Monday, November 9, 2009

Fort Hood Allegations Build On Racist Mythology

THIS MORNING I READ THAT SOME ANONYMOUS SPOOK told ABC news that the CIA knew Hasan was trying to contact al Qaeda (do they have a mailing address?). However, they did nothing about it, told no one, refuse to officially say anything and really only decided to send out an anonymous and widespread rumour now, when it is useful for propaganda purposes. Now, either the CIA are thoroughly incompetent or this is simply an attempt to massage the message in order to get the best spin for the purposes of the war effort. With Italy offering two dozen CIA agents an extended tour in an Italian jail for kidnapping and delivering a "Muslim suspect" to a third country for torture you will excuse me if I think that the timing is convenient for the CIA.
Of course, this whole dissection is a totally absurd case of politically motivated character assassination as a means to avoid the more troubling political implications of his action. Let's unpack some of this racist nonsense for a moment, shall we. What does it mean that he was trying to contact al Qaeda? The article never says and nobody is accountable for this anonymous rumour. So there is no way to verify any of its claims. Did he go to an Islamist website? Did he order an al Qaeda decoder ring in the mail? My guess is that this is nothing but spin based on something very flimsy, else there would be more than an abstract suggestion.
Then there is the article that claims Hasan visited a local strip club to have lap dances. Hasan is becoming, like Osama bin Laden, an Emmanuel Goldstein. Goldstein was the invented boogeyman used to frighten the population into line with the policies of Big Brother in the book 1984. Everyone will now have seen him - at the corner store, at strip clubs, at the mosque, in the cafeteria. And every story will take incidental events that were apropos of nothing and inflate them out of all proportion to create an image appropriate to a secondary figure in the anti-Islamic demonology of America. If he said he opposed the war and thought it was a war against Islam - the second belief being one that is regularly promoted by conservative figures - this is proof that he is a supporter of al Qaeda. The logical corollary that is being implied in all this is, of course, that all Muslims support al Qaeda. Not only is this untrue but because the western media has so thoroughly de-intellectualized al Qaeda - a product of US guns and money during the Afghan war against Soviet occupation - that there's no way to understand the organization or sympathy for it except in the terms of good vs evil. Bush put it clearly in his address to Congress following 9/11:

"Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what they see right here in this chamber -- a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other. They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East. They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa. These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life. With every atrocity, they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our friends. They stand against us, because we stand in their way."
In a psychopathological passive-aggressive projection the United States, the world's most powerful empire, with bases in dozens of countries around the world, with a military budget higher than the rest of the world's countries combined, has become a victim of envy. It is not that the US "overthrows existing government in many Muslim countries", including democratically elected ones, unlike those used without irony in the Bush speech. It is not that the US military and government has consistently opposed the very freedoms listed by Bush in almost every country in the developing world. It is simply that a small, despised and underground movement, hidden in mountains and caves - like western fantasies about some Ali Baba - is an evil force trying to destroy our way of life. This logic must lead to racism for the simple reason that once you eliminate all the real world complexities of cause and effect, of history and political decisions, all you have left are mystical explanations about some evil character within Islam. Sure, there's some good Muslims - but they are only good insofar as they "moderate" their Islam, they become, in the words of Pat Robertson, "Islam lite". As for the rest:

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have to recognize that Islam is not a religion. It is a worldwide political movement meant on domination of the world. And it is meant to subjugate all people under Islamic law."
And Hasan has gone from being a real world man, deeply troubled and socially isolated, not least for being a Muslim in an army rife with Islamophobia, to being a "terrorist". We can now use him to scare the children, mobilize the troops for a renewed effort to defend our way of life and publicly lynch him to purge ourselves of the fears that have weakened the national resolve. We will sleep better again knowing that these wars aren't destroying the minds and bodies of the soldiers sent to prosecute them. Any that develop psychological disorders will simply have "gone native", "become increasingly radical", gone over to the dark side. We will be safe once again in our ignorance, until the next act of mass murder forces us to revise our mythology and add a new demon to the pantheon.
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