Friday, October 16, 2009

Muslim Supervillians On Rampage!

Salem Witch Hunt Caption: Artist's conception of the Salem Witch Trials.

Image credit: Knowledge News

It's been a while since we had a good witch hunt in our nation's capital. It's not for want of trying on some peoples' parts, though:

Republican members of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus said the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have tried to plant “spies” within key national-security committees in order to shape legislative policy.

Reps. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), citing the book Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that’s Conspiring to Islamize America, called for the House sergeant at arms to investigate whether CAIR had been successful in placing interns on key panels. The lawmakers are specifically focused on the House Homeland Security Committee, Intelligence Committee and Judiciary Committee.

House Republicans accuse Muslim group of trying to plant spies

If the name of Trent Franks sounds familiar, that's because a couple of months ago I was praising his honesty. At the time, I mentioned that this acclaim probably wouldn't last long, and so here we are.

It's hard to find words for the contempt I feel for this sort of thing. There's nothing here but fear-mongering and bigotry, as Glenn Greenwald explains:

CAIR is a non-profit organization of American citizens who are Muslim and their "mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding." They stand accused of plotting to influence members of Congress and trying to help interns obtain positions in Congress in order to advance their political agenda. That's consistent with what virtually every political advocacy group in the nation does; it's normally called activism and democracy. But because, in this case, it's a group of Muslims who are doing this, these House Republicans are depicting it as some sort of nefarious espionage plot against the U.S. that demands a criminal investigation.

GOP House Members Call For Investigation Of Muslim Political Activity

[link from original]

CAIR had the temerity try to make it easier for Muslim-Americans to work as interns in Congressional offices. These are high school or college students who work in the congressional offices for a time, doing really high-level stuff like making copies and running things from one place to another. Along the way, they get to learn a little bit about how DC politics work. If they aren't totally turned off by that knowledge, it's possible they'll use it later, either in public service or in other fields.

Of course, a witch hunt wouldn't be a witch hunt without a ridiculously wide net, so suspicion will range further afield. Suhail Khan, a former staffer for President George W. Bush who experienced suspicion from his coworkers after 9/11, had this to say in an interview with Talking Points Memo:

Suhail Khan has seen this happen before. He was working as a senior political appointee for the Bush White House through Sept. 11, 2001, until this past January.

The same crowd of what he calls "professional bigots" -- people, he says, like Frank Gaffney and Dave Gaubatz -- have launched campaigns against specific Muslims working in the government, accusing them of terrorist sympathies.

The only thing different about the call by four House Republicans this week for authorities to investigate alleged "infiltration" of the Hill by Muslim interns, Khan told TPMmuckraker today, is that "they're not going after individuals by name."

Muslim Ex-Bush Official: 'Intern Spy' Hunt Threatens Careers Of Good Americans

Non-specific allegations have the advantage of being unnecessary to prove. All that's really necessary is to make the initial allegation, and then let the hyper-aggressive dimwits who are inclined to believe them find "suspicious" individuals to harass. It's worked in the past.

TPM's interview with Kahn concludes this way:

But he holds a charitable view of the lawmakers who have launched the "intern spy" campaign.

"Some perfectly well-meaning members -- Myrick, Shadegg, Broun, and Franks, who I've met and are good people -- have been really duped by this Gaubatz character."

Muslim Ex-Bush Official: 'Intern Spy' Hunt Threatens Careers Of Good Americans

I'll just quote from my article about Trent Franks:

Now, this guy is a dyed in the wool Republican. He went on to rant about how Obama was making America safe for abortion on demand and wasn't keeping it safe from jihadis.

Looking Stuff Up: Even Republicans Can Do It

That little snippet of conversation, which was almost at the end of this video, gave me the sinking feeling we'd be hearing from Rep. Franks again in less agreeable circumstances. I don't know if Franks really is a bigot, or he just senses that this is a subject he can use to exploit the fears of people who are. Whichever is the case, what he's doing now is despicable. He's more than lost his attaboy points.

Glenn Greenwald found this bit about Rep. Myrick:

Here's what Rep. Sue Myrick said in 2003 about the internal Terrorist threat:

In remarks about domestic security threats, Rep. Sue Myrick of Charlotte said, "Look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country". . .

Myrick’s comments came during a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation last week about what she called Americans’ lack of readiness to deal with future terrorist attacks. During a question-and-answer session, she spoke about danger within the country.

"You know, and this can be misconstrued, but honest to goodness (husband) Ed and I for years, for 20 years, have been saying, 'You know, look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country.' Every little town you go into, you know?" . . .

GOP House Members Call For Investigation Of Muslim Political Activity

Neither Franks nor Myrick sound like nice folks to me. They sound like bigots. Who in his right mind would worry about what people who are barely making a living can do while they're running a convenience store? Just what is it that the gentlelady from North Carolina imagines that they're accomplishing from there?

As an atheist, I take a pretty neutral view of religions. They're all a mixture of superstition and wisdom, with the emphasis usually on the former. Christianity and Islam are no exception. You could probably argue that having a majority of America belong to one of the more fanatical sects of Islam would be worse than our current situation, but I think that is true of some of the more fanatical sects of Christianity, as well. It makes little difference to me whether or not the majority of the country feels OK about consuming pork, or whether they use pews or prayer rugs when they're beseeching their gods to help them win a football game.So I have extra reason to wonder at the inanity of this.

Realizing that fearing American Muslims is foolish doesn't require such an insight, though. Not only are Muslims less numerous than Christians, Jews, and non-believers, but they haven't been in a position to affect much of anything that has happened in America. At this point, some raving lunatic would doubtless mention 9/11 as something they "affected". Of course, this person would have to be a lunatic, because not only were the 9/11 hijackers not Americans, their actual effect on us was small relative to catastrophes that have happened since. Did they lose the war in Afghanistan by getting us distracted in Iraq? Did they lose Iraq by not sending enough troops and not planning for the aftermath? Is it their fault that 45,000 of us are dying each year for lack of proper medical care?

Are these congresspeople, and the paranoid moron they drew inspiration from, seriously trying to tell us that a few Muslim teenagers who spend their days getting coffee for congressmen, and Suhail Khan from his powerful position in the basement of the White House could have made us do all that, and simultaneously make us ship our manufacturing base to China, allow a bunch of well-heeled crooks to loot what was left of our country, and then hire them to regulate what they hadn't looted? What sort of supervillian mental powers are these people supposed to have?

Muslims didn't fuck up this country. For the most part, Christians did.

Normally, I'd be reluctant to write another "me too" post about an issue that most progressives don't need to think very long about before they're revolted. This should be a no-brainer. The problem is, it's not. I don't see conservative politicians and pundits lining up to denounce this fantasy. If anything, the opposite is happening.

American influence in the world is waning, partly thanks to the stupid actions of the last three decades, but mostly due to things beyond our control. China, Europe, and India, probably in that order, will surpass us in their influence on world affairs. To make things worse, our economy is not going to get better for some time, thanks to the egregiously stupid decisions of the current Administration and the previous one. Whether it makes sense to or not, there will be a search for people to blame. If history is any guide, the people who are blamed won't be the ones who actually caused the problem. They'll be the 21st Century equivalent of the 1930s German Jews - people who haven't the power to stand up for themselves, and are just numerous enough to spend some time rounding up and persecuting. If we don't make it clear that this is unacceptable now, it's only going to get worse.


James Ala said...


There is a long and very dark history of Nativism in this country. This is just a fun-house reflection of the anti- Roman Catholic bigotry that spawned the No-Nothing party all the back in the days of "No Irish Need Apply."

The more recent example of people loosing their minds over the "brown menace" was the immigration debate that tore apart the Republican Party in the tail-end of the Bush Administration.

Combine Christianist musings about wiping Islam off the face of the earth and Lou Dobbs anti-immigrant hysteria, season liberally with rabble-rousing and you have this latest missive. This is the typical right-wing offal tossed to unthinking troglodyte ditto-heads of the Conservative Movement. Sad to say the base, the white, evangelical rural Southerners, eat this stuff up like ambrosia from the Gods

Cujo359 said...

To make matters worse, it's not just a hysteria that applies to recent immigrants. "Nisei" is Japanese for "second generation", as in "the second generation of immigrants". They, like many current American Muslims, were born here. Yet we sent them to concentration camps along with their parents.

It is an old story, but I'd like it to be no more than a story about how things used to be. We're a long way from that, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

GOP petroleum and missionary interests have always supported Islamofascism: Nixon got the Saudis to support Black Muslims to keep Jews from "controlling" civil rights, GOP made Ghandi dicatorship, GOP helps Pakistan and Turkey. THis is why Jerws and Hindus support Democrats, not because we are liberals.

Cujo359 said...

Then I'd say you need to re-evaluate your political position. My efforts are going into trying to prevent the Democrats from going along with this witch hunt. Whatever has happened overseas, the Muslims who are here are generally here because they want to be in America, not because they want to turn it into some Islamic theocracy. They're here trying to earn a living like everyone else. People like those four jackasses in Congress aren't doing any of us any favors.