By Fayyaz Sheikh
Violence has no justification even when protesting against a hate speech or offensive material. A hate speech or offensive material against any sector or group is wrong and deserve condemnation.
But if we are talking about hypersensitivity about hate and offensive material, Muslims cannot beat Western‘s hypersensitivities to anti-Semitism and their efforts to silence such voices. This sensitivity extends to criticism of Israel. It is often labeled as anti-Semitism to choke off such discussion, and freedom of speech takes a back seat.
A recent little noticed dust-up in the media highlights the hypersensitivity to Anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel. Maureen Dowd of NYT, wrote a column on September 15, 2012, called ‘Neocons Slither Back’. It was critical of Neocons, especially Mr. Senor, and Israel. She writes:
“After 9/11, the neocons captured one Republican president who was naïve about the world. Now, amid contagious Arab rage sparked on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, they have captured another would-be Republican president and vice president, both jejeune about the world. “
“Senor is emblematic of how much trouble America blundered into in the Middle East — trillions wasted, so many lives and limbs lost — because of how little we fathom the culture and sectarian politics. We’re still stumbling in the dark. We not only don’t know who our allies and enemies are, we don’t know who our allies’ and enemies’ allies and enemies are. “
“As the spokesman for Paul Bremer during the Iraq occupation, Senor helped perpetrate one of the biggest foreign policy bungles in American history. The clueless desert viceroys summarily disbanded the Iraqi Army, forced de-Baathification, stood frozen in denial as thugs looted ministries and museums, deluded themselves about the growing insurgency, and misled reporters with their Panglossian scenarios of progress.
“Off the record, Paris is burning,” Senor told a group of reporters a year into the war. “On the record, security and stability are returning to Iraq.”
The article did not fit well with some protector of freedom of speech, so they labeled it as anti-Semitism and went on attack.
Jonathan Tobin writes in Commentary, After all these years of endlessly repeating the same tired tropes on the New York Times op-ed page, taking Maureen Dowd’s columns seriously requires a suspension of disbelief that is normally only needed to watch science fiction. But though the Queen of Snark lacks the credibility to discuss virtually any issue in an intelligent manner, she does have a knack for picking up on whatever hateful viruses are circulating through the circulatory system of our body politic.”
“Dowd’s column marks yet another step down into the pit of hate-mongering that has become all too common at the Times,”
Jeffrey Goldberg, the Atlantic columnist and leading journalist on Israeli issues,writes: “Maureen may not know this, but she is peddling an old stereotype, that gentile leaders are dolts unable to resist the machinations and manipulations of clever and snake-like Jews”
“This sinister stereotype became a major theme in the discussion of the Iraq war, when critics charged that Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, among other Jewish neoconservatives, were actually in charge of Bush Administration foreign policy. This charge relegated George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Stephen Hadley and the other Christians who actually set policy to the status of puppets.”
Steven A. Cook, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Twitter “Dowd’s use of anti-Semitic imagery is awful.
“The Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper writes : New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, last seen calling Goldman Sachs “blood-sucking,” is back with more anti-Semitic stereotypes in her latest column, which runs under the headline “Neocons Slither Back.”
“Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor,” Ms. Dowd writes. The display type in the newspaper reads: “Look who’s pulling the strings of Marionette Mitt and Puppet Paul.” …
This is disturbing on many levels. …
[D]epictions of Jews as snakes or puppeteers are classical anti-Semitic images, right up there with blood-sucking. The snake image has roots in the Christian Bible; the puppet-master goes back at least to Nazi Germany, and when Glenn Beck used it to talk about George Soros, who, unlike Dan Senor, has actually been hostile to Israel, the left was all over him for it.”
Some journalists came to the defense of Maureen Dowd and worte;
Andrew Sullivan of The Daily Beast; The usual would-be policeman of Washington’s discourse on all things to do with Israel, Jeffrey Goldberg, takes a break from the Jewish holidays to consign yet another member of the thinking classes to the ranks of “something much darker.” Dowd wrote a column in which she noted how Greater Israel fanatics run the Romney campaign’s foreign policy (which they do), and their neoconservative bubble is part of what explains Romney’s nasty and divisive attempt last week to politicize the recent flare-up of violent anti-Americanism in the Middle East.
You are not allowed to say this in Washington without being accused of anti-Semitism. Let me repeat: you can not write this. If you are a columnist and blogger, like, say, Tom Friedman or yours truly, the consequences are an immediate accusation that you are another Hitler:
On the right, The Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper called it “outrageous,” while Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin described it as “particularly creepy.” “Dowd’s column marks yet another step down into the pit of hate-mongering that has become all too common at the Times,” Tobin wrote.
Even if it is the obvious truth. Greater Israel neoconservatives dominate the Romney foreign policy and Senor is chief among them. As Kevin Drum notes:
Salon’s Andrew Leonard:The anti-Semitic charges come with a heaping dose of “doth protest too much” defensiveness. Any reasonable person familiar with the foreign policy disasters perpetrated by the neoconservatives who led George W. Bush to debacle piled upon debacle is right to be horrified by their clear influence upon Mitt Romney. The fact that many of them were Jewish (a point never mentioned or even implied in Dowd’s column) is irrelevant. What’s astonishing is that they’re back.
What’s also amazing is how bad the reading comprehension skills of the critics turn out to be. The only reference to the word “slither” in Dowd’s column is as part of a quote from the crown prince of the neocons — Paul Wolfowitz!
Kevin Drums of Mother Jones: There’s nothing anti-Semitic in Dowd’s column. She just doesn’t like neocons, and she doesn’t like the fact that so many of the neocons responsible for the Iraq debacle are now advisors to Mitt Romney’s campaign. Pretending that this makes her guilty of hate-mongering toward Jews is reprehensible.
M.J. Rosenberg of Huff Post:” It’s come full circle. The neocons are now using classic anti-semitic tropes to attack Maureen Dowd for criticizing Romney adviser Dan Senor and the other neocons who are in charge of the Romney campaign’s foreign policy apparatus. See this in Commentary, typical of the anti-Dowd onslaught.
Saying that attacking neoconservatism is anti-Semitic is like saying that attacking the neo-fascist Opus Dei movement is an attack on all Catholics. Or that attacking the Muslim Brotherhood is an attack on Islam. Or that an attack on the Nation Of Islam is an attack on all African-Americans.
It is worse than that. The neoconservatives now savaging Maureen Dowd are saying that an attack on Jewish individuals who do bad things is anti-Semitic. They are foaming at the mouth because she singles out Dan Senor, Romney’s Middle East brain trust, for particular scorn.”
Muslim Bashing by Pankraj Mishra.
Pankaj Mishra writes about Muslims in an old article “Islamismism” in New Yorker:
“Oriana Fallaci, who memorably claimed that Muslims “breed like rats” in Europe”.
If such a derogatory and insulting slur was said about any other religious sector, will New Yorker publish it?
Freedom of speech should protect even a hate speech but Holocaust denial and display of Nazi symbols is illegal in a number of European countries.
In the last few days we have beaten the drum that the freedom of speech should protect even a hate speech with no exceptions, but in practice West has exceptions to this rule.
Sources; Politico, NYT, Huff Post, Commentary, Mother Jones, The Weekly Standard, New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, Salon