Are Some of Us More Equal Than Others?
by Abdul Cader Asmal, M.D.
“All animals are equal but some are more equal than others” George Orwell
The appeal by CAIR to the better instincts of the leadership of the Republican National Convention to tone down any anti-Islamic rhetoric fell on deaf years. Having apparently arrived at a consensus that adherents of Islam, including American Muslims (whether represented by mere a handful of heretical and fanatic deviants, or by the overwhelmingly moderate and mainstream Muslim believers) were irrelevant. The rhetoric painted all Muslims as a clear and ever present danger. Past statements by former Republican presidential wannabees were trotted out again to be certain that the point was driven home - all Muslims are to be impugned for the acts of a few.
The cheerleader for the Republican candidates was the one time front runner for the party’s candidacy, the ex-mayor of New York City who had made “Islamofascism” and “Islamic Terrorism” a centerpiece of his failed campaign. At the RNC he continued to link Islam and terrorism conducted by Muslims as ‘Islamic terrorism’. Obviously he believes that the fear generated by this linkage of Islam with terror (a modus operandi developed to a spectacular level by the neocon apparatus) could help the Republicans rejuvenate a flagging ticket. He believed this so strongly, that he even taunted his Democratic rivals for not stooping to this level.
It thus came as no surprise that despite CAIR’S plaintive plea to maintain a civil level of discourse on Islam at the Republican Convention Guiliani again revived the image of the Islamic bogeyman, and had the unmitigated gall to mock Muslims by saying that none but the terrorists should be affronted by the term ‘Islamic terrorism’!
Fear-mongering is an art form used throughout history by demagogues, and quintessentially mastered by the Nazis against the Jews to then wreak havoc on them. The parallel may seem too extreme to some, but once a community is painted as a fifth column within the borders of its own country, then any criminal act committed by a member of that community, or claimed to be in the name of that community could all too easy lead to a situation in which the innocent are rounded up and possibly even interned with the guilty. This did happen in this very country to the hapless American Japanese citizens.
When considering U.S. foreign policy, this demonisation of 1.3 billion Muslims as anti-American, anti-west, anti-women, anti-progress, and with a uniquely suicidal frame of mind toward nuclear proliferation, makes a systematic invasion and predatory devastation of ‘Muslim lands’ unambiguously “justifiable”.
Guiliani set the stage, but the rhetoric continued with Mitt Romney ( himself been the victim of religious bigotry) who echoed the sentiments of his presumptive new boss, John McCain, that ‘radical Islam’ is the ‘transcendental issue’ and remains the greatest threat to the US.
McCain boasts of his military experience and that experience is touted as giving him a commanding view of foreign relations. That such a man could see criminal terrorists of any persuasion as the primary issue of concern to America, or view them as anything more than a ‘rag-tag’ band of disorganized, deranged fanatics of calculatedly overblown importance, indicates how totally out of touch he is with the crushing reality of issues that confront this country.
We have a catastrophic and illegal war in Iraq (declared a ‘mission accomplished’ 4 years ago) which is now resurfacing as as a squib in the ‘success of the surge’. We have a monumental economic disaster, a collapsing housing market, a gigantic siphoning off of jobs by China and India, an erosion of the infrastructure of education, healthcare and public works and a total failure to foresee the need for alternate fuel sources.
In McCain’s myopic vision and belligerent mindset, all we need to do to fix these overwhelming problems is to rid the world of ‘radical Islam’! In this context it is ironic that the obsequious oil producers who while ransoming their own futures to keep the US economy afloat, are linked to ‘radical Islam’ and are now brazenly and contemptuously depicted as ‘the people who hate us’
This is the crux of the problem - for McCain (and for his former spiritual advisors Jim Hagee, and Rod Parsley) there is total contempt for Islam and Muslims. Appealing to the ‘better instincts’ of such individuals makes no sense. They have usurped loyalty and patriotism as their unique birthright. A plea for fair play and equity is viewed as a sign of servility and greeted with nothing but hubris. Muslims in the U.S. do not have political clout significant enough to make the candidates squirm for any insults made deliberately or inadvertently - at least not yet.
But, Muslims can make their case by reaching out to the majority of fair minded Americans who are Democratic, Republican or Independent and letting them know that Muslims are as American as anyone, and deserve the same respect as any citizen of a civil society where all are equal before the law. Muslims can also help themselves by making their presence felt at the ballot box.
Regrettably what they cannot expect is for the servile Muslim oil-producers, who in the face of their own rapidly dwindling oil resources , recycle their petrodollars to prop up the US economy, to develop a spine and declare that the demonisation of Islam as a religion is no longer tenable. Such a bold an unapologetic statement would command the respect that is due from the rest of the world; but to expect it from the current Muslim US allies wallowing in subservience as they allow themselves to be typecast as ‘people who hate us’, is as remote as expecting these obscenely, self-indulgent countries to bring aid to the millions of Muslims in other parts of the world being ravaged by famine disease war poverty illiteracy and disenfranchisement.
Perhaps when George Orwell expressed his sentiments about those ‘more equal than others’ he had in mind some of the elitist American Republicans and some of the elitist Muslim oil producers.