Iraqi Ba’ath Party members are not, of course, generally radical Muslims; Saddam Hussein was very tough on Islamic radicalism. Nevertheless, at this point, with Ba’athists fighting alongside jihadis against American forces in Iraq, it is a peculiar manifestation of the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” mentality that Yale played host to a couple of Ba’ath Party members yesterday. Would the International Affairs Council, the Orville Schell Human Rights Center, Women’s and Gender Studies Program, the Women’s Center, and the Yale Coalition for Peace, who together sponsored the event, really want to see a radical Muslim or resurgent Ba’athist regime in Iraq? Maybe they have so imbibed the subservient dhimmi mentality at this point that they really do.
In any case, for those who may be misled by Saddam’s coolness to the mullahs into thinking that ultimately there is a major or serious distinction between Ba’athist Arabism and jihadist Islam, consider a statement of the founder of the Ba’ath Party, Michel Aflaq. Aflaq, an Orthodox Christian, converted to Islam and urged other Christians to do so, saying, “Islam is Arab Nationalism” (quoted in Sylvia Haim, Arab Nationalism, 1962, p. 64, with thanks to Bat Ye’or).
Jamie Kirchick of Yale reports on the event: “The speakers were introduced by the Rev. Patricia Ackerman, who conveniently hides behind the cloth as a not-so-subtle way of legitimizing her odious political agenda. She opened the event by stating that it was her intention to encourage ‘interaction and dialogue,’ and then went onto harp about how the second Iraq war will ‘go down in history as a terrible, terrible disaster.’ Hard to start a ‘dialogue’ when you use such incendiary language.”
It got worse. One speaker, Amal Al-Khedairy, was confronted with a quote from a New Yorker story about her. Speaking of Saddam Hussein, she was quoted as saying: “There is something Americans never understand . . . And that is that this President [Saddam] is from these people, and he understands them. He shares their values. This country needs to be ruled with firmness, you know. And this firmness needs a little bit of cruelty.”
Kirchick says that she explained that “she had been misquoted, that she had said ‘firmness’ instead of ‘cruelty.'”
Of course. So she actually said: “And this firmness needs a little bit of firmness.” Mm-hmm.
The other speaker, Iraqi journalist Nermin Al-Mufti, actually defended Saddam’s secret police: “At least they knocked on the door.” Says Kirchick: “Perhaps. By some accounts, so did the Gestapo. . . . Is it not clear to Rev. Ackerman that having Al-Mufti speak about Saddam Hussein is like having Josef Goebbels speak about Adolph Hitler?” (Thanks to Jerry Gordon.)