Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Internal Enemy Is Back

There's still a lot of fallout from the US's commemoration of 9/11 if the articles at Watching America are any reflection. One that particularly struck me is from France's Le Monde. I found it ironic at several levels that a French newspaper would issue a commentary on US nativism, given the recent French legislation to ban burqas and the push to remove the Roma from its land, but the article doesn't duck that charge a whit. What the article does engage is the growing wave of hatred for all things Islamic in the US, and sees it as just one more spasm against "the other" this country routinely wallows in.

What a regression in 15 months! On June 4, 2009, in his famous speech in Cairo, Obama set out to restore the extremely damaged relationship between the U.S. and the Islamic world. ...

...meanwhile, those who believe Islam to be an illegitimate faith in the U.S. threaten to gain ground each day. The phenomenon is accompanied by a sudden rise in public hatred toward Muslims (which has increased from 0.8 percent to 1.4 percent of the population). The craziest beliefs circulate among ever-widening circles: the "masked" Muslim, Obama secretly preparing to establish the Sharia in his country … With the general elections approaching on Nov. 4, the Republican opposition avoids publicly denouncing racist ideas, which serves tacitly to legitimize their expression. Republicans used the same tactic during the political campaign against a Muslim community center being built close to Ground Zero.

The United States has always been known for its raging outbursts against the ''internal enemy," despite claiming to be a model for continued integration of immigrants, the cornerstone upon which the nation was built. Even beyond African Americans and Native American Indians, this enemy often wears the face of the last immigrant group to date. Or minority groups such as Jews, Mormons, Catholics and Communists … Against whom, a few months ago, conservative politicians launched an anti-immigration campaign that was unsuccessful this time. However, a well-known sector of American opinion seems more receptive towards Islamophobia.
[Emphasis added]

While the Islamophobia is simply an iteration of the racism which constantly lurks behind the American dream, it feels different this time around, primarily because it is "justified" by the attack of 9/11. Americans aren't embarrassed by the expressions of hatred, fear, revenge. In fact, many on the far right are busy encouraging just those emotions as the natural response to an enemy.

When a state party includes a plank in their platform forbidding the imposition of Sharia Law as the Iowa Republican Party did, there's something seriously wrong with this country. There must be a DSM diagnosis for this mental aberration, as suggested by a commentator for the UK's Independent. Whatever the diagnosis, however, some serious measures to cure it are needed.

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