Many well-meaning people wonder whether the left is pro-Islamic. The left has been a vociferous critic of Middle Eastern wars, American hegemony, settler colonialism, and social conservatism that endorses narrow nationalism and overbudgeted militaries. Though skeptical of religion, in theory, the left seems much more tolerant of Islam than it has been of Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, or any other religion.
The left is tolerant of Islam not because of Islamic sacraments but because of Islamic resistance to oppression. Islamic antiestablishmentism, an ideology that unhooks the entrenched pivots of power, resonates with the left. As corresponding ideologies, the left and Islamic antiestablishmentism, each in its own ways, challenges money cartels, power establishments, military occupations, environmental degradation, settlements, drone assassinations, corporate abuse, and the extreme forms of racism, including casteism and apartheid.
As has been evident in Afghanistan during the Soviet and American invasions, Islamic antiestablishmentism defies superpowers, and Muslim militants are prepared to sacrifice life, liberty, and family to fight and defeat occupation and hegemony. The left admires the way Muslim militants resist the formidable military machinery that invades Muslim lands. Denoting Muslim resistance as terrorism is discounted in the left circles, while it is inflated among right-wingers.
The right-wingers in Europe, India, and the United States abhor Islam, openly and forcefully. Obsessed with “clean ethnicity,” the European right-wingers highlight the dangers of Islam to nationalism. Across Europe, the right-wing parties speak with one voice against the undesirable presence of Muslim immigrants. The 21st century Islamophobia has replaced the 20th century anti-Semitism.
It’s no secret that right-wingers have a pathological need for producing hatred. In France, a nation with the largest Muslim population in Europe, Le Pen’s National Front paints Islam as a mortal threat to secular values. In Germany, the AfD advocates that “Islam does not belong in Germany” and supports a ban on the construction of mosques. In the Netherlands, the Party for Freedom smears Islam as an inherently violent religion.
In India, a nation with the second largest Muslim population in the world, the Bhartiya Janata Party is rewriting history to malign Muslim rulers and berate Mughal monuments, including the Taj Mahal. Cow vigilantism incites Hindu extremists to murder Muslims found to be selling or eating beef.
In the United States, the Republican Party has shifted to the extreme right in matters of Islam, highlighting the perils of “creeping Shariah.” The Neocons, a vile congregation of Islamophobes, are leading the charge against Islam and are dead set to make America intolerable for Muslim immigrants and the world difficult for Muslim nations.
While the left across the world shows empathies for Muslims fighting invasions, settlements, and hatred, the American left is most clear-headed in renouncing the animus against Muslims at home and abroad. In fact, the American left forcefully rejects Islamophobia, Muslim ban on immigration, physical attacks on Muslim women wearing hijab, and the sequential destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and a war brewing against Iran.
Prominent left-leaning intellectuals mince no words in siding with Muslim militants fighting on various fronts under the ubiquitous burden of terrorism. Susan Sontag (1933-2004), for example, examines the notion of “cowardice” pinned on Muslim terrorists asking who is more coward: “those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, or those willing to die themselves in order to kill” the invaders and occupiers.
Noam Chomsky points out that the denigration of Muslims in America follows a familiar pattern of demonization. “The typical history of scapegoating is to pick vulnerable people and find something that is not totally false about them – because you have to have some element of truth – and then build it up into a colossus which is about to overcome you,” The proponents of “creeping Shariah” are building a colossus, says Chomsky, to portray Islam as a menace to civil liberties and cultural freedoms in America.
For sure, there are critics of the left supporting Muslim causes. Michael Walzer, the author of Just and Unjust Wars, laments that the American left does not see the unique threats that “Islamic zealotry” poses to universal values. Speaking more like a condescending Neocon than a measured philosopher that he thinks he is, Walzer exclaims: “many leftists are so irrationally afraid of an irrational fear of Islam that they haven’t been able to consider the very good reasons for fearing Islamist zealots—and so they have difficulty explaining what’s going on in the world.” This pompous comment leaking from the pen of an unjustly inflated intellectual is not only disrespectful but smells like a quack psychoanalysis of “many leftists.”
Frustrating Walzer and others even more ridiculous, the American left sees clearly the mechanisms of oppression. It opposes odious policies of warfare against nations, including Muslim nations. It exposes hateful mutterings whether they are shouted at Fox News through the putrid mouths of still-active Sean Hannity and now-defunct Bill O’ Riley, whether they are fermented in the intellectualized dung of bankrolled scholars, or whether they are disseminated through the rancid op-eds at the “fake-left” New York Times.
The American left, composed of educators, public scholars, and counterpunchers, will continue to condemn what it sees fit to condemn, even if such condemnation turns out to be pro-Islamic.