Are the Republican Presidential Wannabes the new Imperial Wizards?
by Dr. Abdul Cader Asmal
A phobia is an irrational, exaggerated fear of the unknown. Misconceptions, misunderstandings and disinformation about Islam were pervasive before 9/11 and raised understandable concerns within the society at large about its minority segment. 9/11, however, was the the seminal point in history after which Islamophobia became a socially acceptable topic of civic discourse. A single horrendous act by a band of heretical Muslims who owed allegiance to no country and were the religious representatives of none brought instant ignominy to an entire religion, and universal contempt for its adherents.
For all the pain and suffering it caused, 9/11 also provided a pretext for those with a pre-existing anti-Muslim prejudice to expose their malice. Initiated by self-styled ‘experts ‘on Islam, the contempt spread thorough rabid talk show circuits and print outlets, was reinforced by so-called religious leaders and exploited by opportunistic politicians. The process of a swift and coordinated demonisation of Islam was accomplished by the dovetailing of the ‘war on terror’ with the criminal invasion of Iraq. This misadventure, apart from magnifying the risk of further terrorist attacks at home, with its constant juxtaposition of the savage images of war with the background of Muslim prayer, was able to effect the seamless transition of the slogan, ‘the terrorists are Muslims’ to ‘the Muslims are terrorists’, with the face of the enemy in the war on terror being indelibly imprinted on the minds of Americans as the face of Islam. With Islam as the targeted demon, the silence about a possible US pre-emptive nuclear assault on Iran with apolcalyptic consequences is surreal.
One may, with reason, ask what has led the US that was able to dismantle the mighty Soviet Union, a true existential threat to the entire world, with constructive engagement, to now choose to adopt such a virulently confrontational stance against Muslim nations, which effectually are dysfunctional, and which have hitherto looked up to the US for leadership and were only too willing to help in Bin Laden’s liquidation.
The convergence of three special interest groups may have forged the anti-Muslim alliance: the PNAC ( Project for the New American Century ) neocon playbook, the march of Christian Zionism, and a deep-rooted Eurocentric religious supremacism
1. Equating the 9/11 attacks with the Israeli terror experience resonated with the American public and expedited the preconceived neocon scheme of establishing US hegemony over the Middle East — and as Cheney admitted, if that made the neighborhood safer for Israel so much the better. Iran, rather than Iraq, is viewed as more of an ‘existential’ threat by Israel, and the clamor now is to pulverize Iran before it has any chance of building a nuclear capacity.
2. A more potent and direct anti-Islamic force has been unleashed by a fringe group of the Evangelical Christians who seem to believe that they can force God’s hand in bringing on Armageddon by staging a war between the forces of Good (the Christans) and the forces of Evil (the Muslims)—which would result in the return of Jesus with instant salvation for Christians and a opportunity for Jews to convert to share in salvation. This radical but politically very savvy group of Christian Zionists, are actively endorsing political candidates who would show unwavering support for Biblical Israel with nothing short of contempt for Judaism and hatred toward Islam.
3. The most subversive Islamophobic drive originates primarily from essentially nominal, previously anti-Semetic, secular, Eurocentric Christians with a supremacist worldview of religion. For them it is odious that a religion advocated by racially, intellectually, technologically and culturally backward people with little style, pomp or circumstance should have the temerity to claim the ultimate message of the one true God. The Hindus might be smarter and the Chinese superior technocrats but their ‘gods’ are ‘different’ and pose no spiritual challenge that the ONE GOD that Islam and Christianity with Judaism claim as their own. Polemical arguments have raged between Muslims and Christians from the advent of Islam as to whose understanding of God is correct.The opportunity presented in the current climate of hatred and fear of Islam seems almost like a divine invitation to relegate the backward Muslims to the middle ages where they belong. And who better qualified to take on this task than republican wannabe presidents like Giulinani who front load their campaign advisers with known Islamophobes such as Daniel Pipes , Norman Podhoretz and Peter King, are ‘blessed’ by ‘high priest’ Pat Robertson who admonishes the Democrats for failing to use the term ‘Islamic terrorists’, or like Tancredo who talks blithely about nuking Mecca, or even the likes of the ill-fated Romney who mutters darkly against the ‘jihadist’ threat, and John McCain who sees ‘radical Islamic extremism’ as the ‘transcendental issue’. When the media joins in and uses terms to define Muslims in eactly the same language that the Germans used against the Jews we know that the days of bigotry and hatred are born again.The Grand Wizard is not a tragic legacy of the past - the neo-religionist supremacists have found a target in Islam that they can ridicule demonize and threaten with absolute impunity and immunity.
The overwhelming majority of Muslims are not against democratic ideals, and before the occupation of Iraq were not anti-American, do not conspire against the existence of Israel and have no desire to terrorize America. By the same token the overwhelming majority of Jews do not expect a destabilized Muslim world with a racinated Islam to be of any benefit to the future and security of Israel. Above all, although America is a Christian country, the overwhelming majority of Americans , be they Republican or Democratic, are exceptionally fair and tolerant people who, because they set the universal standard for religious pluralism, will not allow themselves to be beguiled by hateful fearmongers, and see God-fearing Muslims depicted as ‘Islamo-fascists’ or seek redemption for Jews only through the acceptance of Christ as saviour. America has no place for an ‘Imperial Wizard’ to run a campaign of hate, fear and divisiveness. The demagogic, hate-mongering Republican presidential wannabees, with a neo-klansman mindset are hopelessly out of sync with what America and the world need. America needs to show to the world again what democracy is truly about. It is not about voting for a woman because she is a woman, or for an African American because he is an African American, or for a Mormon because he is a Mormon. That is tantamount to not voting for a woman because of her sex, or for an African American because of his race, and for a Mormon because of his religion. This is un-American and we have to rise above these petty politics and prejudices and restore the basis of our true democracy. We have to vote with our consciense for the person who is the brightest and the best in our country to lead it and the world to a more hope-filled future for all.
Abdul Cader Asmal 12/4 /07