Islam, Communism, and the Progressive Class

New York Times Cities For Tomorrow Conference - Cocktail ReceptionLast week, our ruling Progressive class cheered New York Democratic mayor de Blasio’s disbanding of an NYPD intelligence unit that had been keeping watch over the city’s Muslim community. Republican President George W. Bush’s mantra that “Islam is a religion of peace,” in response to 9/11 and Muslim terrorism in general, had drawn similar plaudits from the same Progressives. But this protectiveness does not mean that Progressivism is Islamophilic. Nor are the words and actions from on high that minimize Islam’s relationship with the terror that has struck America in the last generation attributable to ignorance.

No. Our rulers are neither innocent of facts nor do they harbor special sympathies. The explanation for their attitudes is deeper and more ominous.

Consider for example: Eric Adams, Brooklyn’s borough president, told Fox News’ Bill O’ Reilly with a straight face that ceasing to pay special attention to Muslims is right because there is no more reason to look for terrorists in mosques than in Catholic churches. Adams was not stating a proposition that was factually defensible. Indeed, he declined to defend it. Rather, that proposition is a standard article of Progressive doctrine, the examination of which yields the essence of the matter, namely: that Progressives are protective of Islam and Muslims only incidentally to their disdain of Christianity and Judaism, and of the ordinary Americans who live by them.

The first step to understanding this truth lies in realizing that the Progressives who object to looking for terrorists primarily among Muslims, and who say conservatives are at least as much of a terrorist threat, are the very same people (providing that they be of a certain age) who not so long ago demonized the Americans who sought to defend against the Soviet Union by rooting out communist infiltrators in the U.S. government.

The second step is to realize that the Progressives who today profess equanimity toward Islam yearn to live like the Muslims of Saudi Arabia even less than the Progressives of generation ago yearned to live as subjects of the Soviet empire.

Positive sentiments about enemies of the United States cannot account for this phenomenon. The most fulsome praises of the Soviet Union from the Franklin Roosevelt administration or from the New York Times’ infamous Walter Duranty never amounted to more than covering up for its genocide and other crimes, plus patent idiocies about communism’s efficiencies and equality. Today, not even the Council on American-Islamic Relations tries to sugarcoat the Islamic lifestyle—much less do sympathetic outlets like the Huffington Post. Some of Adams’s Brooklyn constituents might fantasize about benefiting from Muslim polygamy, mindless of the fact that it victimizes all but a few. But Progressives such as Adams are driven by no such illusions.

Rather, protectiveness toward America’s enemies can be understood only as the result of the Progressives’ disdain for their fellow Americans.

What, after all, so attracted our ruling class to Alger Hiss—whose espionage for the Soviet Union was revealed in the 1940s by the intelligence agencies’ decryption of Soviet embassy messages, confirmed by the jury that convicted him of perjury in 1950, before being reconfirmed by Soviet documents released in 1993—that editors, columnists, professors, and Establishment figures in general treated him respectfully and his accusers like lepers? What made them protective of Treasury official Harry Dexter White, another Soviet agent, as well as of the reputations of countless others who collaborated in the Soviet cause?

That this collaboration, which went from softness to outright subversion, reflected the Progressives’ own substantive preferences is only part of the answer. The vehemence and enduring tenacity with which Progressives continue to protect the memory of the communist infiltrators while scorning their opponents is rooted in the deeper level of identity politics.

What bonded the likes of Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White and Harry Hopkins indelibly to Progressive hearts was nothing less than their social identity with the Progressive class. They were secular, refined in manners and taste, and had an intellectual patina that ordinary Americans lacked. Their very existence and influence—indeed their very defense of the Soviet Union, warts and all—was a rebuke to philistine Americans, differentiation from whom was and remains the Progressives’ paramount passion.

The same passion for taking down Americans a peg or two now explains our Progressive rulers’ seeming Islamophilia. What could explain the MSNBC network’s airing a sympathetic account of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers on that outrage’s anniversary? Antipathy for the outrage was not enough to counterbalance the editors’ sense that the terrorists are not so different from the rest of us and that, somehow, the event resulted from American society’s shortcomings. Islam, warts and all, reminds America of its shortcomings, not to say crimes, against the rest of the world. The outrage, you see, had been committed against ordinary Americans, not the Progressive class.

One wonders whether the Progressive mantra that conservatives are at least as likely to be terrorists as Muslims and that terrorists are as likely to be found in Catholic churches as in mosques would have been different had the 9/11 hijackers flown those airplanes onto the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Environmental Protection Agency, or Harvard Yard.

Angelo M. Codevilla

Angelo M. Codevilla is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University and is a Senior Fellow of The Claremont Institute. He served as a U.S. Senate Staff member dealing with oversight of the intelligence services. His new book Peace Among Ourselves and With All Nations was published by Hoover Institution Press.

About the Author

Comments

  1. gabe says

    Once again you hit the nail on the head!!!!!

    So much of what we have seen and experienced these last 5+ years may, I believe, be attributable to the desire and efforts of the Democrat – Progressive faction(s) to hand America her “comeuppance.” After all, we are such a nasty, brutish people, are we not?, that we deserve to be brought down to size – or so they would have us believe.

    I will go one step further than you, Professor, and will assert that for many of the old leftists it is all about Vietnam – the fact that they chose not to participate or worked against it. This was for so many of them a self serving effort to save their little hides – justifying by claiming all sorts of American perfidy. How then does one later atone for this? You don’t – instead you “trap” yourself into a cycle of complaint about your country all the while trying to justify your past behavior in not supporting your country. One can never admit that they were ani-war due to self serving motives and are thus trapped within the ever broadening liberal critique of America.
    At some point, one must ask, “Haven’t we gone far enough?”
    To do so however would expose your own frailty of several decades ago.
    It ain’t gonna happen!

  2. JQA says

    Professor Codevilla, a couple of questions, if you would:
    1) To what extent to you hold the American people responsible for tolerating, if not actively placing (via elections, as for Clinton, Bush, Obama each twice), contemptuous elites in power? Granted, many, many of the most haughty and oppressive officials (minions and muscle in the IRS, TSA, DEA, etc.) are appointed or hired. Yet, such offices exist and such persons are installed by our elected officials in Congress and the presidency — and both office and officer could be terminated by those same officials, if the people actively and consistently demanded it. This brings me to the next question.

    2) If the people are the best “fortress” to support a regime, as Machiavelli says, how can the ruling class in America continue to operate to undermine the people’s liberty, property, and family relations, and still remain in power, as the ruling class has, since at least the 1960s? Has the ruling class set up institutions (offices; dogma) that are (pace Machiavelli) simply too powerful or firmly established to be deposed? Has the ruling class corrupted or confused or corrupted the people too much? Has the people’s attachment to local and private life made them insufficiently public to address the growing oligarchy or tyranny on the national stage?

    Thanks. Looking forward to your insight.

  3. Ken Masugi says

    Gabe, that’s an important insight. The fact that Johnson-McNamara led the war ineptly (that is, using Progressive standards) does not deflect your charge.

    • gabe says

      Ken, good point!
      In fact, one can argue that the very same mentality that corrupted our efforts in SE Asia is in fact still prevalent today.
      I recall in the aftermath of the Iraq War,a number of public opinion polls indicating that the American people were unhappy with the war. What was not immediately obvious (one had to parse the questions and the responses) was that the majority of people were unhappy because they felt we were not doing enough to defeat the enemy. This initial reaction, I believe, is a reflection of a deep seated understanding amongst the people that if we are to war, then let us do WAR!
      Later, this feeling of dissatisfaction became more widespread and eventually morphed into a more generalized dissatisfaction with the war itself – no doubt helped along by the same “hardy souls” that have been having their merry way with the American psyche for 50 years.
      My goodness, where was Code Pink when we really needed them to “assist in the battle against Fascism.
      Oops, I forgot that appears to be their side.

      take care
      gabe

      • gabe says

        Ken:
        Here is something I thought I would never say:

        What is the one good thing that Jimmy Carter did?

        His action in pardoning Vietnam draft dodgers. If folks had accepted this and fessed up to their motives, perhaps we could have had a slightly different electorate. No longer any need to ‘justify” one’s current anti-American policy positions due to past indiscretions!

        BTW: Never got around to Facebook. don’t want the tracking stuff.
        Take care
        gabe

  4. jordan says

    Although not exactly in the same mold, I recall another Prog, Teddy Kennedy, having bitter hatred for Reagan that far outstripped anything he felt for the enemies of America. Indeed, after Russian files were opened as you note in the 1990’s, his letter to the Soviets suggesting collusion to fight Reagan and his military buildup was a stunning revelation that’s been all but buried. (The letter was dated May 1983. Reagan’s Star Wars speech was a couple months earlier, I believe.)

    It’s a more recent example than the others, but illustrative of your larger (and enduring) point. They hate the flyover rubes with the same intensity that the communists hated the bougeoisie, and will collude with strategic global adversaries to suppress them – their fellow citizens. Today, they have usurped the governmental infrastructure that is supposed to neutrally and objectively administer our nation’s programs, and continue the fight by proxy.

  5. anonymous says

    I see the common thread between progressives, islam, communism, and the gay rights movement as being male sexual incontinence, i.e. a man should be able to put his penis pretty much wherever he pleases. Direction of male sexuality is the part of the Judeo-Christian tradition which is most disagreeable to these groups, with the reverence for truth being a close second.

    • onan says

      In other words: “Screw Truth.” To some, this may be quite rewarding, most notably our current and former Secretaries of State.

  6. james wilson says

    Progressives are telling us much more about what they think and how they think than this. The Progressive is revealing that if in fact conservatives actually understood what the Prog has in store for them the conservative then would indeed be a greater threat to him than mere Islamic nutters. Ordinary people have no idea what they are up against in the sterile but relentless Progressive mind.

  7. libertarian jerry says

    Progressives(socialists)are one facet of the onslaught of Cultural Marxism’s war to destabilize and then take over the American culture in order to build collectivism in America. This is done by controlling and taking over,to as much an extent as possible, the Main Stream Media,Academia,Public Education,TV,Hollywood and so forth. With that said,to be honest America has degenerated from a Constitutional Republic,with a limited Federal Government to a big central government,fascist world empire dominated by a small but powerful globalist,elite oligarchy. In order for this oligarchy to remain in power they must play one group of people off against another and,at the same time,have a constant supply of enemies and hobgoblins to strike fear into the hearts of the average American. Nazis,Communists,terrorists (although each having merits as being a threat to the Republic) have been used to unite the average citizen into giving up their rights(supposedly temporarily) to allow the government to “slay the barbarians at the gate.” In the end,often the threats ,although real, are over exaggerated in order for the elites to garner more power. Thus we are stuck with the miss named “patriot Act.” What usually occurs is what is called a “war on.” Such as the war on poverty,the war on terror,the war on drugs etc. or perhaps,again,the over exaggeration of the threat of “environmental Impact” or “Global Warming” or perhaps getting involved in a war “to make the world safe for democracy.” Anything that puts fear into the hearts of the average American citizen thus stampeding that citizen into giving up more of their rights.. In the end,the power of the State and the elitists behind the State, benefit by garnering more power and wealth for themselves and less liberty and prosperity for you and me.

  8. nobody.really says

    What a fascinating discussion to be having against the backdrop of Cliven Bundy, the man christened by Fox News and the Tea Party as the spokesman for all conservatism. He demands the right to receive benefits from the government, while bitterly complaining about “the Negro” and his welfare-loving ways.

    The same passion for taking down Americans a peg or two now explains our Progressive rulers’ seeming Islamophilia. What could explain the MSNBC network’s airing a sympathetic account of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers on that outrage’s anniversary? Antipathy for the outrage was not enough to counterbalance the editors’ sense that the terrorists are not so different from the rest of us and that, somehow, the event resulted from American society’s shortcomings. Islam, warts and all, reminds America of its shortcomings, not to say crimes, against the rest of the world. The outrage, you see, had been committed against ordinary Americans, not the Progressive class.

    Which states sent > 1000 runners to the Boston Marathon?
    CA (1980), MA (4860), NY (1542)

    Which states sent < 50?
    AK (41), AR (37), DE (48), MT (41), ND (37), SD (32), WV (46), WY (23)

    Face it: The Boston Marathon *IS* a bastion of the Progressive class.

    One wonders whether the Progressive mantra that conservatives are at least as likely to be terrorists as Muslims and that terrorists are as likely to be found in Catholic churches as in mosques would have been different had the 9/11 hijackers flown those airplanes onto the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Environmental Protection Agency, or Harvard Yard.

    Another curious phenomenon: Who, exactly, is living in fear of terrorist attacks from Islam? Logically, New Yorkers should top the list – yet since the “Ground Zero Mosque” kerfuffle got resolved, I find little evidence that this is an obsession of theirs. DC residence would seem to be next in line, yet they too seem to have other concerns. MA? Not so much, either. How ‘bout people living in proximity to symbols of Western decadence – San Franciscans? New Orleanians? People adjoining Chicago’s Sears Tower, or Minneapolis’s Mall of America? I find no evidence of deep anxiety there, either.

    Where do we find anxieties about Muslims? In the RED STATES. Where do we find laws banning Sharia law? RED STATES. States that would seem to be extremely low on any plausible list of targets seem to be very high in the rate of anxiety.

    Which leads to the thesis: Perhaps Muslims are not really the source of the anxiety. Rather, perhaps Muslims are merely a lightning rod, a group upon which people with pent-up anxiety can unleash. States with the greatest degrees of social decay – poverty, violent crime, unemployment, divorce, out-of-wedlock births, obesity, stress-related illness, bankruptcies, school drop-out rates, etc. – also become anxious and mistrustful of everything and everyone.

    Which is not to say that law enforcement shouldn’t engage in religious profiling. I’m not an expert in Baysian stats, so I’m not sure how such statistical inferences work. Clearly, the number of Muslims who do NOT engage in terrorism swamp the number who do; thus, targeting people based on religion is likely to lead to a lot of false positives. But if the cost of this kind of monitoring is low, and the benefit of finding the occasional terrorist in a haystack is large enough, maybe this kind of scrutiny makes sense.

    Finally:

    Eric Adams, Brooklyn’s borough president, told Fox News’ Bill O’ Reilly with a straight face that ceasing to pay special attention to Muslims is right….

    I fail to see why you think it’s relevant to tell us the sexual orientation of his face — you homophobe.

    :-)

    • gabe says

      Nobody:

      You have been dipping i to the Kool-aid again.
      I FAIL to see why in this and a previous post YOU saw fit to introduce racism, sexism, etc and now YOU criticize this writer for alleged homophobia.

      “Where do we find anxieties about Muslims? In the RED STATES. Where do we find laws banning Sharia law? RED STATES. States that would seem to be extremely low on any plausible list of targets seem to be very high in the rate of anxiety.”
      Whjat exactly does this prove? could it be that Red State folks are better able to OVERCOME the media narrative that Islam is a religion of peace while at the same time they slaughter Christians in Middle East and Africe or that in Blue states such as NY (NYC) they attempt to intimidate supporters of Israel – indeed they are currently attempting to “evict” Jewish students from campus.

      So, once again, I would suggest that you get real – the world is not populated with your fellow utopians – it is by and large populated by something far less saintly – even if Liberals refuse to admit it.

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