Friday, 19 June 2009
Yesterday, Terry Gross interviewed Chip Berlet on Fresh Air on National Public Radio, on an episode entitled "Extremism, Conspiracy Theory and Murder".
Quoting the Fresh Air site: "Chip Berlet has studied extremism, conspiracy theories and hate groups for more than 25 years." Berlet focused on the recent murders of a guard at the Holocaust Museum, and of Dr. George Tiller (who provided abortions).
It was an interesting and reasonable interview. Berlet understands that the First Amendment protects free speech, even speech that is considered distasteful, or out of the mainstream. He understands that there is "extremist" speech on both the right and the left ends of the political spectrum. But around 13:45 minutes into the interview, he said:
And then you have, you have to admit, the right-wing pundits who are on the airwaves, day after day, night after night, picking out scapegoats, and saying "America is being destroyed by the liberal Democrats, or America is being destroyed by Muslims, is being destroyed by Arabs, is being destroyed by "illegal" quote-unquote Mexican immigrants. You know, gay marriage will be the end of America as we know it. Abortion is murder, then act like it.
And moments later, at 15:17, Berlet said:
"Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?" said King Henry, of [Thomas] Becket, and a few days later his friends killed him. In church, just like Dr. Tiller. This is historically well-known, that if you have a society in which certain high-profile people are constantly pointing out a scapegoat, that the potential for someone attacking that scapegoat is increased greatly. This is basic social science. Now, there is no direct causal link, but there is created a milieu in which individuals who are predisposed already to not like the individual who is being scapegoated or the group being scapegoated, and it moves them to action through a process that's called apocalyptic aggression. "Apocalyptic" just means there is a struggle between good and evil, time is running out, it's going to happen soon, it'll change history, hidden truths will be revealed, act now, get them before they get us. That's apocalyptic aggression.
I don't believe that "Muslims are destroying America." I take note of actual incidents that make it clear that Islamic values are not the values by which I live my life, and are not the values with which I am familiar as an American. But they are not just unfamiliar, they are offensive. Saying that women must be covered on pain of being beaten is offensive to me. Saying that gays should be murdered is offensive to me. Saying that people who change their religion should be murdered is offensive to me. And so on. I do not want, for any reason, including "cultural sensitivity," our Western society to begin to accept those values. That is not racism, that is a basic moral choice. I choose freedom over slavery to Allah, I choose skeptical inquiry over dogmatic indoctrination, I choose tolerance over narrow-minded bigotry, and I do so with no hesitation or apology.
I don't believe, nor have I heard any of the editors of New English Review or other anti-jihad websites say, that the Illuminati control the direction of Western societal development. Likewise for the Freemasons. Or the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I don't believe that the World Trade Center was brought down by the U.S. government, either on its own or under the control of "the Jews". I don't believe that there are Black Helicopters that are ready to take over the U.S., I don't believe that the backs of road signs are marked with instructions for United Nations troops to drive tanks to take over the U.S. I don't believe that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim, or that he is controlled by a secret cabal. I don't believe that the U.S. government has stored a U.F.O. at Roswell, New Mexico, or that aliens from another planet are stored there on ice. I don't believe that reptile aliens live among us, incognito, waiting for the chance to take over our planet. I don't believe that J. Edgar Hoover, or Lyndon Johnson, or Fidel Castro, or the Mafia, killed John F. Kennedy.
Conspiracy theorists cannot point to factual evidence to prove that the Illuminati (or Freemasons, or "the Jews", or lizard people) control the world. (Of course this lack of evidence is taken as further proof, in their mind, that the conspirators control the media, but that is irrelevant). On the other hand, we (anti-jihadists) can point to Qur'anic quotes that prove that Islam calls for the murder of apostates, adulterers, gays, and those who commit "mischief" by resisting Islam. We can point to mainstream Islamic scholars who confirm the authenticity and the relevance of these Islamic beliefs. That's not a conspiracy theory, those are verifiable facts. I'm not talking about blowing up a black-and-white photo hundreds of times to see a vague shadow of a "gunman" on the grassy knoll among the leaves of a tree; I'm talking about reading, in black and white, the basic tenets of Islamic ideology.
The Nazis of the 1930's and 1940's could not point to actual events that proved that the Jews were destroying German society, because Jews were not destroying German society. On the other hand, we can point to hundreds or thousands of actual events that prove that Muslims are killing and maiming people, all around the world every day, and they are quoting from their religious texts to justify their violence. We can point to hundreds of examples of religiously inspired Islamic violence occurring repeatedly, consistently throughout history, for the past 1400 years, since the very inception of Islam. That's basic History 101.
As for scapegoating, I don't believe, nor have I heard any of the editors of New English Review or other anti-jihad websites say, that "the Muslims" are responsible for all the foibles and frailties of our society. I'm confident that we anti-jihadists will continue to disagree amongst ourselves about what the problems (and solutions) of our society are. We agree on one thing, that the values taught in the Qur'an and the ahadith have no place in our society.
And I don't believe, nor have I heard any of the editors of New English Review or other anti-jihad websites say, that the solution to jihad is to kill Muslims. The solution to jihad is for the kufirs to learn what traditional, mainstream Islamic beliefs are, and then to have an open and honest discussion about whether we want to accept those values as our own.
We keep hearing about the scapegoating going on of Muslims, and of the ever-impending-but-never-seen backlash against Muslims. In fact, there have been very, very few cases (I know of one case after 9/11 where a Sikh was attacked because his attacker mistakenly believed him to be a Muslim) of violence against Muslims in the U.S. by non-Muslims. After 9/11, I'd say the ratio stands at about 3,000 to 1. And going back in history, it only gets higher.
Lumping anti-jihadists in with those who believe that U.F.O.'s landed regularly on the lost continent of Atlantis, or that Bill Clinton was the head of a giant Arkansas drug-smuggling ring, is a cheap shot. It is an intellectually specious smear. It is wrong.
Posted on 06/19/2009 11:18 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
20 Jun 2009
lost and alone
The root of all this lies with the people who we elect - or who on our supposed behalf they assume - to become our leaders.
Now whether we need leaders in the way Iran apparently needs a Supreme Leader is a moot point. It depends on how much we fear a 'rudderless' society, whether we feel able to function without directions at every end and turn.
Ideally we should have people who lead when there is a need for leadership, such as war or some deep-rooted crisis. I can point to Churchill as one who led when the time called for a leader. I have no doubt he was probably not a "nice" person and he may have made mistakes, but when he was needed he was there. he did what had to be done at the time. That was the focus.
However virtually all of the leaders we have in the west are elected (or as I say took the opportunity to assume leadership) and as a professional political class they must do two things: they must appear even-handed and they must underpin their position with layers of sycophants and hangers on, people dependent on approval by the "boss" for their crust - or as we have it today for their crust with lashings of butter and rindless marmalade with a guarantee of better crusts for the rest of their days.
This combination however inhibits the ability to lead. Actually, it destroys the ability to understand first of all, but let's stay with their positioning. First, these leaders have to take the public position of not making waves with those who are making waves. Even big, life-threatening waves. They can target the innocent for minor errors, but they cannot target the guilty who want to destroy us. They must, by dint of wanting to hang on to their position, appear to be fair-minded and accepting any threats posed by offering feeble excuses.
So we have a group of people who live in our midst and believe we of our own nation are the enemy, we are there to be eradicated. Their 'success' will involve changes in law and changes in the relationship between men and women. It will entail the hatred of gays, and the perpetuation of tribal dogmas that do not fit into today's world. But our so-called leaders will excuse these dangerous people and their evil doctrines, saying the vast majority are "moderate" when this group must – by definition of their core beliefs, to which they are far more loyal than any state loyalty – follow the orders. As written clearly, as preached about. The leader and his morass of supporters seek to allow these enemies more influence in the vain hope these people will suddenly relax and say: "Great. Fine, we have enough now. Thank you very much. Now we can live among you as equals instead of wanting to be your superiors. We will abandon our ambitions and be good citizens and partake in democracy for the benefit of all, of any race or religion or sexual orientation."
In other words, there are votes in this. Increasing votes too, and those must not be lost. So the leaders will make the excuses and cover up the things that threaten, bluster about the threats that will end our society. But then, so what? Remember the fact (as the leaders do) that their crusts are guaranteed for years to come, and they can always slip away when the going gets tough and take their marmalade with them.
The second issue is the layers of "supporters" who bolster these so-called leaders. They have much the same outlook as the leader (in fact, they would like to be the leader too, and get the better butter dish that goes with the job) and feed information that they think the boss wants to hear. But the process separates the people at the top from the rank and file. The ordinary people are seen as uninformed. their fears and views, their opinions and experiences are discounted. If they cannot be manipulated into the accepted 'model' then they can be dismissed as cranks and idiots. useful for the occasional vote but otherwise of no consequence.
But the problem then is that this unloved mass of people can see what is happening, they can actually see the wretched effects on their part of society. Be it a no-go area or violence towards outsiders, no one wants to know. They can see the risks of having an enemy in our midst - an enemy who is dedicated to bringing down what we have and replacing it with something the majority don't want. But they cannot communicate upwards. Their fears and knowledge of this is no good. The leader does not want to know, the layers of sycophants do not want to allow the truth through. After all it is damaging to their aims and inconvenient. The fact that this enemy is so determined, so untrustworthy, so mendacious and even at times so murderous does not impact on the leaders. Or they choose to ignore it.
So there we have it. We are not led and nor can we be heard. The system does not allow it, the policies do not like it.
The leaders do not lead, the ones who advise below do not look anywhere but among themselves or leer upwards in the hope they get the rewards they yearn for.
In the meantime, the threat to us all slowly worms into our society. Laughing at our idiocy, cheering at our losses. But no problem; the sound does not carry into where the marmalade is kept.
20 Jun 2009
M. Stile Sr.
I'm grateful that Terry Gross provides time for the loon of the week on her Fresh Air program. Berlet will never see the gorilla in the room. Just as Arab terrorism is not dependent on the radicalizing nature of our foreign policy, it doesn't take much to radicalize the killers of abortionists. In effect, Berlet's "radicalizers" are too late; these terrorists and abortionists are on their way and need no other input from anyone to motivate them.
Berlet's claim that right-wing pundit's constant attack on liberal Democrats, Muslims, gays, and illegal immigrants in the belief that they are destroying America and thus, leading to extremism and murder is ridiculous. Any objective analysis of our institutions would show that there has been an unending assault on our traditional values be all of the groups mentioned. Further, our public schools for that past forty years, with the aid of Howard Zinn and others, have indoctrinated our children with impunity.
Berlet may well have studied hate groups for 25 years, but his results are pitiful. Why not try objectivity for a change? Better still, Berlet should acquaint himself with a concept that is foreign to him: the truth.
20 Jun 2009
An excellent analysis. It shouldn't need saying, but it clearly does, so it's good if it's said well, as here.
21 Jun 2009
Chip Berlet and the hate crimes industry have worked very hard for years to create a body of law that systematically distinguishes between abuse or oppression of women and other types of "bias" or "hate." They orchestrate shamelessly politicized enforcement protocols for these laws.
It is unsurprising that such efforts would flow seamlessly into the current, selective "hate-crime" status quo and result in the troubling alliances they choose to forge.
They have much to answer for. But instead of answering, they point their fingers and accuse their critics of being racist. I was labeled a "bias person" in 2000 after publishing an editorial (in a large city daily -- and it was well-received by people across the political spectrum) that simply posed questions about the unfolding enforcement protocols for state bias crime laws. I wish now that I had pursued legal action for defamation.
These people will use the racism bludgeon no matter what you say or do. It is how they control the debate and legitimate their activities. I simply go on with my life, as there is no possible response to the secretive charge of being a "bias person." The hate crimes movement in Canada is finally being exposed for what it is. Hopefully, America is next.