Tag: muslim

Merry Christmas, Donald Trump!

Source: Tablet Magazine

Author:Adam Kirsh

Emphasis Mine

TO: America  FROM: The Jews

If I become president, we’re all going to be saying Merry Christmas again, that I can tell you,” Donald Trump promised more than a year ago. Well, he is not president quite yet; but the first Christmas of the Trump era is just around the corner, and, so far, this looks like one campaign promise that is not going to be kept. The use of “Happy Holidays” as an all-purpose December greeting is just too habitual in America to be banished by presidential edict. Indeed, Trump himself recently sent out a card to his supporters that contains the dreaded greeting.

Still, as so often with Trump, what matters is not the performance but the rhetoric; and by coming out so strongly against “Happy Holidays,” he was signaling his support for a certain vision of America. This is not so much a pious Christian vision—Trump himself is famously cavalier in matters of faith—as it is an ideal of homogeneity. The implied reasoning is that Americans stopped saying “Merry Christmas” and started using “Happy Holidays” because of the unwelcome arrival of people who did not celebrate the Christian holiday—people who forced Christian Americans to abandon a religious custom in order to cater, in politically correct fashion, to their alien sensitivities.  Theoretically, it might be possible to think of Muslims or Hindus as the guilty party here. But historically, of course, it is the Jews who were the first major immigrant group to change the complexion of Christian America. For a long time, this change was minimized by the adoption of “Judeo-Christian” as a new adjective for American religion. Jews, in this view, might not actually celebrate Christmas, but they could be comfortably grandfathered in as honorary members of the Christian tradition. But in recent years, this tolerance has been eroding as the notion of a “war on Christmas” gains traction, to the point that even so benign a figure as Garrison Keillor could complain about the Jewish conspiracy to replace Christmas carols with non-denominational holiday songs, like “White Christmas.” (This was written by Irving Berlin, who also gave us the all-purpose nondenominational hymn “God Bless America.”)

(N.B.: What Do the Writers of “White Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” All Have in Common? Check out pretty much any list of the most iconic Christmas songs and about half of them were written by Jewish people. Johnny Marks may be the most prolific, he wrote “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas.” In addition to the songs listed above, you can also credit Jewish songwriters with “Silver Bells,” “Let It Snow,” “Santa Baby” and plenty more. So how do you explain this religious contradiction? According to Emmy Winner Michael Feinstein, “The Christmas songs that are popular are not about Jesus, but they’re about sleigh bells and Santa and the trappings of Christmas.” In other words, Christmas songs are really just about winter and family and being “Home for the Holidays.” (Also written by a Jewish person).)

Talk of a war on Christmas is, then, at least implicitly anti-Jewish, and sometimes quite explicitly so. Donald Trump’s promise to restore “Merry Christmas” was a coded message about reducing the Jewish influence on and presence in American culture—just as his notorious campaign ad about the “global power structure” robbing “our working class” made the same promise in economic and political code.

There are good reasons, however, to believe that “Happy Holidays” is here to stay as a public December greeting, especially in commercial and official contexts. This has nothing to do with sparing Jewish feelings, or even Muslim and Hindu and atheist feelings—though taken together non-Christians make up a growing minority in American life. It is, rather, because American public discourse lacks the ability to discuss religion in any kind of substantive way. Commerce, not religion, is the tie that binds Americans of many different faiths, including the various Christian denominations; it is what we all have in common, like it or not. That is why American Christmas, to the despair of many religious Christians, long ago became a holiday whose public expressions are not about the birth of Jesus, but about buying things and giving gifts. (In a sense, this represents a deep continuity with the ancient roots of the holiday as a pagan winter festival, in which a season of deprivation was symbolically banished by feasting.)

Indeed, the transformation of Christmas into a holiday of consumption tinged by humanitarianism is not just an American phenomenon; it happened across Europe as well, in tandem with the rise of capitalism. A splendid way to see this process at work is to read the new Penguin Christmas Classics, a charmingly designed box set of six stories about the holiday, each in its own slim, stocking-size volume. These range from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and E.T.A Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker to lesser-known tales by Louisa May Alcott, Anthony Trollope, Nikolai Gogol, and L. Frank Baum, the creator of Oz.

These are mostly 19th-century works, and though they come from several different countries and in a variety of languages, they have a remarkable amount in common. Most notable is that none of them is about Jesus, and few even mention the birth of the Christian savior except in a pro forma way. In the Dickens story, Scrooge’s nephew dispenses with the theological meaning of the holiday in a parenthesis: “I am sure I have always thought of Christmastime, when it has come around—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time.” The language is significantly ambiguous: Christmas is about “having a good time” as much as it is a time for doing good, and indeed, for Dickens, the two are inseparable. At the end of the story, Scrooge’s reformation is signaled by his finally accepting his nephew’s invitation to a Christmas party, as if the ability to be jolly were itself a sign of moral grace.

This union or confusion of virtue and enjoyment is one reason why Dickens’ story has become the classic of capitalist Christmas. Scrooge is, of course, a famous symbol of miserliness, of the capitalist ethic run amok—his only purpose in life is accumulating money. But the opposite of miserliness is not only generosity; it is also consumption, the joyous, free-spending consumption that for Dickens is essential to the Christmas spirit. Just after Scrooge’s transformation, Dickens writes, “His hands were busy with his garments all this time: turning them inside out, putting them on upside down, tearing them, mislaying them, making them parties to every kind of extravagance.”

Extravagance is the key, and it is very Dickensian to transfer this word from the realm of emotion and behavior to the realm of physical objects, as though clothes themselves could embody it. But extravagance is itself a key capitalist virtue, because it is the drive to spend and consume that keeps the economy in motion. Scrooge’s miserliness can, in fact, be seen as a vestige the heroic age of the Protestant work ethic, the time when capital accumulation was necessary for the first stage of industrialism to take off. In a later day, in a consumer society, it is maladaptive, and Scrooge must learn to spend as well as earn—just as a capitalist economy needs demand as well as supply if it is to avoid a depression.

Extravagance, then, is one meaning of Christmas in the modern world. The Nutcracker, as readers familiar with the Tchaikovsky ballet will remember, is all about the voluptuous pleasure of getting presents. Here, again, consumption is seen as a blessed activity, as Hoffman writes: “The children, who kept whispering about the expected presents … added that it was now also the Holy Christ, who, through the hands of their dear parents, always gave them whatever real joy and pleasure He could bring them.” It is not until later, when the dolls and candy assume nightmarish proportions in young Marie’s fevered dreams, that there comes to seem something ominous about accumulating luxuries. But even then, the uncanniness of Hoffmann’s tale reads like a distant homage to the original uncanniness of the Christian incarnation, in which the eternal breaks into the temporal. Christmas is a time when the usual laws—not just of economics, but of nature—are momentarily suspended.

Scrooge must learn to spend as well as earn—just as a capitalist economy needs demand as well as supply if it is to avoid a depression.

Taken to the extreme of banality, as it is in Anthony Trollope’s Christmas stories, this means that Christmas is a time for lucky breaks and funny coincidences, of the kind familiar from sitcoms or romantic comedies. Trollope’s tales, such as “Christmas at Thompson Hall” and “The Mistletoe Bough,” were seasonal commodities produced for magazines, and what they show is that even in Victorian England, readers wanted Christmas stories with as little Christianity in them as possible. In these tales, a wife mistakes her hotel room number and accidentally applies a mustard plaster to a strange man—who turns out to be her future brother-in-law; or else a young man wins the love of a young woman after overcoming the slightest of misunderstandings. Christmas has no role to play except as a generally happy and benevolent atmosphere, which ensures that everything will turn out for the best.

Reading these classic Christmas tales helps to explain how American Jews could develop Hanukkah, previously a fairly minor winter holiday, into such a successful counterpart to Christmas. Religiously and ideologically, Hanukkah is just about the worst holiday possible for such a purpose—it is, after all, a story about Jews resisting assimilation by violence. But if Christmas is civically celebrated mainly as a day of consumption tinged by benevolence, as it is by Dickens and Trollope and Hoffmann, then it presents no obstacle for Jews who want to enter into its spirit. Singing songs and giving gifts requires no particular theological commitment, and we can all share in the secular magic of “the Christmas season,” even if we do it under the stern aegis of the Maccabees. Still, we should remember that the transformation of Merry Christmas into Happy Holidays predates the entry of Jews into Anglo-American society, and it happened as a response to Christian, not Jewish, cultural and economic needs. If it smoothed the entry of Jews into American society, that was only a side effect, though a wonderful one.

Speaking for myself, I knew perfectly well as a child that Christmas was not my holiday; but I never felt that it was wrong for me to attend friends’ Christmas parties or to enjoy their trees. I did have some compunction about singing Christmas carols, which are explicitly religious. But what matters is that I was invited to do it, by friends and at school, and I could do it in a spirit of friendliness and participation, rather than religious affirmation. This inclusiveness seemed only natural to me, and it is only as an adult, having learned much more about Jewish history, that I realize what a truly extraordinary thing it is. American Jews celebrate Christmas Eve by going out to the movies or eating Chinese food, making common cause with another non-Christian minority; and Christian America accepts this as a kind of endearing oddity.

Compare this to the way Jews used to “observe” Christmas Eve in Eastern Europe, on what they referred to as Nittel Nacht: by holding vigil all night and refraining from Torah study, both for theological reasons and to avoid incurring the wrath of celebrating Christians. (The custom of playing dreidel may originate in the games Jews played to pass the time while locked in their houses on Nittel Nacht.) The fact that most American Jews today have never heard of this tradition is a sign of how completely our relationship to Christians and Christianity has changed for the better. That makes Christmas a holiday worth celebrating for Jews, and other non-Christians, as well.

***

All we want for Christmas … is Jew. Read Tablet’s holiday coverage here.

 

See: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/219494/merry-christmas-donald-trump?utm_source=tabletmagazinelist&utm_campaign=78e77d25a3-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2016_12_24&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c308bf8edb-78e77d25a3-206691737

Muslims force Miss World pageant to cancel bikini contest

Source: Examiner.com

Author: Michael Stone

Protests from Muslim hardliners in Indonesia have forced the Miss World beauty pageant to cancel the bikini portion of the annual contest. Indonesia will host the 2013 Miss World competition on the country’s resort island of Bali in September.

On Thursday, June 5, local organizers said all contestants will be required to wear Bali’s traditional long sarongs instead of the sexy bikinis that are traditionally part of the competition. Pageant organizers fear reprisals if they offend locals in the Muslim-majority country.

Nevertheless, clerics of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, or MUI, said they would send a letter to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to demand that the beauty pageant be canceled.

“That contest is just an excuse to show women’s body parts that should remain covered,” said Mukri Aji, a prominent cleric from West Java province‘s MUI branch. “It’s against Islamic teachings.”

Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, a hard-line Islamic group, said it planned to stage a protest and called for the competition to be moved elsewhere.

Last November, Muslim modesty police forced Jennifer Lopez and her dancers to “cover up” in order to be allowed to perform in the Islamic country. In May of 2012, Lady Gaga canceled a scheduled concert in Jakarta rather than submit to similar demands made by the Muslim modesty police.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation.”

For more news, information and humor relevant to atheists, freethinkers, and secular humanists, check out Progressive Secular Humanist Examiner on Facebook.

 

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.examiner.com/article/muslims-force-miss-world-pageant-to-cancel-bikini-contest?cid=PROD-redesign-right-next

 

Whose Blasphemy? The Atheist Case for ‘Religious Freedom’

From: Religion Dispatches

By: Austin Dacy

“It is hard to imagine a less hateful person than Alexander Aan. Mild and soft-spoken, the 30-year-old Indonesian bureaucrat recently told Al Jazeera, in an interview conducted just outside his jail cell, “As a democracy and part of the global community, because we are not isolated from the outside world, I think we should be more tolerant. Nobody hurts anyone simply because he has different ideas.” And yet Aan is facing up to 11 years in prison for blasphemy and inciting religious hatred because he voiced his skepticism about Islam on Facebook.In the West, the paradigms of blasphemy are fair-haired Danish cartoonists drawing the Prophet and Richard Dawkins badmouthing Yahweh. The public debate is about how to balance freedom of speech with respect for religious belief. But Alexander Aan’s case, playing out in the world’s most populous Muslim country, represents a much different global reality. Here the value at stake is not just freedom of speech, but freedom of conscience. The real contest is not between atheists and believers, but between those who affirm the equality of all persons of conscience and those who deny it.Aan was arrested in a small town in West Sumatra on January 18 after a number of local residents assaulted him at work in an act of self-styled vigilantism. They were reacting to some of his postings on a Facebook page devoted to atheism: a note entitled “the Prophet Muhammad was attracted to his own daughter-in-law”; a comic suggesting the Prophet slept with his wife’s maid; and a status update reading, “If you believe in god, then please show him to me.”Prosecutors have charged Aan under the Electronic Information and Transaction Law, which prohibits inciting hatred or enmity of a religious group, and under the country’s blasphemy provision, Article 156a, which criminalizes “hostility, hatred or contempt” and “disgracing” of a religion. Article 156a also prohibits attempts to persuade others to leave their religion and embrace atheism.Aan’s small, pro bono legal team is not optimistic. The Indonesian legal system is designed for unequal treatment of unbelievers. The constitution officially recognizes the religions of Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism, and stipulates that every citizen must believe in a supreme being.

Desecrating Secularism

As the Indonesian activist Karl Karnadi points out, the persecution of Alexander Aan comes in the context of broader trends of “increasing religious intolerance in Indonesia which has victimized minority Ahmadiyya Muslims, Shia, Christians, Buddhists.” Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs has recently called Shia Islam a “heresy” and publicly backed provincial bans on the Ahmadiyya, who consider themselves Muslims but differ from mainstream Islam on the finality of the Prophet.Viewed in this context, atheists’ conversations on the internet should be seen as one end of a continuum of manifestations of conscience, exercises of the capacity to grapple with ultimate questions of meaning, value, and morality. From a moral perspective, there is an important symmetry between the attitude of the believer who reserves special reverence for a deity, saint, or prophet, and the attitude of the secularist who asserts that every person is equally holy. Neither of these beliefs is uniquely deserving of being labeled a spiritual commitment, relegating the other to mere “speech” against that commitment. Alexander Aan has no less moral ground to claim that monotheism insults his sense of what is and what is not sacred. In my book The Future of Blasphemy: Speaking of the Sacred in an Age of Human Rights (Continuum, 2012), I call this The Symmetry Thesis.A government that singles out some citizens’ conceptions of the sacred for official protection is guilty of a gross failure of equal treatment. This principle of equality is supported by recent developments in international human rights law. Last summer the United Nations Human Rights Committee commented that laws restricting blasphemy are inherently discriminatory because they give to traditional believers a legal protection that is not available to the religiously heterodox or secular.The same inequality can be found in the criminalization of “hatred” and “enmity” towards a religion. The problem is not confined to Indonesia but can be found in most of the hate speech statutes throughout secular democratic Europe. Article 226b of the Danish Penal Code, for instance, singles out for protection—among other categories—groups of people who “on account of their faith” are threatened, insult or degraded. It does not single out people—regardless of their affiliation—on account of their convictions of conscience

Know Thy Enmity

The most principled motivation for hate speech laws can be found in the principle of equal respect for citizens. And yet, in the final analysis the principle of equality undermines their legitimacy. What is morally objectionable about hate speech is its attack on the standing of a group of citizens, a denial or denigration of their entitlement to equal concern and respect. Laws against group insult or group defamation, as Jeremy Waldron maintains, are intended to protect vulnerable minorities by exhibiting the state’s commitment to their equal dignity and equal standing in the face of bigots. Surely we all have a duty to work towards a society in which all citizens enjoy equal standing. The difficult question is what the state legitimately may do to promote this end.If the state is to intervene on behalf of the reputation and standing of “Muslims,” or any other faith community, it must first decide on whose behalf it is intervening. It must lend its official approval to some idea of what counts as a “real” or “authentic” member of such groups. Were Aan’s expressions hateful or abusive towards Muslims? That depends on whether we assume that a Muslim is by definition one who believes in the moral perfection of the Prophet. Without this assumption, talk of Muhammad’s sexual indiscretions cannot be construed as inherently insulting to “Muslims.”As the American constitutional scholar Robert Post has argued, the identities of such communities are not scientific facts but social categories that are open to moral contestation and re-negotiation. It would not do to take a poll of all of the self-identified members of the group to determine what they believe. For some will believe it, and others will not.The question now becomes, which of the various understandings of the identity is most genuine, authentic, or warranted. And that question is not subject to a statistical proof. It is a normative question. Typically it is the most vulnerable or marginalized within the community who have the most urgent stake in contesting and re-negotiating the meaning of the identity. In a just society, such questions are not to be decided by the state but are to be left to individuals to work out in the public and cultural space.Clashes over blasphemy and so-called religious hatred are not about free speech versus belief, or atheism versus faith. They are about equal treatment for all persons of conscience. As with attempts to stop blasphemy, a state that attempts to use the force of law to stop defamation or insult of religious groups must select certain identities for protection to the exclusion of other identities. The very same value that underlies the protection of the traditionally religious believer—equal respect for freedom of conscience—also underlies the protection of the secularist and atheist alongside the heterodox, dissident believer. As goes Alexander Aan, so go we all.

Emphasis Mine.

see: http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/atheologies/6012/

Why Are the Corporate Media In Denial About the Right-Wing Terrorist Threat?

From AlterNet, by Bill Berkowitz

“It was a little over a month ago that the Norwegian Islamophobic Christian fundamentalist Anders Behring Breivik, wreaked havoc in Norway, killing 77 and injuring many more, and more than seven months since a bomb planted along the route of a march honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was discovered.

After the initial flurry of reportage, analysis, commentary and punditry, for all intents and purposes the Breivik story has disappeared into the ether that is the American mainstream media.

Maybe it is thus because it happened in far off Norway, maybe it is because our attention span is disastrously truncated, maybe it is because – like in so many of these cases — he has been too easily dismissed as a madman acting alone.

Perhaps, too, the connective tissue between Breivik and homegrown Islamophobes is too hot to handle.

Interrupting the ‘March of Time’

These days, we’ve pivoted on to other things: the debt-ceiling fiasco; the daily vicissitudes of the stock market; anguish over more U.S. troops being killed in Afghanistan and the increasing carnage in Iraq; Rupert Murdoch’s serial scandals; Rick Perry’s prayer-fest followed by his celebrated tossing of his hat into the Republican presidential ring; and, of course, the devastation of Hurricane Irene.

As Keith Olbermann exclaims on his nightly “Countdown” program at the end of the zany videos segment; “Time Marches On.”

The Spokane syndrome

In a engrossing essay in the August issue of Esquire titled “The Bomb That Didn’t Go Off”, Charles P. Pierce interrupts the march of time, hopefully for more than a short rest-bit as he revisits the site of a bomb that didn’t explode. Pierce takes a close look at the events of January 17, in Spokane, Washington, and places them within the borders of the question: Why has a series of right-wing-initiated violent actions in the U.S., including bombings, plans for bombings, and assassinations, have not gotten the attention they deserve?

To recap: On January 17, a bomb was discovered on a “bench in the corner of a downtown parking lot at the intersection of Washington Street and Main Avenue,” a spot that was on the route of the hundreds of marchers expected to take part in the annual Martin Luther King Day celebration.

The bomb was discovered by “three maintenance workers [who] were sprucing up the perimeter of the parking lot at Washington and Main, shining up the route of the march.” Police came, the area was cordoned off and evacuated, the bomb, that was discovered to be an IED, was robotically disarmed, the march was re-routed; no bomb went off, no one was hurt. Eventually, Kevin Harpham was arrested and accused of planting the bomb.

And, as the Reverend Percy Happy Watkins, who has delivered a reenactment of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in Spokane for twenty-five years or so, pointed out: “We just forgot about it, that’s what we always do.”

Pierce writes: “That the events of January 17 largely have faded from the news has nothing to do with luck at all. That is all human agency – how a fragmented country gathers the pieces of an event like this and tries to construct from them, not necessarily the truth of what happened, but a story that the country can live with, one more fragment among dozens of others that the country has remembered to forget.”

As we move deeper into an age of misinformation, disinformation, and superfluous information, maintaining our collective memory will more and more depend on honest information brokers; storytellers, journalists, investigative reporters who pursue a story with a passion and hunger for truth.

Circling back to Breivik

Thanks to some heady research and reporting by Jason Boog of GalleyCat (“The First Word on the Book Publishing Industry”) and others, we have learned that in his 1,500 page manifesto titled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence Breivik, the Norwegian Christian fundamentalist accused of killing 77 people in a car bombing and the subsequent murder spree at a youth camp, had “outlined plans for attacking writers, journalists and literature professors.”

Breivik, who has claimed that there were more people involved in his actions and who is currently being held in isolation, suggested that “revolutionaries consider attacking both ‘literature conferences and festivals’ and ‘annual gatherings for journalists,'” as they appeared to be soft targets.

According to Boog, Breivik wrote in his manifesto that: “in Norway, there is an annual gathering for critical and investigative press where the most notable journalists/editors from all the nations media/news companies attend … The conference lasts for 2 days and is usually organized at a larger hotel/conference center. Security is light or non-existent making the conference a perfect target.”

He also earmarked literary festivals as being target rich environments: “This is where many cultural Marxist/PC authors … meet and socialise. Prioritised target groups make out the bulk of the participants who attend certain literature conferences and festivals: Writers (90%+ of these individuals support multiculturalism and usually portray their world view through their works), editors and journalists in cultural Marxist/multiculturalist publications, [and] a majority of individuals related to various “cultural Marxist/politically correct” cultural settings and organisations.”

Boog pointed out that Breivik accused authors and academics, including Georg Lukacs, Antonio Gramsci, Wilhelm Reich, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse and Theodor Adorno, of spreading political correctness and multiculturalism: “The thing is that many of our political and cultural elites, including politicians, NGO leaders, university professors/lecturers, writers, journalists and editors – the individuals making up the majority of the so called category A and B traitors, knows exactly what they are doing. They know that they are contributing to a process of indirect cultural and demographical genocide and they need to be held accountable for their actions.”

Seeming to take a page from Lynne Cheney’s National Association of Scholars, Breivik claimed that college reading lists were also particularly suspect: “Unfortunately, that has not stopped the cultural critics from indoctrinating this new generation in feminist interpretation, Marxist philosophy and so-called ‘queer theory.’ Requirements for reading Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, and other dead white males are disappearing, to be replaced by options to take studies in ‘The Roles of Women in the Renaissance’ (an excuse to lament the sexism of the past) or ‘The Bible as Literature’ (a course designed to denigrate the Bible as cleverly crafted fiction instead of God’s truth). The reliable saviour of the intelligentsia is the common man and his common sense.”

If Breivik’s prolix rambling sounds mad, that is because there may be madness present. But, does any of his toxic notions sound madder that some of Ann Coulter’s book titles (Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right), a typical headline at Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugged website, the Islamophobic writings of Ryan Mauro, or the radio stylings of the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer?

As Charles Pierce pointed out in his Esquire piece about the incident in Spokane, “A political act of madness is still a political act. We use the madness to separate the events so that we don’t have to recognize the politics they have in common. The madness of each individual act enables us to distance ourselves from the politics that burn under the polite society we’ve created like a fuse looking for tinder, like a bag in search of a bench.”

Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering right-wing groups and movements.”

Emphasis Mine

see:

Meet the Right-Wing Hatemongers Who Inspired the Norway Killer

N.B.:More than ever, we need, really need, the First Amendment…

N.B.: It was interesting to watch Fox News scramble on Breivik’s religious and political views.

From Alternet, by Max Blumenthal.

“Few political terrorists in recent history took as much care to articulate their ideological influences and political views as Anders Hans Breivik did. The right-wing Norwegian Islamophobe who murdered 76 children and adults in Oslo and at a government-run youth camp spent months, if not years, preparing his 1,500 page manifesto. Besides its length, one of the most remarkable aspects of the manifesto is the extent to which its European author quoted from the writings of figures from the American conservative movement. Though he referred heavily to his fellow Norwegian, the blogger Fjordman, it was Robert Spencer, the American Islamophobic pseudo-academic, who received the most references from Breivik — 55 in all. Then there was Daniel Pipes, the Muslim-bashing American neoconservative who earned 18 citations from the terrorist. Other American anti-Muslim characters appear prominently in the manifesto, including the extremist blogger Pam Geller, who operates an Islamophobic organization in partnership with Spencer. Breivik may have developed his destructive sensibility in the stark political environment of a European continent riveted by mass immigration from the Muslim world, but his conceptualization of the changes he was witnessing reflect the influence of a cadre of far-right bloggers and activists from across the Atlantic Ocean. He not only mimicked their terminology and emulated their language, he substantially adopted their political worldview. The profound impact of the American right’s Islamophobic subculture on Breivik’s thinking raises a question that has not been adequately explored: Where is the American version of Breivik and why has he not struck yet? Or has he? Many of the American writers who influenced Breivik spent years churning out calls for the mass murder of Muslims, Palestinians and their left-wing Western supporters. But the sort of terrorism these US-based rightists incited for was not the style the Norwegian killer would eventually adopt. Instead of Breivik’s renegade free-booting, they preferred the “shock and awe” brand of state terror perfected by Western armies against the brown hordes threatening to impose Sharia law on the people in Peoria. This kind of violence provides a righteous satisfaction so powerful it can be experienced from thousands of miles away. And so most American Islamophobes simply sit back from the comfort of their homes and cheer as American and Israeli troops — and their remote-controlled aerial drones — leave a trail of charred bodies from Waziristan to Gaza City. Only a select group of able-bodied Islamophobes are willing to suit up in a uniform and rush to the front lines of the clash of civilizations. There, they have discovered that they can mow down Muslim non-combatants without much fear of legal consequences, and that when they return, they will be celebrated as the elite Crusader-warriors of the new Islamophobic right — a few particularly violent figures have been rewarded with seats in Congress. Given the variety of culturally acceptable, officially approved outlets for venting violent anti-Muslim resentment, there is little reason for any American to follow in Breivik’s path of infamy. Before exploring the online subculture that both shaped and mirrored Breivik’s depravity, it is necessary to define state terror, especially the kind refined by its most prolific practitioners. At the dawn of the “war on terror,” the United States and Israel began cultivating a military doctrine called “asymmetrical warfare.” Pioneered by an Israeli philosophy and “practical ethics” professor named Asa Kasher and the former head of Israeli military intelligence, Lt. Gen. Amos Yadlin, and successfully marketed to the Pentagon, the asymmetrical warfare doctrine did away with traditional counterinsurgency tactics which depended on winning the “hearts and minds” of indigenous populations. Under the new rules, the application of disproportionate force against non-combatants who were supposedly intermingled with the “terrorists” was not only  justified but considered necessary. According to Kasher and Yadlin, eliminating the principle of distinction between enemy combatants and civilians was the most efficient means of deterring attacks from non-state actors like Hamas and Hezbollah while guarding the lives of Israeli soldiers. Asymmetrical warfare has been witnessed in theaters of war across the Muslim world, leaving tens of thousands of civilians dead in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gaza Strip. The strategy was formalized in the Dahiya district of southern Beirut in 2006, when the Israeli military flattened hundreds of civilian structures and homes to supposedly punish Hezbollah for its capturing of two Israeli soldiers. From the ashes of the Israeli carpet bombing campaign emerged the “Dahiya Doctrine,” a term coined by an Israeli general responsible for directing the war on Lebanon in 2006. “IDF Northern Command Chief Gadi Eisenkot uttered clear words that essentially mean the following,” wrote Israeli journalist Yaron London, who had just interviewed the general. “In the next clash with Hezbollah we won’t bother to hunt for tens of thousands of rocket launchers and we won’t spill our soldiers’ blood in attempts to overtake fortified Hizbullah positions. Rather, we shall destroy Lebanon and won’t be deterred by the protests of the ‘world.'” In a single paragraph, London neatly encapsulated the logic of state terror. While Israel has sought to insulate itself from the legal ramifications of its attacks on civilian life by deploying elaborate propaganda and intellectual sophistry (witness the country’s frantic campaign to discredit the Goldstone Report), and the United States has casually dismissed allegations of war crimes as any swaggering superpower would (after a US airstrike killed scores of Afghan civilians, former US CENTCOM Director David Petraeus baselessly claimed that Afghan parents had deliberately burned their children alive to increase the death toll), the online Islamophobes who inspired Breivik tacitly accept the reality of Israeli and American state terror. And they like it. Indeed, American Islamophobes derive frightening levels of ecstasy from the violence inflicted by the armed forces against Muslim civilians. The Facebook page of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s hate group, Stop the Islamicization of America (SOIA), is Exhibit A of the phenomenon. During a visit to SOIA’s Facebook page, which is personally administered by Geller and Spencer, it is possible to read rambling calls for killing “the diaper heads” and for Israel to “rule the whole Middle East.” A cursory glance at the website will also reveal visual propaganda reveling in the prospect of a genocide against Muslims. One image posted on the site depicts American and British troops dropping a nuclear bomb in the midst of thousands of Muslim pilgrims in Mecca. “Who ya gonna call? Shitbusters,” it reads. A second image portraying a nuclear mushroom cloud declares: “DEALING WITH MUSLIMS — RULES OF ENGAGEMENT; Rule #1: Kill the Enemy. Rule #2: There is no rule #2.” Another posted on SOIA’s Facebook page shows the bullet-riddled, bloodsoaked bodies of Muslim civilians splayed out by a roadside. “ARMY MATH,” the caption reads. “4 Tangos + (3 round burst x 4 M 4’s) = 288 virgins.” However pathological these images might seem to outsiders, in the subculture of Geller and Spencer’s online fascisphere, they are understood as legitimate expressions of nationalistic, “pro-Western” pride. Indeed, none seem to celebrate violence against Muslims by anyone except uniformed representatives of Western armies. The anti-Muslim fervor of Geller, Spencer and their allies reached a fever pitch during the controversy they manufactured in 2010 over the construction of the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in downtown New York City. Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, in North Carolina, a right-wing Republican ex-Marine named Ilario Pantano made opposing the mosque the centerpiece of his campaign for Congress, proclaiming that New York was “forsaking Israel” by allowing the mosque’s construction. During the height of the his campaign, a report relying on documented evidence and confirmed testimonies revealed that while serving in Iraq in 2004, Pantano had executed two unarmed civilians near Fallujah, firing 60 bullets into their bodies with his M16A4 automatic rifle — he even stopped to reload — then decorated their corpses a placard inscribed with the Marine motto: “No better friend, No worse enemy.” The incident did not hinder Pantano’s campaign, however. His Democratic opponent never mentioned it, Pam Geller hailed Pantano as “a war hero,” and he cruised to a resounding victory. Pantano was sworn into Congress alongside another US military veteran closely allied with the Islamophobic right: Republican Representative Allen West. While serving in Iraq, West was discharged from the military and fined $5000 after he brutally beat an Iraqi policeman, then fired his pistol behind the immobilized man’s head. As in Pantano’s case, reports of the disturbing incident only helped propel West to victory. In fact, West boasted about the beating in his campaign speeches, citing it as evidence of how hard he would fight for his constituents if elected. Though Breivik’s hatred for Muslims clearly spurred him to violence, he wound up murdering scores of the non-Muslims. He believed they were enabling an Islamic takeover of Europe, or what he called the creation of “Eurabia,” and that the “traitors” deserved the ultimate punishment. In homing in on liberal elements in Norway, Breivik borrowed from the language of right-wing figures from the United States, labeling his targets as “Cultural Marxists.” Initially introduced by the anti-Semitic right-wing organizer William Lind of the Washington-based Free Congress Foundation, Breivik understood the term as a characterization of liberal advocates of open immigration and sympathizers with the Palestinian cause. “Let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural Marxists/multiculturalists,” Breivik wrote in his manifesto. The killer also sought to differentiate between good Jews (supporters of Israel) and bad Jews (advocates for Palestinian rights), claiming that “Jews that support multi-culturalism today are as much of a threat to Israel and Zionism as they are to us.” Breivik’s characterizations of the left and of left-wing Jews echoed those familiar to right-wing bloggers and conservative activists in the US, particularly on the issue of Israel-Palestine. The only difference seems to have been that Breivik was willing to personally kill sympathizers with Palestinian rights, while American Islamophobes have prefered to sit back and cheer for the Israeli military to do the job instead. The tendency of the American right was on shocking display this June when the Free Gaza Flotilla attempted to break the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip (during the previous flotilla in 2010, nine activists were killed by what a United Nations report described as execution style shootings by Israeli commandoes). As the debate about the flotilla escalated on Twitter, Joshua Trevino, a US army veteran and who worked as a speechwriter in the administration of George W. Bush, chimed in. “Dear IDF,” Trevino tweeted. “If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla — well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me.” While Trevino hectored flotilla participants, Kurt Schlicter, a former American army officer and right-wing blogger for Andrew Breitbart’s Big Peace site, joined the calls for bloodshed. “Sink the flotilla,” Schlicter wrote on Twitter. “Enough screwing around with these psychos.” Neither Schlicter or Trevino saw any reason to apologize for inciting the murder of fellow Americans, nor did Trevino appear to face any consequences at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, where he serves as Vice President. Instead, Trevino earned a rousing defense from prominent conservative personalities like Erick Erickson, a paid CNN contributor who lauded “the correctness of Josh’s opinion” that Israel should kill American leftists. Indeed, no one from inside the American right’s online media hothouse condemned Trevino, Schlicter or Erickson, or even brooked a slight disagreement. Meanwhile, the incitement against Palestine solidarity activists has continued, with pro-Israel operatives Roz Rothstein and Roberta Seid writing this July in the Jerusalem Post that “Flotilla Folk are not like other people.” When the smoke cleared from Breivik’s terrorist rampage across Norway, American Islamophobes went into  intellectual contortions, condemning his acts while carefully avoiding any criticism of his views. While making sure to call Breivik “evil,” the ultra-nationalist commentator and former Republican presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan insisted that “Breivik may be right” about the supposed clash of civilizations between the Muslim East and the Christian West. Pipes, for his part, accused Breivik of a “purposeful” campaign to discredit him by citing him so frequently in his manifesto, while a panicked Geller claimed that Breivik “is a murderer, a mass murderer. Period. He’s not anything else.” The comically revealing reactions by American Islamophobes to Brevik’s killing spree demonstrate the politically catastrophic situation they have gotten themselves into. All of a sudden, their movement was under intense scrutiny from a previously derelict mainstream media. And they were likely to be monitored to an unprecedented degree by federal law enforcement. These same figures who influenced Breivik had been printing open calls for terrorist violence against Muslims and leftists for years — while a few, like Pantano, went a step further. Before Breivik killed 76 innocent people, they had generally gotten away with it. Why were America’s Islamophobes able to avoid accountability for so long? The answer is not that their yearnings for righteous political violence had not been fulfilled until Breivik emerged. The truth is far more uncomfortable than that. America’s Islamophobic right was only able to make so much political headway because a broad sector of the American public had tolerated and even supported the kind of terror that they openly celebrated.”

Max Blumenthal is the author of Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books, 2009). Contact him at maxblumenthal3000@yahoo.com.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/story/151881/meet_the_right-wing_hatemongers_who_inspired_the_norway_killer?page=entire

The first full moon after the Vernal Equinox …

From: Planet Washington:”Last year, Passover came as then-candidate Barack Obama was campaigning in Pennsylvania. A couple of the campaign staffers on the bus who are Jewish and couldn’t get home to be with their families decided to put together a Seder (the traditional meal marking the start of the holiday) as best they could. They were delighted when Obama showed.

This year, President Obama, who is Christian, is CONTINUING THE the tradition; he’ll attend a Seder on Thursday night at the White House with some staffers, SOME Jewish and some NOT. His wife and daughters will be there according to a list of attendees released by White House aides this evening, but some key staff have other commitments. Senior adviser David Axelrod and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel aren’t expected. Axelrod said he’ll be in Chicago with family.

The White House list does NOT INCLUDE  any key Jewish campaign supporters outside the administration or any religious or community leaders, and aides would not say for sure whether others are invited or would attend. The list released included: senior adviser Valerie Jarrett; the president’s personal aide, Reggie Love; the Obamas’ friend Eric Whitaker; the first lady’s counsel Susan Sher, deputy chief of staff Melissa Winter and personal aide Dana Lewis; Axelrod’s assistant Eric Lesser; White House videographer Arun Chaudhary; Herbie Ziskend, the staff assistant to the vice president’s policy and economic advisers; Lisa Kohnke, a deputy director of advance and special events; associate social Secretary Samantha Tubman; and several of their family members.”(EMPHASIS MINE).

Is This The Way a Secret Muslim Should Act?  A diversion?


see:http://washingtonbureau.typepad.com/washington/