We become what we hate

by Badri Raina
first published on June 1, 2007

by Badri Raina
first published on June 1, 2007

After the shockingly questionable wiretap regime ordered, without Constitutional sanction it would seem, by President Bush, it is now the turn of young vigilantes. As reported by Guardian News Service, the Bruin Alumni Association has made the following offer to students at the University of California, Los Angeles: “Do you have a professor who just can’t stop talking about President Bush, about the war in Iraq, about the Republican party, or any other ideological issue that has nothing to do with the class subject matter? If you help. . . expose the professor, we’ll pay you for your work.”

For full notes, a tape recording and a copy of all teaching materials, students are being offered $100. Lecture notes without a tape recording net $50, and even non-attendance at class while providing copies of the teaching materials is worth $10.

The idea behind this 21st century version of McCarthyism is to discipline and punish teachers who express themselves negatively on the Bush Presidency and Republican recasting of American policy generally. Like their predecessors of the mid-twentieth century, these vigilantes must believe that the reds have landed, this time in the garb of the extenuators of ‘Islamic’ terrorism. How entirely voluntary their initiative is must remain a subject of suspicion.

Freedom-loving American citizens who have been either supportive or tolerant of the Bush regimes’ ostensible project of carrying the light of democracy to the dark corners of the world may need to consider whether America may not be paying a rather high price for the mission. Is it perhaps the case that in making democracy its chief export, stocks at home are depleting dangerously?

One legitimate inference from such a circumstance is that far from there being a clash of civilizations under way, the world may be witnessing a rather satanic convergence, as America inexorably takes on the colour and hue of what it assumes to be opposing. If yes, the proceedings might be seen to underscore the truth of the old adage “we become what we hate.”

It has been the argument of the Bush administration that the attack on the twin towers was a gratuitous act of barbarism (which it no doubt was), since nothing that America had done previously could have justified it. Thus, the “war on terror” came to be constructed as a righteous response to an evil act. The theoretical underpinning of that argument was supplied by the neocon think-tank who hold that the “Islamists” do not act out of any identifiable historical wrong but are impelled by the jihadi project to destroy the “western way of life.”
It seems about time that this informing political text is revisited — something that has repeatedly been suggested by adherents of the Enlightenment whose values are generally regarded to constitute the philosophical grounds of American republicanism. For example, the Bush administration is to this day unable to explain to its own citizens, let alone to the “international community” (meaning here the world that lies beyond the Anglo-Saxon persuasion), why it chose to attack an admittedly secular Iraq where no jihadis existed, and which had neither intended or done harm to America. Or, why within hours of the September 11 tragedy (whose perpetrators turned out to be American citizens of Saudi extraction) but one aircraft was allowed out of America, carrying the Bin Laden clan. To compound the ironies, it will need to be remembered that the Laden “Islamists” were at one time pressed into service as allies of freedom in Afghanistan, just as the Saddam regime was encouraged with full military support to launch an attack on Iran where a popular political change had taken place.

Such facts of history reinforce the suspicion that the administration lauds only such regimes in the rest of the world as are willing to buttress American interests, be they democratic, or autocratic, or “Islamist.” For example, here in India, it remains a question as to why democracy is not sought to be exported to Pakistan with quite the same vigor as to selective places in the Middle East. Or to Nepal, for that matter.

If these are indeed troubling posers, then freedom-loving Americans need to ponder without blinkers whether, after all, what is designated “Islamism” may not be a purely political phenomenon, unleashed to free West Asia chiefly from what is perceived as an imperialist axis between America and the Zionists. Exactly as the “crusade” that emanates from the Bush administration is not so much concerned with a defence of an evangelist Christendom, or the “western way of life” as it is with shoring up the ever-expanding greed of Corporate America.

Furthermore, it is obvious everyday that the doctrine of “full-spectrum dominance” spawns, world-wide, a contrary political yield. In Latin America, for example, country after country turns away from Classical Liberal democracy to one form or another of Socialism. Americans need to ponder whether the best principles of neighbourly accommodation, as enshrined in the Sermon on the Mount, may not, in the end, be better politics than the unchristian hubris of the Bush regime that seems guaranteed to land both America and the world into an Armageddon from which no victors may emerge.