I have seen many right wing articles of late lamenting the flack their mouthpieces and hero’s are getting when they try to spew their hate-filled ideologies at colleges across the country. Milo, Ann Coulter, O’Reiley, Alex Jones etc. to name a few.
I am going to be expressing my counter opinion in this essay. My statement upfront – if you are espousing racism, violence, and hatred you deserve every bit of ridicule and discomfort society can throw your way. And if you are calling for violence and genocide I believe that you should be taken at your word and the people you are threatening are within their rights to take action to defend themselves. Your right to free expression ends when it threatens my life or liberty. As a reminder, the First Amendment says that the government can’t pass a law that infringes on your free speech, not that you can spew whatever bullshit you want free of consequence (1). The article I’m arguing against (detailed below) is suggesting that the alt-right, Nazi wannabes have to be heard or else the Holocaust will happen again. Which of course is a ludicrous example of Orewellian double speek.
Today in The Federalist, I read an article by Stella Morabito railing against groupthink and propaganda (presumably from the Left) and arguing for free speech and lamenting how we have forgotten history. Part of her argument is that history is repeating itself with 1. the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East, 2. challenges to Israel’s right to exist, 3. jihadist terror attacks in the name of Islam.
Before continuing, I want to briefly look at these dog whistles and put them into context.
First, “the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East”. It is true that people of all faiths and backgrounds are experiencing terrible violence across the Middle East. But what she is really saying is that Muslims are evil and they are slaughtering Christians. So, let’s briefly dive into this. Violence is not new. Violence in the Middle East is not new. As she is keen to point out in her article, one way to stop the ascension of mass violence is to remember history. I could cite many examples of provocation and meddling in the Middle East that precipitated today’s terrible geopolitical reality. For instance, and in no particular order, the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, the creation of the State of Israel, the drawing of artificial borders by the Sykes-Picot Agreement by Great Britain and France, US involvement in Lebanon in the 1970’s-80’s, supporting Saddam Hussein against Iran in the 1980’s (and supplying him with chemical weapons which he used in Halabja), or more recently the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. But I would like to specifically mention the Crusades. From 1096-1718 (3) Europeans led wars of aggression into the Middle East killing as many 1.7 million people (4). Mostly innocent Muslims.
“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.” – President Obama 5 Feb 2015 (5)
Furthermore, I would argue that the genocide and mass exodus of more than 12 million civilians from Syria is at least partially the fault of the United States. The US is not the origin of conflict in Syria, but we have certainly been involved in making it worse (6). Our actions have caused instability across the Middle East for decades. I would like to point out that prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, that that country had a nominally secular and stable government, and prior to the first Iraq War in 1991, they were pro-West as well. Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that Saddam Hussein was a good leader – I mention these facts because Stella Morabito is trying to bend reality by creating this false narrative of evil Muslims slaughtering Christians. Everyone has blood on their hands as far as I’m concerned. But here is a reality – Muslims are the real victims of the endless wars in the Middle East. Here are some data points –
Between 2005-2015 900,000 Christians “martyred” worldwide (7)
From 2015-2016 1,207 Christians killed for their faith worldwide (8)
Contrast that with –
2003-2011 500,000 Iraq’s killed as a result of the US invasion (9)
2001-2015 220,000 Afghanis and 90,000 Pakistanis killed as a result of US war (10)
2001-2015 4 million killed in US Wars in the Middle East (11)
I would also like to point out the obvious – the US has initiated combat and war in Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya in recent years, and thus far, Islam has not invaded America.
Sick of y’all pseudo intellectuals trying to rewrite history. For example, contrary to what the Right Wing Media would have you believe “Muslims mostly say that suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam are rarely or never justified, including 92% in Indonesia and 91% in Iraq.” (12)
“Recent surveys show that most people in several countries with significant Muslim populations have an unfavorable view of ISIS, including virtually all respondents in Lebanon and 94% in Jordan. Relatively small shares say they see ISIS favorably.” – Pew Research (13)
Her second point “challenges to Israel’s right to exist”. I have to confess to not understanding how this point is relevant to her argument. However, any cursory look into the history of Israel or even just an awareness of the last 60 years of Middle East history should allow most folks to understand the controversy. For right or wrong, prior to WWII there was no country called Israel in the modern era. The smartest people in the world have looked at this and have failed to come up with any solution, so I’m going to leave this one alone. I would however like to mention that the Oslo Accords confirmed the Palestinian people’s opinion that Israel has the right to exist.
Her third point “jihadist terror attacks in the name of Islam” is easily counter-able by making the correlation between Christianity and “alt-right terror attacks in the name of Christianity.” The reality is that 73% of all violent extremist attacks in the US were perpetrated by radical right wing/Christian groups. Not Muslims. (14). In any case, most Muslims denounce religious violence and “jihad”. In fact, many Islamic scholars describe jihad as a personal journey of introspection and growth achieved by overcoming personal obstacles in life. In Arabic, jihad means “effort or struggle”. Nothing to do with killing Christians or whatever other false narrative the media reports it as. In the same way that most mainstream Christians don’t approve of the violence perpetrated by the Westboro Baptist Church, most Muslims don’t approve of the violence perpetrated in the name of Islam.
In her article, she also cites the importance of free speech and freedom of expression as being keys to preventing genocide. All of which I agree with and support completely. But then she goes on to roll out the tired alt-right trope of how these institutions have been “dangerously compromised” and filled with “media bias”.
She criticizes college students for not being able to reason or think critically and how this threatens social stability, and accuses universities of intolerance to different view points.
These are some of her specific points-
- mob mobilization to promote an anti-speech movement (under the guise of anti-hate)
- mob mobilization to shut down local police forces (under the guise of Black Lives Matter)
- a call for re-education to enforce conformity of thought (under the guise of anti-fascism)
- a rising tide of “my way or die” jihadism that sees itself engaged in total war against perceived enemies (under the guise of Islam)
- Cult behavior in a society that is ignorant of how cults operate
- the cultivation of ignorance in K-12 and higher education that cuts off information about history and civics (under the guise of multi-culturalism)
- the erasure of Western Civilization from education
- forced self criticism at colleges (under the guise of white privilege)
My rebuttal, by the numbers:
- I would argue that the Holocaust was able to happen, in part, because the message was one that the German people were already open to – to whit, Jews are responsible for your economic ills, and that people didn’t stand up to fight against it. (Replace “Jews” with “Mexicans” and all the sudden it sounds eerily familiar). 2. Black Lives Matter is not a movement to “shut down police forces”. It’s a movement that is trying to stop unarmed black kids from being killed by police. 3. I don’t know where this is coming from, but it seems to be a pro-fascism statement. Which, as an aside, I have seen a lot of confusion coming from the Right about the differences between the Left and Right on the political spectrum. In fact, I have seen Right wing folks accuse people on the left of being both Communists and Fascists. I don’t know if this is being done deliberately or is the result of really terrible historical understanding. 4. This is really false. What it stems from is a fear that Christians have of being out-proselytized by Islam, which is true. Islam is the fastest growing religion on the planet, and is expected to be the largest religion by the end of the century. With 1.6 Billion Muslims on the planet, if they were engaged in “total war” I think the landscape would look somewhat different. For a person who is arguing against the proliferation of propaganda she should look to her own statements first. But honestly, we know that’s not her objective. In truth, like Goebbels said and Trump does every day, accuse them of doing what you are doing. 5. Given the recent statistics of 96% of Trump supporters who would still vote for Trump (15), in spite of evidence suggesting he is the least popular president in history (16) and the verifiable lack of accomplishments (62% of his “accomplishments” are simply the signing of Executive Orders) (17), I would say that he and his followers are the very definition of a cult. And it’s a cult built around racism, ignorance, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and bigotry. I would happily expand on this, but that will be an essay for another day. 7. I would like to see some facts. I don’t agree that Western Civilization is being erased from history. I do see a lot of bullshit being taught as history. For instance – if you learned that Columbus discovered America, that’s bullshit. If you learned that the US is good and anything that it does is righteous, that’s bullshit too. If you believe, like Bill O’Reilly does, that slaves were “well fed and had decent lodgings” (18). Or like Trump, you believe that Islam is “unfalteringly hostile” to America (19) or you don’t believe that Jews have anything to do with the Holocaust, than, yeah, that’s bullshit. Erroneous beliefs by Conservative politicians could be the subject of a paper all on its own. Number 8 might be the strangest one on her list. What exactly is “forced self criticism”? And, equally as concerning, are you disavowing “white privilege”? Because if you don’t see how white people have all of the power in our society, and that they benefit from a system that is built to promote and cater to them, educating you is beyond the scope of this rebuttal.
Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS (AOM), NCCAOM Dipl. Acupuncture