Reply to Gilad Atzmon on Muslims and the left


I promote Gilad Atzmon’s ideas and recently helped organize a reading group followed by a talk by him in Portland. However, I don’t agree with everything he says.

His recent article “We better move on” makes good points. He reiterates many of his insights into identity politics, links the failure of the Palestine solidarity movement to its domination by “anti-Zionist Jews”, etc..

It’s also funny. He’s good at taking the piss.

John Smith, an English bus driver from Liverpool is proud to be English and ‘as an Englishman’ he opposes the war because John actually believes that peace is patriotic. Can he join an anti-war protest and, while he’s at it, carry a Union Jack to demonstrations? I leave the answer to you.

Tony is a ‘Jewish Socialist’ – certainly not religious but an ethnic Jew who identifies ‘as a Jew’ racially and ethnically. And by the way, Tony also operates politically within Jews-only anti-Zionist groups. Now Tony is hugely welcome at most Left and progressive gathering. But can the same be said for Franz who identifies as an ‘Aryan socialist’? Again, I leave the answer to you.

Gilad points to some of the inconsistencies of the left  – you can be a Jewish socialist but not a self identified white socialist. But he’s wrong to accuse the left of excluding Muslims.

Left-wing kowtowing to Islamic reactionaries goes back to the Baku conference of 1920.

Since then, there have been numerous marriages of convenience between left-wing progressive intellectuals and reactionary Muslim godbotherers.

Britain’s largest left-wing party, the SWP, has been in an alliance with Muslims for ages. it was the basis of the Respect coalition, which succeeded in electing a leftist politician for the first time since the sixties.  These leftists join forces with Koran literalists to police the morals of London East Enders, and turn a blind eye to homophobic violence and the exploitation of girls. Richard Seymour’s “Lenin’s Tomb” blog is as fond of making excuses for the worst aspects of islam as it is of making inaccurate attacks on Gilad Atzmon. Both errors are products of political correctness.

Any attempt to question this opportunist pro-Islamic policy is dismissed as ‘racism’. It uses the same p.c. techniques to defend its alliance with Islamic reaction as the Jewish left does to weaken Palestine solidarity.

Muslims don’t necessarily reciprocate the left’s support. Lynne Stewart, a leftist lawyer who defended Islamic murderers, was recently released from prison in the USA. As Counterpunch pointed out: “Some Muslims may quietly admit that Lynne was their champion during the 1990s; yet they remained silent and few US Muslims joined the long, hard campaign to free her. Note: I have yet to see any announcement from a US Muslim organization welcoming Stewart’s release.)”.

No, the left generally supports Muslims. But Islam, like any religion, is infinitely opportunist. To genuine Muslims, their leftist supporters are unbelievers. Logically, their attitude toward secular leftists must be analogous to the Bolsheviks’ attitude to moderate socialists: they regard them as useful idiots. The “9/11 Truth Movement”, which tries to defend Muslim terrorists by claiming their attacks are really carried out by Western governments, is perhaps less useful, but no less idiotic.

Arguing that the Western countries are the biggest terrorists, and that Islamic terror is to some extent a reaction to this, is a completely different argument to the view of the truthers, that Western governments actually carry out the Islamic extremist war crimes. Drone attacks by the US-led coalition on wedding parties in Afghanistan is no excuse for Muslims trying to blow up transatlantic airliners, but it is a major part of the explanation of Islamic hate and violence.

Yes, the West does far more damage to Muslim countries than the other way round. But this is no excuse for advocating even more tolerance of religion.

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