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Terrifying: How Pro-Islamist Organizations Became Mainstream

Reader comment on item: Academic Malfeasance: The Case of Christopher Bail

Submitted by Dave (United States), Sep 11, 2016 at 21:56

One would think that Western institutions of higher learning would be repelled by Islamists since Sharia is so opposed to liberal values. Yet, liberal left intellectuals have become the greatest defenders of Islamism in the media and on campus. In fact, Western elites in general seem to have a soft spot for Islamic reactionaries.

This was not always the case. Prior to 1967 Israel commanded considerable sympathy on the Left. This changed because, allegedly, the Israeli occupation of territory captured in the 67 war was perceived as ending Israel's status as an underdog, and so sympathy shifted to the Arabs. This transformation was aided by Soviet propaganda, which successfully sought to portray the Arab-Israeli conflict not as Israel versus overwhelming Arab odds, but as Israel bullying the helpless, pint-sized "Palestinian" people. The arrant nonsense in this scenario should be evident by geography as well as by the lack of a historical Palestinian nationality. Yet, its success has outlived the Soviet Union. Why?

The answer lies in the relationship of Christianity to victimization: The New Testament narrative centers on the pathos of a divine martyr and his travails against earthly persecutors. Jesus is a victim, and although he is a Jew, he is victimized by Jews. This drama has set the tone for Western morality through the ages, and while it has resulted in countless acts of Christian charity to aid the poor and oppressed, it has also fueled blood libels against innocent Jews.

Academics are hardly a religious lot, but they are as subject to subconscious cultural influences as anyone else. Islamists may be monsters, but even monsters can be framed as victims: Just look at all the movements to exonerate convicted murderers. Unfortunately, Israel in the role of evil victimizer fits an ancient script. Add to that the guilt over Western colonialism and one has quite the pity party.

I hope that Dr. Pipes is right to maintain that reality will eventually prevail, but it will be against some strong cultural headwinds.

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