Farewell Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week

 David HorowitzAs David Horowitz’s week long campaign to promote awareness on college campuses of so-called “Islamo-Fascism” draws to a close, it is perhaps time to forget the whole affair over the oblivion of a few Friday happy hour beers (yes, Mr. Horowitz, I’m fully aware that the “Islamo-Fascists” want to take away my beer). “Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week” is a creation of Horowitz, Daniel Pipes and other neo-con nasties and has attracted some of the attention and controversy they crave. It is clear that Islamophobia still has an audience in the US, is a factor for undermining religious tolerance, and can still help drive devastatingly de-stabilizing policies in the Middle East.

I saw the Islamo-Fascism Week posters up at George Washington University today, while there to speak at a DACOR/Elliott School Conference on the Middle East together with Under Secretary Nicholas Burns, amongst others. These posters advertised a talk by Horowitz and a screening of “Obsession,” a hate-film thinly veiled as a documentary. Friends at GWU informed me that a few zealous and over-excited students had been showing up for the events.  On the blogosphere there’s been some well-argued outrage – read Jim Lobe for a particularly informative take. A few, (Think Progress and TPM,) have looked at the half-full cup. For instance, several prestigious schools, including Yale and Princeton have demanded that their names not be included in Horowitz’ campaign, for instance. Even Liberty University, founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, requested that they not be mentioned.  Josh Marshal writes, “it turns out that the campaign against Islamo-Fascism is plagued by phony data and incompetent management. . .” (the ellipses is Marshal’s own).

Even Mr. Meak, here-as-a-fig-leaf, Alan Colmes on Fox, had this to say to Horowitz in an interview, “the word Islamo-Fascism is hate speech.  It equates an entire religion with fascism.  That is what people object to.  It conflates the two and it’s wrong.” Promoters of the term Islamo-Fascism have sometimes tried to insist that the ideology to which it refers is not the same as the religion of Islam but at least one “Awareness Week” headliner, Robert Spencer, has confidently contended that Islam is not a religion, but a political order incapable of teaching peace (see this interview with Pat Robertson in which Spencer calls the Qur’an “fraudulent.”) One major line of attack used by the week’s organizers sounds eminently reasonable and worthy of support – namely, the positions that Islamists take on women’s rights, in for instance, Iran. But as Ali Eteraz, writing in the Huffington Post, points out, Horowitz has chosen a strange cast of characters to defend the rights of women in Iran. Surely Anne Coulter and Rick Santorum are curious selections.  Coulter has advocated for revoking women’s suffrage and she recently lost syndication over a homophobic remark regarding John Edwards. Rick Santorum, too, is a well-known opponent to gay rights and of women’s right to choose.

Moreover, in the lead-up to the “Awareness Week” both Coulter and Spencer stumbled into embarrassing anti-Semitic episodes. Spencer shared the floor with far-right European parties with Neo-Nazi affiliations at the “Counterjihad Brussels 2007” conference. Coulter, on the other had, got into it with CNBC’s Donny Deutsch over her claim that an ideal America would be a “Christian” nation.  Pushed by Deutsch regarding the status of Jews in her hypothetical Christian nation, Coulter suggested that they convert, insisting that she “just want[s] Jews to be perfected.”

How about someone organizing a “Neo-Con Danger Awareness Week” – oh, and kudos to the Emory students for booing Horowitz off the stage.