Sunday 12 September 2010

The "Mega" "Ground Zero" "Mosque" (that is none of those things)

I'm finding U.S. politics even scarier than usual right now. There have been a lot of reports in the media over the past few days about how Islamophobic beliefs are gaining ground now far more than just after 9/11. Communities with Muslim minorities that had few or no problems with their neighbours previously are seeing more and more aggravation, agitation and outright hostility.

The downtown New York community centre that has caused such a ruckus is fanning the flames and spineless piece of shit politicians across the board (with only occasional exceptions) are lining up to cast aspersions against a project that there is simply no good reason in the world to object to (and indeed until a few weeks ago nobody objected at all) just to score some quick political points in the upcoming elections.

Now, David J. Rothkopf over at his Foreign Policy blog - a mainstream, middle-of-the-road neoliberal if ever there was one - calls the people wanting to build their community centre "odious" and directly compares them to the extremist preacher threatening to publicly burn Qurans this week (who has now put those plans 'on hold'). Racism is in the mainstream, folks, and otherwise relatively unobjectionable people are going that way too. Islamophobia is becoming a widely acceptable prejudice.

Supposedly 2/3 of Americans now think that the centre should not be built there while 20% believe that Obama is a secret Muslim. Both equally baseless and nonsensical.

What we are seeing at the moment completely demolishes any remaining trace of the naive belief that the Internet would somehow open up public discourse for progressive ends. Utterly baseless, completely ridiculous rumour mongering, it is plain to see, is this brave new world's driving force. The more absurd and the less evidence available for any given viewpoint the stronger it will fare. If there is no evidence to support a view clearly that is evidence of a vast coverup!! If people call your view absurd clearly that is because you are an oppressed minority!!

It is sickening and very easy to denounce. However, it is questionable how far denunciation can go as a strategy. Certainly it will only reinforce the truly racist fringes but I think that it can work very well for the relatively mainstream bandwagon-jumpers like Rothkopf. To hell with him.