Sinister and dangerous things are happening in the U.S. A women named Brigitte Gabriel is leading a group calling itself “Act Now” in what can be called a crusade to “save America” from Muslim infiltrators. Her views of Islam echo those of medieval Crusaders or, for that matter contemporary Al Qaeda members views of non Muslims. But there is an old fashioned U.S. twist to this. “America has been infiltrated at all levels by those who wish to harm America. They have infiltrated us at the CIA, the FBI, the pentagon and the state department. They are being being radicalized in radical mosques in our cities and communities within the United States.”
Gabriel has not yet come forward with a list of 81, 57, 205, or whatever “Muslim infiltrators” into the State department and the Pentagon. But she is a featured speaker at “tea party” rallies and claims to have a membership of 155,000 in five hundred chapters through the U.S. She is a former Lebanese Christian who claims to have been “terrorized” by Muslim fighters in Lebanon in the 1970s. Before coming to the U.S. she worked in Israel as a news anchor for the Middle Eastern division of Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. Today she is preaching her own “holy war against Islam whose theology she sees as a “fascist” cancer infecting the world.”
While Gabriel uses the term “Islamofascism,” it is she and her supporters who are using the language that Nazis used against Jews to crusade against Islam. The Nazis kept on shouting “Germany Awake.” Gabriel and many like her are saying “Wake Up America.” In Oklahoma, according to press reports, actually had a constitutional amendment past to ban Shariah Law.
I doubt that there is any danger of Shariah law supplanting civil law anywhere in the U.S., nor would Muslim-Americans, who in my experience strongly support the separation of Church and State, have any sympathy on any level for that idea. But Gabriel gives lectures at the Heritage Foundations and peddles these views among the “respectable right.”
Peter King, a “respectable right” Republican Congressman is holding “hearings” on Terrorism and American Muslims. Unlike Gabriel, who is condemning a whole religion and its members(the Koran, she proclaims, is the “source” of the “cancer” and the “danger”), King says that he is not condeming a whole religion. But can one believe him?
While the Obama administration has been critical of these hearings, as the Roosevelt administration was critical of the early House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings, they can become clearinghouse of misinformation and intimidation as HUAC became, with “friendly witnesses” like Gabriel ranting against the “cancer” and “conspiracy” and activists of all kinds of Muslim background bullied by the committee, as it compiles “lists” of names to used for blacklisting and general intimidation through the present network of rightwing organizations.
As someone who rejects all religions in terms of their mystical idealist theologies, I believe that it is important that these hearings and those rightwing commentators who believe that they can routinely slander the second largest religion on earth with impunity be condemned steadily and continually to keep hearings like this from becoming instituionalized. While history does not repeat itself narrowly, those who learn nothing from the disasters of the past are very vulnerable to similar disasters as they develop in the present. This issue is really about civil rights and civil liberties and the attack on Muslim today can and will become attacks on others tomorrow if it is not contested and defeated