The Islamophobia Campaign

Islamofobie, xenofobie en ander extreem-rechts discours is zeer populair bij de republikeinen in de Verenigde Staten.

PressTV geeft het woord aan Max Blumenthal. Hij heeft het over de oorsprong van de Islamofobische campagne en het verontrustende extreem-rechtse en racistische discours van de republikeinen en het extreem-zwakke discours van de democraten.

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The Islamophobia Campaign goes back to the 1930s and 40s when the American public was bombarded with anti-Arab/oriental images in the pop culture through cartoons and Hollywood movie productions for example. The movie Exodus (1960) with Paul Newman was about the foundation of Israel and the reason the film was made was because the American Jewish public was insufficiently sympathetic to or interested in Zionism and the establishment of the state of Israel so it portrayed Jewish terrorists as heroic and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem collaborating with Nazis portraying the Palestinians as Nazis.

There was already a pre-existing context where Americans were cultivated to hate and demonize Arabs. And after 9/11 it turned into a full-on political campaign. Through my research this campaign really started in the 1990s in earnest with a documentary called Jihad in America, which was broadcast on public television with a self-styled terror expert - Steven Emerson who claimed in this documentary that there were terror cells inside the US.

This led to round ups and prosecutions of Muslim leaders of which all of these prosecutions have been completely discredited, with no links to terrorism yet some were thrown in Jail anyway. People in congress at this time were not taking Emerson seriously, not until 9/11.

Even after 9/11 American attitudes toward Muslims were not affected in any direct way. They were always negative and their attitudes toward the Palestinians were very negative. But there was no spike of change and George W Bush who was poised to unilaterally invade Iraq and change the geo-political atmosphere of the Middle East condemned Islamophobia at the National Cathedral - something Barak Obama has never done.

So it really took the election of Barak Obama, whose middle name is Hussein, to make this campaign into something national and much more coherent and powerful than before and it's because it has become part of the Republican campaign to attack Obama.

So by attacking Muslims they are actually waging a political campaign they think will have consequences in 2012 (election time) and so they see every Muslim in the US as a symbol of the Federal government, which is something we've never had before, because of this misperception of Barak Obama as himself a Muslim.
50% of Republicans according to a recent poll believe Barak Obama is not an American.

The far right is obsessed with Muslims and believes there is a secret plot to install Shariah law in the US. In fact they've been passing laws in states that are heavily controlled by Republicans like in Oklahoma to ban Shariah law as if there is attempts to make Shariah somehow affect the lives of Americans. And so you see this hysteria playing out and it starts with cynical partisan considerations, but then it has real life consequences.

Look at what happened in Yurbelinda, which is a conservative outer lying suburb of LA, San Diego where some Muslims gathered at a community centre to raise money for homeless Muslim women and they were surrounded by hundreds of people that I just consider to be the modern-day Ku Klux Klan who were shouting “Go home” and calling them terrorists; and these were just families walking by with children.

I heard from one of the Imams who helped plan the event that harassment has continued in supermarket parking lots in that community and in schools and where Muslim families are finding their property defaced. A lot of this isn't reported because first-generation Muslim immigrants feel intimidated by law enforcement because law enforcement is being typically used against them so to report these hate crimes is a big step.

My book begins with Dwight Eisenhower who was a Republican US president in the early 50s, you would consider him a moderate Republican and he warned about the threat of the far right because he and his administration were under attack by the early antecedents of the Tea Party of the far right called the John Birch Society - they had accused his secretary of state of being a communist agent for the Soviets and this is the same language you hear about Barak Obama; they even said Dwight Eisenhower's brother was raising money for the communist party - crazy stuff. The Republican Party at that time was considered the 'big tent' party - a moderate establishment.

There was a shift in the Republican Party in 1964 under Barry Goldwater when Southern Democrats who had opposed civil rights moved into the Republican Party when then President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil rights Act allowing African Americans to have voting rights etc.

There is really no leadership in the country right now that is capable of putting this hatred back in the box; instead what you have are a bunch of Republican presidential hopefuls who really have no chance of defeating Obama competing with one another for who can be the most extreme - because the far right controls the party.

Today, Newt Gingrich who is the former House majority leader; who has had three wives and who cheated on his second wife with a congressional staffer and then left his second wife while she was recovering from cancer, he's going to the church of Pastor John Hagee, the foremost leader of Christian Zionism in the US.
Hagee believes the end of the world could come any day and that Islam is the religion of Satan and that if Jews fail to convert to Christianity they will burn in an everlasting lake of fire. Yet he is also a great supporter of Israel and hailed by Netanyahu as a friend to the Jewish people. Now, Newt Gingrich is making a pilgrimage to his church.

So this just shows how extreme the party has become; how it's gone from the big tent of Eisenhower to a one-ringed circus of Palin and Gingrich.

Barak Obama essentially represents everything that the right wing hates. And if the right wing dominates the Republican Party, why would he expect any degree of bi-partisanship or cooperation? Right now, he is negotiating whether the Federal government will continue to operate because the Republicans are talking about shutting down the Federal government to force budget cuts, which will be basically cuts on the backs of working people, especially minorities.

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