Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Bush made me do it 

In today's "Age", Joseph Wakim, founder the Australian Arabic Council and a former multicultural affairs commissioner builds his castle on the foundations of sand: "George Bush insists that the crimes committed by United State military guards inside Iraqi prisons were an aberration of American values. He fails to see that they are a culmination of his own indoctrination."

What examples of Bush's horrid, dehumanising anti-Arab indoctrination can Wakim cite? Wanting Osama bin Laden "dead or alive". Or his aircraft carrier speech in 2003: "Any person involved in committing or planning terrorist attacks against the American people becomes an enemy of this country, and a target of American justice..." Or his Thanksgiving address to the troops: "you are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq."

In case you were wondering, that's it. This is the sort of vile, over-heated, dehumanising anti-Arab rhetoric that had turned American soldiers into Muslim-hating, Iraqi-abusing monsters. Right?

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, some of us remember that the genesis of these statements were the three hijacked passenger airplanes crashing into the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, killing 3000 civilians. Fancy that bigot Bush thinking that the perpetrators should perhaps be brought to justice!

But why spoil a good story with facts? Notice that nowhere does Wakim cite any real instances where Bush denigrates Islam or Arabs, or makes them the collective target of his wrath. The simple fact is that none exist. And if we're talking about selectivity, how about mentioning the following stories?

- "President Bush... took on the Christian right core of his political base, denouncing anti-Islamic remarks made by religious leaders including evangelist Pat Robertson."

- "Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of people, is a peaceful religion, a religion that respects others," says President Bush.

- "In a score of speeches since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the president has called for tolerance of Muslims, describing Islam as 'a faith based upon peace and love and compassion' and a religion committed to 'morality and learning and tolerance'."
Ah, so this is what Wakim means by dehumanising the enemy and blurring the line between a terrorist and a Muslim.

But Wakim, not satisfied with trashing the bigot in the White House, also has a go at the Hollywood:

"But long before the young soldiers were psyched up by Bush, the anti-Arab predisposition was already there. A steady diet of Hollywood films invariably cast the Arab as the quintessential villain. This generation of US soldiers would have been exposed to blockbusters such as Delta Force (1986), True Lies (1995), Executive Decision (1996), The Siege (1998) and Rules of Engagement (2000). In each conquest, the American heroes reduced the terrorist Arabs to incarceration or incineration. And in each conquest, Arabs were the villains because they were uncivilised and intrinsically evil."
Could it possibly be that in a lot of American movies the terrorists were of Arab ethnicity, because over the last few decades it was Arab, not Latino or Chinese or African terrorists who were responsible for most of the international anti-American and anti-Western terrorism?

And why not mention movies such as "The Sum of All Fears", where out of Hollywood sensitivity, Arab terrorists in the original Tom Clancy's book have been magically replaced with European neo-Nazi terrorists?

But that would be a reasoned argument.


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