The term “Islamofascism” was introduced by the French writer Maxine Rodinson (1915-2004) to describe the Iranian Revolution of 1978. Rodinson was a Marxist, who described as “fascist” any movement of which he disapproved. But we should be grateful to him for coining a word that enables people on the left to denounce our common enemy. After all, other French leftists — Michel Foucault, for example — had welcomed the revolution as an amusing threat to Western interests. It is only now that people on the left can acknowledge that they are just as much a target as the rest of us, in a war that has global chaos as its goal.
The word has therefore caught on, not least because it provides a convenient way of announcing that you are not against Islam but only against its perversion by the terrorists. But this prompts the question whether terrorism is really as alien to Islam as we should all like to believe. Despite his communist sympathies, Rodinson was a peaceful soul, who spent seven years teaching in a Muslim school in Lebanon and wrote a biography of Muhammad in which the prophet is portrayed as a mild-mannered campaigner for social justice. But this biography was denounced by the Egyptian authorities as an offense to Islam, was withdrawn from the curriculum of the American University in Cairo, and has ever since been banned in Muslim countries.
This readiness to take offense is not yet terrorism — but it is a sign of the deep-down insecurity of the Muslim psyche in the modern world. In the presence of Islam, we all feel, you have to tread carefully, as though humoring a dangerous animal. The Koran must never be questioned; Islam must be described as a religion of peace — isn’t that the meaning of the word? — and jokes about the prophet are an absolute no-no. If religion comes up in conversation, best to slip quietly away, accompanying your departure with abject apologies for the Crusades. And in Europe this pussyfooting is now being transcribed into law, with “Islamophobia” already a crime in Belgium and movements across the continent to censor everything at which a Muslim might take offence, including articles like this one.
We can’t fight our enemies effectively until we admit who they are. With every passing day I’m less willing to make a sharp distinction between Islamofascism and Islam. Unless muslims fix their violence-prone faith, I’m going to start lumping all of them together as coreligionists, and I’ll consider them all enemies of civilization. Time’s a-wastin’, folks. We in the West are not endlessly patient. When we eventually get serious, whole cultures die.