The false monolith of political Islam

Source: Asia Times:

The leaders of the American government make the gravestmistake possible for a world power. They believe their own propaganda.

Elected officials and media pundits warn American citizens of the ever-increasing peril of “Islamic terrorism”, “Islamic fundamentalism” or the supposedly extant ideology of “Islamofacism”.

A multitude of states and organizations with extremely divergent objectives and methods are grouped together as a part of this monolithic threat. Hezbollah in Lebanon, the government of Iran, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas in Gaza and the Somali al-Shabaab are but a few of the many faces of the same worldwide monster in the eyes of many American leaders. These groups are said to be a united force of evil brought together by Islamist ideology and a hatred of America.

“Terrorism” (always implicitly if not explicitly associated with Islam) is the open-ended boogeyman of the American psyche, used to justify foreign wars and the erosion of domestic liberties. For this danger to seem real, it must be presented as a powerful conspiracy of inherently hostile forces. A perfect summary of this paranoid worldview is provided by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion on a case that allowed Guantanamo Bay prisoners the right to habeas corpus:

America is at war with radical Islamists. The enemy began by killing Americans and American allies abroad: 241 at the Marine barracks in Lebanon, 19 at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, 224 at our embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, and 17 on the USS Cole in Yemen. On September 11, 2001, the enemy brought the battle to American soil, killing 2,749 at the Twin Towers in New York City, 184 at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and 40 in Pennsylvania. It has threatened further attacks against our homeland; one need only walk about buttressed and barricaded Washington, or board a plane anywhere in the country, to know that the threat is a serious one. Our Armed Forces are now in the field against the enemy, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Last week, 13 of our countrymen in arms were killed.

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