By Daniel Greenfield – BarbWire guest contributor
“We’re liberals! We’re liberals. We’re not crazy tea-baggers,” Bill Maher protested after his televised argument with Ben Affleck about Islam.
“We are not bigoted people. On the contrary, we’re trying to stand up for the principles of liberalism!” Maher added. “I think we’re just saying we need to identify illiberalism wherever we find it in the world, and not forgive it because it comes from [a group] people perceive as a minority.”
But despite Maher’s protests, the majority of liberals would agree with Affleck that criticizing Islam is racist. Liberals claim that the Islamic State is Un-Islamic. It would be more accurate to state that liberals are illiberal. Liberalism, even the form that was in common usage not too long ago, is as dead as Lenin.
Ben Affleck isn’t a liberal. He’s an enthusiast of revisionist Communist historian Howard Zinn. The modern liberal of today is uninterested in identifying “illiberalism” since he is an illiberal man of the left. The most significant difference between the two is not simply political, but psychological. Liberals used to think about issues. Leftists respond to ideological cues while operating on a purely tribal wavelength.
Affleck’s assertion that criticizing Islam is racist is impossible to argue with. It’s completely wrong on multiple levels, but it’s not an argument. It’s a denunciation. It doesn’t advance an argument; it rejects the argument and the arguer as illegitimate. And it’s an ideological cue telling everyone else to follow.
Leftists don’t debate issues. That would be a liberal thing to do. Instead they seek to affirm a consensus. The consensus is reinforced by in-group flattery, which convinces members that they are empathetic and enlightened people while those outside the consensus are subjected to constant contempt and abuse. The denunciation places the target outside the consensus. Calling Maher a “racist” makes him a Tea Party member no matter how much he clings to a liberal identification. It makes him an outsider.
The USSR was every bit as “illiberal” as ISIS, but critics of it were damned as “red-baiters” and McCarthyists. Now critics of Islam are denounced as racists, even though Islam is not a race.
Why are Stalin and Mohammed part of the consensus, but their liberal critics weren’t? The answer tells us a good deal about what the consensus really is and what it isn’t.
The things that Maher and Harris criticize Islam for–a lack of freedom, sexism, and homophobia–are not part of the consensus. Not when the flagship party of liberalism was also the party of segregation, the leading members of the golden family of liberalism were serial abusers of women and Bill, Hillary, and Obama were against gay marriage before they were for it. Islam is sexist, bigoted, and totalitarian, but so was the Soviet Union. Their liberal defenders are utterly unconcerned, no matter how much they run their mouths about Republican racism and sexism.
Nearly every Muslim country locks up gay men, but so did nearly every Communist country.
Do you think that Ben Affleck is bothered by the fact that Doha and Dubai, whose film industries he has become entangled with, are built and run by slave labor? Or that homosexuality is criminalized? The same Hollywood leftists who put on their indignant faces over Proposition 8 shut up when they’re partying in one of the pleasure cities of the Gulf Muslims, who do a lot more than refuse to recognize gay marriage. They’re not just hypocrites; they were never committed to gay rights.
Gays, feminists, and Muslims are a means to the left. They are not the reason why the left does things.
The left builds coalitions of disruption with interest groups. It doesn’t care about those groups. It’s just using them to get what it really wants, which is a totalitarian state in which the consensus can implement all of its horrible ideas without any interference. Muslims are the newest coalition member and their disruption skills are impressive. Just look at how they managed to turn the Bush Administration around.
That doesn’t mean that the left cares about Muslims. It would toss them under the bus before they could shout “Allah Akhbar” if it suited the consensus. The liberal defenders of Islam have chosen not to read the Koran. They know next to nothing about Islam except that it’s a minority group. And that’s how they like it. That way, they can shout down any criticism with cries of “Racism” because they’re too lazy to even bother stringing enough letters together to shout “Islamophobe.” That’s how little they care.
All of this has as much to do with liberalism as Obama has to do with Andrew Jackson. There’s nothing liberal about the honor killing and the hijab, but there’s also nothing liberal about trying to turn America into a totalitarian state. Maher, who has been known to identify as a libertarian, doesn’t seem to have grasped that the liberals who defend Islam do so because they share its totalitarian mindset.
Lenin wasn’t fighting so that the peasants would have land, bread, and peace. Today’s liberals aren’t fighting for equality of income, gender, race, or any other kind. They are fighting to suppress any and all opposition to their policies by disrupting and destroying the existing American system at every level.
That’s exactly what Islam is doing.
Leftists don’t value equality, they value disruption. If they can disrupt by promoting equality, they will do it. If they can disrupt by promoting inequality, they will do that. If they can disrupt by promoting gay marriage, promoting Islamists, promoting the environment, promoting unregulated industry, promoting freedom of speech, or promoting hate speech laws—they will do those things in order of opportunism.
Their underlying goal is to replace existing ideas and systems with their own. Anything that serves that purpose is good. Anything that maintains the existing order is bad.
The very concept of universal standards that Maher is appealing to is foreign to the modern liberal. He doesn’t believe that there is a universal standard. He views the world as tribally as a Taliban. He can’t see behaviors as good or evil in isolation, but only in relation to ideological cues. He derives his heroes and villains from the tribal affinities of the left, not from the things that they actually do.
That’s why he wears a Che t-shirt while calling Rush Limbaugh unpatriotic for opposing Obama. Or why he thinks that liberal billionaires underwriting political campaigns is a good thing, but conservative billionaires doing it is bad for democracy. He has no concept of standards. He only understands power.
This isn’t liberalism. It’s a leftist Jihad that has displaced and hijacked liberalism. The modern liberal has nothing to do with liberalism and it’s useless to expect him to be upset by Islamic illiberalism.
Daniel Greenfield is a blogger and columnist born in Israel and living in New York City. He is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and a contributing editor at Family Security Matters. His original biweekly column appears at Front Page Magazine and his blog articles regularly appear at Family Security Matters, the Jewish Press, Times of Israel, Act for America and Right Side News, as well as daily at the Canada Free Press and a number of other outlets. He has a column titled Western Front at Israel National News and his op-eds have also appeared in the New York Sun, the Jewish Press and at FOX Nation.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.