Archive for Politics

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson: “Wherever Women are Taking Over, Evil Reigns”

Posted in Feature, Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2012 by loonwatch

Rev.Jesse_Lee_Peterson_Women_evil

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson

by Emperor

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson is a regular guest on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program and is usually brought in to be the token Black man who comes on to legitimate and provide cover for Hannity’s “criticism” (i.e. thinly-veiled racism) of the Black community. Hannity also happens to sit on the board of Rev. Peterson’s organization, BOND. (h/t: Ali)

Rev. Peterson is quite the kook, and of course every religion has ‘em, but here he is bemoaning the progress women have made in the US, saying all of the social ills we have today are due to women:


So I guess Conservatives don’t just believe in the “Islamization” of society, but also the “womenization” of society?

As you can see he wants women to be stripped of the right to vote, taken out of positions of power and essentially returned to being obedient, child producing, housewives who obey and submit to men. He even ridicules his grandmother!

Can one imagine the reaction if an Imam had said something similar to what Rev. Peterson said? Wouldn’t Islam once again be cast as the uniquely and inherently “misogynistic” faith that is irreconcilable with modernity?

Will we hear similar attributions of misogyny and anti-women positions to Christianity now?

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, along with Robert Spencer also happen to be on the list of the Young America’s Foundation‘s (YAF) “Conservative speakers.”

Spencer has appeared as a guest on Rev. Peterson’s radio show, directly after Peterson’s anti-women screed. There goes Spencer and Geller’s so-called concern for the ‘human rights’ of women! They have no problem schmoozing with clerics who want to role back the right of women to vote but will gladly try to smear Muslims as honor-killing-pro-pedophilia-misogynists:

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Sexist Sermon: ‘Greatest Mistake America Made Was Allowing Women To Vote’ [VIDEO]

by Jacob Kleinman (ibitimes)

Frequent Fox News guest Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson drew sharp criticism for arguing that women should not have the right to vote in a sermon that was posted on YouTube in March. The minister argued that women are destroying American society and wield too much political power.

Fox News host Sean Hannity has invited Peterson to speak on his show several times, even after the offensive sermon was posted online.

Even News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch, corporate master of Fox, disagreed with Peterson’s sexist rant according to theDaily Mail. He tweeted in response, “When? Women voting is best thing in a hundred years.”

“I think that one of the greatest mistakes America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote,” Peterson said in the sermon.

Peterson even went so far as to associate woman in politics with evil.

“We should’ve never turned this over to women,” he said. “It was a big mistake. … And these women are voting in the wrong people. They’re voting in people who are evil who agrees (sic) with them who’re going to take us down this pathway of destruction.”

“And this probably was the reason that they didn’t allow women to vote when men were men,” he continued. “Because men, in the good old days, understood the nature of the woman. They were not afraid to deal with it and they understood that if they let them take over, this is what would happen.”

This is not Peterson’s first controversial and offensive statement. He previously said “thank God for slavery” because it brought African people to the United States.

Peterson has also stated, “Barack Obama hates white people, especially white men.” He argued that men should be legally permitted to hit their wives and expressed a desire to take “all black people back to the South and put them on the plantation so they would understand the ethic of working.”

During his most recent offensive statement, the sermon titled “How most women are building a shameless society,” he said women are incapable of making good decisions because they get too emotional.

“You walk up to them with an issue, they freak out right away,” he said. “They go nuts. They get mad. They get upset, just like that. They have no patience because it’s not in their nature. They don’t have love.”

Peterson appeared on Fox News last week after being invited again by Sean Hannity, and was confronted by Democratic commentator Kirsten Power, who called the sermon “misogynistic.”

“I have a responsibility to tell the truth,” replied Peterson. “You’re on the side of lies. Why shouldn’t I be on the side of truth? And it’s the truth that’s going to make us free. Somebody gotta tell the truth, so I’m going to tell the truth.”

Peterson is the president and founder of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, a group pushing a conservative agenda among African Americans where Hannity sits on the board, and its allied BOND Action Inc. In the past he has hosted a radio talk show and a cable TV program. He is well known for fighting against affirmative action and is a member of Choose Black American, a black group fighting illegal immigration.

Originally posted on What if they were Muslim?

Washington’s High-Powered Terrorist Supporters

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2012 by loonwatch

Glenn Greenwald, the first nomination for induction in the Anti-Loon Hall of Fame

Greenwald is like the canary in the coal mine, warning about the grave threat to our civil liberties and the abuse of the rule of law at the hand of the political elite:

Washington’s high-powered terrorist supporters

by Glenn Greenwald (Salon.com)

We now have an extraordinary situation that reveals the impunity with which political elites commit the most egregious crimes, as well as the special privileges to which they explicitly believe they — and they alone — are entitled. That a large bipartisan cast of Washington officials got caught being paid substantial sums of money by an Iranian dissident group that is legally designated by the U.S. Government as a Terrorist organization, and then meeting with and advocating on behalf of that Terrorist group, is very significant for several reasons. New developments over the last week make it all the more telling. Just behold the truly amazing set of facts that have arisen:

In June, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 6-3 ruling in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law. In that case, the Court upheld the Obama DOJ’s very broad interpretation of the statute that criminalizes the providing of “material support” to groups formally designated by the State Department as Terrorist organizations. The five-judge conservative bloc (along with Justice Stevens) held that pure political speech could be permissibly criminalized as “material support for Terrorism” consistent with the First Amendment if the “advocacy [is] performed in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization” (emphasis added). In other words, pure political advocacy in support of a designated Terrorist group could be prosecuted as a felony — punishable with 15 years in prison — if the advocacy is coordinated with that group.

This ruling was one of the most severe erosions of free speech rights in decades because, as Justice Breyer (joined by Ginsberg and Sotomayor) pointed out in dissent, “all the activities” at issue, which the DOJ’s interpretation would criminalize, “involve the communication and advocacy of political ideas and lawful means of achieving political ends.” The dissent added that the DOJ’s broad interpretation of the statute “gravely and without adequate justification injure[s] interests of the kind the First Amendment protects.” As Georgetown Law Professor David Cole, who represented the plaintiffs, explained, this was literally “the first time ever” that “the Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment permits the criminalization of pure speech advocating lawful, nonviolent activity.” Thus, “the court rule[d] that speech advocating only lawful, nonviolent activity can be made a crime, and that any coordination with a blacklisted group can land a citizen in prison for 15 years.” Then-Solicitor-General Elena Kagan argued the winning Obama DOJ position before the Court.

Whatever one’s views are on this ruling, it is now binding law. To advocate on behalf of a designated Terrorist group constitutes the felony of “providing material support” if that advocacy is coordinated with the group.

Like most assaults on the Constitution in the name of Terrorism during the Obama presidency, criticism of that Court decision was rare in establishment circles (that’s because Republicans consistently support such assaults while Democrats are reluctant to criticize them under Obama). On the day the Humanitarian Law decision was released, CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer interviewed Fran Townsend, George Bush’s Homeland Security Advisor and now-CNN analyst, and Townsend hailed the decision as “a tremendous win for not only the United States but for the current administration.” Here’s how that discussion went:

BLITZER: There is a related case involved that the Supreme Court came out with today and I want to talk to you about this. The Supreme Court ruling today in the fight against terrorism . . . .The 6-3 decision by the Supreme Court, the justices rejecting the arguments that the law threatens the constitutional right of free speech. You read the decision, 6-3, only three of the Democratic appointed justices decided they didn’t like this. They were the minority. But the majority was pretty firm in saying that if you go ahead and express what is called material support for a known terrorist group, you could go to jail for that.

TOWNSEND: This is a tremendous win for not only the United States but for the current administration. It’s interesting, Wolf, Elena Kagan the current Supreme Court nominee argued in favor of upholding this law. This is an important tool the government uses to convict those, to charge and convict, potentially convict those who provide money, recruits, propaganda, to terrorist organizations, but are not what we call people who actually blow things up or pull the trigger.

BLITZER: So it’s a major decision, a 6-3 decision by the Supreme Court. If you’re thinking about even voicing support for a terrorist group, don’t do it because the government can come down hard on you and the Supreme Court said the government has every right to do so.

TOWNSEND: It is more than just voicing support, Wolf. It is actually the notion of providing material support, significant material support.

BLITZER: But they’re saying that if material support, they’re defining as expressing support or giving advice or whatever to that organization.

TOWNSEND: That’s right. But it could be technical advice, bomb-building advice, fundraising.

So Fran Townsend lavishly praised this decision — one that, as Blitzer put it, means that “If you’re thinking about even voicing support for a terrorist group, don’t do it because the government can come down hard on you.”  And while Townsend was right that the decision requires “more than just voicing support” for the Terrorist group, the Court was crystal clear that such voicing of support, standing alone, can be prosecuted if it is done in coordination with the group (“the term ’service’ [] cover[s] advocacy performed in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization“).

But look at what is happening now to Fran Townsend and many of her fellow political elites. In August of last year, The Christian Science Monitor‘s Scott Peterson published a detailed exposé about “a high-powered array of former top American officials” who have received “tens of thousands of dollars” from a designated Terrorist organization – the Iranian dissident group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) — and then met with its leaders, attended its meetings, and/or publicly advocated on its behalf. That group includes Rudy Giuliani, Howard Dean, Michael Mukasey, Ed Rendell, Andy Card, Lee Hamilton, Tom Ridge, Bill Richardson, Wesley Clark, Michael Hayden, John Bolton, Louis Freeh — and Fran Townsend. This is how it works:

Former US officials taking part in MEK-linked events told the Monitor or confirmed publicly that they received substantial fees, paid by local Iranian-American groups to speaker bureaus that handle their public appearances.

The State Dept. official, who is familiar with the speech contracts, explains the mechanism: “Your speech agent calls, and says you get $20,000 to speak for 20 minutes. They will send a private jet, you get $25,000 more when you are done, and they will send a team to brief you on what to say.”

As but one example, Rendell, the former Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania and current MSNBC contributor, was paid $20,000 for a 10- minute speech before a MEK gathering, and has been a stalwart advocate of the group ever since.

Even for official Washington, where elite crimes are tolerated as a matter of course, this level of what appears to be overt criminality — taking large amounts of money from a designated Terrorist group, appearing before its meetings, meeting with its leaders, then advocating on its behalf — is too much to completely overlook. The Washington Times reported on Friday that the Treasury Department’s counter-Terrorism division is investigating speaking fees paid to former Gov. Rendell, who, the article notes, has “become among [MEK’s] most vocal advocates.” According to Rendell, “investigators have subpoenaed records related to payments he has accepted for public speaking engagements” for MEK. As the article put it, ”some observers have raised questions about the legality of accepting payment in exchange for providing assistance or services to a listed terrorist group.” Beyond the “material support” crime, engaging in such transactions with designated Terrorist groups is independently prohibited by federal law:

David Cole, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, noted that “any group that’s on the list is also, by definition, on the Treasury Department’s list for specially designated global terrorists.”

Anyone in the United States is prohibited from engaging in any transaction with such an entity,” he said.

While Mr. Cole stressed his personal belief that individuals have a “First Amendment right to speak out freely” for an organization like the MEK, he said that “it is a crime to engage in any transaction, which would certainly include getting paid to do public relations for them.

Rendell has a lot of company in the commission of what very well may be these serious crimes — including the very same Fran Townsend who cheered the Humanitarian Law decision that could be her undoing. After someone on Twitter wrote to her this weekend to say that she should be prosecuted (and “put in GITMO indefinitely”) for her “material support”of MEK, this is how — with the waving American flag as her chosen background — she defended herself in reply:

How reprehensible is the conduct of Fran Townsend here? Just two years ago, she went on CNN to celebrate a Supreme Court decision that rejected First Amendment claims of free speech and free association in order to rule that anyone — most often Muslims — can be prosecuted under the “material support” statute simply for advocacy for a Terrorist group that is coordinated with the group. And yet, the minute Fran Townsend gets caught doing exactly that — not just out of conviction but also because she’s being paid by that Terrorist group — she suddenly invokes the very same Constitutional rights whose erosions she cheered when it came to the prosecution of others. Now that her own liberty is at stake by virtue of getting caught being on the dole from a Terrorist group, she suddenly insists that the First Amendment allows her to engage in this behavior: exactly the argument that Humanitarian Law rejected, with her gushing approval on CNN (“a tremendous win for not only the United States but for the current administration“; This is an important tool the government uses to convict those . . . who provide []  propaganda, to terrorist organizations”).”

What is particularly repellent about all of this is not the supreme hypocrisy and self-interested provincialism of Fran Townsend. That’s all just par for the course. What’s infuriating is that there are large numbers of people — almost always Muslims — who have been prosecuted and are now in prison for providing “material support” to Terrorist groups for doing far less than Fran Townsend and her fellow cast of bipartisan ex-officials have done with and on behalf of MEK. In fact, the U.S. Government has been (under the administration in which Townsend worked) and still is (under the administration Rendell supports) continuously prosecuting Muslims for providing “material support” for Terrorist groups based on their pure speech, all while Fran Townsend, Ed Rendell and company have said nothing or, worse, supported the legal interpretations that justified these prosecutions.

The last time I wrote about these individuals’ material support for MEK, I highlighted just a few of those cases:

  • A Staten Island satellite TV salesman in 2009 was sentenced to five years in federal prison merely for including a Hezbollah TV channel as part of the satellite package he sold to customers;
  • a Massachusetts resident, Tarek Mehanna, is being prosecuted now ”for posting pro-jihadist material on the internet”;
  • a 24-year-old Pakistani legal resident living in Virginia, Jubair Ahmad, was indicted last September for uploading a 5-minute video to YouTube that was highly critical of U.S. actions in the Muslim world, an allegedly criminal act simply because prosecutors claim he discussed the video in advance with the son of a leader of a designated Terrorist organization (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba);
  • a Saudi Arabian graduate student, Sami Omar al-Hussayen, was prosecuted simply for maintaining a website with links “to groups that praised suicide bombings in Chechnya and in Israel” and “jihadist” sites that solicited donations for extremist groups (he was ultimately acquitted); and,
  •  last July, a 22-year-old former Penn State student and son of an instructor at the school, Emerson Winfield Begolly, was indicted for — in the FBI’s words — “repeatedly using the Internet to promote violent jihad against Americans” by posting comments on a “jihadist” Internet forum including “a comment online that praised the shootings” at a Marine Corps base, action which former Obama lawyer Marty Lederman said ”does not at first glance appear to be different from the sort of advocacy of unlawful conduct that is entitled to substantial First Amendment protection.”

Yet we have the most well-connected national security and military officials in Washington doing far more than all of that right out in the open — they’re receiving large payments from a Terrorist group, meeting with its leaders, attending their meetings, and then advocating for them in very public forums; Howard Dean, after getting paid by the group, actually called for MEK’s leader to be recognized as the legitimate President of Iran  – and so far none have been prosecuted or even indicted. The Treasury Department investigation must at least scare them. Thus, like most authoritarians, Fran Townsend suddenly discovers the importance of the very political liberties she’s helped assault now that those Constitutional protections are necessary to protect herself from prosecution. It reminds me quite a bit of how former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman — one of the most reliable advocates for Bush’s illegal spying program — suddenly started sounding like a life-long, outraged ACLU member as soon as it was revealed that her own private communications were legally surveilled by the U.S. Government.

One can reasonably debate whether MEK actually belongs on the list of Terrorist organizations (the same is true for several other groups on that list). But as a criminal matter, that debate is irrelevant. The law criminalizes the providing of material support to any group on that list, and it is not a defense to argue after one gets caught that the group should be removed.

Moreover, the argument that MEK does not belong on the Terrorist list — always a dubious claim —  has suffered a serious blow in the last couple of months. An NBC News report from Richard Engel and Robert Windrem in February claimed that it was MEK which perpetrated the string of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, and that the Terrorist group “is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service” (MEK denied the report). If true, it means that MEK continues to perpetrate definitive acts of Terrorism: using bombs and guns to kill civilian scientists and severely injure their wives. Yet Townsend, Rendell, Dean, Giuliani and other well-paid friends continue to be outspoken advocates of the group. Even the dissenters in Humanitarian Law argued that the First Amendment would allow “material support” prosecution “when the defendant knows or intends that those activities will assist the organization’s unlawful terrorist actions.” A reasonable argument could certainly be advanced that, in light of these recent reports about MEK’s Terrorism, one who takes money from the group and then advocates for its removal from the Terrorist list “knows or intends that those activities will assist the organization’s unlawful terrorist actions”: a prosecutable offense even under the dissent’s far more limited view of the statute.

But whatever else is true, the activities of Townsend, Rendell, Dean, Giuliani and the rest of MEK’s paid shills are providing more than enough “material support” to be prosecuted under the Humanitarian Law decision and other statutes. They’re providing more substantial “material support” to this Terrorist group than many people — usually vulnerable, powerless Muslims — who are currently imprisoned for that crime.  It’s nice that Fran Townsend suddenly discovered the virtues of free speech and free association guarantees, but under the laws she and so many others like her have helped implement and defend, there is a very strong case to make that her conduct and those of these other well-connected advocates for this Terrorist group is squarely within the realm of serious criminal behavior.

Glenn Greenwald
Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.More Glenn Greenwald

Aljazeera: Fault Lines-Politics, Religion and the Tea Party

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2011 by loonwatch

A must see documentary on AlJazeera English, dealing with the contemporary influence of Far Right Christianity on American politics. It gets really interesting from the 18:00 mark.

Fault Lines-Politics, Religion and the Tea Party

Beck: I Would Be ‘Uncomfortable’ With Muslim In My Administration (AUDIO)

Posted in Loon Media, Loon Radio with tags , , , , , , , on June 14, 2011 by loonwatch
Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck is at it again.

Beck: I Would Be ‘Uncomfortable’ With Muslim In My Administration (AUDIO)

(Huffington Post) Glenn Beck agreed with GOP candidate Herman Cain on his Tuesday show, saying that he would be uncomfortable having a Muslim in his administration. Cain has attracted attention for saying that he is worried about the spread of Sharia law in the U.S., and that he was worried that a Muslim might not be faithful to the Constitution. On Tuesday, Beck said he understood what Cain meant. “Do you feel comfortable in saying, ‘yeah, you know what? I’m not even going to check that guy on his stance on Sharia law,’” Beck said. He started to say that, although it wasn’t fair, he wouldn’t ask the same of a Catholic or a Baptist, but then backtracked, saying that, in fact, he might be “uncomfortable” with people from any faith, explaining, “I don’t trust anybody anymore.” However, Beck had a distinction to make. “Would I be more uncomfortable with a Muslim?” he asked. “Yes.” The reason for this, he said, was because Muslim rights group had “wildly deceived” Americans–though he didn’t say about what exactly. “And a Muslim is more likely to want Sharia law in America than any other religion,” Beck’s co-host said. Beck was quick to say that not all Muslims wanted Sharia law. “I have friends who are Muslim who are not for Sharia law,” he said.http://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/flash/pl55.swf Beck has made controversial statements about Muslims in the past. He has said that around ten percent of Muslims are terrorists and that some want to bring about the Antichrist. And, in 2006, he famously asked Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison to “prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.”

Shameless Political Exploitation, Academic Hypocrisy at Front Page Magazine

Posted in Feature, Loon People, Loon Sites with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2011 by loonwatch

Just because a person has a PhD in one field does not make them an authority in another field. For example, a person with their PhD in Chemistry does not make them an authority in Physics, even if they know a lot about Physics. This is because academia has a system of checks and balances through peer-reviewed scholarship that makes sure the university or organization is presenting the most authentic information possible. In our case, many anti-Muslim loons come from a variety of academic fields but they cannot speak with authority on issues involving Islam and Muslims. Simply, they do not possess the requisite knowledge.

For our latest example, observe Jamie Glazov, the editor of Front Page Magazine (part of the same Horowitz-Spencer closed information system). He boasts of his “PhD in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy.” He must really know what he is talking about when it comes to Muslims, right? But is he fluent in any classical Islamic language: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu? Is he proficient in at least two or three of them, as required by many Islamic studies departments in the United States? Is he proficient enough in a European research language (French, German) to be able to consult what prior scholars of Islamic studies have said? From the look of his daily Muslim-bashing, the answer is no.

Recently, Glazov exploited the tragedy of an Iraqi woman, Noor Almaleki, to use the generic Islamic villain as a stick to bash the Democrats:

The honor killing trial begins in Phoenix today (Monday, Jan.24) of Faleh Hassan Almaleki, an Iraqi Muslim immigrant who killed his 20-year-old daughter, Noor Almaleki, on October 20, 2009, because she had become too Westernized…

After killing his daughter, Almaleki himself boasted that he had to take Noor’s lifebecause she had dishonored his family by her “Western” behavior. Evidence reveals that Almaleki had tried to impose strict Islamic codes on Noor and that he had attempted to force her into an arranged marriage when she was 17…

Almaleki was trained from birth to see the world through the lens of Islamic misogyny, where women are the property of men. Under the vicious and sadistic system of Islamic gender apartheid, women’s autonomy must be suffocated on all levels.

First, notice from the outset that Mr. Glazov makes no distinction between different interpretations of Islam; between the extremist acts of a single individual and what many mainstream Muslim scholars, leaders, and institutions have said on the issue of honor killings, specifically Muslim women scholars, specifically in Iraq.

Second, Glazov forgets to remind his readers that the citizens of Iraq are not living under normal conditions like most people. Perhaps he forgot about the ongoing Iraq War, the military occupation, and, among other things, the chaos unleashed by private military contractors. Glazov wants you to think that Iraqis are living normal, comfortable lives; therefore, their erratic behavior, such as this case, can only be explained by Islamic teachings,  rather than the complex reality-based mix of social, economic, cultural, and historical factors (studied by sociologists) which shed light on why people do things. Glazov would rather just explain this tragedy as just another manifestation of the monolithic Islamic “monster” (his expression, not mine).

Third, to suggest that women are viewed as “the property of men” is just a flagrant canard. It belies what the Quran clearly states:

The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise. [Quran 9:71]

O you who believe, it is not lawful for you to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dower ye have given them, except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them it may be that you dislike a thing, and Allah brings through it a great deal of good. [Quran 4:19]

It further ignores an objective history of early and contemporary Islam. Again, I am curious to see how he explains the fact that a Muslim country like Pakistan, allegedly under “Islamic gender apartheid,” has twice elected a woman Prime Minister.

Fourth, the fact that he “had attempted to force her into an arranged marriage” is a violation of a basic tenet of Islamic jurisprudence on marriage. As recorded in the Prophet’s traditions:

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her, and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission.”

[Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7 Book 62 Number 67]

If he really wanted to force her into marriage, then this is strong evidence that the man was acting against Islamic teachings, not in accord with them. But remember Spencer’s Islamophobic indoctrination principle: whenever a Muslim does something evil, that is true Islam; but when Muslims speak out against evil, they are acting against Islam.

Glazov is following Spencer’s manual to the letter, and then it starts really going downhill:

It is in the Left’s interest that the murders of thousands of innocent Muslim girls like Noor, Aqsa and the Said girls, and the monstrous Islamic ideology that engendered such murders, are pushed into invisibility. For the Left, it is crucial that historical amnesia is imposed on these uncomfortable matters (i.e. the extermination of Muslim girls), for the truth about Islamic honor killing makes it difficult for the Left to pursue its top priority: waging war on capitalism and on its own host society. Indeed, if an adversarial culture and religion turns out to actually be evil, then we might have to admit that there is something good and superior about our own civilization and that it is worth defending. This notion is anathema and unfathomable to the Left — and it explains why leftist feminists like Naomi Wolf engage in a romance with the burqa.

This was the whole point in the first place: to attack the Left (i.e. Democrats). It is all part of the evil Left-Moozlim alliance. The Left is part of the murdering Islamic machine, we are told. The Left is waging war on everything you hold dear, we are warned. No nuance, qualification, specification, or clarification. It is simply Us vs. the Left (and Islam). So, really it’s all about dirty far-right politics as usual; demonizing the enemy, don’t give them an inch.

After examining Glazov’s article in light of the facts, this can be taken as another example of Muslim-bashing with a false academic veneer. We have already seen how fake scholar Robert Spencer, whose masters degree is in early Christianty, makes him in no way an authority on Islam. He cannot stand up to peer-reviewed scholarship (i.e. for his anti-Muslim theories to actually be scrutinized by facts); even his own professor warns about him. Similarly, Glazov’s seemingly impressive credentials in no way validate anything he says. He does not speak the primary languages; it seems he has not even checked sources in English.

I find it offensive that Glazov exploits this tragedy for politics as usual. I have a very hard time believing Glazov really cares about Muslim women when he spends his days and nights bashing them for political gain. Today it is Noor Almaleki; tomorrow it will be the next anti-Muslim story (with Noor’s case all forgotten). I don’t buy it.

Nevertheless, what should we expect from someone who thinks “just nuke ‘em” Pamela Geller is a “modern-day freedom fighter”?

 

The Politics Behind Misunderstanding Islam

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2010 by loonwatch

John Feffer wrote an excellent piece on the politics underpinning he “misunderstanding of Islam.”

The Politics Behind Misunderstanding Islam

John Feffer: The Myths Underpinning Islamophobia Share a Long History

The Muslims were bloodthirsty and treacherous. They conducted a sneak attack against the French army and slaughtered every single soldier, 20,000 in all. More than 1,000 years ago, in the mountain passes of Spain, the Muslim horde cut down the finest soldiers in Charlemagne’s command, including his brave nephew Roland. Then, according to the famous poem that immortalized the tragedy, Charlemagne exacted his revenge by routing the entire Muslim army.

The Song of Roland, an eleventh century rendering in verse of an eighth century battle, is a staple of Western Civilization classes at colleges around the country. A “masterpiece of epic drama,” in the words of its renowned translator Dorothy Sayers, it provides a handy preface for students before they delve into readings on the Crusades that began in 1095. More ominously, the poem has schooled generations of Judeo-Christians to view Muslims as perfidious enemies who once threatened the very foundations of Western civilization.

The problem, however, is that the whole epic is built on a curious falsehood. The army that fell upon Roland and his Frankish soldiers was not Muslim at all. In the real battle of 778, the slayers of the Franks were Christian Basques furious at Charlemagne for pillaging their city of Pamplona. Not epic at all, the battle emerged from a parochial dispute in the complex wars of medieval Spain. Only later, as kings and popes and knights prepared to do battle in the First Crusade, did an anonymous bard repurpose the text to serve the needs of an emerging cross-against-crescent holy war.

Similarly, we think of the Crusades as the archetypal “clash of civilizations” between the followers of Jesus and the followers of Mohammed. In the popular version of those Crusades, the Muslim adversary has, in fact, replaced a remarkable range of peoples the Crusaders dealt with as enemies, including Jews killed in pogroms on the way to the Holy Land, rival Catholics slaughtered in the Balkans and in Constantinople, and Christian heretics hunted down in southern France.

Much later, during the Cold War, mythmakers in Washington performed a similar act, substituting a monolithic crew labeled “godless communists” for a disparate group of anti-imperial nationalists in an attempt to transform conflicts in remote locations like Vietnam, Guatemala, and Iran into epic struggles between the forces of the Free World and the forces of evil. In recent years, the Bush administration did it all over again by portraying Arab nationalists as fiendish Islamic fundamentalists when we invaded Iraq and prepared to topple the regime in Syria.

Similar mythmaking continues today. The recent surge of Islamophobia in the United States has drawn strength from several extraordinary substitutions. A clearly Christian president has become Muslim in the minds of a significant number of Americans. The thoughtful Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan has become a closet fundamentalist in the writings of Paul Berman and others. And an Islamic center in lower Manhattan, organized by proponents of interfaith dialogue, has become an extremist “mosque at Ground Zero” in the TV appearances, political speeches, and Internet sputterings of a determined clique of right-wing activists.

This transformation of Islam into a violent caricature of itself — as if Ann Coulter had suddenly morphed into the face of Christianity — comes at a somewhat strange juncture in the United States. Anti-Islamic rhetoric and hate crimes, which spiked immediately after September 11, 2001, had been on the wane. No major terrorist attack had taken place in the U.S. or Europe since the London bombings in 2005. The current American president had reached out to the Muslim world and retired the controversial acronym GWOT, or “Global War on Terror.”

All the elements seemed in place, in other words, for us to turn the page on an ugly chapter in our history. Yet it’s as if we remain fixed in the eleventh century in a perpetual battle of “us” against “them.” Like the undead rising from their coffins, our previous “crusades” never go away.  Indeed, we still seem to be fighting the three great wars of the millennium, even though two of these conflicts have long been over and the third has been rhetorically reduced to “overseas contingency operations.” The Crusades, which finally petered out in the seventeenth century, continue to shape our global imagination today. The Cold War ended in 1991, but key elements of the anti-communism credo have been awkwardly grafted onto the new Islamist adversary. And the Global War on Terror, which President Obama quietly renamed shortly after taking office, has in fact metastasized into the wars that his administration continues to prosecute in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere.

Those in Europe and the United States who cheer on these wars claim that they are issuing a wake-up call about the continued threat of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other militants who claim the banner of Islam. However, what really keeps Islamophobes up at night is not the marginal and backwards-looking Islamic fundamentalists but rather the growing economic, political, and global influence of modern, mainstream Islam. Examples of Islam successfully grappling with modernity abound, from Turkey’s new foreign policy and Indonesia’s economic muscle to the Islamic political parties participating in elections in Lebanon, Morocco, and Jordan. Instead of providing reassurance, however, these trends only incite Islamophobes to intensify their battles to “save” Western civilization.

As long as our unfinished wars still burn in the collective consciousness — and still rage in Kabul, Baghdad, Sana’a, and the Tribal Areas of Pakistan — Islamophobia will make its impact felt in our media, politics, and daily life. Only if we decisively end the millennial Crusades, the half-century Cold War, and the decade-long War on Terror (under whatever name) will we overcome the dangerous divide that has consumed so many lives, wasted so much wealth, and distorted our very understanding of our Western selves.

The Crusades Continue

With their irrational fear of spiders, arachnophobes are scared of both harmless daddy longlegs and poisonous brown recluse spiders. In extreme cases, an arachnophobe can break out in a sweat while merely looking at photos of spiders. It is, of course, reasonable to steer clear of black widows. What makes a legitimate fear into an irrational phobia, however, is the tendency to lump all of any group, spiders or humans, into one lethal category and then to exaggerate how threatening they are. Spider bites, after all, are responsible for at most a handful of deaths a year in the United States.

Islamophobia is, similarly, an irrational fear of Islam. Yes, certain Muslim fundamentalists have been responsible for terrorist attacks, certain fantasists about a “global caliphate” continue to plot attacks on perceived enemies, and certain groups like Afghanistan’s Taliban and Somalia’s al-Shabaab practice medieval versions of the religion. But Islamophobes confuse these small parts with the whole and then see terrorist jihad under every Islamic pillow. They break out in a sweat at the mere picture of an imam.

Irrational fears are often rooted in our dimly remembered childhoods. Our irrational fear of Islam similarly seems to stem from events that happened in the early days of Christendom. Three myths inherited from the era of the Crusades constitute the core of Islamophobia today: Muslims are inherently violent, Muslims want to take over the world, and Muslims can’t be trusted.

The myth of Islam as a “religion of the sword” was a staple of Crusader literature and art. In fact, the atrocities committed by Muslim leaders and armies — and there were some — rarely rivaled the slaughters of the Crusaders, who retook Jerusalem in 1099 in a veritable bloodbath.

“The heaps of the dead presented an immediate problem for the conquerors,” writes Christopher Tyerman in God’s War. “Many of the surviving Muslim population were forced to clear the streets and carry the bodies outside the walls to be burnt in great pyres, whereat they themselves were massacred.” Jerusalem’s Jews suffered a similar fate when the Crusaders burned many of them alive in their main synagogue. Four hundred years earlier, by contrast, Caliph ‘Umar put no one to the sword when he took over Jerusalem, signing a pact with the Christian patriarch Sophronius that pledged “no compulsion in religion.”

This myth of the inherently violent Muslim endures. Islam “teaches violence,” televangelist Pat Robertson proclaimedin 2005. “The Koran teaches violence and most Muslims, including so-called moderate Muslims, openly believe in violence,” was the way Major General Jerry Curry (U.S. Army, ret.), who served in the Carter, Reagan, and Bush Sr. administrations, put it.

The Crusaders justified their violence by arguing that Muslims were bent on taking over the world. In its early days, the expanding Islamic empire did indeed imagine an ever-growing Dar-al-Islam(House of Islam). By the time of the Crusades, however, this initial burst of enthusiasm for holy war had long been spent. Moreover, the Christian West harbored its own set of desires when it came to extending the Pope’s authority to every corner of the globe. Even that early believer in soft power, Francis of Assisi, sat down with Sultan al-Kamil during the Fifth Crusade with the aim of eliminating Islam through conversion.

Today, Islamophobes portray the building of Cordoba House in lower Manhattan as just another gambit in this millennial power grab: “This is Islamic domination and expansionism,” writes right-wing blogger Pamela Geller, who made the “Ground Zero Mosque” into a media obsession. “Islam is a religion with a very political agenda,” warns ex-Muslim Ali Sina. “The ultimate goal of Islam is to rule the world.”
These two myths — of inherent violence and global ambitions — led to the firm conviction that Muslims were by nature untrustworthy. Robert of Ketton, a twelfth century translator of the Koran, was typical in badmouthing the prophet Mohammad this way: “Like the liar you are, you everywhere contradict yourself.” The suspicion of untrustworthiness fell as well on any Christian who took up the possibility of coexistence with Islam. Pope Gregory, for instance, believed that the thirteenth century Crusader Frederick II was the Anti-Christ himself because he developed close relationships with Muslims.

For Islamophobes today, Muslims abroad are similarly terrorists-in-waiting. As for Muslims at home, “American Muslims must face their either/or,” writes the novelist Edward Cline, “to repudiate Islam or remain a quiet, sanctioning fifth column.” Even American Muslims in high places, like Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), are not above suspicion. In a 2006 CNN interview, Glenn Beck said, “I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.’”

These three myths of Islamophobia flourish in our era, just as they did almost a millennium ago, because of a cunning conflation of a certain type of Islamic fundamentalism with Islam itself. Bill O’Reilly was neatly channeling this Crusader mindset when he asserted recently that “the Muslim threat to the world is not isolated. It’s huge!”  When Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence William Boykin, in an infamous 2003 sermon, thundered “What I’m here to do today is to recruit you to be warriors of God’s kingdom,” he was issuing the Crusader call to arms.

But O’Reilly and Boykin, who represent the violence, duplicity, and expansionist mind-set of today’s Western crusaders, were also invoking a more recent tradition, closer in time and far more familiar.

The Totalitarian Myth

In 1951, the CIA and the emerging anti-communist elite, including soon-to-be-president Dwight Eisenhower, created the Crusade for Freedom as a key component of a growing psychological warfare campaign against the Soviet Union and the satellite countries it controlled in Eastern Europe. The language of this “crusade” was intentionally religious. It reached out to “peoples deeply rooted in the heritage of western civilization,” living under the “crushing weight of a godless dictatorship.” In its call for the liberation of the communist world, it echoed the nearly thousand-year-old crusader rhetoric of “recovering” Jerusalem and other outposts of Christianity.

In the theology of the Cold War, the Soviet Union replaced the Islamic world as the untrustworthy infidel. However unconsciously, the old crusader myths about Islam translated remarkably easily into governing assumptions about the communist enemy: the Soviets and their allies were bent on taking over the world, could not be trusted with their rhetoric of peaceful coexistence, imperiled Western civilization, and fought with unique savagery as well as a willingness to martyr themselves for the greater ideological good.
Ironically, Western governments were so obsessed with fighting this new scourge that, in the Cold War years, on the theory that my enemy’s enemy is my friend, they nurtured radical Islam as a weapon. As journalist Robert Dreyfuss ably details in his book The Devil’s Game, the U.S. funding of the mujahideen in Afghanistan was only one part of the anti-communist crusade in the Islamic world. To undermine Arab nationalists and leftists who might align themselves with the Soviet Union, the United States (and Israel) worked with Iranian mullahs, helped create Hamas, and facilitated the spread of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Though the Cold War ended with the sudden disappearance of the Soviet Union in 1991, that era’s mind-set — and so many of the Cold Warriors sporting it — never went with it. The prevailing mythology was simply transferred back to the Islamic world.  In anti-communist theology, for example, the worst curse word was “totalitarianism,” said to describe the essence of the all-encompassing Soviet state and system.

According to the gloss that early neoconservative Jeanne Kirkpatrick provided in her book Dictatorships and Double Standards, the West had every reason to support right-wing authoritarian dictatorships because they would steadfastly oppose left-wing totalitarian dictatorships, which, unlike the autocracies we allied with, were supposedly incapable of internal reform.

According to the new “Islamo-fascism” school — and its acolytes like Norman Podhoretz, David Horowitz, Bill O’Reilly, Pamela Geller — the fundamentalists are simply the “new totalitarians,” as hidebound, fanatical, and incapable of change as communists. For a more sophisticated treatment of the Islamo-fascist argument, check out Paul Berman, a rightward-leaning liberal intellectual who has tried to demonstrate that “moderate Muslims” are fundamentalists in reformist clothing.

These Cold Warriors all treat the Islamic world as an undifferentiated mass — in spirit, a modern Soviet Union — where Arab governments and radical Islamists work hand in glove. They simply fail to grasp that the Syrian, Egyptian, and Saudi Arabian governments have launched their own attacks on radical Islam. The sharp divides between the Iranian regime and the Taliban, between the Jordanian government and the Palestinians, between Shi’ites and Sunni in Iraq, and even among Kurds all disappear in the totalitarian blender, just as anti-communists generally failed to distinguish between the Communist hardliner Leonid Brezhnev and the Communist reformer Mikhail Gorbachev.

At the root of terrorism, according to Berman, are “immense failures of political courage and imagination within the Muslim world,” rather than the violent fantasies of a group of religious outliers or the Crusader-ish military operations of the West. In other words, something flawed at the very core of Islam itself is responsible for the violence done in its name — a line of argument remarkably similar to one Cold Warriors made about communism.

All of this, of course, represents a mirror image of al-Qaeda’s arguments about the inherent perversities of the infidel West. As during the Cold War, hardliners reinforce one another.

The persistence of Crusader myths and their transposition into a Cold War framework help explain why the West is saddled with so many misconceptions about Islam. They don’t, however, explain the recent spike in Islamophobia in the U.S. after several years of relative tolerance. To understand this, we must turn to the third unfinished war: the Global War on Terror or GWOT, launched by George W. Bush.

Fanning the Flames

President Obama was careful to groom his Christian image during his campaign. He was repeatedly seen praying in churches, and he studiously avoided mosques. He did everything possible to efface the traces of Muslim identity in his past.

His opponents, of course, did just the opposite. They emphasized his middle name, Hussein, challenged his birth records, and asserted that he was too close to the Palestinian cause.  They also tried to turn liberal constituencies — particularly Jewish-American ones — against the presumptive president. Like Frederick II for an earlier generation of Christian
fundamentalists, since entering the Oval Office Obama has become the Anti-Christ of the Islamophobes.

Once in power, he broke with Bush administration policies toward the Islamic world on a few points. He did indeed push ahead with his plan to remove combat troops from Iraq (with some important exceptions). He has attempted to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to stop expanding settlements in occupied Palestinian lands and to negotiate in good faith (though he has done so without resorting to the kind of pressure that might be meaningful, like a cutback of or even cessation of U.S. arms exports to Israel). In a highly publicized speech in Cairoin June 2009, he also reached out rhetorically to the Islamic world at a time when he was also eliminating the name “Global War on Terror” from the government’s vocabulary.

For Muslims worldwide, however, GWOT itself continues. The United States has orchestrated a surge in Afghanistan. The CIA’s drone war in the Pakistani borderlands has escalated rapidly. U.S. Special Forces now operate in 75 countries, at least 15 more than during the Bush years. Meanwhile, Guantanamo remains open, the United States still practices extraordinary rendition, and assassination remains an active part of Washington’s toolbox.

The civilians killed in these overseas contingency operations are predominantly Muslim. The people seized and interrogated are mostly Muslim. The buildings destroyed are largely Muslim-owned. As a result, the rhetoric of “crusaders and imperialists” used by al-Qaeda falls on receptive ears. Despite his Cairo speech, the favorability rating of the United States in the Muslim world, already grim enough, has slid even further since Obama took office — in Egypt, from 41% in 2009 to 31% percent now; in Turkey, from 33% to 23%; and in Pakistan, from 13% to 8%.

The U.S. wars, occupations, raids, and repeated air strikes have produced much of this disaffection and, as political scientist Robert Pape has consistently argued, most of the suicide bombings and other attacks against Western troops and targets as well. This is revenge, not religion, talking — just as it was for Americans after September 11, 2001. As commentator M. Junaid Levesque-Alam astutely pointed out, “When three planes hurtled into national icons, did anger and hatred rise in American hearts only after consultation of Biblical verses?”

And yet those dismal polling figures do not actually reflect a rejection of Western values (despite Islamophobe assurances that they mean exactly that). “Numerous polls that we have conducted,” writes pollster Stephen Kull, “as well as others by the World Values Survey and Arab Barometer, show strong support in the Muslim world for democracy, for human rights, and for an international order based on international law and a strong United Nations.”

In other words, nine years after September 11th a second spike in Islamophobia and in home-grown terrorist attacks like that of the would-be Times Square bomber has been born of two intersecting pressures: American critics of Obama’s foreign policy believe that he has backed away from the major civilizational struggle of our time, even as many in the Muslim world see Obama-era foreign policy as a continuation, even an escalation, of Bush-era policies of war and occupation.

Here is the irony: alongside the indisputable rise of fundamentalism over the last two decades, only some of it oriented towards violence, the Islamic world has undergone a shift which deep-sixes the cliché that Islam has held countries back from political and economic development. “Since the early 1990s, 23 Muslim countries have developed more democratic institutions, with fairly run elections, energized and competitive political parties, greater civil liberties, or better legal protections for journalists,” writes Philip Howard in The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Turkey has emerged as a vibrant democracy and a major foreign policy player. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, is now the largest economy in Southeast Asia and the eighteenth largest economy in the world.

Are Islamophobes missing this story of mainstream Islam’s accommodation with democracy and economic growth? Or is it this story (not Islamo-fascism starring al-Qaeda) that is their real concern?

The recent preoccupations of Islamophobes are telling in this regard. Pamela Geller, after all, was typical in the way she went after not a radical mosque, but an Islamic center about two blocks from Ground Zero proposed by a proponent of interfaith dialogue. As journalist Stephen Salisbury writes,“The mosque controversy is not really about a mosque at all; it’s about the presence of Muslims in America, and the free-floating anxiety and fear that now dominate the nation’s psyche.” For her latest venture, Geller is pushing a boycott of Campbell’s Soup because it accepts halal certification — the Islamic version of kosher certification by a rabbi — from the Islamic Society of North America, a group which, by the way, has gone out of its way to denounce religious extremism.

Paul Berman, meanwhile, has devoted his latest book, The Flight of the Intellectuals, to deconstructing the arguments not of Osama bin-Laden or his ilk, but of Tariq Ramadan, the foremost mainstream Islamic theologian. Ramadan is a man firmly committed to breaking down the old distinctions between “us” and “them.” Critical of the West for colonialism, racism, and other ills, he also challenges the injustices of the Islamic world. He is far from a fundamentalist.

And what country, by the way, has exercised European Islamophobes more than any other? Pakistan? Saudi Arabia? Taliban Afghanistan?  No, the answer is: Turkey. “The Turks are conquering Germany in the same way the Kosovars conquered Kosovo: by using higher birth-rates,” arguesGermany’s Islamophobe du jour, Thilo Sarrazin, a member of Germany’s Social Democratic Party. The far right has even united around a Europe-wide referendum to keep Turkey out of the European Union.

Despite his many defects, George W. Bush at least knew enough to distinguish Islam from Islamism. By targeting a perfectly normal Islamic center, a perfectly normal Islamic scholar, and a perfectly normal Islamic country — all firmly in the mainstream of that religion — the Islamophobes have actually declared war on normalcy, not extremism.

The victories of the tea party movement and the increased power of Republican militants in Congress, not to mention the renaissance of the far right in Europe, suggest that we will be living with this Islamophobia and the three unfinished wars of the West against the Rest for some time. The Crusades lasted hundreds of years. Let’s hope that Crusade 2.0, and the dark age that we find ourselves in, has a far shorter lifespan.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

 

Peter King Falsely Claims American Muslim Communities ‘Do Not Cooperate’ To Combat Terrorism

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2010 by loonwatch

From Think Progress. (hat tip: Just A Fan)

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly has been on an Islamophobic tear lately. O’Reilly initially took heat for saying that “Muslims attacked us on 9/11″ and he has since defended that claim, saying that “there is a Muslim problem in the world.” After receiving criticism for that statement, O’Reilly defended himself again, claiming that there is a “Muslim problem” because “good” Muslims don’t combat extremism — a point radio host Don Imus told O’Reilly was not “accurate.”

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) seems to have picked up on O’Reilly’s spurious reasoning, telling Imus yesterday that leaders in the Muslim community “do not cooperate”:

KING: It’s not just people who are involved with the terrorists and extremists,it is people who are in mainstream Islam, leaders of mosques, leaders of Muslim organizations who do not come forward and denounce, officially denounce, officially cooperate with the police against those extremists and terrorists. So, it goes beyond the terrorists and the extremists and also includes those in what others call mainstream Muslim leadership.

Watch it:

King didn’t provide any evidence that Muslims aren’t cooperating with authorities. While many Muslim leaders have complained of a heavy-handed FBI presence in their communities, American Muslims have been integral in combating domestic terrorism. As Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) said at an event sponsored by the Center for American Progress, according to the Muslim Public Affairs Council, “About a third of all foiled al-Qaida-related plots in the U.S. relied on support or information provided by members of the Muslim community.” Indeed, a Senagalese Muslim immigrant who works as a vendor in Times Square was the first to bring the smoking car that was part of the failed Times Square bombing plot to the police’s attention. And the father of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — who failed in his attempt to blow up an airplane over Detroit last year — alerted U.S. authoritiesof his son’s “extreme radical views” months before he tried to carry out the attack.

Moreover, a recent academic study found that American contemporary mosques are serving as a deterrent to the spread of extremism and terrorism. The New York Times noted that the study found that “many mosque leaders had put significant effort into countering extremism by building youth programs, sponsoring antiviolence forums and scrutinizing teachers and texts.” “Muslim-American communities have been active in preventing radicalization,” said study co- author David Kurzman. “This is one reason that Muslim-American terrorism has resulted in fewer than three dozen of the 136,000 murders committed in the United States since 9/11.”

King’s claim that Muslim organizations in the U.S. aren’t denouncing terrorism is simply false. For example, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading American Muslim organization, unequivocally condemned terrorism and has launched numerous anti-extremism campaigns.

 

Forward.com: Zionist Groups Stoke Fear of Islam for Political Profit

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on September 24, 2010 by loonwatch

After we published our article on The Connection Between Zionism and Organized Islamophobia — The Facts, we had some knee jerk responses by people who obviously hadn’t read the article claiming that we were dabbling in anti-Semitism. This was of course a wrong headed and false charge as many have since admitted and now a leading Jewish magazine has opined as much.

Some Zionist Groups Stoke Fear Of Islam for Political Profit

Opinion

By Matthew Duss

After the last several months, it should be clear that the controversy over the Park 51 Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero is about more than sensitivity to the families of the 9/11 victims and the sacredness of the site where their loved ones were murdered. In places as far from Lower Manhattan as Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Temecula, Calif., Muslim houses of worship, and the people who pray in them, have come under attack by conservative activists as representing an American beachhead for Muslim extremism.

Whether it’s Newt Gingrich peddling false stories of “creeping sharia” (strict Islamic law) to an audience of very serious people at the American Enterprise Institute, or the Washington Times running endless editorials and op-eds from conspiracy theorists like Frank Gaffney warning that President Obama “may actually still be a Muslim,” or Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney shamelessly and falsely asserting that Park 51 leader Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has “terror-related connections,” it’s clear that quite a few conservative elites see political profit in stoking Americans’ fear of Islam.

Such hostility toward Muslims is unfortunately not marginal in the pro-Israel community — unless one is prepared to define the huge annual policy conference of one of Washington’s foremost lobbies as “marginal.” At an AIPAC conference in March 2009, to take just one example, terrorism expert Steve Emerson spent 40 minutes stoking the worst fears of the mostly elderly attendees with a talk called “Tentacles of Terror: The Global Reach of Islamic Radicalism.” It could just as easily have been called “Scaring the Living Crap Out of Bubbe and Zayde.” As long as Jews are encouraged to believe that scary Muslims are hiding under every American bed, the idea is perpetuated that support for the Jewish state is a zero-sum contest between favoring Israel and favoring Arabs and Muslims. For too many American Jews, smearing Islam is seen as a legitimate expression of Zionism.

Groups like The Israel Project, the Middle East Media Research Institute and Middle East Forum seem to exist for no other reason than to spotlight the very worst aspects of Muslim societies. Magazines like Commentary and the Weekly Standard regularly traffic in the crudest stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims, and promote the harshest measures for dealing with them. Musing over the appropriateness of targeting Palestinian civilians during the Gaza conflict, Standard contributing editor Michael Goldfarb wrote approvingly, “To wipe out a man’s entire family, it’s hard to imagine that doesn’t give his colleagues at least a moment’s pause.”

Martin Kramer, a fellow at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and frequent AIPAC panelist, took things even further, suggesting that Israel’s siege on Gaza, could, by depressing population growth, “crack the culture of martyrdom, which demands a constant supply of superfluous young men.”

In 2007, in what could be seen as a precursor to the current uproar over the Park 51 Islamic cultural center, Middle East Forum Director Daniel Pipes played a key role in flaming controversy over the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a planned New York City public school emphasizing the study of Arabic language and culture. Pipes asserted that such a school represented a potential threat simply by virtue of teaching Arabic.

It would be wrong, however, to pretend that these sorts of smears have been the work solely of conservatives. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a liberal who promotes himself as Israel’s leading public defender, regularly rehearses the most clownish calumnies against Israel’s adversaries, real and perceived. Citing the Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini’s collaboration with the Nazis, Dershowitz wrote, “the Palestinian leadership, supported by the Palestinian masses, played a significant role in Hitler’s Holocaust.” The obviously ahistorical stupidity of that claim aside, it hardly needs pointing out that a similar attempt to lay collective blame upon Jews would be immediately — and rightly — condemned, by Dershowitz and others.

Hatred of Arabs has also had a home in one of America’s oldest and best-respected liberal magazines, The New Republic, for over three decades, courtesy of owner and editor-in-chief Marty Peretz, who never seems to tire of identifying ways in which Arab society is “hidebound and backward,” as he wrote in 2007. Observing the devastation in Iraq, Peretz wrote: “I actually believe that Arabs are feigning outrage when they protest what they call American (or Israeli) ‘atrocities.’ They are not shocked at all by what in truth must seem to them not atrocious at all. It is routine in their cultures.” Peretz reiterated that view in September of this year. “Frankly, Muslim life is cheap, especially for Muslims,” he wrote. “This is a statement of fact, not value.”

While it’s tempting to dismiss Peretz as a racist old kook, he does serve as editor-in-chief of a major magazine, and he has been able to help define the boundaries of acceptable liberal discourse for 30 years. And he has chosen through those years to place the most retrograde anti-Arab, anti-Muslim bigotry — including constant denials of Palestinian nationhood — within those boundaries.

It wasn’t so long ago that Jews in America were targets of similar slander and knee-jerk opposition. Liberal American Jews have been at the forefront of all of America’s struggles against bigotry, but they need to do a better job of calling out the hate in their own communities. Moderate Muslims are often called upon to condemn the extreme rhetoric of their co-religionists. It is not too much, at long last, to call upon moderate Zionists to do the same.

Matthew Duss is National Security Editor at the Center for American Progress.

 

Jillian York: The Denial of Islamophobia

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on July 27, 2010 by loonwatch

A good piece from Jillian York in the Huffington Post.

Paranoid Politics: The Denial of Islamophobia

By Jillian York

Imagine a fairly widespread, fairly mainstream ethos in which politicians, pundits, and academics convened to denigrate practitioners of Christianity or Judaism. Imagine that these commentators picked apart the New or Old Testament to find its most heinous contents, then used those phrases to justify their hatred and distrust. Imagine a world in which this was utterly acceptable, even encouraged. Now turn on your television.

The debate over the proposed Muslim community center near Ground Zero and the more recent community mobilization against a Muslim group’s attempted purchase of a vacant convent in Staten Island are indicative of the unhealthy Islamophobia that has taken root in right-wing American politics. Far from being a fact-based movement, its leaders and thinkers propagate falsehoods and myths towards the discriminatory goal of silencing Muslims in America.

This type of race and religion-baiting politics is not at all new. The tactics and orientation of those opposing Muslim-American institutions bring to mind what Richard Hofstadter called “the paranoid style in American politics.” Hofstadter, writing in 1964, described the hallmarks of this style: “heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy.”

The idea that a vast Muslim conspiracy exists to take over the United States and Europe from within is simply ridiculous. Yet it serves as the grounds for their opposition to the freedom of American Muslims to practice their religion in their own communities, such as Staten Island.

The inherent suspiciousness of the anti-Islam movement is so rich that its participants are unable to reconcile the contradiction between their narrative of secretive Islamic terrorists pursuing “jihad” and the high-profile, publicly conciliatory moves such as the Cordoba Initiative’s efforts to purchase a building near Ground Zero and convert it into a public community center. In opposing both the secretive and the public display of Muslimness, they reveal that their actual goal is simply the silencing of Muslims in America. This is most clearly displayed in the way they claim to only target militant extremists, and then proceed to include the most mainstream and popular Muslim organizations in that category.

Within their narrative of a hateful religion bent on the destruction of the West, opposing any form of Islam in America comes out as justifiable. However, it closes them off to the actual practices and beliefs of the vast majority of Muslims in the United States and the world. They are intentionally ignorant because, as Hofstadter wrote, “The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms — he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values.” Though Hofstadter wrote of fears over Masonic and Jesuit conspiracies, his descriptions are easily applied to the anti-Islam movement.

It is ironic that in Staten Island so many Catholic parishioners sought to block the sale of an empty convent to the Muslim American Society (MAS) because they feared the spread of Islamic extremism, or what one group crudely calls “the Islamization of America.” They contend that MAS is the “public face” of the Muslim Brotherhood despite the fact that both organizations deny a link and none has been found by America’s now 900,000-strong intelligence community. Such flimsy evidence is common to the paranoid crowd.

A case about which Hofstadter wrote was the trend of anti-Catholicism in 19th century America, which took the form of heightened suspicion of Jesuits. It was in much the same manner as today’s suspicion of Muslims. Hofstadter cites the example of an 1855 Texas newspaper article, which read, “It is a notorious fact that the Monarchs of Europe and the Pope of Rome are at this very moment plotting our destruction and threatening the extinction of our political, civil, and religious institutions.”

Such rhetoric is never entirely without evidence. Participants in the anti-Islam movement are often quick to point to the 9/11 attacks, as well as subsequent attacks around the world, as justification for their hatred of Islam. The evidence of linkage is often weak. They may cite these attacks as reasons for denying the sale of the convent without showing that MAS was responsible for any.

The Islamophobe is unable to deal with complexity. They do not mention the fact that numerous Muslims died as victims of the 9/11 attacks, that Muslims have been in the United States for hundreds of years, and that the vast majority of American Muslims condemned the attacks on civilians as contradictory to the tenets of Islam.

They even go to the extent of denying the most clearly formed and documented counter-evidence. For example, in a recent debate over the proposed mosque on Staten Island on Russia Today’s Alyona Show, Pamela Geller–a blogger and self-styled “expert” on Islam and jihad–claimed that backlash against Muslims in the United States following the events of September 11, 2001 has been “non-existent”:

“there is no Muslim backlash…that’s part of this Islamic narrative…you cannot cite any hate crimes…there have been no hate crimes…America has gone out of her way to make sure that there is no backlash.”

In reality, hate crimes perpetrated against Muslims since 2001 and particularly in the years immediately following are well-documented. Just three years after the attacks, a report by the Council on American-Islamic relations found that in 2004, more than 1,500 hundred cases of anti-Muslim harassment and violence occurred, including 141 documented hate crimes, a fifty percent increase from the 2003.

Nine years after the attacks, the attitude toward Muslims in America that allows such attacks to continue, an attitude perpetuated by bloggers like Geller, show no signs of abating. According to a February 2010 report from the The United States Department of Justice, its Civil Rights division, along with the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys offices, have investigated “over 800 incidents since 9/11 involving violence, threats, vandalism and arson against Arab-Americans, Muslims, Sikhs, South-Asian Americans and other individuals perceived to be of Middle Eastern origin.”

Geller is by no means alone in her attempts to deny the existence of Islamophobia. Though Tea Party leader Mark Williams was recently ousted for his racist diatribe directed at the NAACP, comments made months earlier in which he referred to Muslims as worshipping a “monkey god,” went almost unnoticed by the media. Right-wing pundit Pat Robertson has regularly referred to Islam as a “fascist group” on television, and academic Daniel Pipes has denied the existence of Islamophobia entirely, asking:

“What exactly constitutes an “undue fear of Islam” when Muslims acting in the name of Islam today make up the premier source of worldwide aggression, both verbal and physical, versus non-Muslims and Muslims alike? What, one wonders, is the proper amount of fear?”

Even the Wikipedia article for “Islamophobia” contains an entire section on the debate surrounding the term. Of course, Wikipedia is a crowdsourced project, but perhaps that makes it all the more telling, and reflective of popular opinion. The page for “anti-Semitism” contains no debate, nor is it likely that any would be accepted by the public; while anti-Semitism means, rightly, social death, Islamophobia might get you a television spot, a column in a newspaper, or academic tenure.

In the paranoid Islamophobic mind, Islam is the perpetrator. Thus, Muslims cannot be victims. Islam is a monolith, acting in coordination towards the nefarious end of overturning Western civilization, according to their paranoid schema. So how could Muslims be anything but ill-willed? How could they be victims of any backlash when the West equals civilization and Islam so clearly conflicts with that idea? Were these views merely flights of personal fantasy, they would be harmless. The danger is that they have become part of the mainstream and are denying the freedom of Muslims to practice their religion, a freedom enshrined in the Constitution.

Luckily, significant portions of Americans who work or study with, live next to, or otherwise interact with, American Muslims, reject the simplistic hate-mongering of these groups. However, if Islamophobes really believe Muslims are a grave threat, the kind of post-9/11 violent backlash against them will grow.

Hofstadter would even predict that Islamophobes, like other paranoid movements in the past, would become more like the enemy they project. He pointed out that the “Ku Klux Klan imitated Catholicism to the point of donning priestly vestments, developing an elaborate ritual and an equally elaborate hierarchy.” Also, the John Birch Society emulated “Communist cells and quasi-secret operation through ‘front’ groups, and preache[d] a ruthless prosecution of the ideological war along lines very similar to those it finds in the Communist enemy.”

The best hope is that Islamophobia be pushed back into the fringes and local and federal authorities aggressively prosecute anti-Muslim violence and discrimination. Concerned communities should engage in dialogue with Muslims and their organizations, and learn more about them, rather than rely on the types of prejudices and paranoia being hawked by Islamophobes.

 

GOP Senate Candidate Waging “Stealth Jihad” against the US Government

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2010 by loonwatch
Sharron Angle calls for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government and a “return” to Biblical Law.

Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle has made some very interesting statements about what could happen if the ballot box fails:

“You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. In fact Thomas Jefferson said it’s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope that’s not where we’re going, but, you know, if this, this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? And I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”

Source: Washington Post

“The nation is arming. What are they arming for, if it isn’t that they are so distrustful of their government? They’re afraid they’ll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways? That’s why I look at this as almost an imperative. If we don’t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?”

Speaking to Reno Gazette Journal on May 30, 2010:

“I feel that the Second Amendment is the right to keep and bear arms for our citizenry. This is not for someone who’s in the military. This is not for law enforcement. This is for us. And in fact when you read that Constitution and the founding fathers, they intended this to stop tyranny. This is for us when our government becomes tyrannical…Well it’s to defend ourselves. And you know, I’m hoping that we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems.”

Source: Huffington Post

Just to remind our dear readers, the Second Amendment reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

So, is this incitement to armed insurrection? Is this a call to violence if “we don’t win at the ballot box”? What are the “Second Amendment remedies”?

Sharron Angle’s “stealth jihad” campaign against the U.S. government is waged on behalf of the Christian not Islamic flag.  She doesn’t want to replace our secular and liberal form of government with Sharia law, but Biblical Law.  If you think of Sharia as stoning adulterers, guess which book that comes from?  It’s from none other than the Bible.  (Of course, it would be unfair to link stoning–found in the Bible–to Sharron Angle, since her interpretation of Biblical Law may not entail this, but this never stops Christian right-wingers from saying every Muslim who believes in Sharia advocates a return to stoning.)

Anyways, here’s more about Angle’s background:

Sharron Angle, Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Nevada was, in the 1990s, a member of the Independent American Party, the Nevada affiliate of the Constitution Party.  The Constitution Party is not merely a political party that supports the Constitution, but rather a party that promotes a very specific interpretation of the Constitution: based on founder Howard Phillips’ Christian Reconstruction.

The Constitution Party’s platform advocates “returning” American law to its “foundations” in “Biblical Law.” The notion that the First Amendment’s religion clauses provide for a separation of church and state is rejected…They contend that the founders always understood the U.S. to be a Christian nation founded on biblical law.

source: ReligionDispatches.org

Can you imagine the reaction if she had been a Muslim? What if a Muslim candidate for public office – any public office, even if it is Chief Librarian (or the prestigious position of Miss America) – calls for “Second Amendment remedies”? What if a Muslim candidate for public office said, “If we don’t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?”  What if Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison said that, or any of the “army of Muslim spy interns” supposedly trying to topple our government?  And what if these Muslims advocating violent overthrow believed in “returning” American law to Sharia-based law?  Do you think that such a Muslim would have a semblance of a political career left?

I will tell you the answer: people would be saying that such a Muslim candidate should be sent to jail for incitement to murder and terrorism; that Muslim candidate would be demonized to no end.  At minimum, he/she would be forced to resign, amid a fury of calls for his/her head.  And Spencer, Geller, and Co. would be screaming “Stealth Jihad!” “Taqiyya!” “Dhimmitude!” until the cows…no, I’m sorry, the pigs come home.

This incident highlights the fact that right wing extremism–of which extremist Christians comprise a large chunk of–remains a grave threat to this country just as radical Islam does.  Right-wing extremism is certainly more of a threat to our liberal way of life than the imaginary “stealth jihad” that loyal Muslim-American citizens are continually accused of–a fact that holds true even if it doesn’t conform to the narrative imagined by right wing Islamophobes.  We also wonder: why are Muslim-Americans always skeptically cross-examined by Christian right-wingers about their loyalty to this country, but meanwhile these same Christian right-wingers openly call for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government?