Archive for Xenophobia

Allen West Defends Selection of Joyce Kaufman

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Radio with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2010 by loonwatch

The political insane asylum in this country just gets larger and larger.

Allen West Defends Joyce Kaufman (Via Huffington Post)

Tea Party-backed Congressman-elect Allen West (R-Fla.) broke his silence over a controversial chief of staff pick this weekend, aggressively defending his selection of radio show host Joyce Kaufman despite the fact that the decision failed to come to fruition.

Here’s CNN’s report on their discussion with West:

“I was not hiring a talk radio host; I was hiring a very brilliant political mind, someone that has been in South Florida politics for 20 plus years. But unfortunately the liberal left showed that I guess they are threatened and intimidated by me, and so they went into the attack dog mode, which is something that they did the entire time in our campaign,” West told CNN Sunday in an interview at a downtown hotel where incoming freshmen were gathering for orientation.

Reports by the “attack dog” media turned upnumerous incidents in which Kaufman had spoken with incendiary rhetoric against illegal immigrants and Muslims. Soon after the reports, she turned down West’s chief of staff offer.

According to one such glance back at her past of public speaking, Kaufman reportedly said: “If you commit a crime while you’re here, we should hang you and send your body back to where you came from, and your family should pay for it.”

Oddly enough, West seemed to contend that the examination of Kaufman’s past of extreme speech was a sign that liberals had “issues with racism” against him.

“I think the American people are sick of, and that despicable, disgusting action and the way that they went after Joyce Kaufman shows that not only this liberal left has some issues with racism,” West told CNN. “I guarantee you, if I was a black Democratic Congressman-elect, they would not be doing these type of actions, and the fact that they’re attacking a woman like this, that shows me something about sexism and misogynist behavior.”

Kaufman reportedly addressed the incident herself over the weekend, as well. This from theBroward Palm Beach New Times.

“This is not about me,” she said of the threats. “This is the first attack on this man [Allen West].” She called the incident, “an attempt to try to make us look bad,” adding, “We didn’t fall into the trap!” She said she is remembering the individuals who have “demonized” her in the last few days, the columnists, the bloggers, and that she will call them out by name soon. She said she’s already received an offer to write a book about her ordeal.

 

Geert Wilders: “Jordan is the Only Palestinian State that Will Ever Exist”

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2010 by loonwatch

Geert Wilders, the peroxide dyed anti-Muslim neo-Fascist Dutch politician is adding to his list of bigoted comments. Not only is he for banning the Qur’an, taxing the hijab, expelling immigrants, and ending all Muslim immigration to the Netherlands but he is now pontificating on the Palestinian/Israeli issue.

Forget the two-state solution! Wilders believes Palestine will never exist as an independent country, and he repeats the Golda Meir line that Jordan is the only Palestinian state. Essentially he has thrown his weight behind Occupation, displacement, theft of land and violence against Palestinians…again. The question is how crucial is the Palestinian/Israeli issue to the Netherlands in the first place, and why does Wilders see a need to comment on it? (Hat tip: Anneke Auer)

Wilders’ Tweet:

Jordan is the only Palestinian state that will ever exist. Judea/Samaria are Israel’s the more settlements their the better

 

Greenwald: Anti-Muslim bigotry needed for fear campaigns

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on October 22, 2010 by loonwatch
Glenn Greenwald, the first nomination for induction in the Anti-Loon Hall of Fame

Glenn Greenwald is on point as usual. He summarizes the core issue of the Juan Williams firing from NPR – that anti-Muslim bigotry is needed by many in power to keep the masses scared of the Muslim boogeyman in order to further their agendas, whether domestically or internationally. The entire episode also shows the hypocrisy of many in the media on the issue of free speech – when it’s anti-Muslim speech it’s all good!

The real danger from NPR’s firing of Juan Williams (Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald)

I’m still not quite over the most disgusting part of the Juan Williams spectacle yesterday:  watching the very same people (on the Right and in the media) who remained silent about or vocally cheered on the viewpoint-based firings of Octavia Nasr, Helen Thomas, Rick Sanchez, Eason JordanPeter ArnettPhil DonahueAshleigh BanfieldBill MaherWard ChurchillChas FreemanVan Jones and so many others, spend all day yesterday wrapping themselves in the flag of “free expression!!!” and screeching about the perils and evils of firing journalists for expressing certain viewpoints.  Even for someone who expects huge doses of principle-free hypocrisy — as I do — that behavior is really something to behold.  And anyone doubting that there is a double standard when it comes to anti-Muslim speech should just compare the wailing backlash from most quarters over Williams’ firing to the muted acquiescence or widespread approval of those other firings.

But there’s one point from all of this I really want to highlight.  The principal reason the Williams firing resonated so much and provoked so much fury is because it threatens the preservation of one of the most important American mythologies:  that Muslims are a Serious Threat to America and Americans.  That fact is illustrated by Washington Post Op-Ed today from Reuel Marc Gerecht, who is as standard and pure a neocon as exists:  an Israel-centric,Iran-threateningWeekly Standardand TNR writer,  former CIA Middle East analyst, former American Enterprise Institute and current Defense of Democracies “scholar,” torture advocate, etc. etc.  Gerecht hails Williams as a courageous “dissident” for expressing this “truth”:

[W]hile his manner may have been clumsy, Williams was right to suggest that there is a troubling nexus between the modern Islamic identity and the embrace of terrorism as a holy act.

Above all else, this fear-generating “nexus” is what must be protected at all costs.  This is the “troubling” connection — between Muslims and Terrorism — that Williams lent his “liberal,” NPR-sanctioned voice to legitimizing.  And it is this fear-sustaining, anti-Muslim slander which NPR’s firing of Williams threatened to delegitimize.  That is why NPR’s firing of Williams must be attacked with such force:   because if it were allowed to stand, it would be an important step toward stigmatizing anti-Muslim animus in the same way that other forms of bigotry are now off-limits, and that, above all else, is what cannot happen, because anti-Muslim animus is too important to too many factions to allow it to be delegitimized.  The Huffington Post‘s Jason Linkinsexplained the real significance of NPR’s actions, the real reason it had to be attacked:

Yesterday, NPR cashiered correspondent Juan Williams for doing something that had hitherto never been considered an offense in media circles: defaming Muslims. Up until now, you could lose your job for saying intemperate things aboutJews and about Christians andabout Matt Drudge. You could even lose a job for failing to defame Muslims. But we seem to be in undiscovered country at the moment.

There are too many interests served by anti-Muslim fear-mongering to allow that to change.  To start with, as a general proposition, it’s vital that the American citizenry always be frightened of some external (and relatedly internal) threat.  Nothing is easier, or more common, or more valuable, than inducing people to believe that one discrete minority group is filled with unique Evil, poses some serious menace to their Safety, and must be stopped at all costs.  The more foreign-seeming that group is, the easier it is to sustain the propaganda campaign of fear.  Sufficiently bombarded with this messaging, even well-intentioned people will dutifully walk around insisting that the selected group is a Dangerous Menace.

“The Muslims” are currently the premier, featured threat which serves that purpose, following in the footsteps of The American-Japanese, The Communists, The Welfare-Stealing Racial Minorities, The Gays, and The Illegal Immigrants.  Many of those same groups still serve this purpose, but their scariness loses its luster after decades of exploitation and periodically must be replaced by new ones.  Muslims serve that role, and to ensure that continues, it is vital that anti-Muslim sentiments of the type Williams legitimized be shielded, protected and venerated — not punished or stigmatized.

Beyond the general need to ensure that Americans always fear an external Enemy, there are multiple functions which this specific Muslim-based fear-mongering fulfills.  The national security state — both its public and private arms — needs the “Muslims as Threat” mythology to sustain its massive budget and policies of Endless War.  The surveillance state — both its public and private arms — needs that myth to justify its limitless growth.  Christians who crave religious conflict; evangelicals who await the Rapture; and Jews who were taught from birth to view the political world with Israel at the center, that the U.S. must therefore stay invested in the Middle East, and that the “Arabs” are the Enemy, all benefit from this ongoing demonization.

Beyond that, nationalists and militarists of various stripes who need American war for their identity, purpose and vicarious feelings of strength and courage cling to this mythology as desperately as anyone.  Republicans gain substantial political advantage from scaring white and Christian voters to shake with fear and rage over the imminent imposition of sharia law in America.  And political officials in the Executive Branch are empowered by this anti-Muslim fear campaign to operate in total secrecy and without any checks or accountability as they bomb, drone, occupy, imprison, abduct, and assassinate at will.  Add that all together and there is simply no way that NPR could be permitted to render off-limits the bigoted depiction of Muslims which Juan Williams helped to maintain.

And then there’s the more amorphous but arguably more significant self-justifying benefit that comes from condemning “Muslims” for their violent, extremist ways.  I’m always amazed when I receive emails from people telling me that I fail to understand how Islam is a uniquely violent, supremely expansionist culture which is intrinsically menacing.  The United States is a country with a massive military and nuclear stockpile, that invaded and has occupied two Muslim countries for almost a full decade, that regularly bombs and drones several others, that currently is threatening to attack one of the largest Muslim countries in the world, that imposed a sanctions regime that killed hundreds of thousands of Muslim children, that slaughters innocent people on a virtually daily basis, that has interfered in and controlled countries around the world since at least the middle of the last century, that has spent decades arming and protecting every Israeli war with its Muslim neighbors and enabling a four-decade-long brutal occupation, and that erected a worldwide regime of torture, abduction, and lawless detention, much of whichstill endures.  Those are just facts.

But if we all agree to sit around and point over there – hey, can you believe those primitive Muslims and how violent and extremist they are — the reality of what we do in the world will fade blissfully away.  Even better, it will be transformed from violent aggression into justified self-defense, and then we’ll not only free ourselves of guilt, but feel proud and noble because of it.  As is true with all cultures, there are obviously demented, psychopathic, violent extremists among Muslims.  And there’s no shortage of such extremists in our own culture either.  One would think we’d be more interested in the extremists among us, but by obsessively focusing on Them, we are able to blind ourselves to the pathologies which drive our own actions.  And that self-cleansing, self-justifying benefit — which requires the preservation of the Muslim-as-Threat mythology — is probably more valuable than all the specific, pragmatic benefits described above.  All this over a “menace” (Terrorism) which killed a grand total of 25 noncombatant Americans last year (McClatchy:  ”undoubtedly more American citizens died overseas from traffic accidents or intestinal illnesses than from terrorism“).

The double standard in our political discourse — which tolerates and even encourages anti-Muslim bigotry while stigmatizing other forms — has been as beneficial as it has been glaring.  NPR’s firing of Juan Williams threatened to change that by rendering this bigotry as toxic and stigmatized as other types.  That could not be allowed, which is why the backlash against NPR was so rapid, intense and widespread.  I’m not referring here to those who object to viewpoint-based firings of journalists in general and who have applied that belief consistently:  that’s a perfectly reasonable view to hold (and one I share).  I’m referring to those who rail against NPR’s actions by invoking free expression principles they plainly do not support and which they eagerly violate whenever the viewpoint in question is one they dislike.  For most NPR critics, the real danger from Williams’ firing is not to free expression, but to the ongoing fear-mongering campaign of defamation and bigotry against Muslims (both foreign and domestic) which is so indispensable to so many agendas.

 

Racist Billboard of Obama in Colorado

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2010 by loonwatch

Someone in Colorado thought it would be a good idea to put a billboard of Obama as a Suicide bomber, pimp, Mexican bandito, and a gay person.

If you ever wondered what was wrong with Republicans this is it:

 

Sweden Democrats win big as Islamophobia Increases Across Europe

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on September 22, 2010 by loonwatch
Sweden Democrats’ Leader

The big news from Europe recently has been the somewhat surprise victory of the Sweden Democrats, a group with roots in Nazism that is thoroughly anti-Islam and anti-Immigrant with views parallel to those of Geert Wilders. This victory is no surprise to those analyzing events in Europe where the general trend has been a reassertion of nativist rhetoric and policies coupled with anti-Muslim/Islam parties emerging victorious.

Russia TV has a good article on this trend,

Austria’s far right riding anti-Islamic wave in elections

Far-right parties are boosting their influence across Europe amid anti-Islamic agendas and calls for tougher immigration laws.

Such rhetoric has helped elect the Sweden Democrats to parliament for the first time. Now the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party is fueling nationalism in its campaign, hoping for resurgence this weekend.

The “Bye Bye Mosque” game was released by the Freedom Party as part of its bid for election into regional government in Styria – Austria’s second largest province – and the game’s message has hit a raw nerve.

The aim is simple: take aim and shoot down as many new mosques as you can, as they rise relentlessly above Austria’s Alpine skyline. If you are not quick enough, the country is Islamized.

“We are defending our rights, our traditions and our culture. We do not want to be dissolved into Islam, nor do we want there to be parallel Islamic societies in our country,” states Dr. Gerhard Kurzmann, a Freedom Party Candidate.

Within 24 hours, the game received more than 200,000 web hits.

Within a week it was banned.

[Update:] The real Sweden turns out to support its minorities, reassert its values and demonstrate against the Sweden “Democrats” (hat tip: Rob):

 

Sarah Wildman: Islamophobia Imported from Europe

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on September 4, 2010 by loonwatch

A very good piece.

Islamophobia Imported From Europe: An Ugly Trend Gets Uglier

Among the many strange things this ugly August has wrought, perhaps the most peculiar — and distasteful — is a new kinship of intolerance many Americans now seem to share with Europeans. As born out by the “Ground Zero mosque” controversy, it is a fellowship of hate and of fear, a fellowship we once would have spurned because Americans, by self-definition, believe in religious freedom, in religious pluralism, in multicultural identities, in a nation up built by the immigrant experience.
For many years, anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe, embodied by protests against mosque minarets and headscarves, was a wave that did not reach our shores. But now we have headscarf controversies and mosque-banning campaigns of our own, from Tennessee (where some residents of a Nashville suburb are convinced that a mosque is really a terrorist training ground) to Wisconsin to California to, of course, Lower Manhattan. “Politicians, pundits and ordinary Americans see Islam — not political groups using Islamic rhetoric — as an existential threat to Western secular norms,” Joceylne Cesari, director of the Islam in the West Program at Harvard, wrote Tuesday at CNN.com.
As if to cement our embrace of such seemingly imported notions, Geert Wilders, the rabidly anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim politician from the far-right “Freedom” Party of the Netherlands, has been invited to speak at a memorial rally at Ground Zero on Sept. 11. This is a man who has declared war on immigration from Muslim nations, who was once banned from the U.K. for his positions, who has called Islam “fascist” and who told the Guardian in 2008 that Islam was “the ideology of a retarded culture.” He has, according to his website, agreed to appear at the New York rally next month.
Even Newt Gingrich has balked at appearing alongside Wilders, though Gingrich has done his best to stir the national pot about the planned Lower Manhattan Islamic center — which had been a local issue, primarily of concern to New Yorkers.
Wilders is a symptom — and possibly also a cause — of a larger trend. Polled in early spring,54 percent of Austrians say they consider Islam a “threat to the West” and 74 percent believe Muslims have an inability to adapt to their host countries. In Belgium and France, the push for a full ban on burqas has progressed in recent months, and Spain has also considered banning them. In Switzerland, minarets were banned last November. And in Warsaw, anti-mosque protests were held this past spring. Echoing the campaign in Switzerland, protest posters showed minarets in the form of missiles. 

This is not new. The European far right (and even the center right) has expressed what has ranged from distrust to downright disgust at Muslim presence in Europe for some time.

Farhad Khosrokhavar, an Iranian who has lived in Paris for 30 years and is a professor at l’École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, says the embedded presence of Islamic culture is creating tension within Western nations because they must grapple with such “classical questions” as whether Islam is compatible with democracy, “secularizable,” and able to adapt to human rights.

The reason for this discomfort and questioning, he says, is because “Islam is from now on part of the ‘internal’ landscape of the West, not only an outsider, and this is a hard pill to swallow for a ‘Judeo-Christian’ or ‘secular’ West.”

For years Americans could look at Europe and cluck their collective tongues at such rabid, ragged behavior fueled by far-right political parties with ties extending back to mid-20th-century fascism (think: Nazi apologist Jörg Haider ). In Antwerp, Felip Dewinter, the head of the right-wing Flemish secessionist party Vlaams Belang, summed up the perspective of Europe’s right wing when I met him in the fall of 2006. “Islam is not only a religion,” he said, echoing what we now hear in Manhattan and Alaska. “[It is] a way of life. They have their own values.” We were in his offices to discuss how the Vlaams Belang was, counter-intuitively, reaching out to Jews as a campaign tactic. “The Islamic laws . . . are opposed to our Western European, Western laws and way of thinking and way of life. . . . We had to struggle for centuries and centuries to achieve the way of life we have now. . . . We shouldn’t be naïve about Islam. Because Islam as a religion wants to conquer. . . . They tried for more than 1,000 years to conquer Europe with a sword. Now they are doing it with the demographical weapon.”
What he referred to was this: Vienna came under siege by Turks (i.e. Muslims) in the 16th and 17th centuries. Those Turkish invasions are often conjured by the far right in Europe to fuel anxiety over immigrants in Europe now. That anxiety was earlier stirred by Muslims who came to European shores in the postwar period, first from colonial nations such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, to work in the suddenly booming factories. But when the economies of Europe took a turn for the worse in the late 1960s and early 1970s, these immigrant populations, never wealthy, grew poorer. Immigration was cut off but the immigrants stayed, even if their host countries weren’t entirely sure they were welcome. In France, entire populations of immigrants were housed in high-rises called cites, an experiment in urban planning (and urban segregation) that would turn sour by the latter part of the 20th century. The children born to those original workers found themselves betwixt and between, neither Algerian (or Moroccan or Tunisian) nor French, neither European nor North African. And so some found their identity by turning to Islam, starting in the 1980s. (In Eastern Europe, some of that anxiety comes from newer immigrants, from places like Kosovo and Chechnya, but the language used against them is often the same.)
In the United States, Muslim immigrants had a better time of it economically, geographically, and professionally. We don’t think of the children of immigrants here as “second generation;” we think of them as “Americans.”
But try telling that to the Ground Zero mosque protesters, who co-opted Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” to voice their concerns — as though any Muslim could not be American-born.

 

Greenwald: Islamophobia at Heart of Mosque Protests [Crazy Video]

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on August 24, 2010 by loonwatch
Ground Zero ‘mosque; protest gets ugly

Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com spotlights the core issue with the hysteria surrounding the protest of a Muslim community center near Ground Zero: Islamophobia. Greenwald correctly points out the significant ramifications of this issue and how it has both domestic and international consequences for the United States. Greenwald also aptly makes the important point that if these loons succeed in kicking out the Muslims from the land they own and have a Constitutional right to build on then it will only embolden the Islamophobes to continue protesting and demonstrating (and possibly worse, physically attacking) against mosque construction plans around the country.

Make sure to watch the video of the man at the protest who was incorrectly viewed by the protestors of the mosque as a Muslim. Imagine if he actually were a Muslim – what might have happened to him? It’s a scary thought.

The “mosque” debate is not a “distraction”

By Glenn Greenwald

Opponents of the Park51 Islamic community center held a rally yesterday in Lower Manhattan, and a 4-minute video, posted below, reveals the true sentiments behind this campaign.  It has little to do with The Hallowed Ground of the World Trade Center — that’s just the pretext — and everything to do with animosity toward Muslims.  I dislike the tactic of singling out one or two objectionable people or signs at a march or rally in order to disparage the event itself.  That’s not what this video is.  Rather, it shows the collective sentiment of those gathered, as well as what’s driving the broader national backlash against mosques and Muslims far beyond Ground Zero.

The episode in the video begins when, as John Cole put it, “some black guy made the mistake of looking Muslimish and was harassed and nearly assaulted by the collection of lily white mouth-breathers at the event . . . At about 25 seconds in, he quite astutely points out to the crowd that ‘All y’all dumb motherfuckers don’t even know my opinion on shit’.”  As this African-American citizen (whom the videographer claims is a union carpenter who works at Ground Zero) is instructed to leave by what appears to be some sort of security or law enforcement official, the crowd proceeds to yell:  ”he musta voted for Obama,” “Mohammed’s a pig,” and other assorted charming anti-mosque slogans.  I really encourage everyone to watch this to see the toxicity this campaign has unleashed:

The New York Times article on this rally describes similar incidents, including how a student who carried a sign that simply read ”Religious tolerance is what makes America great” was threatened and told that “that if the police were not present, [he] would be in danger.”  Does anyone believe that their real agenda is simply to have Park51 move a few blocks away to less Sacred ground, or that they’re amenable to some sort of Howard-Dean-envisioned compromise that accommodates everyone?

All of this underscores a point I’ve wanted to make for awhile.  There’s been a tendency, which I find increasingly irritating, to dismiss this whole Park51 debate as some sort of petty, inconsequential August “distraction” from what Really Matters.  Here’s Chuck Todd mocking the debate as a ”shiny metal object alert” and lamenting “the waste of time” he believes it to be, whileKatrina vanden Heuvel, in The Washington Post last week, condemned ”pundits and politicians [who] are working themselves into hysteria over a mosque near Ground Zero” on the ground that it won’t determine the outcome of the midterm elections.  This impulse is understandable.  If you chose to narrowly define the topic of the controversy as nothing more than the Manhattan address of Park 51, then obviously it pales in importance to the unemployment crisis, our ongoing wars, and countless other political issues.

But that’s an artificially narrow and misguided way of understanding what this dispute is about.  The intense animosity toward Muslims driving this campaign extends far beyond Ground Zero, and manifests in all sorts of significant and dangerous ways.  In JuneThe New York Times reported on a vicious opposition campaign against a proposed mosque in Staten Island.  Earlier this month, Associated Press documented that “Muslims trying to build houses of worship in the nation’s heartland, far from the heated fight in New York over plans for a mosque near ground zero, are running into opponents even more hostile and aggressive.”  And today, The Washington Postexamines anti-mosque campaigns from communities around the nation and concludes that “the intense feelings driving that debate have surfaced in communities from California to Florida in recent months, raising questions about whether public attitudes toward Muslims have shifted.”

To belittle this issue as though it’s the equivalent of the media’s August fixation on shark attacks or Chandra Levy — or, worse, to want to ignore it because it’s harmful to the Democrats’ chances in November — is profoundly irresponsible.  The Park51 conflict is driven by, and reflective of, a pervasive animosity toward a religious minority — one that has serious implications for how we conduct ourselves both domestically and internationally.  Yesterday,ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour decided to let Americans hear about this dispute from actual Muslims behind the project (compare that, as Jay Rosen suggested, to David Gregory’s trite and typically homogeneous guest list of Rick Lazio and Jeffrey Goldberg and you see why there’s so much upset caused by Amanpour).  One of those project organizers, Daisy Kahn, said this during her ABC interview:

This is like a metastasized anti-Semitism.  That’s what we feel right now. It’s not even Islamophobia; it’s beyond Islamophobia. It’s hate of Muslims, and we are deeply concerned.

Can anyone watch the video of that disgusting hate rally and dispute that?  That’s exactly why I’ve found this conflict so significant.  If Park51 ends up moving or if opponents otherwise succeed in defeating it, it will seriouslybolster and validate the ugly premises at the heart of this campaign:  that Muslims generally are responsible for 9/11, Terrorism justifies and even compels our restricting the equals rights and access of Americans Muslims, and more broadly, the animosity and suspicions towards Muslims generally are justified, or at least deserving of respect.  As Aziz Poonawalla put it:  “if the project does fail, then I think that the message that will be sent is that bigotry and fear of Muslims is not just permitted, it is effective.”

That’s exactly the message that will be sent, and that’s what makes this conflict so significant.  Obviously, not all opponents of Park51 are as overtly hateful as those in that video — and not all opponents are themselves bigots — but the position they’ve adopted is inherently bigoted, as it seeks to impose guilt and blame on a large demographic group for the aberrational acts of a small number of individual members.   And one thing is certain:  if this campaign succeeds, it will proliferate and the sentiments driving it will become even more potent.  Hatemongers always become emboldened when they triumph.

The animosity and hatred so visible here extends far beyond the location of mosques or even how we treat American Muslims.  So many of our national abuses, crimes and other excesses of the last decade — torture, invasions, bombings, illegal surveillance, assassinations, renditions, disappearances, etc. etc. — are grounded in endless demonization of Muslims.  A citizenry will submit to such policies only if they are vested with sufficient fear of an Enemy.  There are, as always, a wide array of enemies capable of producing substantial fear (the Immigrants, the Gays, and, as that video reveals, the always-reliable racial minorities), but the leading Enemy over the last decade, in American political discourse, has been, and still is, the Muslim.

That’s why the population is willing to justify virtually anything that’s done to “them” without much resistance at all, and it’s why very few people demand evidence from the Government before believing accusations that someone is a Terrorist:  after all, if they’re Muslim, that’s reason enough to believe it.  Hence, the repeated, mindless mantra that those in Guantanamo — or those on the Government’s “hit list” — are Terrorists even in the absence of evidence and charges, and even in the presence of ample grounds for doubting the truth of those accusations.

And there’s no end in sight:  the current hysteria over Iran at its core relies — just as the identical campaign against Iraq did — on the demonization of a whole new host of Muslim villains.  A population that is constantly bombarded with tales of Muslim Evil (they want to kill your children and explode a nuclear suitcase in your neighborhood) will be filled with fear and hatred — sentiments always exacerbated during times of economic strife and uncertainty — and very well-primed to lash out.  That’s the decade-long brew that has led to this purely irrational, hate-driven demand that they not be allowed to desecrate and infect the Sacred, Hallowed Space of Ground Zero (the religious terminology used to talk about 9/11 is both creepy and no accident).  This “debate” over Park51 is many things.  An inconsequential “distraction” from what Really Matters is not one of them.

UPDATE:  Ron Paul issued a statement today excoriating conservative opponents of Park51 for violating their alleged belief in religious freedom and property rights, and added:

In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.

They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars. . . Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam — the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. . . .

The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims. . . . . This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.

It is indeed “about hate and Islamaphobia,” and that is the driving, enabling force behind so many of America’s most controversial and destructive policies.

UPDATE II:  Perhaps the most depressing aspect of this entire episode has been the dearth of national politicians willing to stand up to this campaign of bigotry.  Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley became one of the few to issue an unapologetic, principled, unparsed, caveat-free defense of Park51 today, joining Ron Paul, Joe SestakGrover NorquistRuss FeingoldJerry Nadler,Ted Olson and only a handful of others.  It’s particularly commendable of Feingold and Sestak to do so given the very tight Senate races they are fighting, and there’s added weight when people like Paul, Olson, and Norquist stand up to their own party to do so.

I’ll be on MSNBC, at roughly 4:00 p.m., this afternoon, discussing these issues, along with National Review‘s Cliff May.

UPDATE III:  The group which sponsored this rally has a website — the repellently named StopThe911Mosque.com — which is registered to The Center for Security Policy, the group of Frank Gaffney, one of the most deranged and dishonest right-wing extremists in the country.  So it’s hardly surprising that such a rotted root gave rise to this toxic fruit (I just unintentionally made a nice rhyme).

Speaking of deranged right-wing extremists, I was on MSNBC today debating Park51 with Cliff May of National Review; it largely degenerated into a cable-news screamfest, but for those interested, you can watch it here:

Greenwald on Dylan Ratigan