AlterNet: Fighting Fear and Fundamentalism
... consider a fine piece in Al Ahram, the main Egyptian paper, by Usama Ghazali Harb, who says the Muslim world's predicament today is not the result of some external plot but the fact that "while the vast majority of Muslims keep silent, an extremist minority has hijacked the faith and is steering it into a confrontation with the world. . . . These extremists are supported by conservative forces that fear progress and modernity."
So writes a fawning Thomas Friedman in his endless quest to find Jeffersonian Muslims.
But here is a modified version of Harb's thesis: "while the vast majority of Americans keep silent, an extremist minority has hijacked our government, and is steering it into a confrontation with the world...These extremists are supported by conservative forces that fear global equality and environmental moderation."
Isn't this as valid a description of our predicament – those of us caught in the middle as we watch our government convert the simple terrorist crime of Sept. 11 into a vast conflict that asserts American military dominance over the Arabs?
The left should not only stand moral witness against killing civilians overseas, but also stand up for freedom at home. Roosevelt's four freedoms are not a bad place to start: freedom of expression; freedom of worship; freedom from want; freedom from fear.
The current war on terrorism unleashed by the Bush administration undermines each one of these freedoms.
Although most of us may not feel religious freedom is at risk, Muslims are already beginning to feel under pressure, what with FBI agents in mosques secretly recording their words. But in Roosevelt's 1941 Four Freedoms speech, the first and foremost point was freedom of expression. In the U.S. today, the government is using the war on terrorism to purge any idea that the Republicans view as "heresy" – silencing or spying on dissenting citizens in the name of patriotism.
Only fundamentalists can support such an agenda of fear. And remember, fear is our enemy.