Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Michael Benton: Response to a Message About the Threat of Islamo-Fascism

(I received this cartoon with this message again today--notice how the sentiment of the excellent and important Non Sequitor cartoon is used to sway people toward hatred for "Islamo-Fascists"... my response follows the cartoon and the two adjoined messages. The original message that was forwarded and that I am critiquing is block quoted.)

Please read the little cartoon carefully, it's powerful. Then read the comments at the end, and please - forward it! We cannot, we must not, ever forget what happened in Europe over 60 years ago, because it could happen again. Anyone, any group, could be the target. It has been said that those who refuse to study history are doomed to repeat it. In this case, those who are attempting to rewrite history are probably planning to repeat it! The hatred is already there, in place, taught to the children from infancy, with promises of glory and honor to those who carry out the plans. Forewarned is forearmed, and I'm doing my small part by forwarding this message. I hope you'll do the same Make sure your children and grandchildren understand this too.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. This email is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated with the German and Russia peoples looking the other way!

Now, more than ever, with Iran , among others, claiming the Holocaust to be "a myth," it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets, because the Islamo-Facists want to do it again.

This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide!

Join us and be a link in the memorial chain and help us distribute it around the world.

Please send this e-mail to 10 people you know and ask them to continue the memorial chain.

Please don't just delete it. It will only take you a minute to pass this along - Thanks!


My response:

I'm replying to this email in the interest of expanding the dialogue initiated by the powerful cartoon and to object to the content of the "forwarded" email. I think the cartoon is very powerful and important, but the message that has been attached to it is very disturbing in its attempt to single out so-called "islamo-fascists" as our primary threat. I feel compelled to respond to the claims of the "author/s" of the original message... feel free to respond to me about this ... this is my obssession, I know, but I couldn't ignore it.

I agree in spirit with the message of the cartoon (which is very moving), but I have to object to the notion in the email that it is simply a threat we face from so-called "islamo-fascists"... lets do some house-cleaning here in the US before we start pointing at other cultures. Guantanamo, secret prisons--domestic and foreign, holding american citizens without charging them, rounding up people simply based upon their ethnicity, an impotent mainstream media that serves power, and an increasingly passive, ignorant and/or silent American citizenry that accepts the surveillance of a military-corporate culture. Simplistic incitement of racist (or xenophobic) fears as expressed in this forwarded message are used to distract us from the very real threat at home by our own government/institutions.

Furthermore, the forwarded email neglects to mention the huge numbers of atheists, anarchists, gypsies, homosexuals and socialists that the NAZIs exterminated because of their beliefs and faith. I guess only some beliefs are important to defend?

Some resources to think this through:

Katha Pollitt: The Trouble with Bush's Islamofascism

AlterNet: American Prison Camps are on the Way

Paul Bigioni: Fascism Then, Fascism Now

Roberto J. González: Alberto Gonzales & the Lawyers of the Third Reich

Warrantless Wire-Tapping of Americans

Nancy Gregg: Get Over It

Amy Goodman and David Goodman: The War on Truth

NY Times Editorial on the Anti-Terrorism Bill

Chris Hedges: American Fascists

Michael Taussig: Magic of the State

Umberto Eco: On Fascism

Do We Need a Strong Public Media

Freedom, Despotism, Resistance, Fascism

Robert Paxton: The Politics of Fascism

and for anyone that really wants to plumb the individual and societal relations of control and dominance

Notes on Deleuze/Guattari's Capitalism and Schizophrenia

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