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Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons

[The following comment was originally authored in response to a HuffingtonPost article about California’s Proposition 32, the Koch-funded proposition that masquerades as an initiative to get “special interest” money out of politics but is actually about crushing unions — decimating organized labor’s ability to raise funds while leaving unscathed the electioneering activities of corporations.]

What’s the matter with Kansas, indeed! I’m truly astonished at the gullibility of the American electorate: The .1% has completely corrupted our government and taken $16 TRILLION out of our pockets (per GAO’s audit of the Fed) and now they’ve got us arguing about unions and the “need” to slash entitlements!

WAKE UP, PEOPLE!!! Over the last decade, Wall Street criminals trashed our 401ks and bilked American polities and pension funds alike. Any honest examination of the 2008 collapse reveals FRAUD on a massive and systemic scale. Wall St. crooks created the fiscal mess that’s crippled governments across America — and now they’ve shifted the conversation to austerity and unions!

It’s a classic bait and switch, but HOW STUPID DO THEY THINK WE ARE? (They’re betting on VERY, and so far that’s paid off handsomely.)

The .1% have terminated the Bill of Rights — with habeas corpus GONE — and now they’re coming for what’s left of Americans’ ability to organize against a management class obsessed with achieving global slave/prison/sweatshop-labor costs (Foxconn/Wal-Mart style) — an obsession that explains why our middle class, like our infrastructure, is crumbling…

Meanwhile we’re hopelessly divided, mostly engaging in the fact-free arguments the .1% have spoon-fed us, populated by phantom “socialists” and an imaginary “Constitutionalist.” If we had any brains or gumption, NOT ONE Republican or Democrat would be elected/reelected; both parties have demonstrated beyond doubt that they work exclusively for those trying to break and enslave us.

The New York Times has been a staple of my daily news consumption for well over a decade.  During this period, the “Gray Lady” has printed a very high percentage of the comments I’ve submitted, however they have consistently censored my comments addressing the organization’s journalistic failures.

The following is the latest example of this tendency of the Times, regarding a comment I submitted observing that a recent NYT article — whatever distinctions it correctly drew between the two leading presidential candidates’ positions on waterboarding — mostly obscured their common positions on rendition and torture (while falsely denying the continued use of such tactics).

My NYT-censored comment:

The article is premised on a falsehood: “Mr. Obama has stuck to that strict no-torture policy.” (Here, Mr. Savage exemplifies that tendency in the MSM to forego journalistic rigor and emptily parrot official propaganda.)  As has been reported by Jeremy Scahill, Allan Nairn, Amy Goodman, Alfred McCoy, and others, OBAMA HAS CONTINUED THE TORTURE, albeit with some minor adjustments:

The new rules: NO torturing by military personnel in war zones (PERMITTED, however, in places America is NOT at war — have at it, special ops!); “NO more rendition”… (EXCEPT when necessary to transport prisoners to the CIA’s torturing partners, with CIA feeding questions and directing the torture from the next room). There’s also been a steady stream of reports of torture at the U.S.-operated prison in Bagram (documented by the ICRC and Afghan human rights organizations) — which is why our Canadian and European allies refuse to bring prisoners there.

In short, America has wholeheartedly embraced torture in the post-9/11 era, and none of our institutions seem willing to do anything about it, from the DOJ to Congress to the NYT. Meanwhile we continue to fuel the flames of rage (backing al Qaeda in Syria, targeting medics and funerals with our drones, funding terrorism in Iran…) — dramatically reducing our national security.

There you have it, the first comment I’ve submitted to the NYT in months and they refused to post it!

*          *          *

And now for part two of this sorry saga… I’ve also been comment-blocked this week by The HuffingtonPost. (Maybe I am the problem, after all.  You be the judge.)  I was feeling appalled at several HuffPo members’ comments responding to an article about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s (by all accounts subdued) speech at the United Nations this week.  The anti-Islamic, anti-Arab bigotry and neocon-propagated falsehoods were flying fast and furious on that comments board, so I decided to put out a little corrective pertinent to the discussion, as follows:

I’ve just read several pages of hate-filled and stunningly ignorant comments here, very few with any connection whatsoever to reality (yet more evidence that America has collapsed, morally and intellectually, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks).

Here are some FACTS:

1) In 1953, the CIA executed a violent coup in Iran, replacing an internationally celebrated democrat with a torturing, secret police-employing, resource-stealing puppet for the next quarter century;

2) In 1979, after the student-led Iranian Revolution, the West elevated Saddam in Iraq in order to use him as a proxy (he invaded Iran within months and one million people died as a result);

3) Iranians are not “Arab” but Persian (and they haven’t been militarily aggressive for centuries);

4) While Iran supports Hamas and Hezbollah, the vast majority of the world understands these organizations to be legitimate resistance groups, defying illegal occupation and a recidivist war criminal regime; even official Europe and Canada recognized these groups as freedom fighters prior to 9/11);

5) Neither the IAEA nor America’s 16 intelligence agencies have found ANY evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program since the abandoned effort in 2003;

6) The U.S. has been terrorizing Iran (mostly through proxies, like Saddam and the MEK) for decades — Iran has mostly responded with angry WORDS; and

7) Iran’s leaders have NEVER threatened to “wipe Israel off the map” (that is a deliberate mistranslation of a Khomeini speech once quoted by Ahmadinejad).

Now this comment (above) was posted on that comment board — not censored/lost/blocked — hooray!  And after its posting, the comment generated a small wave of fiery criticism, with some critics suggesting that I had been “brainwashed” and others suggesting that I am hostile to Israel (on what grounds, they didn’t say).  In responding to these attacks, I tried to add nuance to my position and clarify my feelings about Mr. Ahmadinejad:

While Iran’s leadership is highly flawed, you should know that you’re regurgitating some of the more common falsehoods about Iran (neocon propaganda, actually). The truth: Ahmadinejad is a pipsqueak populist, rarely aligned with the mullahs. His political opponents are mostly folks like Rafsanjani in the corrupt old business-political-religious establishment. That said, however much of a popular following he has — which is considerable; he’s not a “dictator” by any accepted definition — he’s WAY too prone to making ignorant comments (questioning the Holocaust and so forth) to be an effective leader. Iran can surely do better than this provincial, red meat-chumming math professor.

That said, here’s the vital corrective: No Iranian leader has EVER called for the “destruction of Israel” or anything like that. The original comment (Khomeini’s, quoted once by Ahmadinejad) expressed a hope that the REGIME in Israel would one day fade — just as the REGIME of the Shah eventually faded away (that was the specific context):

America has been terrorizing Iran for over half a century now, leaving hundreds of thousands dead since the 1953 CIA coup. It’s no defense of Ahmadinejad to note the West’s history of terrorizing the region or that Iran has been the subject of a great deal of propaganda designed to build popular support in America for war.

So there I was, being reasonable and polite as peach pie in responding to those critical of my initial comment, when HuffPo apparently decided to shut me down.  When asked to present some facts demonstrating my sympathy with the Israeli people, I tried repeatedly to post the following two-part comment, both installments of which have been blocked, blocked, and blocked (with HuffPo’s support staff also refusing to respond to my request for an explanation) — just BLOCKED:

FACTS from the Israeli position:

After centuries of persecution at the hands of pharaohs, tsars, and Europeans — culminating in the Nazi Holocaust that killed at least 11 million people (a predominately Jewish holocaust, whatever Ahmadinejad thinks in his ignorance) — Zionists realized their dream of a Jewish homeland in 1948, courtesy of a U.N. resolution backed by strong Western support.

HOWEVER, thanks to Washington’s imperialist ambitions, the rightful founding of the state of Israel was achieved with unnecessary brutality and next to no consultation with Arabs (who had officially accepted the proposition of a Jewish state).

What followed was the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Arabs (Muslims, Christians, and Jews) ensuring an environment of perpetual hostility to the state of Israel — one that has been assiduously nurtured by the Military Industrial Complex and Washington in the decades since. The abandoned British garrison had been successfully replaced with another armed, extraordinarily militarist polity, effectively providing a Middle Eastern toehold for Western colonialism (initially under the guise of fighting the Cold War — most of which consisted of thwarting democrats and elevating the thugs and terrorists who created the most favorable conditions for American corporations: in Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa…).

Israeli Jews have suffered from decades of foreign manipulation and corrupt, inept, frequently terrorist leaders (much like their Palestinian counterparts on ALL counts) who do not remotely represent the majority of the state.

Israel can take pride in many institutions that function in a reasonably democratic way (including a Supreme Court that was willing to fault Sharon for the civilian massacres he unleashed and a Winograd Commission that honestly depicted the incompetence of Olmert’s botched, civilian-slaughtering war on Lebanon).

In sum, Israel has from the start suffered Western manipulation, hostility from their neighbors (including wars and chronic terrorist attacks), and corruption from within — but especially from the external forces that are in the BUSINESS of perpetual conflict.

Sadly, anti-Semitism is alive and well (particularly on the American right, where Jews are seen as the cannon fodder in their fundamentalist Christian war on Islam and also as the necessary precondition for their Rapture). Jews are STILL blamed for all kinds of things by bigots everywhere (from American right-wingers to the Arab dictators they support — and deranged lefties and nutters, too, some of whom think Israel had something to do with 9/11…).

European Jews and their descendants deserved better than to have their homeland conceived from the start as a Western military base. But with more good journalism (Haaretz) and more good leaders (like Rabin) possible in the future, maybe the Israeli warmongers (Netanyahu, Lieberman, and the racist settlers) can finally be restrained by the Israeli people — and a PEACE worthy of Israel and Palestine can finally be forged!

Now, whether or not you agree with my arguments, please ask yourself: have I been abusive?  Off-topic?  Did I engage in threats or hate speech?  I would say that the answer to those questions is a resounding “none of the above.”  In fact, I can’t figure out how I’ve violated the comment policies of either the New York Times or HuffingtonPost… and that’s why this feels like censorship to me.

But again, you be the judge.

And now we turn to a conversation between “American Joe” and “Middle Eastern Mo” exploring the question of “Muslim rage…”

JOE: Hey Mo, what is it with you people? Why so hypersensitive?

MO: Be riiiight with you, Joe; just helping my neighbor bury his wife and children…

JOE: Honor killing?

MO: Drone, actually…

JOE: No shit! Well let me look into that… If it turns out you’re right, my government might just have a few hundred dollars for your neighbor!

MO: Blood money?

JOE: Hey, it’s your fuckin’ tradition… But what about my question: Why the heck are Muslims so damn SENSITIVE about a little free speech?

MO: Well, there’s some problems with the premise of your question (like, we wish our grievances were limited to offensive speech), but to the extent that it’s true, you might begin your journey toward greater understanding by exploring a related question: why are African-Americans “so damn sensitive” about the N-word; or why are Jews “so damn sensitive” about the Holocaust; or why are Native Americans…

JOE: Whoa, whoa, whoa – we’re talking about Muslims, here! Not America and the West’s past, um…

MO: Victims?

JOE: No.

MO: Youthful indiscretions?

JOE: Exactly. That stuff isn’t about our values — it’s not who the West is, what America stands for today. It’s ancient history!

MO: Ah, then perhaps you would be more comfortable discussing the current period: Did America not invade Iraq on a pack of lies, in violation of the Nuremberg Principles, leaving hundreds of thousands of innocents dead (quite possibly over a million)? And didn’t that war follow a decade where needlessly draconian American sanctions resulted in the deaths of 500,000-800,000 Iraqi children under the age of five (and countless, uncounted others)? And didn’t those 1990s sanctions follow the decade in which America elevated Saddam Hussein in the first place, in order to launch a war of aggression against post-Revolution Iran, resulting in the deaths of an estimated one million people? And then there are the recent wars of aggression launched against the people of south Lebanon and Gaza, the apartheid-state reality of Palestinians, the West’s backing of dictators and terrorists across the region…

JOE: Whoa, whoa — again, whoa! Slow down, there, Mo. I’m not familiar with this history.

MO: Of course not. You are an American.

JOE: What the hell is that supposed to mean??

MO: It means that whenever your country commits crimes against humanity, you blame the victim and proceed to go to sleep. The people you torture and murder, their survivors, the people of the nations you devastate and subject to terrorism and despotic rule, those whose resources you plunder — they are denied any legal recourse and, more often, any form of justice whatsoever.

JOE: It’s called “American Exceptionalism.”

MO: It’s called lawless predation founded on a double standard, and it’s nothing new in the world. Colonialist emperors and tyrants have always found such “exceptionalism” useful.

JOE: But HEY, this wasn’t supposed to be about us! This was supposed to be about you people and your hypersensitivity! You guys really hate that YouTube film, right? And those pornographic Mohammed cartoons?

MO: What’s to like? That said, the protests in Cairo and Libya were planned before the video even came out. Besides, most of the protests — and yes, the attacks, too — are inspired by the West’s genocidal conduct toward Muslims over the last century; the bigoted European cartoons and American hate-films are just the icing on the cake.

JOE: The resentment cake? Shouldn’t that be a grievance falafel or something?

MO: Sigh… My bad. I meant to say “the last straw” or something; forget the cake.

JOE: Alright, but I still don’t think Muslims share our values.

MO: Why? Because we continue to resist foreign domination? Because so many of us are angry about the crimes against humanity we’ve suffered at your hands? Because we’re willing to fight for our right to self-determination?

JOE: Uhhhhh, no. Because you, uh, don’t share our passion for our cherished liberal, Western values, like free speech and the right to peaceful assembly. The rule of law…

MO: Ah, yes, the West’s proud history (I’m sincere, now) of exalting democratic, liberal-humanist laws and traditions: habeas corpus, the right to confront one’s accuser, the right to a speedy trial, freedom of association, a free press, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to be secure in one’s own person and effects, the rule of law…

JOE: Exactly! That stuff!

MO: Well, if you weren’t so busy mass-murdering Muslims and subsequently blaming the victim for his “hypersensitivity,” you might have noticed that America has spent the last decade obliterating all of those so-called “cherished values.” You might have protested as your last two presidents took a hatchet to the Bill of Rights and transformed America once and for all into some kind of Fourth Reich dictatorship of the .1%, with cameras everywhere, drones flying overhead, no more habeas corpus or Posse Comitatus, honest whistleblowers and journalists persecuted, peaceful protests violently dispersed, whole populations subject to unconstitutional targeting on the basis of their political affiliations or religious faith, and some Americans murdered outright (with no charges/trial) for exercising their right to free speech!

Now you tell me, which group of people seems more committed to self-determination, free speech/assembly, and the rule of law: the ones who scrapped their constitution at the first sign of trouble, or the ones who’ve been resisting the West’s despots for decades and have filled their streets with protest, sacrificing their lives (thousands snuffed out by the folks Washington backs) in order to fight for their right to self-determination?

JOE: …well, I’m maybe a little persuaded by your arguments — but did you have to go so rough on America? Your rhetoric is a tad sharp-elbowed, to say the least…

MO: Why so sensitive?

After basically eschewing the HuffingtonPost “Comments” section for over a month (that time-sucking rabbit hole of bumptiousness and braggadocio), I’ve recently allowed myself to dive back into that moshy pit, engaging in discussions ranging in tone from mutually admiring to openly combative (I confess that, when provoked, my HP self can be a bit of an acerbic dick — but I never stop trying to inform people, even those with whom I’m engaged in feces-hurling contests.  Okay, I’m probably saying more in this introduction than I’d originally intended.  Moving on…).

Here, arranged by subject, are excerpts from some of my HP comments from the past week or so (their 250-word limit forces me to be more concise than I might otherwise be — for which we can all be grateful).

The United States Postal Service (USPS) and Public Education under Attack:

The GOP Congress passed a law a few years back designed to sabotage the Postal Service (and create opportunities for FedEx and UPS). That unprecedented law requires the USPS to fill a 75-year retirement fund in just one decade. Without that absurdly onerous law, the USPS would be $1.5 billion in the black. That, my friend, is why the USPS (which we both like) is foundering. It’s not a question of outmoded management style; it’s purely a question of sabotage designed to privatize a government service — what else is new?

Study after study has shown that charter schools perform at the same level or WORSE than public schools, only requiring more money to do so… all while exploiting their ability to refuse to enroll students who present more challenges (special needs, English language learners, etc.).

So-called “accountability” is about imposing untried methods and newfangled “reforms” (on an institution that’s been chronically and systematically starved of resources) in order to dismantle one of the last bastions of organized labor in America. If it were about the quality of the students’ educations, the B.S.-reformers would be raising the clarion call to go with PROVEN SOLUTIONS: small class size, decent facilities and resources, adequately compensated and highly trained professional educators. Instead they want to fire a few million trained teachers and replace them with a bunch of hapless temps.

We’re living in P.T. Barnum’s America: ALL of our institutions are badly corrupted and broken, including both political parties, which work exclusively for the .1%. …the willy-nilly privatizers and deregulators who want to do for public education what they’ve done for banking.

Syria Analysis — the Neocons and al Qaeda, Together Again:

Prior to the civil war that American neocons manufactured in Syria (beginning with the Free Syrian Army’s al Qaeda affiliate bombing cities, killing scores of civilians and injuring hundreds more), there hadn’t been significant ethnosectarian strife in Syria since the 1980s. Syria’s 40% minorities (Christians, Druze, Alawites, and Kurds) were basically safe. Compared to their occupied and devastated neighbors (Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine) Syrians were thriving.

THEN we flooded the country with Salafis, RPGs, machine guns, and heavy arms, encouraging a wave of Sunni extremist violence in order to provoke an overreaction from the regime (which fights terrorism the same way Washington does, with its torturing, slaughtering head up its patootie).

The neocons appear to have created the Syrian National Council just as they created the Iraqi National Congress (headed by that London charlatan, Ahmad Chalabi, who fed George W. Bush all the “Curveball” intell he wanted so America could turn Iraq into a bloody hellscape). Now, they’re doing likewise for Syria, with war crimes piling up on all sides — and al Qaeda in ascendance across the region, all thanks to our obsession with isolating Iran.

Clearly, you’re happy vilifying the little brute and can’t be bothered with acknowledging the millions of victims of the BIG brute — the brute behind the current violence, no less. Your morality is subject to official dictates. Sounds safe… not principled, mind you, but safe.

But where are your concerns for the boiled-alive victims of our Uzbek ally, Islam Karimov? For Saudi women? For the doctors, journalists, and human rights activists jailed and beaten by our Bahraini ally?

Face it: you go where the neocon pipers pipe, my friend. You probably wouldn’t be giving Syrians a second thought if it weren’t Assad’s turn for regime change. (I bet you also thought Saddam was a “brutal tyrant” right on cue — but had nothing to say when he was slaughtering Kurds with the WMDs Reagan supplied.)

However, in the event you are willing to explore reality, here are just a few of my sources:






Muslim Rage and Democratic Values:

Many Americans today demonize Muslims (ALL Muslims, no less) for their “lack of democratic values” (baloney) — yet we don’t lift a finger to restore habeas corpus, the Constitution, and the legal foundations of Western Civilization (all interred after 9/11). The NSA vacuums up our phone calls and e-mails, the government persecutes honest whistleblowers and journalists like never before (calling WikiLeaks “terrorism”) — and across the nation government officials wage war on collective bargaining rights — AND MOST AMERICANS ARE SILENT.

You’re right about one thing: We did sic Saddam on the Iranians within months of the student-led revolution that deposed our torturing puppet, the Shah. Had we not used this mad dog (Saddam) as our proxy, getting him to launch a war of pure, bloody aggression, over a million people would be alive today — and it’s doubtful that Iran’s leadership would’ve been so radicalized in the first place.

It’s time to take responsibility for our past crimes — way past time to stop pretending as if there’s any morality or justice in our foreign policy. It’s time to stop pointing the finger at other countries; there are plenty of war criminals and massively corrupt individuals RIGHT HERE AT HOME. Middle Easterners will do a far better job of determining their nations’ fates than the butchering neocons ever could, anyway. Time to bring the troops home and send the mercenaries packing.

The 2012 Election — Observations and Hopes:

Even the GOP’s standard bearer, Mr. Romney, has repeatedly drawn from the Othering Pool, winking at the Birthers with his little joke and making a staple of his campaign rhetoric a bunch of nonsense about how Obama “just doesn’t get America.” The GOP’s WHOLE ATTACK on Obama has been based on othering the first African-American president and making him seem very scary to the people who ate up Ms. Palin’s bilious demagoguery in 2008: he’s a “European socialist” (anything but); he’s afflicted with “deeply rooted Kenyan, anti-colonialist” beliefs (coulda’ fooled me); he “hates white people…”

In short, my thesis on the Obama presidency is that the president has delivered massively on an agenda that — just a few years ago — would’ve been considered radically right-wing and politically unfeasible.  I basically agree with Glen Ford’s assessment of the president, that he is “the more effective evil,” accomplishing more of the right’s agenda than a Republican ever could. I agree with Cornel West that Obama is a corporations-first technocrat who plays a liberal on TV. And I agree with Glenn Greenwald, that Obama has delivered an imperial presidency that would make Nixon blush (he’s also criminalized whistleblowing and adversarial journalism, while turning municipal police departments into a militarized, federally-coordinated army that quashes peaceful dissent).

I confess I’m more ambivalent than you are, when it comes to the outcome of the upcoming presidential election (though I’d love to see November deliver an overwhelmingly progressive Congress — a repudiation of the right’s embrace of radical, bigoted politics).

My reasoning, regarding the race for the Oval Office: It will be much harder for Romney — a president I never hope to see — to take a hatchet to the social safety net than it will for President Obama, who has strongly indicated (since before his inauguration) that he intends to slash Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security (having repeatedly touted the far-right conclusions of the divided Simpson-Bowles-movement).

JOB ONE: Work to unite the OWS-left and Tea Party-right behind the common goal of cleaning up our banana republic-worthy campaign finance system (I like Lawrence Lessig’s ideas about creating a public finance system that would nullify the corrupting influence of the oligarchs). BOTH of these camps understand that our institutions are broken and corporations have run away with our democracy (and $16 TRILLION of our money, per the GAO audit of the Fed). I also believe these constituencies can unite behind restoring the Constitution, ending the neocons’ wars, and investing in our crumbling infrastructure (greening it and again making America a world leader in technology).

But first we have to overcome the many ways we’ve been deluded and divided by the pols and media…

I have respect for both Michael Eric Dyson and Glen Ford, who were recently on Amy Goodman’s excellent broadcast to discuss the Obama presidency.  Their debate raises many of the more salient points I tried to raise in my recent series on identity politics and the Obama era.  In any case, I hope my readers will find it interesting…

A worthy debate, courtesy of Amy Goodman's "DemocracyNow!"

The following is the entire statementcondemned by Governor Romney and disavowed by the Obama administration — that was released by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo responding to the furor over an American-made hate film targeting Muslims, several hours before the protests that would breach their walls (contrary to Mr. Romney’s bizarrely repeated claims).  Please note that the values in the following statement are now explicitly the values that our highest political leaders reject:

U.S. Embassy Condemns Religious Incitement

September 11, 2012

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

Wow, what terrorist sympathizer (to paraphrase Gov. Romney) wrote that claptrap?  Have you ever in your life seen such apologizing for America?

Has the Obama administration distinguished itself from the actually un-American (in character) comments of this imbecile, Romney?  On the contrary!  In standard fashion, President Obama wasted no time in dashing off to embrace the fringe-right.  Both ABC News and Politico have reported that, per an administration official, the statement by the U.S. embassy in Cairo was inappropriate and “does not reflect the views of the United States government.”

(Having observed the U.S. government closely over the years, I concur that, indeed, it does not.)

And what of our actual values?  The sad truth (and nauseating irony) is that America’s obsession with redrawing the map of the Middle East and crushing (Shi’ite) Iran has once again realigned our state interests with those of (Sunni) al Qaeda: in Libya, Syria, and Lebanon, at least (again, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, “The Redirection,” should be essential reading for anyone trying to figure out American foreign policy in the region today).

Once again, through our Saudi Arabian (Sunni) allies, we’re funneling millions of dollars and heavy arms to the extremist Salafis and Wahhabis who hate us, even though many of them are evidently marching to al Qaeda’s fife.  For, in addition to his call to support the U.S.-backed uprising in Syria, al Qaeda’s co-founder (with Osama bin Laden), Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, called for anti-American action in Libya, just 24 hours before America’s ambassador and three others were killed on this latest anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks — an incident that has helped ignite (along with the hate film itself) a fire of protest and rage that has now reached Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Yemen…

*          *          *

I realize that many Americans are confused at this moment, having bought into the propaganda that the United States has somehow encouraged or helped facilitate the democratic aspirations of the Muslim world over the last year — but nothing could be further from the truth.  In Libya and Syria, America has co-opted and perverted the same “Arab Spring” that we otherwise tried to thwart in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, and Palestine.  We’ve done so by indirectly backing terrorists and fanning the flames of ethnosectarian hatred in order to destabilize nations whose leaders we’d like disappeared, simply because they refuse Western domination (no other explanation stands up to scrutiny).

Here, in an excerpt from an excellent roundtable discussion featuring Glenn Greenwald, is former National Security Council and State Department official Hillary Mann Leverett explaining “what U.S. policy is about, which is: U.S. policy identifies expatriates living outside of the country, tries to fund, arm, and convince them to come together to be a front to go back and change regimes in countries we don’t like.

Ms. Leverett’s assessment is useful, reminding us of the inorganic nature of the U.S.-underwritten chapters of the Arab Spring (the movement that, however inspiring, has succeeded organically only in Tunisia and Egypt; everywhere else, it’s either been thwarted by the West and its thugs or co-opted by foreign elements, leading Libya and Syria into their present nightmares).

And now some southern California screwball, convicted of at least two crimes (preparing to operate a meth lab and stealing Social Security numbers for the purpose of committing bank fraud), has produced a religious hate film in cooperation with his Muslim-hating American partners, including crusader-training, Temecula mosque-foe Steve Klein.  When first questioned by reporters, the film’s racist director, Mr. Nakoula — the Coptic Christian, American — besides giving a false name, spread the fiction that he is an Israeli Jew and made sure that the press understood his views on Islam: “Islam is a cancer.”

It certainly seems like he was trying to provoke something, doesn’t it?

Too bad our political leaders are afraid to stand by our embassy’s condemnation of this filmmaker’s Nazi-like beliefs.  Too bad that such timidity and exploitation/appeasement of right-wing hatred and bigotry is endemic in our government and institutions.  But let’s face it: with Republicans pandering to outright bigots — and Democrats bending over backward to not offend them — America in the Obama-era is no place to build a mosque.