Recently President Bush referred to those terrorists who are creating so much trouble in the world as “Islamic Fascists.” He has been roundly criticized for using such a term. I got to thinking about that.
Perhaps we would do well to review the definition of “fascism.” Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines fascism like this: “A government system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.” The etymology of the word is Roman-Italian, and was popularized by Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini from 1922-43. “Fascio” means, “group, association.” Thus, “fasci” were groups of men organized for political purposes. The word goes back to Roman times when similar groups, called fasces, conducted political campaigns, in modern times becoming the symbol of Mussolini’s party.
Robert O. Paxton in his book “The Anatomy of Fascism,” gives a more thorough definition of fascism. He says fascism is “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”
Allow me to dissect Paxton’s definition of fascism. In fascism, a group forms that shares similar views where they perceive that their way of life and view of the world are no longer taken seriously. They focus on being victims, complaining that they have been humiliated by present political philosophies. They join together believing they must take matters into their own hands, using violence to achieve their objectives. This is called “purifying,” or “cleansing,” a euphemism for wholesale slaughter of those who do not fit their fascist view. Elitism within the group rises to the top. Democracy and freedoms are abandoned. In an attempt to achieve dominance, ethical behavior is redefined – meaning the end justifies the means. Hitler’s Third Reich would be such an example. Saddam Hussein would be another example, as would be the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Add Kim Jung Il of North Korea to this list of infamous characters. Also Osama bin Laden.
In Chuck Colson’s daily article for August 21, he points out that “the fascist influence on today’s Islamic terrorists is made crystal clear in the book ‘In the Shade of the Koran.’” This book was written by the late Sayyid Qutb. It is a book that has had a profound impact on Osama bin Laden. In it, Mr. Qutb addresses all the characteristics that were mentioned in the definitions of “fascism” listed earlier in this article.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, President Bush was loudly criticized for using the term Islamic Fascists. The fear expressed was that the bad guys, i.e., the Islamic Fascists, might be made even angrier than they already are if we use such inflammatory speech. Are they serious? These guys care nothing about you, me or anyone else. And that includes their own. They are mad at the world and don’t care who knows it. Their perception of those who try to “make nice” with them is that such people are weak – therefore an easier target to attack. They do not sit back and reflect on how they can restore “normal” relations with their western neighbors. In their view, we are the enemy. This is a war that must be won in the hearts of all who love freedom, and then on the field of battle in whatever form and in whatever environment it takes.
Fascism is what we face today, and the President is perfectly correct in calling it what it is.
Allow me to close with this thought from American Revolutionary and Patriot, Thomas Paine, The Crisis -- December 1776:
“These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph."
As the Iron Lady, Britain’s former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, said to the first President Bush concerning Iraq, “This is no time to get wobbly in the knees, George.”
She had it right.