Saturday, June 19, 2010

William James and the Leftist-Radical Islam Nexus

There is a posting in today's Power Line entitled "The MoveOn/Hamas Nexus": .  Ken Timmerman writes,
            " An American communications firm best known for shaping the liberal into a national movement has tackled a new project: orchestrating an international anti-Israel campaign aimed at breaking the blockade of the Gaza strip.
            " Fenton Communications, which has offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco, signed two contracts last year with Qatar to develop "a communications action plan for an 18-month campaign" aimed at delegitimizing Israel and generating international support for the Hamas-run Gaza strip, documents filed with the Department of Justice show.
            The campaign, known as the "Al Fakhoora Project," has a very visible Web presence that boasts of rallying 10,000 activists "against the blockade on Gaza. . . ."
            COMMENT:  Timmerman is drawing attention to a specific connection:  Fenton Communications and Hamas.  He thinks it more than a coincidence that Fenton also had a hand in shaping 
            There are many such connections and Power Line should perhaps have put quotes around a portion of its lead-in statement, "Ken Timmerman highlights the unholy alliance between the Left and Muslim extremists:"  David Horowitz wrote a book entitled Unholy Alliance, Radical Islam and the American Left. 
            When people on the Left are challenged about  connection, at least the people I've challenged, they deny that they agree with Radical Islam.  The fact that they happened to agree on certain points is mere coincidence, they tell me.  But I recalled that William James in his Pragmatism wrote, "The pragmatic method . . . is to try to interpret each notion by tracing its respective practical consequences.  What difference would it practically make to any one if this notion rather than that notion were true?  If no practical difference whatever can be traced, then the alternatives mean practically the same thing . . ."  And while it may not be of interest to those on the Left, some of the rest of us might ask "what practical difference is there" between the "notions" of the Left and those of Radical Islam in regard to Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah, Turkey, and the events surrounding the Gaza Flotilla.  When one reads the Left and then goes to an Radical Islamic site and reads about the Gaza Flotilla, there is no "practical difference" between the two.  When this happens, when there is no "practical difference," William James says that "all dispute is idle."  That is, dispute about notional differences is idle when there is no practical difference. 
            Is this important?  It used to be -- at least for some of us.  During the Cold War, I knew many Leftists who regularly voiced the Communist "Party Line."  They denied that they were Communists and said that it was coincidental that they happened to agree.  After all, there was "right" and there was "wrong."  They couldn't be held responsible if the Communist Party Line happened to be right in certain cases.  Their responsibility, they told me, was to truth and they hadn't the time to worry about whether the Communists hit upon the truth or not. 
            The Left succeeded in legitimizing the Communist Party Line in the U.S. more than anyone ever managed to legitimize the Nazi Party Line.  There were serious social, if not legal, repercussions if one advocated the latter, but aside from the period known as the McCarthy Era (and not very much even then), the Left was in no danger if they voiced pro-Communist and anti-American views.  And they don't seem in any danger today when they voice pro-Islamist and anti-Israeli views.   A Leftist will be quick to argue that being anti-Israel isn't the same as being anti-American.   Insofar as the Islamist enemy has identified the West as their enemy and has identified Israel is merely one nation in the West, then there is no practical difference between a Leftist being anti-Israel and his being anti-American.  While Leftists are capable of quibbling about this, I have heard some of them being anti-Israel and anti-American in the same discussion.  So rather than look for notional differences between their anti-Israel and anti-American sentiments, it is better to note with William James that quibbles aside, there is no practical difference between them insofar as specific cases such as the Gaza Flotilla are concerned.

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