Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's the difference between a jihadist and a conservative?

The right-wing in America has gotten so loony, and so determined to oppose Barack Obama, that they're sounding like the religious nuts we're fighting.

This reminds me of that comment (I'd call it a joke, but... I wonder) by Juan Cole: "On censorship, the teaching of creationism in schools, reproductive rights, attributing government policy to God's will and climate change, Sarah Palin agrees with Hamas and Saudi Arabia rather than supporting tolerance and democratic precepts. What is the difference between Palin and a Muslim fundamentalist? Lipstick."

For the latest example, check out how both are taking the death of Osama bin Laden:
"I will wait for the Mujahideen to confirm this, and will not believe until I see a picture of his dead body," wrote one jihadi sympathizer on Islamic Awakening (IA)—one of several such forums provided to Mother Jones by Aaron Y. Zelin, a researcher at Brandeis University who tracks online militant activities on the website Jihadology.net.

This sentiment, and many others by Islamists, were echoed by conservative detractors of the president. "Obama can claim what ever he wants but his word is no good," wrote one commenter on the right-wing site Free Republic. "Without proof that Osama is dead and staying dead, I don't have to believe anything he says."

The "Osama is still alive" theory, in fact, gained traction with Islamists and right-wingers alike through the night after the Pakistani Taliban released a statement to that effect and the White House announced Bin Laden would be buried at sea. "Good news brothers," wrote one IA commenter. "Its aired on pakistani news channel ,the word of taliban that Shaykh Osama is alive!" About the same time on Free Republic, a poster calling himself salamander wrote: "The commie muzzie usurper in chief had better release photos and videos toot sweet. WTF with this burial at sea before the body is cold?...Something about this smells."

Of course, their response isn't exactly the same. So what's the "lipstick" in this situation?
Among those who took the president at his word, the jihadis and right-wingers expressed anger...albeit for different reasons. Some Muslims suspected that Bin Laden had been defiled, in life and in death. "Brothers and Sisters," wrote one IA poster, "ive recieved disturbing news that the Sheikh was tortured before being shot, Their are videos reportedly surfacing of...a plunger being stuck in his rectum before being shot... MAY ALLAH destroy these barbarian kuffar."

Conservatives, on the other hand, were concerned that the sea-burial plan, undertaken according to Muslim edicts, was too respectful an epilogue for a terrorist. "This is pathetic and I am sick of kissing up to Muslims, of which our president is one," wrote dayglored on Free Republic. "Muslim and Arab leaders all over the world are threatening the USA, and endorsing the slaughter of Christians and Jews on a daily basis. This is not an ending, this does not satisfy justice."

Funny, huh? Of course, I'd expect no better from our enemies. But Republicans are desperate to downplay the fact that Barack Obama accomplished something they couldn't, despite invading Afghanistan (supposedly for this very reason).

And this minor "lipstick" difference aside, our jihadist enemies and our right-wing loons think surprisingly eye to eye about many things:
Whether or not the White House lied about killing Bin Laden, many jihadis and right wingers seemed to agree that Obama was looking to score political points. Papa Ray, a commenter on the right-wing military blog Blackfive,...

CJ Grisham, a prolific conservative military blogger, tweeted...

Grisham's feelings (about everything but the shirts) were mirrored by the IA Islamists. "The gist of [Obama's] speech unequivocally bares election-driven character," wrote Abu Abdallah al-Bulghari on IA. "That's what all we are to Kuffaar [infidels]: not friends (of course), not honest business partners, not enemies - pawns in their election battles."

Another user, Yahya, argued that the Pakistani army had actually held Bin Laden for some time before Sunday. "they were waiting for the right time to benefit americans to show him to world after killing him," he wrote. "nowadays american economy was so low that americans were near the brink of protests so now americans will forget there situation for while."

Free Republic user imfrmdixie agreed that Obama was playing politics, but added an islamophobic twist. "Who wants to bet Obama didn't know a thing about this when it happened," he wrote. "He claims he all but pulled the trigger in his earlier Me! Me! Me! speech but I suspect we kept it from him out of fear he'd blab to his Muslim Brotherhood/AQ buddies."

Gee, you'd kind of think a politician would hold off on this until just before an election. Heh, heh. Well, loons are loons. Crazy knows no political boundaries or cultural fault lines. And it's remarkable how often we tend to turn into our enemies, anyway. We're fighting autocratic religious nuts, so you wouldn't expect us to turn to autocratic religious nuts ourselves, would you?

But it actually seems to be our democratic, pluralistic, tolerant side that loses out. We, too, start to give up on freedom of religion and the strict separation of church and state. We, too, start to demand that everyone think the same. We, too, start to argue that might makes right, that violence, not compromise, is the answer. It's really weird, don't you think?

Incidentally, if you want to read some interesting speculation about Pakistan's connection to Osama bin Laden, check out this column in The New Yorker. Of course, there's not much we can do about it. Pakistan is an unstable, nuclear-armed Muslim nation, and we're already in an interminable war on their border.

The very best thing we could do about this whole region is to research and invest in alternate energy, so we could wean ourselves from our oil addiction. No, we can't ignore any part of the world, not these days. But then, at least, we could stand back and look at things more objectively.

An addict looking for his fix doesn't usually make good decisions.

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