A Times piece reports that Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham have both accused Sen. Paul of “scaremongering” after the latter raised questions about the Obama administration’s authority to kill US citizens on US soil. McCain’s remarks were quickly followed up with some scaremongering of his own:
“We’ve done, I think, a disservice to a lot of Americans by making them think that somehow they’re in danger from their government. They’re not. But we are in danger from a dedicated, longstanding, easily replaceable-leadership enemy that is hellbent on our destruction.”
In the first place, what does it say about a society that this doesn’t count as scaremongering, because its already been normalized by the media and the government. Brown people from the Third World threatening to kill you? No, that’s not scaremongering, that’s just reality.
If we were to explore that idea a little more, we might begin to wonder about why it is that all these people are “hellbent” on America’s destruction. Might it have something to do with supporting dictators in Muslim countries but overthrowing democratically elected leaders, violating the sanctity of their holiest places by placing military bases (and recently, a drone base) nearby, using drone strikes to terrorize local communities, waging two noticeably protracted wars that have completely destroyed two countries, and the history of genocidal sanctions the US has enacted (and continues to use) against countries we don’t like? In fact, didn’t a Rumsfeld-era Pentagon report from 2004 say exactly that?
Secondly, McCain is guilty of conflating the core Al-Qaeda (as defined by the US government) with offshoots and affiliates who often share nothing more than a common ideology. Within the context of international law, the lack of a common command structure amongst these groups makes it entirely illegal for the US to be targeting these other groups. Moreover, McCain builds on this mythology that Al-Qaeda is this multi-headed hydra deeply embedded all over the world that is capable of bringing this empire to its knees if not for our immense national security complex (thus justifying it at the same time). Strangely, Obama doesn’t seem to think much of Al-Qaeda, instead describing it in his SOTU address as a “shadow of its former self.”
Finally, I’ve been writing a lot about the issue of racism inherent in the mainstream political discourse, and I just wanted to end with an excerpt from a piece I came across in the Times today titled The Good, Racist People:
In modern America we believe racism to be the property of the uniquely villainous and morally deformed, the ideology of trolls, gorgons and orcs. We believe this even when we are actually being racist. In 1957, neighbors in Levittown, Pa., uniting under the flag of segregation, wrote: “As moral, religious and law-abiding citizens, we feel that we are unprejudiced and undiscriminating in our wish to keep our community a closed community.”
A half-century later little had changed. The comedian Michael Richards (Kramer on “Seinfeld”) once yelled at a black heckler from the stage: “He’s a nigger! He’s a nigger! He’s a nigger!” Confronted about this, Richards apologized and then said, “I’m not a racist,” and called the claim “insane.”
The idea that racism lives in the heart of particularly evil individuals, as opposed to the heart of a democratic society, is reinforcing to anyone who might, from time to time, find their tongue sprinting ahead of their discretion.
How long must we persist in our delusions?