FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Homegrown Taliban

by David Vest

Imagine that a couple of Muslim clerics go on TV a day or two after the September 11 attacks on America.

Imagine one of them says that because America is so wicked, God has allowed its enemies to finally give America exactly what she deserves.

And that the other says, “That’s my feeling.” And that they continue to denounce America as a land that has “insulted God” by tolerating paganists, feminists, gay and lesbian people, abortionists and abominations like the ACLU.

Do you think such a performance would make the streets safer for American Muslims? (Not to mention the clerics themselves. You wonder how they’d make it home from the studio.)

Bulletin: It wasn’t Muslim clerics who said any such thing. It was Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

They blamed the attacks on women. On gay people. On religious minorities. On the ACLU. On People for the American Way.

They blamed it on Americans. They blamed America. They even blamed God.

I ask myself what could be worse than price-gouging, jacking up the price of gasoline and flags to profit from disaster, or using it for cover to close businesses and lay people off just when they’re feeling most vulnerable, and the answer comes.

It is this.

It’s not just the blame-the-victim attitude. It’s not just the bigotry. It isn’t even the bald-ass wide-open contempt for America it shows.

It’s not just the ignorance. It’s the use of what is holy to support hatred and intolerance that makes me think we need to worry about our own Taliban, right here, right now.

And it’s not just Falwell and Robertson. I am getting reports of similar remarks made by other ministers in different parts of the country.

Would anyone who understood one word of scripture dare — dare! — to use it to justify fomenting prejudice and hatred?

Would anyone with the remotest acquaintance with a Higher Power think that God did this to America? What part of JUDGE NOT don’t these people understand?

If a “real American” heard a minister say that God was responsible for the attack on America, would he put money in the collection plate? Or get up and leave right then?

Like the one in Afghanistan, our home-grown Taliban is always quick to issue denials and pro forma denunciations. “Of course we oppose racial discrimination and so-called hate crimes. Naturally we condemn the bombing of abortion clinics. Murder is wrong.”

The deeper you go into this, the worse it gets.

Imagine that a terrorist bombs a building in, say, Birmingham, Alabama. And that the bomb kills a policeman and puts a woman who works in the building in a wheelchair for life.

Imagine that the terrorist hides, not in Afghanistan, but in, say, North Carolina. And that the people who live where he’s hiding refuse to help the FBI find the terrorist. And that years later he’s still on the loose, a folk hero to some.

As most readers will recall, this story is not hypothetical. The terrorist in this case is an American. People who call themselves Americans helped him get away with it.

How would you feel toward Americans who helped terrorists get away with bombing the Pentagon or the World Trade Center, or any other location in this country?

Does it make any difference whether the terrorist is foreign or native-born?

After Falwell and Robertson spoke, I was glad when the White House said that “the president does not share those views.”

When the president says we won’t just get the terrorists, we’ll get the people who harbored them, should we start the training in rural North Carolina, just for practice?

I know we have to do something about international terrorism right now. I know we have to do what we can to protect our country and the world from attacks orchestrated from elsewhere.

But a terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist. I don’t care where he comes from.

And hatred is hatred, I don’t care who speaks it. And I’ve heard enough of it.

David Vest is a writer, poet and piano player for the Cannonballs. A native of Alabama, he now lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit his webpage for samples of the Cannonballs’ music and other Vest columns: http://www.mindspring.com/~dcqv

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

May 05, 2016
David L. Glotzer
Welcome to Fortified Europe: the Militarization of Europe’s Borders
Adam Szetela
Beyoncé’s “Formation” and the Boutique Activism of the Left
Bruce Lerro
Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party
Paul Cochrane
Hot Air in the Saudi Desert: a Kingdom in Descent?
Brian Terrell
My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail
Judith Deutsch
The Military’s “Securitization” of Climate Change
Phyllis Bennis
Kunduz Bombing: Proof the Pentagon Should Not Be Allowed to Investigate Itself for War Crimes
Chad Nelson
When Compassion is Terrorism: Animal Rights in a Post-911 World
Dan Arel
Making Sanders’ Dream a Reality Through Political Activism
Kent Paterson
Ten Years Later: Reflections on the Legacies of Immigrant Spring
Serge Halimi
Why Firefighters are Against Free Trade
Andrew Stewart
Green Bernie or Green Party Machine?
Binoy Kampmark
Yuri Gagarin in Space: the Politics of Cosmic Discovery
Hayes Rowan
This Naming of Things
May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail