Creating people's geographies
Fear and Loathing in the Occident :: Information Clearing House 18 Aug 2006 Islamophobia is a mental and spiritual affliction. And our Western ruling elites bear the responsibility for inflicting it upon the psyches of the masses.
Now that the Stalinist/Maoist regimes have collapsed or evolved toward capitalism and no fascist states with imperial ambitions exist (besides the United States and its few allies), the American Empire needed to find a new “enemy” to replace Stalinists and Nazis. Much of the soft power employed by the leaders of America’s “top down democracy” stems from psychological manipulation of “the mob”. Mobilization of the masses against a common enemy “threatening the very existence of the American Way” has long been a staple in the United States’ ruling elites’ ongoing push to monopolize the world’s wealth, power, and prestige.
And who better to vilify than Islamic people? Many are dark-skinned and live in developing nations, meaning their lives are inconsequential in the prevailing moral calculus of the West. The Middle East is predominately Islamic, its sands are oozing with crude oil, and it is home to Israel. From the perspective of the Empire, what better region to target than the Middle East?And whether one believes that 9/11 was a false flag operation perpetrated by the US government or the work of radical Islamic Fundamentalists, the members of the Bush Regime obviously shed their crocodile tears publicly while privately celebrating the event as their Pearl Harbor. 3,000 civilian deaths and the demolition of a powerful symbol of the Western “value” of avaricious Capitalism whipped the American public into a furor against the “evil Muslims” who “hate our freedoms”.
Never mind the fact that the United States and Israel have undertaken a nearly unparalleled program of military aggression and ethnic cleansing throughout the Middle East since the formation of the illegitimate colonial nation in Palestine. Given the premises for founding Israel, someone needs to remind Great Britain and the United States that it is incumbent upon them to create a homeland for homosexuals and Romani people. After all, they were also Holocaust victims and are people without a nation. And like the Palestinians, the other inhabitants of the Middle East are more akin to animals than human beings. So why not establish two more colonies on their land?
On August 13, Sixty Minutes aired a segment that revealed a great deal about Islamophobia and the role the corporate media plays in its proliferation.
In his recent open letter to Mike Wallace, Michael K. Smith declared:
Your interview with Iranian Prime Minister Ahmadinejad was a disgrace to the journalistic profession. You began with the condescending manner of a school principal lecturing the class clown for immature behavior and squandered the entire interview on hypocritically accusatory questions. If gall were an Olympic sport, you’d take the Gold Medal.
Michael made some fine points throughout his letter. However, I opine that he was too generous when he called Wallace’s vituperative verbal assault an interview. What I witnessed was Mike Wallace, the Ugly American. Brimming with contempt, impatience, hubris, and belligerence, he more closely resembled the Grand Inquisitor than a journalist.
Did Wallace truly fail to grasp that he was acting as an apologist and cheerleader for bellicose, heartless, and ruthless perpetrators of war crimes on behalf of Israel, and thus is a Zionist (as Ahmadinejad suggested)? Through its grossly biased coverage of the “War on Terrorism” and mindless perpetuation of the inane myth that Israel has the right to annihilate an unlimited number of civilians to protect its “right to exist”, CBS News has joined the squad of corporate media cheerleaders which has been shamelessly complicit in the Empire’s egregious crimes against humanity. I submit that one can be a Zionist and a journalist. Mike Wallace is living proof.
Yet in spite of Wallace’s tenacious efforts, the “devil incarnate”, Ahmadinejad, remained composed. At times Ahmadinejad seemed to thoroughly enjoy Wallace’s obvious “flustration” in attacking him from what has become an absurdly untenable position, both morally and logically. For those of us who don’t believe the Western media fairy tale that the United States is a force for good engaged in a noble struggle in its bid to rid the world of the evil of Islam and defend Israel’s “right to exist”, Wallace’s ill-fated attempt to expose the malevolence of the “enemy” was quite entertaining.
Just as Wallace scrambled madly in a hopeless attempt to prevail intellectually in his interrogation of Ahmadinejad, the debt-ridden, aging American Empire and its allies are flailing wildly in a desperate attempt to claim military victory in the Middle East. And like Ahmadinejad, those who comprise the resistance to occupation and exploitation in the Middle East are facing down their occupiers with a deft persistence, filled with a confidence born from the knowledge that recent history has not been kind to imperial invaders facing a people determined to expel them (i.e. Vietnam, Lebanon, and Iraq).
In the perverse worldview of the Neocons, Israel, and AIPAC, Iran is considered to be a part of the “Axis of Evil”. Since Wallace championed the cause of the “benevolent” United States in his Sixty Minutes interrogation of the leader of one of the members of the “Axis”, it is instructive to consider the “evils” Iran and resistance groups like Hamas and Hezbollah have perpetrated.
While various resistance groups in the Middle East have certainly committed war crimes by killing civilians, the “leader of the free world” and its counterpart in Palestine have annihilated hundreds of thousands more civilians than have the so-called “terrorists”.
Yes, militant Fundamentalist Islamic individuals wield much of the power in Iran. But let’s put on our thinking caps to discern how that situation evolved. In 1979 hard-line anti-American Islamic clerics assumed control of the Iranian government when they ousted the Shah (the corrupt US puppet who tortured and killed tens of thousands of Iranian “dissidents” during his reign of terror). Ironically, the Iranian government the United States loves to hate exists because the CIA and MI6 facilitated the Shah taking power from Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953. The significance? Mossadegh was a democratically-elected secular prime minister who had had the audacity to nationalize the oil industry because the British oil companies were grossly exploiting the Iranian people. By acting in typical fashion (by taking out a populist leader and replacing him with a vicious tyrant), the United States provided an incubator for powerful anti-American sentiment. Thus the United States and Great Britain are responsible for the theocracy in Iran which they fear and despise.
Corporate media pundits like Michelle Malkin and Anne Coulter are the vanguards in spreading pernicious distortions which fan the rapidly spreading emotional flames of fear, prejudice, and hatred comprising Islamophobia. Two of the most disturbing and inflammatory perversions of the truth the Western media entities disseminate are that all adherents of the Islamic faith are radical fundamentalists and that Sharia Law is universally harsh and grossly inferior to the Empire’s system (which provides “liberty and justice for all”).
Just as Christianity encompasses a broad spectrum of people with varying ways of practicing and expressing their faith, the Islamic world is filled with human beings who have diverse ways of expressing their religious beliefs. There are liberal, moderate, and Fundamentalist Muslims. And surprising as it may seem, most practitioners of Fundamentalist Islam, like most Fundamentalist Christians, are essentially peaceful individuals. In fact, a Muslim truly following the tenets of Islam practices moderation and tolerance. Many Muslims are no more willing to strap plastic explosives to their belts for a suicide mission than most Christians would be to bomb an abortion clinic. There are radicals from both religions, but they are very much in the minority.
Another lie deeply embedded in the barrage of communications we receive from the Western corporate media is that the United States and its allies are morally superior to the “evil Muslims”. One aspect of Islam they offer as “proof” of this faulty conclusion is that many Islamic nations incorporate Sharia into their legal systems. While Sharia can involve harsh and rigid forms of justice, it exists to varying degrees in the many Muslim nations around the globe. Judiciaries in Islamic nations manifest the influence of Sharia in ways that span the spectrum from extremely dogmatic to highly secular and liberal.
While the Western media’s blistering criticism of the more draconian actions of some Islamic nations (i.e. Iran’s execution of teenagers) is definitely warranted, the Empire has a great deal of house-cleaning to do before it is in a position to preach to other nations on human rights issues.
Here are but a few recent examples of the United States’ own flagrant human rights abuses:
1. carrying out quite a number of its own executions in a manner recently discovered to inflict a great deal of suffering on the victim
2. routinely torturing and suspending justice for suspected “enemy combatants”
3. funding the Israeli Apartheid and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians
4. occupying a nation where it has killed over a million Iraqi civilians since the Gulf War invasion (through brutal economic sanctions and military actions).
5. funding the Israeli devastation of Lebanon
6. supporting numerous ruthless and murderous regimes (as long as they are friendly to US corporations)
7. having cynically embraced Saddam Hussein as an ally (knowing of his crimes against humanity) when it furthered US interests and invading Iraq preemptively to topple him when he ceased to be useful.
8. having kept the House of Saud in power for years despite its harsh practice of Sharia (i.e. thieves’ hands are severed and adulterers are stoned).
9. maintaining the largest prison population in the world through a legal system so unjust that 50% of those incarcerated are Black when Blacks comprise 14% of the general population.
10. engaging in numerous outright massacres of civilians (i.e. Haditha, Fallujah)
In light of the above, how long will it be before a significant portion of the Muslim population falls prey to an extreme prejudice against all Westerners called Anglo-Christophobia? Let’s hope it does not happen any time soon.
Speaking of Christians (at least the Fundamentalist ones), their demonization of Islam is actually rather amusing. Christian Fundamentalists share more common ground with the extreme members of the Islamic faith than they perhaps realize. Some Muslim nations treat homosexuality as a crime. Abortion is illegal in virtually every circumstance throughout much of the Middle East. Separation of church and state does not exist in nations like Iran. Implementation of the death penalty is common in the Middle East. How can men like John Hagee reconcile their cognitive dissonance in advocating war against Iran, a model of the theocracy they strive to implement in the United States?
CBS, Mike Wallace and the rest of the United States’ corporate media can continue to do the Empire’s bidding from now until the world comes to an end (which may not be as far away as I make it sound if sanity and humanity do not prevail over greed, ignorance, and hatred). However, their nearly endless bombardment of intelligently crafted lies readily distributed to nearly every corner of the globe are powerless to alter the truth.
In truth, Israeli and American lives are no more precious than those of the Arab and Persian human beings populating the Middle East. And neither the United States/Israel/Great Britain nor the nations and groups comprising the resistance in the Middle East are innocent of the deep transgression of murdering innocents. Each nation or group also commits human rights abuses against its own people in some fashion. However, Western exploiters and invaders are culpable of far more frequent and grievous war crimes than the Middle Easterners who are defending themselves, their resources, and their people.
If the majority of the human beings controlling the corporate media had a shred of moral decency they would focus their efforts on informing their viewers, listeners, and readers of the vast number of war crimes committed by Israel and the United States. They would start portraying the “terrorists” as the resistors of oppression they truly are. They would make a distinction between the various Middle Eastern resistance groups’ legitimate attacks on their occupiers’ militaries and the war crimes they commit against civilians. And they would devote most of their remaining substantial resources to the inundation of news consumers with stories, photos and video footage depicting the tragic and gruesome civilian suffering and death.
As it is, the Western corporate media shamelessly serve the Neocons by perpetuating a virtually endless cycle of hatred and violence. They incite and feed Islamophobia and they fabricate a plethora of false justifications for the malevolent actions of Israel and the United States. But then in a fascist nation, corporations are wedded with the state, militarism is the state’s primary focus, scapegoats and enemies are essential, and the function of the Fourth Estate is to provide the propaganda to control the masses.
Just imagine if the mainstream media in the United States actually began fulfilling its role (in what is ostensibly a free society) and acted as a check on our government rather than its accomplice. If more Americans knew more truth, instead of hating Islamic people and pushing to intensify the war in the Middle East, the masses would be demanding that reason, justice, and peace prevail. They would demand that the United States completely withdraw its military from the Middle East and leave Israel to stand on its own, which would force the Israelis to finally settle the Palestinian issue in a just manner and to cooperate with their neighbors as equals.
If the major media entities of the West were living up to their responsibilities as members of the Fourth Estate, perhaps 3 year old Ali Ahmad Hashim of Qana would not have been bombed to death, the members of the Ghalia family would not have been obliterated on a Gaza beach, 76 year old wheel-chair bound amputee Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali would not have been massacred at Haditha, Cindy Sheehan would not be grieving for a son lost to a war of imperial aggression, and Reuven Levy of Haifa would not have been annihilated by a rocket attack as he was doing his job for Israel Railways.
I am not holding my breath waiting for money-driven enablers of war like Rupert Murdoch to start heeding the advice of Jiminy Cricket. However, I will not succumb to their assault of malicious distortions. I refuse to fear, hate, or consider myself at war with 20% of the world’s population simply because they choose to follow the teachings of the Qur’an.
Islamophobia is an intellectual and spiritual malignancy. Reason and humanity are the cures.
Jason Miller is a 39 year old sociopolitical essayist with a degree in liberal arts and an extensive self-education (derived from an insatiable appetite for reading). He welcomes responses at [email protected] or comments on his blog, Thomas Paine’s Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.