Monday, July 02, 2007

The river war meets the land between the rivers

A very strange post at National Review's The Corner from Steve Hayward -- long-time trafficker in Bush-Churchill comparisons. He's upset about a Lynne Olson op-ed in the Washington Post ridiculing Bush's Churchill pretensions, and in particular the claim that --

Churchill would snort, I believe, at the administration's equation of 'Islamofascism,' an amorphous, ill-defined movement of killers forced to resort to terrorism by their lack of military might, to Nazi Germany, a global power that had already conquered several countries before Churchill took office in 1940.

To rebut the idea that Churchill would have recoiled at a concept like Islamofascism, Hayward presents a Churchill quote (from The River War) that refers to all of Islam. This quote has circulated for years among the reactionary right; one always had the sense that it's not broadcast more widely precisely because it's so inflammatory --

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. etc etc.... and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science-the science against which it had vainly struggled-the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.

Hayward then concludes:

Now, just imagine what Ms. Olson would say if Bush dared to quote this passage.

So what does he want? Does he think the passage is correct and that Bush should quote it, to solidify his Churchill credentials? Does he want Bush to ape a young Churchill, writing a jingoistic diatribe following a not especially successful colonial war against Sudan's Mahdi army? Does he think that Sudan turned out so well that Bush should be proud to make such an association? And most of all, does he think that Islamofascism and Islam are the same thing, or that he knows that Bush thinks that they are the same thing but won't say so publicly?

UPDATE: This Washington Post article notes that Bush is reading Olson's book; one also wonders if Hayward is included in the pack of historians that meet Bush privately -- or if he's jealous that Olson's book also made it to Bush's reading pile.

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