Quid Rides? De te Fabula Narratur

What are you laughing at? The joke's on you.

The Siege Mentality

Posted by Anthony on July 27, 2015

Retired General Wesley Clark said last week what all too many U.S. citizens have quietly thought at one time or another: why can’t we just round up all of these radical Muslims and throw them into prison? Certainly there would be little argument if the individuals were spewing anti-American hatred and endorsing or lending moral support to forces currently fighting the country. To be quite frank, it would not be anywhere close to the first time that the United States had acted in a manner of collective punishment against a particular group that presented a “threat” to any of a number of considerations.

This palpable sense of fear is especially tangible when it comes to Muslims in the United States. When a young man murders his mother, then goes on to murder a classroom of children we explain it away as that he was “mentally ill”. When a young white male sits in the pews of a church before murdering multiple blacks with the intention of starting some kind of white backlash against African Americans, we label him “disturbed” and try to look for reasons in his upbringing that could explain why he would be driven to commit such a hideous act. The bottom line is that overwhelmingly, if you are not Muslim you will somehow be excused as either insane or deluded or a multitude of other words that have in effect the same meaning.

The reality for Muslims in the United States is of course much different. The first word to describe a Muslim who has committed a murder (or killings of any sort) is “terrorist”. Who actually says that right away? Not many, but what they do say points to it just the same as when whites got away with accusing President Obama of being “uppity”; everybody knew exactly what they were saying since there is another word that goes along with that and which we will not print here. With Muslims, within minutes there are pundits asking if there were any connections to terrorist networks. Did the individual travel overseas? Did they frequent a local mosque, or any mosque for that manner? Had they grown their beards out? Were they refraining from drugs or alcohol?

Next comes the inevitable “he had expressed displeasure with American policies in the Middle East” and “he had spoken to friends about what the U.S. was doing to civilians in Iraq”. Both of these lend credibility to the idea that he is, in fact, a terrorist, and if he managed to actually act upon his feelings, how many more individuals out there are harboring similar sentiments? The New York Police Department has launched one of the largest domestic spying programs ever, tracking Muslims as they go to buy groceries, park at their mosques, even go to get their hair cuts. In this post-9/11 world, the majority of citizens have simply given in to fear and taken an “if you have nothing to hide, why are you afraid?” attitude. It becomes more a case of Muslim-Americans having to prove their loyalty; it is not enough even that they can say they are loyal but rather that they have to almost prove that they are not disloyal at the same time.

Herein lies the rub with Mr. Clark’s comments. First of all, he declares that “disloyal” Americans should be put into camps until the “War on Terror” is finished. Those who know me know that I am a huge fan of George Orwell, and I firmly believe that this “War on Terror” would fit in quite nicely with all of his feelings about the world of 1984. Declaring a war on an idea is at best a hopeful delusion (War on Poverty), and in this case it is quite simply stupid. Given the ever-changing definition of what defines “terror”, this so-called war will never end. Therefore what Mr. Clark, and those who back him in this instance, are really advocating for is the life-imprisonment of all “disloyal” Americans.

Second of all, who defines loyalty? I have spoken out many times on these very pages about the displeasure I have for American foreign policy. I have criticized multiple Presidents and hammered the judiciary when I see it fit to do so. Does this make me disloyal? Are we going to make another attempt at the Alien and Sedition Acts after Jefferson and company proved their stupidity? Is it speaking out for movements that have fallen foul of official sanction? For example, if one supports Palestinian liberation movements (not the PLO, just movements in general), would they be accused of supporting the “other side” in the “War on Terror”? Many Irish-Catholics in the United States long supported the IRA, a group that was known for terrorist acts. If we are fighting terror, why does it always seem that we are only fighting terror within the confines of that which is however loosely affiliate with Islam?

There is certainly a place for intelligence gathering with the intent to block attacks domestically. Yet the intelligence agencies in the United States are going about things in a way that, instead of diminishing the possibilities for an attack, seem only to encourage them by creating a greater sense of distrust within the Muslim community for any government agents and it is not just in the Muslim community: overall, you are creating a palpable tension and fear of the government throughout the liberal community and, given enough time, will also face a backlash within conservative factions.

You cannot govern how people feel. The United States was built on a sense of respectful discourse and a healthy opposition to efforts by the government to crush any freedoms since, once taken away, they are almost irrevocably lost. This siege mentality must be publicly rebuked and those who espouse it in any way, shape, or form must be called to task for their statements. True to the very nature of the fight here we do not wish to prevent them for saying things, but we reserve the right to show them what they sound like and to see what lurks in the shadows of those who had before them taken this very same route.

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