It continues to confound liberals and conservatives alike: Why would the left defend Islamists?
The latest victim of this fascinating alliance is Richard Dawkins, the English left-wing atheist who was disinvited by a Berkeley left-wing radio station after it was discovered that Dawkins said Islam is the world's "most evil" religion.
It did not matter to KPFA that Dawkins has made a career out of bashing Christianity, especially Catholicism—that was laudatory—but it did matter when he ripped Islam. Why did that bother the left?
On the surface, it makes no sense for the left to embrace Islamists. After all, the left counsels a sexual free-for-all, and Islamists want a sexual noose on women and gays. How can libertinism and sharia be squared?
Scratch beneath the surface and it quickly becomes apparent that what unites the left and Islamists is hate: hatred of the West. They hate America, they hate Europe, and they would like to destroy Israel.
It is that animus that commits the haters to targeting the Judeo-Christian ethos, upon which the West was built. That is why they want to gut it. The left will support any movement that seeks to disable the West. Even after 9/11, the left attacked Christianity, not Islam.
Dawkins finds it ironic that a Berkeley radio station is silencing him, noting that Berkeley is home to the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s. If he were an independent thinker, he wouldn't be so shocked. A closer look at that event reveals how little the activists valued free speech.
Sol Stern was involved in the Free Speech Movement on the campus of Berkeley. Like so many other young activists at the time, he later evolved into a neo-conservative: his writings at the Manhattan Institute, on a range of social issues, are some of the best in the nation. Three years ago, he wrote a splendid piece in City Journal on the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement.
In 1964, the administration at Berkeley made a boneheaded decision to limit student clubs from setting up tables at the entrance to the campus; it should have left well enough alone. Radicals on the campus seized on this infraction and set off the alarms, demanding an expansion of free speech rights.
Today, as Stern observes, Berkeley now "exercises more thought control over students" than ever before. But as he points out, this is less a perversion than a perfection of what the activists actually sought.
Stern says the idea that the students were fighting for free speech "was always a charade." Indeed, "the struggle was really about clearing barriers to using the campus as a base for radical political activity." No wonder they cheered the gag orders of Fidel Castro and the terrorism of Che Guevara.
In other words, the Free Speech Movement activists hated liberalism, properly understood: they had no use for free speech—their sponsorship of it was nothing but a useful tool to advance their radical politics.
Dawkins doesn't get it. He makes the mistake of attributing to his left-wing censors the belief that Islam is a race, not a religion. As he sees it, this allows them to think that critics of Islam are racists. Wrong—they are not that stupid—they know the difference.
The left is the secular wing of totalitarianism; radical Islam is its religious wing. Once this verity is grasped, their apparent differences dissolve. What they both seek is total control, and total decimation of the West.
Bill Donohue is President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of seven books and many articles.