by Donn Marten
There has long been a concerted effort to demonize Muslims in the American Homeland as a part of the never-ending big money maker that is the phony war on terror. Big media of course plays a critical role in the dark propaganda campaigns that ensure that millions of Americans will continue to see the menace of al Qaeda and worse lurking in the darkest corner of their closets and under their beds. The connection is never made that the military and security industrial complex need the ongoing Muslim bogeyman to keep those god blessed dollars rolling in and to keep the war machine running on high. The business of America anymore – particularly since September 11, 2001 – is death, as in selling arms, financing repression and peddling surveillance technology against dissidents to friendly tyrants. The wars that drive what is left of the economy must go on as they always will in our own version of Oceania.
There are now ongoing military operations throughout the Middle East and in Africa, the latter is getting much attention in that the storyline is justperfect for the American low-information types and their knee jerk response to all things Muslim in that the radical group Boko Haram that kidnapped over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls represents another opportunity to unleash Team America World Police to delight those who watch far too much television and still buy into the lies of state. Secretary of Skull and Bones John Kerry – after thankfully disappearing for about a week or so after being a subject of much mockery due to his ongoing foreign policy foibles –reemerged at a State Department dinner to tout the latest fleecing of the taxpayer in a US involvement in Nigeria. Kerry oozed sanctimony as he delivered the lines that ”Boko Haram, Nigeria, only the United States is there offering the assistance to help find those young women”, and ”Other countries, not only aren’t they invited, but they did not even offer”. There is a reason for this – it is a Nigerian problem and should be dealt with by Nigerians but inMurka it serves the purpose of perpetuating the big lie of the devilish Muslim fiend.
Years ago I came across an extremely interesting little book called “American Terminator: Myths, Movies and Global Power” in which a series of essays examines the role of movies in shaping and reinforcing the basis for a mythical American exceptionalism and Empire. The following passage is from that book which I recommend to anybody with an interest in just how popular culture serves as a delivery device that is integral in the American indoctrination process. I excerpt the following:
Fear is essential: ‘Be afraid, be very afraid’ is the American condition. To live in America is to be beset by fear, anxiety and insecurity, to be surrounded by potential harm, enemies and evil intent. And the wolf is always at the door. A nation of optimists is the more usual self-representation of America. Repetitively, Hollywood films conclude with a resolution, a rescue, and the winners ride off into the sunset or snuggle into a warm embrace that reassures us they will live happily ever after. The formulaic ending, however, is necessary because the plot, the narrative, is founded on and propelled by fear and anxiety, the dark essential underpinning of the American condition. For America fear is an original, natural condition, the inescapable birth rite (and birth right), the inherited condition of a fragile existence that must constantly be defended. Without fear there is no America; constant recourse to fear is the motivating force that determines its actions and reactions.
The fear needs to be of a foreign nature to effectively get the public on board with the murderous wars of aggression and the cool, detached drone strikes that are being carried out in the name of Americans, killing innocent Muslim women and children and turning their surviving loved ones against good old Uncle Scam, therefore providing the justifying factor for even more money stolen from essential social services etc to fund the killing machine. It is a damned good con that the establishment has going and without the assistance of a neocon infested media is one that will go on for the foreseeable future. Jack Bauer, American’s favorite Nazi may have cut his television teeth on torturing and killing Muslims in the now updated for the times“24″, Showtime’s “Homeland” took it to another level with sleeper agents and Iranian terror on US shores and the box office hit “Zero Dark Thirty” further promoted torture but the real damage is done by what far too many still see as honest mainstream media and institutions such as the New York Times.
The Times is the same newspaper that just has come under fire for the sleazy hit piece disguised as a book review of Glenn Greenwald’s “No Place to Hide” by notorious presstitute Michael Kinsley (Greenwald’s response is here) as well as the retracted Michael Gordon story prominently featured as a basis to blame the hated Vladimir Putin for meddling in East Ukraine. The New York Times is again catching well deserved hell, this time for an insidious full page add that invokes 9/11 in calling for the persecution of Muslims. The ad, sponsored by yet another of those ubiquitous neocon think tanks, this one called “The Investigative Project on Terrorism” has a picture of the twin towers of the original World Trade Center with the menacing verbiage “Stop the Islamist Groups from Undermining America’s security, liberty and free speech” with the IPT website address featured as a source for more information.
There hasn’t been much outrage in the US state-corporate media as of yet this morning, they are too busy flogging to death the daily government talking points along with Donald Sterling and Miley Cyrus updates but The Guardian is once again on the ball. In a piece entitled “Why would the New York Times stoop to running an Islamophobe’s ad?” subtitled ”The newspaper delivers an air of legitimacy, even when those words are paid for by xenophobes to spread alarmist messages” by Raya Jalabi I excerpt the following:
By its own admission, the New York Times does not accept advertisements that are “gratuitously offensive on racial, religious or ethnic grounds or that are considered to be in poor taste.” So it’s difficult to comprehend how a full-screen online ad by a right-wing group warning readers about the”Islamist groups” out to undermine America’s security, liberty and free speech passed those allegedly rigorous standards,
But, according to the Times’s interpretation, the Investigative Project on Terrorism’s plea for readers to “learn more” about the unnamed terror groups wreaking havoc on these United States was nothing more than a sober and warranted distress signal.
“STILL HERE. STILL FREE. BUT FOR HOW LONG?”, the all-caps ad read, the words neatly positioned against the haunting backdrop of the smoking twin towers.
Readers who clicked on the ad were taken to a website for the IPT, the group who paid for the prominent space. A non-profit group, it claims to be “recognized as the world’s most comprehensive data center on radical Islamic terrorist groups” — though the metrics by which it measures itself are as-yet unclear. Clicking through its vast troves of “terror data” and “reports”, readers could stumble on the Call To Action by the American People, an “educational” pamphlet that urges citizens to fight back against the “campaign of censorship” that the supposedly “main radical Islamic groups” have been waging against the most sacred freedom: free speech.
It is the typical fear porn that is pimped by secretive groups like The Clarion Fund that was behind the 2008 distribution of millions of those nasty little “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” DVDs in the nation’s newspapers in the run up to the presidential election in order to capitalize on the bund rallies being conducted by Sarah Palin that elicited cries of “kill him” against then candidate Obama. The target audience for the coming wave of anti-Muslim slime that will be churned out in this mid-term election year is the same as it ever was and bottom feeding hatemongers such as Pamela Geller, David Horowitz, Robert Spencer and their ilk will be instrumental in fomenting the fear and loathing as November draws closer. It is imperative that the support for the undeclared US war on Muslims continue so that the elected officials most receptive to big military and other special interest cash not be displaced by more rational representation.
Most disturbing though, and I go back to the cultural aspects is the media role in promulgating the anti-Muslim hate that exists today in this country. Fiendish advertisements funded by nefarious front groups in the nation’s “paper of record” aside, the problem is deeper than that. Take for instance HBO’s comic Bill Maher whose popular show gives him a legitimate forum from which to demonize Muslims. Maher, an avowed atheist to his credit delivers deserved pillories to Christianity (at least to the southern-fried US incarnation that has excommunicated Jesus) but when speaking of Islam the millionaire joker takes the sort of edge more in line with the more vitriolic and hateful types who are legion in the extreme right that he hypocritically condemns. Libertarian magazine Reason has published an insightful article entitled “Bill Maher’s Un-Cool Muslim Bashing” on their website from which I excerpt:
Maher is an arch atheist who regards all religions as awful. However, he thinks that Islam’s inherently violent nature makes it particularly so. And he agrees with American Enterprise Institute’s Aayan Hirsi Ali that liberals ought to stop pretending that a moderate form of Islam is even possible right now.
Maher’s bold generalization might sound hip and cool–but it is actually false and dangerous (and I say this as an atheist born in the Hindu faith that has historically been at loggerheads with Islam.)
For starters, it ignores the 300 million Muslims–the size of America’s population–in the world who are Sufis, a mystical form of Islam that is essentially pacifist and believes that the path to God is through music and dance.
Worse, Maher doesn’t understand one can’t characterize a whole faith as extremist without also legitimizing the idea that extreme measures are necessary to control it.
That’s something even the un-cool George Bush instinctively understood. That’s why he took pains to stress that America’s beef wasn’t with Islam–only the extremists perverting their faith. The upshot was that even though the attack killed 3,000 Americans, America avoided a backlash against Muslims. To be sure, a handful of innocent Asians, some of who weren’t even Muslims, suffered random attacks, but there would have been far more bloodshed if Bush had followed Maher-style Muslim bashing.
Contrast this with India, my native country, where Maher-style denunciations of Muslims are part and parcel of the political culture. Barely six months after 9/11, about 2,000 Muslims were butchered in a pogrom in the state of Gujarat. (The governor on whose watch this happened just became the prime minister of India this week.)
India’s majority Hindu population has historically had tense relations with the country’s Muslim minority so anti-Muslim violence is nothing new. And in this case, the proximate cause of the massacre was retribution for some 50 Hindu pilgrims who died in a train fire that Muslims were rumored to have caused.
But the larger cause was that post-9/11, Maher-type talk of rising Islamofascism raised anti-Muslim sentiment in the country to a fevered pitch. It legitimized the ongoing demonization of India’s Muslims, leaving the country with few inner resources to contain the violence against them.
The new leader of India, Narendra Modi who is referenced by the writer, Shikha Dalmia was the overwhelming choice of big business interests and just ode into power on a wave of nationalism bears the stain of the 2002 pogrom unleashed on Muslims at Gujarat. Not that I give the Bush administration much credit for anything and they do have a huge share of culpability of exploiting anti-Muslim animosity for political points but they did deny Modi a visa in 2005. In a telling sign of the times the triumphant strongman of India has been invited to visit with President Barack Obama at the White House. The unifying factor of anti-Muslim fanaticism washes away many a sin, especially when there is a boatload of money riding on providing the military hardware, surveillance power and ideological clout of the bought and paid for media that promotes it.
Shame on the New York Times, Shame on them All!