As usual, Arthur Silber is right on the money.
To begin, I’ve said over and over and over that Obama is a war criminal. As I also often say, it’s not an arguable point. Read this damned post. Read this one, too. If you wish to be minimally consistent, if you want to apply to the U.S. and its leaders the same standards and principles that the U.S. applies to everyone else, then Obama (and Biden, and McCain, and Bush, and Cheney, and Hillary Clinton, and Condoleezza Rice, etc., etc., etc.) are war criminals.
It is also the case that even war criminals can make a statement that happens to be true. That doesn’t mean they cease being war criminals, or that we should loathe them less or, may the heavens forbid, admire them in the slightest degree. It means only that in this one instance, they happen to be right.
As is the case with Obama’s comments about the “mosque” being proposed for the neighborhood of Ground Zero:
Obama himself had steered clear of the issue for weeks, with his spokesman Robert Gibbs telling reporters that it was primarily a local issue. But at a Friday White House Iftar dinner, Obama said that while he understands Ground Zero is “hallowed ground,” he told a group of Muslims that he believes they have “the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in the country.”
“And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” he said. “This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.”
The part I highlighted is especially crucial, and what Obama said is absolutely correct.
He’s still a war criminal.
On the subject of the “mosque,” Tom Knapp explains the two huge lies at the center of this invented controversy with admirable clarity. It’s not a “mosque” using the commonly understood meaning of that term, and it’s not planned to be built on Ground Zero. Knapp includes a little Google Map so you can see that it’s not on Ground Zero. As Knapp also points out (he doesn’t phrase it this way, because he’s far more polite than I am), if you want to be consistent in your opposition to the “mosque,” get rid of the goddamned Roman Catholic Church that’s even closer to Ground Zero than the planned Cordoba House. (I put goddamned in there just to be certain that any unsuspecting passersby are deeply offended, as well as irreparably damaged. At least, I hope they’re irreparably damaged.)
Not a mosque. Not on Ground Zero. Therefore, no controversy.
Unless, that is, you’re a vicious bigot. I’m not going to set out (again) a detailed argument about why you have to be a vicious bigot to be vehemently opposed to building a “mosque” on Ground Zero. One fact tells you a lot about those so strongly opposed to this proposal right off the bat: that they insist on speaking about a “mosque” being built on Ground Zero. Their refusal to give up these two fundamental lies tells you a great deal.
Beyond that, opposition to this project finally reduces to unreasoning, blind, notably vicious racism — of the kind I’ve previously analyzed here and here. It’s a sickening subject, and I don’t care to revisit it in detail at the moment. But I will note that the second linked post explains how this racism has been at the very heart of U.S. foreign policy for more than a century. Little wonder then that those who so strongly oppose the “mosque” are the same people who so profoundly support a foreign policy of aggressive, violent, non-stop interventionism, using brutality and murder to impose “civilization” on “inferior” cultures and peoples (the last point being an issue I discussed recently in my series on Wikileaks).
I want to mention two other aspects of this story. First, there’s this:
Several New York Democrats either involved with members of Congress or strategists said privately that they are not happy about the speech because it puts them in a bind. A recent CNN poll found two-thirds of Americans oppose building the mosque in the neighborhood around Ground Zero.
Ah, the voice of the people!
The people are an ignorant ass.
You have to admit that, in a sick, twisted kind of way, this is very damned funny. Here you have a country that endlessly proclaims its dedication to individual rights. But when controversies like this arise — make that: especially when controversies like this arise — people’s immediate argument of choice is to appeal to public opinion polls. Two-thirds of Americans agree with me!
That is: two-thirds of Americans are profoundly ignorant and/or vicious bigots.
An idiotic majority of people who are mostly idiots agree with me! That means it’s the right position! Now there’s a foundation for government action and State planning, especially for a nation dedicated to individual rights.
Fuck, people. I mean, fuck. Can’t you do any better? I’ve been over this particular ground before, too: see here. The joke is even better when “libertarians” use polls as alleged support for their positions. Teh funnee! As that earlier post noted, “libertarians” use public opinion polls to support discriminatory, blatantly racist immigration laws. Hmm, racism again. Doctor Watson, I detect a theme here! That earlier post also mentions that almost three-quarters of Americans opposed racial intermarriage — one year after the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws. At least one branch of government doesn’t always bow down to the god of public opinion. Hardly coincidentally, I saw last week that Reynolds used a poll to impliedly demonstrate the “correctness” of the anti-“mosque” position. You can find it yourself, if you care. I guarantee you I read it — and he’d offered the identical “argument” for immigration laws, so why wouldn’t he? But I’ve read enough shit on this subject for several months at a minimum.
Hell: here you go. See? I’m a conscientious blogger. Does my masochism earn your admiration? It damn well better. And note that all those “good” Americans oppose “the Ground Zero mosque.” Ignorant bigots opining about lies! I’m convinced!
The other issue which is appallingly clear in the Politico story is the rapidity and determination with which the Democrats run away from anything which might however remotely be viewed as negative in strictly political terms, that is, with regard to getting votes this fall. Never mind that an issue of very significant political principle is involved: the Democrats will do and say anything to get elected and keep their majorities.
So Obama is already scrambling to undo any undesirable effects of his comments yesterday: “President Barack Obama on Saturday sought to defuse the controversy over his remarks …,” and “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there,” and so on. O brave Obama!
The Democrats are, as always, a nauseating collection of unprincipled creeps. Martin Frost: “While a defensible position, it will not play well in the parts of the country where Democrats need the most help.” It’s not “a defensible position.” What Obama said yesterday is the right position, and it’s the only right position on this question.
More from the Politico story:
Democratic aides say that, at the very least, the president has again knocked his party’s candidates off local messages and forced them to talk about a national issue that doesn’t appear likely to play well with important swing voters.
“The main reaction is ‘Why? Why now?’” said one House Democratic leadership aide. “It’s just another day off message. There have been a lot of days off message.”
The chief of staff to one politically vulnerable House Democrat said it “probably alienates a lot of independent voters” and “it’s not a good issue to be talking about right now.”
He said he suspects “there are a lot of (Democrats) who are spooked in tough districts today” and “a lot of Republicans licking their chops right now.”
On and on it goes. If you’re a masochist, too, read the whole sorry article.
Keep in mind one critical distinction. When I say the Democrats are “unprincipled,” I mean only that they’re unprincipled with regard to what they claim their principles are. In fact, they’re not unprincipled at all. It’s just that the principles that actually concern them are not ones they care to identify to anyone else, least of all to voters.
For the past century, and despite some differences on derivative issues, the Democrats and Republicans have been in full agreement on the fundamentals. Both Democrats and Republicans want an authoritarian-corporatist-militarist state, just as they both want a constantly increasing surveillance state. I’ve been over these issues in numerous articles (here, here, here, follow the internal links for much more).
This episode involving the “mosque” also brings into clearer focus a point that I and others have been making for some time. If, God forbid, there is another terrorist attack on U.S. soil which is the equivalent of 9/11 or even worse, you can kiss good-bye whatever liberties you might believe remain to you. They’ll be entirely gone, almost certainly for the rest of your lifetime at a minimum.
The worst thing of all is that, in the wake of such an attack — if five or ten thousand Americans are dead, or possibly even more (and as I said, God forbid, and Christ knows I mean it, for this and countless other reasons) — a majority of Americans will probably be glad to have a far more brazenly dictatorial government. At that point, with the slaughter being endlessly replayed on every television network, the indefinite “detention” of anyone considered at all “suspicious,” the censoring of “dangerous,” possibly “terrorist-related” material (including blogs), the complete suspension of the right to assembly, etc. ad nauseam, will be what the majority of Americans want. The politicians, both Democratic and Republican, will be more than happy to give it to them.
A year or two later, some Americans will begin to have regrets. A few will timidly venture the opinion that perhaps we went “too far.” Then, it won’t matter. Then, it will be far, far too late.
The ruling class, including almost every Democrat and Republican in Washington, know that, too. They’ll probably even provide opportunities for a few “dissenters” to make their objections known, so Americans can continue to tell themselves that the First Amendment still exists and continues to have some meaning. The ruling class is expert at meaningless charades of that kind.
But life as you’ve known it, as you believe it to be, will be entirely dead. In fact, it’s dead now. The Obama administration already claims it has the “right” to murder anyone in the world for any reason at all. You can’t get more dead than that.
You don’t smell the rotting corpse yet. That’s all.
Well. That wasn’t cheerful in the least, especially for a weekend. Sorry about that.
There is one thing you can do: withdraw your support for an evil system of this kind, in every way possible (and I do mean every way possible). Wikileaks provides you a wonderful model for doing so; as I discussed in the final section of this article, Julian Assange has shown that when you withdraw your support, those who would rule us have nothing.
And as I mentioned in the concluding paragraphs here, imagine a world with ten, or even a hundred, Wikileaks organizations. I was discussing that possibility with some friends recently and remarked: Then we might finally get somewhere!
Goddamn, yes. As one of my friends said in response: The many Wikileaks world! There’s an idea to cheer you up.
UPDATE: In an Update to his own post about this, Lambert links to this entry, noting that the Cordoba Center is not, in fact, a “mosque,” and goes on to say: “Personally, I don’t care if it’s the Islamic equivalent of St. Peter’s.”
I almost added a sentence to my original post to this effect: “As far as I’m concerned, I don’t give a damn if someone were to build a gigantic actual mosque right in the damned middle of Ground Zero.” I didn’t say that, simply because that’s not this controversy which, as demonstrated above and in Knapp’s post, is built on nothing but lies combined with primitive racism. (And I’ve said it now, so there you go. The miracle of blogging!)
But if someone were to propose building a gigantic actual mosque right smack in the middle of Ground Zero, let’s have that debate! I would welcome it. And given the U.S. government’s ongoing campaign of slaughter and destruction targeted at Muslims in various locations around the world, a real mosque at Ground Zero would be a serious gesture of reconciliation, if that word were finally to have some genuine meaning. Of course, the action that would be most meaningful, as well as most humane and entirely right, would be the complete cessation of that campaign of slaughter and destruction…
But, God, I wish a real mosque at Ground Zero would happen, or even be proposed. Just think of all the racist, bigoted heads exploding…
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