by Keith Johnson
Islamophobia is sweeping the nation—and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Just when the American people were starting to become distracted with trivial issues like the potential stock market crash, the re-branding of the war in Iraq, and the ongoing environmental disaster in the Gulf—along comes a crisis of Biblical proportions, that threatens to destroy the moral fiber of America itself, and deliver its Christian population into the diabolical hands of an Islamic dictatorship ruled under the precepts of Sharia law.
Oh, foolish man. What can you not be made to believe?
By now, it should be quite obvious that the hysteria centered on the proposed construction of an Islamic cultural center—a full two blocks from Ground Zero—is nothing more than an engineered distraction, designed to take the focus away from serious geopolitical and domestic issues as we head into the November elections.
Late last year, we watched in horror as the Tea Party movement was infiltrated by certain personalities from the GOP establishment. Glenn Beck, Dick Armey, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, and others of that same ilk—all dressed down to mingle with working class folks— and let them know that the Republican party shares their pain. Before these clowns got involved, the focus of the Tea Party was on big government, compulsory health insurance and Wall Street bailouts. But over a period of time—as these Johnny-Come-Latelies sunk their fingers deeper into the pie—they used their influence to diffuse the ire against Wall Street and redirect those energies to support the GOP war agenda.
Now we are starting to see large swaths of Tea Party factions taking up the war banner at their events—complete with metrosexual cowboys singing war anthems in the background—and stirring up racial tensions the likes of which we have not witnessed since before the civil rights movement of the 1960’s.
No longer is Wall Street feeling the hot pangs of public anger breathing down their necks. These terrorists have been left to their own devices, with free reign to continue their raping and pillaging of the American dream. Now, cab drivers wearing turbans have more to fear than the bankster gangster riding in their back seats.
From New York City to Southern California, large groups of paranoid warmongers gather outside Islamic places of worship to parrot the lies fed to them by the mainstream media. Much of their ammunition comes straight out of a likely source: FOX News.
On August 16, disgraced former congressman Newt Gingrich made an appearance on the morning program, FOX and Friends, and said, “Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There’s no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center.” Is that right? Well, according to that line of thinking, and assuming that America is a Christian nation (like so many people claim it to be), would it not be just as wrong for us to expect the Japanese to accept a Christian church in Hiroshima or for the Germans to accept one in Dresden? You, Mr. Gingrich, may think that these are entirely different circumstances. But I’d waged that there are thousands of Germans and Japanese who would beg to differ.
Later that week, on the same program, host Brian Kilmeade asserted his fear that the Islamic Cultural Center in New York City would be the future site of a new “Hamburg Cell.” In case you didn’t know, the “Hamburg Cell” was where three alleged hijackers reportedly cooked up the 911 plot. Two of the three men were tried in Germany, but the cases were dropped when the U.S. failed to provide any incriminating evidence that linked them to the attacks.
Other FOX propagandists, like Dick Morris, claim that the center will be used to ‘train and recruit’ future terrorists. “Shariah law mandates jihad” blurted Morris. “And it mandates terrorism and suicide bombing. So this is really a juridical center that is being established to study and promote and train and recruit Shariah law advocates, which will become terrorists. … We’re establishing literally a command center for terrorism right at the 9/11 site.” This kind of B.S. brings to mind that famous Arte Johnson line from ‘Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In’: “Very interesting…but stupid!”
Recent evidence suggests just the opposite of Morris’ line of thinking. According to a recent New York Times article, “A two-year study by a group of academics on American Muslims and terrorism concluded that contemporary mosques are actually a deterrent to the spread of militant Islam and terrorism. The study was conducted by professors with Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the University of North Carolina. It disclosed that many mosque leaders had put significant effort into countering extremism by building youth programs, sponsoring antiviolence forums and scrutinizing teachers and texts.”
But this won’t stop the likes of Gingrich, Kilmeade and Morris from spreading their message of intolerance. They have an agenda, and that agenda is to stir up a deep-seated hatred against the Muslim community in order to rally support for a war on Iran. And they’ve been very effective. Their rhetoric is being picked up and repeated by Islamophobes all across the nation. For them, it’s all about the fear of Shariah law, disrespect to 911 victims, and the paranoid assumption that all Mosques are staging grounds for future terrorist attacks.
In Murfreesboro, Tennessee—opponents of a proposed Mosque spray-painted the words “Not Welcome” on a sign that marked the construction site, and later tore it to shreds. They also brought dogs to intimidate Muslims as they worshipped in the modest office space they’ve been using as a prayer room. One man—sounding a lot like Newt Gingrich—told a CNN reporter that “In Islam, a mosque means ‘We have conquered this country,’” And where are they? They’re in the center of Tennessee. They’re going to say, ‘We have conquered Tennessee.’” Oh, boy! First Tennessee…then the world!
In Temecula, California—plans by the Islamic community to build a mosque on a four-acre parcel of land has sparked a similar protest. Pastor Bill Rench, of Temecula Calvary Baptist Church, echoed Kilmeade and Morris when he stated, “There is a concern with all the rumors you hear about sleeper cells and all that. Are we supposed to be complacent just because these people say it’s a religion of peace? Many others have said the same thing.” Yes, Pastor Rench, many others have said the same thing. I think you would be hard pressed to find a religion which has not been used by some greedy tyrant as a pretext to wage war…including Christianity.
A website for a group calling itself ‘We the People—Citizens in Action’ called on their members to attend a rally in Temecula and to “bring your Bibles, flags, signs, dogs and singing voice.” At the event, demonstrators held up signs that read ‘No Sharia Law’ and ‘Muslims Danced For Joy on 9/11.’ Apparently they haven’t learned that the “so-called” dancing Palestinians they’re referring to were actually paid to perform in front of the camera with candy and cakes supplied to them by the Israel Ministry of Defense. The whole thing was staged.
What was not staged were the five dancing Israelis arrested on 9/11, who were reported to police after being seen cheering and ‘high-fiving’ as they watched the towers come down. They’d been shooting video of the disaster from a short distance away. They were later released by police and deported back to Israel, where three of them admitted on Israeli TV that they were in New York City that day to “document the event.”
In Bridgeport, Connecticut—a dozen “so-called” Christian demonstrators angrily screamed, “Islam is a lie” and “Jesus hates Muslims” at worshippers of a local Mosque. One demonstrator even confronted a group of children and called them “murderers.” Have these people even read the scriptures? Where can Jesus be found to say that he hates Muslims? Muslims weren’t even around during the time Christ walked the Earth. Islam began almost six hundred years after the death of Christ. There is not even one biblical passage that eludes to Islam or mosques or Muslims.
We haven’t seen this level of ignorance and superstition since the Salem Witch Trials of the 1600’s. There are many parallels that be can drawn from that time and now. During that era of American history, the colonies suffered from severe enviromental and economic troubles. Severe weather changes resulted in crop failures which devastated livestock and the ability for families to put food on the table. What made matters worse was the influential and fervently religious Puritans, who were very active politically, and attributed all adversity to the wrath of God. The economic woes, coupled by a belief that all bad things are a result of supernatural punishment for unrepentant sin, fostered a climate of suspicion that sent many in search of the source to their problems. Someone had to take the blame and be held to answer for all the troubles they inflicted upon everyone else. While the fanatically religious clung to their superstitions in pursuit of justice, many others took advantage of the hysteria and used it as an opportunity to eliminate bitter rivals and steal coveted and valuable pieces of property.
What we don’t understand, we fear. What we fear, we judge as evil. What we judge as evil, we attempt to control. And what we cannot control…we attack.
We see the same thing happening today. As we fall deeper into our own economic crisis—aggravated by enviromental disasters and poor money policies—the ignorant masses are susceptible to clinging to a simple explanation for their troubles. In this case, it is Islam. They are the modern day witches, whose behavior is foreign and therefore a threat that must be exterminated. Our modern day equivelent to the Puritans are those fervently religious and politically active Judeo-Christians who cling to a politicised perversion of Biblical scriptures. They have been led to believe that allegiance to the state of Israel is critical to their salvation. If Islam is a threat to Israel, then Islam is the enemy that must be defeated. Then, of course, there are those who are simply taking advantage of the hysteria. These are our politicians, who will send our children to die in these most unholy of wars, and clean up whatever spoils those wars have wrought.
Contrary to popular perception, none of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials were burned at the stake. However, the victims of these latest witchhunts have not had it so easy. Entire villages have burned to the ground in Afghanistan, white phosphorus has been dropped on Palestinian children in Gaza, and talks of a strike on Iran may very well place a mushroom cloud over Tehran in the not so distant future.
Here at home, violence has already begun to show its ugly face. In New York City, a Muslim cab driver’s throat was aledgedly slashed by an irate Islamophobe, and elsewhere, several prayer rugs were urinated upon by an angry drunk shouting racial slurs. Is this the beginning of even greater violence that we should expect to witness as the rage against Islam escalates out of control?
This frightening trend is indeed a crisis—but to both Democrat and Republican candidates seeking office in November—this is a god send. For the Republicans, the mosque controversey is a good prop, like the paper mache’ mask that the “Wizard of Oz” lit on fire and waved around to scare Dorothy into taking on the Wicked Witch of the West. For the Democrats, bringing attention to the frenzied hysteria of the reactionary right provides a good opportunity to lure back disgruntled dissenters, who have been suffering a bit of buyers remorse since Obama took office.
It’s a sad thing to watch. Just when the time was ripe for the people of this nation to unite in opposition to the established government, we are now beginning to see them part ways… and herded back into their respective corners.