Saturday, April 13, 2013

They're Back: Right Wing Wingnuts and Obama

The Christian and John Bircherish right wing wing nuts are at it again. Many of them are claiming online that the picture to your left is evidence that Obama is in thrall to Islam and is leading Americans, like the pied piper of yore, into a Muslim post-Christian world complete with sharia law. How can people with a brain be so stupid?

Fareed Zakaria, the author of The Post American World (Norton, 2008, updated version, 2011), a tome about the new global realities America has to operate within, President Obama is holding and supposedly "proves" for these analytically challenged wingnuts that Obama is conspiring to lead America into the Muslim fold, has publicly stated that he is not a religious guy . He has emphasised the need for supporting moderate Islam in the Muslim world, a mainstream American intellectual position, and condemned Osama bin Laden as a religious extremist, another mainstream American intellectual position. He was awarded the Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize from the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL), hardly an organisation promoting muslimisation, though he returned it when the ADL campaigned against the building of a mosque near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, an issue Zakaria defined as one of religious freedom.

The Indian born (India is home to the largest Muslim community in the world) and now a US citizen was educated at Harvard, the university that provides so many of America's economic and political elite and which is hardly a den of muslimisaton, where he studied with Mr. Clash of Civilisations himself Samuel Huntington. In 1992 he became the editor of Foreign Affairs, the leading centrist if not moderately conservative American foreign policy journal that has long reflected mainstream and insider thinking on American foreign policy. In 2000 he became a columnist for the politically mainstream and politically centrist Newsweek and Newsweek's online cousin The Daily Beast. In 2010 he moved from Newsweek to another mainstream American political magazine Time until his brush with plagiarism. Over the years Zakaria has been on such politically mainstream American programmes as Charlie Rose and ABC's This Week. Republican Henry the K (Kissinger), a mainstream American political bureaucrat and intellectual, praised him as one of America's brightest political minds. He is, in other words, thoroughly within the inherently conservative American political mainstream. He is no Noam Chomsky.

There is speculation in some of the press that Zakaria might be an atheist. He has, after all written on wine for Slate, wine tasting being hardly the national past time of Muslims around the world. How long will it be before America's frothing at the mouth right wing wingnuts will start yabbering and jabbering about the coming wine sipping atheist and liberal takeover of America led by Zakaria and his flunkie Obama?

Another intellectual lack among Christian and Bircherish wingnuts, and there are many, is their "understanding" of Islam. They tend to, given their indebtedness to the Christian polemical and apologetics tradition and its secular variant, see Islam as singular and as the ultimate evil demonic other to Christianity's angelic truth. Unfortunately, as anyone with even a smattering of historical and cultural knowledge about Islam knows, you can't paint Islam with such a simplistic broad brush. There are many types of Islam that range from moderate to conservative to reactionary and sectarian.

So wise up wingnuts and do some real historical research. Ditch the ideology stuffed down your throats by a fictional narrative and its demagogues and ideologues and get real, get historical. By the way and speaking of Henry the K, it was Henry the K and Nixon, you historical illiterates, who the Reagan Repubs were angry at in the 1970s and 1980s because of its live and let live policy vis-a-vis the USSR. Reagan's Repubs, many of them conservative Christian Reupbs saw, like today's right wing wing nuts see Islam, the USSR in simplistic manichean terms, as pure evil, as part of a long apocalyptic struggle between the forces of good, freedom loving Christians and Americans, and the forces of evil, godless commies, for control of the world. Shades of two thousand years of Jewish and Christian apocalypticism. Shades of the secular variant of Jewish and Christian apocalypticism including that of the Nazis which melded Christian antisemitism, the hierarchies of nineteenth and early twentieth racial science, Aryan archaelology, Northern European ethnocentrism, and Christian apocalypticism to produce the war against the Jews.

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