Sunday, June 03, 2007

On "Blaming America", explaining 9-11, and Coulter defends Falwell

Thanks to Colorado Media Matters for putting this out there.

Ann Coulter recently appeared on the local Denver radio Jon Caldara show. You can listern here: (Google it if you must, I even forgot where the link was)

There Coulter defended what Jerry Falwell said about 9-11. That is, God lifted his "curtain of protection over America" because of feminists, pagans, the ACLU, and gay activists etc.. Coulter says it was "utterly Defensible....just straight Christian doctrine..." etc.. You can read more of her defense of Falwell here.

With respect to my more liberal Christian friends (yes, I think I may have some), this doesn't say much for Christian doctrine. Sounds more like the Old Testament fare to me.

Now lets consider the implications of Coulter and Falwell's nonsense. American feminists, gay activists, and their allies seek to expand the freedoms and rights we enjoy here in America. Pagans exercise their right to practice whatever kooky religious belief they might have, (although no more kooky than your typical evangelical Christian belief from the rationalist perspective). The ACLU defends our most precious constitutional rights. This is bad, it it these American's fault for allegedly angering God, who then saw fit to let Islamic terrorist have an easy hit. Hmmm? Maybe God does communicate with G.W. Bush? And maybe he told him to just ignore those intelligence memos warning that an Al Qaeda attack within U.S. borders was imminent a month prior to 9-11-2001?

Now consider the fact that Ann Coulter is an honored guest on just about any right wing commentator's TV or radio show that you can think of (Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Mike Gallagher etc., etc.,). and many of them had lots of good things to say about Falwell to. Yet whenever the opportunity arises, these same commentators continually rail against people who "blame America for the attacks of 9-11" or any other criticism of U.S. foreign policy. How about a little consistency here? Why not rail against Falwell and by association Coulter for these thought crimes of "blaming America"?

I thought the conservatives claimed that the terrorists "hate us for our freedoms". Well how about a defense of these freedoms that organizations like the ACLU defend? Apparently, according to some (many?) contemporary conservative pundits, membership (i.e. citzenship) in the nation called America is not based on birth or naturalization. Instead it is based on conformity to a narrow set of beliefs and behaviours that Christian conservatives approve of.

Also worthy of unpacking is this issue "of blaming America". The obvious questions raised are who exactly blames "America", and who is "America" anyway. Now some segments of the so-called "Left" of which I would identify would make something like the following argument:

The U.S. goverment led by and in collaboration with corporate elites has for many years supported authoritarian regimes in the Middle East (i.e. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and yes Saddam's Iraq). The U.S. has uncritically supported Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The U.S. goverment put bases and military personell in Saudi Arabia. These historical events and many others angered Islamic fanatics, fueling their Jihadist ideology, which led them to attack "soft-targets" in America.

I myself would also concede that just maybe the freedoms that pagans, homosexuals, women, and atheistic humanists like myself enjoy in America, probably put a little fuel on the Islamic jihadist fire. But, as far as I am concerned that is just tough shit for them. But lets face it, if this is what really motivated the terrorists, they would have been better off attacking the Netherlands or Sweden.

However, U.S. foriegn policy is a different issue. Your average American doesn't decide U.S. foriegn policy. (And lets also make one thing clear, explanation does not equal justification anyway.)

So what does it mean to say that people "blame America"? Really nothing. According to the illogic of conservatives like Coulter and Hannity, Falwell blamed America for the attacks of 9-11. But not even that is true. Pagans, feminists, gays, the ACLU, and secular humanists are a segment of America, just as conservative white male Christians and skinny blond right-wing shrills are only a segment of America. And the U.S. government is not even "America". No unitary agent called "America" actually exists. To explain this would require another blog post, so I will revisit this issue again and leave my dear reader with an appropriate quote by Noam Chomsky:

"In every society, there will emerge a caste of propagandists who labor to disguise the obvious, to conceal the actual workings of power, and to spin a web of mythical goals and purposes, utterly benign, that allegedly guide national policy. Typical of these propaganda systems is that 'the nation' is an agent in international affairs, not special groups within it, and that 'the nation' is guided by certain ideals and principles, all of them noble."