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Don't throw Malcolm out with the bathwater

Reader comment on item: [Beltway Snipers]: Converts to Violence?

Submitted by Benjamin R. Hosen (United States), Oct 25, 2002 at 17:11

While Malcolm X remained quite the 'Leftist' firebrand after his break from the Nation of Islam, I think Mr. Pipes overstates his anti-Americanism. One has to admit that American policy towards the "third world" during the 1960s was anything but enlightened, as exemplified by the Vietnam war, which was a disaster for the U.S. and Vietnam both.

After his pilgrimmage to Mecca, Malcolm X rejected the Nation and its teachings, which are but a crude bastardism of Islam. This got him killed, on the orders of the Nation's leadership. True, he remained highly critical of his country, but I think that criticism was at least defensible, if not largely warranted. (Reading it now, it seems much more appropriate and civil in tone than much of what passes for "progressive" criticism of the United States and Israel today.)

I myself am "white", whatever that means, and I have Jewish grandparents. Still, I am proud to call myself a countryman of Malcolm's. I wonder what he would be saying today about a number of issues, not least of which the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism/fanatacism.

While I admit I have NO idea what he might have made of all this, I doubt very much that he would have approved of or tried to justify the horrific attacks last fall, or of the people and ideology behind them.

Sorry to harp so long about this. I should say that I find Pipes, his site and his writing informative and valuable. There is perhaps an all-too-thin line between critical inquiry of Islam and defamation, but most voices in the United States have chosen to steer clear of the issue altogether, lest they offend someone. This is most unfortunate. Islam is, one one hand, fighting a civil war to define itself today, and on the other...

I agree entirely that Islamism today shares most of the core values of 1930's fascism, and has gained appeal for many of the same reasons. Islamism is a THREAT, a clear and present danger to the world, whether or not Europe chooses to see it. ( Similarly, Europe failed to appreciate the danger of Fascism until it was devoured by it.) Islam, however, is a religion, which can be used for good or ill, like all others. While we fight on the battlefields of the present and near future, we should also strive to help the RELIGIOUS Muslims take their faith back from the Fascists who have appropriated it.

But Malcolm? A very misunderstood man, I think, almost as much as Friedrich Nietzche. At the least, I think a man who was able to, not only once but twice, discard everything he knew about the world and change for the better.
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