It’s the Derp, Stupid

A couple of articles from Foreign Policy that are worth reading:

It’s the Occupation, Stupid: Extensive research into the causes of suicide terrorism proves Islam isn’t to blame — the root of the problem is foreign military occupations.

In the decade since 9/11, the United States has conquered and occupied two large Muslim countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), compelled a huge Muslim army to root out a terrorist sanctuary (Pakistan), deployed thousands of Special Forces troops to numerous Muslim countries (Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, etc.), imprisoned hundreds of Muslims without recourse, and waged a massive war of ideas involving Muslim clerics to denounce violence and new institutions to bring Western norms to Muslim countries. Yet Americans still seem strangely mystified as to why some Muslims might be angry about this situation.

Earlier this week a much-linked-to article by Chris Hedges blamed poverty, but I don’t buy that entirely. No doubt it’s a factor in recruiting the discontented, but the people actually engaged in terrorism often aren’t that poor. I think poverty is a supporting factor, not the main cause.

“France Is an Unequal Opportunity Offender: For all the talk of defending the right to blaspheme Mohammed, the French can be extremely hypocritical when it comes to making fun of others

French legal history is choked with cases of bloggers, celebrities, and ordinary folk being dragged through the courts on charges of defamation or hate speech. Worse still, when the ink does flow, it predictably steers clear of powerful sacred cows, while baiting and stifling the usual suspects. If the French don’t learn the lessons of the Paris attacks and fail to confront the free-speech double standards that divide the country today, blood — not ink — will continue to flow.

Barely a day after an estimated 3.7 million people rallied across the country in support of Charlie Hebdo’s right to offend Muslims, French officials embarked on yet another legal effort to protect Jews from hate speech. In an embarrassing display of the complexity of the French free-speech debate, the Paris prosecutor’s office on Monday announced an investigation into a since-deleted Facebook post by controversial comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, in which he proclaimed, “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly.” (Update: He was arrested and held for questioning in Paris on Wednesday.) The post was a characteristically insidious, Dieudonné-esque play on the now-ubiquitous “Je Suis Charlie” slogan invoking Amédy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed a policewoman on Jan. 8 and died the next day during a standoff in a kosher supermarket that killed four Jewish hostages.

I wrote a few days ago that a lot of the people who declared their support for free expression over the last few days have a rather dismal record on supporting free expression in the past. Basically, a lot of these folks aren’t so much for free expression itself; they just don’t want anyone to interfere with their right to bash Muslims. See also “Happily, President Obama N’est Pas Charlie,” which is in The American Conservative, of all places.

Muslim inhabitants of the Paris suburbs have ample reason to believe that France is far more committed to the defense of free speech which insults them than it is to free speech in the abstract. Charlie Hebdo was free to plaster on newsstands all over Paris vivid cartoon depictions of Mohammed as an eager homosexual bottom, but five years ago when one of its cartoonists wrote an item suggesting that a son of the president was making a good career move by converting to Judaism he was summarily fired and put on trial for “inciting racial hatred.” Literally, put on trial. The country of Voltaire, yup.

OT, but while you’re at The American Conservative read Daniel Larison’s “Romney and the ‘Vindication’ Fantasy.” It’s a hoot.

Going back to “It’s the Occupation, Stupid,” see Conor Friedersdorf’s “Islamophobia Is Not a Myth.” Apparently a lot of righties are arguing that Muslims who don’t engage in terrorism, which is most of them, have nothing to fear from knee-jerk backlashes in reaction to Islamic terrorism. This is absurd on its face; in the past several days how many public figures have proclaimed in mass media that Islam itself is the cause of terrorism? How many American wingnuts have worked themsleves into a fever pitch of hysteria over “sharia law”? Seriously.  In fact, the terrorists are counting on those knee-jerk backlashes to help radicalize the moderates still sitting on the fence. Bill Maher is proof the terrorists are winning, I say.  Friedersdorf writes,

My belief that Muslims are at special risk after a terrorist attack perpetrated by Islamist radicals is grounded in the fact that after the September 11 terrorist attacks, despite a conservative president urging his countrymen to refrain from blaming their Muslim neighbors, hate crimes against Muslim Americans spiked dramatically.

The levels of increased hate were “real” and “measurable.”

My notion that Islamophobia, or irrational fear of mainstream Muslims, is a recognizable feature of post-9/11 America is informed by the several cities that have attempted to stop the construction of mosques, state attempts to ban sharia law as if we’re on the cusp of being ruled by it, fears that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim, profiling of Muslim college students for no reason other than their religion, the anti-Muslim training materials that the FBI somehow adopted and used after 9/11, and dozens of Muslims I’ve interviewed who say that other Americans are more fearful of them than was the case prior to the September 11 attacks.

Which is, of course, why America was so easily stampeded into doing al Qaeda’s recruiting work and invading Iraq — that and the clueless wonders who were in charge of policy at the time.

8 thoughts on “It’s the Derp, Stupid

  1. Not only were Muslims the targets of hate crimes, they were also the targets of many legal actions – frequently detained as material witnesses, for example, or facing increased scrutiny. These are not grounds for “fear” in the sense of “OMG, I could have been killed” in the same sense as that feeling could arise from a hate crime – you’re probably still safer in the hands of police than in the hands of hateful assailants – but they’re serious matters and not safe by any means.

  2. Speaking of hypocrisy, almost none of the US newspapers who rushed to defend the French cartoonists, have any cartoonists left on staff.
    They have cut the cartoon budgets down to next to nothing.

    And, not that not invading and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, and forcing Pakistan to do our bidding, would have eliminated terrorism here in America – but it wouldn’t have hurt.
    The US is seen by the majority of the people in the Middle East as the world’s bully – one who supports their local bullies with arms and money.

    I don’t understand why “Going Green” isn’t advertised and sold as a national security measure.
    The less we’re involved in the Middle East, the better off we are.
    And, I suspect, the better off the people of that area will be.
    Let the local bullies try to keep bullying their people, instead of seeking to build through coordination and conciliation, and see how long they last without US energy companies and US military support and US money to prop-up their regimes.

    Not long, I suspect.

  3. All I can say is, it would be OK with me if Romney got the nomination. I’d prefer Cruz, but Romney is enough of a loony with his “folders full of women” — and a loser as well, looking at his current CV– that I think he’d be a welcome boost for us Democrats.

    WRT foreign policy, it’s an odd line of attack– foreign policy has been MUCH more of a strength for Obama than it was for Bush, and that is exactly who Romney would emulate.

  4. “depictions of Mohammed as an eager homosexual bottom”

    Oh my the discourse has devolved? I’m equally offended by almost all religion but to repeatedly insult another’s just because you can seems a bit out of line to me? It’s hard to watch the merican war-pimps whip up war fever over a few knuckle heads with assault rifles that wiped out 12-16 innocents. Could you imagine the outrage if the same thing happened here (of course the knuckle-heads would have to be mooslim), random acts of violence by crazy white dudes with assault rifles is just gonna happen because – freedom!

  5. “I don’t understand why “Going Green” isn’t advertised and sold as a national security measure”

    Come on Gulag, how the hell are the oil companies and the defense contractors going to profit from going green? Silly Gulag!

  6. I have read that antisemitism and Holocaust denial in some European countries can land a person in jail. I’m very concerned about the near hysterical anti Muslim stuff I’m hearing. That’s a road we don’t need to travel.
    There was an interesting interview with a former Muslim radical on NPR last night. The suggested cause of radicalizing young Muslim men is that they are young men. I agree with that. Without angry young men full of testosterone, war would be rare. Us old guys would be like “you want me to go where and do what?” Get the fuck outta here !

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