Last month, I was forwarded an email containing an article entitled "A German View on Islam," which has apparently been circulating the internet for a few years now under various titles and attributed to various authors. Many sites credit a Dr. Emanuel Tanay ("a well-known and well-respected psychiatrist") with penning the piece, others state that a right-wing blogger from Canada named "Paul" wrote it.
Regardless of who is responsible for this ignorant and offensive screed, the article, which has been posted on numerous anti-Muslim websites, claims that "fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history."
Needless to say, I was surprised to receive this piece (seemingly four years after it was first written and disseminated) via the mailing list of a reputable peace and justice organization.
At the time I wrote a response, but never wound up forwarding it widely as it dovetailed with another piece I had written recently. I've finally gotten around to posting it here (with some minor updates). The issue is still just as relevant now as it was last month, especially with the added and accumulating racist vitriol we've seen lately regarding the Park51 Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan.
Furthermore, with the recent knife attack on Bangladeshi taxi driver Ahmed Sharif in New York City by Michael Enright, a 21-year-old visual arts student who once volunteered with an organization called Intersections that promotes interfaith tolerance and dialogue, perhaps one should argue that "fanatics rule the interfaith dialogue community at this moment in history."
The point of the ridiculous article, entitled "A German's View on Islam," is that Islam (notably the "fanatical" elements) is the world's greatest danger at present and that "peace-loving" Muslims need to be more active and aggressive in fighting against this "fanatical" Islam "before it's too late." The writer likens these "peace-loving Muslims" to the average German citizen during the Holocaust, who sat idly by - whether they supported their government's policies and the war effort or not - while an unspeakable genocide, born of staggering racism, xenophobia, religious fervor, and nationalism, was carried out under their noses and in their names. In this sense, the writer considers - just as Zionist NeoCons do - followers of Islam to be the Nazis of the 21st Century.
The author asserts that Islamic fanatics are responsible for "50 shooting wars" globally, the systematic "slaughter" of "Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave," as well as bombing, beheading, murdering, and honor-killing. Naturally, there are also mentions of stoning, hanging, and suicide-bombing.
However, the writer doesn't take any time to mention the imperial infrastructure of 1,000 military bases and installations worldwide or an economic strangle-hold that keeps entire continents malnourished and dependent on aid. The writer believes we should all be mighty fearful of the evil Muslims rampaging through the streets, converting or killing the infidels, and corrupting our youth. That's where the danger lies, he tells us, not in invasions and occupations by conquering armies; not in ethnic cleansing and garrison-colonialism; not in F-16s, Apache helicopters, nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, remote-controlled machine gun turrets and Predator drones; not in sieges, blockades, and collective punishment; not in white phosphorous, flechettes, depleted uranium, cluster bombs, or DIME; not in undeclared and unmonitored stockpiled nuclear weapons; not in checkpoints and watch-towers and Apartheid Walls; not in land theft, water theft, oil theft, or the privatization of other people's resources; not in assassinations, kidnapping, torture, black sites, indefinite detention, the dismantling of both constitutional and inalienable rights, the disregard for international law and human rights; not in the diplomatic, financial, and military support of dictatorships, war lords, and ethnosupremacists.
No no no, the writer of this trash warns us, it is "the fanatics who threaten our way of life." I suppose, we're now back to the old "they hate us for our freedoms" bullshit, promoting the concept that fanatical Muslims hate "all the things that make us a force for good in the world - for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences," as Dick Cheney one said.
Perhaps the author should read the unclassified study published by the Pentagon-appointed U.S. Defense Science Board on Sept. 23, 2004, which found that:
"Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States.Maybe he should read the letter written by those responsible for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, published in the New York Times, which stated, "This action was done in response for the American political, economical, and military support to Israel, the state of terrorism, and to the rest of the dictator countries in the region." The writer might also consider the revelation on page 147 of the 9/11 Commission Report, which tells us that, "By his own account, [so-called mastermind of the 9/11 attacks] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel."
"Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy."
The writer could even listen to National Security Adviser John Brennan (I don't advise this in large doses, however), who, during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, described violent extremists as victims of "political, economic and social forces," and said that those engaged in "terrorist" activities should not be described in "religious terms." He continued,
"Nor do we describe our enemy as 'jihadists' or 'Islamists' because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one's community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children."Murdering innocent, men, women, and children, does however appear to be a vital aspect of US and Israeli policy on a daily basis, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Gaza to Yemen to Lebanon to Pakistan. While some of these places are actually mentioned by the writer, they are bizarrely used as examples of past atrocities - never mentioned in the context of current tragedy, let alone on-going deadly policy.
Naturally, according to the writer, Islam is to blame for the constant killing of civilians by Israeli, US, and NATO forces, including the 1,180 Lebanese (about a third of whom were children) murdered by Israel in 2006, the over 1,400 Palestinians (over 400 of which were children) murdered by Israel in the winter of 2008-9, the tens of thousands of Afghan and Pakistani civilians murdered by US and allied troops and drones in the past nine years, the more than a million Iraqis murdered as a result of the US invasion seven years ago, and the 567,000 Iraqi children under the age of five that died as a result of US-imposed sanctions between 1990 and 2003.
Apparently, the author believes that the 42 Israeli drone attacks that murdered 87 Palestinian civilians in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 were justified in order to protect "our way of life." Clearly, Islamic terrorism was a far greater danger to the lives of these Palestinians than the Israeli drones, which launch anti-tank munitions loaded with tiny, tungsten cubes at living targets and tear human bodies to shreds. In one such attack, in broad daylight on the very first day of the Israeli assault, "an IDF drone-launched missile hit a group of students who were waiting for a bus in central Gaza City…killing nine students, two of them women, and three other civilians. The IDF has failed to explain why it targeted the group on a crowded central street with no known military activity in the area at the time."
I'm sure the writer must also blame the grave threat of Islam for the 290 Iranians blown out of the sky by the US Navy in 1988, the more than a dozen Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists slain by American troops in an Apache gunship in 2007, the thousands of Afghan civilians whose deaths are documented in the 91,000 classified military documents recently made public by WikiLeaks, including the eight civilians shot by American soldiers in Kandahar in 2007, the seven civilians killed by American troops in a rural village near Nad-E'ali last year, the numerous civilian men, women, children, dogs, donkeys, and chickens slaughtered by Task Force 373, a clandestine black ops unit which NATO uses as an assassination squad, the hundreds of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan who have been bombed to death at weddings and funerals, including a 2007 wedding party mortared by Polish soldiers in Nangar Khel, the group of bus passengers gunned down by US troops in 2008, the 26 Afghan civilians (including 16 children) killed by British forces, the 140 civilians (among them 93 children and 25 women) killed last year in a NATO air strike, the scores of dead civilians in Kunduz and Helmand who were murdered by 500-pound bombs dropped by US jets in September 2009, the 41 "local residents" (including 14 women and 21 children) in Yemen killed by a US-manufactured cruise missile that carried cluster munitions in December 2009, the 27 civilians killed by a NATO strike in the Afghan province of Uruzgan in February of this year, 45 civilians (most of whom were women and children) murdered by a NATO rocket in Afghanistan a month ago, and the civilians (including four women and three children) killed by "missiles fired from a U.S. pilotless drone aircraft...in Pakistan’s North Waziristan" just this past Monday.
All in all, this Islam-is-the-enemy crap only serves to demonize the victims of US imperialism, the Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and a Judeo-Christian superiority complex that murders Muslims with impunity and righteous relish. The biggest danger facing the world today is certainly not the "spread" of "fanatical Islam," but rather the attempts to ignore and obfuscate the destructive power and lethal consequences of empire, its capitalist and neoliberal tentacles, buttressed by its military might and ideological propaganda.
Articles such as "A German's View on Islam" serve only to hide the truth. One would hope that, at this point, a "German's view" on anything would be careful not to demonize an entire people based upon their religion. Alas, old habits appear to die hard.