Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Chris Hedges: The Campaign to Exterminate Muslims

Muslims in this age of racialized authoritarianism have been stripped of due process in our courts and are subject—as Abid Naseer and Haroon Aswat were in Britain before being extradited to the United States—to pretrial incarceration for years. They endure police brutality and secret trials, are convicted on secret evidence they cannot see and suffer long-term detention in solitary confinement, often in clandestine prisons known as black sites. They are kidnapped anywhere in the world and taken, hooded, drugged and shackled, to the secret sites. They are tortured through savage methods such as beatings, “walling,” sexual humiliation, close confinement, prolonged isolation, water dousing, electric shocks, waterboarding and so-called rectal rehydration. Their citizenships are revoked. Their communities and mosques are harassed, infiltrated and monitored by law enforcement. Muslim children are viewed as future terrorists. Muslim women as breeders of terrorists. Muslim men as dangerous. We are the maniacal Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” keeping the heads of “savages” on stakes outside our fortress and crying out “Exterminate all the brutes!”

We have declared a worldwide war on Muslims. Muslims, who read us better than we read ourselves, are rising up to resist. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the Middle East have been butchered since our invasion of Afghanistan. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya have been destroyed as viable states. Millions of Muslims have been displaced or are refugees. And when desperate Muslim families attempt to flee to Europe or the United States from the hell we created in the Middle East, they are thrown into displacement camps or turned back and branded as disease carriers, thieves, rapists, barbarians and terrorists. Islamic culture and religion in our Manichean narrative have been shorn of all nuance, humanity, complexity and depth. Islam has been replaced by a xenophobic cartoon version, an image that, to use the words of Frantz Fanon, is the “quintessence of evil.” We respond to the crisis we created out of ignorance, self-exaltation and racism.

As the imprisoned poet Syed Talha Ahsan writes:

to kill
is to erase an image
off a mirror:
side-step
no body
just a gaping hole
upon an indifferent world

.

Israel’s slow-motion genocide of the Palestinian people, justified by the racism and Islamophobia that are central to Israeli identity, has entered a new, deadlier phase. No longer constrained by any pretense of respecting human rights or a peace process, Israeli soldiers, although they are not threatened, fire indiscriminately into crowds of unarmed Palestinians, killing or wounding men, women, children, the elderly and journalists. The sheer number of the dead and wounded—nine or more Palestinians killed by Israeli fire and hundreds injured on Friday alone—testifies to raking the crowd with gunfire. In a civilized world, Israel would be immediately slapped with sanctions, boycotts and divestment—the only mechanism left to protect the Palestinian people from extermination—but we do not live in a civilized world. We live in a world where murder and racism are state policy, where the oppressed are dehumanized and unworthy of life and where our mutant demagogues and despots revel in the rivers of blood they create[….]

To read the complete essay, click here.


 

Copyright 2018 Chris Hedges. From “The Campaign to Exterminate Muslims” published in TruthDig, April 9, 2018.

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