The Ground Zero of Politics

Bin Laden and associates must be celebrating in glee watching the degeneration of American politics those days.

Allen West is the Republican candidate for congress in Florida this year. Here he is speaking about Islam in a public forum:

Writing on ThinkProgress.org, blogger George Zornick gives a bit of a background about Allen West:

West began his political career after resigning from the military following an investigation into his interrogation tactics. In 2003, West was interrogating an Iraqi policeman who was not being cooperative. According to his own testimony during a military hearing, West watched four of his men beat the suspect, and West said he personally threatened to kill the man. According to military prosecutors, West followed up on his threat by taking the man outside and firing a 9mm pistol near his head, in order to make the man believe he would be shot.

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5 thoughts on “The Ground Zero of Politics

  1. I’ll start my comment quoting David Mitchel from The Guardian :
    “There’s altogether too much harping on respect and banning these days. If you can’t respect something, you should ban it. If it’s not banned, you should respect it. Bullshit. There is a huge gulf of toleration between respect and banning. In a free society, people should be allowed to do what they want wherever possible. The loss of liberty incurred by any alternative principle is too high a price to pay to stop people making dicks of themselves. But, if people are using their freedoms to make dicks of themselves, other people should be able to say so.”

    I mean this guy is insulting Islam, and consequently Muslim people. There have been a bunch of studies, reports, essays … proving that all this kind of essentialist ideas are just stupid. That these people are making “dicks of themselves”.

    But there is a threat. It’s not against Muslims. I mean they do suffer in different ways from discrimination but that’s ok… so far. It’s about Liberty as a principle.
    This guy wants to treat Islam in a different way, which means destroying the essence of religious liberty.
    Attacking “Liberty” has been a trend in western democracies in recent years, giving executive powers more power to coerce and to discriminate. In France, it started with Muslims, Gypsies, people defaming the national Flag and national anthem .. what else ?
    In UK, it’s big brother London with cameras everywhere to terrorist threats.

    “The loss of liberty incurred by any alternative principle is too high a price to pay to stop people making dicks of themselves” said David Mitchell.
    So those “dicks” applauding this speech should think twice before attacking any “totalitarian Islam”.

    For those who are interested, I would recommend a classier version of “Islam is Evil”-debunking : this essay by the late Edward Said , The Clash of Ignorance http://www.thenation.com/article/clash-ignorance.

  2. I agree people have the right to make total fools of themselves and the guy is a complete moron alright, but I’m not sure I accept the idea that this should just be dismissed as some kind of insignificant talk in the fringes of American politics. Have you seen Tea Party gatherings outside of the White House and more recently at the southern border of the US? Have you heard comments from Newt Gingrich a couple of days ago equating the support for the building of a community center near Ground Zero to the support for Nazis? These are influential figures with real constituencies.

    I’m afraid American politics (I could say the same about French politics as well) have crossed the Rubicon of decency and respectability, and more importantly have betrayed the very principles that their democracy was built upon.

  3. I don’t think that some level has been crossed since the 9/11 attacks. Islam has been a target of scholars and politicians for many years, and has been criticized and demonized in surreal ways.

    Politicians in the US, mainly Republicans, are using Islam and Ground Zero mosque as alibis to prepare for mid term elections. It’s not “fair” but it’s politics. You can’t stop this.

    There are also influential politicians and intellectuals backing people with islamic beliefs. The ground zero project is backed by New York’s mayor Bloomberg, by Thomas Friedman (we can’t say that he’s Muslim friendly 😉 ), and the highest power in the US, Barack Obama.

    All the people are supporting this project on the ground of religious liberty. It’s an amazing change from Bush presidency.

  4. Minorities have often been used as political footballs in Western democracies I agree. There will always be political forces out there to play on fear and ignorance and exploit the latent xenophobic sentiment among the population. But there are two players here: the demagogues that will do whatever it takes to insure political gains, and the progressives who must appeal for reason and confront the fanatics. And while (according to S. Walt this week) the second group usually (fortunately) wins the battle, this time around things seem to be different. Frontiers between the first and latter have never been as blurred as today. When even so-called progressives take a pass in defending their most basic principles one should really be worried.

  5. @ayoub: “Islam has been a target of scholars and politicians for many years, and has been criticized and demonized in surreal ways.”

    Islam does not need people to demonize it. It is what it is, and the holy texts are enough to come a proper conclusion regarding Islam’s attitude towards certain issues. Among other things, Islam is against the concept of individual freedoms as we cherish it today.

    I would say that most politicians and scholars are going out of their way to be nice to Islam. At least, compared to the criticisms Christianity gets. It just appears that Muslims take offense everytime someone says something that is not Allahu Akbar.

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