I know the fascism train has already left the station -- no doubt right on time -- and I don't really want to join the chorus of boos raining down on the White House for stepping up the rhetoric in advance of the midterm election -- big surprise, there -- but term Islamofascism and all the angst over name-calling is downright incoherent.
The words "fascism," "Nazi," and "communist" must've focus-grouped really well because we are getting them despite very little overlap with the actual totalitarian theocratic ideology that drives today's acts of terror against the West. Fascism seems especially inapt: Industrialized, anti-communist trade unionism, strong nation-state identification; highly militarized, but not necessarily expansionist. Stop me when the Islamic suicide bomber pops in your head.
Perhaps the closest you can get is Franco's strain of highly Catholic fascism which in turn birthed various South American strong-man cults. But falangism presents its own problems. Franco's North African Muslim troops fought very well against the Spanish Republican forces. This Catho-Islamofascist front was held together by a common desire to beat back the churchless and, sure enough, did ally itself with the Nazis.
This also recovers the fact that, for a time, staunch defenders of Western civilization like G.K. Chesterton made peace with fascism as a bulwark against the horrors of godless communism. So overseas fascists, per se, need not pose a mortal danger to the West.
If the Bush administration is looking for word to scare voters into supporting Republicans, or even simply a better, more descriptive term for groups who wage irregular war on the United States, let's turn to another bloody, violent group, the Klan. The Ku Klux Klan, in fact, is in many ways a better template for al Qaida than fascist nation-states.
The Klan was part resistance movement, part terrorist organization, part opposition government, and it excelled at propaganda. It was aggressively Protestant, regional in outlook, built on extended informal, often family, networks, and as Jesse Walker noted last year, at one time included a fair amount of good government, social service-type concerns.
This begins to sound more like Hezbollah or Hamas, except for the Protestant part. And there's more. The Klan enforced Taliban or Wabbahist-like codes against immoral behavior. As Jesse put it, "These Klansmen were more likely to flog you for bootlegging or breaking your marriage vows than for being black or Jewish."
This does not sound very Nazi, yet the Klan is still automatically grouped with the fascists when the roll call of bad guys is sounded. Let's start of new column of baddies, with the Klan at the top.
Islamoklan. Ku Klux Qaida. There's something there.