When the Politics of Polarization Prevails: Islamophobia and the Specter of Neo-McCarthyism

As a beneficiary of the climate of hysteria and suspicion resulting from those heinous acts of terrorism that shock the world on 9/11, pseudo news outlets such as Front Page Magazine has been raised to prominence in certain Islamophobic circles.

They persistently preached their politics of hate in order to sustain what could only be described as the worst foreign policy initiative undertaken by the United States of America- the Iraq war and a never-ending military quest to conquer a deadly mirage known as “global war on terror.”
To keep this “overblown threat” ubiquitously alarming, any effort to rationally put the security threat in its appropriate perspective or to build a bridge of understanding between Islam and the West must be viewed as outright dangerous or dubious at best.

Unlike the Middle East Forum which is operated by Daniel Pipes, a man many regard as the Islamophobe par excellence, Front Page Magazine, founded by David Horowitz, a man who is no stranger to controversy, does not pretend to foster any analytical objectivity when it comes to Muslims and Islam.

In his own description, his on-line magazine is dedicated to fighting one particular brand of terrorism; you guessed it, “Islamic terrorism.”

However, both Horowitz and Pipes are considered as “experts” in a network of Islamophobes made of individuals, think tanks, lobby and media groups whose primary goal is to marginalize Muslims and kick these “Little Green Footballs (LGFs)” out of the orbit of influence. [LGF is also the most popular website that the network has]
Coincidently, in a span of less than a month, Front Page Magazine has dedicated three or so articles aimed to smear this writer and activist’s name along with other Muslims of good community standing. All three vicious diatribes were authored by the same man, Patrick Poole- an obscure character who apparently specializes in maligning Muslims and Islamic organizations.

And in the hyperbolic nature of his argument and paranoia-driven logic that he employs, Poole sounds as someone inspired by Paul Sperry’s propaganda book ‘Infiltration’ in which he claims that the LGFs have been infiltrating their way up to the White House and that it is incumbent upon the good guys to stop them.

Whatever the case may be, this Front Page hit-man has unleashed a barrage of disinformation, half-truths, and innuendoes that implicates many Muslims whose only crime seem to be that they hold a different opinion of the Israeli/ Palestinian issue.
Not that they deny Israel’s right to exist as a nation among nations, but they, in some way or another, have been shedding a light on the world’s most invisible human rights abuses and what many are now openly describing as that which fuels the raging inferno of the global politics. To the network, these are “terrorist sympathizers” who should be targeted as enemy. But not only Muslims are targeted, for neither former President Jimmy Carter who was recently called “Anti-Semite” and “bigot” nor Professor Norman Finkelstein who was denied tenure at DePaul after the academic review committee has recommend him were Muslims. They were just critical of Israel.

Pipes and Horowitz have co-founded the infamous Campus Watch which, in a manner reminiscent of the McCarthy era tactics of political intimidation and silencing the critics, blacklists reputable professors and academicians who are not willing to sustain the culture of impunity in relation to Israel. Yet there is very little outrage.

In recent years, I have written about a wide range of topics that could have flown in the face of the network. I criticized the Neocon-driven foreign policy as a failure-bound policy propelled by psychological intimidation known as “groupthink.” I argued against Washington inadvertently turning Somalia into another Iraq and how it was imprudent to paint the now defunct Somali Islamic Courts on one paint brush since all were not militant extremists. But, it wasn’t till my article The Finkelstein Principle was published by several media outlets that the heads in certain circles have turned.

If there was ever a straw that broke the camel’s back, it probably was this one; for indeed it is the one article that earned me the most hate mails.

Why? Because, as a world renowned scholar who authored several books and numerous articles on the Israeli Palestinian issue and a man whose parents were holocaust survivors, Finkelstein’s candid criticism of Israel and the scandalous harassment that that criticism has earned him is not easily dismissible. It is this rampant culture of intimidation that unfortunately suppresses the truth and makes viable political solution to the Middle East problem an impossible task.

Consistent with the Iraq Study Group, experts such as Jonathan Stevenson, professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College have been arguing that it is time for Washington to change its belligerent foreign policy toward the Muslim world. Stevenson recently wrote “…one of the most important objectives of counter-terrorism is winning ‘hearts and minds’ to forestall radicalization.”

However, winning hearts and minds will remain a tall order so long as the neo-McCarthy windmills continue to operate in full force and generate the negative energy of fear and hate that sustain political polarization.

The unfortunate reality facing America today is that a great number of people have found comfort in the so-called path of the least resistance, the path that requires little or no critical thinking, the one that conveniently sustains the status quo.