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Tom Engelhardt 289

June 10, 2018
Tomgram: Arnold Isaacs, Promoting Islamophobia in America
[Note for TomDispatch Readers: A small reminder: a signed, personalized copy of my new book, A Nation Unmade by War, is available to anyone who sends a $100 contribution to the site ($125 if you live outside the U.S.). Check our donation page for the details -- and my deepest thanks to all of you who have already so generously done so. Of my book, Noam Chomsky says, "The violence, destruction, and suffering resulting from the imperial arrogance of Bush, Cheney, and cohorts have proceeded on their shocking course while most Americans, Tom Engelhardt writes, were 'only half paying attention.' Regular readers of his incisive, lucid, and brutally informative columns could not fail to pay attention and to be appalled at what was revealed. Their impact is all the more forceful in this collection, which casts a brilliant and horrifying light on a sordid chapter of history, far from closed." Tom]

Honestly, if you’re trying to grasp our strange new world, this Washington Post headline gets you at least part of the way there: "New NSC Chief of Staff Is From Group That Believes Muslims Are Plotting to Take Over U.S." No, that NSC isn’t the National Student Clearinghouse or the Norfolk Southern Corporation or the National Sports Center. It’s the National Security Council, the outfit that advises the president on, well, national security, and that happens to be headed by new National Security Advisor John Bolton, a man who never saw a country he couldn’t imagine bombing. Now, as its Bolton-appointed chief of staff, it has a genuine Islamophobic crackpot by the name of Fred Fleitz. He previously was vice president for policy at Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, an outfit that, as the Post puts it, "propagates the conspiracy theory that Islamists have infiltrated the U.S. government in a plot to take over the country" (and that’s barely to crack the surface of its mania about Islam).

By the way, you remember that flap about Roseanne Barr calling former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett a spawn of the Planet of the Apes, right? If not, it’s not your fault. Since that controversy exploded across the Twitternet ("Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes = VJ"), our president has been transforming himselfinto King George III, claiming unprecedented powers over this country and, if he has his way, the world, while there have been so many other manic explosions in our media world that it’s mindboggling. On such a planet, attention spans are understandably short. Nonetheless, it might be worth revisiting the Barr controversy briefly, in light of the Fleitz appointment, since the racist comparison of Jarrett, an African American woman, to an ape proved explosive, yet the other half of Barr’s insulting equation ("Muslim Brotherhood") was barely noticed.

As the invaluable Juan Cole writes at Informed Comment, however, Barr seems to have picked up much of her Jarrett slam from Gaffney and Fleitz’s center, which has worked hard to “single out Jarrett as a baleful influence on Obama and... connect her to Iran [where she was indeed born], and then implicitly to the Muslim Brotherhood. (Only, the Muslim Brotherhood is a Sunni Muslim organization and Iran is Shiite).” Oh yes, and Jarrett isn’t Muslim.

Well, small points indeed in an American world where wearing the label Islamophobe seems to disqualify you from nothing -- certainly not the presidency or becoming secretary of state or, for that matter, chief of staff of the NSC. It's no longer a problem at all, as TomDispatch regular Arnold Isaacs makes all too clear today. Tom
Giving a Pass to Anti-Muslim Bigotry
Islamophobia Enters the Government, Is Incorporated into the Law, and Becomes Increasingly Acceptable in America
By Arnold R. Isaacs
Imagine that a nominee for secretary of state had shared platforms with white nationalist Richard B. Spencer and been given a major award by his National Policy Institute, which describes itself as "an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States and around the world." With that on his record, is it likely the nominee would have been confirmed, or nominated in the first place, to head the State Department?
Or what if someone under consideration for a top White House job had written an admiring foreword for a book by Holocaust denier David Irving or perhaps one by the psychologist and alt-right sympathizer Kevin MacDonald, who describes Jews as "a hostile, adversary elite” conducting "ethnic war" against Christianity and "traditional institutions of European-American culture"? Would such an endorsement keep him from being named as the president's national security advisor?
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