Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Old Right isolationist take on the Fort Hood massacre

It's not surprising to me that Pat Robertson is banging the Islamophobia drums.

I'm not surprised, either, that Antiwar.com's editorial director Justin Raimondo is also jumping to rightwing conclusions over the Fort Hood shooting untethered from any factual basis. But I thought I would link to his post The War at Home: Jihad at Ft. Hood 11/09/09 for a couple of reasons. One is that it shows how on this particular subject, he's willing to leap to conclusions based on scarce evidence. It's also an example of his Old Right isolationism, in which he simultaneously sounds like he's trying to give an empathetic explanation of why an American Muslim would think himself justified in killing American soldiers and also promote a paranoid rightwing notion of a super-efficient Al Qa'ida having deadly sleeper agents prowling among us here in the Homeland. In his opening paragraphs, he could be mistaken for Michelle Malkin:

It’s been grimly amusing to watch the liberal mainstream media spin the murder spree at Ft. Hood. They are trying mightily to pretend it was all about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s inner psychological turmoil, given his job as an Army psychiatrist whose task it was to counsel troubled veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars. He is depicted as a victim of post-traumatic stress syndrome, even though he was never in combat. His identification with his clients’ suffering, his poor job evaluations, even his lack of a wife are all blamed for his rampage, which killed 13 (so far) and wounded dozens of others.

In order to give this narrative of victimization credibility, the touchy-feely school of thought has to ignore the mountains of evidence that – given his premises – Hasan acted rationally and there was nothing inexplicable about his deadly spasm of violence.


Raimondo has already decided that Maj. Hasan is guilty of the shootings (a reasonable enough conclusion at this point) but also that he did so for jihadist religious-political reasons:

In 2001, before his transfer to Ft. Hood, Hasan attended the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va., where Anwar al-Awlaki – recently banned from Britain due to his open advocacy of attacks on British troops in Afghanistan and his support for organizations deemed terrorist – preached and held sway. Two of Hasan’s fellow congregants were Nawaf al-Hamzi and Hani Hanjour, both among the 9/11 hijackers. A third hijacker attended the radical imam’s services in California.
These might be potentially interesting connections, if we knew a lot more than we do about the shooter's motivation than we actually do. Until then, it's speculation. Raimondo proceeds immediately to wilder speculation:

It is perfectly possible Hasan met the two and was recruited into al-Qaeda, a "sleeper" to be awakened at the right moment. The nut-job known as "Azzam the American," a Muslim convert from a Southern California Jewish family, issued a statement not long ago calling on Muslim Americans – specifically Muslim members of the armed services, of which there are thousands – to rise up and strike the infidels on the home front.
It's also "perfectly possible" that most of our TV pundits are space alien Pod People, too. But I would actually say we have more evidence for the Pod Pundit idea than we have for the idea that Hasan was an Al Qa'ida sleeper agent recruited by 9/11 hijackers.

He continues, sounding even more like Michelle Malkin:

The American-born Hasan, son of Palestinian parents who emigrated to the U.S. sometime in the 1960s, joined the military against the wishes of his family. Here is someone who was brought up in this country, presumably immersed in the culture of the West, and yet still responded to the call of al-Qaeda to make war on his homeland. With millions of native-born Muslims in this country, how many are similarly susceptible to Osama bin Laden’s appeal to strike at the "far enemy" – who is, for them, quite near?

This, of course, is just the question the neoconservatives have been asking ever since the Twin Towers were downed, and their answer is, oddly, the same as al-Qaeda’s. Both, for different reasons, are hoping for a crackdown by the U.S. government, starting with the banning of Muslims from our military. If we are indeed embarked on a religious war against Islam – and it sure seems like it – who can argue against this? The wet dream of the neocons and their ostensible opposite numbers in bin Laden’s cave is that the authorities will one day carry out Michelle Malkin’s vision of a repeat of FDR’s wartime internment camps, albeit this time filled with American Muslims instead of Japanese-Americans. That would certainly make both the editors of Commentary magazine and al-Qaeda’s top commanders quite happy. [my emphasis]
Was Hasan responding "to the call of al-Qaeda to make war on his homeland"? We don't know that, and neither does Raimondo. But it didn't stop him from embracing Malkin's suggestion about rounding up potentially disloyal Americans and putting them in preventive detention. It wouldn't at all surprise me for neocons to defend such an action. But it's certainly a broad generalization he makes to say it's their "wet dream".

And Raimondo gives us an example of how an antiwar postion can simultaneously be a xenophobic, rightwing conspiracy theory.

Our wars abroad are a diversion away from the main front in the effort to defeat al-Qaeda, which is right here at home. There is no doubt in my mind that bin Laden’s legions have planted their agents on our soil, and these murderous Myrmidons will spring forth fully armed when the time is ripe. Our borders, our security measures around such facilities as nuclear plants, and our intelligence-gathering methods are the weak links in our defense, made all the more so by the massive diversion of resources to a series of futile, draining, and unwinnable overseas conflicts. [my emphasis]
Antiwar.com is nominally a "libertarian"-type forum featuring antiwar writing from a variety of poltical positions from left to right. The Antiwar Radio feature frequently has sensible commentators associated more with the left side of the political spectrum, including human rights attorney Scott Horton, historian Gareth Porter, Glenn Greenwald and Tom Hayden.

Raimondo is also an "adjunct scholar" of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Ludwig von Mises was a hardline rightwing economist who was also an editor a member of the editorial advisory board of the John Birch Society's American Opinion magazine. The founder and chairman of the Institute is neo-Confederate Lew Rockwell, whose articles can be found in abundance at his LewRockwell.com site. The site also features neo-Confederate Abraham Lincoln revisionism in its King Lincoln Archives.

Chip Berlet writes about the Mises Institute in Into the Mainstream Intelligence Report Summer 2003. "Around the country, ideas that originated on the hard right or in the fevered imaginations of conspiracy theorists are finding their way into the mainstream," he writes. And he identifies the Mises Institute as one of the groups performing that service for the extreme right.

Antiwar.com identifies itself as a project of our parent foundation, the Randolph Bourne Institute," whose main reason for existence appears to be funding Antiwar.com. Antiwar.com's mission statement also declares, "Our dedication to libertarian principles, inspired in large part by the works and example of the late Murray N. Rothbard, is reflected on this site." Justin Raimondo is the author of an admiring Rothbard biography, An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (2000). Berlet describes Rothbard's "libertarian" approach as follows:

A key player in the [Ludwig von Mises] institute for years was the late Murray Rothbard, who worked with [Lew] Rockwell closely and co-edited a journal with him. The institute's Web site includes a cybershrine to Rothbard, a man who complained that the "Officially Oppressed" of American society (read, blacks, women and so on) were a "parasitic burden," forcing their "hapless Oppressors" to provide "an endless flow of benefits."

"The call of 'equality,'" he wrote, "is a siren song that can only mean the destruction of all that we cherish as being human." Rothbard blamed much of what he disliked on meddling women. In the mid-1800s, a "legion of Yankee women" who were "not fettered by the responsibilities" of household work "imposed" voting rights for women on the nation. Later, Jewish women, after raising funds from "top Jewish financiers," agitated for child labor laws, Rothbard adds with evident disgust. The "dominant tradition" of all these activist women, he suggests, is lesbianism.
Other sources of Old Right isolationist commentary include Taki's Magazine, The American Conservative (which like Antiwar.com also publishes liberal and left war criticism) and Chronicles Magazine (not to be confused with The Chronicle of Higher Education).

Antiwar.com's mission statement claims that while acknowledging their Rothbardian point of view, they take their journalistic role seriously. Having the editorial director publish a paranoid, evidence-free claim about a sophisticated network of Al Qa'ida sleeper agents in the United States does anything but enhance their reputation for journalistic seriousness.

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