Lumping one’s political adversaries with the vicious jihadists of ISIS seems to be the new new thing. Last Thursday, Dinesh D’Souza alleged that “the common thread between ISIS and [the looters] in Ferguson is you have these people who basically believe that to correct a perceived injustice, it's perfectly OK to inflict all kinds of new injustices...And all of this is then licensed by the left and licensed to some degree by the media.”
On Saturday, Washington Monthly blogger David Atkins responded to D’Souza, asserting that ISIS is not at all left-wing; rather, the terrorist group stands for “bedrock principles of political conservatism wherever it appears in the world,” such as “eschew[ing] ‘foreign’ western impulses, roll[ing] back the clock on progressive social reforms, and aggressively institut[ing] a more traditional religious approach to society.”
From Atkins’s post (emphasis added):
What’s…astonishing is the way conservative personalities continue to get away with equating hardline conservative theocratic throwback fundamentalists with aggrieved western liberals, without significant pushback. Within the political context of the Middle East, ISIS is a decidedly conservative organization looking to eschew “foreign” western impulses, roll back the clock on progressive social reforms, and aggressively institute a more traditional religious approach to society. Those are bedrock principles of political conservatism wherever it appears in the world.
So why do conservatives get away with this sort of rhetoric? It’s partly a case of media double standards in which extreme conservative rhetoric is expected, but even mild progressive populism receives a raised eyebrow. If you suggest that the President of the United States is actively trying to destroy the nation by leaving it open to attack and that the Democratic Party itself is committing treason, you’re just another Tea Party activist.
If, on the other hand, you suggest that a group of gun-toting, expansionist, anti-feminist, anti-modern fundamentalist theocratic hardliners might have more in common with rural conservative principles than with urban liberal ones, suddenly you’ve gone too far.
Some folks like Markos Moulitsas do dare to openly compare the conservative Islamic fundamentalist movement with the conservative Christian fundamentalist movement, but they’re rare and that rhetoric tends to be eschewed by “serious people.”
Once in a while, it would be nice if more leaders on the left would respond to the continued barbs from the Right. The American party of tolerance and secularism has nothing whatsoever in common with fundamentalist theocrats abroad.