Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Perils of Demonizing Religious People (Muslim Version)

Before another craven, clueless right-wing politician utters the phrase "Islamofascist" again...please, please, please, I hope that person reads Middle East scholar Juan Cole's recent article in The Nation, "Combating Muslim Extremism". Cole is responding to the recent resurgence of anti-Muslim bigotry among many of the G.O.P. presidential contenders.

For those still unswayed by the basic principles of fairness, tolerance, and avoiding group stereotyping, perhaps the following argument from Cole's article might be worth pondering: "The Republicans are playing Russian roulette with America's future with their bigoted anti-Muslim rhetoric. Muslims may constitute as much as a third of humankind by 2050, forming a vast market and a crucial labor pool. They will be sitting on the lion's share of the world's energy resources. The United States will increasingly have to compete with emerging rivals such as China and India for access to those Muslim resources and markets, and if its elites go on denigrating Muslims, America will be at a profound disadvantage during the next century."

Nothing like a good business argument for the Republicans, right? But Cole's article offers much more in the way of data and analysis to put everything into better perspective. And, seriously, I believe that Cole is absolutely right that we Americans will all suffer the long-term consequences of this reckless, short-term political posturing by the men who (shudder) want to convince us they are fit to be the next President. (Giuliani seems to the worst, from recent statements.) This situation is way beyond when I thought it could be settled by pointing out the obvious--that Islamofascism is a ridiculous, incoherent phrase--and it is now devolving into a stubborn presence in that netherworld where ignorance and ambition combust in a spectacular display for the crazy remnant of loyal Bush supporting Republicans who constitute the party's core.


Ambivalent_Maybe said...

Sacrifice long-term national interests for short-term political gain? The Republicans wouldn't do that.

Robert Ellman said...

To the GOP everything is about "branding." Islamofascism is a label just as stains to be removed by a particular brand of laundry detergent are a label. On a gut level it's highly effective politically. But in practice it doesn't translate to our benefit and we've seen the tragic results. America is more isolated than ever in a dangerous world and even finds itself on opposite sides of the civilized world.

Since people of the Islamic faith must be fascists, we've concluded they're not people like we are and it's therefore OK to torture them. That's how these people think and Democrats have been a waste of skin in standing up for decency against this political force.

Repairing the damage will take at least a generation and that's time we really don't have with the world in such peril. The world is burning up and the "land of the free" regards a sizable portion of the world population as less than human and mislabels them Islamofascists to justify any dirty deeds done in America's name. We need a judicious containment strategy against terrorism that combines law enforcement cooperation and international diplomacy to nurture a breathing space for civilization. Instead we have America against the world. Did I neglect to mention that we're in a lot of trouble?