A review of David Horowitz’ “Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left”

What has happened to the left? Why are they so comfortable with a picture of America as the evil force in today’s world when religious fanatics, motivated by Islam, are viciously killing peaceful civilized people in the West and establishing oppressive theocratic states in the East? Why do some on the far left have an instinctive kinship with the jihadists that fight against our country and our allies? Why is there such an instinctual hatred for America on the left that only grows year after year? These are the questions that David Horowitz addresses in his latest book: “Unholy Alliance”3
Immediately after the 9/11 atrocity – with the World Trade Center smoldering and America still in shock – the far left “launched a campaign to protest, in advance, any military response.” 4 Echoing enemy propaganda, the left insinuated that we brought it on ourselves. They saw this not as an aggressive attack but a retaliatory act whose “root causes” were understandable. Susan Sontag, Barbara Kinsolver, Kate Pollitt, and Eric Foner – the usual suspects – wasted no time launching a parallel front here at home. They denigrated our patriotism, scoffed at our moral righteousness, called our country the true terrorist, condemned our future actions as heinous war crimes, and blamed Bush for starting a Holy War. Teach-ins, demonstrations, and other forms of mobilization, as virulent of the 60s, propounded the party line that the threat was not our theocratic fanatical Islamo-fascist enemy but the government of the United States. And this was before the battle of Iraq.
Under the banner of “United We Stand” both sides of the isle supported the battle of Afghanistan. Of the various options, the President chose Iraq as the next battle in the war due to a number of factors. In actuality, the policy of regime change originated in the previous administration. Indeed, in Clinton’s Operation Desert Fox, “the United States and Britain flew 650 bombing sorties and fired 415 cruise missiles into Iraq, a greater quantity than during the entire Gulf War.” 5 Thus, there was “a reasonable expectation” for continued “broad and unified support.” 6 Horowitz documents the growth of the “anti-war” movement leading up to the invasion of Iraq, chronicling the transformation of the Democratic Party into a rallying point for the opposition. Once again the odious nature of Saddam’s fascist regime made little difference to the left. The concern and wrath was directed toward that which was, oddly enough, considered a significantly greater problem and threat: America. Colombia professor, Nicholas De Genova expressed outright what others only implied: “U.S. patriotism is inseparable from imperial warfare and white supremacy. … The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military.” 7 He called for “a million Mogadishus.” 8
In Part Two of the book, Horowitz does what he alone can do best: he paints a well-balanced portrait of the American left’s political endurance amidst its intellectual disintegration. Its ideals scattered by the harsh reality of failure after failure, its dream of “social justice” is now only a vague sentiment. With no concrete political philosophy, system, or program, the dream becomes a dim apparition fading into a future that recedes beyond sight.9 The only thing real that binds the left is its nihilist hatred.10 It’s all that is left. Todd Gitlin explains the transformation of the anti-war movement of the 60s. “It inflamed our hearts. You can hate your country in such a way that the hatred becomes fundamental. A hatred so clear and intense came to feel like a cleansing flame. By the late 60s, this is what became of much of the New Left.” 11
This nihilism is the remnants of irrational religious-like utopianism created in defiance of reality.12 Subsequent rationalizations, by exaggeration of our historical faults compared to the unknowable utopian dream, enable the lie of America being guilty of genocide,13 sustaining an unusually horrendous slave industry, being an imperialist leader, and being responsible for nearly every ill that befell mankind.14 To some, like Chomsky and Blum, America is worse than or even responsible for Nazi Germany! 15 Obviously, these charges are not the result of an empirical study. They stem from fundamental metaphysical assumptions that precede any consideration of the evidence and, in their world-view, make all explanation possible. “Three assumptions underlie the arguments of the anti-American cult. (1) America can do no right; (2) even the rights America appears to do are wrong; (3) these wrongs are monstrous.” 16 In the end, it boils down to a simplistic formula: we’re powerful, they are pathetic; it must all be our fault.
Horowitz sums up the exceptional position of America: “A crucial element in the worldview of American radicals is the belief in American omnipotence – the ability of America’s leaders to control the circumstances of their international policies without regard to the interests of allies or the threats of adversary powers or the constraints imposed by domestic political forces. Radicals never see America as reacting to a threat …” 17 He continues to back that up with example after example of how the left, like today’s Muslims, blames the world’s problems on American action or inaction.18 He could have easily written a book on this topic alone. If he did he might have exposed the hypocrisy of the left, which implies that the prevalence of dictatorships in impoverished countries worldwide is the result of a handful of American covert operatives, but at the same time, it is apparently “hubris” to imagine that a 200,000 man intervention in Iraq can bring substantial change. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t – it’s all somehow our fault!
The left has long embodied an asymmetric determinism. It comes in many guises. For example, an individual’s behavior is said to be determined by society but apparently not to the extent that they can’t initiate action to change society by becoming part of the collective will – as exemplified by the left or other designated “authentic” group. In the current context one of the most common myths holds that the powerless are subject to economic and structural forces beyond their control thus absolving them of any actions – all actions are reactions – as if they lack any volitional capacity. The successful, however, are automatically to blame for the state of the universe, regardless of their actions, so long as there are inequities. This structural analysis holds that ideas are secondary to status; indeed, ideas are the result of structure rather than its cause. Thus, for the left, ideas are an epiphenomenon – a superstructure – with little causal relevance. Religion in particular, quoting Marx, “is at one and the same time the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of a soulless condition. It is the opium of the oppressed.” 19 Thus, Islam is not taken too seriously; the Islamic Revival is our fault.
Part Three is a brief introduction to the malady infecting contemporary Islamic mass-movements. After reviewing the influence of 20th century totalitarianism on Islamist and Baathist movements,20 Horowitz describes the common mindset shared by leftists and the jihadists, at present.21 Much of the Islamist hate comes from reading and regurgitating self-loathing Western critics. And the critics are delighted to find “confirmation” from the “spontaneous” response against American “imperialism.” Paul Berman reports on the left’s embrace of Islamist violence in his book “Terror and Liberalism” At a Socialist Scholars Conference, “an Egyptian novelist defend[ed] a young Palestinian woman who had just committed suicide and murder – and having heard the defense, the crowd broke into applause.” 22 As usual, the “root cause” of the rise of Islamism is seen not as the power of belief – this is dismissed by the left as a by-product – but as the result of material factors controlled by the powerful: American and Israel. Thus, leftists and jihadists are, deep-down, soul-mates united by a common hatred.
For those unfamiliar with the standard faire of anti-Americanism on the far left, Horowitz reviews their treacherous attempts to undermine our response to the jihadist movement and allied regimes – covered in part Four and Five of his book. Here he is on solid ground as one of our foremost critics of this cultural swamp. If you are unfamiliar with this shabby corner of contemporary politics, you can find no better guide than Mr. Horowitz. The influence of the extreme left on the whole of the Democratic Party and mainstream media is achieved not by the doctrinal conversion of sizeable number of the honest and sincere loyal opposition; but the influence has gripped our friends on the left more than they had realized – and realized by the average citizen.
Horowitz masterfully shows how far left ideas captured the Democratic Presidential campaign of 2004. What was bipartisan support for our war against terror, turned into a fierce opposition that viciously vilified a wartime President. On a day to day basis we heard that the war is immoral and unnecessary, that it is based on a lie, and actually caused by ulterior mercenary motives. This constant pounding over and over again is the kind of propaganda one would expect of an enemy intent on demoralizing our fighting men and women. Horowitz documents the events exactly as they unfolded as a fitting climax to the book and a record for future generations.
David Horowitz achieves what may at first seem impossible; he shows how the modern American left and the medieval Islamic revivalists are natural allies. Two sides of the same coin of nihilism, a synthesis of superficial opposites, and united by a common hatred, they move in parallel, attacking and chipping away at the greatest achievement millenniums in the making: Western Civilization. Our Islamic enemy could find no greater ally than the American left.

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