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The War Against Tolerance, by Chris Hedges

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rusty quoin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-18-08 02:30 PM
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The War Against Tolerance, by Chris Hedges /

Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani are the three stooges of the Christian right. These self-described former Muslim terrorists are regularly trotted out at Christian collegesa few days ago they were at the Air Force Academyto spew racist filth about Islam on behalf of groups such as Focus on the Family. It is a clever tactic. Curly, Larry and Mo, who all say they are born-again Christians, engage in hate speech and assure us it comes from personal experience. They tell their audiences that the only way to deal with one-fifth of the worlds population is by converting or eradicating all Muslims. Their cant is broadcast regularly on Fox News, including the Bill OReilly and Neil Cavuto shows, as well as on numerous Christian radio and television programs. Shoebat, who has written a book called Why We Want to Kill You, promises in his lectures to explain the numerous similarities between radical Muslims and the Nazis, how Muslim terrorists invaded America 30 years ago and how perseverance, recruitment and hate have fueled attacks by Muslims.

These men are frauds, but this is not the point. They are part of a dark and frightening war by the Christian right against tolerance that, in the moment of another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, would make it acceptable to target and persecute all Muslims, including the some 6 million Muslims who live in the United States. These men stoke these irrational fears. They defend the perpetual war unleashed by the Bush administration and championed by Sen. John McCain. McCain frequently reminds listeners that the greatest danger facing the world is Islamic terrorism, as does Mike Huckabee, who says that Islamofascism is the greatest threat this country ever faced. George W. Bush has, in the same vein, assured Americans that terrorists hate us for our freedoms, not, of course, for anything we have done. Bush described the war on terror as a war against totalitarian Islamofascism while the Israeli air force was dropping tens of thousands of pounds of iron fragmentation bombs up and down Lebanon, an air campaign that killed 1,300 Lebanese civilians.

The three men tell lurid tales of being recruited as children into Palestinian terrorist organizations, murdering hundreds of civilians and blowing up a bank in Israel. Saleem says that as a child he infiltrated Israel to plant bombs via a network of tunnels underneath the Golan Heights, although no incident of this type was ever reported in Israel. He claims he is descended from the grand wazir of Islam, a title and a position that do not exist in the Arab world. They assure audiences that the Palestinians are interested not in a peaceful two-state solution but rather the destruction of Israel, the murder of all Jews and the death of America. Shoebat claims he first came to the United States as part of an extremist sleeper cell.

These three jokers are as much former Islamic terrorists as Star Treks Capt. James T. Kirk was a real Starship captain, said Mikey Weinstein, the head of the watchdog group The Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The group has challenged Christian proselytizing in the military and denounced the visit by the men to the Air Force Academy.

The speakers include in their talks the superior virtues of Christianity. Saleem, for example, says his world turned upside down when he was seriously injured in an automobile accident.

A Christian man tended to Kamal at the accident scene, making sure he got the medical treatment he needed, his Web site says. Kamals orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist were also Christian men whom over a period of several months ministered the unconditional love of Jesus Christ to him as he recovered. The love and sacrificial giving of these men caused Kamal to cry out to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob acknowledging his need for the Savior. Kamal has since become a man on a new mission, as an ambassador for the one true and living God, the great I Am, Jehovah God of the Bible.

This creeping Christian chauvinism has infected our political and social discourse. It was behind the rumor that Barack Obama was a Muslim. Obama reassured followers that he was a Christian. It apparently did not occur to him, or his questioners, that the proper answer is that there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim, that persons of great moral probity and courage arise in all cultures and all religions, including Islam. Christians have no exclusive lock on virtue. But this kind of understanding often provokes indignant rage.

The public denigration of Islam, and by implication all religious belief systems outside Christianity, is part of the triumphalism that has distorted the country since the 9/11 attacks. It makes dialogue with those outside our Christian culture impossible. It implicitly condemns all who do not think as we think and believe as we believe as, at best, inferior and usually morally depraved. It blinds us to our own failings. It makes self-reflection and self-criticism a form of treason. It reduces the world to a cartoonish vision of us and them, good and evil. It turns us into children with bombs.

These three con artists are not the problem. There is enough scum out there to take their place. Rather, they offer a window into a worldview that is destroying the United States. It has corrupted the Republican Party. It has colored the news media. It has entered into the everyday clichs we use to explain ourselves to ourselves. It is ignorant and racist, but it is also deadly. It grossly perverts the Christian religion. It asks us to kill to purify the Earth. It leaves us threatened not only by the terrorists who may come from abroad but the ones who are rising from within our midst.
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-18-08 02:56 PM
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1. my boss is a fundy and believes all this garbage
I've never told him my religious affiliation as he would immediately fire me.

Interestingly enough, the two techs I work with have become, over the years, more and more ANTI-Christian. They regularly say that preachers are con men, that churches can't be trusted, etc, etc--and both have lived in this area all their lives. Mind you, they don't care what a person believes as an individual--but they won't have religion shoved down their throats. I actually see these two men as symbolic of what is happening and will continue to happen in the Bible Belt--you'll have your sheep who swallow the Kool Aid whole and then others who are totally turned off by religion.
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DeSwiss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-18-08 06:35 PM
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2. It doesn't surprise me in the least....
...that the Fundies in their hour of desperation have turned to outright liars to stoke the flames of intolerance and fear. From a NYT article last week:

The three men were invited as part of a weeklong conference on terrorism organized by cadets at the academys Colorado Springs campus under the auspices of the political science department. The three will be paid a total of $13,000 for their appearance, some of it from private donors, said Maj. Brett Ashworth, a spokesman for the academy. The three were invited because they offered a unique perspective from inside terrorism, Major Ashworth said. The conference is to result in a report on methods to combat terrorism that will be sent to the Pentagon, members of Congress and other influential officials, he added.

Prof. Douglas Howard, who teaches the history of the modern Middle East at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., heard Mr. Saleem speak last November at the college and said he thought the three were connected to several major Christian evangelical organizations. It was just an old time gospel hour Jesus can change your life, he changed mine, Mr. Howard said. That is mixed in with Watch out America, wake up America, the danger of Islam is here.

Mr. Howard said his doubts about their authenticity grew after stories like the Golan Heights saga as well as something on Mr. Saleems Web site along the lines that he was descended from the grand wazir of Islam. The grand wazir of Islam is a nonsensical term, Mr. Howard said.

Arab-American civil rights organizations question why, at a time when the United States government has vigorously moved to jail or at least deport anyone with a known terrorist connection, the three men, if they are telling the truth, are allowed to circulate freely. A spokesman for the F.B.I. said there were no warrants for their arrest.


- The Air Force Academy has been completely taken over by the Dominionists. And the Dems will have to shut it down before long. Because anything less than that, and the roaches will just find hiding places and remain there until conditions are more favorable for them to come back out.....
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JerseygirlCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-18-08 10:00 PM
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3. Nor me
And yes, that "grand wazir of Islam" crap screamed right out at me, too. And I'm not Muslim, nor do I think I have any particularly deep scholarship on the faith. Just slightly educated, which is the only real way to fight this stuff.

I've heard my share of outright bigoted remarks against Muslims - all driven by fear: of the outsider, of terrorists (oh that one's been carefully nurtured!), of a loss of our culture. Stupid stuff, really, as those Muslims coming here from elsewhere are coming because they want to embrace our culture.

We have much more to fear wrt terrorism from this bigotry and fear than we do from most Muslims around the world. This fear is the real disease, and it could easily kill us.
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Realityhack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-24-08 05:30 PM
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4. Oh WTF....
nothing here surprises me but one thing greatly disappoints me.

"Obama reassured followers that he was a Christian. It apparently did not occur to him, or his questioners, that the proper answer is that there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim, that persons of great moral probity and courage arise in all cultures and all religions, including Islam. Christians have no exclusive lock on virtue. But this kind of understanding often provokes indignant rage."

Sorry but I think it absolutely did occur to him. But the guy is running a national political campaign for president. That 'indignant rage' would be his chances of election evaporating. Give they guy a break for brining as much change and unification as he has while still trying to get elected.
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