THIS EVENING’S EDITION OF
AUNT B. ASKS
(I’ll skip straight to the answer; the question can be found here.)
Aunt B., allow me to address your second question (the one after “What the fuck?”).
“Seriously, you do get that the Islamic terrorists who are hell bent on making our lives miserable…?”
First off, there are several major Islamic sects, and many militant groups spread out among them. Some of these groups are at odds with each other, some have specific, regional axes to grind (axes that have little to do with the U.S., except for our unconditional support of Israel). An oversimplification of this reality– such as lumping all these disparate groups under the rubric of “Islamofascist” or “Islamic terrorist”– has no constructive purpose. I daresay it only reinforces convenient bigotry.
Second, I want to contest the premise of your question, Aunt B. From what moral ground can any of us in the West actually point fingers at Islamic militants for trying to “make our lives miserable”? If you had a couple of days, Aunt B., we could discuss the Arab/Muslim democracies our gov’t (or the French, or the British) has overthrown or helped to abort in the last 60 years or so. We could discuss the number of brutal dictators we’ve supported, and how those dictators keep the majority of their citizens living in abject poverty. When we’re done discussing that, maybe we’ll come to the realization that the majority of people in the Arab/Muslim world have an honest, bloody bone to pick with us. Maybe then our perspective might be a bit different; maybe then we’ll be marvelling at how relatively few Arabs and Muslims have actually organized against the U.S. and the former colonial powers of Western Europe.
After all that, we could discuss how many U.S. military bases are in Arab/Muslim land, and how many troops we have stationed in them. Contrast that with how many Arab/Muslim armies, navies, or air forces are even within sniffing distance of our land.
Just for shits and giggles, Aunt B., we might even discuss how some of the most violent militant Islamists out there today were once recruited, trained, and organized by agents of our government in order to fight the godless commies in Afghanistan. After that filthy, bloody deed was done, our government turned its back on those violent ‘jihadists’ and the country upon which we’d unleashed them. In all our pinheaded arrogance, what did we think our creatively violent recruits might do next with all their energy. anger, and insurgency skills?
My point in all this is that whether or not we choose to think of it as a “religious war” or a “political war,” we have no business trying to assume victim status or the high moral ground when discussing the issue of Islamic militancy aimed at the U.S. We’ve been shitting on these people for decades in order to maintain the steady supply of cheap petroleum that fuels our ridiculously wealthy economic engine. Just because all of us aren’t sharing equally in that wealth is no excuse. We are supposed to live in a representative democracy, so the responsibility for our foreign policy is shared equally among us.
Long story short: when we withdraw our troops from all Arab/Muslim lands; when we stop giving unconditional financial, military, and diplomatic support to Israel; and when we finally lend material or at least diplomatic support to democratic movements in the region regardless of their political philosophies, then we will have the moral clearance to point fingers at the Islamic militants.
Some recommended reading on this subject:
Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: AsiaSource Interview with Mahmood Mamdani