On Fox News, Glenn Beck hysterically speculates that the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt are a parallel to the start of World War I, representing a "domino theory" takeover of Muslim extremists in a caliphate extending from the Middle East well into Europe. (Hat tip: Ed Cone.)
For some Americans, the "Red Scare" of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s has been replaced by a hysterical fear of Islam. It has warped their perception. This is readily apparent in their reaction to Egyptians' yearning for democracy. Glenn Beck on Fox News (above) goes off the deep end. Fortunately, he represents only a faction in the U.S., at most 15% or 20% of the electorate.
The Washington Times defends Hosni Mubarak's totalitarian government against pressure from the White House and State Department to quicken democratic reforms, and predicts (if Obama isn't careful) that "al Qaeda No. 2 and former Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood stalwart Ayman al Zawahiri (could be) making a triumphant return to Cairo."
Some bloggers are asserting that "pan-Islamism" -- the desire for unity of Muslims under one Islamic state, re-establishing the rule of the Caliphate of the 7th century -- is sweeping the Muslim World, from Tunisia to Egypt to Lebanon. Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia may be next, they say.
Given the long-standing antagonism between Shia and Sunni as well as other sects within Islam, not to mention stark differences in interests among nations -- leaders of the Arab Gulf states have urged Israel to attack Iran, for example -- this fear is preposterous. It's kind of like suggesting that all Christian nations are going to reunite with the Catholic pope as the leader of their governments.
Over at Sam Spagnola's blog, "Jaycee" asserts that "Islam demands it's followers to convert or kill all non-believers in the world. THE WORLD, Jim. Get it yet??" He goes on to copy/paste a long list of war-like quotes from the Koran.
Not a word of protest or dissent from anyone on Sam's blog except for me. As an American living in Turkey, so impressed with the generosity, kindness and moderation of Muslims here, I begin to wonder what some Americans are drinking as they express such hysteria about Islam.
I point out that if you look at the Torah/Bible, you can find a litany of quotes (taken out of context) indicating that the Judeo-Christian religions are not peaceful but war-like, cruel and violent as well. But the vast majority of Jews and Christians, like the vast majority of Muslims, are peace-loving people, I believe.
Juan Cole, author of "Engaging the Muslim World," reminds us that George W. Bush spoke out repeatedly against the kind of Islamophobia expressed by Jaycee on Sam's blog. He also offers, in the words of my friend Richard Bell, "a clear-headed analysis of why the latest version of the 'domino' theory once again leaves the U.S. supporting a bevy of corrupt dictators in the name of fighting Muslim fundamentalism."
The participants on Sam's blog will have none of that, of course. Sam asserts: ""Someone believing that Islam teaches violence and then cites passages in the Koran to support his argument is not a bigot or Islamophobe." He adds: "There isn't some big Judeo/Christian movement to dominate the world through violence if necessary. There clearly is an Islamic faction that seeks to do so. There's a big hole in Manhatten to prove it."
"Oh really?" I reply. Is someone who believes that Judaism/Christianity teach violence and then cites passages in the Torah/Bible to support his argument an anti-Semite or Christianophobe?
"By your logic, he is not," I write. "But I think he is."Then suppose he asserts that there is a big Judeo/Christian movement "to dominate the world through violence," and cites the U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel's war in Gaza and the displacement of the Palestinians to prove it.
Both are religious bigots, I point out. Both twist and distort the best of the three Abrahamic religions. Both call out the warmongers and don't seek the peacemakers, of which there are plenty in all three religions.
- Juan Cole, "The Corruption Game: What the Tunisian Revolution and WikiLeaks Tell Us about American Support for Corrupt Dictatorships in the Muslim World."
- Juan Cole, "Engaging the Muslim World"
- Video of litany of quotes (taken out of context) indicating that the Judeo-Christian religions are not peaceful but war-like, cruel and violent.
- "The True, Peaceful Face of Islam"
- Similarities Between Islam and Christianity.
- Uprising in Egypt Splits US Conservatives.