August 12, 2006

Suddenly, I'm an 'Islamic Fascist' by Jonathan Cook.
As we approach the fifth official anniversary of the "war on terror," the foiled UK "terror plot" has neatly provided George W. Bush, the "leader of the free world," with a chance to remind us of our fight against the "Islamic fascists." But what if the war on terror is not really about separating the good guys from the bad guys, but about deciding what a good guy can be allowed to say and think?

What if the "Islamic fascism" President Bush warns us of is not just the terrorism associated with Osama bin Laden and his elusive al-Qaeda network but a set of views that many Arabs, Muslims, and Pakistanis – even the odd humanist – consider normal, even enlightened? What if the war on "Islamic fascism" is less about fighting terrorism and more about silencing those who dissent from the West's endless wars against the Middle East?


This month it is Lebanon. Next month it will probably be Iran. Then maybe it will be back to Baghdad or the Palestinians. The horror stories sound so much less significant, the need for action so less pressing, when each is unrelated to the next. Were we to watch the Arab channels, where all the blood and suffering blends into a single terrible Middle Eastern epic, we might start to make connections, and maybe suspect that none of this happens by accident.

But my Arab friends and High Wycombe's Pakistanis have longer memories. Their attention span lasts longer than a single atrocity. They understand that those numbers – 151 killed in Gaza, and in a single incident 33 blown up in a market in Najaf, Iraq, and at least 28 crushed by rubble from an Israeli attack on Qana in Lebanon – are people, flesh and blood just like them. They can make out, in all the pain and death currently being inflicted on Arabs and Muslims, the echoes of events stretching back years and decades. They see patterns, they make connections, and maybe discern a plan. Unlike us, they do not sigh, they burn with fury.

This is something President Bush and his obedient serf in Britain, Tony Blair, need to learn. But of course, they do not want to understand because they, and their predecessors, are responsible for creating those patterns and for writing that epic tale in blood. Bush and Blair and their advisers know that the plan is far more important than the rage, the "red" alert levels at airports, or even planes crashing into buildings and plunging out of the sky.

And to protect that plan – to preserve the Middle East as a giant oil pump, cheaply feeding our industries and our privileged lifestyles – those who care about the suffering, the deaths, and the wars must be silenced. Their voices must not be heard, their loyalty must be questioned, their reason must be put in doubt. They must be dismissed as "Islamic fascists."


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