My previous article describes how anti-Muslim bigots use young Muslim murder victims as props in their campaign of hate. Sensational headlines, haunting photographs, and lurid tales of cold blooded murder are indispensable tools in their campaign to vilify Islam. This campaign is bolstered by a set of core themes that are reinforced through tireless repetition.
Islamophobes portray honor killings as a special kind of evil that is unique to Islam, and greatly exaggerate the prevalence of these crimes. Atlas Shrugs, Jihad Watch, and Frontpage Magazine rarely miss an opportunity use the phrase “Islamic honor killing,” which has joined “creeping sharia” and “stealth jihad” in an endless parade of misleading slogans and catchphrases. All of these themes converge in paranoid conspiracy theories about Muslims taking over and imposing barbarism in the Western world.
Most of their arguments depend on casual acceptance and do not stand up to scrutiny. With the help of some grade school math, relevant facts, and a healthy dose of global context, it is fairly easy to set the record straight.
The term “honor killing” was not coined by Islamophobes, even though it serves their agenda well. Many human rights organizations track honor killings as a subcategory of homicides or femicides (killing of women). For our purposes, that’s a good thing because it allows us to refute the idea of widespread honor killings using statistics from credible sources.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates there are 5,000 murders classified as honor killings each year worldwide, and they are not all perpetrated by Muslims. To put that into perspective, consider that the World Health Organization says there are over half a million annual homicides in the world. Using basic math, we can conclude that honor killings make up less than 1% of all murders.
If 1% of the world’s Muslims perpetrated an honor crime each year, we could project at least 1 million incidents. The number is far lower, and leaves 99.99% of the Muslim population innocent of this crime. Why should all Muslims be indicted for the actions of a negligible minority?
Chesler quotes the same estimate of 5,000 annual honor killings worldwide, but she says the true number is “much greater.” “Definitive or reliable worldwide estimates of honor killing incidence do not exist,” she concedes, yet she is somehow certain the the number is much greater.
She cites a study of the media throughout her article, which found, “there were 100 victims murdered for honor in the West, including 33 in North America and 67 in Europe.” Taking her study at face value, do you think 33 honor killings constitutes an epidemic? Stinging insects kill more than 40 people each year in the US, which is more than the number of honor killings Chesler reported over the course of her study for all of North America. Chesler says, “to combat the epidemic [emphasis mine] of honor killings requires understanding what makes these murders unique.”
In the US, an estimated 1200 women are killed by their spouse or partner each year. Chesler herself states that, “In the non-immigrant West, serious domestic violence exists which includes incest, child abuse, marital rape, marital battering, marital stalking, and marital post-battering femicide.” Yet for some reason, she feels it is more important to focus on the unique nature of honor killings than to address the broader issue of violence in her own country.
To her credit, Chesler does not blame honor killings on Sharia Law, nor does she say these crimes are religiously sanctioned in Islam. Instead she resorts to blaming them on Islamic culture. The Director of Human Rights Watch says that honor killings cut across cultures and religions, and that dowry deaths and crimes of passion have a similar dynamic.
Dowry killings actually outnumber honor killings, and they are on the rise. Women with insufficient dowries are murdered or driven to suicide in what are often disguised as kitchen accidents. For this reason they are sometimes called “bride burnings.” In 2008, there were over 8,000 dowry deathsreported in India alone.
Murders for crossing caste boundaries are also similar to honor killings in that they are a cultural inheritance, victims are usually killed by their own family members, and the crimes are oftenendorsed or encouraged by village-based caste councils. The caste system is outlawed, but it remains entrenched in parts of India and Nepal, neither of which has a Muslim majority.
Honor killings also share features with other forms of femicide outside of the Middle East and South Asia. Just a 10-15 minute drive from El Paso, Texas, USA, there is a border town in Mexico called Ciudad Juarez. Over the last two decades hundreds of women have been kidnaped, brutally raped, tortured, and murdered in Juarez, and the perpetrators remain free. Femicides in Mexico have nearly doubled from 1,085 in 2007 to 1,926 in 2009.
High rates of homicide and femicide also plague many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, rape is used as a weapon of war in a systematic pattern of destruction that has claimed an estimated 2 million victims. The conflict in the Congo has resulted inmore deaths than the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Darfur (Sudan) combined.
The United Nations says, “The brutality and scale of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo almost defies imagination.” Over five million people have died in the last 10 years in what 60 Minutes described as a “War Against Women.”
Imagine the photos Geller could harvest for “Islam’s Gruesome Gallery,” featured on her website Atlas Shrugs, if only this were an Islamic country. Since the overwhelming majority of the people in the Congo are Christians, these crimes don’t receive the spotlight on anti-Muslim hate sites.
How can anyone genuinely interested in the rights of women ignore the situation in the Congo? Even if Islamophobes could substantiate their claims that honor killings are exceptionally barbaric and unique to Islam, that would not be a justification focusing on them exclusively.
True human rights activists don’t discriminate among murder victims. All major human rights organizations address honor killings in context, and they do not promote these crimes as a way to spread fear and hatred toward Islam. Islam also takes a universal approach, likening the killing of one human being to the killing of the entire human race (Qur’an 5:32, 6:151, 17:33).
In her book proposal for Stop the Islamization of America, Geller described herself as, “One of America’s foremost activists for human rights and freedom.” If she were sincere, she would give up her vicious campaign against Islam and join us in the struggle to end violence against women from all cultural and religious backgrounds.
But untangling the Islamophobic thread woven into the FBI’s counterterrorism training culture won’t be easy. In addition to inflammatory seminars which likened Islam to the Death Star and Mohammed to a “cult leader,” Danger Room has obtained more material showing just how wide the anti-Islam meme has spread throughout the Bureau.
The FBI library at Quantico currently stacks books from authors who claim that “Islam and democracy are totally incompatible.” The Bureau’s private intranet recently featured presentations that claimed to demonstrate the “inherently violent nature of Islam,” according to multiple sources. Earlier this year, the Bureau’s Washington Field Office welcomed a speaker who claimed Islamic law prevents Muslims from being truly loyal Americans. And as recently as last week, the online orientation material for the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces included claims that Sunni Islam seeks “domination of the world,” according to a law enforcement source.
“I don’t think anyone with half a brain would paint 1.2 billion people of any ethnic or religious persuasion with a single brushstroke,” Mike Rolince, an FBI counterterrorism veteran who started Boston’s JTTF, tells Danger Room. “Who did they run that curriculum by — either an internal or outside expert — to get some balance?”
The FBI declined to respond directly to such questions from Danger Room. But what’s clear is that the anti-Islam sentiment in the FBI’s training and orientation isn’t the marginal problem that the Bureau portrayed in its previous public statements and press releases. It’s not a historical problem, it’s ongoing. And it will require substantial effort to root out. Not even a July warning from the office of a powerful senator was able to spur the Bureau to purge itself of its anti-Islam material.
One example is found in the mandatory orientation material for the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces, or JTTFs. Those task forces are a nationwide partnership between the FBI, intelligence analysts and state and local police. As of late last week, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the program, new members or those needing a belated orientation saw this description of Sunnism — the largest branch of Islam — as part of their online training course:
Sunni Muslims have been prolific in spawning numerous and varied fundamentalist extremist terrorist organizations. Sunni core doctrine and end state have remained the same and they continue to strive for Sunni Islamic domination of the world to prove a key Quranic assertion that no system of government or religion on earth can match the Quran’s purity and effectiveness for paving the road to God.
That paragraph is contained in orientation material, known as the Joint Terrorism Task Force Orientation v2 course, distributed online through a secure intranet for every member of the JTTFs. That’s approximately 4,400 officials, according to FBI figures, all charged with stopping terrorism. The orientation course is mandatory for every member of the task force.
The passage is especially odd because most of the orientation consists of practical, mundane information, such as the proper forms to fill out during an inquiry or FBI standards for investigations, according to the source. It consists of five sections, one of which is about Islam, Muslims and Arab culture. The supervisor of each JTTF has to certify that all his or her personnel have completed the online orientation course, and then must pass that certification up to FBI Headquarters’ Counterterrorism Division.
The FBI would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the JTTF orientation material.
The excerpt from the JTTF orientation material was provided to Danger Room by a concerned law enforcement official, who says the material contains 20 paragraphs about Islam in a similar vein. Several Bureau and law enforcement officials who spoke to Danger Room on condition of anonymity believe that such instructions are detrimental to uncovering and thwarting terrorist plots, and that the FBI continues to be less than forthright with the press and the public about the extent of its teaching that Islam is at the root of the menace of terrorism. Evidence for this continuing belief can be found in Quantico, Virginia, at the FBI’s elite training academy.
Within the sprawling campus of that academy, Quantico maintains a library befitting the FBI’s status as America’s most important law enforcement agency. It stacks thousands of books, from heavy tomes containing the U.S. criminal code to forensics reference material that could be out of CSI, across three unclassified floors. The library is open to all FBI agents, plus intelligence officials and police from across the country, for a single purpose: to provide background material for cases, guidance material for intelligence analysis and other tools meant directly to aid law enforcement. In other words, it’s not your public library.
There’s a section on religion — in which Islam, perhaps understandably, predominates. A law enforcement source provided Danger Room with a photographic catalog, compiled in late August, of approximately 100 books on Islam out of around 150 stacked at Quantico. Many of them are innocuous or contain unquestioned scholarship, ranging from authors like Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics, Juan Cole of the University of Michigan and Thomas Hegghammer, a terrorism expert at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment.
But, significantly, the library also contains books by anti-Islam authors that portray the religion as devoted to murder and world domination.
The FBI’s dalliance with Robert Spencer is not limited to the stacks of Quantico. In July 2010, Spencer presented what he described as “two two-hour seminars on the belief-system of Islamic jihadists” to the JTTF in Tidewater, Virginia. He presented a similar lecture to the U.S. Attorney’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council, which is co-hosted by the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office. When a coalition of civil rights groups sent a letter protesting the FBI’s embrace of Spencer, the Special Agent in Charge of the Norfolk FBI, Alex J. Turner, replied, “Seeking broad knowledge on a wide range of topics is essential in understanding today’s terrorist environment, and helps us to defeat ignorance and strengthen relationships with the diverse communities we serve.”
Spencer was only one of an array of self-anointed experts delivering similar messages about Islam to Bureau audiences.
On January 11, the FBI’s Washington, D.C. Field Office held a seminar on Islamic extremism. In the conference room of its Judiciary Square offices, about 60 of the Field Office’s agents and intelligence analysts spent the morning hearing two presentations — one from terrorism expert Sebastian Gorka, a fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and another from a self-identified expert on Islamic law, Stephen Coughlin, a former consultant to the military’s Joint Staff. The takeaway of Coughlin’s presentation, according to an attendee: Islam is out to take over the world and there is no such thing as a loyal American Muslim.
Coughlin was described to Danger Room as presenting a far more extreme take on Islam than Gorka, who spoke separately on the subject of “Core Texts of Salafi Jihad.” But Coughlin allegedly told the agents that Muslims believe Islamic law to be all-encompassing, preventing an either/or choice to U.S. Muslims: either reject the U.S. Constitution or fall into apostasy. Sharia law, Coughlin instructed in the tone of a neutral reporter, was a threat to the agents in the room. He explored an obscure Islamic concept known as “abrogation,” the supposition that some Koranic verses supersede others, to argue that the Koran’s non-violent passages are overtaken in Muslim eyes by commands to wage war against “non-believers.”
It’s a line Coughlin has long pushed. During a presentation at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2010 — in which he shared a stage with Spencer and Geller — Coughlin asserted that the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the geopolitical organization of Muslim nations, has a “ten-year plan” to make “defamation of Islam a crime” worldwide. One of his briefing slides read, “The SILENCE in the mainstream media on this DIRECT ASSAULT is DEAFENING! — not just on speech — but on thought itself!!” Coughlin’s 2007 master’s thesis at the National Defense Intelligence College claimed that President George W. Bush’s reassurance that the U.S. was not at war with Islam had a “a chilling effect on those tasked to define the enemy’s doctrine by effectively placing a policy bar on the unconstrained analysis of Islamic doctrine as a basis for this threat.” (.pdf) In 2008, his Joint Staff contract wasn’t renewed after a staffer for Gordon England, then the deputy secretary of defense, raised concerns about his work. (Through a spokesman, England declined to comment.)
Coughlin did not respond to requests for comment.
The presentation to the Washington Field Office wasn’t mandated by FBI Headquarters. It was set up on the initiative of a well-intentioned agent. But not everyone was comfortable with the presentation. Some walked out in boredom or disgust, according to the source. Others made fun of it.
But some voiced worries that the presentation sent an implicit message to agents that they should be targeting Muslims in the name of stopping terrorism. And in the past few years, the FBI hasaccelerated its monitoring of mosques, community centers, businesses and other organizations run by Muslims. Several observers suspect that the persistence of training materials that casts Islam in a threatening light helps explain the increased surveillance. Others — including many counterterrorism professionals within the FBI who say they are disgusted by the bigoted material they’ve received — fear that the presentations will drive a wedge between the Bureau and the U.S. Muslim communities whose assistance it needs to prevent terrorism.
“Inappropriately enlarging the characterization of the threat to include all of Islam,” says Rick “Ozzie” Nelson, a former official with the National Counterterrorism Center, “may inadvertently increase al Qaida’s ideological resonance and could facilitate recruitment of would-be terrorists.”
Books in a library and presentations in a field office will only reach the agents who visit the library or work in the field office. A Joint Terrorism Task Force orientation will only reach JTTF members. But every FBI agent can access the bureau’s intranet. And until Danger Room’s expose, that network hosted material purporting to demonstrate “the inherently violent nature of Islam.”
Two law enforcement sources with access to the intranet — sections of which are classified — described to Danger Room its page on “Islamic Law.” FBI intranet users type in “Islamic Law” or “Islam” into a Google-like search function. Up pops what’s called a Subject Matter Expert page, or SME, pronounced “Smee.” Usually, an agent seeking a SME will be searching for material directly relevant to an ongoing investigation or a timely intelligence product. But the SME for “Islamic Law” recently featured uploaded documents stretching all the way back to the 19th century, with titles like “The Personal Law of The Mahommedans.”
One such document is a text from 1915, titled “Mohammed Or Christ: An Account Of The Rapid Spread of Islam In All Parts of The Globe, The Methods Employed to Obtain Proselytes, Its Immense Press, Its Strongholds, & Suggested Means to be Adopted to Counteract the Evil.” That explicitly religious and archaic tome instructs that its purpose is “to set forth the appeal of that [Muslim] world for the Gospel. It is a decisive hour!”
Another is a Regent University master’s thesis called “Devoutly Violent or Nominally Peaceful? The Justification for Violence in Islam.” It asks: “[S]eeing as the foremost goal of Islam (which literally means ’submission’) is to subject the entire world to Shari’a law and Allah’s guidance, can a devout Muslim who witnesses to a Christian (who rejects his invitation to Islam) really not become violent? … In conclusion, this thesis demonstrates the inherently violent nature of Islam.”
In the image above, formerly available on the FBI’s “Islamic Law” SME, a thermometer represents a correlation between the Muslim population of a country and its “violence level.” As Muslims accumulate in a given place, they incline toward “grievance fabrication,” then “chronic terror attacks,” and even “state-run ethnic cleansing.” The final stage is “peace” — in an all-Muslim state.
Two law enforcement sources told Danger Room that after our coverage of the FBI’s training materials ran, the “Islamic Law” SME and similar FBI intranet sites were scrubbed of such material. Danger Room was able to acquire some of these documents before they were removed.
Asked to reconcile that statement with the 2006 assessment, FBI spokesman Christopher Allen replied, “The assessment you cite includes a series of indicators of radicalization. These indicators do not conflict with our statement that strong religious beliefs should never be confused with violent extremism.”
The FBI is now in damage-control mode. On Thursday afternoon, the FBI held a conference call with Muslim civil rights groups to apologize for its offensive training materials and admit that they were more extensive than it previously acknowledged. The FBI did not make any commitments on which outside experts or organizations it would consult for an updated training curriculum. But according to one participant, the FBI representative on the call said that many people within the Bureau disapproved of the anti-Islamic rhetoric. The FBI’s Allen declined to comment.
“We are glad that this very serious issue has finally received the attention of FBI leadership,” says Farhana Khera, executive director of the San Francisco-based civil rights group Muslim Advocates, “but an internal review is insufficient at this stage. In the last year, the FBI has either defended its use of bigoted trainers or emphatically assured the public that the various trainings were one-time, isolated incidents. Each time those assurances were later revealed to be false.”
Muslim Advocates sent a letter to the Justice Department Inspector General last week seeking an investigation. It has yet to receive a reply. However, the chairs of the Senate’s homeland security and intelligence committees have separately told Danger Room they will subject the FBI’s counterterrorism training to scrutiny.
For months, in fact, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), has raised concerns that law enforcement at all levels lacks “meaningful standards” for counterterrorism training. In the course of his ongoing inquiry on the subject, Lieberman’s staff became aware of a particularly problematic individual: an FBI intelligence analyst named William Gawthrop.
In April, Gawthrop presented a three-day briefing at the FBI’s Quantico training facility to counterterrorism agents in which he equated “mainstream” Islam with terrorism. In earlier interviews, he mused about triggering a “deteriorating cascade effect” upon Islam, convincing Muslims to abandon their religion by attacking “soft spots” in the Islamic faith. And he has lectured widely about the “threat” of Islam, ostensibly as a private citizen.
Lieberman staffers were appalled by the “inappropriate materials being used by Mr. Gawthrop and notified the FBI in mid-July of their concerns,” says Leslie Phillips, Communications Director of the Homeland Security Committee.
The FBI wouldn’t directly comment on the committee’s warning, instead reiterating the Bureau’s new commitment to a wide-ranging review — one that will stretch from Quantico to the FBI’s many field offices to the J. Edgar Hoover Building, its Washington headquarters.
“The senator hopes the FBI will take appropriate action to prohibit these and any other inaccurate training materials from being used in the future,” Phillips adds.
In the meantime, Gawthrop is, as of this writing, still an FBI counterterrorism analyst. And the message he helped inculcate in the Bureau lingers.
Even Ivy League Universities such as Princeton are not immune from radical anti-Muslims. A Christian man by the name of Adam Pyle interrupted a Muslim Student “welcome back dinner,” telling them that “Muslims are going to hell.”
One can only imagine the hysteria this would have caused in the anti-Muslim blogosphere if a Muslim had barged into a Christian, Jewish or any other faith’s “welcome back dinner.”
This is also noteworthy in the backdrop of the terrorist attacks in Norway. Anders Behring Breivik claimed to be a member of the Knight Templars as well. While we should not extrapolate excessively from this one incident we should keep in mind that there is a rise in the appropriation of Christian Crusader theology, symbols and rhetoric amongst the anti-Muslim movement.
A local man claiming to be part of the Knights Templar was arrested on Saturday night after allegedly interrupting a Muslim Student Association welcome back dinner and telling students that “Muslims are going to hell,” according to multiple witnesses and police reports.
While the incident reflects a nationwide spike in bias crimes in the wake of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, MSA members say they are treating it as an isolated event and do not plan to scale back any of their events in response.
The man, Adam Pyle, 26, of Princeton Township, had apparently been present for part of the actual dinner at Campus Club, said Sohaib Sultan, the University’s Muslim life coordinator. Toward the conclusion of the dinner, Pyle left the dining area and allegedly started going through the backpack of Jihad Al-Jabban ’14, the MSA public relations chair.
When Al-Jabban walked over, Pyle explained that he was a Christian but still a member of the “ummah,” the global Muslim community, according to Al-Jabban. Pyle then proceeded to bow and ask MSA members if they were members of the ummah, said MSA vice president Areej Hassan ’13. He also allegedly asked a member, “Why do you hate Jews?” Hassan is a staff writer for The Daily Princetonian.
“I immediately became a little bit nervous about what his intentions were,” Sultan said. “I realized this could be a potentially violent situation.”
Sultan then ushered the 60 to 70 students attending the dinner into a closed room away from Pyle, and an attendee called Public Safety. In the meantime, Pyle allegedly said, “Muslims are going to hell” and “Death to Muslims,” and began walking toward the students, according to Sultan.
“I stood right in front of him and said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not going to let [you] go inside,’ ” Sultan recalled. During the night, Pyle also allegedly made references to the anti-Christ, University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua said in an email.
At 8:57 p.m., Public Safety officers arrested Pyle and charged him with bias intimidation, criminal attempt, disorderly conduct, harassment and defiant trespass, Mbugua said. Pyle will face the criminal charges on Monday in the Borough Municipal Court. Public Safety ordered Pyle to stay away from campus for the next 90 days, and the department intends to ban him permanently.
A message left seeking comment at Pyle’s home phone number was not returned. Pyle is not affiliated with the University.
“You just never know the type of individual [who] might come in and do something,” Sultan said. “The Muslim community in America has seen a real rise in Islamophobia over this past year in particular, and so it shakes us up. We really did feel threatened.”
It is unclear how Pyle learned of the welcome back dinner, since the event was only advertised via email and with limited on-campus advertising, MSA board members said.
“I don’t even think it was premeditated,” said Sheeba Arif ’14, the MSA events chair. “I feel like he just stumbled in on it actually.”
It is also unknown how Pyle gained access to Campus Club, access to which was limited by prox at the time, Mbugua said.
Sultan said the incident has shaken up some Muslim students, and he is concerned that new students may get the wrong impression about the University.
“To the freshmen and first-year graduate students, please don’t worry. This was an isolated incident and you will find this campus as warm and welcoming to Muslims as anywhere in this country,” Sultan said in an email to the MSA listserv.
Sultan has invited officers from Public Safety to speak with students at Friday prayers this week to thank the officers and to discuss revising any safety protocols. Students praised the responding officers, who also offered to escort the members back to their dorm rooms after the event.
Sultan added, however, that he doesn’t anticipate any increased security as a result of the incident.
“We really do hope and anticipate that this was a completely isolated incident,” he said. “We want to continue being the open community that we’ve become at Princeton.”
Other religious organizations on campus, including the Office of Religious Life, have lent their support and have offered to hold discussions and vigils in response to the incident. MSA board members said they may discuss the issue broadly at the next Religious Life Council meeting, but they want to move forward.
“It’s an isolated incident,” Arif said. “We don’t want to make a bigger deal than it is.”
While advocacy groups noticed a rise in bias crimes around the 9/11 anniversary, Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that colleges and universities are often immune.
“Colleges and universities have typically not been a major factor in our annual reporting on bias-related incidents, just because they tend to be more open, more tolerant and more knowledgeable about Islam and Muslims,” he said.
Indeed, Sultan said he couldn’t recall any similar incident occurring on campus, except for the occasional controversial speaker or offensive email. Mbugua also said this is the first incident of its nature to happen on campus.
“I think it’s still on the minds of students, but I think we recognize this was completely an isolated incident,” Sultan said. “Princeton University has been a wonderful and very welcoming home for Muslim students and faculty for many years.”
My work…has never been against Muslims in the aggregate or any people as such, but rather against an ideology that denies the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people.
Yet, statement after statement, and post after post on his website talks about “Muslims” and “Islam” as just that: an aggregate. Take this latest post:
The fact that Muslims do not like Jews and Israel, I know, because many of my correspondents, Islamic leaders, Emirs, the heads of armed groups and ordinary Mujahideen talked about this at every meeting and every interview with me.
The fact that Islam is a nation and that Muslims have no other nationality is what I also heard from religious leaders supporting the Jihad.
The fact that Muslims can adapt and play by the political process more than once I saw myself.
They know how to do represent themselves as the victims of inhumane aggression through the media. And the same information is transmitted to the Islamic world in a different manner — as a victory for Jihad and death for the sake of Allah.
No nuance, no teasing out the particular…no, rather ”Muslims do not like Jews and Israel.” That is a general statement. That is what Spencer and his minions do again, and again, and again.
A World Public Opinion (WPO) survey done in collaboration at that time with the University of Maryland reported that 51 percent of Americans believe “bombings and other types of attacks intentionally aimed at civilians are sometimes justified,” while only 13 percent of American Muslims hold a similar view, with a full 81 percent saying violence against civilians is never justified.
A recent Gallup survey (2011) asks the same question separately — first for a “military attacks against civilians” and then “individuals and small groups attacking civilians.” Muslim Americans came out as the staunchest opponents of both overwhelmingly as compared to their neighbors.
In response to military attacks against civilians, 78 percent of Muslim Americans said such attacks are never justified as compared to 39 percent of Christians and 43 percent of Jews. Only 21 percent Muslim Americans approve of it “sometimes” as compared to 58 percent of Christians and 52 percent of Jews.
Eighty-nine percent of Muslim Americans surveyed by Gallup rejected violent individual attacks on civilians as compared to 71 percent of Christians and 75 percent of Jews. Muslims are the least likely to justify attacks on civilians. Only 11 percent of Muslims justified that sometimes such attacks are acceptable as compared to 27 percent of Christians and 22 percent of Jews.
The same is true when it comes to opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Muslim Americans are way ahead in their opposition to wars as compared to their neighbors.
However, when the Pew survey first came out in 2007, it did not provide any relief for Muslim Americans from Islamophobic media frenzy. Most reporters used it as an opportunity to fan hatred against Muslim Americans, focusing on the smaller number of Muslim Americans who justified attacks on civilians without comparing it to Christian Americans, who did the same even in a larger numbers.
Right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin proclaimed in the National Review that the poll “should be a wake-up call.” Mark Steyn said it demonstrated the existence in America of “a huge comfort zone for the jihad to operate in,” and on CNN, Anderson Cooper was horrified — just horrified — that “so many” American Muslims would support such violence.
Well, I was also horrified myself until I checked what our neighbors are saying about intentionally targeting civilians. As a peacemaker, I will only be satisfied fully when all Muslims and people of other faiths oppose killing civilians fully, whether that is by a military or a terrorist group. But these statistics do offer me comparative relief.
The same evidence of a peaceful Muslim community was provided by Michael E. Rolince, former FBI Special Agent in Charge of Counterterrorism, D.C. Field Office. He said the FBI conducted about 500,000 interviews without finding a single lead which could have helped the agency prevent the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
That number means that almost 40 percent of all Muslim households in the United States were probably touched by this investigation. Here is what this presidential award recipient with 30 years of counterterrorism and counterintelligence experience said on Dec. 17, 2005, one month after his retirement, at the Muslim Public Affairs Committee’s annual convention in a panel titled, “Muslim Americans & Law Enforcement Partnership” (Here is an mp3 of his speech. His statement appears in the Q & A section):
“We conducted about a half a million interviews post 9/11 relative to the attacks of 9/11, and this is important because your community gets painted as not doing enough and you could have helped. I’m not aware — and I know 9/11 about as well as anybody in the FBI knows 9/11 and that’s not bragging that’s just the reality — I’m not aware of any single person in your community who, had they stepped forward, could have provided a clue to help us get out in front of this. The reality of that attack is that 19 people came here with what they needed. They spoke the language well enough to order meals and rent cars and hotel rooms. They had money coming in from overseas. Four people knew how to fly planes and 15 others were willing to be the muscle. They didn’t need any witting help from anyone to do what they did. And thus far, and I’m not saying this is conclusive because 10 years from now someone might find something that changes it, we’ve not found a sitting single witting individual in your community, and that’s a fact that gets overlooked because you get painted and that’s why I’m so committed and remain committed to projects like this because what we are in the business of is facts and the truth.”Anxiety about Muslim Americans is at an all-time high thanks to a well-funded campaign of Islamophobia.
Rand Corporation Findings
A 2010 Rand Corporation report rightfully states that “The volume of domestic terrorist activity was much greater in the 1970s than it is today. It is important to note that Rand is mostly a Defense Department-funded think-tank. This report has a whole section called “The 1970s Saw Greater Terrorist Violence.” The report asserts that, “Thus far, there has been no sustained jihadist terrorist campaign in the United States.” And one possible reason for this, according to this Rand report, is, “The local Muslim community rejected al Qaeda’s appeals and actively intervened to dissuade those with radical tendencies from violence.”
But, facts mean very little to “Police Blotter Bob”…
Loonwatchers, please welcome Ilisha our newest contributor. She will be focusing on issues of women and Islam.
This month Pamella Geller published a book entitled, “Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance,” which she describes as a “how to” guide for fighting various Islamic menaces, including “creeping sharia” and “stealth jihad.” She also describes how Muslims, who make up less than 2% of the American population, are “Islamic Supremacists” plotting to take over every aspect of American life.
Geller has also announced plans for a future book tentatively entitled, “Sex, Murder, and Islam: Honor Killing in America. ” She says the book will be about the “ongoing proliferation” of honor killings among immigrants to the West from Muslim countries. Honor killings have recently become the centerpiece of Geller’s campaign against Islam, and feature prominently on her website, Atlas Shrugs.
Honor killings are not Islamic, and they are not condoned in the Qur’an. This is a matter of fact. Honor killing is a form of murder where the victim is denied a fair trial, which is contrary to Islamic law. Islam opposes acts of murder and vigilantism, and likens the killing of one human being to the killing of the entire human race (Qur’an 5:32, 6:151, 17:33). Honor killing is a cultural inheritance which predates Islam by centuries, and Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United Nations have all said that honor killings cut across cultural and religious lines.
Nevertheless, “Islamic” honor killings are a public relations bonanza for Islamophobes, especially when they take place in a Western country. They are used to reinforce the notion that Islam is inherently violent and irrational, and to suggest that Muslim families view a young woman’s adoption of Western culture as a capital offense. Isolated incidents are amplified through intense media coverage, stoking fears that Muslims are importing barbaric customs into Western countries through immigration.
Anti-Muslim hate sites including Jihadwatch, Atlas Shrugs, and Frontpage Magazine have been weeping crocodile tears for Aqsa Parvez since she was killed by her father and brother in December of 2007 in an apparent honor killing. Both men received life sentences for their crime in June of 2010, but that hasn’t stopped Pamela Geller from continuing to exploit the incident to advance her agenda. She recently managed to raise $5,000 in donations she used to fund a controversial memorial plaque for Aqsa Parvez in Israel.
Parvez is the ideal poster child for their campaign to vilify Islam because she was the teenage daughter of Muslim immigrants living in Ontario, Canada. For similar reasons, Robert Spencer is exploiting the tragic death of two sisters, Sarah Yaser Said, 17, and Amina Yaser Said, 18, who were shot and killed by their father, an immigrant from Egypt, in January of 2008 in Texas.
Geller and Spencer show little interest in similar crimes when they are committed by non-Muslims. A few months before Aqsa Parvez was killed, a gruesome video surfaced of a 17-year old Du’a Khalil Aswad in Mosul, Iraq being stoned to death by a mob while she cried out for help. The video garnered immediate attention when it was presumed to be an “Islamic” crime, but quickly dropped out of the spotlight when it turned out the victim was a Kurdish girl from the Yazidi religion who was killed for having an Arab Muslim boyfriend.
In 2008, a man in Chicago killed his pregnant daughter, her 3-year old child, and her husband by burning down their home because she had married a man from a lower caste. This horrific crime was ignored by the usual hate brigade because the perpetrator was a non-Muslim immigrant from India. Robert Spencer mentioned the case on Jihadwatch only briefly, and that was to complain that media attention should be going to the murder of the Said sisters instead.
Geller’s Atlas Shrugs features a memorial page entitled, “Honor Killing: Islam’s Gruesome Gallery.” It is indeed gruesome and serves her agenda of inspiring outrage against Islam and Muslims. Unlike the Memini (“Remembrance”) memorial for victims of honor killings from all religious backgrounds, Geller’s Gruesome Gallery is devoted exclusively to highlighting honor killings associated with Muslims.
Geller and Spencer have also been relentless in trying to get police in Tampa, Florida to reopen the case of Fatima Abdullah, insisting she was the victim of an honor killing and subsequent cover up. The 48-year old woman died when she fell and hit her head on a coffee table at her brother’s home. Her brother was not home at the time of the incident.
This is the sharia in America. The idea that a woman would die after she ‘threw herself to the floor’ or hit her head repeatedly on the coffee table is institutionalized gender apartheid, the sharia. The idea defies logic, belies reality.
As a self-proclaimed scholar on Islam, Spencer should know that Islamic law (“the sharia”) does not sanction honor killing. The coroner’s autopsy report concluded the “Manner of Death” was “Accident (Decedent fell and struck head on table).” The detailed medical report does not mention any evidence of foul play.
Jihadwatch later published a page with the headline, “Tampa Police crime scene tech now admits ‘fear of Muslim reprisal’ in honor killing classified as accidental death,” which was reposted to numerous anti-Muslim hate sites. This implies police lied when they ruled the case an accident, but a closer look at the details shows this headline is misleading.
A crime scene technician from the Tampa police department called the Florida Family Association (FFA) nearly a year after the initial investigation and asked that her name be removed from their website, which has been stirring up controversy over the case, in concert with Geller and Spencer. The technician did not want her name posted on a controversial public website, though it is unclear from the reports whether she feared reprisal from angry Muslims, or from “activists” aligned with the FFA.
Although Tampa police have stood by results of their initial investigation, Geller and an assortment of other loony Islamophobes continue to exert pressure on authorities to reopen the case. They have linked the case to their conspiracy theories about Muslims taking over the country, apparently starting with the Tampa Police Department. Geller has dubbed the city “Tampastan,” and claims Florida police are engaged in a cover up because, “…murdering Muslim women in America is preferable to offending Muslims or insulting Islam.”
It is tempting to dismiss Geller and Spencer for their outlandish statements and crude publicity stunts, but they have enjoyed surprising success, especially in using the mainstream media as a conduit for spreading their hateful ideas. If they were targeting any other minority group, they would probably be consigned to the lunatic fringe.
The complete failure of our law enforcement agencies to protect us from real threats of terrorism was confirmed on September 11, 2001, when – in spite of plentifulwarnings, including from fieldoffices of the Federal Bureau of Idiocy Investigation – nineteen hijackers armed only with box cutters commandeered three airliners and drove them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
No one paid the price for this – except, of course, the victims of the attacks. No high-ranking US government official, including the head of the FBI, was fired or even called on the carpet.
The first, but far from only, targets of this massive escalation of spying were Americans of the Muslim faith – and, while the neocon media salivated at the prospect, mosques, religious leaders, and ordinary people were put in the government’s sights. The wholesale targeting of Muslims has become so egregious that agents inside the FBI rebelled, and leaked documents to Wired.com’s Spencer Ackerman which reveal the craziness that has not abated since 9/11.
The documents are dozens of pages out of “training” manuals which posit that Islam, per se, is inherently and inescapably violent and subversive. As Ackerman reports:
“The FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that ‘main stream’ [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a ‘cult leader’; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a ‘funding mechanism for combat.’
“At the Bureau’s training ground in Quantico, Virginia, agents are shown a chart contending that the more ‘devout’ a Muslim, the more likely he is to be ‘violent.’ Those destructive tendencies cannot be reversed, an FBI instructional presentation adds: ‘Any war against non-believers is justified’ under Muslim law; a ‘moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah.’”
This is craziness, and it’s not the craziness of the Bush era, either – Ackerman reports that the last “training session” that utilized these nut-job materials was in March of this year. Yes, folks, it’s all about hope and change – from bad to worse.
Go here and feast your eyes on the actual materials used to “train” FBI agents involved in “counterterrorism” operations in the US: Mohammed, according to the FBI, was a “cult leader,” and torture is part of the Muslim religion, mandated by the Prophet – a weird accusation coming from the US government, which infamously institutionalized torture techniques borrowed from the Communists and the Nazis. Much space is given over to characterizing the prophet Mohammed as psychopath who “heard voices,” “contemplated suicide,” and plotted heinous murders. In short, he’s a medieval version of David Koresh – another FBI target – whose followers presumably deserve the same fate.
The theme of this material is simple: Islam is not a religion but a military-political formation whose goal is world conquest, whose methods are utterly ruthless, and whose followers are mad dogs who can only be shot down with relentless ferocity.
As Ackerman points out, al-Qaeda couldn’t agree more.
The lunacy doesn’t end there, however: a document entitled “Militancy Considerations” has a graph that charts the violent tendencies of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. According to this work of graphical genius, Judaism underwent a very brief period of orienting toward violence that began to be ameliorated starting in 1400 B.C. – a factoid the Palestinians will be thrilled to hear about. Christianity, in contrast, started out pretty violently – which should be news to fans of the Sermon the Mount – and only started to approximate the relative peacefulness of Judaism around the year 1900, where the two lines on the graph representing the two religions meet and merge.
Islam, however, is an entirely different story: here the line goes up very briefly, charting the course of what the FBI describes as the “Meccan period,” but then goes sideways – toward increasing violence – in a straight line, after entering what is termed the “Medina period.”
We have heard all this before, of course – in the ravings of Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, and David Horowitz. Indeed, the author of at least one of the FBI “presentations,” one William Gawthrop, was interviewed by WorldNutDaily – birther headquarters – in which he attributed radical Islamist terrorism to the prophet Mohammed’s “mindset.” In the interview, Gawthrop is described as someone “who until recent months headed a key counterintelligence and counterterrorism program set up at the Pentagon after 9/11.” Islam isn’t really a religion, according to Gawthrop, but a “military doctrine.” The Koran is not only a sacred text but also a manual for world conquest:
“’Today the United States and an increasing number of other governments are beleaguered by an expanding array of states, groups and individuals whose goals, actions and norms are animated by Islamic values,’ Gawthrop said. ‘This places the defenders in the unenviable position of having to fight, at the strategic level, against an idea.’
“How do you attack an idea? By hitting ‘soft spots’ in the Islamic faith that, once exploited, ‘may induce a deteriorating cascade effect upon the target,’ Gawthrop says.”
“’Critical vulnerabilities of the Quran, for example, are that it was uttered by a mortal,’ Gawthrop said. ‘Similar vulnerabilities may be found in Muhammad’s character.’”
This reads like a rationale for the worst sort of hate-mongering of the kind one sees on far-right-wing blogs, and the obscene excesses of wackos like Pamela Geller, who ascribe every sort of moral and sexual perversion to the most revered figure of one of the world’s three great Abrahamic faiths. The idea is not to win over Muslims, at home and abroad, to the anti-terrorist cause, but to insult and provoke them to higher levels of violence.
Somewhere close to the lowest rung of Hell, Osama bin Laden is smiling.
Gawthrop criticizes the Pentagon for lacking his own “strategic” understanding of Islam, and predicts that:
“As the jihad spreads … the government eventually will have to get involved in a such a controversial national education campaign, politically incorrect as it may be. ‘If the United States, moderate Muslim governments and the non-Muslim world seek to engage ideological adversaries on their own ground,’ he said, ‘they will have to develop, use and maintain the full range of capabilities in the ideological component of national power, and address Islam’s strategic themes directly.’”
In other words: hire him to direct a national – nay, international – hate campaign directed at Islam, per se, and the memory and image of the Prophet Mohammed.
See here, here, here, and here for reports on the growing infiltration of Washington’s “counter-terrorism” efforts by Anders Breivik look-alikes. As Dana Priest pointed out in her comprehensive series on the gargantuan “anti-terrorist” bureaucracy that has mushroomed since 9/11:
“In their desire to learn more about terrorism, many departments are hiring their own trainers. Some are self-described experts whose extremist views are considered inaccurate and harmful by the FBI and others in the intelligence community.”
This is the inevitable result of any government program designed to “study” a religio-ideological phenomenon – an entire industry grows up in the lush atmosphere of plentiful and lucrative government contracts, flowering into the likes of Hawthrop and other crackpots who pose as “experts.” It happened during the cold war, with neoconservative “experts” arising to push their extremist policies – and the same thing is happening today in our endless “war on terrorism.”
These snake oil salesmen gain surface credibility on account of their background in government and the military, or due to their association with a whole sub-universe of fringe “thinktanks,” such as Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy (CSP). Gaffney’s CSP is a key node in the nut-job network, and one indication of their credibility level is the fact that Gaffney has endorsed the laughable “intelligence” expertise of Walid Shoebat, who claims Obama is a Muslim. Gaffney and Shoebat once appeared on a panel together discussing the question of whether – or when – Obama became a Muslim. Gaffney, for his part, along with David Horowitz, is convinced that the Republican party – and the US government – have been infiltrated by Islamists due to the efforts of Grover Norquist! Shoebat is also a favorite of the International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association (ICTOA), which publishes Hawthrop’s drivel in their journal: he appeared, with Robert Spencer and William Boykin — the “crusader” General — at a “Ft. Hood Memorial” hate-fest. The wacko circle-jerk of cross-endorsements and interlocking organizations serves to buttress the “credentials” of these “experts.”
That they have infiltrated law enforcement at the local, state, and federal level, is horrifying – and unsurprising. They’re just going where the federal dollars flow, springing up like weeds in a sparsely-grown patch of ground. Tax dollars spread generously around breed these phonies like flies after a summer rain: it’s a built-in feature of our bureaucratic approach to “fighting terrorism.”
What’s scary is that the FBI is supposed to be protecting us from “terrorism” – but who will protect us from our protectors? These lazy dolts have nothing better to do than sneak around “investigating” Americans who have broken no law, accusing even this web site – and this columnist – of being “a threat to National Security” and in all probability an “agent of a foreign power.”
The foreign power is in Washington, D.C., where parasites like Hawthrop & Co. feed at the public trough. It’s more than past time to clean the Augean stables of our “counterterrorism” bureaucracy and start defending the nation in a credible way.
Terrorist inspirer Robert Spencer’s proclivity to engage in anti-Muslim Islamophobic conspiracy theories is well known. Recently, he dallied once again in the nutty conspiracy that Barack Obama is a ‘radical undercover Mooslim’ hell bent on destroying America.
Obama reads Psalm 46, including verse 8: “Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has wrought desolations in the earth.”
The only people who think that 9/11 was an act of the Supreme Being wreaking desolations on the earth are…Islamic jihadists.
Robert Spencer, just like his comrade Pamela Geller believes Obama is a Muslim. They have repeated this claim numerous times, both implicitly and directly, though Spencer has reverted again to not saying it clearly.
Spencer, unlike his friend Geller knows that such a belief is bats*** loony so he attempts to couch his language in euphemism and hints.
It is interesting to note Spencer’s false claim that the “only people who think that 9/11 was an act of the Supreme Being are Islamic jihadists.” Spencer isn’t that stupid, just a week ago he was on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, the same loon pastor who “in the wake of 9/11, had a now (in-)famous exchange with the late Jerry Falwell in which the two religious leaders suggested that the United States ‘deserved’ the attacks for its tolerance of secularism, gays, abortion, feminists and pagans.”
Maybe Spencer thinks that Robertson is an Islamic Jihadist?
However, when have facts ever stopped Spencer in the past? So, with single-minded drive to prove Obama’s radical Islamic Jihadism he continues:
So why did Barack Obama pick this psalm out of 150 psalms, and out of innumerable appropriate Biblical passages, to read at the 9/11 ceremonies? 9/11, after all, was a day when there were indeed wrought desolations on the earth. Did Obama really mean to say that God did it, that it was an act of divine judgment, rather than a monstrous and unmitigated evil?
Or is this just another one of those funny coincidences, of which there are so very, very many when it comes to Barack Obama and his remarkable, unqualified and obvious affinity for Islam?
Robert Spencer long ago went off the rails when he solidified his alliance with Pamela Geller and the fascist anti-Muslim Right-wing network. Ever since then it has been downhill for the anti-Muslim polemicist. No longer does he care to present the facade of impartiality, scholarliness or truth. He has been savaged for it in the mainstream media, it only remains for the national security complex, which still allows him to instruct its employees to catch up to this soon to be bygone “counter-jihad” blogger.
Wallowing in his own self-righteousness, Spencer declares the President of the United States Barack Obama, a professed Christian, the commander-in-chief of forces occupying two Muslim nations and bombing the hell out of several more of being an “Islamist Jihadist.”
Is that called “chutzpah” or just plain right-wing anti-Muslim loonacy?
“There is no smiley face, no whitewash on what happened here ten years ago today. What happened, was murder!” As she peppered her speech with soundbites, Pamela Geller was occasionally forced to pause for chants of “U-S-A!” from the smattering of supporters who had turned out for her Freedom Rally yesterday in Lower Manhattan. It was doubtful that there were any “smiley faces” at the official commemoration at the 9/11 Memorial that morning, but if you spoke with attendees of the Freedom Rally, one might have gotten the impression that Presidents Obama and Bush presided over a mass burning of Bibles and bald eagles.
“This country has become communist,” Sheepshead Bay resident Patricia Randolph told us. “A good way to fight for freedom is to know your history, to know that Muslims build victory mosques in places that they have conquered.” She was referring of course to Park51 a cultural center and mosque that may be built blocks from the World Trade Center site. “And have you heard about that mosque they’re building in Sheepshead Bay near a school? Those women that walk around my neighborhood with black nails? They’re Taliban wives.” Her friend Elizabeth of Midwood added, “The Muslims rape little girls, we have to make it safe for the kids.”
Yes, idiotic comments happen, and here, we delete them as soon as we are aware of them. Ordinarily, we have better things to do than read anything Spencer Watch puts out, but a reader kindly brought this comment to our attention, which has remained for over a year on a rather major page within the site, intended to imitate our “Why Jihad Watch?”
Wow. Way to refute everything about Acts 17, “RefutingActs17.” You totally put St. Paul in his place there, dude.
Robert Spencer always enjoys giving himself an air of mystique by boasting that his life is in mortal danger, which is why his books such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) say that “He lives in a Safe, Undisclosed Location.” This, even though he quite openly says here that “I live in New England.” Couldn’t his book have said that, instead of the melodramatic “He lives in a Safe, Undisclosed Location” (all capitalized for some odd reason)? It’s not really “Undisclosed” then, is it?
The reason for this fraud is obvious: nothing boosts ratings more than a fatwa on one’s head. So, it is no wonder then that Robert Spencer has been desperately trying to accuse LoonWatch (or its affiliate site SpencerWatch) of threatening him. For the first time, Spencer and the Islamophobes have an organization that is really sticking it to them. He has to find a way to discredit us. Unfortunately, nothing sticks!
The fact that JihadWatch has absolutely nothing to use against us–that Robert Spencer has no substantive responses to issue whatsoever–is painstakingly clear to see when we look at the frustrated, almost pathetic, attacks on our site. Awhile ago, he published an article condemning a comment Mosizzle posted [“Like all cancers, this one needs to be cut out before it spreads”] which wasn’t even posted by a LoonWatch or SpencerWatch writer. Not only that, but Mosizzle explained that his sentence was meant to be understood in a proverbial, not literal, way.
Once again, JihadWatch couldn’t find a single sentence written by a LoonWatch or SpencerWatch writer to take issue with, so it has to once again dig up a comment by some random poster–RefutingActs17–who says: “It’s time Robert Spencer got schooled–the hard way.” Apparently, that’s supposed to constitute “an incitement to violence.”
Robert Spencer, on the other hand, physically threatened me (Danios), calling for me to be lashed 100 and 101 times on two different occasions respectively, saying about me (“the slick liar”):
The slick liar who penned that piece ought to get 100 lashes
The slick liar who penned that piece ought to get 101 lashes
Calling for someone to get lashed 100 or 101 times cannot really be understood as “proverbially speaking” nor is it a common saying. (Admittedly, I think it was nothing more than him just losing his temper…) So basically on the one hand we have on LoonWatch a comment using a phrase most commonly used in the proverbial sense by a random reader of our site who is not even a part of the LoonWatch team…(Nowhere in the quote by Mosizzle is violent action called for.) And on the other hand we have a threat that explicitly says I should be lashed, a threat issued not by some random reader of JW, but by the main man himself!
I smell something: it’s the smell of desperation.
All of this desperation coming from JihadWatch just because LoonWatch and SpencerWatch are really getting under their skin. Most humiliating of all, of course, is that Robert Spencer is scared to debate us here at LoonWatch. But I guess whining about a comment here and there posted by random visitors to our site is just as good as facing me in debate?
Instead of defending the arguments he raised in his book (many of which I have refuted and will continue to refute), Spencer’s site spends time analyzing the name of our website. Oh no, we stole the name of a bird site (even though our site existed beforehand). To respond using the words of JihadWatch: Wow. Way to refute everything about LoonWatch. You totally put Danios in his place there, dude. You just refuted us, and now we give up. All our base are belong to you.
Disclaimer: I would like to point out that the views expressed below are mine alone and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official views of LoonWatch or any of its writers aside from myself (Danios).
Worship of the American military and all that it does — and a corresponding taboo on speaking ill of it except for tactical critiques (it would be better if they purchased this other weapon system or fought this war a bit differently) – is the closest thing America has to a national religion.
If worship of the military is America’s national religion, then the U.S. soldier is this religion’s holy warrior. Greenwald noted that the Navy Seals are “a member of the most sacred and revered religious order.” Those who die in “the line of duty” are martyrs who must be remembered for all “they have done for this country.” Any criticism against the rank-and-file holy warrior is considered blasphemous.
There can be no possible profession that is more highly praiseworthy to the American than soldier in the military. Many U.S. airlines will let soldiers board the plane even before women with children and the disabled. Being part of the war machine is more respectable than being a doctor, a social worker, a teacher for the disabled, or a volunteer at the local orphanage. Saving people (what a physician does) can in no way, shape, or form be considered better than killing people (what a soldier does).
A person foolish enough to say that “a soldier kills people” will be beaten into submission and subservience by jingoist mantras such as “you should be thankful that you are able to express such views, because it is only due to the sacrifices of those in uniform–who protect your freedoms–that you are free to say what you want.” This, even though no rational mind could possibly believe this: how does bombing, invading, and occupying Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, or Yemen “protect my freedoms?” That is, unless one is naive enough to think that any of these Evil, Foreign Brown People were about to conquer the United States, topple its government, and take away my freedoms.
In any case, I have my own government to do that for me. Far from “fighting for my freedoms,” the military-industrial complex and those in authority who wage these wars are responsible for clamping down on my civil liberties. With the rise of the Orwellian-named Patriot Act and its like, there has been a sustained war waged not just against Al-Qaeda but against civil liberties, with dedicated assaults on the First and Fourth Amendments.
Worship of the military and the holy warrior runs so deep that even the most ardent critic of the war must never utter a single word against those who wage it. Such a common sense thing to do is completely off-limits and beyond the scope of decency and propriety. To do so would be to open oneself up to the criticisms of being “unpatriotic” and “disloyal.” Criticism of the war must be couched in “patriotic language:” war critics must ceremoniously acknowledge their support for U.S. troops, arguing that I support the troops which is why I want to bring them home. It is simply unacceptable to just clearly say: I don’t support the troops because they are shooting at, bombing, and killing people. To do such a thing would be to commit the highest of sins in the American national religion.
The fact that even war critics would hush you up for saying something against America’s cherished holy warriors says something of how deeply ingrained militarism is in our society. How can it be that opponents of America’s wars will criticize the war as unjust on the one hand but not be anything but absolutely reverent towards those who wage it? The United States, after all, uses an all-volunteer military; by joining the military is not one making an active choice to take part in these unjust wars? And certainly, one can choose not to fight, as many brave soldiers and ex-soldiers have done.
Noting with what absolute reverence Americans speak of their soldiers of war, one wonders how it is that they are simultaneously amazed at how unbelievably warlike those Foreign, Other People are for revering their own men of war. We are taken aback by how “primitive” the North Koreans are when they mindlessly revere their soldiers, yet somehow mystified when we do the same with our troops. The North Korean soldiers have certainly killed far fewer and waged far fewer wars than our own military. But alas, those North Koreans are so primitive, whereas we are so advanced, civilized, and peaceful.
I don’t malign or vilify soldiers in the military (as I partially do accept the idea that “they are just doing their job”), but must we continue to speak of our holy warriors with such absolute reverence, awe, and worship? Our mindless idolization of the military profession is what is to blame for so many of our impressionable youth choosing to join the military to kill people abroad instead of spending those years going to college to expand their minds. Placing the military and its soldiers on a pedestal is the only way a society can convince its young boys to risk their lives to go to war for the country–something so illogical, so contrary to the biological drive to save oneself from harm or death, that absent the most compelling of reasons one can hardly find it worthwhile to do so.
Interestingly, even that religious and ethnic minority that is the target of America’s wars is itself affected by this national religion. Muslim-Americans will often bend over backwards to point out that they too “proudly serve this country” by being a part of the military. (Even the phrase “serve this country” can only mean one thing: soldiering.) In order to be accepted as Full Citizens, Muslim-Americans must prove their dedication to America’s war machine.
And so, Muslim-Americans–many of them immigrants or children of immigrants–beg to be included in the same institution that wages endless wars in their ancestral homelands. It is that same institution that is rife with racism and bigotry against Arabs and Muslims, yet so desperately do Muslim-Americans want to be included in it.
* * * * *
In this national religion, 9/11 is America’s Karbala. The Battle of Karbala involved the slaughter of the Prophet Muhammad’s descendants by a tyrannical government–an event that is religiously commemorated each year by Shia Muslims, who will often make a religious pilgrimage (ziyarat) to the site of the battle or to the graves of the victims. With vigor just short of this, Americans commemorate Patriot Day, the holy day of the American national religion.
Ground Zero, meanwhile, is the “hallowed ground”–a trip here is theziyarat (religious pilgrimage) of the American religion. The American flag becomes a symbol not to be disrespected, our nation’s holy book, waved high by people chanting “USA! USA! USA!”, which can only mean one thing: war! The flag has become a raised symbol of war.
The military is our national religion, its soldiers are our holy warriors, the Navy Seals are our highest religious order, those soldiers who died in war are our martyrs, 9/11 was our Karbala, Patriot Day is our annual holy day, the flag is our holy book and symbol, Osama bin Laden is Lucifer, Terrorism is the greatest Evil, supporting the troops is our greatest religious obligation, and failure to do so is the greatest blasphemy and the highest of sins.
* * * * *
The problem I have with the cult-like remembrance of 9/11 is that it was the devotion to this day that was used to launch wars of vengeance that killed ten times as many people. This date, 9/11, has been militarized. It is a memory we are told that we must never forget lest we slacken in our resolve to wage war against the Forces of Evil, the Satan of our religion: radical Islam and Terrorism. It is a memory that is invoked to remind the American people why they need to spend more of their taxpayer money to sustain their country’s illegal occupations and immoral wars.
Furthermore, the singling out of this day above all others (including days on which worse acts of violence were perpetrated by the United States), exudes the tribalistic mentality that infects people with strong feelings of national or religious identity–wherein only blood shed against one’s own national or religious group is remembered (and in fact, it is obsessed over), whereas that shed by one’s own national or religious group against others is ignored, denied, or justified.
Lastly, one cannot help but feel that 9/11 would hardly have been considered as important to the national religion had it not been Muslims who were implicated in the attack. They attacked us. The deaths of the victims of 9/11 are less relevant than the fact that they–those Foreign, Dark-Complexioned Moozlums–are the ones who caused these deaths. The horrendous attacks of 9/11 have special significance due to the fact that the perpetrators were radical Muslims, an Existential Threat to our Safety and Freedoms.
The victims of 9/11 certainly ought to be remembered, as should all the victims of war and terrorism (whether the culprit be our enemies or our own country and whether the victims be American or not), but should their memory really be exploited to feed the national religion of warmongering? Is it not deeply disturbing that an act of violence and the deaths of three-thousand innocents are being used to justify even greater acts of violence and even more civilian deaths?
Disclaimer: I would like to point out that the views expressed above are mine alone and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official views of LoonWatch or any of its writers aside from myself (Danios).
Update I: An interesting Facebook status that is making the rounds:
On 9/11, I’ll mourn the nearly 3,000 lives lost, over 6,000 injuries, the infrastructural carnage and devastation in NYC, and the humiliation of my country, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my religion
On 9/12, I’ll mourn the nearly 1,000,000 lives, the 10′s of millions of injuries, the infrastructural decimation in 3 countries, and the humiliation of my religion, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my country.
Update II: Many readers and fellow LoonWatch writers have pointed out that many young people join the military due to financial reasons. Additionally, many of them are “trying to serve their country” and “are just following orders.” I do not completely disagree with these statements. As I said, I do not malign or vilify soldiers, nor encourage that. What I am opposed to is the glorification of what they do.