Thursday, November 12, 2009

Imagining the Enemy Within

Do Republicans really wet their pants every time they hear bad news? Or do they just act that way when they are trying to drum up a hate campaign against some group or the other?

Human Events is one of the long-time favorite organs for rightwing Republicans. The lead story at their Web site as of this writing is Hasan's Personal Jihad by Clare Lopez 11/12/09:

A week after a Muslim jihadi gunned down more than 40 fellow citizens at Ft. Hood, Texas, America’s national security leadership still won’t admit that the attack had anything to do with Islam. By failing to acknowledge that connection, those with a constitutional duty to defend this nation “against all enemies foreign and domestic” consistently substitute a policy of political correctness at the expense of military readiness. The fact is that the 5 November 2009 attack that took the lives of thirteen American patriots was not just an act of terrorism: it was an act of war. When a gunman from the ranks of Islamic Jihad mounts an armed assault against a military target in complete consistency with the enemy doctrine of war, it is time to recognize that the U.S. actually is at war -- not just in Afghanistan or Iraq, but with all those who follow the call of Jihad. These are the Jihad Wars and the stakes are clear: shall Americans live in security under the Constitution or shall the enemy within and without compel us to submit to Shari’a (Islamic law)?
There is no evidence at this point that the accused shooter, who has just been formally charged by the military with 13 counts of premeditated murder, is a "Muslim jihadi". We know he's Muslim. But what role if any his religion may have played in his actions isn't known, based on what's in the public record (although it's likely that it played some role).

I've yet to see that there's any evidence of the Army having promoted "political correctness at the expense of military readiness", although since rightwingers mean politically INcorrect when they say "politically correct" and they aren't always referring to politics, it's hard to know what the writer is actually trying to say. As I suggested in an earlier post, I can speculate that the desire to turn a blind eye to excessive Christian proselytizing in the military and the need to retain people fluent in Arabic could have played a role in ignoring danger signs.

But what were the supposed danger signs? Marcy Wheeler in Nidal Hasan’s Dots Emptywheel 11/10/09 gives a roundup of what we know that may be relevant to the actions of which Hasan is accused. Her discussion focuses on data sharing among federal agencies. But her reality-based list of focal points in analyzing Hasan's background is telling. Taken together, they give us a strong circumstantial reason to believe that some ideological motive (religious and/or political) was at work in his planning for the shooting. But the only one of the types of evidence she lists looks to me like an obvious red flag in itself: his purchase of a so-called "cop-killer" gun with several 20-round magazines of ammunition on August 1 of this year. But conservatives have committed themselves to such an expansive reading of the Second Amendment that they will presumably be hesitant to jump up and down over that as a sign of anything other than good citizenship by a citizen diligent to protect his Second Amendment rights. Although I would guess the gun purchase is going to be part of the prosecution's case for premeditation.

Is Hasan "from the ranks of" some group called "Islamic Jihad"? No evidence that I know of. Who are "all those who follow the call of Jihad"? Since "jihad" (struggle) is a concept with multiples meanings in Islam - Islamic tradition says that the Prophet Muhammad called the struggle to live in accord with God's laws was the "greater jihad" as distinct from the "lesser jihad" of war - American (non-Muslim) rightwingers typically apply such accusations to Muslims generally.

And it has to be clear to anyone whose brain is not pickling in ideological OxyContin that Christian theocracy is a greater threat to American freedoms that Muslim religious law (Sharia).

The Lopez article is useless as an analysis of the Fort Hood shooting. But it illustrates how conservatives use the image of an infinitely threatening, horrible Muslim enemy in pretty much exactly the same way they used the Communist menace during the Cold War. In fact, some of the polemics could be boilerplate, with words like "Muslims" and "Sharia" substituted for "Communist" and "Communism".

The Pentagon is largely echoing that aspect of this argument. This is a case that has the hard right accusing the Pentagon of being soft on Communism Islamic extremism. Which brings to mind that it was Joe McCarthy's reckless investigation of the Army that wrecked his credibility and brought him an official Senate censure.

The politics of this are already complicated. Liberals and progressives generally wouldn't want to enable a new round of paranoid fear-mongering about The Terrorists. Remember Attorney General John Ashcroft's warning after the 9/11 attacks that there could be thousands of Al Qa'ida sleeper agents in the US, a claim that had no basis in fact?

But there is a real problem also with the fact that the Army's tendency in these things is to keep as much secret from the public as possible. It's not only a deeply ingrained habit. But more than one senior Army officer at Fort Hood must fear for their careers right now after such a disaster occurred on their watch. We've already seen what looks like a very clumsy attempt to spin the capture of Hasan in a way that didn't align with the facts. (See Greg Mitchell Massive Media 'Fail' on Fort Hood Pressing Issues 11/12/09; James McKinley, Jr., Second Officer Gives an Account of the Shooting at Ft. Hood New York Times 11/12/09)

One of my big concerns here is that with the Republicans obviously trying hard to spin this as evidence of a Terrorist Conspiracy So Vast, the Army's reflexive secrecy and tendency to creative embellish their stories released to the public could wind up feeding paranoid conspiracy theories. When your framework is that the Army is being "politically correct" in covering up a known Terrorist Conspiracy in their ranks, any false information they release on the case will then become evidence of the dark conspiracy. The Army can't stop political paranoids from being what they are. But it doesn't have to facilitate their propaganda by sloppy public relations nonsense, either.

Tags: ,

| +Save/Share | |

Links to this post:

Create a Link


"It is the logic of our times
No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."

-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?


  • What is the Blue Voice?
  • Bruce Miller
  • Fdtate
  • Marcia Ellen (on hiatus)
  • Marigolds2
  • Neil
  • Tankwoman
  • Wonky Muse


  • Lou Dobbs
  • An Old Right isolationist take on the Fort Hood ma...
  • Parsing the available information on the Fort Hood...
  • The Hard Choice
  • Major Hasan: Terrorist?
  • It was 20 years ago today
  • Hope but verify: Health care reform, historic mome...
  • Bluff or serious threat?
  • Where are the liberal Catholics?
  • Health Care Reform Passes in the House



    [Tip: Point cursor to any comment to see title of post being discussed.]
    www TBV




    Environmental Links
    Gay/Lesbian Links
    News & Media Links
    Organization Links
    Political Links
    Religious Links
    Watchdog Links



    Atom/XML Feed
    Blogarama - Blog Directory
    Blogwise - blog directory



    hits since 06-13-2005

    site design: wonky muse