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White Supremacist Terrorism and Islamophobia.




  Paper No. 6486                    Dated 28-Aug-2019


By Kazi Anwarul Masud.

On September 25 1789 the US Congress passed the First amendment to the
US Constitution which stated that Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the
Government for a redress of grievances.

The most terrorist at El PasoTexas and Dayton Ohio, the shootings were the 21st and 22nd in this
year, though not directly related to religious differences
demonstrates a strand of thinking, however weird it may be, that a
particular of skin color is demonstrative of inherent superiority over
those whose skin is of darker shade and/or those who have come from a
less prosperous country than the United States of America. Through the
prayer by Pope Francis for the victims of the terrorist shootings he
has distanced himself and the Catholic church from the deranged claim
of the shooter as representing any particular religious’ denomination.
White Supremacists are overwhelmingly Christians. Democrats and
Republicans alike and the Americans from all strata of society have
joined the condemnation of the terrorism. And the House Democrats and
some Republicans have now united in disapproving voice in condemnation
of President Donald Trump who they accuse of inciting terrorism by
White Supremacists.

One has only to watch State of the Union by Jake
Taper on the CNN (4thAugust 2019) to see how some Republicans have now
joined the Democrats in branding Donald Trump as a White Supremacist.
The US President’s diatribe against immigrants as reported by
Washington Post on 4th August 5, 2019 a report by Philip Rucker quote
President Trump has relentlessly used his bully pulpit to decry Latino
migration as “an invasion of our country.” He has demonized
undocumented immigrants as “thugs” and “animals.” He has defended the
detention of migrant children, hundreds of whom have been held in
squalor. And he has warned that without a wall to prevent people from
crossing the border from Mexico, America would no longer be America.
How do you stop these people?’: Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric looms
over El Paso massacre Unquote. The Us President is as a divisive
leader as opposed to President George Bush jr who immediately after
the 9/11 terrorist attacks went to New York and told the American
people that the destruction wrought was not acts by Muslims but by
terrorists to stem the tide of public anger against Muslims in the US
already by Islamophobics. 

The infamy of 9/11 that turned Islam, a
religion of peace like those of the others, to one scorned as
“Islamofasicism” and forcing the Muslim Diaspora in the West to
negotiate a precarious life of a second class citizenship in the
countries of their birth, has to change if the world is to become one
again and not one of historian Nial Ferguson’s fragmented spheres of
gated affluence and “disposable” misery afflicted greater part of
humanity. Undeniably the Islamists who would like to establish the
illiberalism of the puritanical days of the pre-modern era and envelop
mankind under one culture-oriented system of governance keeping no
room for tolerance and dissent cannot be the wish of humanity after
having traversed from the Dark Ages to the Flat Earth post-modern era
of today.

Despite historian Bernard Lewis’s lamentation about the rage
of the Muslims and Samuel Huntington’s oracle of confrontation among
different cultures and religions the survival and the strengthening of
politico-economic progress of mankind calls for Henry Kissinger’s
geopolitics, a euphemism for power politics, in the management of
international relations.  The global quest is for finding a “good
society” where all can live in peace. Harvard Professor Michael Walzer
disagrees that there has to be one good society given the immense
variety of human cultures. Walzer would describe a good society as one
that is constituted “by the peaceful coexistence of all the societies
that aim at goodness…the good society can be imagined as a framework
that encompasses all versions of goodness”. The preeminent problem
facing the international community is the unremitting violence let
loose by Osama bin Laden’s variety of al-Qaeda and ISIS (now sent into
oblivion from its hiding place in Iraq) bent upon taking revenge
against the West where “degradation abounds” for real (unresolved
Palestine issue) or imagined injustices meted out to them. 

That the international community regardless of differences in faith system has
to unite in destroying the Frankenstein of terrorism based on race,
color or religion does not need reiteration. Occasionally diverging
strands of thought have tried to find fault in the direction taken by
the world leaders. For example, Neoconservatives criticism of
President Obama being “soft” on democracy promotion (The abandonment
of Democracy-Joshua Muravchik) his Cairo speech, universally regarded
as opening the door to remove misunderstanding created by the Bush
administration’s bull-in-China shop strategy of democratization of the
Islamic world, as a recession of the traditional US policy of
advancement of human rights. Little attention was given to
President-elect Obama’s meeting with the editors of Washington Post
when he told them that democracy was less important than “freedom from
want and freedom from fear. If people are not secure, if people are
starving, then elections may or may not address those issues”.

Muravchik refers to an early assessment by New York Times”
correspondent Joel Brinkley of Obama administration that neither Obama
nor Hillary Clinton had even uttered the word democracy in a manner
related to democracy promotion since taking office. But to many
President Obama has been consistent in his declared policy that his
obsession lay in more delivering a better life to the people than with
form of democracy because in a well-meaning society that promotes
liberty and equality and just does not depend on ballot box ensures
freedom from police brutality and paying to government functionaries
for services that citizens are entitled to anyway. Obama did insist in
Cairo on democracy, freedom and women’s rights. He praised Islam’s
‘proud tradition of tolerance”. What fellow travelers of Paul
Wolfowitz do not seem to ignore that societal and politico-economic
differences dividing the world into three or four worlds do make the
adoption of western style democracy, albeit a shining example to be
followed, may not necessarily be suitable for all countries, and
cannot be imposed from outside. Joseph Stieglitz, Francis Fukuyama,
Arthur Lewis, to name only a few, agree that for sustainable democracy
a certain degree of affluence of the people would be necessary.

   One has to examine whether populism lead to terrorism of the kind we are
seeing in the USA? Populism writes Daren Acemoglu of MIT and James A
Robinson of the University of Chicago (How Do Populist Win May 31
2019) through building “an anti-elitist, anti-pluralistic, and
exclusionary strategy for building a coalition of the discontented.
The method is exclusionary because it relies on a specific definition
of “the people,” whose interests must be defended against not just
elites, but all others”. They argue that populism is bad because it is
anti-pluralistic and exclusionary. And also, populism favors excessive
concentration of political power and de-institutionalization. Populism
can be made attractive to the people if the populist leader’s claims
about elite dominance can be made plausible enough that people believe
them. Second, in order for people to support radical alternatives,
existing institutions need to have lost their legitimacy or failed to
cope with some new challenge. And third, a populist strategy must seem
feasible, despite its exclusionary nature. It is thought that Donald
Trump’s erratic tweets, often against the values cherished by the
Americans (and the rest of the civilized world) are well thought out
as a strategy that appeals to the fringe population of racists and
extremists on the assumption that the Republication voters are going
to vote for him anyway. One wonders if the BJP’s Hindutva   policy has
not been consciously adopted on the assumption that majority of Indian
voters being Hindu would vote for BJP anyway while the GORAKSHAK
fringe of the Hindu voters who had in the past voted for Samajbadi
Party and Bahujan Samajbadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, for example, would
now vote for BJP. This policy of majoritarian theocracy excludes the
minority communities who account for less than ten percent of the
population. What in the USA has been murder by shooting has been,
albeit on a lesser scale, killing by lynching. How it will affect
India’s centrality in SAARC, BIMSTEC, and other cooperative
organizations as well as India’s standing in the global community and
the support she has gained so far for permanent membership of the UNSC
remains to be seen.   

 21st century which is being expected to be an
Asian century with China and India contributing significantly to
global GDP and no less in military might would hopefully not be
derailed by the wave of populism now engulfing the USA and some parts
of Europe including the United Kingdom where Boris Johnson is regarded
by some as the second Donald Trump.

The views expressed are author’s own.  The author was a former Ambassador and Secretary in Bangladesh.