Fighting America’s dark side. Fighting against those seeking to divide and weaken us.

Summary: We are not a nation of hate-mongers, and can restrain those of us who are. But inaction and apathy — closing our eyes to the rising fear and hatred of Islam — will have long and ill effects. This social disease is spreading; the clock is running.

Jihadist traitor? Huma Abedin, Deputy Chief for Staff in DoS. From Vogue, August 2007

Contents

  1. Introduction: contagion
  2. Poisonous slander
  3. Hate crimes
  4. Other posts about the rising hatred of Moslems in America

(1)  Introduction: contagion

Divide et impera

There are always those among us who seek to exploit our dark side — feeding our racial, ethnic, and religious divisions for their own political gain. These episodes sometimes do terrible damage to the nation, as in the McCarthy era (among other things, damaging the State Department such that it’s never recovered).

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It’s happening again. It’s a war fought in homes, bars, churches, and workplaces — any place Americans gather and talk. It’s a war we have to all enlist and fight. It’s getting worse; here are two recent examples.

(2)  Poisonous slander

“If you hate your enemies, you will contract such a vicious habit of mind, as by degrees will break out upon those who are your friends, or those who are indifferent to you.”
— Joseph Addison, The Spectator, 24 July 1711

Who is the lady in the photo at top? She is Huma Mahmood Abedin. She was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

  • American deputy chief of staff at the State Department,
  • longtime aide to Hillary Clinton,
  • practicing Muslim,
  • married to (Jewish) ex-congressman Anthony Weiner

All black marks to the far-right. Now she’s the subject of their despicable attacks.  For details see

(a)  Bachmann’s website has the letter from Bachmann and 4 other Representatives to the Deputy Inspector General of the State Department, 13 June 2012. Plus the subsequent correspondence, and additional material.

(b)  Andrwe McCarthy is a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, now a columnist for National Review. From op-ed in the Washington Post by Dana Milbank, 8 August 2012 — opening:

There are frequent bouts of McCarthyism in the capital, but the latest version has the special touch of being delivered by a guy named McCarthy … providing the intellectual underpinnings — such as they are — for Rep. Michele Bachmann’s outrageous suggestion that Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

McCarthy gave a 90-minute talk at the National Press Club on Wednesday morning sponsored by the conservative Center for Security Policy, which was the source cited by Bachmann (R-MN) in her letter challenging Abedin’s loyalty. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and other top Republicans justifiably blasted Bachmann, but McCarthy defended the congresswoman and went her allegation one further — drawing a twisted line from Abedin all the way to al-Qaeda.

“I don’t understand why more people in Washington from both parties have not rallied in support of Congresswoman Bachmann” and her fellow signatories on the letter, McCarthy lamented, “at a time when government policy is being radically harmonized with the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, meaning policy has shifted in the direction of avowed enemies of the United States.”

(c)  Gingrich, Limbaugh defend Bachmann’s accusations on ‘Hardball with Chris Matthews’, MSNBC, 24 July 2012 — Transcript here.

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(d) Eric Cantor defends Michele Bachmann on “CBS News This Morning”, 17 July 2012 (Cantor, GOP-VA,  is the House Majority Leader):

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(3)  Hate Crimes

“Hatred is a vice of narrow souls; they feed it with all their meanness, and make it a pretext for sordid tyranny.”
— Honoré de Balzac, The Muse of the Department (1843)

These are an endemic disease throughout American history, like malaria it rises and fades. Now it returns.  Harassment by civilians and the government. Burning down mosques.  Unless stopped we can easily imagine the evolution. History provides too many examples.  It’s a small problem now; let’s not wait until it metastasizes.

For details see about the latest rash see:

(4)  For more information about these hate crimes

(a) About the drivers of anti-Moslem hatred

(b)  About one of the nodes promulgating lies about Islam in America: the Center for Security Policy

The difference is obvious!

(c)  About hate crime in America

(5)  Posts about the hatred of Moslems in America

  1. Are islamic extremists like the anarchists?, 14 December 2009
  2. Hatred and fear of Islam & Moslems is understandable. But are there hidden forces at work?, 3 August 2010
  3. Should we fear that religion whose believers have killed so many people?, 4 August 2010 — That’s just good sense.
  4. Which is more characteristic of America today?, 28 February 2012 — Sharia, or hatred & oppression of Islam?

41 thoughts on “Fighting America’s dark side. Fighting against those seeking to divide and weaken us.

  1. The State Department’s ‘Girl Scouts’ policies are pretty indistinguishable from being pro-MB at this point. Whether they’re just idiots, niave, or agents of the MB or KSA Wahabbism doesn’t matter much. Kinda would be sad if they’re not making a mint off the policies.

    “If I would have hated a little more, just a little more, we would have had a little less trouble”

    1. Can you give specifics? That seems quite a daft comment, considering that DoS supports on WoT policies that have led to military involvement in so many Islamic nations.

      I assume you have some great evidence.

      One thing, perhaps above all other weaknesses, is our inability to learn from our mistakes in the past. Read Jim’s comment and hear a voice from the past, who led the charge to wreck the State Department (the resulting imbalance in US foreign policy machinery led to the mistakes of the Vietnam era):

      Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity. The modern champions of communism have selected this as the time. And, ladies and gentlemen, the chips are down — they are truly down.

      … The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because our only powerful, potential enemy has sent men to invade our shores, but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have been treated so well by this nation. It has not been the less fortunate or members of minority groups who have been selling this nation out, but rather those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest nation on earth has had to offer — the finest homes, the finest college education, and the finest jobs in government we can give.

      This is glaringly true in the State Department. There the bright young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouths are the ones who have been worst.

      … This, ladies and gentlemen, gives you somewhat of a picture of the type of individuals who have been helping to shape our foreign policy. In my opinion the State Department, which is one of the most important government departments, is thoroughly infested with communists.

      I have in my hand 57 cases of individuals who would appear to be either card-carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party, but who nevertheless are still helping to shape our foreign policy.

      — Speech by Joseph McCarthy on 9 February 1950, to the Republican Women’s Club of Wheeling, West Virginia. This is the version he entered into Congressional Record. At various times he gave different numbers for the list (205 is usually mentioned, and consistent with his statements elsewhere.

  2. Daft? For someone who has a glorious Ask Fabius what’s going on in the world every other day you don’t seem to have a clue what policies Samantha Powers, Susan Rice and Mrs. Weiner are pursuing. Did you miss Egypt? Did you miss the freedom elections there? Did you miss Right to Protect? Are you missing the MB and practically AQ losing their war in Syria so now we really, really need that No Fly Zone to keep the ‘insurgency’ going?

    Is it magic faries pushing for NFZ’s or do you not think these neo-neocons have any effect because they wear skirts?

    WoT? Sheesh, you are so 2009 man. Google R2P and catch up with reality they’re making for you.

    1. Jim,

      Thank you for your very precise reply! Before I address the specifics you give (in another comment), let’s look at the issues your raise as an example of the conservative narrative the Right constructed around Obama — which is almost identical to that the Left constructed around Bush Jr.

      The foreign policies of the two Presidents are similar — in many Obama’s a continuation or expansion of Bush Jr’s. There’s a large body of research by a wide range of independent agencies showing this (eg, Stratfor in August 2009). Another way to see this, less analytical but more vivid: neocons have praised Obama’s policies more strongly than has the Left.

      But these similar policies makes building partisan enthusiasm difficult. So both parties demonize their opponent. Obama’s team as pro-Jihadist, Bush Jr as Hitler. This allows them to conduct policy and politics in separate compartments — but only so long as their followers do not see through the deception. Helping people break through these fetters of mind has become the major goal of many (eg, Glenn Greenwald) and the FM website.

    2. Jim,

      Now let’s discuss your view that “The State Department’s ‘Girl Scouts’ policies are pretty indistinguishable from being pro-MB at this point.”

      The easiest way to examine your assertion is by asking questions.

      (1) In what way does DoD policy recommendations differ from those of DoD and the NSC, or from the actual policies executed by the Obama administration? State does not have its own policies about major issues, just recommendations. It’s not even the major voice setting foreign policy, and hadn’t been since the 1950’s. It’s dwarfed by the resources of DoD, and in priority by the National Security Council staff.

      My guess is that you don’t know — it’s a highly technical question — and that you’re in fact responding to the Obama Administration’s policies, and in effect attributing them to DoS. For brevity, from here I’ll refer to “Obama’s policies” to mean “his Administration’s”.

      (2) Where do Obama’s policies stand in the spectrum of US national security experts’ recommendations? In fact they’re usually in the middle, often in the center-right. On rare ocassions on the far right (eg, drone assassinations). Unless you believe that much of the US foreign policy establishment is “pro-MB”. If so, we’re done here.

      (3) Most of the issues you describe are fantastically complex, and experts’ recommendations vary. Why is it clear that the carefully middle-range policies (somewhat of the “realist” school) in Egypt and Syria are “pro-MB”?

      (a) Obama has mostly backed the Egyptian Administration (eg, led by the military), with the pre-reform rhetorical flourishes typical of US administrations back to WWII — this is absolutely SOP for US foreign policy.
      (b) In Syria experts debate how to play this. The Syrian regime tilts to Russian and Iran. There’s much evidence that elements in the insurgents tilt to the jihadists.

      In most of the situations you mention there are no clear or easy answers. Certainly no black and white answer like you imply, despite these situations being drawn as such by partisans on both sides. Politics in America today consists to a disturbing extent of lies to followers, necessary to build enthusiasm despite minor policy differences.

    3. Fabius has given some very good replies here. I would add that I can totally understand why it would look to some people like Obama is pro-Jihadi given support of Libyan/Syrian and close coordination with Saudi, Qatar, Gulf States, MB in Egypt. It sure looks like we’re on “their” side, right?

      I would suggest to Jim to consider the possibility that we are using them more effectively than they are using us. After all, what is the net result of sponsoring Jihadis in Libya and Syria? We got to topple one regime we had a grudge against (Gaddafi) and are in the process of possibly toppling a regime that plays a critical strategic role in the “axis of resistance” to our most important regional ally, Israel. Plus, we get to severely weaken the societies where the Jihadis are unleashed, which is messy and ugly but serves the critical function of pre-empting organized resistance to our most important regional ally.

      And what is the end result of our close cooperation with the Gulf states? Well, only Nixon could go to China, and for us, the Gulf monarchies are our hired local Nixons. They give us uber-conservative local cover for all of our overt and covert interventions. And they helpfully do their best to divert all of the pent-up energy of their peoples into the channels that are the least harmful to us– hating on the Iranians, hating on less conservative Muslims, covering their women, signing lucrative oil deals with Western companies.

      This policy trajectory is proving to be very effective right now but will probably be disastrous in the long run. If it’s treasonous, it’s not because the US is selling out to the Muslims.

      For a historical comparison with our current policy, look at Carter/Reagan aid to Afghan Mujahideen.

  3. In the end, it is all about Rankism. Rankism is the practice of dehumanization that occurs whenever we place any group of people into a category and then vilify that group (basically accusing all members of that group of everything that any member of that group may have done). Examples include racism, sexism, homophobia, et. al. As for the accusations against Abedin, by the same logic used by Bachmann & Co. we should have killed every Japanese, German and Italian descendant (along with Romanians, Hungarians and Bulgars, btw) during WWII.

    1. Which, of course, would ironically have made us not much different from the forces against which we were fighting. We would have become in many respects another version of the Nazis, summarily punishing people for nothing more than being born to a family originating from a nation or tribe which we viewed as an enemy, even though the members of that family had taken no action to harm us or indeed shown any intent or thought of doing so.

    2. “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”
      — Neitzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, chapter IV

  4. There is no reason to hate those deluded by religion. There is, I believe, reason to fear those deluded by religion. I fear religion in any form as they share a single purpose: bring the entire world into submission to God. Some religions have learned that persuasion is preferable to force. Nonetheless, their goals are aligned: root-out secularism. Just look at the recent statements from the GOP in Texas. Their platform is clearly against critical thinking and any challenge to established authority. While I agree that hate is counterproductive, not being able to recognize a true enemy is far worse.

    1. USA is not about Religion. Never has been except to utilize it for the maintenance or securing of power. Poor people are willingly duped by their favorite brand. Fear them, the perpetrators of rekigious schemes? Of course. That has been a sane response for thousands of years:

      There is No Moral Factor Built into the DNA of US Foreign Policy“, William Blum, Boiling Frogs, 12 August 2012

      Breton
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      FM Note: From their About Page

      Boiling Frogs Post is an online news, editorial, analysis, and Podcast interview site covering select but significant blacked out stories and issues, while defying blinded partisanship. Each one of our partner investigative journalists brings 20+ years of investigative journalism experience in reporting controversial and daring topics. Our weekly Podcast interview series, the Boiling Frogs Show, features in depth original interviews with well-respected and controversial guests.

      Sibel Edmonds is the founder and president of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding national security whistleblowers. She has appeared on national radio and TV as a commentator on matters related to whistleblowers, national security, and excessive secrecy & classification, and has been featured on CBS 60 Minutes, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and in the New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The American Conservative, and others. Her book, ‘Shooting the Messenger’, co-authored with Professor William Weaver, is forthcoming from Kansas University Press in the fall of 2013.

      PEN American Center awarded Ms. Edmonds the 2006 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award for her “commitment to preserving the free flow of information in the United States in a time of growing international isolation and increasing government secrecy”. She is also the recipient of the 2004 Sam Adams Foundation Award …

    2. (1) “USA is not about Religion”

      I don’t know what that means, or what America is “about.” But religion has been an important and powerful element since the colonization of the continent from Europe. Religion played a large role forging American culture, and guiding key points in its evolution: abolition of slavery, prohibition of alcohol, regulation of sexual behavior, and inspiring many social and military crusades.

      Adding up the result is beyond my pay grade. Such an analysis would be interesting.

      (2) Thanks for the link to the “Boiling Frogs” website. Looks interesting!

  5. Well, I’m left scratching my head here. You rail against “hate” in general and hate crimes without addressing the issues raised in Bachmann’s letter (the full set of letters are here).

    Many aspects of Sharia are in conflict with U.S. law and values (e.g., blasphemy laws are diametrically opposed to free speech protections, penalties for breaking religious laws, such as stoning and severing limbs conflict with the 8th Amendment, etc.). The Muslim Brotherhood has been active in advocating of implementation of Sharia in the U.S., just as they have successfully done in Muslim conclaves in various European countries.

    The Muslim Brotherhood has openly called for the overthrow of the U.S. Constitution and replacement with Sharia. Bachmann has been assailed by all the usual suspects for merely raising questions and asking for further investigation. Membership in the Communist Party, which called for the overthrow of the U.S., used to be grounds for denial of a security clearance, and close family ties to CPUSA members were investigated and often resulted in denial or a lower clearance level–surely membership in an organization like the Muslim Brotherhood should be disqualifying as well. Bachmann’s request for open disavowal of the Brotherhood’s goals should be the least that is asked of loyal Muslim citizens.

    1. Armsmerchant,

      If your reaction to this is “scratching your head” then there’s probably not much we can do to help you.

      Your implied charge against all American Muslims has been a stable of US bigotry since the founding. As late as 1960 people said that Kennedy could not be President because of his Roman Catholic faith. Ditto Jews.

      Ditto for Bachmann’s accusations about Huma Mahmood Abedin and the MB. Fortunately many Americans have learned from the McCarthy era. Even GOP leaders publicly criticize Bachmann’s actions. Lisen to them (I doubt you’d believe anything you read here).

  6. Fabius

    If you can’t make the distinction between religious bigotry and legitimate security interests, there’s not much that I can do to help you either. I am not making an “implied charge against all American Muslims,” and neither, I believe, are Representatives Bachmann, Franks, Gohmert, Rooney, and Westmoreland–only those with specific and close family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and other jihadist organizations, such as Ms. Abedin. As Andrew McCarthy points out, contrary to Senator McCain’s blustering that they are “unspecified”, those ties are quite specific “Questions about Huma Abedin“, Andrew McCarthy, National Review, 21 July 2012.

    So just exactly how is it an “outrageous suggestion” that Abedin has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood? Now it could turn out that Abedin’s father, mother, and brother’s associations with the MB are quite innocent and nothing more than building bridges or attempting to moderate the more aggressive strain of Islamic supremacism. Or not. Moreover, neither is Ms. Abedin the only person whose access is being questioned, probably just the most influential in the executive branch.

    Look at it this way: if a close aide to a Secretary of State or Defense had a late father, a mother, and a brother who all seemed to be supporters or members of white-supremacist groups, and then several recent U.S. policies favored white supremacism and allowed entry into the country of controversial white supremacists, and access by a white supremacist sympathizer of sensitive information for personal use to combat “white supremacist-phobia”, would this not warrant at least looking into? I can’t imagine the Left not going ballistic over the equivalent.

    Neither Kennedy nor Romney belong to religious sects with accepted, mainstream theologies that (since the 19th Century) advocate violent overthrow and/or infiltration of secular governments. If you want to hear hate, go to the MEMRI site and listen to the government-sanctioned hate that is accepted as normal throughout mainstream Islam and the Muslim world. Is it Islamophobic to point this out? Again, the vast majority of Muslim-Americans are fine people and good citizens. But when a minority within Islam find wide support for their jihadist views within the very institution that defines their cultural and religious identities, we have a problem.

    This is a typical trick in politics, and I’m amazed that you’ve fallen for it. The Right has raised a legitimate concern about someone who is a member of a minority group, and the Left then yells that they are demonizing [enter specific name of said group]. Are there bigots exploiting this? Of course. But that doesn’t diminish the central facts. Surely you can do better than this.

    1. I’m not interested in rolling in the mud with you and your fellow bigots.

      In our social system that’s best done by conservatives (groups dealing with their own), and many have stepped up and fulfilled their responsibility. Eisenhower is one of my personal heroes, and his FAIL to rein in McCarthy was one of his darkest moments. It’s made me proud to be a Republican to see that this time GOP leaders have performed better.

      If you don’t believe them, you will not believe me, so I’ll decline to waste my time on these smears.

    2. Also — with National Review’s long history of supporting racism, citing an article there in a support for your theories is a FAIL IMO.

      For a detailed but partial to your smears about Islam please see the posts listed in Section 5 of this post.

    3. if a close aide to a Secretary of State or Defense had a late father, a mother, and a brother who all seemed to be supporters or members of white-supremacist groups, and then several recent U.S. policies favored white supremacism and allowed entry into the country of controversial white supremacists, and access by a white supremacist sympathizer of sensitive information for personal use to combat “white supremacist-phobia”, would this not warrant at least looking into?

      Are you referring to The Family, here? Because, while there have been a few books and articles about the crazed white-supremacist christian dominionists, generally not many people seem to be upset. “Moderate christians” tend to refuse to speak out against them because they’re co-religionists and they’re powerful and highly-placed. I am sure there are some politicians who simply see it as a stepping-stone or another political group, whereas others take it very seriously, and still more dismiss it as just a bunch of extremists.

      In other words, everyone’s got crazies and everyone more or less tries to blow them off without agitating them too much. Is that about it?

    4. Marcus

      [i]”I am sure there are some politicians who simply see it as a stepping-stone or another political group, whereas others take it very seriously, and still more dismiss it as just a bunch of extremists.”[/i]

      Well, I am in the third camp not because I don’t think they are a problem (I do), but because their influence is so limited. There simply is not a mainstream or respected theology or political philosophy within Christianity that supports the white supremacist christian dominionists, and they are an extremely minute minority within the worldwide total of Christendom (2.2 billion). For example, one of the safest things to do in America is to criticize Christians. Even the thuggish Westboro “Baptists” are finally getting significant pushback. (“Bikers protest Westboro Baptist demonstrators at Arlington burial“, Washington Post, 4 October 2010.

      But many peaceful Muslims are literally in fear for their lives if they publicly repudiate the jihadist interpretation of Islam, and many more are silent because of the violent threats from the jihadists. So it’s really not a matter of whether or not jihadism is a mainstream or legitimate interpretation of Islam, so long as literally millions of Muslims (still a minority of the total) believe it to be so, or hear it in their Mosques every Friday.

      But as we saw with the Bolsheviks, it doesn’t matter if you are in the minority so long as you have the ruthlessness and just enough members to impose your will on everyone else.

    5. “one of the safest things to do in America is to criticize Christians”

      Are there massive indiscriminate police surveillance programs directed at Christians, such as the NYPD ran on area Moslems (we still don’t know the intent)? Do all levels of police — local, State, Federal — run massive programs trolling for fools, stupids, and losers to set up in stings? How many churches have been burnt down by Muslims?

      It’s sad to read people who early feed on the lies fed to them, developing deeply deluded views. They’re like the people in Plato’s cave, fighting not be be taken into the daylight.

      This discussion is a monumental waste of time. It’s like debating with someone who believes the world rests on a turtle’s back. But what’s under the turtle? “It’s lies all the way down, son.”

    6. “For example, one of the safest things to do in America is to criticize Christians.”

      Reality paging armsmerchant!

      Eight attacks, 11 days“, Uzma Kolsy, Salon, 14 August 2012 — “There’s a crime wave targeting houses of worship, most of them Muslim. Is something sinister at work?”

      Opening:

      David Conrad, a resident of Morton Grove, Ill., was likely peeved by the noise from the Muslim Education Center. Conrad’s home is adjacent to the center’s parking lot, and during the holy month of Ramadan, men, women and children pack the mosque on a nightly basis. On Friday, Aug. 10, Conrad allegedly shot a pellet rifle at the mosque wall, while some 500 people were praying inside. The building structure sustained minor damage, but no one was hurt. Was this just the rumbling of a disgruntled neighbor? Maybe.

      But given a chain of incidents at mosques across the country over the past two weeks, the Morton Grove shooting doesn’t appear to be an isolated event. In the past 10 days, there have been eight cases of vandalism and attacks on houses of worship across the nation, including the deadly shooting spree in a Sikh gurdwara in Wisconsin on Aug. 5. The other seven incidents were mosque defacements, which have sent a tremor of fear through America’s Muslim community.

      … Just 25 miles from Morton Grove, an Islamic school in Lombard was targeted with an even more chilling assault on Sunday night. An assailant flung a homemade “MacGyver bomb” at the building, while worshippers prayed inside. The soda bottle — filled with household chemicals, including acid — did not break the window, and again, the worshipers were rattled but unharmed. According to local reports, no one has yet been charged, and the FBI is investigating the matter.

      The Illinois attacks come on the heels of an incident in Joplin, Mo., where a mosque was reduced to ashes by a powerful fire last Monday. Although authorities are investigating whether it was an act of arson, a previous fire at the mosque over the July 4 weekend was determined to be arson. Elsewhere, a mosque in North Smithfield, R.I., was vandalized by a man who “head-butted” and pulled down signage. Teens were arrested on hate crime charges for taunting worshipers by throwing eggs and oranges and shooting bb pellets at a mosque in Hayward, Calif. Vandals defaced the Grand Mosque of Oklahoma City with paintballs, and, in an especially malicious incident, women hurled pig legs at a mosque site in Ontario, Calif., while people were leaving the temporary prayer space.

      Is something deeper at work here? Last week, notoriously brusque Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., who represents Lombard, may have helped stoke anti-Muslim hatred with comments at a town hall meeting in Elk Grove. Walsh sowed the seeds of mistrust and suspicion by alleging that “radical Islam” had made a home in the suburbs of Chicago; that “Islam is not the peaceful, loving religion we hear about”; and that radical Muslims are “trying to kill Americans every week.” Walsh’s warnings were met with applause. …

  7. BTW, here’s a very topical article on the MB’s goals in post-Mubarik Egypt from a mainstream Islamic scholar: Understanding the Muslim Brothers in Egypt by Dr. Abdel Monem Said Aly.

    “Established by Hassan Al Bana in Ismailia in 1928 with the goal of restoring the Caliphate and implementing the Sharia law…”

    “In recent history, Muslim Brothers movements in different countries have positioned themselves variously along a continuum from extremism to moderation.”

    1. Yes, we can see that you’re blinded by ignorance and bigotry. You need not provide more evidence.

      (1) Yes, elements of the MB are hostile to the US. Elments of it are strongly jihadist, and several steps beyond hostile. Some are terrorists, just like US policy often is terrorism.

      (2) US policy towards the various factions vieing for control of Egypt is a technical question. The US has been allies of communist nations, and foes of communist nations. We have been allies of fascist nations, and allies of fascist nations. We have helped jihadists and fought jihadists. Your black and white geopolitics is for children. “Great powers have no friends, only interests.”

      (3) This is a subset of your — and Bachmann’s broader view that being Muslim in inherently anti-America. That’s the part I’m most interested in, and which best displays your bigotry and ignorance.

      (4) Why not spend your time addressing GOP leaders? I’m sure they’ll want to hear this.

    1. Shame is the only boundary in US society.

      We know from 200 years of experience that argueing with bigots only lends creedence to their views and gives them undeserved space in the public discourse. You’ll get neither here.

      Life is too short to bandy words about fringe beliefs about science, religion, ideology, etc. One can burn a lifetime in such wasted efforts, as such people are immune to rebuttal. I’ve spent hours doing this on the FM website where unavoidable on matters of war and economics. But the line has to be drawn somewhere, and I draw it at bigotry.

  8. It seems to me that many individuals of the lighter-skinned persuasion believe that racism has been entirely eradicated in the United States. They apparently conclude their own hatred for Muslims, black people, Hispanics, etc therefore falls into a separate category that they often equate to some form of patriotism, or other vague rationalization.

    From such individuals, I will hear things like the following:
    “I don’t hate Muslims. I just hate terrorists. It’s not my fault that all Muslims are terrorists.”
    “I don’t hate blacks. I just hate lazy welfare thugs. It’s not my fault that all blacks are lazy welfare thugs.”
    “I don’t hate Hispanics. I just hate illegal immigrants. It’s not my fault that all Hispanics are illegal immigrants.”

    The list goes on. Any attempt to point out the obvious to these racists will almost surely result in accusals of “playing the race card”.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that changes to these sorts of attitudes and prejudices doesn’t take years, but generations. Hopefully the bigot’s children will hold less hatred than the bigot himself does.

    1. Such bigotry will probably, and sadly, not disappear as long as it serves the interests of the corrupt plutocrats (e.g. Koch Bros.) that manipulate populist conservatives. If you consider it a particularly nasty variety of and ancient human tendency toward groupthink and scapegoating, it might possibly never disappear, since it is wired into human DNA to want to belong to a “tribe” whose culture is distinct from that of other “tribes”.

      As FM pointed out a month or so ago, Sarah Robinson (Alternet) makes the case that the remnants of the confederacy and southern slave system have risen again (ironically because of FDR’s New Deal policies) in the form of powerful corporations such as in the oil, defense and real estate /finance industries in the southwest, Control of such “southern” wealth was limited by the eastern “Yankee” political elites after the Civil War, until the New Deal.

      Now, Robinson says that the remnants of the southern slavers are back in control and have taken over most of corporate america, and much of the political establishment.

  9. Historically, with the exception of the Ottoman Empire, which not surprisingly had imperialist tendencies (their invasions of Europe reached the gates of Vienna, Austria), most regimes in the middle east during the colonial era were medieval, corrupt and despotic. Muslims engaged in genocide, or near genocide, against Buddhists in India and nearby communities (jihad). Mystics engaged in superstitious practices to create a climate of fear in peasant populations, Sometimes taking over entire towns and running them like insane asylums. These practices had similarities to the Spanish Inquisitions and similar medieval cultural practices by “christians”.

    I once asked a professor of middle eastern history why Islam had fallen so far after having achieved so much in earlier times (the most advanced science, scholarship, libraries, architecture, most cosmopolitan and tolerant culture, best international banking system, etc.)

    (Oversimplified) answer: about 800 years ago, the leading figures or orthodox Islam decided that since they had reached a pinnacle of civilization that could not possibly go any higher, that those proposing changes or alternative viewpoints should not be listened to, or even tolerated. This drove innovators, including luminaries such as Ibn-al-Arabi (the magnificent Andulsian philosopher), to the margins. Sufism became an esoteric practice, and the exchange of alternative thought became obscure and coded within specialized movements and narrow religious or scholarly communities.

    When the europeans began to push back against the Islamic world at the beginning of the colonial period with advanced technologies (continuing the tradition of the reconquista in Spain), the Muslim world was shocked and humiliated that God had allowed such inferior, malodorus barbarians to prevail, and then to grow immensely wealthy and powerful on global trade.

    The europeans showed no restraint in establishing colonial power amongst the weak despotic regimes in the middle east, particularly the British, who needed to control the middle east (especially Eqypt) to create a “buffer” against Russian penetration of the British trade routes (tea, silk and spices in India, China, etc.)

    From a Muslim viewpoint, insult was added to injury when the British (colonial, post WWI) Mandates resulted in the founding of Israel after the Ottomans were defeated. This followed the British detrayals in the “Lawrence of Arabia” story. Also see the Wallace Stegner ARAMCO archives for details of the duplicity of western oil interests (and CIA involvement) in Saudi Arabia after WWII.

    So, both side have legitimate grievances and claims. Both sides were imperialistic powers at various points, and have been in conflict and various states of advantage or disadvantage for well over 500 years. (the Crusades are older, and the Muslim invasions of Spain and India even older than that.)

    People in the middle east have very long memories, and in general they have little or no reason to drop their grievances against (what they see as) “godless” and “materialistic” western colonialist barbarians. Various reform movements have been tried that attempted poor imitations of european political movements from fascism (Baathism) to communism/leftism.

    Europeans/westerners on the other hand, typically having little or no insight into, or understanding of, middle eastern culture or history, tend to see the people there was backward and traditionalist. Making things worse, many westerners have had little understanding, until recent times, of the common basis of their Axial religion with Islam. Joseph Cambell’s PBS TV series on “Myth” being an example of a postmodern western attempt to understand other religions at a deep level of meaning. fyi – PBS will be replaying some of the “Myth” shows soon.

    (any corrections or additions are very welcome)

    1. That seems to be a pretty fair summary of the history, to me. As with all big flows in history, it’s impossible to point to one little cause and say “there! that’s where they lost it!”

      The crusades certainly inspired islam to pull together under Saladin, who set a standard for subsequent Ottoman leaders to aspire to and surpass. When christendom levelled up and came back in the reconquista and stopped the Ottomans at Vienna, the islamic world had a choice: they could ask themselves, “why are these guys beating us?” or tell themselves, “maybe we’re just not trying hard enough!” Societies hang on a tipping point sometimes and the long-term collapse seems assured if the forces of “try harder!” win out. In Japan the same ‘debate’ played itself out at Nagashino and during the Satsuma rebellion, and Japan chose to modernize. China faced a similar decision in the opium wars and was too deeply enmired in its bureaucratized self-deception to make a wise choice, etc.

    2. I would imagine that the rise and fall of civilizations is probably cyclical, and that there are probably too many factors involved over too great a length of time for us to ever really say, oh yeah, “they” really had a choice right there. When the moment of truth arrives the structure is either strong enough, or it isn’t. Individual agency has its role to play, of course, subordinate to the overall picture.

      I am also not sure that it is accurate to say that most middle eastern rulers during the period of European colonial expansion were especially corrupt or despotic. They were less dynamic, less cohesive, and collectively weaker than their European counterparts; but there were good rulers and bad rulers just as in Europe.

  10. Excerpt from a comment sent by email:

    Don’t come crying to me when Sharia is voted-in in your neighborhood, city, or state and government policy becomes suppression of women and homosexuals, and trashing of the Bill of Rights.

    Of course it’s laughable that it would happen any time soon, but the demographics are against those of us who are passionate about Western civilization and its values. We should defend them now, not only while we are still strong enough to resist, but more importantly because Muslim moderates are under enormous pressure from the Islamists to support the extreme interpretation of Islam (House of Islam vs. House of War). We should be having a conversation about what does and does not constitute reasonable risk, not hurling invective at each other.

    1. Let’s examine this comment by the numbers:

      (1) This reader obviously has not run the numbers to calculate when a majority of Americans will (might) be Muslim. Based on current trends, it will happen sometime after infinity. Somebody is lying to him.

      (2) Sharia in the sense he fears is not universal among Moslums, and even less so among those living in the USA. Esp after the first generation. (Fertility also drops quickly each generation) This makes advocates of Sharia getting the necessary numbers even less likely in any reasonable time frame — reasonable in the sense of a horizon during which we can make predictions.

      (3) As for “trashing of the Bill of Rights”, that’s an extraordinary statement. It’s happening right now. Enemies of the Republic arouse fears against some future sharia menace in order to gain support for trashing the Constitution right now. It’s an ancient technique.

      Divide and rule.

      “They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.”
      — From the title page of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania (1759); written by Richard Jackson and published by Benjamin Franklin

  11. To extend Marcus Ranum’s and WTF’s comments about the long-range rise and fall of civilizations, one of the most important issues with Islam seems to me a lack of separation twixt church and state. The Reformation provided this separation in the West, with the result that the scientific revolution followed soon upon the heels of the Reformation. Organized science can’t flourish when its practitioners fear getting burned at the stake for heresy, after all.

    Once the church and the state became separate entities, it was no longer easy (and eventually not even possible) for religious authorities to put on trial and punish or imprison secular authorities for investigating issues which had no clear connection with religion. So after the mid sixteenth century, as long as a secular authority steered clear of explicitly making pronouncements about religious issues, s/he was fairly safe. (Spain lagged behind the rest of Europe in enforcing this separation twixt church and state, with the predictable result that Spain suffered a rapid decline in power and prestige which eventually resulted in the descent of the Spanish empire into a provincial backwater.)

    If and when Islam gets a Reformation, we may expect their countries to rapidly advance in science and technology. Until then, Islamic countries remain dependent on the West for wealth-generating science and technology…and as we all know, dependency invariably breeds hatred and resentment.

    As for the peculiar problems of the middle east, they seem compounded by the curse of oil. Vast unearned wealth seems to destroy civilizations; c.f., Spain’s immense flows of gold from the New World after 1492, akin to the middle east’s immense revenues from oil after 1969 (when Qaddafi first nationalized Western oil interests in his country). Ominously, we may also draw an analogy with America’s immense flows of unearned revenue from artificially-extended (in effect, immortal) copyrights on materials whose creators are now long-dead or in the public domain. Just as Spain pillaged gold from mesoamerican natives and got lazy and corrupt as a society, and just as the countries of the middle east parasitically lived off vast oilfields they never created and got lazy and corrupt as a society, American companies like Disney have pillaged the common global heritage of fairytales to create copyrighted movies whose copyright is then artificially extended effectively forever, and other countries are extorted for absurd amounts of money for these intellectual properties. As with Spain and the middle east, eventually this kind of pillaging proves unsustainable: the Kim Dotcom raid and other crazy overreactions offer a classic example of America’s hysterical response to the rest of the world very understandably using bittorrent and other p2p services to get copies of American intellectual property like WIndows Ultimate (price $400, more than the yearly income for a peasant in China) which they cannot afford.

    1. The Western conception of the separation of church and state is a fundamentally schizophrenic model in which it is taken as a given that the pursuit of knowledge must be immoral and moral authority must be oppressive and superstitious. It is also a very unstable arrangement, as we can see now with the “science” movement trying to construct their own moral authority and shake off what they see as the rotting, vestigial remnants of an inferior tradition; and fundamentalist Christians in the US seek to promote their own parallel body of scientific “facts”. In other words, in Western society, we can already see the two riven halves trying drifting farther apart and trying to grow back for themselves the part that is missing.

      I would wager that the separation of church and state as it emerged in Renaissance Europe can be most usefully understood as a European solution to very particular circumstances that existed in those societies at that time. Like any particular solution, it probably does have some more universal normative implications, but modern Western thinkers probably overestimate their significance and misunderstand their true nature.

    2. Most of you probably know this, but its important to repeat. The separation of church and state is a modern notion, and would have been considered either odd or bad by many (most?) of the Founders. It’s in neither the Declaration nor the Constitution. The earliest exact mention:

      Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State.

      — Letter from Jeffersion to Danbury Baptist Association, CT. (1 January 1802)

  12. Who feeds our fears of terrorism, especially enemies within?

    The sham ‘terrorism expert’ industry“, By Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 15 August 2012 — “A highly ideological, jingoistic clique masquerades as objective scholars, all to justify US militarism.”

    Excerpt, one of his conclusions:

    But the most pernicious attribute of this “terror expert” industry, the aspect that requires much more attention, is its pretense to non-ideological, academic objectivity. In reality, these “terror experts”, almost uniformly, have a deeply ideological view — a jingoistic, highly provincial understanding — of what Terrorism is and is not. They generally fixate on Muslims to the exclusion of all other forms of Terror. In particular, the idea that the U.S. or its allies now commit Terrorism is taboo, unthinkable. Their views on what Terrorism is track the U.S. Government’s and, by design, justify U.S. government actions. They are not “experts” as much as they are ideologues, rank propagandists, and servants of America’s establishment power centers.

    1. Excellent point. Notice that none of the recent spate of racist white supremacist mass shootings can be classified as “terrorism” in America. Indeed, as a CNN talking head memorably propounded after the Dark Knight Rises mass shooting in Colorado, “Mass murder is regrettably one of the painful consequences of the freedoms we enjoy.”

      Imagine the reaction if an American talking head on CNN has instead opined after 9/11: “Mass murder is regrettably one of the painful consequences of the global freedom of religious pluralism we enjoy.”

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