By Hatem Bazian
April 5, 2018
While growing up, reading the adventures of Ali Baba provided steady stimuli for my imagination and a unique conduit to contemplate virtue, chivalry and the criteria to ascertain right from wrong. The story of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves is still fresh in my mind as if I had just read it yesterday. Comparatively speaking, the current White House is akin to Ali Baba's story with the 40 thieves, in the sense that it currently serves as a den for Islamophobes with President Donald Trump himself acting as the "Islamophobe-in-chief". The comparison does not have to be precise to be valid since we cannot count a total of 40 Islamophobes in the White House, but nevertheless, the number should not distract us from the concentration of anti-Muslim bigotry within the Trump administration, especially with the arrival of two new members into the Islamophobia den.
The recent addition of both John Bolton as a national security advisor, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who is nominated for secretary of state, proved that the White House serves as a den of Islamophobia."John Bolton's Cozy Relationship with Anti-Muslim Hate Groups Should Disqualify Him from Public Service" was a spot-on and perceptive online headline on Dec. 14, 2016, of The Nation – a left-leaning publication that opposed the possibility of Bolton's inclusion in the new Trump administration. Fast-forward to March 2018, and Bolton has found his way into an important office at the White House, adding to the Islamophobia den's membership and the cast of characters that made anti-Muslim bigotry a ladder to slither-up into positions of power. Trump’s presidency should be rightly called the Islamophobia administration with the White House serving as the den. During his campaign, Trump promised to drain the swamp, but ended-up deepening and filling Washington's political gorges with bigotry, racism and a steady stream of anti-Muslim venom. The current administration has created a swamp of indecency, built walls of anti-immigrant ignorance and promoted Islamophobic spokespersons who spew bigotry and conspiratorial arguments at every turn.
Bolton is the latest figure to join the den of the Islamophobes in the White House in a long line of such personalities who have been given a new role in the Islamophobia administration. The president himself arrived at the White House riding on an Islamophobia float, having been able to translate anti-Muslim bigotry and animus into votes at the ballot box. Islam is the Ali Baba of today. It is chased and demonized so as to keep filling the thieves' den with stolen gold, silver, and valuables while all along diverting attention away from the real robbers. Islamophobia is a winning ticket and is tried and tested in the U.S., U.K., Netherlands, France and other European countries with society's problems dumped on the backs of the Muslims and migrants while those 40 or more thieves are running back and forth to their metaphorical or real den to stash away the wealth of the poor and impoverished populations around the globe.
Here, we have the successful formula of misinform the people, starve education, cut healthcare, disrupt elections with massive contributions, stash away funds in off-shore accounts, out-source jobs, destroy the environment, dig for oil in natural reserves, stoke racial tension, sharpen cultural wars, rally around guns and patriotism, free market thievery of the southern hemisphere, pile on debt to unsuspecting and structurally made ignorant people and then hoist up Muslims as the source of all the problems and the cause of the undermining of Western civilization itself. Also extend the blame-Islam type of Islamophobia in the form of anti-Islamist political engagements in Muslim-majority countries, which has been utilized likewise as a winning strategy to counter the possibility of change in the Arab world. Islamophobia works, and if you doubt it does, I give you Trump and Brexit as exhibits A and B, and can provide many more if needed.
This is the game plan for the Islamophobia industry that resides now in the White House with a president who is firmly committed to this worldview. Indeed, Bolton has deep and direct links to the leadership of the Islamophobia industry. In 2010, he wrote the foreword to a book authored by Pamela Geller and fervent anti-Islam activist Robert Spencer, "The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America." The book is filled with racist and venomous insults and conspiratorial attacks on then President Barack Obama. Throwing the book into the recycling bin would be an insult to the bin and would undermine the concept of recycling itself, for bigotry should not be given any breathing room, even if it comes in recycled form. Furthermore, Bolton appeared at least twice on Geller's internet radio program, "Atlas on the Air," twice on her video blog and gave interviews on Frank Gaffney's radio show. The Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) describes Gaffney as "one of America's most notorious Islamophobes." Geller's Atlas Shrugs website served for a period as a central clearing site for all types of Islamophobic content and often engages in explicit, racist attacks on Muslims, Obama, African-Americans and other communities of colour. In the book, Geller addresses the already discredited notion of creeping Sharia, which is one of the key concepts that fuses together many groups within the Islamophobia industry. She mentions: "On foreign policy, Europe is committing slow cultural and demographic suicide." Geller and Spencer gave credence to Trump's birther movement, which erroneously maintained that "Obama went to extraordinary measures to obfuscate his Muslim background. The more proof that bloggers like me produced, the more we were marginalized. So secretive was Obama that he refused to release his long-form birth certificate, his school records, his thesis, his passport on which he travelled as a teen … the list itself was a looming red flag."
We have to say that Bolton's forward is a direct indication of his agreement with the book's content since no other evidence to the contrary exists. Keeping company and endorsing the writings and works of Islamophobes means that one finds intellectual, ideological and political affinity with them on their anti-Muslim bigotry as well as the readiness to express sympathy with these views.
Eli Clifton of The Nation cites the SPLC's report on Geller's "assertions that President Obama is the 'love child' of Malcolm X and that he was 'involved with a crack whore.' “According to the SPLC, Geller is "probably the best known – and the most unhinged – anti-Muslim ideologue in the United States." Furthermore, Clifton points to Spencer maintaining that Shariah enclaves exist and has predicted that they will grow across America, has called Obama "the first Muslim president," has claimed that Islam "mandates warfare against unbelievers," has said that "traditional Islam is not moderate or peaceful" and has even suggested that "the media may be getting money to depict Muslims in a positive light."Bolton's appointment as national security advisor should be alarming to anyone concerned with domestic and international affairs. We must be reminded that Bolton is very much a hawk and comes from the depth of the neoconservative movement. As a reminder, neoconservatives, who played a central role in President George W. Bush's first term in office, led the country to the disastrous invasion of Iraq and are the brain trust for the "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," a blueprint to end the Oslo peace process and facilitate Israel's annexation of additional Palestinian territory.
More alarming, Bolton called for a pre-emptive strike on Iran, which has to be understood as a key strategic goal, not for the U.S., but certainly for the current right-wing-led Israeli government. Bolton's entry into the Islamophobe's den at the White House means that war with Iran is a matter of when, not if, which would translate to another few million Arabs, Iranians and Muslims sacrificed on the altar of a supposed mission of civilization and protection of Israel. The Iran deal is dead and the Arab and Muslim worlds should prepare their young, old, men and women for another war. Theirs is to do and die, theirs is not to ask why, but I will say it is to keep the military industrial complex humming, protect Israel, create jobs in North America and prepare the grounds for Trump's election campaign in 2020. How does it feel to be a never-ending, radicalized wedge issue as an electoral and job-creation strategy?