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Are We Winning the War on Terror? By: Phyllis Chesler
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, March 10, 2006


Iran's nuclear threats and al-Qaeda's serial suicide murders and gruesome public be-headings are only the means by which Islamists intend to impose their barbaric culture upon the West. Islamists and their western allies have waged a hotter--and primarily cultural--war against Israel and the West.

We are not winning this cultural war. In my opinion, we have scarcely begun to fight back. Our truth-telling--even the truth itself--is not holding its own against the base propaganda and Big Lies that have increasingly gained a foothold at our most prestigious universities and in our media.

I was once held captive in Kabul, Afghanistan and fully understand the dangers we face if radical Islam prevails. My captivity shaped the kind of intellectual and feminist that I am: one who is an American patriot and not a cultural relativist; one who believes in a single standard of human rights for everyone; one who is not afraid to call barbarism by its rightful name; and one who does not blame America or Israel for indigenous barbarism in the Islamic world, which includes Islamic religious and gender Apartheid.

 

The Palestinianization of the western academy and media began in earnest in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Initially ground breaking views about gender and racial inequalities became increasingly influenced by Marxist views against capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, and organized religion and gradually came to constitute what is now known as the "postcolonial" and postmodern academy. Race replaced both class and gender as a primary concern. Over time, even feminists became more obsessed with the "occupation" of Palestine than with the world-wide occupation of women's bodies. By the late 1990s, Palestinians, not Tibetans, Kurds, Bosnians, or Rwandans, came to be viewed as the symbolic victims of the world by those academics who considered themselves anti-racists, anti-violence and anti-misogynists.

 

Such highly propagandized views (organized by Soviet Russia, the Arab League and the Palestinian Authority), were systematically circulated throughout the world and disseminated both by the United Nations and by a network of well-funded "peace," human rights and academic organizations in classrooms and at conferences.

 

In an Orwellian world of doublespeak and groupthink, Palestinians became the new black South Africans and Israel became the new white Afrikaner Apartheid regime. Politically correct western academics and activists romanticized Palestinians, including terrorists, whose methods they viewed as a justified response to oppression.

 

Psychologically, Palestinians came to occupy the vacuum left by the Black Panthers and Weather Underground in the armchair-revolutionary academic's imagination. Despite all their pro-peace rhetoric, the western academy's true heroes were not really Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi, but Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.

 

Paradoxically, tragically, these same western academics viewed only two nations as dangerous "terrorist" entities: Israel and America. The atrocities committed by China, Soviet Russia, Cuba, Korea, and Iran never viscerally outraged them in quite the same way.

 

"Politically correct" western academics did not view their Palestinian victim-heroes as serial killers. The Palestinian and Arab terrorists who had been hijacking planes, slaughtering Israeli athletes, blowing up civilians, especially in Israel, and torching synagogues and Jewish centers around the world were not viewed as Nazis; their Jewish and Israeli victims were. 

 

The fact that terrorist-jihadists also opposed modernity, democracy and human rights did not seem to matter to the self-proclaimed arbiters of human rights in the West.

 

Thus, American academics came to share the opinions of both Islamists and European intellectuals. They all expected Israel and America to pay for Europe's past colonial and racist crimes; Islamists were expected to continue Europe's war against the Jews by turning Israel into a pariah state--into the Jew of the world.

 

The fact that Islamic culture is far more patriarchal than Judeo-Christian western culture did not seem to register in significant ways. In fact, feminist academics tip-toed around it. For a westerner to accuse a non-white, non-westerner of barbarism (especially if it was true) was seen as unacceptably "racist." That such western academics were willing to sacrifice non-white, non-western women and men to savage regimes did not strike anyone as either racist or sexist.

 

Such "politically correct" views only gathered steam with the onset of the Intifada of 2000. Few western journalists drew back in horror as they played and re-played the video in which masked men gruesomely beheaded Daniel Pearl, the American-Jewish journalist, or as they played and re-played the footage in which a Palestinian mob joyfully lynched two Israeli reservists in Ramallah in 2000.  No one paused to re-consider a single double standard as Israeli civilians were being blown up over and over again on buses, and in pizza parlors, hotels and discothèques. The Soviet-era, Arab League and western "politically correct" ideology held every human emotion in check.

 

More important, such "politically correct" views did not diminish post 9/11, post 3/11, (Madrid) or 7/7 (London). On the contrary. Many academics and progressives continued to rage against President Bush and against American policy. They also claimed that the Mossad and the CIA were behind 9/11--whom they also continued to blame for the excesses of the Taliban and the rise of the mullahs in Iran. Academics reserved their rage for what they viewed as the American military torture of Arab Muslims in Guantanamo and the post-9/11 "racist" persecution of Arabs and Muslims in America, at airports and on campuses.

 

The media-driven scandal of the American military abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib mattered more in such circles than the far more brutal torture and murder of Iraqis by Saddam Hussein's regime in that same prison--not to mention his genocidal practices against the Kurds. In fact, Saddam was seen by western feminists as a secularly-based pro-woman ruler whose subsequent demise endangered women further. The fact that the random and routine rape of women by Saddam's Baathist party members was epidemic, and the torture, decapitation and public display of the heads of prostitutes which both characterized his regime somehow remained unknown among western feminists.

 

It is important to note that such "politically correct" views exist in every discipline within the humanities and social sciences and are no longer merely confined to Middle Eastern or Jewish Studies. One cannot have an academic conversation about any subject without "heil Hitler-ing" (signifying one's allegiance to the holy cause of Palestine.) I am only slightly exaggerating.

 

Calls for boycotts and divestment in Israel and angry anti-American demonstrations and actions have in fact  increased post 9/11. Distinguished universities including Duke, Georgetown and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, where Albert Einstein and 21 Nobel Laureates once resided, have all supported academics who, post 9/11, continue to call for boycotts of Israel and who charge "racism" when such boycotts are challenged. They also incessantly criticize the Patriot Act and focus mainly on America's alleged persecution of Arab and Muslim men and its military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

Individual faculty at these universities have invited Holocaust deniers such as Norman Finkelstein, anti-Zionists such as Ilan Pappe, and the terrorist-affiliated Palestine Solidarity Conference to preach their hate speech under the guise of "academic freedom."  Increasingly, our educational system prides itself for remaining tolerant towards intolerant views. This is our Achilles heel--just as unlimited Muslim immigration into Europe has turned Europe into Eurabia.

 

I am only talking about propaganda among western academics, not about the lifelong propaganda and lies that have led to rampaging Muslim mobs or to the lethally-intentioned Islamic propaganda against Jews, Israel and America.

 

As a psychologist,  I have therefore concluded that the western academy currently functions like a cult. So-called intellectuals have been brainwashed; in turn, they view their teaching jobs as the way in which to indoctrinate, rather than teach, the coming generations. Our universities do not function as institutions in which independent and diverse ideas are welcomed or flourish.

 

Brainwashed people are usually not amenable to facts or to multiple and competing interpretations of those facts. Those academics who don't want to hear about why anti-Americanism is wrong are deluded and self-destructive-- they do not attend lectures that might set the record straight. Those who do don't want to hear that the new anti-Semitism is anti-Zionism and that anti-Zionism is today a form of racism simply don't attend lectures or read articles which express such views.  When they do attend such lectures, they often come en masse to object and attack. The debate is uncivilized and is often characterized by interruptions, accusations, curses, intimidation, threats and group walk-outs. The lecturer is sometimes utterly silenced, publicly shamed, or forced to exit the premise for his or her own safety.

 

Given that this is so, I strongly urge those with family fortunes to begin endowing conservative think tanks so that someday they will be able to offer accredited degrees to students. I also strongly urge everyone to fund a collective effort to combat the hateful propaganda against both America and Israel.

 

In addition, one way to defuse this ugly situation and to divert what amounts to an expenditure of toxic energies against Israel and against America into potentially productive energies on campuses is as follows: I suggest that we develop a series of programs for both American and European university students about Islamic religious and gender Apartheid. And that we continually beam such programs up via satellite into the Middle East and Central Asia.

 

I recently testified in the Senate at a briefing which was beamed up live via satellite into the Middle East and Central Asia and translated into Arabic, Kurdish, and Persian. I think this is a useful model.

 

In the war of civilizations that is upon us: Dare to argue for military as well as humanitarian and educational intervention and you will be slandered as a "racist," even when you are arguing for the lives and dignity of brown, black and olive-skinned people. Such cultural relativism is perhaps the greatest failing of the western academic and media establishments.

 

If we, as Americans, want to continue the struggle for women's and humanity's global freedom, we can no longer allow ourselves to remain inactive, cowed by outdated left and European views of colonial-era racism that are meant to trump and silence concerns about gender, religion and culture.

 

Both women and religious minorities in non-western and Muslim countries, and in an increasingly Islamized Europe, are endangered as never before. In my new book, The Death Of Feminism. What’s Next In The Struggle For Women’s Freedom, I argue that America must begin to factor both gender and religious Apartheid into our evolving foreign policies.

 

We absolutely must defeat jihad.  We must pre-empt Iran's nuclear capacity. We must combat the hate propaganda against America, Israel and women that characterizes so much of the Arab and Muslim world today. This is a very long educational and cultural process.  And, we must peg every peace and trade treaty with a Muslim country to the status of women in that country.

 

American and Western leaders cannot turn their backs on Muslim dissidents and the people in the Arab and Muslim world, nor on the endangered Jews in Israel and the Christians in Muslim countries. Our American vision of freedom and equality for women and for all humanity must also become part of American foreign policy. This is the American and feminist priority of the twenty-first century.

 

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Dr. Phyllis Chesler is the well known author of classic works, including the bestseller Women and Madness (1972) The New Anti-Semitism (2003) and The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom (2005). She has just published a new edition of Woman's Inhumanity to Woman (2009). She is an Emerita Professor of psychology and women's studies, the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969) and the National Women's Health Network (1976). Her website is www.phyllis-chesler.com.


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