Archive for Republican Party

Newt Gingrich: Leading GOP Presidential Candidate: “Palestinians are ‘invented’ People”

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2011 by loonwatch

What if a Muslim leader said that the Israelis are “invented” people? It would be cause to saber rattle against the said nation or drop bombs on them.

Gingrich calls Palestinians ‘invented’ people

(AlJazeera)

Republican White House hopeful Newt Gingrich has stirred controversy by calling the Palestinians an “invented” people who could have chosen to live elsewhere.

The former House of Representatives speaker, who is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for the 2012 presidential race, made the remarks in an interview with the US Jewish Channel broadcaster released on Friday.

Asked whether he considers himself a Zionist, he answered: “I believe that the Jewish people have the right to a state … Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire” until the early 20th century,

“I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab
community.

“And they had a chance to go many places, and for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and it’s tragic.”

Most historians mark the start of Palestinian Arab nationalist sentiment in 1834, when Arab residents of the Palestinian region revolted against Ottoman rule.

Israel, founded amid the 1948 Arab-Israel war, took shape along the lines of a 1947 UN plan for ethnic partition of the
then-British ruled territory of Palestine which Arabs rejected.

More than 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their lands by Zionist armed groups in 1948, in an episode Palestinians refer to as the Nakba or “catastrophe”.

‘Irrational hostility’

Gingrich’s comments drew a swift rebuke from a spokesman for the American Task Force on Palestine, Hussein Ibish, who said: “There was no Israel and no such thing as an “Israeli people” before 1948.

“So the idea that Palestinians are ‘an invented people’ while Israelis somehow are not is historically indefensible and inaccurate.

“Such statements seem to merely reflect deep historical ignorance and an irrational hostility towards Palestinian identity and nationalism.”

Sabri Saidam, adviser to the Palestinian president, told Al Jazeera, “This is a manifestation of extreme racism and this is a reflection of where America stands sad, when Palestinians don’t get their rights…this is sad and America should respond with a firm reaction to such comments that, if let go, more of which will come our way,”

“Let me ask Newt Gingrich if he would ever entertain the thought of addressing Indian Americans by saying that they never existed, that they were the invention of a separate nation, would that be tolerated?”

“Let’s also reverse the statement; let’s put ourselves in “the shoe of Jews who are listening now. Would they ever accept such statements being made about them?”

Saidam said, “I think it’s time that America rejects such statements and closes the door to such horrendous and unacceptable statements.”

Gingrich also sharply criticised US President Barack Obama’s approach to Middle East diplomacy, saying that it was ”so out of touch with reality that it would be like taking your child to the zoo and explaining that a lion was a bunny rabbit.”

He said Obama’s effort to treat the Palestinians the same as the Israelis is actually “favouring the terrorists”.

“If I’m even-handed between a civilian democracy that obeys the rule of law and a group of terrorists that are firing missiles every day, that’s not even-handed, that’s favouring the terrorists,” he said.

He also said the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, share an “enormous desire to destroy Israel”.

The Palestinian Authority, which rules the occupied West Bank, formally recognises Israel’s right to exist.

President Mahmoud Abbas has long forsworn violence against Israel as a means to secure an independent state, pinning his hopes first on negotiations and more recently on a unilateral bid for statehood via the UN.

Gingrich, along with other Republican candidates, are seeking to attract Jewish in the US support by vowing to bolster Washington’s ties with Israel if elected.

He declared his world view was “pretty close” to that of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and vowed to take “a much more tougher-minded, and much more honest approach to the Middle East” if elected.

Rick Santorum Claims He Supports TSA Using Ethnic And Religious Profiling Of Younger Muslim Males

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on November 23, 2011 by loonwatch

It just gets crazier in the GOP.

Rick Santorum Claims He Supports TSA Using Ethnic And Religious Profiling Of Younger Muslim Males

Andrea Stone (Huffington Post)

http://www.5min.com/Video/Santorum-Muslims-Should-Be-Profiled-517212363

One of the most devout Christians in the GOP field endorsed singling out Muslims for extra screening by the Transportation Security Administration while the only African-American candidate called for racial profiling by another name.

“Obviously, Muslims would be someone you look at, absolutely,” said former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. “The radical Muslims are the people committing these crimes, by and large, with younger males” also deserving of more scrutiny at airport checkpoints.

Herman Cain said he was in favor of “targeted identification,” another way of saying some people look more suspicious than others. “If you take a look at the people who have tried to kill us it would be easy to identify what that profile looks like.” But when moderator Wolf Blitzer suggested that focusing on one sort of person would be like sngling out Christians or Jews, Cain rejected the premise as “simplifying.”

Rep. Ron Paul, as is wont in these debates, differed from his rivals. After Santorum noted that Muslims would be “your best candidates” for extra screening, the Texas congressman said, “What if they look like Timothy McVeigh?” referring to the white Christian ex-soldier convicted in 1995′s Oklahoma City bombing.

“That’s digging a hole for ourselves,” Paul said.

Broward GOP Treats Muslims Worse Than Other Republicans

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by loonwatch

Allen West with Pamela “the loon” Geller

NPR exposes Allen West’s antagonistic attitude toward Islam and Muslims.

CAIR: Broward GOP Treats Muslims Worse Than Other Republicans

by Lisa Rab (Broward New Times)

U.S. Rep. Allen West has already tried to end federal funding for National Public Radio. But if he needed another reason to hate NPR, yesterday’s “All Things Considered” segment should do the the trick.
The story explored West’s view of Islam as a “totalitarian, theocratic, political ideology,” and his ongoing rhetorical battle with Nezar Hamze, the executive director of the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. No news there — the West/Hamze controversy has already been well-documented on the Pulp. But NPR took the story one step further, suggesting that Broward Republicans were more anti-Muslim than their GOP comrades in other states.

Last month, Hamze attempted to join the Broward Republican Executive Committee, and was soundly rejected by a “pit of discrimination.”

Yet committee chairman Richard DeNapoli told NPR:  ”I really don’t think this had anything to do with religion. It’s just that this was a widely known circumstance where he had made statements against Allen West, and the members reacted to that.”

Strike one. Broward Republicans will defend West to the end, even if it makes them look like bigots on national radio. But wait, there’s more!

“CAIR officials say they have good relations with other Republicans, but that in South Florida at least, the Republican Party and their Tea Party supporters have made Muslims feel unwelcome,”  NPR reporter Greg Allen said.

Ouch. This means South Florida — a predominantly Democratic area– is allegedly more prejudiced against Muslims than other Republican strongholds.

Congratulations, Broward. You are the new Strom Thurmond.

Ron Paul’s Unforgivable Sin of Opposing America’s Sacred Wars, And Why Are Muslims So Warlike?

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2011 by loonwatch
Image taken from kickapathy.com

As the GOP debates and subsequent presidential campaigns unfold, one very popular Republican candidate will get the cold shoulder from the mainstream media machine: the esteemable Congressman and good doctor Ron Paul. No matter how many straw polls the man wins, no matter how much money he raises from enthusiastic supporters, and no matter how many soldiers enlist in the Ron Paul Army, nothing will make him a Serious Candidate in the eyes of the mainstream media. He is Unserious–a Fringe Candidate who stands no chance of winning an election.

A self-fulfilling prophecy is put into effect: the MSM refuses to cover him “because he can never win an election;” because he receives no MSM coverage, he can never win an election.

As Glenn Greenwald puts it:

They are also vital in bolstering orthodoxies and narrowing the range of permitted views.  Few episodes demonstrate how that works better than the current disappearing of Ron Paul, all but an “unperson” in Orwellian terms.  He just finished a very close second to Michele Bachmann in the Ames poll, yet while she went on all five Sunday TV shows and dominated headlines, he was barely mentioned.  He has raised more money than any GOP candidate other than Romney, and routinely polls in the top 3 or 4 of GOP candidates in national polls, yet — as Jon Stewart and Politico‘s Roger Simon have both pointed out — the media have decided to steadfastly pretend he does not exist, leading to absurdities like this:

And this:

.

What has Ron Paul done to earn the wrath of the mainstream media and the Very Serious Establishment? Paul certainly has some strange views when it comes to the budget: strangulating medicare, medicaid, and welfare, as well as cutting funding for education and other vital public programs. Yet, it is unlikely that any of these political stances could ostracize him or make him Unserious, since some Very, Very Serious Republican candidates hold similar views on such issues.

What makes Dr. Paul stand out from the rest of the pack are his views with regard to the war and civil liberties–his complete rejection of the so-called War on Terror. He rejects the conventional wisdom that necessitates endless wars to Keep Us Safe against Terrorism. Paul refuses to cheerlead America’s Endless Wars, and is brave enough to point out the injustices in our foreign policy. Paul points out that if we point one finger at the Evil Muslim Enemy, four fingers point back at us.

For pointing out that the emperor wears no clothes, Ron Paul earns the contempt of Serious Journalists, who ensure that Paul is marginalized. He must be silenced and made irrelevant.  When he speaks about such topics in the press, people get antsy.  So the establishment desperately attempts to shut him up.

Greenwald says (emphasis added):

There are many reasons why the media is eager to disappear Ron Paul despite his being a viable candidate by every objective metric…

But what makes the media most eager to disappear Paul is that he destroys the easy, conventional narrative — for slothful media figures and for Democratic loyalists alike. Aside from the truly disappeared former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (more on him in a moment), Ron Paul is far and away the most anti-war, anti-Surveillance-State, anti-crony-capitalism, and anti-drug-war presidential candidate in either party…That the similarly anti-war, pro-civil-liberties, anti-drug-war Gary Johnson not even allowed in media debates — despite being a twice-elected popular governor — highlights the same dynamic…

The steadfast ignoring of Ron Paul — and the truly bizarre un-personhood of Gary Johnson — has ensured that, yet again, those views will be excluded…

Paul and Johnson committed the unforgivable crime of opposing war (not just one war, but all of America’s wars), and for this they will be punished. For this, they will never be able to even dream of being considered a Serious presidential nominee, let alone President of the United States.  The media’s selection of who is Serious and who is Unserious is all a part of the manufactured consent that Noam Chomksy so eloquently wrote about many years ago.

Think about that for a minute: our country is so absolutely and steadfastly pro-war that there is no room for peaceniks. The Just War theory forbids war except in self-defense. None of America’s many wars fits this description: that’s quite easy to see when we note that our troops are deployed in far away, foreign lands. We’re not defending ourselves from an invader who occupies Southern California or who is stationed in Maine. Even the thought of another nation’s army marching into any U.S. state is completely unthinkable, almost as unrealistic as Martians landing on earth.  We have no need to engage in Just War since we are actually very, very safe and secure–our defense is virtually impregnable, such that there is no plausible scenario where our territory could be occupied or our capital advanced upon.

My point is: if a person believed in the Just War theory and rejected war except when it fulfilled those very narrow conditions, it would then be necessary to reject each of America’s wars. But doing so would mean departing from the acceptable parameters of national debate; it would mean becoming part of the Fringe and Unserious.

One simply simply cannot be taken Seriously unless one is a war-monger. Is it not strange that such a nation as this would somehow be absolutely mystified that another peoples, those living under the boots of their American or Israeli occupiers, would glorify jihad?

One simply must be a warmonger in America to be taken Seriously–as the current president himself is and all of the Serious presidential candidates are–yet somehow Those Warlike Moozlums Over There are so violent for glorifying jihad against the occupier.

Truly opposing the concept of wars of aggression (the supreme international crime)–to have a minimum commitment to peace by at least adhering to the Just War doctrine–does not mean simply opposing one of America’s wars and accepting another. Many of those on the Left somehow think they aren’t war-mongers even while they strongly supported (and some continue to support) the Afghanistan war.  After all, what can we think about a people who respond in such a brutal manner–devastating an entire country (and then another after that)–in retaliation for one terrorist attack (committed by a non-state actor no less) except that they are warlike? Even Ron Paul himself initially voted to invade Afghanistan, although he redeemed himself by becoming an outspoken critic of the war. Yet there continue to exist liberals who support the Afghanistan war, even while they think of themselves as “peaceful.”

War is so sacred in America that truly opposing war makes a presidential candidate Unserious and un-electable.  How truly grave a political sin this is can be gauged by the fact that Ron Paul is now Unserious, even while Michelle Bachman is slowly being considered a Serious candidate. Newt Gingrich is a Very Serious candidate, even though he has supported virulently anti-Muslim propaganda and the absolutely loony, fear-mongering idea of “stealth jihad” and “creeping sharia.” Those ideas aren’t Unserious enough to warrant exclusion from the mainstream media’s blessing, but opposing war is an automatic trip to the Unserious waste bin. Unabashed bigotry is acceptable whereas peacemaking is Unserious, Fringe, and unacceptable.

* * * * *

Would you consider voting for Ron Paul?  Why or why not? Let us know in the comments’ section below.

Amy Sullivan: The sharia myth sweeps America

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2011 by loonwatch

The boogey monster of a Sharia’ takeover has been sweeping America. Here is a newsflash: Sharia’ law will never replace the Constitution.

Column: The sharia myth sweeps America

by Amy Sullivan (USA Today)

If you are not vitally concerned about the possibility of radical Muslims infiltrating the U.S. government and establishing a Taliban-style theocracy, then you are not a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. In addition to talking about tax policy and Afghanistan, Republican candidates have also felt the need to speak out against the menace of “sharia.”

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum refers to sharia as “an existential threat” to the United States. Pizza magnate Herman Cain declared in March that he would not appoint a Muslim to a Cabinet position or judgeship because “there is this attempt to gradually ease sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government.”

The generally measured campaign of former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty leapt into panic mode over reports that during his governorship, a Minnesota agency had created a sharia-compliant mortgage program to help Muslim homebuyers. “As soon as Gov. Pawlenty became aware of the issue,” spokesman Alex Conant assured reporters, “he personally ordered it shut down.”

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has been perhaps the most focused on the sharia threat. “We should have a federal law that says under no circumstances in any jurisdiction in the United States will sharia be used,” Gingrich announced at last fall’s Values Voters Summit. He also called for the removal of Supreme Court justices (a lifetime appointment) if they disagreed.

Gingrich’s call for a federal law banning sharia has gone unheeded so far. But at the local level, nearly two dozen states have introduced or passed laws in the past two years to ban the use of sharia in court cases.

Despite all of the activity to monitor and restrict sharia, however, there remains a great deal of confusion about what it actually is. It’s worth taking a look at some facts to understand why an Islamic code has become such a watchword in the 2012 presidential campaign.

What is sharia?

More than a specific set of laws, sharia is a process through which Muslim scholars and jurists determine God’s will and moral guidance as they apply to every aspect of a Muslim’s life. They study the Quran, as well as the conduct and sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, and sometimes try to arrive at consensus about Islamic law. But different jurists can arrive at very different interpretations of sharia, and it has changed over the centuries.

Importantly, unlike the U.S. Constitution or the Ten Commandments, there is no one document that outlines universally agreed upon sharia.

Then how do Muslim countries use sharia for their systems of justice?

There are indeed some violent and extreme interpretations of sharia. That is what the Taliban used to rule Afghanistan. In other countries, sharia may be primarily used to govern contracts and other agreements. And in a country like Turkey, which is majority Muslim, the national legal system is secular, although individual Muslims may follow sharia in their personal religious observances such as prayer and fasting. In general, to say that a person follows sharia is to say that she is a practicing Muslim.

How and when is it used in U.S. courts?

Sharia is sometimes consulted in civil cases with Muslim litigants who may request a Muslim arbitrator. These may involve issues of marriage contracts or commercial agreements, or probating an Islamic will. They are no different than the practice of judges allowing orthodox Jews to resolve some matters in Jewish courts, also known as beth din.

U.S. courts also regularly interpret foreign law in commercial disputes between two litigants from different countries, or custody agreements brokered in another country. In those cases, Islamic law is treated like any other foreign law or Catholic canon law.

What about extreme punishments like stoning or beheading?

U.S. judges may decide to consider foreign law or religious codes like sharia, but that doesn’t mean those laws override the Constitution. We have a criminal justice system that no outside law can supersede. Additionally, judges consider foreign laws only if they choose to — they can always refuse to recognize a foreign law.

So if sharia is consulted only in certain cases and only at the discretion of the court, why has it become such a high priority for states and GOP candidates? One answer is that sharia opponents believe they need to act not to prevent the way Islamic law is currently used in the U.S. but to prevent a coming takeover by Muslim extremists. The sponsor of an Oklahoma measure banning sharia approved by voters last fall described it as “a pre-emptive strike.” Others, like the conservative Center for Security Policy, assert that all Muslims are bound to work to establish an Islamic state in the U.S.

But if that was true — and the very allegation labels every Muslim in America a national security threat — the creeping Islamic theocracy movement is creeping very slowly. Muslims first moved to the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, for example, nearly a century ago to work in Henry Ford‘s factories. For most of the past 100 years, Dearborn has been home to the largest community of Arabs in the U.S. And yet after five or six generations, Dearborn’s Muslims have not sought to see the city run in accordance with sharia. Bars and the occasional strip clubs dot the town’s avenues, and a pork sausage factory is located next to the city’s first mosque.

Maybe Dearborn’s Muslims are just running a very drawn-out head fake on the country. It’s hard to avoid the more likely conclusion, however, that politicians who cry “Sharia!” are engaging in one of the oldest and least-proud political traditions — xenophobic demagoguery. One of the easiest ways to spot its use is when politicians carelessly throw around a word simply because it scares some voters.

Take Gerald Allen, the Alabama state senator who was moved by the danger posed by sharia to sponsor a bill banning it — but who, when asked for a definition, could not say what sharia was. “I don’t have my file in front of me,” he told reporters. “I wish I could answer you better.” In Tennessee, lawmakers sought to make following sharia a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison — until they learned that their effort would essentially make it illegal to be Muslim in their state.

During last year’s Senate race in Nevada, GOP candidate Sharon Angle blithely asserted that Dearborn, as well as a small town in Texas, currently operate under sharia law. And Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann used the occasion of Osama bin Laden’s death to tie the terrorist mastermind to the word: “It is my hope that this is the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism.”

The anti-communist Red Scare of the 1950s made broad use of guilt by innuendo and warnings about shadowy conspiracies. If GOP candidates insist they are not doing the same thing to ordinary Muslims, they can prove it by explaining what they believe sharia is and whether they’re prepared to ban the consideration of all religious codes from civil arbitration. Anything less is simply fear mongering.

Amy Sullivan is a contributing writer at Time and author of The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap.

Shocking anti-Muslim Hate Video in Orange County, California

Posted in Feature, Loon Pastors, Loon Politics, Loon Rabbis, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2011 by loonwatch

A shocking and vitriolic display of hate against Muslims attending a charity event for battered women in Yorba Linda, California. They are abused with calls of “Go home,” and “terrorist,” little children are subjected to it as well. A Villa Park Councilwoman named Deborah Pauly echoes the rhetoric ofPamela Geller and even calls for the murder of participants (who she labels “Terrorists”) at the charity event. In an ironic moment she justified her statements by saying, “I don’t even care, I don’t even care if you think I’m crazy anymore.” Ummm, yeah…someone get her a straight jacket because she might not care but we do.

There was also somebody sounding a Shofar (Ram’s horn) which while being used for prayer was also used in Biblical Times to call to War, and in this context it seems quite clear that it is being used as a call to war and intimidation. Why the hell would someone bring a shofar to protest a Muslim charity event?

Do we need any clearer evidence that Islamophobia exists?:

http://www.youtube.com/e/e6t6d9YBuFM

These hatemongers are ACT! for America (we’ve been exposing them as a hate group for quite some time) and the ideological children of Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and David Horowitz.

We Need a Campaign to Expose These Politicians and Question Their Participation in this Hate-Fest:

Ask Congressman Gary Miller why he participated in this event, ask him to distance himself from these goons and condemn them,

Washington, DC
Write or visit:
2349 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Phone: 202-225-3201
Fax: 202-226-6962

Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00am to 5:30pm Eastern, or anytime the House is in session (Current House Floor Proceedings).  Closed federal holidays.

Brea, CA
Write or visit:
1800 E. Lambert Road
Suite 150
Brea, CA 92821

Phone: 714-257-1142
Fax: 714-257-9242

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm Pacific.  Closed federal holidays.

Mission Viejo, CA
Write or visit:
200 Civic Center
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

Phone: 949-470-8484

Hours: Second and fourth Tuesday of each month, 9:00am to 5:00pm Pacific.  Closed federal holidays.

Residents of California’s 42nd Congressional District can send me an email by first entering their zip code below. If you’re unsure of your congressional representative, visit www.house.gov/writerep.

Ed Royce was also at the event espousing strong nativist sentiments and sounding very Geert Wilders-ish by decrying “multi-culturalism.” Message to Ed, “This isn’t Europe buddy.”

Contact him:

DISTRICT OFFICE
1110 E. Chapman Ave, Suite 207
Orange, CA 92866
T (714) 744-4130 F (714) 744-4056

WASHINGTON, DC OFFICE
2185 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
T (202) 225-4111

Deborah “Don’t care if I’am crazy” Pauly can be contacted at dpauly@villapark.org.

 

Lawrence Davidson: Islamophobia as a Form of Paranoid Politics

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2011 by loonwatch

Islamophobia as a Form of Paranoid Politics

by Lawrence Davidson

I) The Historical Prevalence of Paranoid Thinking in America

It was forty six years ago, in the year 1964, that the historian Richard Hofstadter observed that “American politics has often been the arena of angry minds….Behind this, I believe, there is a style of mind that is far from new….I call it the paranoid style because simply no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind” (Richard Hofstadter, “Paranoid Style in American Politics” Harpers Magazine, November, 1964).

In his essay Hofstadter recounts the almost continuous presence of the paranoid style of thinking in American politics from colonial times right into the modern period.  It is to be noted that Hofstadter covers only national or nearly national instances of American paranoia. Those local political “exaggerations, suspicions and conspiracy fantasies” must also certainly exist to complement the more widespread versions. Some of the instances Hofstadter covers, along with others I have added, include anti-Catholicism in the colonies and, in the first years of national independence, a fear of a French style political terror.  Fear of Free Masons came next. Then followed waves of hysteria over various immigrant groups: Chinese, Irish, German, Italian, etc. Then came the Red Scares of the 1920s, followed by concentration camps for Japanese Americans during World War II.  After that there was fear of communism and McCarthyite persecution.  Then followed the paranoid reaction to the civil rights movement, and on it goes.  Every one of these episodes formed the basis for imagined enemies embedded in the homeland and seeking its ultimate destruction.

It would appear that people are most susceptible to these paranoid feelings and fears under conditions of cultural challenge and social uncertainty.  In turn, such uneasiness is subject to manipulation by assorted demagogues, the media and politicians in general.  This is particularly the case if outsiders are felt to be a source of trouble.  According to Hofstadter, the   claims that underlie paranoid politics are often cast in “apocalyptic terms….a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil.”   This being so, the enemy must be  “sinister, ubiquitous, cruel…seeking to deflect the normal course of history in an evil way.”  The espouser of such fantasies may or may not believe his or her own message. Nonetheless, they will surely present themselves as standing on the “barricades of civilization”  fending off the barbarians. Under the circumstances, compromise is quite out of the question.  “Total triumph” is what is called for.

II) Why Paranoid Politics May Be So Prevalent

There is something psychologically elemental about this situation. The tendency to fear outsiders, and to suspect that in the unknown lurks sinister dangers to one’s way of life as well as one’s person, seems to always to be a ready societal potential.  This may be a consequence of what I term natural localness.   That is, the natural preference of most human beings is to orient their lives locally and to be uneasy with that which is foreign.  This can even be thought of in Darwinian terms.  We know that in the course of its evolution the human mind became “equipped with faculties to master the local environment and outwit denizens” (Steven Pinker, How The Mind Works, 1997, 352).  Thus, we all pay particular attention to our local arena because it supplies us with knowledge necessary to make useful and usually successful decisions, secure sustenance and avoid danger. In other words, a concentration on the local environment has survival value.  There are nature and nurture components to this.  There are biological, hard wired imperatives that make us group oriented and fear and danger sensitive.  On the other hand, how we manifest these imperatives is a function of what we learn from our personal experiences which, in turn, usually takes place within a localized cultural context, and is dependent on the quality of information available to us.  In our immediate daily environment we can be responsible for gathering the necessary information. Beyond the horizon, however, the issue of information and its reliability becomes problematic.

Natural localness is not just a phenomenon experienced by the individual.  It is also a group orientation.  Culture is a community affair.  For most community members it forms a bounded paradigm that flows from the customs and traditions of local and regional venues.   Local culture (now customized so as to be compatible with national culture) not only defines acceptable behaviors but, to a large extent, the very parameters of thought.  Therefore, the community’s culture establishes perceptual limits for the average person’s outlook.  This happens in such a “natural” way that it is largely unconscious.  The process of maintaining culture prioritizes group solidarity and that means differentiating the inside from the outside.    If you will, our “global village” remains significantly segregated into self-centered neighborhoods.

While there are good reasons why most of us are this way, natural localness has its obvious shortcomings.  It means that most of us live largely in ignorance about what is going on beyond the proverbial next hill. This ignorance can reinforce feelings of exclusiveness that reflect themselves in a suspicion of and dislike of outsiders.  As the cognitive psychologist Keith Oatley has written, “Our [evolutionary] forebears had a tendency to treat members of out-groups…with contempt and sometimes murderous aggression” (Keith Oatley,  Emotions, A Brief History, 2004, 29).  This tendency has not disappeared.  In a country as diverse as the United States, localness has helped create the Hofstadter paranoia that is constantly manifesting itself in phobic reactions occurring in proportion to our ignorance of one and other.   In this environment accurate information about the lifestyle and intentions of our neighbors is important to the maintenance of inter-group peace.  Yet, most often, we do not have such information and so the proclivity for negative feelings is subject to manipulation by those who present themselves as knowledgeable on these matters.

III)  Islamophobia, The Latest Case of Hofstadter Paranoia

To understand popular susceptibility to Hofstadter’s paranoid style is one thing.  To have  actually done something about it is another.  No really adequate effort has been made by American society to wean the population off these cyclical bouts of destructive trauma.  Certainly the great potential of our educational system to deliver purposeful and consistent training in tolerance has not been realized.  However, some positive ground has been gained through the use of the law.  The legislation that brought us civil rights laws is a particularly bright example.  However, without a purposeful follow-up as would be the case with nationwide tolerance training, the psychological impact of forty years of civil rights efforts has probably been no more than superficial.  As the reaction to a range of subsequent events from busing policies to the election of President Obama has shown, there is a frighteningly high number of “angry minds” out there who have never reconciled themselves to the fact of differences, be they based on color, ethnicity or religion.

The cyclical nature of  our paranoid episodes suggests that the conditions that provoke paranoid politics from theory into practice are always just under the surface of our national affairs.  And so we now come face to face with the latest manifestation of American paranoia, the phenomenon of Islamophobia. The history of how American Muslims became the latest target of Hofstadter’s form of malicious politics is the story of peaceful citizens brought into an unwanted spotlight by circumstances over which they had no control.

Muslims have been in what is now the United States since colonial times. Many of them were brought here as African slaves.  It is estimated that between 15 and 30% of the men brought to British North America as slaves were Muslims (Edward Curtis, Muslims in America, 2009, chapter 1).  There were also free Muslims in residence and at least one of them fought on the American side during the War of Independence.  (http://www.middle-east-studies.net/?p=2755)

The presence of these early American Muslims was recognized by the inclusion of the religion of Islam in the discussion on religious freedom in the early years of the nation’s history.  John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin all mentioned Islam in their arguments supporting the broadest possible religious freedom and tolerance.  This was the position of almost all those supporting the adoption of the Constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation.  Thus, from the very founding of the nation, a friendly regard toward individual Muslims was part of the American outlook.

Light levels of Muslim immigration into the U.S. kept this minority under the radar screen of paranoid politics through the 19th century.  It was also the fact that Muslim immigration was ethnically varied:  Albanians, Arabs, Bosnians, Turks, Syrians and even Chinese Muslims were in the mix.  Thus, while ethnic associations might cause some of these immigrants problems, religion usually did not.

Immigration picked up after World War I and the demise of the Ottoman Empire.  After World War II and the breakup of the European Colonial Empires, another immigrant wave of Muslims took place.  This meant that as the end of the 20th century approached there was a small but noticeable Muslim minority in the United States of between five and seven million people. (Tom W. Smith, “Estimating the Muslim population in the United States,” The American Jewish Committee, 2001).

Most of this community was socially and politically conservative.  They lived quietly and were by any standards loyal and appreciative citizens.  Unfortunately,  their compatriots in the Middle East were suffering quite another side of the American experience.   U.S. foreign policy in that area consistently supported dictatorships, some of which were quite oppressive toward politically active Muslim organizations.  In Lebanon the U.S. supported Christians against Muslims and with its support of Israel, the United States has abetted the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.  This sort of behavior had gone on since 1945 right up to the present yet, being far from their local lives, it was largely unknown to the American public. It was omitted from the media news or distorted to appear something that it was not,  policies protecting the “free world.”

In the end, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East was bound to result in an open conflict with indigenous Muslim groups seeking to reform the situation in their countries.  That in turn would change the perceptual landscape for most Americans in terms of Islam and Muslims.  This was because their ignorance of foreign policy opened the average American to the manipulation of a media and government that would now focus on the hostility of Muslims toward the U.S. while omitting mention of the American actions that brought that hostility forth.  If things turned bad enough American Muslims would become, in the eyes of their fellow citizens, guilty by association of anti-Americanism and thus candidates for Hofstadter’s paranoid politics.  On September 11, 2001 things got bad enough.

The September 11 attacks allowed those either prone to paranoid politics or possessing ulterior motives to imagine an Islamic conspiracy to subvert the United States.  Alleged Muslim intentions were seen as similar to communist aims during the Cold War.  Both groups were pictured as perpetrating vast conspiracies to take over the world.  Both were thought to have secret agents and sleeper cells in the U.S.  And both were pictured as hostile the American way of life.  Two particular groups in the U.S. quickly took advantage of this paranoid potential relative to Islam in order to push their agendas: American Zionists and American Christian fundamentalists.

The Zionists saw the potential of focusing paranoid politics on American Muslims as a way to marginalize a group that was often critical of Israel and its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.  Thus, the Zionist extremist Daniel Pipes has repeatedly called into question the loyalty of American Muslims and singled them out as somehow anti-American because, “a substantial” number of them “share with suicide hijackers a hatred of the United States.” (Paul Campos, A Dangerous Argument, Rocky Mountain News Jan. 4, 2005).  The Christian fundamentalists have a fear and loathing of Islam even older than that of the Zionists.  For the fundamentalists September 11 opened the door to a new crusade, to the renewal of the age old battle between Christendom and Islam now brought into the heartland of America.  Thus, Christian fundamentalist organizations in the state of Oklahoma, led by State Representative Rex Duncan, have pushed legislation that would prohibit the state’s courts from using Sharia law to decide any  cases. This nonsensical gesture (American courts are bound to use American law) was “passed overwhelmingly in both the house and senate” of Oklahoma. (Hailey Branson-Potts, OkGazette.com, “State Question 755,” October 6, 2010). At the foreign policy level, both groups lobbied for the invasion of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.

All of this means bad times for America’s Muslim citizens and residents.  Take the case of Safaa Fathy, a physiotherapist by trade and mother of three. She is a  resident of the small town of Murfreesboro in Tennessee.  “There is something around the whole United States, something different” she says.  “I was here since 1982.  I have three kids here and I never had any trouble.  My kids, they go to the girl scouts, they play basketball, they did all the normal activities.  It just started this year.  It’s strange, because after 9/11 there was no problem.” (Chris McGreal, “Muslims in America Increasingly Alienated,” Guardian.co.uk, September 23, 2010).  So what is the present problem?  It happens that Safaa Fathy is on the board of the local Islamic center which rumor now says is a “front for Islamic Jihad.”  She is also accused of plotting to force Sharia law on her neighbors, thus “threatening the existence of Christianity in the state of Tennessee.”  Why the time delay from 9/11?  Perhaps the process was slowed by George Bush Jr. publicly separating al-Qaeda and Islam proper.  Perhaps it just took this long to turn attacks on Muslims and those who appeared Muslim (such as the Sikhs) into a full scale, nationwide hate campaign.  Perhaps the trigger was the recent announcement by the 250 Muslims in Murfreesboro that they planned to expand the size of their mosque.

Another more national focus of the present paranoid campaign against American Muslims is the proposed Islamic center to be placed in an abandoned clothing store two blocks from “ground zero” in Manhattan.  The opposition to the center has brought together all of the paranoid political minds of America.  Publicity seeking Quran burners and  Christian fundamentalist supporters of Israel now travel comfortably with right wing Republicans, Tea Party Democrats and extremist Jewish Zionists as they claim that the Manhattan project is really a “training facility” for Muslims who want to take over America.

A particularly colorful character in this paranoid campaign is the American Zionist Pamela Geller.  She is one of America’s up and coming purveyors of Islamophobia (Anne Barnard and Alan Feuer, “Outraged and Outrageous” New York Times, October 8, 2010).  Ms Geller has, almost single handedly,  turned the debate over the proposed New York Islamic center into a clash of civilizations. Along with air time on Fox News,  Geller accomplished this through her blogg,  Atlas Shrugs.  This achievement must stand as a milestone in web history, though not a particularly wholesome one.

Geller is also co-founder of the Freedom Defense Initiative which is dedicated to stopping “Islamic supremacist initiatives in American cities” and identifying “infiltrators of our federal agencies.” She is also a founder of the organizationStop Islamization of America which, in the finest Orwellian fashion, describes itself as a “human rights organization.” It recently raised enough money to place advertisements on the sides of New York City buses identifying the Islam with the 9/11 attacks. The organization’s motto is “Racism is the lowest form of human stupidity, but Islamophobia is the height of common sense.”  She is an ally of any number of right wing politicians known for their anti-Islamic positions such as Newt Gingrich, John Bolton, Gary Berntsen, and the Dutch Islamophobe Geert Wilders.  And, she is a right-wing Zionist with connections to the West Bank settler movement.  This may be the real root of her anti-Islamic sentiments.

Geller is just the tip of the iceberg. There is much anti-Islamic rhetoric to be heard in the November 2010 political campaigning particularly in America’s Bible Belt, which U.S. fundamentalists describe as the center of America’s crusade against Islam.  That is why Lou Ann Zelnick, running for Congress in Tennessee as a Republican can claim that there is a secret conspiracy among Muslims to “fracture the moral and political foundations of middle Tennessee.” (Chris McGreal, Guardian.co.uk,).  After all, as her friend Lourie Cordoza-Moore, the founder of a group of Christian supporters of Israel explains, Tennessee is integral part of the Bible Belt and the Muslims see that area as the “capital of the crusades.”  (Chris McGreal,  Guardian.co.uk,)  It is a neat, if quite crazy, picture where all the parts seem to fit.

There are millions of Americans who find the Islamophobic message convincing (See Reza Aslan’s “America’s Anti-Islam Hysteria,” The Daily Beast, October 12, 2010). For example, most of the followers of Glenn Beck, Franklin Graham, Michael Evans, Rob Grant and the late Jerry Falwell are probably on the same page as Pamela Geller and Lou Ann Zelnick. Taken altogether they might account for about 10% of the adult American population (that is over 20 million people).  These are the sort of people who think that Barack Obama is a closet Muslim leading an Islamic plot to take over the country and institute Sharia law.   You may think that this notion is just too fantastic, but it probably helped cause the Texas State Board of Education to believe that there is a plot by Muslim Americans to take over the textbook publishing industry.   As a response to this fear, the Texas State Board is now proposing to “curtail references to Islam in Texas textbooks” (April Castro, “Texas ed Board Considers Resolution Limiting Islam,” Associated Press, September 24, 2010).

IV) Conclusion

Ossama Bahloul, the imam of the Murfreesboro mosque, has grasped the historically cyclical nature of the problems that now confront him and his fellow Muslim Americans. He notes that  “others have been here before.  A generation ago in Tennessee black activists were burned out of their homes for fighting against segregation and civil rights….It’s a cycle of life.” (Chris McGreal, Guardian.co.uk,).

Well, it certainly is a cycle of American political life and, ironically, one completely opposed to the post civil rights era ideal of the American ethos.  That being so, we can properly describe as unAmerican those Christian fundamentalists, American Zionists and others who denigrate Muslims living in the United States.  They are the purveyors of paranoid politics and as such the least civilized of our citizens–the ones who omit “and justice for all” whenever they pledge allegiance to the flag.