2010-07-04

The worst thing about us being anti-Islamic bigots

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

From: http://wondersofpakistan.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/how-to-deal-with-americas-empire-of-bases/

As long as we tolerate any public attention directed at the Moslem faith itself in response to terror attacks against our western nations and those our governments support, we will be allowing the real cause of those terror attacks to continue unchecked. We will even be playing into the hands of those responsible for the provoking of those terror attacks. We will be encouraging those responsible for the occupation, dispossession, maiming and murder of hundreds of thousands of people who have the misfortune to have been born in the lands that contain “our” necessary resources and power interests.

Doug Bandow summed it up in a recent Huffington Post article:

Terrorism is not new. It was used against Russian Tsars, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, and British colonial officials. Algerians employed terrorism against the French and later Algerian governments. Basque and Irish separatists freely relied on terrorism. Until Iraq, the most promiscuous suicide bombers were Tamils in Sri Lanka. In none of these cases did the killing occur in response to freedom, whether in America or elsewhere.

Robert Pape of the University of Chicago studied the most recent cases: “The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign–over 95 percent of all the incidents–has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

The full article is found at informationclearinghouse.info and Huffington Post.

The reference to Irish separatists is most instructive. At the time of their terror campaigns there was no nation-wide surge of anti-Catholic fears. The culprits were our own race and we could identify the reasons for their attacks very clearly.

Another article that I would highly recommend as a perfect companion piece to Bandow’s is by Glenn Greenwald in Salon. He addresses a new study by Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government demonstrating how “mainstream media” — NYT, Washington Post, NPR — voluntarily fall into line with as mouthpieces of government propaganda. A specific case study addressed was how the media uniformly condemned waterboarding as torture up until the day their own government was known to use it and said it was not torture. The article, New Study Documents Media’s Servitude to Government, is found here, but note also the link to the update at the bottom of it. Anyone following recent mainstream media reports on the apparent alleviation of Gaza sanctions, and the follow up investigations into the Israeli piracy against the aid ships, and comparing these with the uncensored reports available from other sources, will find the Greenwald article unnecessary reading.

Some people have deplored publications by “new atheists” because of their sometimes crude attacks on religion. I have addressed what I also consider their fanning of anti-Islamic prejudice. Religion has been and remains responsible for both good and evil. I am not the least interested in any notions of religious humanism for this reason.

Studies such as those of Robert Pape’s instruct us that to focus on Islam as a response to terror attacks is about as useful as persecuting Jews in response to the plagues in the Middle Ages.

But this deflection of our focus suits those who profit from our wars. It assures them that they have the “democratic” support for their efforts to continue to control the resources of the Middle East. Oh, and also to support the gradual ethnic cleansing of “Greater Israel” and the genocide* of the Palestinians.

Genocide is defined by a 1948 UN Convention as:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

• (a) Killing members of the group;
• (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
• (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
• (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
• (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Again, I am sometimes met with outrage when I use words like ethnic cleansing and genocide in this context. This is a classic illustration of the findings of the study discussed in Greenwald’s article:

And the ultimate effect of this joint government/media obfuscation is to further entrench the destructive notion that we’re different, exceptional, better, and therefore we deserve even a different language to describe what it is that we do.  This Harvard study documents the exact process by which the political class convinces itself and others that bad and illegal things are, by definition, only what those Bad, Other Foreign Countries do, but never ourselves.

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Neil Godfrey

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  • Gingerbaker
    2010-07-04 20:56:54 GMT+0000 - 20:56 | Permalink

    C’mon Neil. Genocide is not the correct term for what Israel is doing to the Palestinians. If they really wanted to execute a genocide program, surely they could be very effective at it.

    What Israel is trying to do is to force the Palestinians to corral their own. Palestinian terrorists are aided, abetted, and approved of by the vast majority of Palestinians ( not to mention the vast majority of Arabs in the Middle East, and likely by most Muslims around the world ).

    I am continually amazed at Israel’s patience and restraint! Why they don’t simply proclaim an ultimatum that all terrorist acts must cease upon threat of total expulsion of the Palestinian people is beyond me. In the U.S. an analogous situation would have resulted in wholesale slaughter within two weeks. Israel has let this drag on for at least fifty years.

    • 2010-07-04 22:15:53 GMT+0000 - 22:15 | Permalink

      What you say is perfectly reasonable if you rely on mainstream western media as your main information source. It breaks down, however, when one

      • gets to know both Palestinians and Israeli citizens personally,
      • visits the West Bank and Palestinian families there,
      • checks the sources and citations of historians such as Ilan Pappe and Nur Masalha,
      • studies the record of planned ethnic cleansing even before and as the Zionist project was beginning,
      • sees the history of forced expulsions, dispossession, confiscations of arable land, water sources and homes,
      • observes the regular disruption and destruction of infrastructure to ensure no viable Palestinian culture can emerge,
      • observes the independently verified details of the harrassment and intimidation at checkpoints,
      • observes raw sewage been channeled from Israeli settlements into Palestinian streets,
      • learns that people live with random shootings and regularly low flying jets to create sonic booms to intimidate,
      • learns that people live in conditions where one would rather wish one were dead
      • learns that many live with a history of terror and massacres of families in their homes in the night
      • learns of the Palestinian’s own 9/11 at Sabra and Shatila under the wink and nod of an Israeli Prime Minister but about which the world cared little
      • studies the history of illegal settlements and expansions ever since the 1967 war,
      • studies the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes from their own territory to make way for Jewish expansion,
      • studies the fact of Israeli aggression in 1967 and the evidence of Israeli political and military leaders that their claim at the time that they were about to be attacked was a knowing lie to fool the west,
      • understands the nature of the arrests of hundreds of Palestinian males and the withholding of tax revenues from certain Palestinian areas,
      • understands the targeted assassinations (that kill many innocent civilians) against democratically elected leaders,
      • learns that many Israeli extremists openly justify outright killing of Palestinians and their dispossession of their land,
      • learns that the same Israeli extremists are a major power influence in the Israeli government,
      • understands the nature of Israeli racism against Palestinians (referring to them as cockroaches),
      • learns of the tribal mentality infecting so much of Israel, and the racist and discriminatory nature of the state of Israel in its treatment of racial minorities
      • understands the nature of the Palestinian Presidency since Arafat as a corrupt Quisling puppet whose job is to act as Israel’s policeman,
      • discovers that most Palestinians absolutely abhor terrorism and despised the extremists who robbed them of their sons and daughters,
      • finally learns that the vast majority of Arabs in the Middle East are as human and peace-loving as any of us, and that all they want is freedom from occupation or oppression under barbaric dictatorships that our western governments fund and arm to the hilt, and whose resources we take for a pittance,

      then one begins to see that a more correct analogy is the slow genocide of the North American Indians.

  • rey
    2010-07-05 02:55:34 GMT+0000 - 02:55 | Permalink

    MAybe I would give rats butt if these throwbacks weren’t in Detroit imposing sharia law in their little enclaves in opposition to the constitution. Anti-Islam is the only rational way to be, unless you want these clowns to be able to force all women to wear burkas and you to sacrifice goats. Their religion is incompatible with humanity. At least Christianity and Judaism have left the stone age.

  • rey
    2010-07-05 03:01:36 GMT+0000 - 03:01 | Permalink

    I’m honestly at the point where I say if you support a religion that sanctifies genocide and then you get genocide committed against yourself, you have no right to complain. I’m not suggesting anyone should go commit it on them, but what right does any Jew have to complain “oh Hitler is committing genocide on us, please save us” when their holy book commands genocide and they just smile at it? The same with ‘orthodox’ Christians who support the Old Testament, if the Calvinists have genocide committed against them, how dare them if they attempt to condemn it after having defended in with their apologetics for so long! And Islam too, if you teach its good to kill the infidels, then when someone of another religion kills you as an infidel, you better just grin and bear it. Its like divine irony in a way. Funny how its those who support genocide who have it committed against them, isn’t it?

    • rey
      2010-07-05 03:09:58 GMT+0000 - 03:09 | Permalink

      Its one of those things that shows the deficiency of traditional (especially ethnic) religions. Everybody seems to love genocide and laud it as some great service to God until it get conmitted against their people, then its bad and has to be stopped. But once it is stopped, do they jettison the sanctification of genocide from their religions? No. So the cycle continues. Cut it off at the source. Stop supporting the Torah and the Koran.

      • 2010-07-10 02:28:37 GMT+0000 - 02:28 | Permalink

        Rey, I have known and worked with many Moslems and some Jews. I have also had the privilege of getting to know quite a few Palestinians from the West Bank. My experience informs me that it is quite wrong to think Moslems in general and Palestinians in particular have any genocidal thoughts. I regularly get the impression that the US mainstream media simply does not inform readers of both sides of the issue with any sense of balance. I would love to see more Americans being more Internet savvy and consulting media from all sides.

  • Gingerbaker
    2010-07-07 08:15:09 GMT+0000 - 08:15 | Permalink

    Neil,

    Is the population census of Palestinians rising or falling?

    • 2010-07-10 02:15:30 GMT+0000 - 02:15 | Permalink

      Everyone knows the answer to that, especially the Israelis. Why not be upfront and say what you mean to say?

      • Gingerbaker
        2010-07-10 02:44:46 GMT+0000 - 02:44 | Permalink

        All right. I find it difficult to understand your defense of the term “genocide” to refer to a population that is rising, in fact rising faster than the Israelis. Are the Palestinians being treated harshly? Sure. But to refer to this treatment as “genocide”,IMO, demeans the term, and thereby demeans the tragedy of other populations who did, in fact, suffer genocide at the hands of their oppressors.

      • 2010-07-10 11:57:04 GMT+0000 - 11:57 | Permalink

        That’s why in my original post I quoted the Geneva/UN definition of genocide. We tend to think in modern terms that Genocide happens in one swoop, with mass slaughters over in a matter of months or very few years. That is not how genocides have historically occurred in many instances. Many native populations have been the victims of genocide through the piecemeal expansion and brutalization of local populations over a generation, maybe two. What we see happening in Palestine is a genocide of the same order as historical genocides of native populations.

        The population is increasing — but also many Palestinians have left and continue to do so because of intolerable conditions. A few have opted to blow themselves up along with a few Israelis as their way out of an existence that is worse than death.

        It is the culture and larger identity of the Palestinian people that Israel is seeking to crush. If they are allowed to develop such a national identity it will make it more difficult for them to control them. They are being pushed off the arable lands and into prison camps, in effect. They are destined to live out their future like the Indians or Aboriginals in Australia on reservations.

        Populations in well-to-do communities tend to decline. Population increase in Palestine, particularly Gaza, has a very simple explanation — as told me by Palestinians themselves. Lock people up in their homes, cut off their power, terrorize them if they step in wrong areas, or even if they are merely attempting to go about their business of making a living, and what else is left for them to do — locked away, shut in a vast prison camp, nothing to do except find comfort in the bedroom and have babies.

        The population is increasing, but assess that against the malnutrition and diseases, too.

        ETA: I should also add that the rise in population of Palestinians needs to be set in the context of the broader history. There is a birth rate increase, but this is in the wake of the Nakba.

    • Gingerbaker
      2010-07-10 02:55:23 GMT+0000 - 02:55 | Permalink

      Neil said:

      …”My experience informs me that it is quite wrong to think Moslems in general and Palestinians in particular have any genocidal thoughts…”

      Neil, have you seen the Pew Center numbers on this issue? They conducted face-to-face interviews with thousands of Muslims from around the Mideast and Africa, and asked, among other questions: “Do you feel that suicide bombing in defense of your religion is justified?”. The number who did not answer “Never” would make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. In some areas this number is higher than 50%. Among young Muslim men in general, the number is about 70%. Even those countries who had the lowest radicalization, the number who said suicide bombing was justified was shocking, and well above any radicalization figures I have seen associated with Judaism or Christianity.

      As far as I can tell, this is the best data available, and more trustworthy than your empirical experiences, as well-meaning as they are.

      • 2010-07-10 12:14:17 GMT+0000 - 12:14 | Permalink

        Poll questions, as I am sure you know in other contexts, can be very loaded and misleading. I do not doubt the figures, but the implications drawn from them. Yes, I can fully understand most people at some point thinking of circumstance when suicide bombing is justified. We are talking about people who are occupied by foreign armies, who are ruled by brutal dictatorships backed by foreign powers, who are victims of ethnic cleansing, who are facing the occupation of, and ethnic cleansings within, their own homelands. (And Muslims worldwide do have a sense of the Middle East as being their spiritual homeland, as many Christians feel similarly about Jerusalem, as many Australians have in the past felt about “mother England”.)

        Pape has done several studies on the causes of suicide bombings — not polls, but scientific research into the factors that lie behind the words expressed to certain questions in a poll — and in every case, or virtually every case at least, he and his team have demonstrated that the motives for terrorism like this is to fight back against occupation and oppression — for liberation, in other words. The first suicide bombing campaign was in Lebanon in the 1980s and it was waged by Christians, Socialists as well as Muslims. The largest number of suicide bombings for one period were waged by Tamil Buddhists in Sri Lanka. It’s easy for us to lose sight of the bigger context and focus only on those particular groups who are directly opposed to us.

        (It was the success of the suicide bombing campaign in Lebanon that actually seems to have encouraged the wider acceptance of it as a tactic. The campaign succeeded in forcing the Israelis to end their occupation of Lebanon.)

        I might even consider doing the same myself if I found my country was occupied, my chidren and wife shot dead in a random attack intended merely to intimidate and cower us. Wouldn’t you also be tempted, at least, if only for a moment consider it?

        ETA: We see ourselves as the good-guys. But they see us as supporting and protecting the power — even the individual who was established by an Israeli commission as directly responsible — who oversaw the Sabra and Shatila massacres of Palestinians; and as the power whose secretary of state can publicly announce of their killing half a million Iraqi children that “the price was worth it”; that has led to the destruction of one of the most socially progressive countries in the middle east; that is backing the illegal occupation, ethnic cleansing and ongoing genocide of the Palestinian peoples; that continues to prop up the barbaric dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Put yourself in their shoes and one begins to amazed at the survival of the general humanity and patience of those populations.

      • 2010-07-10 13:17:21 GMT+0000 - 13:17 | Permalink

        May I refer to a review of book by Hage that posted some years back. He opens up much understanding of human nature — the good and the bad:

        http://vridar.wordpress.com/2006/11/21/against-paranoid-nationalism-searching-for-hope-in-a-shrinking-society-ghassan-hage-pluto-press-2003-review/

      • 2010-07-10 14:36:37 GMT+0000 - 14:36 | Permalink

        Here are the actual figures to which I think you were referring

        Support for Suicide Bombing
        Is suicide bombing justifiable?
        2010 Often/sometimes justified Rarely/never justified

        Percent of Muslims responding Often/sometimes justified (2010)
        http://pewglobal.org/database/?indicator=19&survey=12&response=Often/sometimes%20justified&mode=chart

        COUNTRY 2010
        Lebanon 39%
        Nigeria 34%
        Jordan 20%
        Egypt 20%
        Indonesia 15%
        Pakistan 8%
        Turkey 6%

        Percent of Muslims responding Rarely/never justified (2010)
        http://pewglobal.org/database/?indicator=19&survey=12&response=Rarely/never%20justified&mode=chart

        COUNTRY 2010
        Pakistan 85%
        Indonesia 82%
        Turkey 81%
        Egypt 80%
        Jordan 79%
        Nigeria 61%
        Lebanon 60%

        I see no indication in these figures that there is a figure of 50% in favour in any country. The overwhelming majority, according to these figures from Pew oppose suicide bombing, or only approve of it in rare circumstances.

        It is interesting to note the figures in Lebanon where, as I mentioned in another post following Pape’s research, suicide bombings were pioneered and they did in fact succeed in their objective there of liberating their country from an occupying invader.

        I also think these figures support my claim, based on personal experiences and knowledge of the experiences of others, that most Moslems are not the terrorist-happy threats that western media and politicians often portray them as being.

  • Gingerbaker
    2010-07-19 00:10:02 GMT+0000 - 00:10 | Permalink

    Neil, here are figures from 2005 from Pew ( which consistently frames these issues as “improving” ( which they are, but often from mind-boggling bad to merely terrifyingly bad):

    Percent of Muslims who answered “Never” to the question:

    “Some people think that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. Other people believe that, no matter what the reason, this kind of violence is never justified. Do you personally feel that this kind of violence is often justified to defend Islam, sometimes justified, rarely justified, or never justified?”

    Jordan – 11

    Lebanon – 33 (up from 12 in 2002)

    Pakistan – 46 (up from 35 in 2004)

    Indonesia — 66 ( up from 54 in 2002)

    Turkey – 66

    Morocco – 79 (up from 38 in 2004)

    And, most apropos to our discussion, in 2009 the number in Palestine is:

    Palestinian Territory – 17 (!)

    The Pew numbers show movement, generally, in the right direction. But they also show large volatility of opinion. Unfortunately, they keep redoing the surveys, but only report them piecemeal, hence our conflicting numbers. But I think a valid question to ask is, just how solid is the opinion of Muslims in, say, Morocco where opinion fluctuates from 38 to 79 in just a few years? Do you really think that a population whose majority claimed that slaughtering civilians was justified on Tuesday, but changed their majority opinion on Wednesday can be relied upon not to revert to Tuesday’s opinion depending on a news cycle?

    I feel these figures support my position, that Islam is easily the most radically-orientated of the major religions, to a degree shocking to Western eyes. And that these figures contradict your statement:

    ….”My experience informs me that it is quite wrong to think Moslems in general and Palestinians in particular have any genocidal thoughts…”

    Finally, I think you have concentrated your attention on the second paragraph of the UN convention, which deals with specific actions. The first sentence is the actual definition, which is:

    …In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group…

    Again I fail to see how Israel could possibly be accused of trying to intentionally destroy the Palestinians, a group they could easily completely destroy in one fell or several partially fell swoops any time they wanted. Your point that Palestinians have left the area (yet the population of Palestinians nevertheless continues to increase in the territories) strengthens my argument (in two ways) not yours.

    As to whether the Palestinians are the occupied or the occupiers – well, you can probably guess my opinion! 😀 I do believe the Palestinians deserve a homeland. I just think that they already have one, and it is called Jordan.

    If the Pew figures on Palestinian support for suicide bombings is correct, and perhaps it is, considering the repeated popular election of Hamas, a terrorist ( and, yes, a humanitarian [depends on who they consider ‘human’, of course]) organization as well as the historical record of suicide bombings itself carried out by the Palestinians, who, as far as I can tell, still do not accede that Israel even has a right to exist, then… just what in the hell is Israel supposed to do? By all civilized standards, it seems to me that they have been extraordinarily patient and restrained in the face of a terrorism -supporting Palestinian population whose political leadership has recalcitrantly and openly pledged actual genocide against Israel.

    • 2010-07-19 14:00:14 GMT+0000 - 14:00 | Permalink

      What disturbs me about your argument is its failure to address the human realities faced by Palestinians, as I argued in my earlier post. What could Israel do? Accept the Arab peace plan that calls for a full withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 for a start. Alternatively, they could abolish institutional racism and grant full and equal citizenship rights to all lands they control. They could begin to reverse the ethnic cleansing process that has been underway since 1948. No state based on systemic racism and ethnic cleansing and illegal expansion has a “right” to exist as such. Most of the world recognized this was true of apartheid South Africa.

      My definition of genocide very much focuses on the words you highlight. I have given historical examples of genocide with which to compare what is happening to the Palestinians since the 1940s.

      But what most disturbs me is your failure to acknowledge the Palestinian rights to their own homes they have lived in for generations. You have put your finger on the fundamental root cause of the whole issue right there.

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