They agree on Islamophobia
THE NEW York Times story on Obama’s “kill list,” showing the president poring over lists of biographies and selecting the names of people to be assassinated in drone strikes, sparked a controversy.
The content of that controversy was not over this extraordinary revelation about Obama’s use of power, but rather over the leaking of state secrets, which Republicans accused him of doing to bolster his re-election campaign. Some liberal commentators (at Salon, The Nation, etc.) were rightfully horrified and condemned such activity. But the Democrats—and much of the liberal establishment—remained silent.
Deep in the Times article, another shocking revelation that hasn’t received as much attention as the “kill list” is the Obama administration’s effort to erase the deaths of some innocent victims by categorizing “all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.” This excludes them from the civilian casualties count, allowing the administration to claim that civilian casualties have been minimal. What we see at work here is that Muslim men in “combat zones” have been operationalized as guilty, and therefore worthy of death, simply for being of “military age.”
How did we get to a place where innocent Muslim men can be killed with impunity around the world with little public outcry? The short answer is that Muslims have been thoroughly terrorized. That is, Muslim men have been effectively constructed as “terrorists” upon whom righteous terror can be rained.
The image of the Muslim enemy in the U.S. is not new. While Hollywood and television play a key role in conveying that image to the public, they did not create it. The “Islamic terrorist” threat is inextricably tied to a long history of US imperialism.