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November 29th, 2009

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01:28 am - Racism, racism, everywhere & not a drop of sense
I was quite dismayed to read this NYT article about Islam and the US. When I first saw the title, I accidentally (and rather hopefully) read the brief description as: Why a cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about the Arab-Muslim world have taken hold in America since 9/11., instead of the (unfortunately) actual capsule description: Why a cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America have taken hold in the Arab-Muslim world since 9/11., which is exactly the sort of racist nonsense that is so popular in the US, even among people who are not crazed reactionaries. I remain baffled at all that "why do they hate & fear us & our freedom so much" rhetoric. A nation with massive military might that was run by religious nutballs for 8 years, where these nutballs sent a military that increasingly embraced religious zealotry, over to attack several Muslim nations, while threatening to attack even more, & all the while at least 25% of the US press is describing this as the Crusades Mark II. The fact that many Muslims fear, distrust, and loathe the US is somehow less than surprising. Here's the worst and stupidest bit:
The Narrative is the cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America that have taken hold in the Arab-Muslim world since 9/11. Propagated by jihadist Web sites, mosque preachers, Arab intellectuals, satellite news stations and books — and tacitly endorsed by some Arab regimes — this narrative posits that America has declared war on Islam, as part of a grand “American-Crusader-Zionist conspiracy” to keep Muslims down.

Yes, after two decades in which U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny — in Bosnia, Darfur, Kuwait, Somalia, Lebanon, Kurdistan, post-earthquake Pakistan, post-tsunami Indonesia, Iraq and Afghanistan — a narrative that says America is dedicated to keeping Muslims down is thriving.
Perhaps the worst part is that Thomas Friedman is very far from the most extreme of the idiots who are discussing this. Dear gods I'd love to see some mixture of honest and sense about anti-Muslim prejudice in mainstream US reporting. Of course, then hundreds of conservatives would likely spontaneously combust in fits of shock and rage.
Current Mood: annoyedannoyed

(11 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:November 29th, 2009 09:43 am (UTC)
Of course, then hundreds of conservatives would likely spontaneously combust in fits of shock and rage.

Only hundreds? Clear;ly we're not trying hard enough.
[User Picture]
Date:November 29th, 2009 10:59 am (UTC)
So, you don't think it's possible that such a narrative might exist?

I think such a narrative is just as likely to exist as a narrative that claims that the push for healthcare is about forcing people to fund abortions or killing off the elderly. Yet, we can be reasonably sure that narrative DOES exist. The ignorant come in all shapes and colors... but ignoring the ignorance is surely not the first step to ameliorating it.
[User Picture]
Date:November 29th, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC)
I think it's a narrative along the lines of the sun rises every morning. For 8 years, the US was run by religious wackballs who openly disliked Islam, the US military is still monstrously racist, and we're still at war with 2 Muslim nations, both of which has been horrifically (especially in terms of the locals) mishandled, and one of which was nothing more or less than naked aggression motivated by lies, and backed by a mass media responsible for nonsense like the above article and the even more inflammatory responses of the likes of Glen Beck. From any reasonable PoV, the US does hate Islam.

The only sort of problematic narrative that I see is one about the appropriate response to institutionalized racism by a militarily powerful & highly aggressive nation. The narrative of violent response is ugly and unpleasant, but it's also an exceedingly common human response.
[User Picture]
Date:November 29th, 2009 03:06 pm (UTC)
I'd call it an opinion column, not an article. And dude, it's Thomas Friedman.

At that, he doesn't have to be completely wrong. We misunderstand them, they misunderstand us. Both are convenient distractions from real problems, as well as being real threats to a degree.
Date:November 29th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
"this narrative posits that America has declared war on Islam"

The fact that you can find video of our former president and secretary of defense saying exactly that doesn't help.

This is ignorant at best, widely damaging at worst.
[User Picture]
Date:November 29th, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
Friedman is a cretin.
Toyota's luxury brand Lexus has become something of an icon for globalization, thanks to the American journalist Thomas Friedman's book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree. [...] According to Friedman, unless they fit themselves into a particular set of economic policies that he calls the Golden Straitjacket, countries in the olive-tree world will not be able to join the Lexus world. In describing the Golden Straitjacket, he pretty much sums up today's neo-liberal economic orthodoxy: in order to fit into it, a country needs to privatize state-owned enterprises, maintain low inflation, reduce the size of government bureaucracy, balance the budget (if not running a surplus), liberalize trade, deregulate foreign investment, deregulate capital markets, make the currency convertible, reduce corruption and privatize pensions. According to him, this is the only path to success in the new global economy. His Straitjacket is the only gear suitable for the harsh but exhilarating game of globalization. Friedman is categorical: 'Unfortunately, this Golden Straitjacket is pretty much "one-size fits all" ... It is not always pretty or gentle or comfortable. But it's here and it's the only model on the rack this historical season.'

However, the fact is that, had the Japanese government followed the free-trade economists back in the early 1960s, there would have been no Lexus. Toyota today would, at best, be a junior partner to some western car manufacturer, or worse, have been wiped out. The same would have been true for the entire Japanese economy. Had the country donned Friedman's Golden Straitjacket early on, Japan would have remained the third-rate industrial power that it was in the 1960s, with its income level on a par with Chile, Argentina and South Africa - it was then a country whose prime minister was insultingly dismissed as 'a transistor-radio salesman' by the French president, Charles De Gaulle. In other words, had they followed Friedman's advice, the Japanese would now not be exporting the Lexus but still be fighting over who owns which mulberry tree.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:November 29th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
Funny how the American media loves to play up the atrocities of the Islamic paramilitaries in countries like Darfur, but pretty much totally ignore the same actions by Christian paramilitary groups in other parts of Africa.
[User Picture]
Date:November 29th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
Or, if there's a spree killing in the US and the killer is Muslim, then it's a big deal, but if (like the Virginia Tech shooter) they're some sort of Christian nutjob, then that's gets a brief comment and is never mentioned again.
Date:November 30th, 2009 12:13 am (UTC)
In fact, the religious right will advocate banning Muslims in the military.

I've yet to hear sentiment for banning Christians in the military.

You'd think their "thou shall not kill" would get in the way of military service.
[User Picture]
Date:November 30th, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)
I think Bush only managed to say "crusade" in one public speech before his screenwriters tackled him and hit him with a fire extinguisher.

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