Writing at The Propagandist before the September 11 anniversary, Ben Cohen drew a connection between two people who, on the surface, couldn’t appear more different:
[W]here [Pamela] Geller has “Islam” waging a war on “us,” [George] Galloway will flip it and roar that “we” are waging war on “Islam.” Some of his co-speakers at the 9/11 conference – like Cynthia McKinney and Wayne Madsen – will go one step further by claiming that the opening salvo in this war was actually an inside job, and that we should look to Mossad, rather than Al Qaeda, for answers.
Lost in all this is the salutary observation made by Jonathon Narvey in these pages yesterday that when western bombast touches off violence in the Islamic world, the majority of those left dead are more than likely to be Muslims. Lost, too, is the understanding that the potential clash of pathologies at Ground Zero could just as easily result in an embrace.
Take, for example, the record of both camps on the orgy of Serb nationalist violence in the Balkans during the 1990s. Geller has been outspoken in her defense of the late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, the architect of ethnic cleansing, and Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb war criminal who directed the rapes and massacres in Banja Luka, Srebrenica, Gorazde and other Bosnian towns and cities. For Galloway, speaking on his show on the Iranian Holocaust denial outfit Press TV, Milosevic, Karadzic and his old buddy Saddam Hussein were set up as war criminals in order to hide the real war criminals (no prizes for guessing whom he is referring to.)
It may be true that one is motivated by loathing of Muslims and the other by a loathing of the United States and all its works, but what should that tell us? For one thing… that the semblance of division elides an underlying unity. For another – and this is perhaps a tad more important – that the lesson of Bosnia and Kosovo is that the United States is not at war with Islam, and nor is Islam at war with the United States, except in the heads of these demagogic popinjays.
Still not persuaded? Then consider this. Back in July, the Taliban congratulated the Dutch government on the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan. That little triumph, as Terry Glavin argued in a piece on the left and Afghanistan, “was handed to them by the right-wing populist Geert Wilders.”
Indeed one of the lesser-reported facts about Wilders and his Dutch Freedom Party is that they were among those who successfully clamored for the Netherlands to withdraw from the NATO contingent in Afghanistan. Given their anti-Muslim bigotry, of course, this position made perfect sense. Why spend blood and treasure helping to protect Muslims from other Muslims when, in the end, they’re all just Muslims?
Now Wilders is one of those heading to New York for the 9/11 commemorations, but whose event will he be attending? He’s speaking at Geller’s rally, in fact, but there is no reason why he should not, literally and metaphorically, cross the street later on to join Galloway in pressing the case that the Muslim girls and women of Afghanistan be left to the mercies of the Taliban. After all, if Islam is a monolith, then who cares what happens to its adherents?
Those of us who still cling to reason should remember that whether Muslims are killed in the name of isolationism or cultural relativism or anti-imperialism, they are still being killed – and that many non-Muslims, some in uniform, some not, will die alongside them. That is why I want to end by restating what, to us at any rate, is obvious. The ominous force which carried out 9/11 was that complex of reactionary beliefs known as Islamism, not the physical presence of Muslims in America or anywhere else.
Moreover, while the Gellers and Galloways of this world screech about what divides us, in the schools of Kabul and the voting booths of Sulaymaniyah, we are afforded a glimpse of what unites us. I’ve too much respect for the memory of those who perished on 9/11 to boil that down into a placard slogan to wave at Ground Zero, but it’s what I shall quietly think about.