When Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson claimed that Islam and the American Constitution are incompatible, he immediately found himself buried by an avalanche of criticism.
Neither the tone nor the substance of the lion’s share of this criticism was rational, and the vast majority of it stemmed, unsurprisingly, from his partisan opponents on the “progressive” left.
While we are by now all too familiar with both the left’s ideology as well as the tactics that its adherents routinely appropriate in their quest to prevail over their competitors—i.e. charges of “racism,” “sexism,” “Islamophobia,” “homophobia,” etc.—the phenomenon of self-styled “egalitarians” or “progressives” falling all over themselves to defend Islam at all costs doesn’t fail to leave the unprejudiced observer incredulous.
One needn’t be an Islamic scholar to recognize that Islam, considered both as a theology and a 1400 year-old historical practice, isn’t just incompatible with the egalitarian, fundamentally secular goals of self-avowed “progressives;” the former and the latter are systematically incompatible with each other, for Islam demands the imposition of Sharia law, a totalizing, divinely instituted system, upon everyone.
So, how can leftists in the West of the 21st century presume to be defenders of Islam?
Thankfully, there are writers like Jamie Glazov around to square this circle for the rest of us.
In his United In Hate: The Left’s Romance With Tyranny and Terror, Glazov enlists his considerable talents in the service of supplying to readers some much needed insight into the moral imagination of the ideological left. This is an invaluable public good that Glazov provides, for leftist ideologues and their sympathizers in government and various media can typically be counted upon to labor inexhaustibly to conceal their worldview—and their own collective history—from the larger culture.
Glazov’s prose is at once crisp and colorful, revealing a mind that is as discerning as it is bold. With the greatest of ease, the author shows his readers that the readiness with which the contemporary leftist jumps to shield Islam from criticism, both real and imagined, is but the most recent manifestation of a love affair between the left and totalitarianisms of various sorts extending back nearly a century.
Yet it isn’t just the communisms of one place and time or other with which Western leftists have been enamored. The most brutal of dictators who presided over these “Earthly paradises” have functioned as nothing less than deities for their leftist idolaters.
Leftists in the West are “true believers.” Glazov explains: “The believer’s totalitarian journey begins with an acute sense of alienation from his own society—an alienation to which he is, himself, completely blind.” The believer’s “denial” of “the character flaws that prevent him from bonding with his own people” has him “convinced…that there is something profoundly wrong with his society—and that it can be fixed without any negative trade-offs.” Thus, the believer “fantasizes about building a perfect society where he will, finally, fit in.”
Glazov locates the true believer’s disdain toward “modernity” and “capitalism” in his own “spiritual emptiness.” Lacking any sense of transcendent meaning, the true believer seeks to invest his existence with meaning by availing himself of the many material goods made possible by a free, capitalist social order. This measure, of course, was bound to fail. But rather than grasp the obvious truth that material possessions can never satisfy spiritual longings, the believer instead blames his frustrations on the society that made the acquisition of those material possessions possible in the first place.
As a consequence, he turns for his salvation toward the communist totalitarians with which the leftist has become obsessed, those “Earthly hells,” as Glazov rightly describes them, signifying the believer’s categorical rejection of his own individualist culture.
Initially, I must admit to having been a bit put off by the psychological nature of Glazov’s “diagnosis” of the “true believer.” It isn’t that I ever thought that it was false; in fact, it struck me as eminently plausible. Rather, since his is a critical account of the left’s long “romance with tyranny and terror,” I feared that the author would weaken his case by committing what logicians call “the genetic fallacy,” an attempt to discredit an argument by calling attention to the circumstances of the arguer, instead of the logic of the argument.
However, it wasn’t before long that I realized that while Glazov indeed enquires into the psychological origins of the leftist worldview, he commits no fallacy. At times, genetic arguments are appropriate. At other times, responsible analysis demands them.
When a position is intellectually indefensible, even incoherent, as is the leftist worldview, with its embrace of the most monstrous of monsters, then how can we not look for non-rational explanations of it?
When legions of otherwise unremarkable human beings who had been born and raised in the free, individualist societies of the West and who claim to champion “equality,” “tolerance,” “human rights,” and so forth can be counted upon to unqualifiedly embrace history’s greatest mass murderers—Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro—how can the observer avoid turning his attention to their psyches?
Glazov’s book is a must read for anyone who is interested in understanding how and why the left never fails to gravitate toward the agents of “tyranny and terror.”