Given the Opportunity, the Right Can Offer No Defense for Politicizing 9/11
Conservatives own 9/11. No liberals died that day in that famously liberal city; no Muslims, no gays, no feminists, no environmentalists. The first responders who ran into those burning buildings, while everyone else ran for safety, had all burned their union cards. No union thugs died that day. Only rock-ribbed Republicans — the only true Americans — died on 9/11, because it’s impossible for liberals to be heroes or patriots. Conservatives own 9/11.
Which explains why this post by New York liberal Paul Krugman was the worst thing ever:
What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.
A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?
The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.
Sure, the Bush administration used 9/11 as an excuse to engage in a long, pointless, expensive, bloody war in Iraq. Sure, we’ve seen torture become as American as apple pie. Sure, we’ve hatred of Muslims become twisted into something that pretends to be an American value. And of course, we’ve seen conservatives claim that liberals don’t “get” fighting terrorism — even after President Obama got Osama Bin Laden.
But is that any reason to point all of that out? The rightwing blogosphere says nay. Breitbart’s Big Journalism rushes to familiar ground, playing the victim card against Krugman for writing about 9/11 on 9/11. At no point in a post dripping with outrage and grievance is a counter-argument made against Krugman’s charges — because, of course, there isn’t one.
Anti-Muslim bigot Jim Hoft takes a similar approach, clucking over how “disgusting” the post is, without answering — or even pretending to answer — a single one of Krugman’s charges. In fact, Hoft simply declares it awful, without even explaining why. Likewise, Erick Erickson.
If you need proof that even the right realizes there’s no defense for their post-9/11 actions and policies, there ya go. They can’t come up with one.
So, of course, they don’t bother.
When Ignoring Terrorism is Just “Good Politics”
Let us hope that the US (Democratic and Republican party) allows us, their European cultural and economical crown vassals, to liberate ourselves and deport the Muslims without them militarily intervening. We shouldn’t forget that we have many allies in the US including a sizable faction of the Republican Party.
When Norwegian terrorism suspect Anders Behring Breivik wrote that in his “manifesto,” it was probably a lot truer than he realized — for reasons that he likely hadn’t considered. It’s easy to look at the anti-Muslim bigotry of rightwing figures like Herman Cain and come to the conclusion that other anti-Islam nuts have “allies” in the GOP. I’m not singling Cain out here, he was just the first who came to mind. There’s no shortage of others.
But the most obvious evidence isn’t always the best evidence. After all, Cain isn’t part of the institutional Republican Party. He’s a GOP presidential candidate, sure, but he could legitimately claim the outsider label. He’s a member of the party, but plays no real part in the party’s structure. To that end, we have to look at people like New York Rep. Peter King to find these allies within the structural GOP.
Buried within a New York Times story (about the rightwing blogosphere whining that people are “unfairly” connecting them with a killer who quoted them on a regular basis) is this bit of info:
Despite the Norway killings, Representative Peter T. King, the New York Republican who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he had no plans to broaden contentious hearings about the radicalization of Muslim Americans and would hold the third one as planned on Wednesday. He said his committee focused on terrorist threats with foreign ties and suggested that the Judiciary Committee might be more appropriate for looking at non-Muslim threats.
Kings argument makes absolutely no sense at all. Here I thought Norway was a foreign country. Boy, is my face red.
But behind the excuse is the reason for the excuse — that investigating rightwing hate would be bad politics. Drag Pam Geller before the Homeland Security Committee and grill her about her radicalization of anti-Islam sentiments? Unthinkable. Like Breivik, King has an ally in Geller — and all the other nuts who’ve stoked a “mosque at Ground Zero” hysteria for months and months on end. It’d mean looking into the crazies within his own party who fearmonger over a nonexistent threat of Sharia law. And it would mean angering a xenophobic Tea Party base who love the crazies and the hatebloggers. Worse, it would mean highlighting his own anti-Muslim grandstanding.
Meanwhile, avoiding bad politics means ignoring this, from the same NYT piece:
The killings in Norway “could easily happen here,” said [Daryl Johnson, a Department of Homeland Security analyst]. The Hutaree, an extremist Christian militia in Michigan accused last year of plotting to kill police officers and planting bombs at their funerals, had an arsenal of weapons larger than all the Muslim plotters charged in the United States since the Sept. 11 attacks combined, he said.
We found a rightwing private army in Michigan, but it would be irresponsible of the Homeland Security Committee to investigate things like this, because it happened in the homeland. The security of the homeland is apparently not the responsibility of the Homeland Security Committee. I don’t know. You figure it out. It doesn’t make a damned bit of sense to me.
If one thing is clear, it’s that Rep. Peter King is in violation of his oath of office — in which he swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” — in order to avoid a politically sticky situation. We’re just going to ignore domestic threats, because a bunch of whiny bloggers and poorly-informed ‘baggers refuse to acknowledge that the threat even exists.
Breivik was right that anti-Islam extremists have allies in the GOP. And if those allies aren’t quite willing to join in the fight, they’re more than willing to look the other way.
The Politics of Hate
It’s the most rabid opponents of the First Amendment’s separation of church and state who argue that freedom of religion isn’t the same thing as freedom from religion. We can’t be “protected” from exposure to religion in everyday life and it’s not the government’s job to keep religion lock up in churches and temples and mosques.
Which is interesting, because these same people fight for laws to free us from religions they disapprove of. It was, after all, Republicans who fought to keep Wiccan chaplains out of the armed forces, for example. And let’s not even get started on protecting Americans from the evils of atheism. When the argument is made that there is no freedom from religion, what’s really meant is that government can’t protect you from exposure to Christianity — every other religion is fair game.
This is the case with Oklahoma’s “Save Our State" amendment, which is meant to protect that state from the evils of sharia law. Of course, saving Oklahoma from the dangers of sharia is completely unnecessary — not only is the state in no danger of falling to Muslim fundamentalist authoritarianism, but religious-based law is already unconstitutional. as threats go, this is about as close to nonexistent as you can get without involving unicorns and fairies.
But of course, the purpose of the amendment to the state’s constitution has nothing at all to do with any actual threat, it was merely a referendum on Islam itself, meant to both promote bigotry and use that bigotry to bring people to the polls. It’s not about solving a problem, but of creating the appearance of one, while at the same time encouraging people to let hate and fear inform their decisions. Saudi Arabia has Muslims, Oklahoma has Muslims, therefore Oklahoma is in danger of becoming Saudi Arabia. Be terrified — and don’t forget to keep hating those Muslims.
It’s at this point that I very nearly wrote, “Luckily, this is all unconstitutional.” Except luck has nothing to do with it. It’s unconstitutional by design. Freedom of religion means freedom of religion and, if you don’t like a certain religion, tough luck. The words the right practically worship — “freedom” and “liberty” — are words that actually mean something. And the plain fact is that passing laws to fight a religion aren’t the definitions of those words. It’s the opposite of the definitions of those words.
So a federal judge blocked the amendment. Before you start yelling “states’ rights!” and “tenth amendment!” I remind you that the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land. If you want to write something crazy into your states constitution, that’s all very cute and adorable. But if it’s contrary to the US Constitution, you’re wasting your time. You don’t get to do that.
Religious organizations agree. When states are allowed to pick and choose which religions they approve of, then you have states engaging in the “establishment of religion.” They’re only doing it subtractively — rule out religions until there’s only one left, but pass no law specifically establishing that state religion.
But the main purpose was to cash in on the rightwing “ground zero mosque” hysteria before that fad faded into the background. Get people freaked out about Muslims taking over, then get people to go to the polls to vote against it. It wasn’t sharia that was being attacked, it was Islam.
“The BJC’s brief argues that the Oklahoma amendment violates the Establishment Clause for two separate and distinct reasons,” reports Baptists Today of the Baptist Joint Committee, who’ve written a “friend of the court” brief supporting the judge’s decision. “First, ‘the amendment’s purpose plainly is to disapprove of the Islamic tradition.’ Secondly, ‘the amendment’s dual specific references to Shari law — and to no other religious tradition — have the unambiguous effect of communicating official disapproval of Islam.’”
How is this good for America? How is encouraging Americans to hate and fear other Americans helpful to the nation? And this is the GOP’s modus operandi — whether it’s gays or atheists or Wiccans or Muslims. Those Americans over there — they’re the problem. Eliminating them from public discourse will solve everything. Let’s pass us some laws.
And they call themselves patriots.
News Roundup for 3/21/11
-Headline of the day-
"How Dumb Are We?"
Pretty darn dumb. Some of us, anyway. See Newsweek asked a bunch of people questions from the US Citizenship test — you know, the quiz that immigrants have to take to become citizens. Turns out that, at this point in time, 38% of natural born citizens wouldn’t qualify for citizenship if they had to apply for it.
According to the report, “29 percent couldn’t name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar.”
And the thing is, the test isn’t really all that hard. In order to pass, you only need to answer six questions correctly — out of one hundred. That’s right, you only need to score 6% and 38% couldn’t even do that.
Which goes a long way toward explaining what’s wrong with our political landscape these days; people who don’t know shit have opinions. The report uses our current budget debate as an example, pointing out that a “2010 World Public Opinion survey found that Americans want to tackle deficits by cutting foreign aid from what they believe is the current level (27 percent of the budget) to a more prudent 13 percent. The real number is under 1 percent. A Jan. 25 CNN poll, meanwhile, discovered that even though 71 percent of voters want smaller government, vast majorities oppose cuts to Medicare (81 percent), Social Security (78 percent), and Medicaid (70 percent). Instead, they prefer to slash waste — a category that, in their fantasy world, seems to include 50 percent of spending, according to a 2009 Gallup poll.”
And people wonder how outfits like Fox News can pull the wool over people’s eyes so often. The wool’s already there, all they do is style it. (Newsweek)
-Trying hard to be offended-
If there’s one thing I know about Michelle Malkin, it’s that if there’s any way to become offended by something, she’ll be offended by it. It’s like her hobby.
So imagine how outraged Shelly got when she learned that NPR’s comedy quiz Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me deeply insulted her family and her heritage. During a regular segment, contestants are given several news stories — only one of which is true — and are then asked which one was real. Unfortunately, the Malkin family made an appearance:
Conservative commentator and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin has expressed her fear that there are Muslims amongst us who are hiding their true identity. The most prominent, she claims, being Barack Obama. However, when she set out to find proof of these undercover Muslims, she found more than she bargained for.
It turns out that there are, indeed, some Muslims hiding their identity to fly under the radar. The most pertinent one for Malkin being her own grandfather.
Yes, Grandpa Malkin, who is from the Philippines but lives with Michelle’s parents, had not told the family about his religion for fear of being ostracized and thrown out. “Do you know how hard it is to pray five times a day when your family doesn’t know?”
"I had to excuse myself to the bathroom every time I wanted to pray."
"And the ham dinners, don’t get me started on the ham dinners."
Malkin was in shock when her grandfather revealed his true identity to her. He explained that he had been closeted Muslim for too long and it was time for him to live his life and be happy with himself. Malkin used the revelation to confirm her argument that Muslims are taking over. First they wanted the youth, and now they’re going after my grandfather? My 90-year-old grandfather? This is sick.
Needless to say, this is the worst thing ever! And it doesn’t help that the guy saying all of the lies is a Muslim comedian!
She then goes on to fact-check the piece — which was revealed later in the show to be untrue anyway — because NPR is liberal and is trying to get people to think she’s a Muslim!
A comedy bit which admits to being untrue must not be allowed to sully Shelly’s reputation like that. It simply must be answered.
Preferably, with copious amounts of completely unwarranted outrage. The perpetually offended and infinitely aggrieved teabagging masses who read her blog expect no less. (Michelle Malkin)
"Scott Walker Touts His Union-Busting Agenda As ‘Progressive’."
I guess that makes him a commie then. All you wingnuts have to stop loving him now.
Sorry, those are the rules. I don’t make them up. (ThinkProgress)
Stories to Watch: 3/9/11
Crap. Snow again. Wet, sloppy, weighs-a-ton snow. Don’t even talk to me about spring. Now here’s the news…
RIP David Broder.
The day before Rep. Peter King’s McCarthyite ”Are you now or have you ever been Muslim” hearings, we’re reminded that Islamic extremists don’t have the market cornered on domestic terrorism.
A government shutdown and Republican spending cuts are opposed by a majority of Americans. People want jobs. This shouldn’t surprise anyone — but it seems to come as a surprise to Republicans. Want to cut something? Cut defense spending. That’s what we want.
On the bright side, there are more billionaires than ever. All that sweet, sweet prosperity should start trickling down any decade now. You just wait and see!
Michele Bachmann engages in her favorite hobby: being full of shit.
The Wisconsin GOP claims the Obama administration is behind recall efforts against Republican state senators. But they get called out on it by — Megyn Kelly and Fox News? Can that be right? Man, when even Fox won’t buy your crap, you’re sunk.
The tea party finally finds some union violence! Except, without all the violence. Outrage! Outrage!
Finally, GOP maneuvering to pass Gov. Walker’s union-busting bill returns to the tactic that’s characterized the party’s efforts throughout — dirty tricks.
If the Muslim Had Stabbed the Christian, Then It’d be Big, National News
Sometimes, you come across a story and wonder why it hasn’t become national news. For me, this is one of those times.
A St. Petersburg man faces a hate crime accusation after deputies say he stabbed a man because he is Muslim.
Bradley Kent Strott, 52, and Samad Ebadi were at Marsha’s Wayside Inn bar, at 4021 54th Ave. N. in St. Petersburg, about 7:30 p.m. Friday, talking about religion, according to a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office arrest report.
Strott got angry after Ebadi said he followed the Islamic faith. Strott then grabbed Ebadi by the shirt and stabbed him in the neck with a pocket knife, the report states.
Then Strott told Ebadi that “Muslims are the root of the problems,” according to the report.
According to that report, Ebadi “is OK and wasn’t seriously hurt,” but that seems more a matter of luck than anything. It certainly wasn’t because people rushed immediately to his aid. Another report tells us that Ebadi’s son was told his father had been stabbed next door and ran over to find him “pale-faced and slumped over a bar stool with his shirt dark with blood.”
"Nobody was doing anything," Samad Ebadi said. “Nobody was calling 911. It’s like they didn’t want to deal with the hassle. They didn’t care if he died right there.”
Amazingly, Strott was released on $15,000 bail. According to Reuters, “Ebadi said he was shocked when he found out Strott had been released on bail and thought Strott should have been charged with attempted murder.”
"Elected officials in Florida and nationwide must begin to address the rising level of Islamophobia in our society that can lead to violent incidents or acts of discrimination targeting ordinary Muslims," said Ramzy Kiliç of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Kiliç believes the attack on Ebadi is just the latest in a growing trend and CAIR is working with local law enforcement to get a hate crime added to Strout’s charges. According to CAIR, “Other recent hate incidents targeting American Muslim institutions and houses of worship… have included an arson attack on an Oregon mosque; an arson attack on a mosque in Texas; threats against an Islamic school in Oklahoma; a bias attack outside an Ohio mosque; shots fired outside a New York mosque; an arson attack on the site of a planned mosque in Tennessee; a threat to a previously-bombed Ohio mosque; the defacement of a South Carolina mosque; hate mail sent to mosques, Islamic centers and Muslim organizations in Michigan and Ohio; and a bomb attack at a Florida mosque in May of last year.”
Imagine if the situation in that last incident were reversed, if a Christian church were pipe-bombed — with parishioners inside — and anti-Christian bias was the suspected motive. Fox News, for one, would make it their lead story for a month at least, while talk radio hosts would be deep in hysteria over it. But the reverse wasn’t what happened and, as a result, the average person probably doesn’t even know it ever happened. I suppose it’s like missing white girl stories vs. missing black girls. A young black woman missing is a local story, while a missing white woman is a national story and a TV movie of the week.
Likewise, “White guys stabs middle eastern Muslim” is local news, while “Middle eastern Muslim stabs white guy” would be a national tragedy.
It’d be nice if we could have a national conversation about anti-Muslim hate in this country, but for that to happen, we’d first have to have a media who admit it exists.