“…but now the bishop
Turns insurrection to religion:
Suppos’d sincere and holy in his thoughts,
He’s follow’d both with body and with mind.”
(King Henry IV, part 2, act 1, sc. 1)
Anyone who lived, visited or worked in Iraq (as the writer of this article has), at the time of the “evil” dictator Saddam Hussein, will probably agree that the ISIS phenomenon has little or nothing to do with the Islamic religion, other than its name.
True, pre-invaded Iraq had problems. For example, there existed free universal health-care, free education up to the university level, including women, and freedom of religion.
Yes, state television shows, especially on Fridays, did not galvanize the viewer’s attention. It was a 24-hour non-stop program of Islamic prayer-songs, featuring an Imam chanting slow hymns, with an air of sad solemnity.
To a foreigner, the only recognizable word in the lyrics was “Allah.” It was always a guess when a hymn would end, as the music contained an element of suspense. Islamic hymns end abruptly, as if an invisible commanding hand ordained an immediate stop, without reason and without a finale.
The interval between one hymn and the next was short. And a foreigner like me, unfamiliar with the Arabic diatonic music, was hard-pressed to detect a difference between the many chanted hymns, which, as I said, completely filled the day.
Not only. I had no idea whether the brand of religion celebrated by the hymns was Sunni or Shia. And I learned that there was a difference only after the US Administration decided to export democracy to Iraq.
Baghdad was eminently safe to walk through, at any hour of day or night. In the evening, vast crowds gathered on the grassy banks of the Euphrates River to consume the local freshly caught fish (called “mashguf” – spelling tentative as I extract this information from my diary of that year).
Seating was on the grass, the fish was roasted with wood fire, inside a circle of stones – often tens of yards away from where I could find a seat among the crowd. How the servers could so easily find the customers, in that crowd and in poor lighting, remains a surprise to me even now, when I recall those evenings after so many years. The delicious fish was delivered in coarse blue paper and sprinkled with equally coarse salt.
Why this long preamble? Because ISIS, or ISIL, or IS is an anomaly, the horror of which lacks adjectives to properly describe it. And the regime media, of the US and other subservient countries, uses ISIS as a tool for the wholesale promotion of Islamophobia. As if the usage of the adjective “Islamic”, and the uttering of “Allahu Akbar”, were all that is needed, along with the ISIS horrors, to define the Islamic religion.
This is but malicious nonsense, historical and theological.
Contrary to propagandized belief, Islam has been traditionally tolerant versus other religions. As we know, for Islam Jesus was a prophet and respected as such. In the Islamic nation, practitioners of other religions were required to pay a yearly “religion” tax. Which may have been unfair, but it was significantly better than being burned at the stake for “heresy”, as practiced at large by the Catholic Church.
In fact, at the end of the Eastern Roman Empire (1453 AD), the exploitation of the Christian citizens of Constantinople was so severe that many opted to move to territories already overrun by the Turks (or the Arabs).
During WW1 the Arabs, under the patronage of England, were encouraged to rebel against the Turkish Ottoman Empire, with the involvement of the legendary Lawrence of Arabia. A rebellion similar to many others throughout history.
The first episodes of “Islamic” terrorist acts, such as plane hijackings, began after the 1967 invasion of Palestine and of the Sinai peninsula by Israel. Followed by Israel’s refusal to comply with the UN resolution that called for the withdrawal from the militarily occupied lands.
From which followed, ever since, the ever-tighter screening of passengers at airports worldwide.
But the demonization of Islam has a specific start-date and, curiously, it almost coincides with the date when a notoriously-drunk Russian leader dissolved the Soviet Union.
No scholar is required to demonstrate and conclude that the United States has always needed an enemy. It is a kind of political DNA.
It started with the Saddam Hussein of the 18th century, King George III, the tyrant of Buckingham Palace. But a few years after independence, Henry Clay (later become US President), decided it was time for the United States to liberate (and annex) Canada in the war of 1812.
In the instance they did not succeed, and the next best enemies were the Native Americans. “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” – said President Andrew Jackson. A mission statement that proved true, given the almost complete annihilation of the native American population.
Eliminated the Indians, and Canada having proven hard to liberate, why not look to the South. It was time to liberate Mexico, with the consequent annexation of Texas and of the American West (1848).
But now the task of finding the next enemy became more difficult. North and South had been dealt with, but East and West were facing oceans and transport technology was not yet mature for overseas liberating ventures.
The next best solution was to find an internal enemy. The South wished to secede, the right to secession being clearly enshrined in the Articles of Confederation and in the Constitution. But the Constitution – as proven even now – is what it is said to be by the man holding the gun (or the money). In the topical historical instance, the claims of the North trumped any constitutional right of the South.
Terrorism, as a cover-up, was still to be conceived in the womb of history – therefore slavery was the reasonable best substitute. As we know, the Civil War (1861-1865) produced three quarter of a million dead and wounded, excluding those who, by paying $300.00, could be exempted from the draft.
It took 100 years for the “liberated” slaves to acquire civil rights, besides the right to be lynched with impunity. And even today, the state of the minorities speaks for itself.
But I digress. Neither history nor technology stand still. With reliable steam replacing unreliable wind, armies could be now deployed worldwide with the new navy. The Eastern and Western oceans were no longer a barrier for liberating enterprises.
The next move was the liberation of the Philippines (1899). In the instance, however, liberation did not really apply, as the Philippines had already been liberated by the Spaniards almost 400 years before. The very name “Philippines” comes from King Philip II of Spain (1527-1598). Replacing liberation was the “white man’s burden”, whatever it means (estimated 250,000 victims).
And now the Caribbean and South America became targets for liberation, Cuba, in the instance. To do so, a plausible reason was needed, as Cubans had also been Christians for 400 years and were a bit too white in their brownness to be classed as disposable natives.
The suspicious blowing-up of the US steamship Maine was the 9/11 of 1898 – liberation followed. There were also cases when liberation or Christianization were not needed to justify annexation. Such was the case of the Hawaiian Islands, annexed after the overthrow of the Queen of Hawaii, in 1893. It was already miraculous that the arrested tyrant queen Lili’uokalani did not meet the fate of Saddam Hussein and was allowed to die a natural death in 1917.
Let’s overlook the 1000 days war on Colombia (1903) resulting in the establishing of the “independent” republic of Panama and come to the First World War.
Here it was really hard to find a reason for intervention. The US had a large contingent of reliable, productive and law-abiding German immigrants, and Germany had never shown any direct or indirect hostility towards the US.
The 9/11 of the time was the sinking of the British ocean-liner Lusitania by a German submarine. Which was indeed a bad thing to do, even though it has been shown that the ship carried arms and ammunition to Britain.
The events of WW2 are too well known to be referred to, and so are Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Granada and others.
Which brings us to the current wars and the “conflict of civilizations” – a statement incorporated in the now famous document, “Project for the American Century” (the century being of course the XXIst).
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union there was a temporary enemy-vacuum. Bad news for the beneficiaries of the trillions dispensed to the so-called military-industrial complex.
There were two immediate options, China, that could be an obstacle to American hegemony, or the Islamic world. They chose Islam for strategic reasons, not totally linked to oil.
In some of the post-colonial countries (Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and others), the US- installed regimes made it impossible for the populace to live a “tranquil life”, similar to what happened in Europe after the defeat of Nazi-Fascism.
It is the US’ strategic interest that these states be in continuous turmoil, to ensure continuity in dictatorships. Dictatorships make it easier to keep the crowds in check and to exact the profits from the oil business. And if a state attempts something different (Iraq, Libya, Iran) they become targets for the “conflict of civilizations”.
Islamophobia is an ingenious solution, in that it eliminates, at least for the foreseeable future, the need to invent another enemy, thus ensuring the state of permanent war, cherished by the Pentagon-crats and their more-or-less hidden supporters among the one-per-cent.
What about Russia? Some reader may ask. Very useful indeed as another enemy, but not practical for immediate war, lest it become WW3. Which shows, incidentally, how for 50 years the Western world was told that Russia was an enemy because it was communist. But now that it isn’t communist, it still is an enemy.
Islam, as a religion or a philosophy, entails justice and respect for the rights of others. The current US-sponsored Middle-East dictatorships have nothing to do with Islam, but use it in a most distorted way, to justify their hold on power. I am told by knowledgeable Islamic students that the Koran contains several passages stating, for example, that when a soldier surrenders or is captured, he cannot be killed. And civilians must not be killed, must not be mistreated and must be even defended.
Paradoxical as it may seem, ISIS is a US creation to shape the new “Middle East” and help build an Israeli dominated “Greater Israel.” I wonder how many readers have asked themselves why, in the sanguinary declarations of ISIS, the enemy is Hezbollah, Assad, or the Shias, or some relatively obscure sects or communities like the Kurds, the Alawites and others, but not Israel. In fact, unreported by the regime media, wounded ISIS soldiers are cured in Israeli hospitals. Besides, arms for ISIS and oil from ISIS must perforce cross the borders with Syria and Iraq, to and from states that are part of the “alliance to combat ISIS”.
ISIS is not Islam. Instead, the videos divulged by the western regime media want to instill the message that ISIS represents Islam and therefore all Muslims must be fought against as potential terrorists.
A message equally and even more rabidly repeated by the 1000 (one thousand) US evangelical neo-Christian radio-stations and the 25 equally neo-Christian TV stations.
Unbeknown (I suspect) to most of the world outside the USA, the neo-Christian movement counts at least 30-million adepts, mostly in the South of the country. Curiously, the neo-Christian movement or philosophy has fused with Zionism to create the extremely powerful Christian-Zionist movement. Its founder was none-the-less than Ronald Reagan*. He was followed by a long list of neo-Christian preachers, such as the notorious Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.
Falwell, in an interview with the Washington Post in 1999 said that, “The West Bank is an integral part of Israel. Pressing Israel to withdraw, would be like asking America to give Texas back to Mexico. It’s ridiculous.”
Pat Robertson, ex-Presidential candidate, publicly advocated, among other things, the assassination of Hugo Chavez by the CIA.
The Christian-Zionist movement’s theme is that when the whole Middle East will be under Israeli control, Jesus will return to the earth. Jews and Christians will then be re-united, thus realizing sundry predictions of the Old Testament.
The power and political reach of this particular branch of Christianity is enormous. Christian-Zionism is articulated among several well-funded groups, some with colorful names, such as “Jews for Jesus”, “Israel Trust for the Anglican Church”, “Church’s Ministry Among the Jewish People” etc.
It is no wonder that, right after the genocidal massacre in Gaza of August 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Netaniahu came to Washington. And during his address to Congress, he received 29 standing ovations, more than Obama ever did.
Equally, it is no wonder that Shakespeare dedicates so many lines to the issue of false appearances, such as, for instance,
“So may the outward shows be least themselves:
The world is still deceived with ornament.” (Merchant of Venice)
Though to define as “ornament” the Islamophobic lies of the regime media, would be giving undeserved recognition to mendacity.
* “Christian Zionism. The Road to Armageddon” (by Stephen Sizer)
In the play. Morton shows the advantages of a rebellion supported by religious motives. The bishop referred to is Scroop, archbishop of York who has turned against Henry IV.