'All y'all dumb motherfuckers don’t even know my opinion on shit'.
If there was ever a defining moment in the 2010 midterm elections, I would have to argue that it occurred when the statement above was made by a black construction worker who had just passed through a gauntlet of “protesters”. The crowd had assembled in lower Manhattan to express their absolute hatred for Muslims, fueled by years of neoconservative propaganda (though it only seems like a few weeks). The unidentified man, wearing a skin cap, immediately assumed to be a Muslim artifact, made the completely appropriate statement, under the circumstances, when the crowd started directing their vitriol toward him.
Clearly, none of the protesters were interested in knowing his opinion but rather projecting it upon him. Yet, he probably made the most sensible and astute comment they had heard since tuning off Fox News before traveling to New York.
A few writers have pointed out that the controversy over the Park51 development is akin to short attention span syndrome, myself included. Glen Greenwald, and Ron Paul point out however that there is a sinister underpinning to the controversy that cannot be ignored.
“The animosity and hatred so visible here extends far beyond the location of mosques or even how we treat American Muslims. So many of our national abuses, crimes and other excesses of the last decade -- torture, invasions, bombings, illegal surveillance, assassinations, renditions, disappearances, etc. etc. -- are grounded in endless demonization of Muslims.”
Ron Paul puts the blame squarely on those who deserve it:
“In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.
They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars. . . “
While the controversy has come to a head and may even have taken people by surprise, it shouldn’t have. The controversy stems from the preposterous claim that the U.S. is in danger of being converted to a Sharia law system, seeded by neoconservatives as early as 2007 during the run up to the 2008 Presidential election.
When I first heard this drum beat, I found the claims far too incredulous to even take seriously. More properly put, I couldn’t fathom that such could be stated with a straight face and figured it even less likely that anyone would believe.
When Newt Gingrich was first hinting he might toss his hat in the ring for the 2008 election, it was this very claim he used as a rationale for running.
In fact Robert Spencer, one of the main mouthpieces for the daily Muslim hate Fox hosts have been scheduling, writes Gingrich is “the first major politician to acknowledge that the problem America faces today from Islamic jihadists is not simply one of terrorism, but of a larger attempt to insinuate elements of Islamic law (sharia) into American society, and to assert the principle that where sharia and American law conflict, it is American law that must give way.”
Gingrich may have been the first back in the 2008 cycle to use the word “Sharia” in this context, but he wasn’t alone in projecting the general sentiment that Islamic Jihadists were ready to take over the US. At the time, I believed, especially after 8 years of Bush/Cheney, that these ideas were unmarketable.
In January 2007, Mitt Romney, during a speech to the National Review Institute Conservative Summit, said:
“This [Jihadism] is Sunni, it’s Shia, it’s Hamas, it’s Hezzbollah, it’s Al Qada, it’s The Muslim Brotherhood, it’s financed by some countries that don’t even know they’re financing it in some cases, it’s preached to millions of people, it’s broadcast to the masses, it’s taught at schools in scores of nations and it is devastating to civilizations. Their objective is to replace moderate governments with a caliphate..” [It’s the Kitchen sink too!]
I wasn’t the only one who couldn't imagine voters taking this nonsense seriously. David Weigel, when he still had a Job at Reason:
“The GOP field is talking like the last seven years of war and horrible blunders didn't happen - the closest they come is McCain bitterly talking about the botched Iraq occupation. No one's challenging the candidates' hawkish talk about Islam and Iran, much less fact-checking it on the spot.”
As Matthew Yglesias at the Atlantic pointed out, the broad brush should have resulted in a far more incredulous response.
To put it bluntly, the trouble here is that the Muslim Brotherhood just isn't a violent terrorist organization, and certainly doesn't commit acts of violence against the United States. It's an extremely traditionalist multinational civil society organization. It's true that a lot of violent types used to be in the Brotherhood and now they're in terrorist groups, but used to be is the key phrase here, they left the Brotherhood because the Brotherhood wouldn't sign on for their agenda. In one clause, Romney's just gone and broadened the war to include a huge new category of people who have no intention of waging war against the United States or even against Israel.
I didn’t pay attention to how coordinated and consistent the message was among many of the 2008 primary campaigners nor did I suspect the neoconservatives would continue market this nonsense following the election. After all, 2008 didn't turn out so well for Republicans. However, after a two-year, constant barrage of scare mongering, the topic of Sharia has hit a fever pitch. Andrew McCarthy from the National Review back in July breathlessly proclaimed:
"Henceforth, there should be no place to hide for any candidate, including any incumbent. The question will be: Where do you stand on sharia?"
In Oklahoma, politicians have taken this so seriously that they’re proposing a legislative ban!
The entire issue over Sharia law is fabricated. For the past two years, I merely ignored this talk of Sharia encroachment as ridiculous, kooky conspiracy theory. For one, that’s what it is. There is absolutely no evidence that Al Qaeda or any of the terrorist organizations we’re allegedly fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan will ever be able to penetrate our political system in such a way. For another, it’s simply bigoted nonsense that hasn’t been even remotely supported with empirical evidence.
That’s where the covert bigotry and the broad, unchallenged assertions (where the hell is the media?) become so devastating. By linking the moderate, peaceful Muslim groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni, Shia, Mosques across the US which have never asserted any militant tendancies and people like the Imam involved in the Park51 development (who incidentally worked with the FBI’s counter-terrorism group during the Bush administration), the neoconservatives are counting on their base’s ignorance and fear propelling them back into power come November. Clearly, Gingrich has been planning this for at least a couple of years.
It’s a coordinated effort where a prophecy seems to come to life right before our very eyes and Newt rides in on a white horse to save us from the terrible, evil Muslims. Shakespeare couldn’t have scripted it better.
It gets even weirder. The media play here is downright choreographed as noted by John Stewart in a brilliant skewering of Fox news and the neoconservative pundits to whom it devotes so much air. Stewart also points out that Fox, who appear to be working in concert with Gingrich, are themselves funded by the very Muslims they are hoping you will hate.
That aspect of it doesn’t appear to have a rational explanation at first glance. However, if you take into consideration that the neoconservative goals stated in its PNAC documents back in 1994 were to completely remake the middle east, it makes perfect sense.
The House of Saud, from whence Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal eminates, was the main benificiary of the region’s reconfiguration at the end of WWI. It has cooperated and helped to fund most of the CIA’s covert ops in the region ever since, most of which were designed to increase the oil profits of American and Suadi interests (the un-stated goal of the neoconservatives).
This same Saudi Prince has himself funded the very Mosque for which the media company he’s bailed out is attacking.
It’s probably the largest political con-job I’ve had the sadness to witness and grasp in my lifetime.
The entire point of the exercise is to suck the American electorate into arguing and fighting over something that can achieve no good for the US no matter which side wins but for which the major players win whatever the outcome. More War! Hooray!
Gingrich is trying to frame the debate, with more than a little (once illegal before a recent supreme court decision) help from a battery of neoconservative columnists and media personalities such that the 2010 and 2012 elections focus on a single question: “Where do you stand on sharia?”, rather than the variety of questions that will determine whether or not we can climb out of this government-induced depression.
You are to forget that the trillion dollar foreign policy, which they foisted on this nation, is the solution rather than the cause of our looming bankruptcy, a growing hatred of US policy abroad, increased chances of terrorism and an entire generation of broken soldiers who will be dependent on the government for their health and well-being as they return from these same wars.
You are to forget that not one of them has any problem with the counterfeit stuff we produce and which is now losing its cache as the worlds reserve currency. You are to forget that the recent health-care bill and fascist bailouts of banks and auto companies were jointly foisted upon you by members of both parties claiming to represent you in Washington D.C.
But the support for their kooky conspiracies is also fabricated. In collusion with the media, and polling organizations the neoconservatives are creating a facade. We’re supposed to believe that the liberty movement is dead, that the tea parties have in a matter of weeks all succumbed to this nonsense and that the only thing we can do is avoid a conflict with anyone asking us our bonifides on the matter of Sharia. If you can’t answer that question, you are to be cast out from our political system and shamed into silence.
I have a feeling that this will backfire on them. It needs to backfire on them badly. Unless it does, you can just welcome more of the same disdain directed towards us from our “representatives” until the entire system finally collapses under its own dead weight.
Don’t despair though. Ron Paul has shown once again that merely shining the light on these cockroaches is the best defense. Shine your lights and speak out for liberty and we’ll send the bigots scurrying for cover. There’s nothing a bigot can say which dishonors his target.
“To bigotry no sanction.” – George Washington
"Tell your commander that we are not here to make peace but to do battle to defend ourselves and liberate our kingdom. Let them come on and we shall prove this in their very beards." - William Wallace