Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Wingnut Week In Review: Ugly Americans

Terrance Heath

There are always consequences for this kind of rhetoric. Muslim communities across America are on alert for misguided retaliation after the Paris attacks. And with good reason. An FBI report released the week showed that while the total number of hate crimes in the US declined last year, hate crimes against Muslims increased by 14 percent. Since Friday, the DC-based Council on American-Islamic Relations has reported a spike in calls about anti-Muslim incidents. Mosques and Moslems in at least eight states have reported vandalism at religious centers and violence against individuals.

This is what ISIS/Daesh wants. It wants the western world to turn against Muslims. It wants westerners to be hostile to Muslims in their midst. ISIS/Daesh wants us scared, angry, and lashing out. ISIS/Daesh wants Muslims to feel alienated and isolated from the communities where they live, because of a belief that Muslims will then have nowhere left to turn but to ISIS/Daesh. Recruitment well be a lot easier if all they will have to say is, “See? We told you so. They are not your friends. These are your enemies. These are enemies of Islam.” And, no, Ohio governor John Kasich’s proposal of “a new government agency to push Judeo-Christian values around the world,” wouldn’t do much to counter that alienation. (How it would even get past the First Amendment?)
Nicholas Henin was held hostage by ISIS/Daesh for 10 months, and knows them better than any politicians or pundits. After the Paris attacks, Henin wrote that it is our unity ISIS/Daesh fears most, not airstrikes.

Central to their world view is the belief that communities cannot live together with Muslims, and every day their antennae will be tuned toward finding supporting evidence. The pictures from Germany of people welcoming migrants will have been particularly troubling to them. Cohesion, tolerance, is not what they want to see.
Why France? For many reasons perhaps, but I think they identified my country as a weak link in Europe; as a place where divisions could be sown easily. That’s why, when I am asked how we should respond, I say that we must act responsibly.

There were some hopeful signs, from leaders who stood against this madness. French president Francois Hollande led by example, announcing that France is still committed to welcoming 30,000 refugees. Though he noted that “some people say the tragic events of the last few days have sown doubt in their minds, Hollande said that a ”humanitarian duty“ to help those fleeing extremist violence in the Middle East need not conflict with ”our duty to protect out people.” Hollande said refugees would undergo thorough security checks.
President Obama blasted Republican candidates and governors for their panic-fueled, uninformed, fearful reactions to the Paris attacks, and their refusal to admit Syrian refugees. The president made these comments during a press conference with Philippines president Benigno Aquino.

“When candidates say we should not admit 3-year-old orphans, that’s political posturing. When individuals say we should have religious tests, and only Christians, proven Christians, should be allowed, that’s offensive and contrary to American values.”
“I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric coming out of here in the course of this debate. ISIL seeks to exploit the idea that there’s war between Islam and the West, and when you start seeing individuals in position of responsibility suggesting Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are in a war-torn land, that feeds the ISIL narrative. It’s counter-productive, and it needs to stop. And I would add these are the same folks who suggested they’re so tough that just talk to Putin or staring down ISIL (will work) … but they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion. First they were worried the press was too tough on them in the debates, now they’re worried about 3-year-old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me.


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (R-Mass.) took to the Senate floor to denounce efforts to block refugees seeking asylum:

“We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS murderers.” She added, “It is easy to proclaim that we are tough and brave and good-hearted when threats feel far away—but when those threats loom large and close by, our actions will strip away our tough talk and reveal who we really are.

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