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Here at What if they were Muslim we question what would happen if a Jewish, Christian, Hindu, ______(insert religion of choice) were to commit a crime in the name of their faith. Would it be treated the same way if a Muslim committed the exact same crime? Would very little emphasis be put on the perpetrators religion? Would it be stressed that the act is an aberration, a misrepresentation of the religion? Would the religion be mentioned at all?

Another Tid-Bit...

WITWM is not a site that opines on the “what if” scenario of your favorite Hollywood star being a Muslim. It has nothing to do with Angelina Jolie or Johnny Depp, etc. It has everything to do with the double standards in both media and pop culture that perpetuate the myth that Islam is inherently more violent than other religions or the root cause of misdeeds by Muslims.

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Russia legislators pass ‘gay propaganda’ ban

Russia legislators pass ‘gay propaganda’ ban

Russia’s parliament has passed two bills that impose jail terms for people promoting homosexual “propaganda” to minors and those who offend religious believers.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, gay activists staged a kissing protest outside parliament but were outnumbered by several hundred supporters of the bill, some carrying religious icons.

Some threw rotten eggs at the gay protesters. After scuffles in which one man was knocked to the ground and kicked by the anti-gay activists, police began detaining the gay activists and bundling them into waiting buses.

A police spokesman said around 20 people were detained.

The bill against “homosexual propaganda” to minors sailed through the State Duma lower house of parliament in a 436-to-0 vote with one abstention.

The measure is part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values as opposed to Western liberalism, which the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church see as corrupting Russian youth and contributing to the protests against President Vladimir Putin’s rule.

Hefty fines

After the bill was given preliminary approval in January, legislators changed the wording of “homosexual propaganda” to “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” which backers of the bill defined as “relations not conducive to procreation”.

Critics fear the measure will be used to justify the repression of gays amid rising homophobia in Russia.

Russia decriminalised homosexuality in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment remains high. Russia is also considering banning citizens of countries that allow same-sex marriage from adopting Russian children.

The legislation will impose hefty fines for providing information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to minors or holding gay pride rallies. Breaching the law will carry a fine of up to $156 for an individual and up to $31,000 for media organisations.

The controversial bill applies to Russians and foreigners as well as media organisations.

It makes it an offence to say that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual ones.

Religious offenses

According to another bill, passed in a 308-to-2 vote, “public actions expressing clear disrespect for society and committed to the goal of offending religious feelings of the faithful” would be punishable with jail terms of up to one year and fines of up to $9,000.

The same actions committed in places of worship would be punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

The bill was proposed after five members of the Pussy Riot punk rock band belted out a “punk prayer” against Putin in a Moscow cathedral last year.

The stunt exposed faultlines in the predominantly Orthodox country, with critics saying the punk rockers offended the faithful and supporters saying their counter-culture performance targeted Putin and the Church’s close ties to the Kremlin.

After the Duma passes a bill in its third reading, it must then be passed by the senate and is finally signed into law by Putin.

Rights activists and Western governments have criticised both bills as part of an unprecedented crackdown on dissenters after Putin returned for a third term last year.

“The draft law would only raise the level of intolerance in Russian society,” said the New York-based Human Rights Watch, referring to the ban on “homosexual propaganda.”

But the bill’s supporters say traditional relations need to be protected by the government.

“Traditional sexual relations are relations between a man and a woman,” said one of the bill’s authors, Yelena Mizulina of the Kremlin-friendly A Just Russia party.

Third Reich Christendom: Church Anti-Semitism and Dejudaizing Jesus

Original guest piece submitted by Benjamin Taghov

As has been highlighted on Loonwatch, the radical anti-muslim vanguard, and specifically Pamela Geller, has been mouthing the idea of an unmistakable joinder between the ideology of National Socialism, coined by Adolf Hitler, and Islam. She has campaigned the notion that Hitler himself was spiritized by Islam and that the Muslim faith was used as an inspirational take-off point for the Nazi extermination program. According to her, the genocidal insanity of Hitler was strategically interlaced with the genocide of the Armenians. And as that may be true, Hitler also said that he was genuinely inspired by and admired the extermination of the Native Americans.

Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies in English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for Native Americans in the wild west; to his inner circle he often praised the efficiency of America’s extermination – by starvation and uneven combat – of the “red savages” who could not be tamed by captivity.[1]

Genocide at the hands of early Christian Americans supposedly stained the mind of Hitler. He had found a palpable source of inspiration for his extirpational plans. As far as Christianity is concerned though, Hitler did not accredit himself any particular Christian denomination. On the contrary, he found himself outside the fold of Christianity.

When Germany officially came under Nazi rule, the church found itself in a desperate need to redefine itself. In 1939, Protestant theologians, clergymen and other influencial characters within the Christian movement, as well as regular old congregants, joined forces to auspicate the grand opening of the Institute for the Study and Eradication of Jewish Influence on German Church Life. The advanced objectives were both political and theological in nature. Prof. Susannah Heschel, in her critically acclaimed work, The Aryan Jesus, says that:

Seeking to create a dejudaized church for Germany that was in the process of ridding Europe of all Jews, it developed new biblical interpretations and liturgical materials. In the six years of its existence, as the Nazi regime carried out its genocide of the Jews, the Institute redefined Christianity as a Germanic religion whose founder, Jesus, was no Jew but rather had fought valiantly to destroy Judaism, falling as victim to that struggle. Germans were now called upon to be the victors in Jesus’s own struggle against the Jews, who were said to be seeking Germany’s destruction.[2]

The institute gained a lot of success in winning support for its radical agenda from a broad spectrum of ecclesiastical representatives and scholars, who shared or came to share, a volition to weed out the very Judaic vertebra of Christian history and origins. The church under Nazi rule was however not homogeneous. Some adherents of Christian faith felt that the Tanakh should be pooh-poohed or completely expunged from the scripture since the Old Testament was regarded as a Jewish book. Others proposed that the opponents had failed at realizing that the Old Testament in all actuality was anti-Jewish in essence; that the prophets were at constant war with Israel’s sinful ways. By unreading the Bible’s Jewish core text, they suggested that it should be preserved as proof that the Jews were a violent enemy.

However serious the intrafaith quarrel seemed, none of them were in opposition to the Nazi regime. They were all outspokenly anti-Semitic and the rivalry was only preferably based on theological issues: on the one side for example, there were Christians who accepted baptism as a way to dejudaize the Jewish community, and the counterpart of the inter-religious fued – a majority assemblage – who did not regard the Jews as spiritually equal and therefore, always, unfit for Christian faith. As a rule, rather than as an exception, this was the status of Germanic Christendom. There were no real schismatic ”bail-outs”. Alternative views and large-scale opposition to the rabid racism of the church were almost unherad of. Gailus, in his Protestantimus und Nationalsozialismus, accentuates this and asseverates the low percentage of withdrawals from the church.

Without any doubt, one main reason for the Nazi regime’s success, was due to anti-Semitism. Other areas were left underachieved. Hitler and his minions did not reach their desiderated goals, neither militarily nor politically. The Nazi regime did nonetheless exploit the church’s prevailing anti-Semitic interpretations of the New Testament. The anti-Semitic resonance found its way through the church. Susannah Heschel explains why:

…its success can be credited in large measure to the unrelenting anti-Jewish Christian theological discourse that linked Nazi propaganda with the traditions and moral authority of the churches. That link was proclaimed with enthusiasm by Nazi Christians: ‘In the Nazi treatment of the Jews and its ideological stance, Luthers intentions, after centuries, are being fulfilled’[3]

As she also notes, Uriel Tal clearly demonstrates that anti-Semitism within Christianity was not a new phenomenon. He argues that it was utterly owing to Christian anti-Judaism for its success. He writes:

…it was not the economic crises that brought about this new political, racial anti-religious antisemitism, but completely the reverse, it was precisely the anti-Christian and antireligious ideology of racial antisemitism which hampered the first antisemitic parties in their efforts to utilize the economic crisis for their political development. . . [because] what still attracted the masses was the classical, traditional Christian anti-Judaism, however adapted it may have become to the new economic conditions.[4]

As a matter of fact, it can be stated that whatever the seriousness of the inter-religious dialogues, they ultimately came together, putting their frictions aside, due to their shared anti-Semitic attitudes. The church’s willingness to steward the neo-pagan Nazi rulers and conversely their adopted and appropriated Nazi rhetoric, combined with their volition to recognize Nazi symbolism, is what finally made Christendom a tolerable contestant from a Nazi standpoint. Hitler knew that he had to appeal to a Christian audience and thus his phraseology was painstakingly calculated. He delicately drew on Christian spirituality and was quoted saying that:

St. Paul transformed a local movement of Aryan opposition to Jewry into a super-temporal religion, which postulates the equality of all men…[causing] the death of the Roman empire. [5]

Christianity could not be rejected. The Nazi ideologists felt that a sudden forfeiture of Christianity would in fact offend the moral of Germans. Since the anti-Semitism of Germanic Christianity was utilized as a tool of propaganda, it became the basis for the Nazi party to lean on when appealing to the masses. Nazi ideologists exploited Christianity by colonizing and usurping its theology and its anti-Semitism, for self-fulfilling purposes. The Nazi party integrated key elements of Christian theology with its own ideology. In that way they figured they could boost the quantity of supporters, but they also argued that they needed to bolster their message with a cohesive resonance of Christian tradition, inasmuch as the teachings of the faith had been shaping European culture and thought for thousands of years.

As for liability, the church maintained their guiltlessness. In the aftermath, those people who participated in propagating an anti-Jewish message by disseminating the Christian outlook, justified it by waving the “non-complicity-card” in the actual mass murders. And here it gets really interesting. Firstly, the church propagated anti-Semitism during a time when Jews were being dissociated from the rest of the population. Secondly, they were being rounded up and killed. That is tantamount to giving the executors the go ahead. By suggesting genocide, or by agitating its exigency, they were compliant in murdering them off from a far. Heschel goes on fitting them with the term ‘desk murderers’, implying that they were culpable in promoting genocide from behind their pulpits.

Paralleling the German church to a contemporary context: this is exactly what Geller and Spencer are doing. The German Christians hid their Nazi anti-Semitism beneath the cloak of religion. Geller and Spencer are doing the same thing when they are hiding their true agendas behind a cloak of “civil rights activism.”

They can disassociate themselves from instigating hate all they want. But the fact of the matter is that they are propagating an ideology of hate. Consider for a moment if Geller went back in time with her desktop computer. She would sit there with a warm cup of tea and a cozy felt wrapped around her legs, indulging in and spreading hate and rationale for the dissociation of the Jewish people. Switch from “Islam and Muslims” to “Judaism and Jews” and she would be part of the the German hate-machinery of intellectuals who metaphrased the Nazi ideology into Christian theology: giving Nazism a religious significance by transforming the message into a seizable spiritual discourse. Like whitewashed tombs on the outside, but putrefactively dead inside. That is the true nature of charismatic hate demagogues.

The church and the Nazi movement envisaged their task as an act of self-defence. The Jews were regarded as violent enemies of the state: their agenda could not allow them to ever assimilate into society and they would never submit fully to German law.

…Institute statements regarding Jews and Judaism were mirrors, in Christianized language, of the official propaganda issued by the Reich during the course of the Holocaust: Jews were the aggressive enemies of Germans and Germany was fighting a defensive war against them. Even as the Nazis carried out the extermination of the European Jews, their propaganda argued that it was the Jews who were plotting to murder the Germans. [6]

The rationalization and the language of the Nazis are comparatively similar to that of the vanguard of Internet Islamophobia. With statements such as “the only good Muslim is a bad Muslim” (meaning that a muslim has to kill or maim, or by the use of creeping Jihad, overthrow the ruling apparatus and it’s majority population) they suggest that the West is in dire need to protect itself. It is, so they claim, an act of self-defence. A minority population in Europe and the United States, supposedly in a state of violent or passive aggressive opposition to the West: a Clash of Civilizations.

Furthermore, in terms of the machination of genocide, several high officials within the church actually furthered the notion of terminating Jewish life. A few months after the Nuremburg Laws were enacted, a group of representatives from German churches gathered in Dresden to discuss the merging of the church body. During this meeting, at that time the head of the Thuringian Ministry of Education, and later in 1939, approximately 3 years after the meeting in Dresden, the figurehead of the Institute, stated the following:

…In Christian life, the heart has to be disposed toward the Jew, and that’s how it has to be. As a Christian, I can, I must, and I ought always to have or to find a bridge to the Jew in my heart. But as a Christian, I also have to follow the laws of the nation [Volk], which are often presented in a very cruel way, so that again I am brought into the harshest of conflicts with ‘Thou shalt not kill the Jew’ because he too is a child of the eternal Father, I am able to know as well that I have to kill him, I have to shoot him, and I can only do that if I am permitted to say: Christ. [7]

Siegfried Leffler not only spoke of killing the Jews as early as in 1936, a few years prior to it actually being done, but the people attending the meeting did not at any time voice any discontent to what was being said. It was as if it had already become a customary discourse within German Christian congregations. The discussion continued as if the murder of Jews in the name of Christ was an acceptable iniquity. In other words, the murder of Jews was considered an option in dealing with the elimination of Jewish influence on German life and church.

Apologetics within the contemporary church downplay the role of the Christian movement, as it is an awkward moment in history, reminiscent of past atrocities committed in the name of Christ. But the documented history of the church’s influence on Nazi Germany and its crucial effect on public opinion, is so articulate that any attempt at brushing it off as an isolated event, or by claiming that the Protestant Christian movement were actually motivated by sectarian currents, in and by itself becomes inofficious. A stillborn attempt at trying to explain away history. The German Christian movement was a faction within the Protestant church, following in the footsteps of its founder, Martin Luther. They always connected their ideology and approach to the ‘Jewish question’ to him and expressly voiced that their agenda was an attempt to pick up where Luther had left off.

This makes Geller and her co-agitators brutally incoherent. They take something, that may very well be true, out of its context: by picking and choosing events in history, that strengthen their pre-determined panorama of hate. In point of fact, by drawing her conclusions, she is trying desperately to downplay or fully hide, the Christian interspersion on Nazi thought.

Hitler may have observed the game-plan of the Young Turks. This does not mean that Hitler was anymore influenced by Islam than he was by Christianity. As was mentioned at the top, Hitler did draw from the Christian American holocaust of Native Americans, and he did reference Christian spirituality in his speeches. Does that mean that he was Christian or that he was motivated by Christian theology? No, it doesn’t. It means that Hitler was looking for a way to streamline his operational murder and slave camps.

He was not ideologically influenced by any of the examples he was drawing on, he was just trying to find a way to advance his efforts. But that is obviously something that eludes Geller’s ratiocination. It does however show that religion, when hijacked, can get ugly. The German Christian movement is surpassingly good at proving this point.

[1]Adolph Hitler: The Definitive Biography, John Toland. p.202

[2]The Aryan Jesus, p6

[3]Ibid p7

[4]Religious and Anti-Religious roots of Modern Antisemitism, p177

[5]The Aryan Jesus, p8

[6]The Aryan Jesus p14

[7] ThHStA A 1400, 239, February 24-25, 1936. Attedning the meeting: Paul Althaus, Martin Doerne, Erich Fascher, Wolf Meyer-Erlach, Dedo Müller, pastors and senior ministers; Leffler, Leutheuser, Hugo Hahn, The Aryan Jesus, p10.

*Disclaimer: We are by no means endorsing the idea that Christianity is an anti-Semitic religion. We are only exploring the Islamophobic claim that Hitler was inspired by Islam, as well as the relationship between the Third Reich and the German Christian Church.

Benjamin Taghiov is the nom de plum of a Swedish author, specializing in the fields of Political Science and Oriental studies.  A long time admirer of Loonwatch, he plans on contributing more articles in the future.

Pamela Geller and Co. Connected to Norway Bomber Anders Behring Breivik?

Anders Behring Breivik

Pamela Geller and Co. Connected to Norway Bomber Anders Behring Breivik?

We’ve been screaming from the top of our lungs about how these crazed radical anti-Muslim Islamophobes are inciting violence through their hate-mongering. Anders Behring Breivak, arrested as a suspect in the attack has written glowingly of Geert Wilders, Robert Spencer, SIOE, and the EDL. Charles Johnson of LGF reports that he had a link with Fjordman who was a guest writer on Geller’s blog.

Terrorism in Europe has been over linked to an Islamic Muslim threat, even though we reported on how exaggerated the claim was: Europol Report: All Muslims are Terrorists…Except the 99.6% that Aren’t.

(via. Mother-Jones)

What Just Happened in Oslo, Norway? (UPDATES)

This explainer is being updated as more news emerges. Click here for photos from the sceneand here for details about the man arrested in connection with the attacks. For the latest news updates, click here.

The basics: A massive explosion hit Norway’s government hub in central Oslo on Friday, killing at least seven people and injuring at least 15 others. The six-story building that was most heavily damaged included the oil ministry and is next to the building that houses the office of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. The PM was unharmed in the blast and is now operating out of an undisclosed location. Witness testimony and damage at the scene are consistent with reports of a car bombing. The New York Times reports:

Stunned office staff and civil servants working in the vicinity of the bombed building said two explosions could be heard in close succession. The sound of the blasts echoed across the city just before 3:30 p.m. local time. Giant clouds of light-colored smoke continued to rise hundreds of feet into the air over the city…

Photos and television footage showed windows blown out in the 17-story office building across the street from the oil ministry, and the street and plaza areas on each side were strewn with glass and debris.

The first person on the scene “described it as ‘worse than a war zone,’” says Joe Sivilli, who’s talking to Mother Jones‘ Tim McDonnell from on the ground in Oslo. Sivilli, who speaks Norwegian fluently, works at a home-brewed beer shop about 2 kilometers away from the site of the bombing. He says he felt a “rumble, like a small earthquake,” when the bomb went off, but assumed it was just “construction or something like that.” He’ll be monitoring the Norwegian-language media for us as this story develops.

Wasn’t there another attack? A gunman dressed as a policeman reportedly opened fire this afternoon at a Labour party youth camp on the island of Utoya, about 15 miles outside of Oslo, killing at least 80 people (police officials previously reported at least 10 casualties, but had expect that number to rise). Police have a suspect in custody. Prime Minister Stoltenberg was due to visit the camp tomorrow morning, according to NRK, Norway’s national public television broadcaster. (Stoltenberg has attended gatherings at the camp almost every year in recent memory.) On Friday evening, police found undetonated explosives on the island.

Close to 700 teenagers had gathered on Utoya, and initial reports suggested that some tried to flee by swimming. CBS News reports that Kurt Lier, Oslo’s assistant chief of police, “had little information about what had happened on the island, but said if people are leaving island swimming, it is a ‘long swim.’” Hans-Inge Langø, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), saysthe “timing and targets [of the attacks are] too similar for this not to be connected.” The AP reports that Norwegian police say the two events were definitely connected.

The Pamela Connection:

UPDATE 1, Saturday, July 23, 12:16 a.m. EDT: Blogger Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs is reporting that the Oslo bombing/shooting suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, posted often on a Norwegian anti-immigration site and recommended a post by the prominent anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller, who spearheaded the US drive against the planned “Ground Zero mosque.” (We’ve previously covered her activities herehereherehere, and here.) LGF also asserts a link between Breivik and one of Geller’s guest bloggers, Fjordman.

Geller responded on her own website: “This is just a sinister attempt to tar all anti-jihadists with responsibility for this man’s heinous actions…this is war. And the left is vicious, amoral and depraved. They mean to win, and that is the only way they know how.”

UPDATE 2, Saturday, July 23, 11:06 a.m. EDT: Oddmy Estenstad, an employee of agricultural retailer Felleskjøpet, tells CNN that Utoya shooting suspect Anders Behring Breivik bought six tons of fertilizer from the company in May:

She did not think the order was strange at the time because the suspect has a farm, but after Friday’s explosion in Norway’s capital, Oslo, she called police because she knew the material can be used to make bombs.

“We are very shocked that this man was connected to our company,” said Estenstad. “We are very sad about what happened.”

UPDATE 3, Saturday, July 23, 11:09 a.m. EDT: According to the UK’s Daily Mirror, Anders Behring Breivik has been “preliminarily charged with acts of terrorism.” Norwegian police say the 32-year-old Breivik appears to be an extreme right-wing, Christian fundamentalist, due to postings on his website. NRK reports that the suspect is a member of an Oslo gun club, and “was exempted from military service, and thus…has no special education [from the Norwegian] Armed Forces.”

UPDATE 4, Saturday, July 23, 11:19 a.m. EDT: Norwegian media report on eyewitness accounts of the Utoya massacre. The Los Angeles Times also has the story:

Media reports say the gunman apparently used a handgun and a machine gun, and that police arrived at the island possibly 90 minutes after the shooting started. At midmorning Saturday, police were still searching the island for more bodies.  One wounded survivor, Adrian Pracon, described the gunman as “calm and controlled,” shooting people who tried to escape the island by swimming to the mainland…Pracon described his attempt to escape. “We started running down to the water and people had already undressed and started swimming.”

Pracon said he began swimming, but “after 150 meters … I realized I wouldn’t make it so I went back and saw him standing 10 meters from me shooting at the people who tried to swim over.”

What if the Anti-Asian UCLA Girl had Ranted about Arabs?

So by now, most of you have seen the now viral youtube video of Alexandra Wallace, a UCLA student, ranting about Asians:

Here’s a transcript for those of you who can’t stand her voice:

Okay, so here at UCLA it’s finals week.

So we know that I’m not the most politically correct person so don’t take this offensively. I don’t mean it toward any of my friends I mean it toward random people that I don’t even know in the library. So, you guys are not the problem.

The problem is these hordes of Asian people that UCLA accepts into our school every single year, which is fine. But if you’re going to come to UCLA then use American manners.

So it used to really bug me but it doesn’t bother me anymore the fact that all the Asian people that live in all the apartments around me — their moms and their brothers and their sisters and their grandmas and their grandpas and their cousins and everybody that they know that they’ve brought along from Asia with them – comes here on the weekends to do their laundry, buy their groceries and cook their food for the week. It’s seriously, without fail. You will always see old Asian people running around this apartment complex every weekend. That’s what they do. They don’t teach their kids to fend for themselves. You know what they don’t also teach them, is their manners.

Which brings me to my next point. Hi, in America we do not talk on our cell phones in the library. I swear every five minutes I will be — okay, not five minutes, say like fifteen minutes — I’ll be in like deep into my studying, into my political science theories and arguments and all that stuff, getting it all down, like typing away furiously, blah blah, blah, and then all of a sudden when I’m about to like reach an epiphany… Over here from somewhere, “Ooooh Ching Chong Ling Long Ting Tong, Ooohhhhh.”

Are you freaking kidding me? In the middle of finals week? So being the polite, nice American girl that my momma raised me to be, I kinda just gave him what anybody else would do that kinda like, [puts finger up to lips in a "shh" motion]. “You know it’s a library, like, we’re trying to study, thanks!” And then it’s the same thing five minutes later. But it’s somebody else, you know — I swear they’re going through their whole families, just checking on everybody from the tsunami thing. I mean I know, okay, that sounds horrible like I feel bad for all the people affected by the tsunami, but if you’re gonna go call your address book like you might as well go outside because if something is wrong you might really freak out if you’re in the library and everybody’s quiet like you seriously should go outside if you’re gonna do that.

So, thanks for listening, that was my rant. I just — even if you’re not Asian you really shouldn’t be on your cell phone in the library but I’ve just never seen that happen before so thank you for listening and have a nice day.

The reaction to her disastrous video was quite amazing: the public was (rightfully) outraged, and went after her with pitchfork in hand.  The three minute rant ruined her reputation, her career, and perhaps her life.

My question is: what if she had similarly ranted against Arabs?  What if the rant had been not about Asians at UCLA but Arabs in Dearborn, Michigan?  What do you think would have happened?

*crickets chirping*

Yep, nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

Or if anything, maybe she would get a show on Fox News.

Alas, Arabs and Muslims face the last form of acceptable bigotry.

White Terrorism: Jared Lee Loughner Shoots Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Another case of, “All Muslims are Terrorist…no, wait.”

White Terrorism

by Juan Cole

Jared Lee Loughner,the assassin of Federal judge John M. Roll and five others and attempted assassin of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D-AZ), was clearly mentally unstable. But the political themes of his instability were those of the American far Right. Loughner was acting politically even if he is not all there. He is said to have called out the names of his victims, such as Roll and Gifford, as he fired. As usual, when white people do these things, the mass media doesn’t call it terrorism.

It is irrelevant that Loughner may (at this point we can only say “may”) have been a liberal years earlier in high school. If so, he changed. And among the concerns that came to dominate him as he moved to the Right was the illegitimacy of the “Second Constitution” (the 14th Amendment, which bestows citizenship on all those born in the US, a provision right-wingers in Arizona are trying to overturn at the state level). Loughner also thought that Federal funding for his own community college was unconstitutional, and he was thrown out for becoming violent over the issue. He obviously shared with the Arizona Right a fascination with firearms, and it is telling that a disturbed young man who had had brushes with the law was able to come by an automatic pistol. He is said to have used marijuana, which would be consistent with a form of anti-government, right-wing Libertarianism. I don’t think we can take too seriously the list of books he said he liked, as a guide to his political thinking. They could just have been randomly pulled off some list of great books on the Web, since there is no coherence to the choices.

The man who had most to do with Loughner after his arrest, Pima County Sherriff Clarence W. Dupnik, was clearly angered by what he heard from the assassin: “When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry … it is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

When Gifford helped pass the Health Care bill, according to Suzy Khimm, “extremists subsequently encouraged the public to throw bricks through the windows of lawmakers.” Gifford had to call the police once before when an attendee at one of her events dropped a gun. Gifford had complained ‘ in an MSNBC interview that a Sarah Palin graphic had depicted her district in the crosshair of a gun sight. “They’ve got to realize there are consequences to that,” she said. “The rhetoric is incredibly heated.” ‘

The subtext of the angst over the shooting of Gifford is that in recent months Loughner was saying Tea-Party-like things about the Federal government. The violent language of “elimination,” “putting in the cross-hairs,” (as with Palin’s poster, above) “taking back,” “taking out,” to which members of that movement so often resort, has created a heated atmosphere that easily seeps into the unconscious of the mentally disturbed. That is Dupnik’s point.

There apparently is some indication that Loughner had an accomplice, and his arrest and identification will shed a great deal more light on the motivations behind this political massacre. Did Loughner have a Rasputin?

In some ways, the turn of Loughner to the themes of the American far right parallels what happened to Michael Enright, who slashed the throat of a Bangladeshi cab driver at the height of the campaign promoting hatred of Muslims launched last summer-fall by Rick Lazio and Rupert Murdoch. Everyone should have learned from that tragedy that heated rhetoric has consequences.

Those right-wing bloggers who want to dismiss Loughner as merely disturbed are being hypocritical, since they won’t similarly dismiss obviously unstable Muslims who, like the so-called “Patriots” of the McVeigh stripe, sometimes turn violent. (Zacharias Moussawi, for instance, isn’t playing with a full set of backgammon dominoes, and blaming Islam for him is bizarre). In fact, the right-wing Muslim crackpots and the right-wing American crackpots are haunted by similar anxieties, about a powerful government in Washington undermining their localistic ideas of the good life.

AP has video on the shootings, h/t LAT.

Among the last things Gifford did before she was shot was to reply to the Tea Party-inspired congressional reading of the Constitution by reading out the Bill of Rights. She obviously enjoyed pronouncing the words, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” But where members of Congress encourage extreme rhetoric, and where Rupert Murdoch’s stable of demagogues use code to whip up racial hatred and violence, those rights can be withdrawn by vigilante and mob violence. Not the letter of the Constitution can protect us, but only its spirit, and then only when implemented in our daily lives.

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