Ninth Anniversary of September 11
Reject Government’s Anti-Muslim Hysteria!
Step Up the Fight for the People’s
At this time of renewed grief for all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and for the many hundreds of thousands who have died as a result of U.S. aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq and peoples worldwide, Voice of Revolution extends its deepest sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones. We express our deepest sympathies to the families of all those killed and disappeared in the infamous coup that took place in Chile on September 11, 1973, and to the Chilean people. Thirty-six years later the U.S. continues to organize and back violent coups d’etats as it did in Haiti and more recently in Honduras.
The September 11 anniversary is a time of reflection, particularly concerning the U.S. war of terror launched after these attacks. Peoples here and abroad find themselves, nine years later, still facing the crimes of U.S. aggression and occupation. The promised security is non-existent as war is escalating and being extended and economic insecurity deepens. And far from there being an end to racist government profiling and hysteria against Muslims and Arabs and immigrants as well, it has been whipped up to a fever pitch.
The timing and content of this hysteria, focused by the government and monopoly media on a pastor planning to burn the Qur’an, is not accidental. Conditions here and worldwide are calling out for change that favors the people. The U.S. government and the imperialist system it protects continually show themselves incapable of such change. On the contrary, use of violence and war against the peoples are increasing. Anger with the current system of democracy, where the demands of the majority to end war and poverty carry no sway, is increasing.
To divert this anger away from the U.S. imperialist system and its government, while also providing the justification for increased repression, hysteria like that currently whipped up around the pastor’s plans to burn the Qur’an is unleashed. Two things are taking place simultaneously.
One: It is made to appear that the problem lies with individuals and groups of “extremists,” like the pastor, who is now being branded by the government as “un-American.” Together with this is the notion that anything that might put U.S. troops “in harms way,” is also “un-American.” As Obama put it, what the pastor is proposing “is completely contrary to our values as Americans; that this country has been built on the notions of religious freedom and religious tolerance.” And that “this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform.” Then the military interferes in civilian matters, with General Petraeus also saying the action will put the troops in “harms way.”
We are being asked to accept a completely irrational logic. It is not the aggressive wars that put civilians and soldiers in harms way. It is not the government and its mass detention of Arabs, its Guantánamo and Bagram concentration camps with their desecration of the Qur’an as part of torture, the years-long hysteria that there are “homegrown” terrorists and the trumped up cases directed against Arabs guilty of no crime. No, it is not the government and the impunity to use violence that it has unleashed that is the source of the anti-Muslim hysteria. Instead it is a pastor and those like him, these “un-American extremists” who are the problem. And significantly, the ground is being laid by the government to target anyone whose actions can be said to put the troops in “harms way.” Meaning “extremists” whether those like the pastor, or say anti-war activists, longshoremen refusing to load war cargo, veterans organizing against recruitment, are among those who could also be branded as un-American and putting the troops in harms way.
Two: Not only is the government being removed as the legitimate target of the peoples’ anger and rejection, it is now being made the savior in the situation. Obama can be said to have saved the day. The government is painted as the one who is tolerant, protecting the people and the world from “extremists.” And it does this while being responsible for unleashing the impunity for use of violence against Muslims, and immigrants and protesters. That is, it promotes anti-Muslim, or anti-immigrant, or anti-protester hysteria, all while pretending to oppose it. It is a sophisticated effort to disarm and disorient the people.
But beware the government that talks about tolerance — it is those with power that are deciding who will and will not be tolerated. State Department spokesman Crowley perhaps said this most directly. Speaking about the pastor he said, “We think that these are provocative acts.” Crowley added, “We would like to see more Americans stand up and say that this is inconsistent with our American values; in fact, these actions themselves are un-American.”
The government is clearly making a demand that all accept “American values” or face violence and repression. The government is going to decide what is and is not American, what will and will not be “tolerated.” Unable to solve any problem, the U.S. resorts to demanding that everyone adhere to the American values of aggressive war, genocide, racism, exploitation and impoverishment. It wants “to see more Americans stand up” in defense of the government and against those it brands as “un-American.” And those who do not will face the consequences. When coupled with the content of branding actions that could put troops in “harms way,” as “un-American,” the danger to the peoples is grave indeed. It is an effort to split and divide the peoples and keep a government and system incapable of solving any problem in power.
This dangerous direction of the government and the imperialist system it defends must be rejected as anti-people and anti-social, pushing society backward not forward. To block this direction while advancing change that favors the people, it is the anti-war, pro-social agenda of the people that must be brought center stage. It is the struggle for the people’s agenda that can and must move society forward. This fight can be waged by organizing to discuss the modern democracy we require, where the people are empowered to decide. It can be done by strengthening our action with analysis of the tactics and social forms needed in these times. We need our own organizations engaging people in decision making and fighting for our pro-social agenda of people’s empowerment. Let all stand up to advance and defend the people’s agenda!
The U.S. monopoly media, echoing government officials, repeatedly promoted the plan of what was an unknown and un-influential church in Florida to burn the Qur’an on September 11. Similar actions by others in past years have gone unnoticed and unreported by national media. But this year, at a time of increasing discontent among Americans about major problems of society — the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,increasing poverty, unemployment and attacks on rights at home — the government and monopoly media put this plan to burn the Qur’an center stage. More than 150 interviews were done with the pastor of the church in July and August. In the past two weeks it has been made headline news on CNN, Fox and other network newscasts. President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary fo State Gates, Attorney General Holder, and General Petraeus, have all acted to put this issue in the headlines.The media itself reports that here has been “an extraordinary amount of attention for a marginal figure.”
Why the extraordinary coverage?
It is taking place at a time when the following facts and serious concerns of the people are known:
1) The U.S. government continues its crimes of war against Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and providing full funding and backing for the crimes of the U.S.-Israeli siege of Gaza and occupation of Palestine;
2) The U.S. war of state terrorism using collective punishment and racist profiling, at home and abroad, broadly directed against Arabs, Muslims, immigrants, and national minorities, continues.
3) U.S. crimes of indefinite detention and torture continue at the Guantánamo and Bagram concentration camps, as do CIA renditions to torture and government efforts in court to block lawsuits demanding accountability for these crimes. It should be remembered that part of the torture by the U.S. included burning Qur’ans, dumping them in the toilet and otherwise desecrating them;
4) U.S. crimes against the peace of propaganda for war and threats of war continue, including many provocations against Korea and Iran;
5) U.S. crimes of assassination, black ops and drone killings of thousands of civilians continues worldwide.
Yet on this September 11 the lead story is about the pastor of an unknown church planning to burn the Qur’an. The media coverage serves to divert from the government crimes and the fact that it is the government, its military and policing agencies that have and continue to systematically unleash the anti-Muslim hysteria and impunity to use violence against Muslims, immigrants and all the peoples. No one has forgotten the massive round ups in the year following September 11. All remember the numerous trumped and unjust cases since then claiming “homegrown terrorists,” all involving collective punishment of Arab communities by policing agencies and use of police informants. There is also the repeated claim that the war against Afghanistan is aimed at terrorism, while in reality it is the U.S. that is terrorizing and using violence against the peoples and demanding impunity to do so.
The promotion of this story is not accidental. It involves an issue that inflames passions, while also making it appear that the role of the government is to oppose the anti-Muslim hysteria and defend rights. The U.S. government is responsible for crimes against Muslims and all the peoples, and for whipping up the hysteria about Muslims. The monopoly media then echoes and amplifies the hysteria, including giving individuals like the one in Florida extraordinary coverage. He, and other individuals, or similar groups then become the issue, the supposed source of the anti-Muslim hysteria. The government is left off the hook. Indeed in this situation, it is made to look the hero for stopping the pastor. The main target of attack is this individual and those like him — not the existing system and its government, which have shown themselves unable to solve the burning issues of our time — like war and peace, impoverishment and environmental destruction. The public is disinformed, robbed of their own thinking and agenda — which is an agenda of ending the wars, ending the attacks on rights and developing relations of mutual respect and benefit with the peoples worldwide.
Now is not the time to be taken in by these diversions and efforts to block the struggles of the peoples from going forward. Now is the time to step up the struggle for the rights of all and keep our fire aimed at U.S. imperialism, its government and monopoly media, responsible for the problems we face.
In the week leading up to September 11, top government officials, including President Barack Obama, made comments concerning the planned burning of the Qur’an by a pastor in Florida. While it is readily admitted that the pastor involved is an “obscure” person with little influence, his plans have nonetheless been put center stage by the government and monopoly media. In r eviewing the statements by government officials, at this time of renewed grief and broad anger among Americans with the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is worthwhile to consider why the actions of a pastor in the south are at the center of attention, alongside the government intervention to now stop the planned burning of the Qur’an. It is also notable that while the potential act of the pastor is widely condemned as a “destructive act” that would “inflame violence,” and “endanger soldiers,” the same is not said about the continued bombs and drone attacks raining down in Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan. The U.S. wars and occupations are the source of destruction and violence and daily putting millions of civilians in “harms way.”
In an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, conducted September 8 and aired on September 9, Obama addresses himself to the pastor and says:
“If he’s listening, I just hope he understands that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans; that this country has been built on the notions of religious freedom and religious tolerance.” He emphasized, “As a very practical matter, as commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan. We’re already seeing protests against Americans just by the mere threat that he’s making.”
Obama added: “Look, this is a recruitment bonanza for al-Qaeda. You know, you could have serious violence in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who would be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities.”
Asked whether he feels helpless or angry about having to deal with the fallout from the actions of a single pastor with a few dozen followers, Obama acknowledged, “It is frustrating.” He noted, “We are a government of laws, and so we have to abide by those laws. And my understanding is that he can be cited for public burning, but that’s the extent of the laws that we have available to us.”
At a State Department dinner September 7 marking the breaking, by Muslims worldwide, of the Ramadan fast, Clinton said: “We sit down together for this meal on a day when the news is carrying reports that a pastor down in Gainesville, Florida, plans to burn the holy Qur’an on September 11. I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths, from evangelical Christians to Jewish rabbis as well as secular U.S. leaders and opinion-makers.
“Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. Many of you know that in 1790, George Washington wrote to a synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, that this country will give ‘to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.’ The real story of Islam in America can be found in this room and rooms across America. We write it tonight in the spirit of fellowship and the celebration of goodwill that is a hallmark of Ramadan. We will write it in the months and years to come as we continue to reach out to engage people around the world in a search for common ground, common understanding and common respect.”
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, “We think that these are provocative acts.” Crowley added, “We would like to see more Americans stand up and say that this is inconsistent with our American values; in fact, these actions themselves are un-American.”
Comments by Holder
Attorney General Eric Holder, head of the Department of Justice, met with religious leaders September 7 to discuss recent attacks on Muslims and mosques around the United States. The meeting was closed to reporters, but a Justice Department official who was present confirmed that Holder said the plan to burn the Qur’an was “dangerous and idiotic.” Holder also “reiterated the department’s strong commitment to prosecuting hate crimes.”
Comments by General Petraeus
General Petraeus took a step, which by military tradition is not permitted, to publicly take a position on a domestic matter. He sent an e-mail to the Associated Press saying “images of the burning of a Qur’an would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence.” Petraeus, top military commander in Afghanistan for U.S. and NATO troops said, “Even the rumor that it might take place has sparked demonstrations such as the one that took place in Kabul” on September 6. “Were the actual burning to take place, the safety of our soldiers and civilians would be put in jeopardy, and accomplishment of the mission would be made more difficult,” he added.
The massive coverage by the U.S. monopoly media of the planned burning of the Qur’an brought forward the expression of worldwide concern. Various governments called on President Obama to intervene. According to news reports, Indonesia and Pakistan, two countries with the largest Muslim populations, have urged President Obama to stop the event. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia’s leader, wrote to Obama asking him to personally intervene to stop irreparable damage to relations between the West and Muslims “threatening world peace.” Teuku Faizasyah, the Indonesian leader’s spokesman said, “In the letter, President Yudhoyono wrote that Indonesia and the U.S. are building or bridging relations between the Western world and Islam. If the Qur’an burning occurs, then those efforts will be useless.” He added, “There is a deep concern over the planned Qur’an burning ceremony as it could spark conflict among religions.”
Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s President, called on the U.S. to stop “such a senseless and outrageous act.” In a statement he said, “It will inflame sentiments among Muslims throughout the world and cause irreparable damage to interfaith harmony and also to world peace.”
A Government minister for India, with the third largest Muslim population, said “The U.S. authorities have strongly condemned the statement of the pastor, religious leaders all over the world have condemned this proposed action, we too condemn the proposed actions of the pastor.” The minister added, “We hope the U.S. authorities will take strong action to prevent such an outrage being committed.”
Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is now based, said on September 9 the plan was a “shameful act, which is incompatible with the principles of tolerance and coexistence.”
Foreign ministry officials in Kuwait said that the country’s Washington ambassador would ask the U.S. authorities to ensure that the “tolerant Islamic faith is respected.” An official added, “This bizarre plan undermines our faith [and] is a flagrant insult to the feelings of Muslims worldwide and would ruin efforts to preach understanding amongst faiths,” said an official.
The European Union (EU) on September 8 expressed “strong condemnation” of the plan. A spokeswoman said the EU “Respects all kinds of religious beliefs and this is not the right way to go. We strongly condemn any kind of attempt of this kind.”
The United Nations also “expressed deep concern” about the plans. A UN spokesman on September 8 said, “The secretary general is deeply disturbed by reports of a small religious group which plans to burn copies of the Qur’an.” He added, “Such actions can not be condoned by any religion.”