A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Republican National Security Debate

I don't blog about American politics because it's not my brief and I'll offend half my American readers, except when it relates to the Middle East and the Islamic world, but tonight's CNN Republican debate related to little else, except for some attacks on Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. So I'll venture a few comments. Even though, being on blood pressure medication, I shouldn't even have watched.
  1. The reality of the Middle East and the perceived reality seem rather different. At a time when Kurdish forces in Rojava and northern Iraq are pushing towards Raqqa and Mosul and the Iraqi Army and its allies are taking Ramadi and the Syrian regime is also advancing, most candidates said ISIS is gaining ground. It isn't.
  2. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (who must have mentioned that he was a Former Federal Prosecutor half a dozen or more times but who is otherwise one of the less alarming candidates) said, "When I stand across from King Hussein of Jordan, I say to him, 'You have a friend again, sir, who will stand with you to fight this fight,' he'll change his mind." I wonder where he plans to stand across from King Hussein, who died in 1999, 16 years ago?
  3. For all Republican Presidential candidates, "BarackObamaandHillaryClinton" now appears to be a single word. And they seem to have created all the ills of the Middle East. A previous President, brother of one of the folks on the stage, was barely mentioned, except in a question.
  4. We shouldn't have supported Saddam Hussein (we did?), Qadhafi (we did?) or Mubarak (well yeah, we did that) but we shouldn't have overthrown them either (did we?).
  5. It's a sad day when the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt has descended to the point where the only candidate who had a realistic picture of events was Rand Paul. 
  6. The question of exactly which Muslims should be barred from the US seems to have replaced the question of whether any should.
I've been, in one job or another, explaining the Islamic world to the US and vice versa for more than 40 years. There were rough moments for US Muslims during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 and of course after 9/11, but I'm not sure Islamophobia has run as high or as openly as right now. Several mosques have been firebombed. Women in hijab (even some women wearing a scarf because it's winter) are being insulted or physically attacked. One example among far too many is here, where an American-born, only half-Iranian notes:
"Today. On a crowded bus. On Michigan Avenue. On my way home from a great job in a city in a diverse country that I was born in. A man screamed at me. Called me a sand ni**er. Told me I was the problem. That I need to get the fuck out of his country," Drury wrote. "I may have been wearing my scarf higher on my head than usual because it was cold out. I may have show looked suspicious [sic] listening to Spotify. I am half Iranian, so maybe it was my skin or my eyes."
This is on a public bus on Chicago's main avenue, in America's third largest city. Everybody on the Republican stage tonight treats Ronald Reagan as a saint, but I don't think St. Reagan, who called America a "shining city on a hill," wanted Americans subjected to such abuse. (The cultural anthropologists among you may note that the word that is asterisked in the Facebook post [sand ni**er] might have appeared without censorship half a century ago while "get the fuck out of my country" would not have.)

Is this who we are becoming? We must always remember that none of us are immune. The land of Goethe and Heine, Beethoven and Bach produced a Hitler; the land of Dante and Petrarch, Verdi and Rossini produced Mussolini; the land of Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, etc. gave rise to Lenin and Stalin.

Let's not go there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear sir, Republicans live in a delusional world of their own creation.

If one is having conversations with the Divinity, then communicating with King Hussein should be trivial.