Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell offers a solution to the US hostility to Islam

September 10th, 2010

Bigotry has been having a bumper week, worldwide. Thankfully, the plans by the pastor of a tiny evangelical church in Florida to burn the Koran have been called off. Yet those plans were only the latest ripple from a similarly irrational outburst of hostility against plans to build a Muslim community centre a few blocks away from the former World Trade Centre site. That New York controversy also whipped up opposition to Muslim community centres across America in places like Murfreesboro, Tennessee and elsewhere.

Meanwhile in Germany, a Central Bank economist called Thilo Sarrazzin has just published a best seller arguing that Muslim immigrants, mainly coming from Turkey – such migrants comprise 5% of the entire population – are ‘dumbing down’ German society, because of their alleged genetically inferior levels of intelligence. This German ground surge against their Islamic minorities follows in the wake of French laws to outlaw the burqa and Swiss laws to ban the building of minarets. In a tiny step forward, the authorities in Teheran have commuted the death sentence on a woman convicted of adultery, and formerly sentenced to death by stoning.

How ironic that the Florida church at the centre of this week’s controversy should be called the Dove World Outreach Center. The only ‘outreach’ involved here was a fist in the face of Islam. This gesture is symptomatic of an evangelical tradition that keenly looks forward to Armageddon., and expects to see it occur in our time. Creating carnage in the Middle East is therefore – according to this warped world view – God’s work, of hastening the apocalypse, the arrival of the rapture and all the other nutty elements of the End Times. If that logic makes Barack Obama a top contender to be the Anti-Christ, this Christian website at least has one other prime contender in mind.

Given its history, the German example is almost as worrisome. As you might expect, Thilo Sarrazzin and his supporters are happy to blame the forces of ‘political correctness’ if anyone happens to feel queasy when a prominent German public figure starts labeling vulnerable social minorities as genetically inferior. Yes, Sarrazzin – a board member of the most powerful central bank in Europe – is definitely a poor, persecuted victim of PC thinking when he starts laying the blame for the social problems of immigration on the alleged genetic traits of the migrants concerned. At 66, Sarrazzin is old enough to remember, and know better.

At time of writing, President Obama and commander of US forces in Afghanistan General David Petraeus appear to have succeeded in convincing the Florida pastor to rethink and call off his plans to violate Islam’s sacred text. The anger behind this and other attacks on Islam and the civil rights of Muslims remains. Maybe Obama could try reaching back to an earlier, more tolerant America, and should dial up Batman and Robin on the Batphone. Once upon a time, the Caped Crusader could convince middle America that tolerance was really the most sensible response, and the approach most consistent with core American values. For example :

batman and robin religious tolerance muslim
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    1. 17 Responses to “Gordon Campbell offers a solution to the US hostility to Islam”

    2. By DJ on Sep 10, 2010 | Reply

      Holy junk memes, Batman!

    3. By Gosman on Sep 10, 2010 | Reply

      So what you are basically calling for here is to attempt to socially engineer US society via the means of a comic book. didn’t Mao have a similar idea?

    4. By Idiot/Savant on Sep 10, 2010 | Reply

      At 66, Sarrazzin is old enough to remember, and know better.

      Not really. At 66, he wwould have been born in 1944; he should remember post-war poverty, but not the horrors that led to it.

    5. By lyndon on Sep 10, 2010 | Reply

      Just for clarity, Gosman: your point here is that Detective Comics was involved in a communist conspiracy with the Advertising Council?

      [Or: “You know who else made arbitrary comparison with totalitarians? Hitler!”]

    6. By Gosman on Sep 10, 2010 | Reply

      Whether you think the Pastor of some obscure little church out in the sticks of the US shouldn’t be burning copies of the Quran what is more disturbing is seeing the mainstream Muslim reaction to this obscure groups proposed actions and the efforts being made by people in the West to try and placate them.

      I don’t remember leaders in Muslim countries going out of their way to distance themselves from the decision by the Afghan courts to condemn a man to death for having the temerity to convert to Christianity from Islam (see In fact if you look at the international reactions to the case in that link I don’t see many efforts by anybody in authority in the Muslim world speaking out against this.

    7. By Gosman on Sep 10, 2010 | Reply

      No, my point here is that there is NO NEED for Obama to even think about trying to socially engineer society via the use of Batman comics or any other methods on this issue. I prefer to leave that sort of thinking to totalitarian regimes like China under Mao.

    8. By lyndon on Sep 10, 2010 | Reply

      So if we substituted anyone except the government for ‘Obama’ in that equation, you’re happy? Just checking…

      It’s mostly the Mao thing that bothers me though. Seriously, I think a list of countries – or of democracies – whose Governments wouldn’t back any social campaign would be short. You don’t have to reach for the cultural revolution.

    9. By lyndon on Sep 10, 2010 | Reply

      Sorry my comments have been attributed to Alastair – should be fixed. Long story.

    10. By donna on Sep 10, 2010 | Reply

      Let’s not forget our very own Maurice Williamson getting in on the act with his comments at the building awards ceremony. Way to go, Maurice!
      The issue is not the comic. The issue is our collective willingness to see others as less than human, a stance driven by ignorance and fear, and exploited by cynical politicians (and Southern pastors).

    11. By Gosman on Sep 10, 2010 | Reply

      If you want to get together with like minded private individuals and waste your own time and money trying to convince others about how great Islam is or how we should all forget about it’s violent, intolerant, misogynistic, superstitious, anti-scientific beliefs then by all means go ahead.

      I just object to using any of the organs of state to do so, unlike Gordon Campbell it seems.

    12. By Gosman on Sep 10, 2010 | Reply

      I’d suggest anyway that any attempts to promote ‘tolerance’ of Islam in the US by the Government would technically breach the US constitutional separation of Church and State, so this is a non starter to begin with.

    13. By S~Doyle on Sep 10, 2010 | Reply

      French laws to outlaw the burqa should not be used at all in anti-Islam debates. They are not an ‘Islam’ thing, they are a tribal thing. In fact, burqas have been banned in many prominent Islamic universities.

    14. By Kerry on Sep 10, 2010 | Reply

      Fundamentalist christians do not represent all mainstream western expressions of faith; in the same way, there are many varieties of expression within Islam. Bigotry in any form is counter-productive to reasonable discussion, Gordon has a good point here.

      This is the beginning of the New Year for the Islamic world, so let’s all give it a chance to improve, and wish our muslim citizens ‘Eid Mubarak’. They are much more tolerant of our excesses of celebration than most of us are of their modest, sober and generally decent celebrations of New Year.

    15. By Joe Blow on Sep 11, 2010 | Reply

      What the hell are you fellas talking about Mao and comics and the state apparatus being any part of the monster that invented Batman which was obviously good old American feemarket capitalism.

      To be frank I don’t care where the civil and political liberties message comes from – whether it’s spun out of state or privately led propaganda. The message is stronger than the medium. We’re already the Western by product of Batman comics. Gordon is just pointing out that we shouldn’t forget what we in the West are all about…

      I think this is much bigger than who says what. This is one of those hot spots where certain rights sit uneasily with each other. On the one hand the Pastor Terry Jones has the right to freedom of expression while muslims everywhere have the right to freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination. How are they reconciled? It depends on the context or rather the country in which these rights or freedoms are rubbing up against each other. The only answer is coming up with a balance of competing rights.

      I think Doyle (above) is right and the French Burqa example does not sit well with the other nasty anti-Islamic sentiment from Germany and the Christain extremists on the US fringe. That involved a balancing of similar rights ultimately decided by the French Parliament in France.

      Now, in this case, the problem is that the Pastor’s plans for burning the Quran is that it is the decision of one man which, thanks to the media, has become a global gonzo show. However, I think that more or less the correct balance has been struck with Terry Jones deciding to call off his plans due to pressure from prominent political and religious leaders in the US. Bravo! Thank god there is enough sense in the Obama administration and most civic nationalists in the US, no matter how right wing and religious they are, to see that beating on a minority religion is not the way to go… No matter how you look at it this is a win for civic nationalism.

      Go Batman! It looks like most of the people who are calling the shots in the US these days have read the right comics…

    16. By The Albatross on Sep 17, 2010 | Reply

      I find the whole scenario laughable – in fact the truly wise would’ve been on the ground in florida selling him Koran to burn as well as Baghawad Ghita and The King James, for anyone else there that felt the need to burn a widely published book.
      If someone is willing to kill coz a widely published book is going to have a few copies burnt – they are going to kill for any reason. The fact that the “west” doesn’t see this and is pandering to warmongers is laughable. All he was doing was creating demand for Koran to be published as the void of 200 would have to be filled.
      If they are protesting in Afghan and Pakistan coz of this, then obviously there are no pressing matters at home – like floods and disease and war – nope, what we see on TV are part of the “hire a mob.” The true Afghan is looking after his family coz he is faced with immediate peril and likewise the true Pakistani. If the “mobs” were true, they would have flooded Cairo and Beirut – and I mean flooded. If a muslim crowd can turn out in Afghan, then an Islamic mass can turn out in Egypt and a Jihadi swarm in Tehran.
      I laugh at all that took this seriously as a threat to and from Islam.

    17. By Joe Blow on Sep 17, 2010 | Reply

      @ Albatross: It’s not about the actual act of burning a paper book, it’s about what the act means or symbolises.

      Look I’ll make it simple for you: Why was Terry Jones going to burn the Korans?

    18. By chris on Sep 24, 2010 | Reply

      Muslims are being used as pawns by the elite leaders, international to justify wars, locally to create social tension where there was non before. It suites the authoritarian powers well, to introduce a new population that supports terrorist, so that it can justify the need to counter the terrorism locally with introduction of Orwellian laws where freedom and free speech existed before.

      Further all this fear and strife distracts us from the wealth transfer and destruction made by an out of control banking system that has bought up governments at the highest level.

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