A Political Reality


Those who support democracy must welcome the rise of political Islam

From Tunisia to Egypt, Islamists are gaining the popular vote. Far from threatening stability, this makes it a real possibility

Wadah Khanfar

Andrzej Krauze 2811

Illustration by Andrzej Krauze

Ennahda, the Islamic party in Tunisia, won 41% of the seats of the Tunisian constitutional assembly last month, causing consternation in the west. But Ennahda will not be an exception on the Arab scene. Last Friday the Islamic Justice and Development Party took the biggest share of the vote in Morocco and will lead the new coalition government for the first time in history. And tomorrow Egypt’s elections begin, with the Muslim Brotherhood predicted to become the largest party. There may be more to come. Should free and fair elections be held in Yemen, once the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh falls, the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, also Islamic, will win by a significant majority. This pattern will repeat itself whenever the democratic process takes its course.

In the west, this phenomenon has led to a debate about the “problem” of the rise of political Islam. In the Arab world, too, there has been mounting tension between Islamists and secularists, who feel anxious about Islamic groups. Many voices warn that the Arab spring will lead to an Islamic winter, and that the Islamists, though claiming to support democracy, will soon turn against it. In the west, stereotypical images that took root in the aftermath of 9/11 have come to the fore again. In the Arab world, a secular anti-democracy camp has emerged in both Tunisia and Egypt whose pretext for opposing democratisation is that the Islamists are likely to be the victors.

But the uproar that has accompanied the Islamists’ gains is unhelpful; a calm and well-informed debate about the rise of political Islam is long overdue.

First, we must define our terms. “Islamist” is used in the Muslim world to describe Muslims who participate in the public sphere, using Islam as a basis. It is understood that this participation is not at odds with democracy. In the west, however, the term routinely describes those who use violence as a means and an end – thus Jihadist Salafism, exemplified by al-Qaida, is called “Islamist” in the west, despite the fact that it rejects democratic political participation (Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida, criticised Hamas when it decided to take part in the elections for the Palestinian legislative council, and has repeatedly criticised the Muslim Brotherhood for opposing the use of violence).

This disconnect in the understanding of the term in the west and in the Muslim world was often exploited by despotic Arab regimes to suppress Islamic movements with democratic political programmes. It is time we were clear.

Reform-based Islamic movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, work within the political process. They learned a bitter lesson from their armed conflict in Syria against the regime of Hafez al-Assad in 1982, which cost the lives of more than 20,000 people and led to the incarceration or banishment of many thousands more. The Syrian experience convinced mainstream Islamic movements to avoid armed struggle and to observe “strategic patience” instead.

Second, we must understand the history of the region. In western discourse Islamists are seen as newcomers to politics, gullible zealots who are motivated by a radical ideology and lack experience. In fact, they have played a major role in the Arab political scene since the 1920s. Islamic movements have often been in opposition, but since the 1940s they have participated in parliamentary elections, entered alliances with secular, nationalist and socialist groups, and participated in several governments – in Sudan, Jordan, Yemen and Algeria. They have also forged alliances with non-Islamic regimes, like the Nimeiri regime in Sudan in 1977.

A number of other events have had an impact on the collective Muslim mind, and have led to the maturation of political Islam: the much-debated Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979; the military coup in Sudan in 1989; the success of the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front in the 1991 elections and the army’s subsequent denial of its right to govern; the conquest of much of Afghan territory by the Taliban in 1996 leading to the establishment of its Islamic emirate; and the success in 2006 of Hamas in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections. The Hamas win was not recognised, nor was the national unity government formed. Instead, a siege was imposed on Gaza to suffocate the movement.

Perhaps one of the most influential experiences has been that of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, which won the elections in 2002. It has been a source of inspiration for many Islamic movements. Although the AKP does not describe itself as Islamic, its 10 years of political experience have led to a model that many Islamists regard as successful. The model has three important characteristics: a general Islamic frame of reference; a multi-party democracy; and significant economic growth.

These varied political experiences have had a profound impact on political Islam’s flexibility and capacity for political action, and on its philosophy, too.

However, political Islam has also faced enormous pressures from dictatorial Arab regimes, pressures that became more intense after 9/11. Islamic institutions were suppressed. Islamic activists were imprisoned, tortured and killed. Such experiences gave rise to a profound bitterness. Given the history, it is only natural that we should hear overzealous slogans or intolerant threats from some activists. Some of those now at the forefront of election campaigns were only recently released from prison. It would not be fair to expect them to use the voice of professional diplomats.

Despite this, the Islamic political discourse has generally been balanced. The Tunisian Islamic movement has set a good example. Although Ennahda suffered under Ben Ali’s regime, its leaders developed a tolerant discourse and managed to open up to moderate secular and leftist political groups. The movement’s leaders have reassured Tunisian citizens that it will not interfere in their personal lives and that it will respect their right to choose. The movement also presented a progressive model of women’s participation, with 42 female Ennahda members in the constitutional assembly.

The Islamic movement’s approach to the west has also been balanced, despite the fact that western countries supported despotic Arab regimes. Islamists know the importance of international communication in an economically and politically interconnected world.

Now there is a unique opportunity for the west: to demonstrate that it will no longer support despotic regimes by supporting instead the democratic process in the Arab world, by refusing to intervene in favour of one party against another and by accepting the results of the democratic process, even when it is not the result they would have chosen. Democracy is the only option for bringing stability, security and tolerance to the region, and it is the dearest thing to the hearts of Arabs, who will not forgive any attempts to derail it.

The region has suffered a lot as a result of attempts to exclude Islamists and deny them a role in the public sphere. Undoubtedly, Islamists’ participation in governance will give rise to a number of challenges, both within the Islamic ranks and with regard to relations with other local and international forces. Islamists should be careful not to fall into the trap of feeling overconfident: they must accommodate other trends, even if it means making painful concessions. Our societies need political consensus, and the participation of all political groups, regardless of their electoral weight. It is this interplay between Islamists and others that will both guarantee the maturation of the Arab democratic transition and lead to an Arab political consensus and stability that has been missing for decades.

A Reminder of the GOP’s platform


Don’t think the Republican Party is the party of racists and bigots? You don’t think America still has a long way to go before it fully realizes the dream of most of the people who elected Obama, or to realize this country’s potential?  Take a look at the video below!

Why bring this up now you ask?  Sarah Palin is still commanding attention and speculation about whether she will run in 2012; Donald Trump has decided to throw his hat into the politcal ring and he began with the same time worn cliches about Obama that defeated the GOP in 2008 and he’s had a strong showing in polls of Republican voters.  The tea party was formed in response to the GOP loss in 2008 and many of its members, a few we’ve talked about here, have continued the racist rhetoric that is evident in the video below.

No doubt the GOP will present itself as the party of fiscal conservatives, responsible government, etc.. but that’s a facade.  The real face of the Republican Party is the one that pushes people to the brink of fear and panic with overt and indirect references to race, religion and offers itself as a panacea for all that ails the country.   They see nothing wrong with doing that and have enlisted the help of women, like Palin and blacks like Herman Cain, Allen West, et.al who can make the ridiculous claim that because they are saying such dastardly demagogic speech  it’s not racism or bigotry.  In reality, such people, photogenic, sophisticated looking people are nothing more than lipstick on a pig.  No matter how you dress it or who you use to spout it it’s still ugly, virulent and yes protected free speech, that is xenophobic and divisive.  What such forces of darkness are counting on is an ignorant, fearful, wanting to be led by the nose electorate who will believe anything they are told and produce the desired results at the polls.  Aren’t we better than that?   America, deal with your problem!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Florida Minister says he won’t back down-UPDATE


The minister in Florida who wants to have a burn the Quran day on September 11 says he won’t back down from doing it and I say good for him!  It is his constitutional right to burn copies of the Quran, the religious book of Muslims.  Let’s not forget we live in a country where  it is the right of any American to burn the US flag, and we all remember the turmoil  reaching that decision caused America. It is one of the “hazards” of living in a free society; protested speech against patriotic or religious symbols is not illegal. American Muslims more than any other group, should understand that,  and  should register their disagreement with the burning  of Qurans act,with thoughtful and or provocative editorials like this one ,  or planned  peaceful  protests like this,  for even though what Jones wants to do is legal it is morally reprehensible.  That’s as far as his opponents should take it, however.

It is this type of dissent  Muslims should expect from  those who oppose their building of a masjid near the site of the former WTC buildings; one may disagree with the building of the Cordoba House at Park 51, and may protest the  building going up there, however it is the right of the supporters of that project, codified by the legal authorities responsible, for the house to be built there and Cordoba House’s supporters should proceed with resolve to see it through  even during times of  intense opposition to it AND  the opponents should resign themselves to the inevitability of its completion .  What will then become a true battle of ideas a distinction between those who oppose book burning versus those who oppose a religious house of worship will be how the different groups express their opposition and accept the rule of law.  In other words, the behavior of the opposition will have more of an impact on the public debate about the presence of Islam in America than the action which spurs that opposition.   America will have to choose between those who promote racist, stereotypical, violent reaction to protected speech and religious freedom and those whose opposition is principled, respectful or thoughtful.

Given America’s past inclination to mob/racist rule the outcome is not so certain and definitely not in the near future.  One of the reasons why we must have this frank discussion about race in this country is because the racist template we’ve set for ourselves over the years  allows us to insert whatever group of the day we want to hate into  it and then hurl invective and discriminatory actions at them which we try to make into law to suppress them.  We still have not managed to steer clear of this disease because we haven’t really tried to cure it. Saddle up America, here we go again; we’re in for another  protracted campaign for the soul of this country.

UPDATE

Jones did back down and if anyone can understand the reasons why he did so, please explain them to me.  The man who claimed to have received messages from God  is unfathomable, sick, crazy in the head and one as intimately  familiar with him as his own daughter has come out and said so.  There’s even mention of  a mental disorder here as well. Why we, citizenship media as well as corporate media gave him so much of our time, bandwidth and news print is one of the mysteries of life.  A “pastor” with a minuscule congregation of about 50 managed to hold the entire world hostage with his delusions of grandeur and his fear injected venom which paralyzed a nation, diverted its attention from a more pressing national agenda than his personal dementia and left us, after his ‘never mind’ moment feeling used and abandoned from it all.  We deserve it….we put in way too much time feeding the ego of a man whose ego is as large as any other megalomaniac or larger, being called by a US Army general, the Secretary of Defense, the FBI, the NYC police chief and countless others who otherwise wouldn’t give you the time of day can be very gratifying, but what did all of that give us, the People?  It revealed for us that dark side of our collective nature that loves to be frightened and angered; it allowed the haters in our midst to feed us their daily ration of  hatred and loathing for “others” who are really “we”, “us”.  Someone wrote on their headline, ‘Florida Pastor Makes National Jackass of Himself’….and my answer would be no he didn’t.  He made jackasses out of us.

A Call Out for Citizenship Media


If ever there was a time for citizenship media, today’s 21st century America is definitely that time.  This article clearly demonstrates how dangerous corporate media easily manipulated or agenda driven can become, and that’s not to say citizenship media won’t suffer the same problems, but the increase in the number of sources to choose from opposed to the monopoly that’s slowly enveloping mainstream media offsets that risk.  There are a lot of examples of good citizenship media and one of my favorites is Consortiumnews.com an excellent blog run by Robert Parry, but there are certainly others.  We are not defenseless in the face of corportate media’s onslaught; while it has its place, main stream media has become increasingly irrelevant in covering or even defining today’s issues.  The article below is just one of the reasons why (emphasis in red mine)

Declassified files from a Senate investigation into Israeli-funded covert public relations and lobbying activity in the United States were released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on July 23rd, 2010. The subpoenaed documents reveal Israel’s clandestine programs for “cultivation of editors,” the “stimulation and placement of suitable articles in the major consumer magazines” as well as U.S. reporting about sensitive subjects such as the Dimona nuclear weapons facility. Documents are now available for download from http://IRmep.org/ila/azc include:

Dimona (excerpt): “The nuclear reactor story inspired comment from many sources; editorial writers, columnists, science writers and cartoonists.  Most of the press seemed finally to accept the thesis that the reactor was being built for peaceful purposes and not for bombs.” http://www.irmep.org/11-121960AZC.pdf

Content placement and promotion (excerpt): “The Atlantic Monthly in its October issue carried the outstanding Martha Gellhorn piece on the Arab refugees, which made quite an impact around the country.  We arranged for the distribution of 10,000 reprints to public opinion molders in all categories… Interested friends are making arrangements with the Atlantic for another reprint of the Gellhorn article to be sent to all 53,000 persons whose names appear in Who’s Who in America…Our Committee is now planning articles for the women’s magazines for the trade and business publications.” http://www.irmep.org/09101961AZC.pdf

Pressure campaigns (excerpt): “It can be said that the press of the nation…has by and large shown sympathy and understanding of Israel’s position.  There are, of course, exceptions, notably the Scripps-Howard chain where we still need to achieve a ‘break-through,’ the Pulliam chain (where some progress has been made) and some locally-owned papers.” http://www.irmep.org/11-121960AZC.pdf

Magazine Committee achievements (excerpt): “We cannot pinpoint all that has already been accomplished by this Committee except to say that it has been responsible for the writing and placement of articles on Israel in some of America’s leading magazines….” http://www.IRmep.org/10301962_AZC.pdf

According to Grant F. Smith, director of IRmep, “It is frightening how easily some in the American news media surrendered to a foreign public relations campaign that spent the 2010 equivalent of $36 million over two years. Time has proven most of the planted content to be misleading, if not dangerous.  These historical documents hold many important lessons for Americans who have long needed—but rarely received—straight reporting on key Middle East issues.”

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation’s record keeper.  It retains 1%-3% of the most important documents of business conducted by the United States Federal government.  The Israel Lobby Archive, http://IRmep.org/ila is a unit of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington.

Letter from a Birminham jail revisited


Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic Party is the latest person in Obama’s party to undercut the commander-in-chief by saying the supporters of Cordoba House, while they have the RIGHT to build their community center where they want, should  build it elsewhere.  Harry Reid, running for reelection in Nevada as well as Dean are more concerned about their party’s health than the health of the Nation and are the worse examples of political hacks, people who live to advance the cause of a special,narrowly defined  interest not taking into account the greater good of the citizenry of the entire country.

In the face of such flight from principle it is apparent  that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may acknowledge the legitimacy of the Constitution’s right to religious expression  but when these very same individuals begin identifying with a group other than the entire citizenry of America they tend to dilute their position with the caveat ‘but they should build elsewhere’ thereby negating completely their concession and in the process become immoral.

Such was the conclusion arrived at by Martin Luther King as he sat in a Birmingham city jail in 1963, confronted by fellow white Christians who wanted to encourage him to go slower in his quest for overthrowing segregation in racist America.  The people he addressed in his letter  who agreed with the principle of desegregation were not throwing their weight behind King’s action of non-violent protest and social agitation because they didn’t want to upset the status quo, although that is exactly what they were doing  by agreeing segregation shouldn’t exist.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

In the parallel universe between 1960s  Birmingham, Alabama and 21st century America, “freedom” becomes freedom of religion and religious expression and “segregation” becomes denial of a place to worship at the place of one’s choice.  The comparison is real, palatable, and in all the fervor caused by the controversy very few people have spoken out against the Islamophobia that has embraced the opposition  movement to build the Cordoba House at another location.  Some people have even taken to a wholly unconstitutional position of building the cultural center on land provided to the developers by the state of  New York in what would clearly be a breech of separation of religion and state.  No one has thought for a moment about the ramifications this has for other faith communities that may be considered more main stream?  What would you say to a evangelical church that has permission to build on a property while government officials insist they build elsewhere or prominent members of society insisted such abrogation of that church’s decision.  Would that be considered coercion?

For those who say it is insensitive to build such an establishment close Ground Zero, that it’s presence exacerbates emotions towards Muslims and this should be avoided King answered that concern while sitting in a Birmingham jail so many years ago

I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

If you remove the adjective “white” every time it modifies moderate and replace “Negro” with Muslim, and where you find names of obstructionists who opposed King in his day you replaced with the Republican or Democratic party you would have the essence of the argument against those who say Muslims have the right, but……

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fan in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality.

Dean, Reid, Clinton and Bush (the latter two having not made any statement on this issue) have done a disservice to citizenship and betrayed the trust they have to America to represent all of its citizens.  The rights given to all of us were unconditional and that as long as the citizen was in good standing with the law they are expected, nay encouraged, to practice those rights to the utmost of their ability.  Those who say, ‘yes, but……”  are the same obstructionists faced by King during the dark days of American segregation.  It is up to Muslims and other freedom loving Americans, freedom riders/fighters to agitate for total and complete freedom of expression for which they are entitled.  Nothing less is acceptable now as it wasn’t acceptable then.

The New Face of American Emperialism


Jeffrey Goldberg has written a piece , full of all the usual shtick, to call for the US to engage in a war with Iran.    The piece contains the normal false premises and bravado used by Goldberg and other neocons in the past; how the United States should spare Israel the  pain of an attack against Iran, because of its nuclear weapons potential, by attacking Iran itself or how the American president can’t possibly understand the gravity of a situation faced by the Israelis or doesn’t have the ‘balls’ to act proactively for the commonly shared interests of the two countries, America and Israel, and so on and so on.

Two glaring items stand out concerning Goldberg’s piece.  First and foremost is why should anyone take any stock in what he has to say given his dismal record of fact based reporting and his background?!   Goldberg agitated for the Iraqi war/invasion using  information he either knew was faulty or simply didn’t care enough to confirm its veracity and we all know where that led us.  That embarrassment didn’t make him go away or remain in the background of agenda driven media reporting, rather he’s back and asking for more war and destruction based on a premise he knows to be doubtful at best or simply untrue………..again.

Meanwhile one of the reasons why he’s on this personal crusade against Iran, his intimate involvement in the Israeli government because of his service in the IDF goes unmentioned.  It’s really no secret why, in my opinion; Goldberg isn’t the only prominent American-Israeli to serve in the IDF and then return to influence American policy vis-a-vis Israel.  Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama’s chief of staff is another as well as Ethan Bronner of the New York Times, whose son reportedly serves in the IDF are two more examples of people in high profile, influential positions with close ties to Israeli concerns who are able to influence American public opinion and policy with regards to the Middle East.   The Israeli desire/need  to expand their borders at the expense of other sovereign states,  unilaterally use such states’ natural resources without resorting to negotiations and changing their security requirements  based on the needs of “zionism” which may or may not have anything to do with the needs of modern day statehood  are things Americans might not see as a cause to go to war .  Hence the need for people like Goldberg whose job is to make just that case.

In this context of Goldberg’s IDF service it is simply not possible for him to be objective in his role as a reporter, and let’s be honest he’s not reporting anything rather he’s presenting the Israeli view on their need to destroy Iranian nuclear technology,  because it is “known” he, Goldberg, shares this view. A journalist’s biases and agendas all too often DO get in the way of  good reporting on issues of the day, and some expect and want that.   Otherwise how do you account for the dearth of Arab/Muslim reporters on the pages of the NYT, or WaPo backed by editors who think their ethnicity won’t affect their ability to elucidate clearly the talking points of main stream media and its supporters in governmnet, American or Israeli?  Those editors know the experiential and cultural  filter such people might bring to the job will not make it possible for them to slant the news in the direction editors would want it to go for a territorially expansive and militarily aggressive state that encroaches on its neighbors sovereignty.

In fact that is exactly why people like Goldberg are prominently displayed throughout media to make the case for whatever administration or regime, American or Israeli, is in power at the moment because given access to the holders of power they are expected to make the case for policy being touted by those officials  whereas  Arab/Muslim reporters are not  privileged with that access because it is known they are generally not disposed to be tools for political Zionism.

However, the theme that really is provocative and reminiscent of moving the goal posts to constantly justify the raison d’etre of Israel is the notion buried deep in Goldberg’s piece that although a nuclear Iran poses no existential threat to  Israel, the mere fact that notion is intimidating means it would convince enough Israelis not to live there, contribute to an accelerated brain drain of Israeli settlers moving to other places in the world and somehow diminish Israel’s existence.

The real threat to Zionism is the dilution of quality,” Barak tells Goldberg. “Jews know that they can land on their feet in any corner of the world. The real test for us is to make Israel such an attractive place, such a cutting-edge place in human society, education, culture, science, quality of life, that even American Jewish young people want to come here … Our young people can consciously decide to go other places [and] stay out of here by choice.”

……..

“[Israelis] are good citizens, and brave citizens, but the dynamics of life are such that if … someone finishes a Ph.D. and they are offered a job in America, they might stay there … The bottom line is that we would have an accelerated brain drain.”

In other words a threat to Israel is anything that causes its intelligentsia to leave that country to look for greener pastures and the fact Iran might possess nuclear weapons could possibly frighten Israelis now or in the future  to live elsewhere.  Job/educational opportunities in other countries that are inviting enough to Israelis to make them leave the state of Israel are a threat, which begs the question, how would Israel deal with such a “threat”?

In other words, Israeli elites want the United States to attack Iran’s nuclear program — with the potentially negative repercussions that Goldberg acknowledges — so that Israel will not experience “a dilution of quality” or “an accelerated brain drain.”

……….

Israeli elites want to preserve a regional balance of power strongly tilted in Israel’s favor and what an Israeli general described to Goldberg as “freedom of action” –the freedom to use force unilaterally, anytime, for whatever purpose Israel wants. The problem with Iranian nuclear capability — not just weapons, but capability  — is that it might begin constraining Israel’s currently unconstrained “freedom of action.”

The aforementioned ‘freedom of action’ is just a euphemism for the ability of the Israeli government to invade, trespass upon the territorial sovereignty of its neighbors without any repercussions, much like what it has done in Gaza, Lebanon and the aerial attack against Syria a few short years ago. In other words those conditions that Israel wants extended to it as a state in the region it is not in any way considering giving to its neighbors because of the very basic  principle of ‘might makes right’. Israel is not willing to live by any internationally accepted code of conduct that does not allow it to persecute its neighbors in order to meet its constantly changing ideas of what constitutes existential threats and because Goldberg is able to make the case persuasively enough in American circles,  so prominently displayed on the pages of The Atlantic or even considered is an indication of how important people like him are to American imperialism.

There is no race problem in America!


…..’and the cow jumped over the moon…the little dog laughed to see such sport, and the dish ran away with the spoon’, such is the fantasy land we live in here in America. That there are people who still believe there is no race problem in America, after years of Arab bashing and Islamophobia that has seen images of a female, Jewish Supreme Court nominee, dressed in Muslim garb, or torture imposed solely on people of Arab/Muslim decent, stereotypical images of a black US president dressed in scanty clothes with bones through his nose, and on and on, then the nursery rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle is completely within the realm of possibility.

In just a few short weeks we’ve had people fired because they expressed respect for a dead Muslim, the MSM pick up and run with the false story (more here)  of the Obama Administration’s racism and fear of prosecuting the New Black Panther Party, and that same Administration react to the story by firing a black government employee because it was erroneously alleged she didn’t want to help a white farmer.  We could dredge up more examples of how race and the fear and distortions surrounding it are the impetus for politicizing a segment of the population.

The Lebanese Muslim cleric who received condolences from so many riled the “establishment” we’ve already covered.  We simply as a country cannot express any respect for Muslims, they are only to be defiled and defamed  like so many other races and ethnic groups that grace American soil and have gone on to contribute just as much to its fertility as any other.

FoxNews ran with a story about how the Obama Administration didn’t want to prosecute a black nationalist group, hoping one would draw the conclusion, because Obama himself along with his Attorney General is black they are not fit to run or govern the country because of their obvious prejudices.  Preying again on peoples’ fears and prejudices, the people who carry these stories hope you won’t immerse yourself in the details which as the links above points out, proves the story is just that, a story with no truth to it. It does serve the purpose of imposing doubt and suspicion of people against one another, the typical tactic of people whose motives and interests have nothing at all to do with the Nation’s interest or security.  But because this is America, it sells!

Obama didn’t help himself any when he had fired a woman after a 2:36 tape tape surfaced of her remarks  courtesy of right wing political hack Andrew Breitbart which supposedly showed her making disparaging and even racist comments about her job duties to a white farmer client of hers.  It didn’t matter to Breitbart, Obama, the NAACP or the other news media outlets that the tape was edited from a 43:15 tape where Shirley Sherrod pointed out she came to the realization it was her duty to help poor people no matter their color.  Equally unimportant so it seems, to race baiters and those easily intimidated by  them were the words of the white farmer who said Sherrod was helpful and is not a racist, nor did they feel this way during their interaction with her.   What matters to people who use race as the standard for conduct in society is  an entire  group  must pay for personal offenses!  We too quickly believe the lies, because like the previous examples mentioned above, we have been bred to, led to, raised to indeed are expected to believe; all Muslims/Arabs are terrorists, that a black President and Attorney General want to rule by the street and gangs of marauding New Black Panther Party members or even impose Islamic law, that people who talk of redemption and social cohesion are a threat to the moral fabric of this country and should not be allowed exposure to the rest of us.  We are a  nation made up of racists,  and the sooner we come to grips with that, ALL of us, the sooner we will be able to fix it, for without acknowledgment that we are sick, we are far less likely to seek a cure.  That has been the call for as long as I’ve been alive and it seems we are no closer to realizing it now than we were before.