Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Hate Within

The Eleven Hopeful Baiters
The Occasional Trumpist: Trump's first victim? Jordanian humiliated, deported at US airportA Jordanian national with a valid Visa was turned back at a US airport after being interrogated and detained, days after Donald Trump's call for banning Muslims from entering US.

Or is this Trump’s first victim? Assertions of Hate Crime in Seattle After a Somali-American Teenager Falls to His Death. A local news source, The Source, asserts that the “Seattle police department announced Tuesday that they will investigate the death and are ruling it a hate crime.” 

Whatever the case maybe, hate crimes against Muslims are definitely on the rise, with 19 crimes reported within the span of a week, including the burning of a mosque: Muslims gather in prayer after mosque set on fire in Coachella.

Meanwhile, Father Of Fallen Muslim War Hero Teaches Trump A Lesson About American Values. “Muslims are American, Muslims are citizens, Muslims participate in the well-being of this country as American citizens. We are proud American citizens. It’s the values of this country that brought us here, not our religion. Trump’s position on these issues does not represent those values… This country is not strong because of its economic power, or military power. This country is strong because of its values, and during this political season, we all need to keep that in mind.

But, one cannot but admit that had it not been for people like Trump and Marie Le Pen, we may not have seen stories like these about Muslims in the media:

But the controversy surrounding Trump is not simply about him as a person, it’s mostly about the ideas he is proposing. In this regard, his anti-Muslims sentiments seemed shared to one extant or another by other GOP candidates, even those who sound more sophisticated, as William Saletan argues in Slate: Ted Cruz’s Sophisticated Bigotry: This is how you bash Muslims while pretending to be principled.

A reasonable person, after listening sympathetically, might conclude that Cruz, unlike Trump, has designed his refugee policy out of prudence, not prejudice… [But] Cruz isn’t agonizing over the mechanics of vetting refugees. He’s exploiting anti-Muslim anger and sucking up to the Christian right. And he’s doing it while wearing his own disguise: principled leader.

That is, by clamoring for the admission of more Christian refugees from Syria, while banning Muslims, even though IS operatives could as easily mascaraed as Christians, Mr. Cruz is presenting a bogus argument that is meant to hide his own prejudice as well as his desire to cater to the Christian right in the country. As for the persecution of Shia (the author here seems to be mixing Twelver Shia and Alawites) by IS, and while Mr. Saletan’s reasons for mentioning them is meant to showcase Mr. Cruz’s hypocrisy when it comes to persecuted minorities, we should bear in mind that most of the killing and persecution that has been happening in Syria over the last five years is carried out by Twelver Shia militias (manned mostly by Lebanese, Iraqi, Afghani and Iranian mercenaries), and army units commanded by Alawite generals and manned mostly by Alawite recruits.

So, in essence, Republican debates feature, in effect, Donald Trump and a few Mini-Mes. However, this sweeping rejection of GOP candidates does not include their grassroots supporters, the majority of whom are definitely NOT White Supremacists, and may not understand the implications of what's happening in their name at this stage. Yes, prejudice is often involved in their perceptions of things, but their prejudice seems to be more a matter of ignorance, fear and a battered sense of identity than ideological conviction – which is what distinguishes the stands of White Supremacists.

As such, there is much that needs to be done by way of education, and even more by way of addressing the underlying socioeconomic issues that seem to be at play here. Development I the U.S. continues to be uneven, and there are too many towns and communities where the living standards of the people involved reek of underdevelopment.

But this is not all about domestic policy. The way America has been conducting its foreign policy, perhaps since the end of the Cold War, or at least since 9/11 is in question here. There is enough blame to go around here, America’s current retreat is not the product of the fuckups of one administration’s policies. The idea that Obama and his apologists have been trying to peddle ever since the onset of the Arab Spring, namely that retreat and non-involvement, or minimal involvement, make for smart policy is ludicrous. The retreat has created power vacuums both abroad and at home, a vacuum that was immediately filled by illiberal forces. Yes, retreat abroad created a power vacuum at home, the perception of weakness that Obama created had implications at home as well where he already had problems. He gave the most fringe elements enough fodder to allow them to move closer to the mainstream.

But this is not simply about mismanaging the transition into an America with a smaller footprint, it’s about the unilateral nature of the decision itself. An America with a smaller footprint can be good for America and the world, but such a transition cannot be accomplished with a unilateral American retreat, but through sharing of the responsibility of global leadership with America’s liberal allies around the world. Obama needed to make sure before any retreat that whatever vacuum that will be left behind will be filled the right combination of global and regional actors.

But America still has a chance to undertake a course correction. And the process has to begin by pacifying Syria, NOW, before the Russo-Iranians alliance grows larger and before it heats up other fronts.

Here's where the Right and the Left are failing: our challenge today is no longer about nation-building in that old geographically confined sense, nor is it about a globalization that undermines the peoples’ sense of belonging and identity. Rather, the challenge is about nation-building going hand-in-hand with world-building, about finding ways to find common grounds and institutions that can allow us to interact on an equal footing as human beings, even as expressions of our common humanity remain different. The idea of a nation standing apart from all others as a fortress entity is no longer feasible. Each nation in this hyper-connected world of ours, no matter how small, has interests that go far beyond its border. The COP21 agreement is one expression of that, competition over energy and food sources and networks of global transport and distribution involved, the challenge of global terrorism and certain emerging demographic realities are other such expressions. The notion that no nation can be secure and free if others are not is no longer an idealist assertion, but an observed and experiential reality with immediate geopolitical implications that warrant our immediate attention. 

The Three Miceketeers
In trying to manage this complicated situation, it’s clear that we cannot rely on idiosyncratic figures such as Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei and Bashar Al-Assad, And it’s equally clear from what is happening in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Ukraine, that we cannot let dictate the pace and nature of the current transition. The resurgence of illiberalism is a fact, but it’s a triumph is neither inevitable, nor a viable option. There is no such a thing as the right to oppress, not even in the name of traditional beliefs and values, or some “holy” texts. Indeed, there will always be powerful figures and forces aligned against the “liberal” vision and the values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and while we cannot always afford to confront these forces especially by military means, there are occasions when such confrontations cannot be avoided, and should not be avoided, on ethical, humanitarian, as well as strategic grounds. The case for such a confrontation cannot be clearer than it is in connection with the Syrian conflict today. If Western powers fail to act to stop the bloodshed, and the actions of Iran and Russia now, they will have to confront a bigger and far more pervasive challenge tomorrow.

Unfortunately, this logic is unlikely to be accepted now. Not when Obama and his coterie of "realist" ideologues are leading the way. No. this lot will continue to think of themselves as geniuses even as the world around them falls apart. They will continue to congratulate themselves for “staying above the fray” and will fail to see the impact of their stands and policies at home, where the fissures and fractures separating communities, regions and classes continue to grow and where old wounds, that have not fully healed, have been reopened, and new ones have been inflicted. No. They won’t see that strife that is looming at home, and will continue to believe in that myth that, somehow, America is immune, and that the only security threat to be wary of is something that is clearly “foreign” and “exotic.” But it is the familiar that we should fear.   

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