Sunday, February 26, 2006

Rall, Coulter, Mohammed, Karma and War

Okay. I'm back. Been grading papers for the past 10 days...

I don't know where to begin, so let me just plunge in. I was reading an interesting article by a guy named Ted Rall. He claims "conservative" pundit Ann Coulter slandered him by saying that Rall agreed to write anti-Semitic cartoons for Arab countries (an proposed Arab response to the recent cartoon depictions of the Prophet Mohammed in European newspapers). Rall, who does write cartoons and is left-of-center, says her claim is false and that he has now been officially slandered (actually, when the slander appears in print, the term is "libeled").

Rall believes that it's going to take a lawsuit to stop Coulter from continuing to spew her lies and vitriol (which she, of course, has turned into an impressive money-making empire, with book signings, TV talk-show appearances, radio spots, and the cover of Time magazine).

Now, I must admit it would be nice to see a well-heeled liberal take her to court and deconstruct her nasty world a bit. But lawsuits aren't the answer in a country that believes in free speech. Instead, the answer lies in another freedom: freedom of association. The sooner that Republicans, and more specifically, "Buckley and Will Conservatives" distance themselves from her hateful positions, the more civilized and humane this country will be. Human morality and personal ethics must come into play here.

And remember, just because Coulter is anti-liberal does not mean she is conservative; she has been getting away with blurring those definitions for some time now. Republicans fell in love with her because she attacked any liberal position ferociously. She's a one-trick pony because she simply takes any liberal position and rejects it. There's no discussion. There’s no consideration of another side. Not a good way to create new knowledge from an epistemological perspective, is it? No higher-mindedness on her part, it seems.

She also claims to be a Christian, but I don’t remember Christ filling his gospels with any of the bigoted nastiness that comes forth from Coulter. I’ve read the gospels, and I know that they are filled with love, spirituality, and acceptance. In this context, her positions sound more like the Romans than the Christians. In fact, the Christian positions become antithetical to Coulter's. So where's the Christianity?

Here are some of Coulter's famous comments as they relate to Muslims:

When asked by the reporter about what Muslims should do for travel, she replied: "They could use flying carpets."

On February 10, 2006, Coulter spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where she referred to Arabs as "ragheads". She said, "I think our [US] motto should be, post-9-11: "Raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences."

The audience then applauded her.

One obvious problem with her position is that she offers no distinction of perspective within the Muslim world. Yes, there is a fundamentalist Muslim faction that needs to be identified, disrupted, and dealt with effectively (including the use of deadly force on occasion), but her perspective is so broad that she succeeds in creating only an “Other”: a nameless, faceless "ragheaded" Muslim who is to be continuously hated and feared. Clearly, not the road to peace that Christ would most likely offer.

The funny thing is that most of the problems between the Western world and the Muslim world stem from lack of knowledge. If we follow the polemicists (and Coulter is at the top of this list on the Right), we continue to live in ignorance and never bridge the gap between the two cultures.

Follow me here...after 9/11, many Americans expressed the disbelief that anyone would want to attack the US. After all, the United States is a generous country. We give lots of money to lots of countries, including Arab countries. So what’s the problem? Why would anyone want to attack the US?

In truth---in additon to the problem of Americans being drunk on foreign oil---the problem comes down to lack of knowledge. Arabs see Western culture through Western television and media, which is filled with all kinds of pill-popping, alcoholic, violent, rude and crass behavior.

Personally, and here’s where I begin to sound like a Conservative, I am offended by many of the television shows on prime time. Children back-talking their parents, penis jokes and sexual innuendo included on a regular basis, passive-aggressive behavior…wow. I can’t watch it.

So, if I were to judge America by only what I see and hear on TV and radio, I might think American was the Great Satan, too. Sex and drugs and violence and no reverence. But I know better. I live here. I see how American culture values children, family, and friendship...Children in Erie move through school with great support from the community. Plus, there are YMCAs and churches and hospitals and colleges. I have friends who would come to my aid in a moment and I would go to them. This must be true in the Muslim world as well. Muslims would understand America better if they knew more about the everyday life of Americans and less about the vitriol pumped out for profit by people like Ann Coulter.

And Americans, as a people, are generous, forgiving, loving, honest, and respectful. So what’s the problem? Part of the problem is that people like Coulter represent Americans as nasty bigots. She certainly doesn’t represent my position or the position of most of the people around me—people who would more likely love somebody than hate them.

I mentioned Mohammed earlier and I wanted to return to him before closing. There is much to the Koran, and I am only beginning to understand the teachings of The Prophet Mohammed, but I can tell you he believed that all humans shall be held responsible for their deeds, which is a very Christian concept and basically a law of karma.

In addition, Mohammed did not completely reject Judaism and Christianity, the two other monotheistic faiths known to the Arabs. Instead, he said that he had been sent by God in order to “complete and perfect their teachings.”

The ugly part of this is the fact that the Mohammed page on Wikipedia has recently been vandalized and has therefore been made “temporarily unavailable” for editing; the same protocols had to be applied recently to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Wikipedia entry (near the time of his birthday). So, racism is alive and well. And it’s the racists, who typically have fundamentalist ideas, who are the problem.

Here’s why: American racists and fundamentalists are currently at war with Arab racists and fundamentalists. This does not reflect the position of the middle-of-the-road American, yet we’re the ones footing the bill, living with the danger, and sending our children into battle.

So what’s the solution?
In addition to continuing to educate people about racism and the negative effects of racism, Muslims and Westerners must begin learning more about one another. Remember this: Through knowledge comes respect. Other cultures will come to respect us as they come to know us; we will also come to respect the Muslim world as we come to know it. It shall be so.

Therefore, we should not let the racists and the bigots represent us any longer. Hopefully, Blogs will go a long way toward realizing this dream, as average people can now be heard above those who own the spotlight. We need to share knowledge and begin to understand the Muslim world. It’s the only way to achieve peace.

Speaking of peace, do you ever hear the word "peace" uttered by anyone these days, particularly those neoconservatives who currently run this country? There is no talk of peace. My thesis is that peace is not something this administration is interested in. They never talk about it. Ever. Why? Peace is a very difficult concept that needs to be implemented through honesty and dedication and determination. In other words, it's too much work and there is little to be gained from it. It is much easier and far more profitable to go to war.

Besides, it is much easier to control the populace if they live in fear of "terrorism" and war...and Coulter, in her zealotry, abets the war machine by creating fear of the Other. I'll wait till another day to comment on the Necons, but as a sidenote, there is an article written by a British guy named Charley Reese that has been circling through the Internet. In it, he offers an interesting and strident perspective on Neoconservatives that everyone should read.

Believe it or not, if we’re all going to live in this world together and continue the current population growth (and with the Republicans now ramping up to overturn Roe v. Wade), we must begin talking of peace with the world around us. This Muslim issue has been building for years (I am old enough to remember the 1972 Olympics when a Palestinian group called Black September captured Israeli athletes, held them as hostages, and eventually killed all seven). I did not understand it at the time, but now I do. There was a lesson to be learned here, but instead of learning to speak of peace (although there was certainly some effort), the conversation always returned to war. War has ravaged that part of the world for many years and created a great deal of human suffering, but we have not yet learned how to conduct peace on a global scale and so the situation remains until we can really learn to figure it out.

It may take a long time, but humans will figure it out. And I'm not being partisan here. I believe humanity continues to develop spiritually; however, we have not collectivelly reached the point where we can create peace on a global basis.

This much is true: War among the races can only hurt humanity. War can only lead to fear and death and the continued cyclical patterns of fear and death that result. In our time, continued war will overextend the United States and potentially lead to its demise (remember the the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics?). Nothing can come from war; only profit for the greedy and death for the people.

Remember this, too: much of the US is owned by other countries right now (Japan and Great Britain are at the top, and don't forget China and India). If US debt becomes too much and the owners begin to foreclose, then the only way to keep out the influence of "foreign" government landlords will be to have a powerful military. That’s why the current administration is spending so much on weapons; Cheney understands the situation too well. So, it will likely be WAR from this point forward, unless something changes. I surely hope it does, because I don’t want to be at war with anyone. Most people share my view.

In closing, I doubt that Rall will sue, because he's too smart to get his life tied up in suing Coulter. But Coulter will definitely have to watch herself, because the laws of karma are at play here. She seems to be in a position where she is making money by spreading hatred--creating disconnections rather than connections---and that, in my view, is not for the good of the world. In most religions, including Christian or Muslim, you “get what you give.” As far as I can tell, Ann Coulter has given us a lot of divisiveness and black magic. We need to banish the black magician and pull toward peace. It's the only way...




Ralph said...


My first thought upon my initial read of your post, is, of course, that war is easier than peace in many cases. There seems to be a natural inclination of mankind toward violence, dating all the way back to Cain and Abel. (To throw in some good ole' conservative literlism.)And I'd have to say that your statement "American racists and fundamentalists are currently at war with Arab racists and fundamentalists. This does not reflect the position of the middle-of-the-road American." is wrong. I think, based on the outcome of our last two elections, the middle-of-the-road American is generally a racist and a fundamentalists - and in less educated Muslim countries, this is probably even more true. Yes, we can encourage and preach tolerance, but people Limbaugh, Bush, and Coulter have done a great job tapping into an often unexpressed viewpoint in America - and given it expression. These people have been repressed by the liberal media for a long time, but are now getting their message out. Even without them, Muslims still hate us because of their own conservatism. More later.


DocTorDee said...

I can see your point. There is certainly much rasicm and bigotry in the United States; I said as much in my posting. But I don't think you can effectively argue that the outcomes of the last two presidential elections can be completely attributed to racist attitudes in the US [See "Sophistry" in the dictionary.]

As you and I both know, the reasons for two doses of Bush are complex (you know the routine: Bush allegedly has more "character" than Clinton, the role of Big Business in keeping Cheney in office, the Rise of the Christian Right, blah, blah, blah)...Meanwhile, the Dems have done little to counter the weight of the Republican machine, and we can't really attribute their incompetence to racism.

So, I definitely see your point about the prevalence of fundamentalist bigotry in the US and how commentators such as Limbaugh, Coulter, etc. have capitalized on that sentiment; it's the same point I'm arguing for.

So, if I lean more toward your less hopeful but possibly more realistic perspective, I can claim that so many Americans are bigoted racists that we are really, really, really need of tolerance. Unless we, as citizens of the US, want to be in a state of eternal war.

Carry on.


Ralph said...

Right. DocTorDee

Firmly agree with you call for more tolerance, although it's a very tough thing to achieve. There is plenty of marketing in that media machine of ours that preaches selfishness and greed - which clearly lead to intolerance.

I'll have to admit that the first read through, I didn't fully catch your strong ending. I love your theory about us needing a strong army to bully the smarter countries who are going to own us economically. And I agree that this is a short-term strategy at best. Then again, I guess on some levels, being a converative is about reisting change - which is all about being short-term. Yes, unfortunatley, the American Empire appears to be on a downswing. It will probably take more years to play out than the doomsayers would have you believe - similar to the way technology adoption always takes longer to catch on - but the tide has turned. Maybe we all just better get in line behind Dick (not in front of him of course) with our shotguns pulled.

We huntin' wasically wabitz or something like that...