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Swindle: Your intellectual background is in a rigorous study of Communism and the foreign policy world of the Cold War. Yet in today’s world you, and all of us who are committed to defending freedom, have had to very quickly learn the ins and outs of the ideology of our new opponent: Islamofascism. In this volume you interview several experts on Islam, including Brigitte Gabriel, Robert Spencer, Walid Shoebat and Mohammad Asghar. Could you discuss the evolution of your understanding of Islam and some of the most critical things Americans need to know about this most misunderstood subject? And could you please tell us what are the most important books to read to understand this subject?
Glazov: There are a lot of misunderstanding on the issue of Islam. The problem is not Muslims per se. There are many Muslims who don’t know anything about their own religion and also do not practice their religion. There are also many Muslims like Tarek Fatah, Irshad Manji and Thomas Haidon who are trying to bring a reformation to Islam and bring it into the modern and democratic world. Whether that can be achieved or not is another topic of debate.
The key issue is that there is a problem with Islam. It mandates violence against, and the subjugation of, non-Muslims; it teaches Islamic supremacism. And that’s why Islamic terrorists quote the Koran when they engage in terrorism. They find inspiration and sanction in their religious texts to engage in their terrorism. This is a problem and until we are honest about it, we will not be able to defend ourselves from the enemy we face in the terror war.
The books by Robert Spencer are the key to understanding the enemy we face. He’s a top-notch scholar and he tells it like it is. I have had yet to find any critic of his work that can contest anything he says, since all he does is tell us what Islam itself teaches. His critics call him a lot of names, but they cannot discredit his work, because it is cream-of-the–crop scholarship.
Swindle: One of the most striking interviews in this collection is with the inspirational Dr. Phyllis Chesler. Dr. Chesler has stood up valiantly for women’s rights in the Muslim world, showing her true feminist convictions and paying a hefty political cost for it. A New York Times article in August of 2009 described this position as being a “Feminist Hawk,” though principally focused on David Horowitz and Frontpage Magazine with no mention of her unfortunately. (Dr. Chesler authored many articles at Frontpage which led to the publication being one of the driving forces on this issue.) I know this has been a very important subject for you that you’ve written about extensively. Could you discuss her influence on you, your engagement with the issue of Islamic misogyny, and what it means to be a Feminist Hawk?
Glazov: I care about the people who suffer under tyrannical regimes. I care for and worry about dissidents and all freedom fighters who are oppressed and tortured and linger in prisons under totalitarian systems. When it comes to Islam, we know that women suffer tremendously under its ruthless and vicious paradigm of gender apartheid. For many years my heart has been very close to the women who suffer from the crimes of female genital mutilation, honor killings, forced marriage, forced segregation, forced veiling, etc. etc. under Islam’s misogynist structures. I want to do something to help them and to prevent future victims.
Within this effort, I have come to see, through my own research and understanding, that it is obvious that woman-hatred is intertwined with Islamic terror. The more fanatical and violent the Islamic terrorist and his milieu, the more misogyny you will find there. So we fight for women under Islam, obviously, for the humane aspect of it in and of itself. We do it because it is the right thing to do to protect a human being. We have to care for women as we care for all human beings. And along with this also comes a common sense ingredient: to fight for women’s rights under Islam is also to stick a dagger into the heart of Islamic jihad. Islamo-fascism cannot survive in any environment where women enjoy self-determination and individual liberty.
So when you achieve women’s rights in an environment, Islamic fanaticism dies in that environment – it cannot take hold. So it needs to move elsewhere where it can plant itself. Our goal has to be that we create a situation where it has no place to move. Fighting for women’s rights is fighting for human rights everywhere. By defeating Islamic fanaticism we free women, and by freeing women we make impossible the growth of Islamic fanaticism, it is a circular paradigm.
The Left has exposed its own agenda as being founded on lies in this context, as it cannot come to the defense of women under Islamic gender apartheid. That’s because the Left doesn’t care about women or their rights, unless the issue it gets into its hands helps it in its war of destruction against its own society. For the Left, women are pawns to be used in its war against its own society; the Left doesn’t care about a woman in and of herself.
Dr. Phyllis Chesler is the leading feminist and scholar on this issue. She has witnessed all of this first hand. She cares for the women who suffer under Islamic gender apartheid and fights on their behalf, and she has exposed the Left’s disinterest in those suffering women. She has helped crystallize why and how the Left doesn’t care about women under Islamic misogynist tyranny. And I am very moved by her work and have tremendous respect for her courage and honor. She has a true heart. Unlike the leftist feminists I have known all my life, Dr. Chesler cares for the living and breathing real human women who suffer persecution. She’s not interested in being popular in trendy lefty communities – which is the priority of the typical leftist feminist in the West.
To be a Feminist Hawk is to fight for women and their rights with no exceptions, something the Left is shamelessly and shamefully unable to do, since anti-Americanism is the altar on which a leftist feminist will sacrifice any persecuted woman who poses a threat to undermining the leftist agenda.
Swindle: One of the sections of Showdown with Evil that leaps out the most is Part VI: Leaving the Faith, which includes interviews with those who chose to abandon their leftist or Islamist ideologies. In your years conducting interviews at FrontPage you’ve talked with other ex-believers who have challenged their ideas and emerged on the other side. Do you have any insights into how these shifts take place? In my experience dialoguing with True Believers I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s generally folly to think that it’s possible to convert people to the Right through reasoning and debunking ideas. (What was not reasoned in cannot be reasoned out.) There’s still value in dialogue; but one should have no illusions that they can effectively change people. The Believer has to learn for themselves through personal experience the fundamentals of capitalism, human nature, the realities of evil, and the beauty of individual freedom. These insights are not gifts that can just be handed to someone who has not grasped them in their own life. Do you agree?
Glazov: Yes of course. But you are implying here that believers are misguided people who are seeking the truth and that something needs to happen in their lives for them to see it. Surely this is true in many cases, but in many other cases this is not true at all. Many believers don’t know the truth and do not want to know it. They are not interested in it, and that is clearly discernible upon any conversation with them. They are interested in destruction and in their quest for destruction.
A lot of this goes very deep into the depths of the believer’s pathological character. David Horowitz has outlined this well in Radical Son and The Politics of Bad Faith, where he illuminates how powerfully intertwined the socialist lie is within every corner of a believer’s soul. And this explains why a believer is not interested in facts; he is interested in preserving his own identity, which will self-destruct if he accepts certain truths. And there are, for sure, brave and courageous souls who have had the intestinal fortitude to change after a traumatic experience. David Horowitz is one of them. In these cases, it is often a life and death situation. As David wrote about his own decision to leave the faith, he had to move from the space in which he was standing, or he would have died a spiritual death. Pain forced him to move. And I think many of us, in our own lives on different realms, know what this means in terms of the tragedies and difficulties we have had to confront.
Swindle: Part of the mentality of the radical is a need to “solve” a problem or change the world now. The radical is unsatisfied with the world as it is now and will not tolerate slow change or the acceptance of an imperfect society. (And you’ve correctly highlighted how in many radicals this need to change is really a need to destroy.) The understanding of our Islamofascist enemies as articulated in this volume — they’re just doing what the Koran tells them to do and we are not responsible for creating them — presents a profound problem for the softer radicals who are not outright apologists for totalitarianism in the Ward Churchill mold.
Often in trying to explain these ideas to both so-called “progressives” and Ron Paul-style libertarians (groups with fairly identical foreign policy understandings and temperaments) the answer I’ve gotten back is the same: “Well you’re advocating genocide because the only way to fix this problem is to exterminate every Muslim on the planet.” Then the indisputable facts presented are discarded by the radical because the only apparent radical solution is so odious. (There’s that disinterest in the truth that you just mentioned.)
No legitimate foreign policy scholar or analyst advocates some kind of obscene Muslim Holocaust to counter the problem of Radical Islam. What is the solution that free societies must pursue in dealing with Islamofacism? What are the policies that should be pursued to defeat this enemy? Further,can it be defeated? Or is this a struggle which is likely to continue long after you and I have both been buried in the ground?
Glazov: This is not about demonizing Muslims or attacking Muslims. We are the allies of Muslims. I consider myself pro-Muslim. Muslims are the victims of Islam and its totalitarian structures. I spend a large part of my life fighting for the rights of Muslim women who suffer under Islamic gender apartheid. Does this make me anti-Muslim or pro-Muslim? I fight on behalf of Muslims who want to live in freedom and who don’t want to not suffer the harsh punishments of Sharia Law. I fight for a world where young Muslim boys and girls are not brainwashed and forced to blow themselves up. Does this make me anti-Muslim or pro-Muslim?
Pamela Geller is on the frontlines everyday fighting for a young Muslim girl, Rifqa Bary, and it is because of Pamela that this young Muslim girl might not lose her life at the hands of her family. Rifqa’s crime was to follow her own human conscience and to believe in a faith that she wanted believe in. For this, she can easily lose her life in an Islamic environment. Does saving her life make Pamela anti-Muslim or pro-Muslim?
If we want to fight for the memory of Aqsa Parvez, a young Muslim girl in Toronto who was murdered by her father and brother because she wanted to live a Canadian life, and if we want to prevent more Aqsa Parvezes, does that make us anti-Muslim or pro-Muslim?
The issue confronting us is Islamic doctrine. Islamic theology has teachings in it that inspire and mandate jihad, misogyny and totalitarianism. We have to be honest about that and we have to be strong in empowering Muslim reformers like Tarek Fatah and Irshad Manji, who are bravely confronting these teachings and trying to have them repudiated and understood in new ways. Can this succeed? I don’t know, but it’s something we all have to work for. And we have to use military might to confront our enemy, and we have to get ready to fight not for two or five years, but for generations if need be, because our enemy is ready for much more than that.
This conflict will continue long after you and I are buried in the ground. But we can make a difference, in the sense that what we do today can equip our children to defend themselves better against Islamic tyranny and terror.
Swindle: The Left has developed such an effective stranglehold on our culture. Taking a page from Stalinist theorist Antonio Gramsci’s playbook, it has embedded itself within journalism, the arts, popular culture, academia, and even many religious institutions. As you’ve pointed out, this results in an ability to control the flow of ideas.
To make the factual points you’ve made in this interview is to be branded a racist and for attempts to suppress one’s speech to ensue. Can this dominance be overcome so the flow of ideas can begin again? How can the Left be defeated in the world of ideas and relegated to its proper status with comparable crackpot philosophies like alchemy and phrenology?
Glazov: Martin Malia has commented that as long as there will be inequality, there will be the yearning for socialism. Indeed, as long as we are who we are in this human condition, fallen and tainted by original sin, humans will be tempted by that one greatest lie: the lie that a particular entity whispered to someone long ago in a certain garden: you can be God. This is the pretension to equality, and Abel was its first victim, and there would be millions upon millions to come.
I don’t really know the answer to any quick fixes or if any of this will come out OK in the end. I just know I will fight till there’s no breath left. I know that I am surprised if I ever run into a conservative in my regular walk of life, because you have to be an extraordinary person to have thought through the lies and to have taken the road less traveled. Becoming a leftist is easy and wins you many friends and cultural and material rewards. It can give you great feelings of self-satisfaction. I know that in Toronto, in the “trendy” educated communities, and in all my years in academia, when I just have plainly told a person: “I like George W. Bush,” there is a look of horror on their face. They never met anyone like me, and they never read any idea anywhere or spoke to anyone anywhere to have heard why I would have a horrifying disposition like that.
It’s also frightening to them because to listen to me will mean that they might be persuaded, and then they will be ridiculed in their communities and lose all their friends — and a sense of who they are. So they run from me and the facts that I have to impart to them. I have friends who have distanced themselves from me because they are embarrassed to speak with me, because they will lose any argument, and they so desperately need to keep their friends — friends who will abandon them if they break the Party Line that the liberal world so ruthlessly imposes on its members.
I don’t know if we can ever make class hatred synonymous with racial hatred; it’s caused far more deaths in the 20th Century. Add up just Mao’s, Stalin’s and Pol Pot’s victims. But the liberal-Left can never accept that, because then its members will lose everything they live for.
What do we do? Well, we stand by David Horowitz’s side, right on the frontline of this war, and we do battle for the truth, for justice, and for those who suffer under tyranny and yearn for us to defend and rescue them.
Swindle: The final part of this volume, appropriately titled “The Titans” features interviews with some of the most inspiring minds of our time: Buckley, Hitchens, Coulter, Dalrymple, and Pipes. Each of these figures brings a different approach and identity to the shared pursuit of the defense of freedom.
What lessons can we draw from these figures that we should put into practice in our showdown with tyranny and terror?
Glazov: Well, Buckley was the Godfather of course. An incredibly superior, high intellect that crystallized what made conservatism the right path — and what made socialism, ultimately, evil.
I find Hitchens top rate. His writing is a pleasure to read and always such a cutting edge to it, something always unexpected. Having turned on the Left in terms of radical Islam, he brings an original and ferocious battle to the arena.
Coulter is extremely sharp and her wit is first-rate. Through her brilliant sense of humor, she effectively cuts to the truth of the conflicts we face. She’s also just such a likable person – with a very contagious smile. We have to remember that humor and laughter are the entities that totalitarian structures fear most, so Coulter brings something very sacred and priceless to the arena.
Dalrymple is a first-rate psychoanalyst. He knows humans’ psychology and what makes people tick, and especially what makes dysfunctional people and cultures tick. In that way he brings to the forefront the pathologies that confront us — and the dark places from where they stem.
And Richard Pipes is, of course, the top figure on Soviet history. Courageous and a top notch scholar and intellectual. He deserves the ultimate respect for demonstrating the monster that Lenin was. This is crucial because in academia many Sovietologists, with their leftist illness, are forced to admit who and what Stalin was, but they try to say he was an aberration — that he didn’t discredit communism itself. So they try to avoid criticizing Lenin. But Pipes revealed that Stalinism’s roots were in Lenin himself. In this way, and in so many others, Dr. Pipes has made a priceless contribution; he showed the truth about to the idea and system that spawned the Gulag Archipelago.
Swindle: Did you have any final words as we wrap up?
Glazov: Well, we’ve covered a lot of territory. What does one say? What comes to mind, perhaps, as we think about this conflict with evil that we face — we reflect on what we must do and how we must do it and why. An extraordinary person comes to mind. He was someone who was more than just a person of course; and He visited this earth at one time. And He told us, I think, the most important thing, in the most important way: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Swindle: Thank you Dr. Glazov, for taking the time to summarize the themes of this volume.
Glazov: And thank you David for all the help and intellectual nourishment you’ve brought to this book and discussion.
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