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Thank You, David Horowitz

So Much for Islamo-Fascism Awareness

by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

In America awareness never sleeps and has been on particularly active duty this October, designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month (proclamation of President George Bush); as Domestic Violence Awareness Month (proclamation of President George Bush); as Energy Awareness Month (proclamation of President George Bush and the Environmental Protection Agency); and–we speak here specifically of October 22-29 — Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (proclamation of David Horowitz, a fat and hairy ex-Trot living in Los Angeles).

Cautionary interpolation: Horowitz was certainly fat last time I clapped eyes on him and he sports a beard which waxes and wanes in outreach depending on which Google image you look at. And yes, Christopher Hitchens is also a fat and hairy ex-Trot, is also a known associate of the man Horowitz, and also thunders against Islamo-Fascism. Nonetheless we speak here of Horowitz.

When I first saw Horowitz he was neither fat nor hairy nor apparently aware of Islamo-Fascism. This was in the late 1960s in London and he was working for the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, studying at the feet of Isaac Deutscher and Ralph Miliband. About a decade later I saw him again, this time in Washington DC presiding over a well-publicized "Second Thoughts" conference, announcing his departure from the Left. He spoke harshly of his parents’ decision to make him watch uplifting features about the Soviet Union and forbade any Doris Day movies, a common blunder in child-brain-washing techniques among the comrades at that time.

Since then, like other Trotskyist vets, such as the above-mentioned Hitchens, Horowitz has thrown his energies into crusading on behalf of the American right, fuelled in his efforts by copious annual disbursements from the richer denizens of that well populated sector. Richard Mellon Scaife–apex demon in the "vast right-wing conspiracy" identified by Hillary Clinton amid the Lewinsky scandal–has poured millions into Horowitz’s organizations, as have other well-heeled conservative foundations. Every now and again Horowitz will raise some spectacularly nutty alarum, like the Los Angeles Times being taken over by pinkoes, and I always assume that Horowitz must be filling out his annual grant applications, and reminding Scaife that others may snooze and idle, but he, Horowitz, is unceasing in his vigilance against sedition.

In Horowitz’s bestiary, sedition comes in all the traditional forms, from commies on campus to commies in the press and he’s churned out endless bulletins charting their insidious reach. Some of his specific accusations have no doubt been useful to fearful school administrations eager to harry and expel the few radical teachers able to find employment in these bleak times.

But the problem for Horowitz is one of supply. The left in America is really in very poor shape: near zero Commies, and really only a sprinkling of radical black profs, militant Lesbians and kindred antinomians to beat up on. The notion of pinkoes in the media is laughable to all except the fearful imaginations of millionaires like Scaife. Hence the spotlight on Islamo-Fascism, a gloriously vague term whose origin is the topic of a tussle between Malise Ruthven, who used the term in 1980 to describe all authoritarian Islamic governments, and Stephen Schwartz, yet another fat, bearded former Trotskyist who says he was the first to use it in its specific application in 2000, eventually receiving a tap on the shoulder for so doing from Christopher Hitchens and John Sullivan. Arise, Sir Stephen!

Islamo-Fascism Awareness week has been featuring Horowitz and big-name ranters of the right like Anne Coulter and Fox’s Sean Hannity, plus former US Senator Rick Santorum, and noted Islamophobe Daniel Pipes. They descended on various college campuses to be received by Christian-Fascists and the curious while they hurled imprecations at the left for being soft on sons of the Prophet stoning women to death for adultery.

The reaction of the left has been mixed. In some ways it always takes Horowitz’s antics far too seriously, though the latter’s effect on timid college administrations cannot be entirely gainsaid. On the other hand, Awareness week is having a galvanizing effect. Coalitions have formed to combat Horowitz’s version of Awareness with superior Progressive Awareness about what is good or not so good about Islam. Since Santorum and others have ripe records of intolerance for women, the air is usefully thick with shouts of "hypocrite". Horowitz is probably the best organizer the left has these days. He’s an Energizer, apt to the beseechings of Energy Awareness Week, though the target in that instance was probably that other insidious element in the American way of life, the incandescent light bulb.