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SEPTEMBER 7, 2010 4:33PM

Hatred of Muslims Is Al-Qaeda's Best Recruiting Tool

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Outrage over Gen. David Petraeus' comments regarding burning the Qur'an lets some conservatives show their true colors. If they had their way, American foreign policy would consist of hating all Muslims everywhere and punishing them for their religion. Who is a terrorist? Is it all Muslims? Or was it nineteen specific people who were Muslim but also had a political agenda? There are two counter-arguments to this: there are some terrorists who are Christian, not Muslim (and Jewish, too! Don't forget Dr. Baruch Goldstein, who killed 29 Muslims peacefully at prayer, and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a right-wing Orthodox Jew who opposed Rabin's signing of the Oslo Accords); and there are Muslims who are not terrorists.

But the people accosting Gen. Petraeus don't especially care about intellectual consistency. After all, their real viewpoint is not that terrorists are bad, but that Muslims are bad, regardless of whether they are terrorists or not. This sentiment is echoed in the silly "controversy" over the Park51 Islamic center in New York City. It's obvious that every argument against the center that appears in the civilized media (think CNN or New York Times, not Rush or WorldNetDaily) is false. Because it's not polite to say, on CNN, "I don't like Muslims and I associate them and their religion with the terrorist act that destroyed the World Trade Center, so I don't want any Muslims to be near the World Trade Center." Flimsy pretexts must therefore be invented to bolster the argument that the center shouldn't be there. "It would harm the memory of the people who died." This leads to the question, Why would it harm that memory? What specifically about an Islamic center would harm that memory in a way that a Christian or Jewish center wouldn't? And the talking heads get flummoxed because, on the one hand, their argument is, essentualy, "I don't like Muslims," but on the other hand, you can't say that you don't like Muslims. That's why the flimsy pretexts fall apart: because they're not true.

Sometimes, Gen. Petraeus is smart. This is one of those times. But then again, it doesn't take a rocket scientist -- or a Ph.D. in International Relations from Princeton University -- to figure out that virulent ant-Muslim sentiment coming from Americans will -- guess what? -- make Muslims angry at Americans. Even Ron Paul suggested that the September 11 attacks were "blowback" from years of anti-Arab Middle Eastern policies, and Ron Paul wants to abolish the Federal Reserve! You can be outright crazy and still understand that policies targeted at particular groups of people won't sit very well with those people. Nevertheless, Petraeus' critics, while outright crazy, don't understand that virulent, public hatred of one group of people won't make that group any less likely to do nasty things in the future. Of course, this argument doesn't address the morality of hating a group of people for their religious beliefs. That is clearly reprehensible, but the Dove World Christian Center doesn't seem to think so, so the only way to possibly persuade them otherwise would be the public policy argument.

 
Note: The inspiration from this post came from the Firedoglake piece linked above. The headline is based on a comment to that piece, in which the commenter notes, "Idiots like the Florida preacher and his defenders are among Al-Qaeda’s best recruiters."

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I agree with Petraeus on this one. The troops in Afghanistan (whom I wish were already home) will only be put in even greater danger by displays like this at home. The idea of competing images of book/flag burning between the U.S. heartland and the streets of the Middle East is not a pretty prospect, unless one imagines making money off chaos. It would make a defense industry lobbyist smile somewhere.

rated.
It's amazing how information can spread so quickly when there's no logical reason for it. One idiot Christian minister with a dozen followers in some Florida backwater is able to piss off Muslims all over the world because he's going to burn some Korans. Hey Rush - could you remind your ditto-heads that this is batshit crazy ?
This is like saying that knocking down buildings is Christianity's greatest recruiting tool.
"...it doesn't take a rocket scientist ... to figure out that virulent ant-Muslim sentiment coming from Americans will -- guess what? -- make Muslims angry at Americans."

Apparently so. In fact, a number of them are threatening violence! But who cares, because that's not important. In fact, it's just to be expected.
No, what's really important is Petraeus getting out there and broadcasting to the world a picture portraying America as a monolith. We all know Islam isn't a monolith, but Afghans (many) apparently believe America is, and actions like those by Petraeus in this case just feed Afghan hysteria - by taking what is as extreme, isolated (one church, one minister!), and unrepresentative an action as is possible and making it out to be the norm.
Petraeus' comments misrepresented America.
Good solid sense here, Mark. Sometimes we find that what is lacking is just the rudiments of good sense. Unfortunately Whatshisface, the would-be burner, is the beneficiary of boatloads of free national coverage right about now. He may never go away.
While I agree that its bad to burn Korans, this frame of logic is rather cowardly. Muslims never think, "Dont do X or it will anger the West," but we always say "Dont do X or it will anger Muslims."

I am a liberal and do not, in any way, support the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. That being said, it has nothing to do with psycho-bable second guessing like that ventured above. It has to do with strategic necessity and morality. Not an attenuated and cowardly calculus of cause-and-effect reasoning.

This sort of psycho-bable just shows the Muslim world has an edge over us in terms of justifiable, sustainable anger. This is about colonialism and imperialism and no amount of islamophobia in the US will add or detract to this in any considerable way. The US military just wants us to stop Islamophobia at home, so we can make our wars of imperialism and conquest more palatable and acceptable to conquered peoples abroad, which is wrong. In this sense, ethnic and religious tolerance are encouraged, not as a good-in-itself, as Kant discussed, but cynically, as a means-to-an-end. That end, being, of course, empire.

In the great scheme of things, this debate is a futile one. The real conflict is between corporate America and the common folk. In time, as jobs are lost and the ranks of the hopelessly unemployed laborer, unemployed intellectual and war veteran swell, this coming battle will make the current one with Al Qaeda look like a picnic...
I am really conceptually averse to Islam but not Muslims individually and personally, much like I dislike Catholicism, but have never had the first problem with any of them individually except for the mafioso asshole that dated my third wife prior to me. But that was because he was a thug and not because he was Catholic, it's the thuggery that I object to in anyone and I hate bullies and intimidators. I dislike Israel's actions but have no problem with Judaism itself, said superstition after all in and of itself not being particularly thuggish at all. And Petraeus was right in his assessment of the probable effect of the media ballyhooing the fact that many Americans don't share their affection for the founder of a religion that took a six year old as wife although he did in his defense have the grace to wait till she was nine before he deflowered her, which disaffection makes them all infidel. Oh, and I despise the idiot that wants to burn the Koran. I want people to actually read it.
"But the people accosting Gen. Petraeus don't especially care about intellectual consistency"

Speaking of which, the comparison to the ground zero mosque site is very apt. I'm betting that manoy or most of those making such a clamor against the idiot Florida preacher support the imam's desire and plan to build that mosque, though it is as great an affront to many Americans as the koran burning is to Moslems. Not much intellectual consistency there, either.
Mark writes: " . . . there are some terrorists who are Christian . . . "

But as far as I know there is no large-scale national or trans-national organization of Christians devoted to terrorism. In that sense Christianity and Islam in our times are very different. Of course it's true that certain individuals in every group will do every thing, but that's not the point.

Mark: "Don't forget Dr. Baruch Goldstein, who killed 29 Muslims peacefully at prayer . . . "

You're comparing the act of a single individual with terror organizations that have international financial, logistical, communications, and moral support.

Mark: "Because it's not polite to say, on CNN, "I don't like Muslims and I associate them and their religion with the terrorist act that destroyed the World Trade Center, so I don't want any Muslims to be near the World Trade Center."

It's not that people dislike Muslims, but that reasonable people do associate Islam with the people who destroyed the World Trade Center. If Rastafarians or Masons had destroyed the World Trade Center, people wouldn't want a Rastafarian or Masonic community center near there either, would they.

Mark: "What specifically about an Islamic center would harm that memory in a way that a Christian or Jewish center wouldn't?"

Is this a trick question? Obviously, because the people who destroyed the World Trade Center were Muslims, and part of an international conspiracy of Muslims to do just that in the name of Allah and Islam, and many people naturally feel that having such a building nearby would be inappropriate.

This is one of those very rare, very unusual times, when it's the turn of the MUSLIMS to demonstrate tolerance and understanding, and locate their center elsewhere. And frankly, I think that small gesture would go a long way to enhancing relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.

By the way, a Greek Orthodox church was actually destroyed on 9/11 near the WTC, and it has yet to be rebuilt. But the liberals aren't crying about that.

As far as the burning of the Koran -- obviously a bad idea. But more disturbing is the idea that a significant number of Muslims around the world would be unable to distinguish between American foreign policy and the actions of some backwater preacher.
It's called hypocrisy, mishima. But you won't convince him of that.

Andby the way, Mark: The Qur'an is Al Queda's best recruiting too. But I'll bet you've never read it.
Should read, "The Qur'an is al Queda's best recriting tool."
just a guess, but driving armies across muslim lands may excite muslims even more.
Too bad these people couldn't just be ignored but I suppose it's too late for that now.
@mishima666
"As far as the burning of the Koran -- obviously a bad idea. But more disturbing is the idea that a significant number of Muslims around the world would be unable to distinguish between American foreign policy and the actions of some backwater preacher."

That really is the point, isn't it? If al Qaeda recruiters and propagandists can use this, they can use anything. Even if they make it up -- which, of course, they do all the time.

The most disturbing thing about the incident to me is a statement P.J. Crowley made yesterday on behalf of Mrs. Clinton and the State Department that burning the Quran would be "unamerican." I like Crowley -- he was a good analyst before he became a flak -- but I sort of cringe every time I hear that "unamerican" word. We are a long way from banning burqas and minarets in America. We need to hold some hysteria in reserve until we at least reach the "anti-muslim" level of France and Switzerland. The Left has lost it. The Right never had it to lose. There is only one thing in all of south Asia and the Middle East that even remotely touches America's interest. It's why we're there, it's why they want us out. The rest is propaganda.
poorsinner101

Bad idea to burn the Koran. Worse idea to characterize all Islamic people as violent.
First of all, it's "Al Qaeda" not "Al Queda".

There have been tons of Christian terrorists. In the US, think KKK or Aryan Nations. Worldwide, the Nazis and Fascists. Not to mention the Inquisition, the Crusades. Oh yeah, wasn't the recent war in Northern Ireland basically all terrorists, catholic vs protestant?

Yeah, the christians don't want to think about them, they don't want to think that, say, Hitler represented them. That's probably like the way most Muslims don't want to think that Osama Bin Laden or the gang of 19 represents them.

People are individuals. This bullshit about how one person or one small group represents everybody in the group is an ignorant oversimplification that humanity would best leave behind. Punish the individual perpetrators if they're still alive, otherwise, give it a rest.

The Serbians kicked Croatian butt cuz they colluded with the Nazis fifty years before. The Hutus did the same to the Tutsis for similarly obsolete reasons. Some people have killed Jews cuz they killed Jesus 2000 years ago. Civilization is supposed to be when we all put that shit behind us instead of escalating it.