America as the Muslim World's Liberator

(New Republic) Joseph Braude - Bush's latest speech on Islamic radicalism went further than speeches past in defining the Islamist threat: Extremists, he said, "believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia." He slammed Syria and Iran for aiding and abetting militants, while employing "terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West and America, and on the Jews." And he faulted "elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism, that feed conspiracy theories and speak of a so-called American war on Islam - with seldom a word about American action to protect Muslims in Afghanistan, and Bosnia, Somalia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Iraq." There is no denying the boldness and clarity of his counter-narrative, which casts America as the Muslim world's liberator rather than its oppressor. Hizballah's television network, Al-Manar, aired large portions of his speech and quoted him accurately in Arabic translation on its website. Perhaps the reason is that when Al-Manar's audiences are confronted head-on with Bush-speak, what they hear is dramatic irony. For every country mentioned by Bush as having been protected by America, Arab popular memories conjure an alternative Islamist account of the same intervention. Whenever Bush slams autocrats for scapegoating Jews, Arab Muslims hear proof that Bush is in the pocket of Jews.

2005-10-14 00:00:00

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