Sunday, January 6, 2008

Stalking the Real 'Enemy Within'

By Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id Ramey
MAS Freedom Civil and Human Rights Director

WASHINGTON, D.C. (MASNET) Jan. 6, 2008 - A great deal of the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment in America is now surfacing in the context of the presidential primaries.

This past week, one of my MAS colleagues directed me to a YouTube video taken at an Iowa home fundraiser for Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani. Two attendees were giving on-camera comments about their vehement support for the former New York City mayor. One man said that Guiliani would lead the way for total American victory against "radical Islam", and the other called for bombing "them" back to the caves (presumably, those in the region of Tora Bora in Afghanistan).

Then, Rudy, not to be outdone, spoke to the video camera about the need for total victory against "Islamic Fascism". (Note: the particular variety of fascism promulgated by Benito Mussolini, also of Italian heritage, murdered far more innocent people than al-Qaida).

Rudolph Giuliani makes no bones about his contempt for Muslims, and his thinly veiled threat to do something about "them" if he is elected President. His vehement anti-Islamic crusade - and I use the term deliberately - is the bedrock of his political platform, and virtually the only thing, other that his hype for an even bigger Pentagon budget, that he finds worth talking about on the campaign stump.

But make no mistake about it: Rudolph Giuliani is hardly the only public personality who wants to drive-out, defeat, and possibly destroy Muslims, including, perhaps, a great many of those who, quite innocently and moderately, live in America. Add to this the animus directed by many against "illegal" immigrants, and you have the beginning of a perfect storm capable of a massive assault against the civil liberties of millions of people in America.

Think that it can't happen here? Think again.

The political climate of tolerance and respect for Constitutional civil rights is, in historical terms, a variable one. Laws against murder and extra-judicial killings did not save more than 1,500 African Americans, mostly in the South, from lynching and mob murder that extended into the early 20th Century. The 14th Amendment guarantee of "equal protection under the law" has not deterred some federal judges from presenting secret evidence against Muslim suspects in court, or giving "enhanced sentencing" punishments that far exceed the prison term guidelines for non-felony convictions. And fiercely anti-immigrant organizations and coalitions are springing up all over America, some backed by various Draconian local laws that make it almost impossible for undocumented workers, and their families, to survive.

When Muslims, immigrants, and political dissidents are targeted by some of those in authority, the repercussions spread to not only a few of us, but to potentially millions of people in America. This can happen, if the voracious appetite of the national security apparatus is allowed to devour the basic guarantees of the American Constitution.

It would be incorrect to assume that, even if elected to the presidency, Mr. Giuliani would have the power to dictate, on his own, the demise of civil liberties for Muslims. But the power of his - or any - presidency could influence the appointment of federal judges of like political persuasion, the allocation of resources used by law enforcement agencies, or, for example, the continuation or closing of places like the Guantanamo prison camp.

For (at least) one announced candidate for the presidency, the internal American enemy is "radical" Islam, and undocumented workers. For me, this yet unconquered enemy is racism, xenophobia, and the growing economic attack upon the poor and working people on whom the rich continue to feed. And I count Rudy, and his legions, among those who do the devouring.

I don't mean for this to be a diatribe against Rudolph Giuliani, or those (millions) who politically support him. But I do hope that it can serve as a reminder for Muslims, and people who believe in democracy and fairness, about the real danger to us presented by the extreme right side of the political spectrum.

And finally, I hope that it reminds us of why the 2008 election will, in all likelihood, be the most critical one in the history of the Muslim Ummah in the United States.

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