November 23, 2012
Ten thousand demonstrators filled Tahrir Square to denounce Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s de facto coup — in fact, the second stage of a coup, after the dismissal of Egypt’s senior military leadership in the second week of August. This time Morsi effectively suspended the judiciary by a “constitutional decree” asserting that Egyptian courts could not challenge any ruling of the president. It didn’t take long for Egypt’s supposed Islamist democracy to turn into one-party rule by the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi is on roughly the same timetable towards tyranny that Hitler followed in 1933. Think of it as the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP in German) with a crescent instead of a swastika.
That is not to smear the Muslim Brotherhood with the label of Nazism. On the contrary: Dr. Andrew Bostom in his superb new book Sharia vs. Freedom quotes the 20th century’s greatest theologian, Karl Barth, writing in 1939:
Participation in this life, according to it the only worthy and blessed life, is what National Socialism, as a political experiment, promises to those who will of their own accord share in the experiment. And now it becomes understandable why, at the point where it meets with resistance, it can only crush and kill — with the might and right which belongs to Divinity! Islam of old as we know proceeded in this way. It is impossible to understand National Socialism unless we see it in fact as a new Islam, its myth as a new Allah, and Hitler as this new Allah’s prophet.
I have been planning to write a proper review of Bostom’s terrific book, but feel obliged to recommend it urgently as an antidote. It’s indispensable for anyone who wants to make sense of the past week’s headlines. The preponderance of enlightened opinion, it should be recalled, was that Hitler was a reasonable man and that the legitimate aspirations of the German people had to be respected (that was the view at the New York Times, and among the German-Jewish establishment). We have been told all along that the Muslim Brotherhood is a reasonable organization and — just this week — that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi is playing a positive role.
We are going to hear this so often that it is hard not to be distracted by the sheer volume of intellectual chicanery and wishful thinking that masquerades as Middle East analysis. That is why Andy Bostom’s book is so important. His encyclopedic documentation of the character of Islam and especially modern Islam should be in the hands of every conservative, and every responsible public official. Send one as a holiday present to your member of Congress (and make sure it gets read).
It would be inaccurate to call Islamism a Nazi-influenced ideology, for Islam itself was there before Nazism. Both ideologies are neo-pagan responses to Judaism and Christianity. Writing two decades before Karl Barth, the Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig characterized Islam as a pagan parody of revealed religion, and Allah as the whole colorful pantheon of paganism rolled up into a single deity.
If the world is in greater need of reminder than instruction, as the late Fr. Richard Neuhaus liked to say, Dr. Bostom has assembled a set of reminders that are chilling, even for those of us who are steeped in these issues. We tend to forget how open, obvious, and uncontroversial the relationship between National Socialism and the Muslim Brotherhood has been from the 1940s onward. Bostom quotes John Roy Carlson’s interviews with Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna during 1948-1950:
It became clear to me [wrote Carlson] why the average Egyptian worshiped the use of force. Terror was synonymous with power! This was one reason why most Egyptians, regardless of class or calling had admired Nazi Germany. It helped explain the sensational growth of the Ikhwan el Muslimin [Muslim Brotherhood].
Sharia vs. Freedom deserves lengthier discussion, but it requires urgent mention right now considering the rising Muslim Brotherhood threat to Western interests.