Dear America: The Terrorists Are Already Here — but They Aren’t Who You Think

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By Claire Bernish at theantimedia.org

 

United States — Three days after the World Trade Center, Pentagon — and, arguably, any delusions of government as protector Americans still clung to — lay in ruins, Congress hastily granted the president the power to “use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks.”

In fact, that congressional vote would have been unanimous, if not for Representative Barbara J. Lee, whose single tally in dissent admonished the proposal since military reprisal would not secure safety for the United States. Further, she offered the keen adumbration that “as we act, let us not become the evil we deplore.”

At the time, she might have seemed absurdly over-cautious to her colleagues — and, likely, ridiculously unpatriotic to citizens breathlessly anticipating retribution — but Lee’s unintentional prognostication, had it been heeded, could have saved countless millions of lives.

Yet, stunningly, fourteen years later, ‘Americans’ have learned nothing from that eager belligerence; nothing concerning actions’ consequence — and, to their utter detriment — not the faintest detectable cognizance of the repercussions U.S. hubris can impart. And it is this exact inability to learn from our mistakes of action and attitude that brought the rise of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL, IS), and the subsequent quagmire in Syria and numerous other regions in the Middle East. Further, that refusal to grasp the lessons of the past is reflected in the exponential increase in hate crimes within the borders of the United States.

Since the December 2nd mass shooting in San Bernardino by a pair who ‘supported’ the ideology of Daesh, hate crimes — those motivated by prejudice and bigotry against a person’s religion, national origin, etc., which usually employ violence as a means of intimidation — against Muslims in the U.S. have dramatically spiked. In just the past week, a spate of inarguably terroristic acts against Muslims mirrors uncannily the pervasive, accepted culture of intimidation against African Americans in the U.S. South during much of the 20th century — so much so, that the largest white supremacist organization in the country reportedly had to upgrade its servers to cope with the spike in traffic to its website.

All of this, of course, is rooted in intense fear of the ‘other.’ Xenophobiadefined as “an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange” — grandfathers many of the dangerous ‘isms’ that tend to birth violent action. More insidiously, though, xenophobia weaves itself into common and popular culture so thoroughly that those who aren’t its target are often oblivious to — and thus most often in denial about — its presence. This explains systemic racism rather handily. It also explains why Americans largely manage to pull off the appearance of being tolerant and accepting of each other for extended time periods — until incidents like San Bernardino rip off that mask; or, worse, a public figure like Donald Trump entreaties the populace to pulverize it.

Suddenly, bigotry laid bare has become not only publicly acceptable, but arrogantly — and disturbingly — ‘normal.’ But it is neither of these things.

There isn’t anything acceptable about bigotry when it translates into fear-motivated action against an entire group — whether in Trump’s absurd Ban-All-Muslims! immigration push, or in this stupefying (and likely quite incomplete) list of crimes since the California shooting:

  • 12/4: Nearly half of all the windows of the Palm Beach Islamic Center broken overnight; furniture overturned inside
  • 12/ 4: Man threatened to “cut off Muslims’ heads” should they come to his home, voicemails to the St. Louis Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) revealed; FBI arrested a suspect, but he likely won’t face charges
  • 12/5: Man yelled “I kill Muslims!” while repeatedly punching a Muslim store owner in Queens; incident being investigated by police as a hate crime
  • 12/5: Muslim congressman from Indiana received death threat, according to TPM
  • 12/5 – 12/6: Woman driving away from New Tampa mosque in a hijab cut off and nearly run off the road by man who then threw stones at her car
  • 12/6✱: Sikh temple in California defaced with graffiti slurring Islam and mentioning the Islamic State
  • 12/6: Woman yelling anti-Islamic slurs threw hot coffee at group of Muslims praying in a park
  • 12/7: A Gwinnett County teacher asked a 13-year-old, eighth-grade Muslim student if she was carrying a bomb in her backpack
  • 12/7: Man charged with a hate crime after asking employees of a Manhattan restaurant if they were Muslim, proceeding to slap one of them; he returned later to break a glass partition
  • 12/7: New Jersey mosque received several hate-filled letters, including one calling Muslims “evil”
  • 12/8: Pig’s head left outside the Al-Aqsa Islamic Society in Philadelphia; surveillance video shows head being thrown by someone in a pickup truck overnight; FBI and police conducting parallel investigations
  • 12/9: Seattle ride-share driver attacked by passengers who accused him of being a terrorist; police investigating the beating as a hate crime
  • 12/9:  Man confronted a woman at a Brooklyn bus stop, saying, “I can’t wait for the U.S. to get rid of you trash,” then kicked her in the leg; police investigating as a bias crime
  • 12/10: CAIR offices evacuated after receiving a letter containing white powder with a note that read: “die a painful death, Muslims”; substance later tested and found not to be dangerous
  • 12/10: The Islamic Community Center of Phoenix had its windows and a light smashed; incident not being investigated as a hate crime
  • 12/10: Man charged with arson for setting fire to a Somali restaurant in Grand Forks, North Dakota — days after it was spray-painted with Nazi symbols and the phrase “go home”
  • 12/10: Muslim woman’s car came under gunfire as she drove away from a mosque in Tampa, reported CAIR of Florida
  • 12/10: Muslim family in Plano, Texas had windows of their home broken out two times in two days — just six weeks after moving to the area
  • 12/11:  23-year-old man arrested and charged with a hate crime after trying to burn down the Masjid Ibrahim Mosque in Coachella, California
  • 12/12: Armed intimidation protest by around 20 people held outside Dallas, Texas, mosque
  • 12/12: Punjabi clerk shot in the face during armed robbery in Grand Rapids — suspect used ethnic slurs, called him a “terrorist,” said: “I used to kill people like you in Iraq with no problem”; police are investigating, but “are not prepared to call this a hate crime”
  • 12/13: Fence graffitied with the word “Jesus” and a plastic replica hand grenade found inside Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Baitus-Salaam Mosque in Hawthorne, California; “Jesus is the way” painted in front of the Islamic Center of Hawthorne

✱ It should be noted that people’s ignorance of other cultures often ends up targeting groups who have nothing whatsoever to do with their already baseless hatred — Sikhism is not Islam. Both religions employ headcoverings, but appearance does not equate the two.

Soberingly, Barbara J. Lee foresaw the inherent pitfalls of declaring war against something as laughingly nebulous as the term terrorism. The painful, sick irony in this string of continuing crimes, is the fear driving them — paranoid fear that ‘other’ group could be terrorists — has turned those very people into terrorists, themselves.


This article (Dear America: The Terrorists Are Already Here — but They Aren’t Who You Think) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish andtheAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email[email protected].

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8 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t know what to think any more, honestly. I was born in 65. Fair to say I’m a child of the 70s. My teachers and family and adults I grew up around often served in Vietnam, or worked to stop it, or tried to avoid having to be sent there. There was a time when I thought Americans were starting to really absorb the “lessons” of Vietnam, its immorality, the immorality of wars that aren’t “defensive” in the true sense of the word as in ‘repelling an attack on our territorial integrity or that of a NATO ally’. What to do in the instance of ‘genocide’ being the big vexatious question that remained. I don’t remember most Americans feeling obligated to ‘nation build’ as if it was really possible or that the very concept didn’t smack of colonialism and arrogant cultural superiority. And I thought, given the outcry every time proof came to light of the US government’s decades long anti-democratic “covert” actions in South and Central America, and the Middle East, and its purposes, that it was widely perceived by Americans as immoral if not counterproductive. I thought most people understood Kissinger was an unindicted war criminal and everything he stood for was immoral evil bullshit rather than some sort of legitimate morally defensible foreign policy.
    But one mass crime against US citizens on our shores, and a significant majority simply flushes all those possible lessons down the memory hole and starts baying for blood.
    I envisioned an entirely different outcome from 9-11 at the time. I thought America might honestly and seriously discuss the “why”. Why some individuals from 1000s of miles away would want to do what they did. Why it was that 15 of them were nationals of one of our supposed closest allies in the region. What actions by our government may have a hand in giving rise to those sorts of grievances. Instead we quickly settled on the preposterous idea that 1.3 billion people were all motivated by some fundamentalist understanding of their shared religion (which is silly like saying all Catholics share the same views of their religion) or that certain ethnicities were inherently backward and bloodthirsty and out to bring down the West or American specifically (as if they actually could which is frankly silly unless of course you work for a DC think-tank getting paid to produce that sort of propaganda).
    And while no event has one singular “cause” generally speaking, I thought we might as a nation have a long hard discussion about the means we employ to preserve our “way of life” and pursue our “interests”. Can they really only be advanced by propping up dictators from Saudi Arabia to Egypt? By unequivocally supporting Israel’s treatment of Palestinians? By demonizing the people of Iran? By refusing to think long and hard about our “energy” politics.
    I envisioned a world, and an America with the world’s sympathy and willingness to assist us to bring those responsible to justice at its back, where America in conjunction with lots of other nations patiently tracked down, captured and brought to justice those who financed, armed and funded the 9-11 hijackers. Even if it took decades. Show the world our patience and commitment to the real meaning and ideal of “justice”. Public trials, adequate legal counsel, neutral international courts and justices if we could make “war crimes” or “international law” violations stick against those behind 9-11, and really go about bringing the world together in service of building or expanding the international institutional capacity for combating international crimes not directly tied to any particular recognized state actors or state policies.
    But we didn’t. We curled into the fetal position of cowardice or decided that vengeful military campaigns against one backwater nation and its people and another nation not in any way responsible for 9-11 was how we would demonstrate our “resolve” and “strength” to the world. I’d like to ask almost a decade and a half into that strategy–how is that working out for America and the world? Not very well in any objectively honest assessment of the situation.
    And yet we keep engaging in precisely the same policies that in part gave rise to 9-11 in the first instance. We act like monumental hypocrites all over the globe. Propping up, funding and arming some of the most brutal despots and dictators all over the globe helping them deny their people the ‘right of self-determination’. Or only permitting it to those people if its on our terms, or with leaders we approve, or so long as it ‘serves our interests’. Or drone assassinating whomever we please while killing innocents en masse thereby perpetuating the hatred of our policies and way of life. And we do it so cavalierly and callously and with such a smug self-righteous hypocritical sense of superiority. And the only people that don’t seem to appreciate how immoral, hypocritical and counterproductive that all is (unless that is its purpose–to create more conflict , chaos and instability which it very well may be given our track record in the world) are large segments of the American people (and those in the West who assist us in our little ‘war on terror’ in service of their own interests or to ingratiate themselves to America).
    I really don’t get it how Americans can’t perceive how easily they are being bullshitted. I recognize and always have that some of my fellow citizens are deeply frightened xenophobic racists dinks who are absolutely fine with this sort of world and their nation’s actions. But I always figured they were a minority and could be neutralized by the rest of us. Now I’m not so sure they aren’t the majority and always have been.
    At this point, I can only draw one conclusion based on the evidence–our militaristic foreign policy is exactly a function, or a necessary and essential mechanism in support of our very flawed neoliberal capitalist economic agenda. All the violence and instability our foreign policy creates is a feature not a bug. It is part of a global strategy to delegitimize and/or scatter to the wind any possibility of any ideology or group of nations states ever having the power to question the moral legitimacy or practical sustainability of the neoliberal global order.
    And given that, America will never end its ‘global war on terror’. It is the tip of the spear of its global political-economic agenda. It is how we protect and project the force of our economic policies. But until people grasp that idea, at least in part, we are never going to be able to have a meaningful national discussion on the morality of the means of pursuing our “way of life” nor the “costs” born by others of that way of life and in which they have no meaningful say.

    • Thank you for your balanced, refreshing and honest opinion piece. Every lesson learned, it seems, is soon forgotten. We’ve given up self determination in favour of entertainment. “Distract me so I don’t have to think about giving up anything I want, regardless of the lives it destroys.”

  2. Yeah, if the people don’t awaken soon, it will be too late for them, The NWO is being negotiated through out the world, those who decline the offerings of the elitists, NOW, they will be dealt with accordingly…

  3. “an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange” there are about 1.8 billion Muslims and 1/4 of them are what is considered religiously extreme, 1/4= around 250,000,000-300,000,000 which means that many Muslims support stoning, rape, forced marriages, slavery and the list goes on. Tell me what exactly is unreasonable about properly screening Muslim immagrints before we let them in, it’s not permanent and will be lifted as soon as we can properly screen these people, so please address the issues correctly if your going to promote your opinion on this subject.

  4. It kills me that the masses never realize 1 thing, they are the power… because of the billions, those vermin have the apparent power, but the power is the people, and if the people realize that anytime soon, then we will be able to flush the parasites out of our system… what will the USA do if there was no soldier to fight for their stupidity? What could the Government do if nobody listened to them? What could the privately owned banks (which is all of them) do if nobody used their so called services, what would any parasite do if the host would be immune to it?… well… it’s easy… the parasite would die, so YOU need to wake up, YOU need to take control, WE are MANY and WE ARE THE POWER, just… STOP accepting the MANIPULATION!

  5. The ancient Roman leadership was frighteningly similar to our current world leaders; elitist, out of touch with the everyday person, and with an ever increasing pooling of wealth to the detriment of the remaining 99% of humanity.
    They had the mentality of “Bread and Circuses” – of ensuring the provision of cheap food and entertainment to take the masses minds’ off world events that effected them.
    Today, while we consume rubbish in our food and through our television broadcasts, we also have the illusion of being educated and informed, though the “informers”, the media, are also controlled by the 1%.
    Would it not be logical to suppose that we are misinformed as to almost anything to do with “Muslims”, after all, they are also likely to be misinformed about us in the West.
    Before we allow ourselves to be consumed by xenophobia, we must see that fear of others is not new. We were once afraid of, and therefore hated Germans (Krauts), the Japanese (Japs), Chinese (chinks), etc and now it is anyone of Middle Eastern extraction (towelheads).
    Xenophobia and prejudice are born of ignorance and blind trust of those who have an agenda to divide and conquer.
    Travel, see those who you fear and discover they are just like us. Smile and speak with those you fear in your own home town, for your violence and distrust is because you are afraid.

  6. what the actual [email protected] all of these are muslim you people need to learn that not all muslim is with isis its like saying that being muslim is illegal theses days if you do it, it just looks like that every christian is involved with the westbro church or something.

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