October 4, 2007

Glenn Greenwald on the Right's Paranoia of the "Grave Muslim Threat"

Glenn Greenwald has had a couple of interesting posts in recent weeks regarding the American right's paranoid fantasies regarding the so-called "grave Muslim threat." In mid-September, Glenn wrote:

Our Civilization Warriors like Kirchick -- last seen justifying multiple new Middle Eastern wars -- are either so fearful of Muslims or so eager to demonize them as the Greatest Threat Ever (and, in the process, depicting themselves as Brave and Courageous Warriors for Freedom) that they live in a world that exists only in their imagination. If there is one thing that exists in abundance, it is anti-Islamic commentary in the U.S. Does Kirchick's paranoid claims about what happens to the brave souls who express such thoughts bear any remote relationship to reality?

Of course, none of this is new to us Muslims, who have read and listened to numerous examples of hate and incitement against Islam and Muslims over the years. Greenwald runs through a list of various Islamophobes (Michelle Malkin, Charles Johnson, Marty Peretz, Norm Podhoretz, Mark Steyn, Robert Spencer, Glenn Beck, etc., ad nauseum), most of whom are familiar names (unfortunately). Greenwald then continues:

Obviously, there is an extremist sect of Islam that is prone to violence, and there have been acts of violence or threats of violence directed against those perceived to have offended Islam, with some truly outrageous and tragic results. The same is true for Christianity, Judiaism and many other religions. And while one can, if one is so inclined, engage in the rather adolescent exercise of claiming that "one side does it more," the very notion peddled by Kirchick and his anti-Islamic warmongering bosses -- that one cannot speak out against Muslims or make a joke about Islam without endangering one's life, and that Americans live in fear of uttering any comments against Muslims -- is fear-mongering and/or paranoia of the highest order.

This lie is also very familiar, and one I've had leveled at me and other Muslims; one woman I knew would wildly criticize Islam and Muslims on Beliefnet... but never on the numerous boards set up to discuss Islam, including the Islam Debate board, which was the appropriate forum set up by Beliefnet for that very purpose. The reason? Muslims would become so incensed by her criticisms of Islam that they would find out her address, come to her house, and kill her. Yeah, right.

So, naturally, Greenwald was criticized by the wingnuts for his daring to upset their fantasy, and he's apparently come up with a theory as to what's driving that fantasy. Glenn published an e-mail he had received, of which I'm including the second paragraph:

I picture this moment, Glenn, and it brings me a little chuckle. It's you, begging some terrorist for your life, pointing out all the wonderful things you wrote that undermined America's resolve to fight against Islamic terrorism. "Look," you say, pulling articles out of your pockets with shaking hands, "I have served you! Clearly this means that I deserve to be spared!"

I won't tell you how it ends, Glenn.

Glenn responded:

One can only marvel at how developed and richly detailed is the fantasy that he has created and carries around with him -- being on one's knees before a Muslim terrorist, begging and pleading and shaking, dialogue about "having served you." It is really right out of some cheap, trite sadomasochistic pornography script, and yet these fears and truly creepy fantasies are the foundation for their political beliefs, driving most of our political discourse and policy.

And this bile that spewed forth really illustrates so much about why we continue to fight one of history's most absurd wars ever, whereby we occupy Iraq indefinitely even though the original justifications for invading have long ago vanished and even those who want to stay have no idea what we are trying to accomplish. It is the same dynamic that fueled so much of the intense and obsessive hatred for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and which drives the insatiable quest for new Enemies to attack, including what looks increasingly like the new War with Iran.

Bombing and killing Muslims is the only path for avoiding the humiliating scenarios which our nation's war cheerleaders carry around obsessively in their heads, and which are currently filling my inbox. They're not going to be the ones on their knees, begging. They're not going to be the "faggots." Instead, they are going to send others off to fight and bomb and occupy and kill and thereby show who is strong and tough and feel protected.

Homosexuality and humiliation. That seems to be what's driving the American right. Is it any wonder the Republican party has gone through so many homosexuality scandals in recent years? No, I don't think so. I think there is a disconnect in the minds of many men on the right, who are seeking the forbidden fruit they have been told all their lives they can't have, yet pursue it anyway, even at the potential cost (and, perhaps, subconscious fulfillment) of being caught. I think they may be enjoying a psychological game, call it "Catch me if you can," and the humiliation of being caught is the payoff. (Now would be a good time for me to review Eric Berne's classic of Transactional Analysis psychology, "Games People Play". ;) I suspect we could find a "game" in there that matches up to this scenario.)

Muslims, of course, by and large don't practice homosexuality, which may be driving the fantasy further: to seek the forbidden fruit among those men who are least likely to succumb to their seductions. Muslims then are "punished" through vilification for both being an object of desire and to prove to the non-fantasizing right that these men are hetero and macho.

Of course, all this is purely speculation and certainly there are other factors at work, but I wouldn't be surprised if the above isn't at least partially correct.

1 comment:

JDsg said...

My apologies to my fellow Muslims and to gay men on the left.