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What's wrong with opposing extremism? 

A recent protest really set me off

Where shall I begin? Perhaps by listing my "credentials." I detest militarism, nationalism, and all things neo-con. I know the current war is based on lies, being really all about oil and empire. I think the Bush Administration is an abomination and Ann Coulter is the spawn of Satan. What I think of the Religious Right would not be printable. I want the snowy plovers to thrive while wishing that all ATVs would crash and burn.

Now that you all understand I'm no conservative apologist, I want to state unequivocally how sucky the far left is, too. In fact, I personally have long believed that the difference between the far right and the far left is about as significant as the difference between dog poop and cat poop.

What really set me off on this subject was hearing about the candlelight vigil held by a group of "progressives" who gathered outside of Cal Poly's Spanos Theatre at night on March 5, protesting the "offensive presence" of controversial Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, who gave a short speech denouncing radical, violent Islam. These political correctoids described Mr. Pipes as a hatemonger, a racist, and a warmonger, among other things.

Pipes has indeed earned a reputation as a staunch pro-Israel pundit who's said some intemperate things and he's associated with a few real right-wing pricks, but his primary focus the night of the protest was upon the very real and very virulent phenomenon of Islamo-fascism and the need to encourage moderate Muslims to oppose it.

Now I ask you, what's so bad about that? How should we view a hate-crazed death cult that considers the indiscriminate mass-slaughter of innocent people to be a holy act and wants to plunge all women into a Dark Age hell of virtual, permanent house arrest?

Like Pipes, I'm not claiming that all Muslims are violent people, but there are some extremists who have unfortunately made terrorism the public face of their faith, just as the Religious Right has darkened the image of Christianity in the eyes of many people in this country.

I'm not judging an entire faith tradition on the basis of its worst so-called representatives, but I am pointing out that I am aware that this extremism is a very real and terrifying thing.

Ever since 9/11, I've been fascinated by the response of the left to the most terrifying and evil mass movement since Nazism I've personally listened to self-defined "progressives" say that suicide bombings carried out by Palestinian "martyrs" targeting civilians inside Israel are "understandable." Mention the atrocity that was 9/11 and many a "peace and justice" activist will tell you it was merely a case of "chickens coming home to roost," or that the whole thing was an "inside job" carried out by the U.S. government and the "Zionists" to justify the Iraq war and make all Muslims look bad.

Seemingly moral, intelligent people who are so quick to become outraged when Israel or America does terrible things will suddenly wax paternalistic and understanding when talking about fanatical Islamists who commit horrendous acts.

Numerous excuses for terrorists are bandied about, blended with cautionary words against racism and racial profiling along with a sermon or two on how "Western imperialism" or "Zionist aggression" has provoked the poor darlings into righteously wanting to kill us.

I suspect such attitudes may be unconsciously rooted in the early 19th century Romantic Era, when dreamers in Europe and New England came to believe that civilization was thoroughly corrupt and stultifying, whereas the uncivilized "natural man" was a "noble savage."

Many fuzzy-thinking Western intellectuals, especially those safely removed from raw brutality, tend to be besotted of the exotic "other." The image they have of swarthy, bearded, holy warriors howling for infidel blood probably resonates with something deep and mysterious in the psyches of some masochistic souls yearning for punishment (or oblivion) along with a taste of the primitive and of wild passion.

A case in point involves someone whom I could probably now describe as a former friend, a long time anti-war activist, progressive, and feminist. She and I engaged in a series of quite heated and exhausting quarrels over the subject of so-called "honor killings." These are the gruesome murders of young women taking place throughout the Middle East and other parts of the world, carried out by the victims' own fathers, brothers, or husbands, as payback for real or imagined disobedience or unchastity. Many of the victims slain in the name of "family honor" are girls who have been raped. Pointing out the qualitative moral difference between our communities and the social, cultural milieu from which the jihadists spring, I argued that most American families religious, secular, liberal, or conservative would surely cherish and comfort a daughter who had survived a sexual assault, not commission her brother to disembowel, stab, or shoot her in order to purge the "shame" a rape victim supposedly brings upon the household.

In the eyes of my politically correct, culturally relativistic antagonist, however, my view was all wrong she loudly upbraided me, claiming that our society is no different and shouting about how we have sexism, domestic violence, rape, and murder in America, too. Well, yes we certainly do. However, I replied, we can be pretty sure that any American guy harboring doubts regarding his sister's virginity isn't likely to eviscerate her and be celebrated as a neighborhood hero.

Needless to say, I received another PC scolding. Later, as I drove home, the words of the late longshoreman and folk philosopher, Eric Hoffer, came to mind: "People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them."

When the Daniel Pipes affair came up, this person felt compelled to share "the truth" about the scholar with me and sent me several e-mails containing various links, most of them gleaned from anti-Semitic web sites, letting us know what an Islamaphobic son of a bitch he is. These sites also included assorted warnings about the pernicious influence and power of world Jewry.

I scanned this "information," then deleted it and went to bed.

We have not corresponded since.

Jay Bonestell is a Los Osos resident.

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