FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Racism Thrives

by SHARON SMITH

Those who worry that the world’s Arab and Muslim populations pose a threat to free speech in Western democracies need not fear. The first Amendment remains intact-particularly, it seems, when it comes to the “right” to inflict racial slurs. Indeed, the last few weeks have witnessed a spate of pundits and politicians exercising their right to freely engage in racist demagoguery against Arabs and Muslims without repercussion.

Celebrity hatemonger Ann Coulter did not disappoint the rabid crowd at the annual gathering of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. last month. The highlight of Coulter’s address, sandwiched between speeches by Dick Cheney, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Newt Gingrich, was, “I think our motto should be post-9-11, ‘raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.'” Journalist Max Blumenthal remarked, “This declaration prompted a boisterous ovation” from the overflow crowd.

Fifteen minutes later, Blumenthal asked Frist his opinion on the “raghead” characterization. Frist responded, “I wasn’t there so I better not comment.” No major newspaper reported on Coulter’s racial epithet to the more than 1,000 Republican Party stalwarts.

The “raghead” comment is consistent with an article Coulter posted on her website, which reads in part, “Jihad monkey talks tough; jihad monkey takes the consequences. Sorry, I realize that’s offensive. How about ‘camel jockey’? What? Now what’d I say? Boy, you tent merchants sure are touchy.”

Last week, the level of xenophobia surged on Capitol Hill when Democrats Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, along with Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, whipped themselves into a (bipartisan) frenzy to block Dubai Ports World from replacing a British company in running six U.S. ports.

As the Washington Post reported, “The lawmakers said they feared that national security might be compromised by letting a Middle Eastern firm manage key U.S. ports.”

Raising the level of melodrama, Clinton argued that the port management deal would “turn over our sovereignty to another country.” New York Republican congressman Vito Fossella compared the port deal to an “announcement that Dubai was to take over security at our airports.”

Schumer told reporters, “How can we turn over one of the most vital areas in our nation to a country with a significant nexus of involvement with terrorists?”

Although Schumer argued in a February 22 USA Today op-ed piece that Congressional opposition “has nothing to do with the fact that the United Arab Emirates…is an Arab nation,” the Democrats’ media attack dogs were already cut loose.

That same day, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd called for “corporate racial profiling,” quoting Jan Gadiel of 9/11 Families for a Secure America: “Our borders are wide open. We don’t know who’s in our country right now, not a clue. And now they’re giving away our ports.”

Even Dowd admitted that election-year politics played a role in the Congressional mutiny. “Lawmakers, many up for re-election, have learned well from Karl Rove. Playing the terror card works.”

Wall Street Journal columnist Dan Henninger argued, “It gave the Democrats an opportunity to get to the right of the president on a terror issue, and attack him for being soft on terror.”

It is now acceptable-indeed, commonplace-to racially stereotype and denigrate Arabs and Muslims. And there is no outcry against the curtailment of their civil liberties and rights.

A December 2004 Cornell University opinion poll showed 44 percent of Americans approved curtailing some civil liberties for all Muslim Americans-including registering with the federal government, close monitoring of mosques by law enforcement agencies and racially profiling citizens of Muslim or Middle Eastern heritage.

Interestingly, a recent Gallup World Poll of predominantly Islamic countries showed that overwhelming majorities said they favored the right to freedom of speech in their own countries.

As journalist Robert C. Koehler remarked, ” Maybe we should be careful about making common cause with born-again free speech advocates who never showed any tolerance for it until it became a handy club for bashing Muslims.” He added, in the current atmosphere, “It’s OK to torture them because they’ve already been dehumanized en masse. Anything could follow.”

SHARON SMITH’s new book is Women and Socialism. She can be reached at: sharon@internationalsocialist.org

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail