Schwartz, Stephen (Suleyman Ahmad)

Stephen Schwartz (journalist)

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Stephen Schwartz (born 1948) is an American author and foreign policy pundit. Born into a Jewish family, Schwartz is a convert to the Naqshbandi order of Sufi Islam. Schwartz does not usually use his adopted Arabic name, Suleyman Ahmad Schwartz, because he published widely under his birth name, although he signed the name Suleyman Ahmad Stephen Schwartz to his conversion letter. Schwartz rejects the term “conversion” because he was not a member of any organized religion before becoming a Sufi. Schwartz has published articles under the pen-names Comrade Sandalio (writing for The Alarm) and Nico Ordway (writing for Search and Destroy magazine).

Like many American neoconservatives, Schwartz started out on the far left politically; his mother was a member of the Communist Party. In his youth, he was a self-styled surrealist poet and literary hanger-on in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. In the late 1960s Schwartz was founder and editor of a surrealist review called Antinarcissus - Surrealist Conquest. Later, he managed a San Francisco punk band called The Dils and penned the words to their song “Class War” (“I wanna war between the rich and the poor/I wanna fight and know what I’m fighting for”). In the early 1980s, he professed to be the United States representative of the Nicaraguan counterrevolutionary Edén Pastora. After a stint as an obituary writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and reporter for the San Francisco Faith, a lay Catholic newspaper, Schwartz became a reporter for The Forward, a Jewish-oriented publication based in New York City. He worked briefly for Voice of America but was fired. [1]

Schwartz has written several tracts on foreign affairs, most notably The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and its Role in Terrorism, which condemns the influence of Wahhabism and advocates Sufism. He is a regular contributor to such neoconservative magazines as the Weekly Standard and FrontPage. Most recently, he authored Sarajevo Rose: A Balkan Jewish Notebook, in which he explores the cultural achievements and histories of Sephardic Jews in the Balkans.

Schwartz’s credentials as a scholar of Islam, and particularly of Wahhabism, have been called into question. Amir Butler notes in Understanding Stephen Schwartz that Schwartz described both the Sunni Hamas and the Shia Hezbollahas Wahhabist.[2] Schwartz’s objectivity and his understanding of Islam have also been questioned by Ali Sina in Two Faces of Islam? [3]. Schwartz does not speak or read Arabic.

In the February 22, 2005 edition of the Weekly Standard, Schwartz caused a controversy with an article he authored titled The End of the Counter-Culture, in which he savaged avant-garde writer Hunter S. Thompson, who had committed suicide two days earlier. The article was criticized by Marc Maron and Mark Riley, who co-host the Air America Radio program Morning Sedition.

In 1987, Schwartz was arrested for malicious mischief in North Beach. According to the May 6, 1987 San Francisco Examiner:

When “New Age Rightist” Stephen Schwartz discovered graffiti calling him “the philosophical whore of North Beach,” the former Trotskyite turned red with rage. He uncapped his felt-tipped pen and was printing a reply to the scurrilous scribblings when he was busted by Mayor Feinstein’s anti-graffiti police squad on a charge of malicious mischief, defacing the wall of a Vallejo Street construction site. Schwartz…has demanded a trial to exonerate his exercise of free speech. “I was just going to answer that I was not the philosophical whore of North Beach,” said Schwartz, 37.
Schwartz was commissioned to write on the Spanish Civil War by the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific.

Books by Stephen Schwartz
A Sleepwalker’s Guide to San Francisco: Poems from Three Lustra, 1966-1981 (La Santa Espina, 1983)
Brotherhood of the Sea: A History of the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, 1885-1985 (Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, AFL-CIO, 1986)
From West to East: California and the Making of the American Mind (Free Press, 1998)
Intellectuals and Assassins: Writings at the End of Soviet Communism (Anthem Press, 2000)
The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism (Doubleday, 2002)
Kosovo: Background to a War (Anthem Slavic and Russian Studies) (Anthem Press, 2003)
Sarajevo Rose: A Balkan Jewish Notebook (Saqi Books , 2005)

More and links at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suleyman_Ahmad


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