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View Diary: (Official Retraction) The Newsweek Backtrack: Did the Right Win a Game of Chicken? (315 comments)

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  •  what caused the riots (4.00)
    I have read the thread. Susan seemed to wait for a comment which explained the Arab/Muslim reaction in knowledgeable terms. And mrblifil has just commented sensibly. But no one has been able to air other hypotheses about the cause of the riots because of an (understandable) emphasis on journalism and politics.

    let's analyze culturally, and use the images already there. The image of the brutal American jailers has a meaning in our politics. But it has a different one for individual Muslims. It is the antithesis of everything Muslim men have been inclined to think about America for decades. It is the forcible de-branding of America. Arabs and Muslims love America. They are the most assimilated immigrant group. In Europe, Muslims fight to retain their identity (and their mosques, their religious schools, their headscarves, etc.). In America they do everything but change their names, and they are great businessmen. In countries like Iran, it took a revolution to wean a people away from the love for American cars, American products, American media, and even now they long to jump over the traces.

    America, for most Muslims, is like 'romance' for Europeans. It means education and a better life, more romance. It is intimately associated with the coming of age of several generations of men, and to a lesser degree with the attainment of some public freedoms by women. It is not associated with traditional or religious obedience. It is 'modern.'

    But the Muslims have been around the block a few times both ways now. Further, the Americans have for some time acted as if they didn't want to be looked up to by the world any more. The burden apparently is too heavy. The Bolton video now current is astonishing - it is exactly like Thrasymachus threatening to box Socrates' ears (in lieu of argument and reason) in the second book of Plato's REPUBLIC. Bolton does everything but bang his shoe on the desk, and the other diplomats can only turn away in disgust. The Irish gentleman's remark was out of embarrassment FOR the American people.

    CTTOI (come to think of it) it's like the nuclear option also. When Lott said that, he meant, precisely, 'the action which will end the conversation'. It means simply, from here on no speech is necessary: we will be acting like animals from this point.

    And we are returned to the brutal 'Deliverance'-style jailer...the ugly, stupid, violent, leering (and Southern) policeman whose Christianity is just white. We have kindly provided the humiliation that is empowering Arab and Muslim men to return to their religious selves. The Guantanamo analysis of prisoners was a 'break their will' strategy. It sounds like something out of Clive of India, and I'm sure that the British, for the last couple of years, including poor Tony B, have honestly only been going along with the Americans because they don't trust you with nuclear weapons.

    At any rate it's clear that the Americans hated the prisoners so much, or feared them so much, that they never tried any real interrogation, - which as any '40s movie fan knows is a gentle thing in which you really do sympathize with the prisoner. You have to make them want to tell. Instead, the Americans are clearly trying out Skinnerian theories on them (and thanks so much, from a philosopher, to the US Army for a fresh demonstration of their pointlessness...). How do you make a Muslim man crumple? You defile him, and he will despise himself (because he is a true believer in an evil god?). And then (although this is a complete non sequitur: you end up with Mohammed Atta this way too) - than you can make him believe whatever you like. But what you do to me when you torture me is simply that which you believe in your heart of hearts you yourself deserve. You are the one who is in fear. You are humiliated in the eyes of God. I am only broken in body.

    Socrates said just that.

    Hence the humiliation. What Guantanamo did to individuals, Bolton would do in New York. So many people are genteel and thoughtful, willing to work for the good...you have to scream those people out of their ordered minds. That is, I'll take a piece of the obligatory reference, exactly how Hitler did it - through public policy and political gyrations which simply confused the legislative class until they were no longer a factor.

    But FOR the Arabs and Muslims - I use the word 'for' here in the French sense, a phenomenon not as it is FOR us in America, but as it is perceived by Arabs and Muslims - for them there is only one phenomenon, religious and racial intolerance, centered in Palestine and spread throughtout the world. And we are going to miss a very big part of once our destiny this way. The Muslim world was destined to ally itself with the Christian world. Our religions and theirs, our songs and theirs, and histories and theirs could have been read together, in a way meant to preserve both traditions.

    As things stand, both traditions may end up as curios in a Chinese history shop. But I digress.

    It may have been thought a overextension of the original metaphor to go from Guantanamo to Bolton. But from Bolton to Bush, the United States always makes clear that it considers the Arabs and Muslims as it once did the American Indians. That is, as stupid half-humans who can safely be lied to with enough attendant brutality. I say this because one of George Bush's most transparent lies (I hear everyone scanning their long lists) was the one to Arafat right after 9/11 - promising a Palestinian state in return for assurances that there was not after all a worldwide Muslim conspiracy, in return for a statement condemning Al Qaeda.

    Muslims know what lying is, and they know what it means that Arafat was not only lied to, but assassinated (by degrees). I can lie to my brother and still have a brother, but Arafat was meant to die in humiliation. How Bush must have hated even calling him.

    I appreciate anyone's tolerance of this long note. If you have seen the Bolton video, you realize why I can genuinely feel sorry for him and those like him.

    What caused the riots? The riots are in no way a 'response' actually provoked by a Newsweek blurb. The world may not even be reacting to the aggressive idiocy of the Americans at this point. The world, seeing them rot, is waiting for them to fall. Rather, the riots are the beginning of a force which is sweeping across Africa and South Asia. There will be war, lo-tech war waged by children against peasants, and the Americans will not even make any money out of it. Gandhi told the British: 'You will leave.' But what will they be left with? That which stirs your 'wingnuts' into frenzy is not your catching them out (though please keep doing that); it is the smell, from afar off, of humiliation coming to them on a historical scale.

    •  Thank you! (none)
      Excellent comment.  As a part-Choctaw (native american) I can definitely see the fear and terror of a humiliation long due in every wingnut's eyes.

      The problem is I'm associated with those @22hats by proxy....

      the "Internets" are gonna kill you guys. The revolution isn't being televised. -Me, banned on freepland and lgf

      by quartzite on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:42:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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