How the Left Fell in Love with Militant Islam

In the “Gender and Islam” course that I took a few years ago at Columbia University, the professor made what many might consider a provocative point: Western criticism of female genital mutilation and honor killings is hypocritical and a form of racism.

While she lectured, two young women sitting in the front row—one in a spaghetti-string tank top with green hair and several piercings and the other conservatively dressed and wearing a hijab—snapped their fingers in approval.

At the time, I wondered why these women, living in the United States and so different on the outside, were so quick to dismiss the subjugation of women in other places in the world?

There has been a similar surprise for American moderates since the vicious, inhuman assault on Israel on Oct. 7 by Hamas. They have been shocked by the support for the Islamic extremists from Leftist academics and activists. How could ardently feminist supporters side with a culture that represses women? How could trans-rights activists back a society where any deviation from sexual or gender norms can result in death. What could the far left have in common with Islamists who seem to stand for everything they are against?

Prominent leftist scholars like Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler have expressed support for such terrorist groups as Hamas and Hezbollah and have described them as part of the international and progressive left.

If you remove the Islamic imagery from Islamist extremism, you’ll find a world outlook based on a Marxist world view—a power struggle between the exploiters and exploited that demands a revolution to set things straight. This world view fuels and is fueled by resentment and indignity. It sees right and wrong as a binary. It is a viewpoint in which boils everything down to power dynamics. There are oppressors and the oppressed, colonizers and the colonized, good and evil. It is a totalitarian way of thinking—all human relationships are seen through power dynamics and cannot be examined through any other lens. In other words, the boxed-in way both groups see the world is the same. Their causes are just vessels to carry their revolutionary ideology.

Read the rest at Newsweek.

Joseph Epstein is a Fellow at Yorktown Institute.

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