Nov 2, 2012 Comments Off Pat Dollard
Excerpted from FRONT PAGE MAG: America is a seething hotbed of “Islamophobia,” filled with ignorant racist rubes who irrationally fear the benign Muslim religion, according to the Obama administration’s lead investigator into the Benghazi atrocities.
So said former Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering in more polished, diplomatic language during an Oct. 23 panel discussion at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The talk was on “what role the faith community can play in fighting Islamophobia,” a make-believe mental illness that Islamists would love to have listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Radical Islam’s stateside defenders frequently accuse anti-terrorism hawks of “McCarthyism,” hurling the epithet “Islamophobe” the same way American leftists use the word “racist” to shut down debate.
Pickering’s pontifications came two and a half weeks after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named him to head a State Department “Accountability Review Board” tasked with examining the circumstances surrounding the deaths on Sept. 11, 2012, the 11th anniversary of 9/11, of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, information management officer Sean Smith, and security personnel Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. At last week’s panel discussion, Pickering piously but incorrectly invoked the Holocaust to argue that American Muslims were somehow in danger.
“I’m not great at quotations,” he said, foreshadowing a misattribution to come.
“Perhaps it was [German theologian and dissident] Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said of the Nazis, when they came for the Jews, I didn’t speak up. I was not a Jew. When they came for the Catholics, I didn’t speak up, I was not a Catholic. When they came for us, no one spoke up. There was no one left to do so,” Pickering said, paraphrasing famous, poignant verses actually spoken by Third Reich-era German pastor Martin Niemoller.
Pickering said that Americans’ lack of familiarity with Islam –and not Islamic terrorist attacks on Americans— fuels hostility toward Muslims.
“Data shows that those Americans who do not know Muslims, who do not know much about Islam, are the ones who harbor the greatest feelings of prejudice,” he said.
There is a “strong, continuing, and perhaps, in an unfortunate way in some areas, growing, prejudice against Muslims and Islam,” he said.
However, he added that veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have so far avoided embracing this anti-Islamic bigotry. “Many of the soldiers are still serving and I think that also is helpful because they understand that as loyal Americans that kind of prejudice is not to be expressed.” Pickering urged what might amount to a zero-tolerance policy against so-called Islamophobes in American society. “There are strong efforts as well that we must make to deal with opinion leaders who harbor these prejudices, who espouse them and spread them,” he said.
Although the former envoy did not elaborate on what those “strong efforts” might consist of, his statement is worrisome. The Obama administration is openly hostile to the First Amendment.
After the Benghazi debacle, President Obama went before the United Nations General Assembly and apologized for America’s free speech protections. Pushing the false cover story that the attacks on U.S. missions this past Sept. 11 were prompted by an anti-Islam video virtually no one saw, the president said that “the future does not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” Weeks before that, Department of Justice official Thomas Perez pointedly refused during a congressional hearing to rule out supporting Saudi-style anti-blasphemy laws.
Pickering wasn’t the only panelist last week to describe ordinary Americans as a threat to Muslim inhabitants of the United States.
In a particularly revealing soliloquy, Arab American Institute president James J. Zogby, whose younger brother is renowned pollster John Zogby, passionately inveighed against his fellow Americans, and particularly Tea Party supporters, labeling them dangerous racist Islamophobes:
“I think that there’s a direct correlation between the president of the United States and Islamophobia. As we do our polling, we find that it is not the universal phenomenon. This hatred toward Muslims is largely concentrated with middle class, middle age, white people, and then it overlaps almost identically with the Tea Party. It is not a Republican thing. It’s a generational thing.
And it is a phenomenon born of a simple set of conditions, collapse of home mortgages, foreclosures increasing, pensions in collapse when the stock market went down, unemployment doubling, the decline of the American dream. In our polling we always used, when we’d say, are your children going to be better off than you, that’s the American dream question, we’d get two thirds saying yes. We now get two thirds saying no.
And in the midst of all of that this group of white middle aged, middle class men looked around and saw a young African-American, educated at Harvard with a middle name Hussein, and didn’t like the president of the United States of America. It fueled this phenomenon and it opened the door for the wedge issue to operate and it’s operating simply among that demographic. It’s not a universal phenomenon. It’s not found among African-Americans or Asians or Latinos. It’s not found among young white kids. It’s not found among college educated professional women. It’s found in that one narrow demographic. That’s where the bad numbers come from.
He continued: “And I think that, if, we had, I have a lot of gripes with George Bush, but if he were president, he would be doing what he did, which is put his foot down and say stop. I think we would not be seeing the phenomenon growing as we see it growing. But the problem is is that if Barack Obama says stop they say, you’re just the damn problem to begin with, you’re not one of us anyway,” Zogby said, affecting an accent that might be characterized as “redneck” or “country.”