is still reeling from the suicide bombings which hit it on 7/7, killing 54 civilians. We have yet to understanding the impact that these attacks will have on our society. Since September 2000 there have been 160 suicide bombings in Israel and many more attempted suicide bombings, in a country with a population comparable to that of the greater London area. 514 people, including many infants, children and elderly citizens, including Holocaust survivors, were killed in those attacks; thousands have been maimed. Those killed and injured include Muslims, Jews and guest workers of neither religion. Israel is a society which perceives itself to be under an existential threat. The ideology of those pursuing this campaign, the funders, the mentors, the bomb engineers and the direct perpetrators are predominantly members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, or under their influence; organisations which openly embrace the destruction of the state of Israel and espouse overt anti-Semitism; organisations now intent on subverting the Palestine Authority and undermining the peace process. For those who truly believe in democracy and civil society, regardless of their views on the politics of the Middle East, there can be only one legitimate position which is an unqualified condemnation of all suicide bombing whether in Western Europe, Iraq,Turkey or Israel.
Brian Brivati (Professor of Modern History, Kingston University, London)
To understand solidarity think about what all human beings have in common. We want a better future for our children. What does better mean? For most people in the world it means predictability. It means a predictable material future that is free from want. It means a secure future in which states or others cannot arbitrarily steal our freedom in furtherance of their own ends. It means freedom to develop ourselves. Freedom from tyranny, freedom from want and freedom from chaos. The question each of these bomb attacks must make us face is very simple: do the people who plan these suicide bombs (and delude these young people to give up their lives while they themselves hide) offer the future that we really want? Do we want to live in the world these people will create? Or rather, do we want to live in the world, flawed, imperfect but open to endless free and effective criticism, that forms - Christian based, Islam based or secular based ? liberal democracy? Do the actions of states like the UK and USA who take the fight to the terrorists, take us further towards the freedom we all want or further away? We must defeat them, militarily by bringing them to justice, politically by meeting the legitimate aspects of their critique of the world that makes many more moderate people give them aid, and ideologically by showing that their fascism like all fascist creeds is based on inhumanity. I think we all want the freedom to be more like ourselves and therefore we all oppose those fascists who would deprive us of that right. I think this common humanity will defeat the fascism of our generation as it did the fascism of the 1940s but only if it combines winning arguments, with winning wars. Permalink
Peter Tatchell (Human Rights campaigner, London)
We are witnessing one of the greatest betrayals by the left since so-called left-wingers backed the Hitler-Stalin pact and opposed the war against Nazi fascism. Today, the pseudo-left reveals its shameless hypocrisy and its wholesale abandonment of humanitarian values. While it deplores the 7/7 terrorist attack on London, only last year it welcomed to the UK the Muslim cleric, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who endorses the suicide bombing of innocent civilians. These same right-wing leftists back the so-called 'resistance' in Iraq. This 'resistance' uses terrorism against civilians as its modus operandi - stooping to the massacre of dozens of Iraqi children in order kill a few US soldiers. Terrorism is not socialism; it is the tactic of fascism. But much of the left doesn't care. Never mind what the Iraqi people want, it wants the US and UK out of Iraq at any price, including the abandonment of Iraqi socialists, trade unionists, democrats and feminists. If the fake left gets its way, the ex-Baathists and Islamic fundamentalists could easily seize power, leading to Iranian-style clerical fascism and a bloodbath. I used to be proud to call myself a leftist. Now I feel shame. Much of the left no longer stands for the values of universal human rights and international socialism.