Workers Vanguard No. 976
18 March 2011
Anti-Muslim Witchhunt on Capitol Hill
Down With Bipartisan War on Terror!
In a blatant escalation of the “anti-terror” witchhunt, New York Republican Peter King, the newly minted chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, last week staged the first of a promised series of Congressional hearings into the “radicalization” of Muslim Americans. While for King the televised proceedings served as political theater to paint the Democrats as soft on “terror,” the hearings not surprisingly inspired panic among Muslims in the U.S., who from the onset of the “war on terror” have been in the crosshairs of the capitalist rulers. During his testimony, Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, touched a raw nerve as he tearfully retold the story of a Muslim paramedic/police cadet who died trying to help rescue victims in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, only to have his name fall under suspicion that he was involved in the attack.
Notorious for his anti-Muslim bigotry, King authored Vale of Tears, a novel in which a New York Congressman (!) convinces reluctant Muslims to spill the beans on an Al Qaeda plan to bomb New York City. In comparison to this yahoo, the Democrats cynically posture as defenders of religious tolerance and civil liberties. But their main role in the hearings was to offer a more effective means of carrying out repression in the name of fighting “terror.” Ellison, seconded by L.A. County sheriff Lee Baca, criticized the widely publicized proceedings as serving to dry up sources of intelligence from Muslims.
The Democrats have in fact worked in tandem with the Republicans from the onset of the “war on terror,” with at least 22 bipartisan House and Senate committee hearings on domestic “violent Islamist extremism” in the last five years alone. As U.S. imperialist Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama has continued and expanded many of the repressive measures introduced under George W. Bush. Just last week, the White House entirely backed down on Obama’s celebrated promise to close the prison in Guantánamo Bay, ordering the resumption of military tribunals there and reaffirming the policy of indefinite detention of terror suspects. Nothing new here: During World War II, liberal icon Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans. Today, the Democrats worry that King’s modern-day Inquisition is counterproductive to the “national interest,” threatening to further inflame Muslim populations reeling from the havoc wreaked by the U.S.-led occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.
With Democratic politicians and liberal editorialists routinely connecting King’s hearings with the Cold War witchhunts under Joe McCarthy, it is worth recalling that McCarthy’s bourgeois critics agreed with him that Communism was the “enemy within,” but thought that he overreached by gunning for “innocent” liberals along with the “guilty.” Today, Islamic fundamentalists like Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda are surrogates for the “Red menace,” invoked to justify domestic repression and imperialist militarism. But it was U.S. imperialism that promoted the forces of Islamic reaction against the Soviet degenerated workers state during the Cold War. In the 1980s, the CIA massively armed and funded the mujahedin in Afghanistan—including bin Laden—to kill Soviet troops defending a modernizing nationalist government that had enacted reforms on behalf of women and others. Once the U.S. no longer had any use for them, these fundamentalists—Washington’s Dr. Frankenstein’s monster—turned on their former patron.
With the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon approaching, anti-Muslim mania is likely to find renewed fervor. As a Spartacist League/U.S. Political Bureau statement issued the day after the attacks noted:
“The ruling parties—Democrats and Republicans—are all too eager to be able to wield the bodies of those who were killed and wounded in order to reinforce capitalist class rule. It’s an opportunity for the exploiters to peddle ‘one nation indivisible’ patriotism to try to direct the burgeoning anger at the bottom of this society away from themselves and toward an indefinable foreign ‘enemy,’ as well as immigrants in the U.S., and to reinforce their arsenal of domestic state repression against all the working people.”
—WV No. 764,
14 September 2001
Indeed, the government went on to carry out a massive attack on the democratic rights of the population as a whole, while invoking “national security” as a club against striking New Jersey teachers, West Coast longshoremen and other trade unionists. This underscores the need to oppose all attempts by the capitalist rulers to augment the forces of state repression, which are aimed at suppressing the struggles of workers and the oppressed and propping up this decaying, racist capitalist order.