Muslims - The enemy of convenience for a new generation
Look at your young men fighting
Look at your women crying
Look at your young men dying
The way they’ve always done before
Look at the hate we’re breeding
Look at the fear we’re feeding
Look at the lives we’re leading
The way we’ve always done before
“Civil War” - Guns n’ Roses.
When George Bush announced the bombing of Afghanistan, kicking off the current 10-year war there, he said, ‘we are a peaceful nation.’ Like so much else he said, this was a lie. The fact is that America doesn’t just make war, it seems addicted to war. Howard Zinn, in his book ‘Terrorism and War’, sets the record straight ..
‘Well, obviously Bush hasn’t read any history and does not remember any history, even the history of his own time, because the United States has been involved in wars and military actions for a very long time. You can’t tell the Native Americans we were a peaceful nation as we moved across the continent and engaged in hundreds of wars against the Indians. The United States engaged in at least twenty military interventions in the Caribbean in the first twenty years of the last century. And then from World War II through today, we’ve had an endless succession of wars and military interventions.
If there’s one thing America seems to have a passion for it’s going to war. Even looking at only the last 100 years, there’s only a few scant occasions where our nation has not been involved in military action.
But just as any good story needs a good villain, a war needs a strong enemy if you want to sell it to the public. During the First World War it was the Germans, in World War II it was the Japanese (and the Germans again). Following that, we entered the Cold War and the big bad menace became Soviet Communists. There were of course also conflicts with Korea and Vietnam, but it was the fear of the Communists and the “Red Scare” that had the most profound impact here at home.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, there was no major enemy. There was no villian. Sure there were conflicts in Iraq and Bosnia but neither of these produced a strong bad guy as it were. Though they may had a low opinion of him, Saddam Hussein just didn’t seem to scare Americans much. At least nowhere near the level the Communists did back in the 1950s.
But it all changed on 9/11. In the fallout of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, we had a brand new enemy: Muslims and Islam. This was 50 years after Joesph McCarthy but it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. In the years following 9/11 America began its “War on Terror” and sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq seeking vengeance for those 3000 plus who died that September day.
It’s been nearly 10 years since 9/11 and amazingly, the threat of Islam and Muslims is still front and center in American culture. In some regards they might as well be Communists in Turbans because there are a lot of striking (and scary similarities) between the Anti-communist activities of the 1950s and the Anti-muslim movement of today.
Consider this description of the “Muslim Radicalization” hearings from Republican Congressman Peter King :
Several members of Congress wrote letters showing their support for King and his hearings. Representatives Mike Rogers of Alabama and Joe Walsh of Illinois both wrote letters of support for King and his hearings on radicalization in the Muslim population. Rogers wrote that radicalization could happen anywhere in the United States, and thus it is an issue all Americans have to deal with: ‘If a kid from small town Alabama can transform into a violent al-Qaeda jihadist fighting with terrorists in Somalia, then imagine what’s possible if after radicalization one decides to stay here in the U.S. to conduct an attack.’Walsh added, ‘Homegrown terrorists are the number one threat facing American families right now, and it would be irresponsible and negligent not to try and identify the causes of their radicalization.’
Source: wikipedia article on Peter King
Now, let’s let’s switch out a few words and see what we get:
Representatives Mike Rogers of Alabama and Joe Walsh of Illinois both wrote letters of support for McCarthy and his hearings on UnAmerican Activities. Rogers wrote that radicalization could happen anywhere in the United States, and thus it is an issue all Americans have to deal with: ‘If a kid from small town Alabama can transform into a violent Communist fighting with terrorists in Russia, then imagine what’s possible if after joining the Communist Party one decides to stay here in the U.S. to conduct an attack.’Walsh added, ‘Homegrown terrorists are the number one threat facing American families right now, and it would be irresponsible and negligent not to try and identify the causes of their radicalization.’
Source: Wikipedia article on the HCUA
Kind of scary, isn’t it?
Now let’s take it in the other direction. Here’s a description of the basic mandate of the House Committee on Un-American activities:
The House Committee on Un-American Activities became a standing (permanent) committee in 1945. Representative Edward J. Hart of New Jersey became the committee’s first chairman. Under the mandate of Public Law 601, passed by the 79th Congress, the committee of nine representatives investigated suspected threats of subversion or propaganda that attacked “the form of government guaranteed by our Constitution.”
Under this mandate, the committee focused its investigations on real and suspected communists in positions of actual or supposed influence in the United States society.
Now, let’s switch out a few words on this and see what we come up with:
The House Committee on Islamic Radicalization became a standing (permanent) committee in 2015. Representative Peter King of New York became the committee’s first chairman. Under the mandate of Public Law 601, passed by the 94th Congress, the committee of nine representatives investigated suspected threats of subversion or propaganda that attacked “the form of government guaranteed by our Constitution.” Under this mandate, the committee focused its investigations on real and suspected Islamic terror supporters in positions of actual or supposed influence in the United States society.
That bolded line could have come straight out of a Glenn Beck broadcast. The rest of it reads like exactly what Pam Geller and her supporters do all the time: Accuse just about anyone who has even remote links to Islam of being a crazed terrorist out to destroy America. And it’s not just Geller sounding the “Fear Islam” horn.
Quick, what’s the first you think of when you hear “Sharia Law” ?
Yep, that’s right. The supposed threat of Muslims wanting to impose Sharia Law on the United States has been promoted so strongly by Right wing media there have been actual laws passed or proposed in a dozen states specifically aiming to bar the imposition of any Sharia law in the court system.
This is pretty analogous to all the fears of communists acting to subvert American democracy and the American government to impose their own ideals upon us. Even the word “communism” and “communist” , largely used to describe China and Cuba for most of the last decade, has crept back into the American mainstream. During the health care debate, Barack Obama was roundly labeled a “Communist” and “Socialist” by not just fringe right wing sources, but mainstream media and even Congressional representatives.
It’s also no secret the fears of Islam taking over America have only been stoked by the election of a black man with a middle eastern sounding name who has slight connections to Islam in his background. Despite a startling lack of proof, there have been numerous articles and posts by Right wing bloggers and media personalities labeling Obama as a secret Muslim spy or other covert operative.
The overarching message of the anti-Islam stuff is this: Islam is bad and Muslims are evil.
This is wrong because it blurs the line between Muslims and Muslim EXTREMISTS
In the same way not all Christians will inevitably bomb an abortion clinic, not all Muslims are deranged lunatics who want to fly planes into our buildings, blow up our cities and destroy our way of life.
Unfortunately, in all the anti-Muslim rhetoric, the true motivations of the 9/11 attackers goes missing. To say they “did it because they hate America” is a gross simplification of the actual reasoning behind the event. The hijackers represented a terrorist group run by a man who, among other things, hated America because of it’s alliance with Israel but also because it was the U.S. who Saudi Arabia turned to help defend it against the Soviets. Osama Bin Laden felt it was inappropriate for foreign troops to be on Saudi soil and believed American help was not necessary to fight off the Russians.
Another reason a lot of Muslims don’t like America much is, ironically enough, the very people who tell us that all Muslims are evil jihadists out to destroy America. These people do nothing but burn bridges and tear down any existing goodwill between American and Islam. It’s a simple enough theory: Maybe if we stopped, you know, hating them so much and labeling them all terrorists, they might like us a little more?
Unfortunately I doubt that will happen. Like the Communists before them, Muslims have become the people America loves to hate and regrettably, that particular train of ideology has a lot of fuel left in the tank.