Cause and Effect in the Wingnut Mind

Cause and Effect in the Wingnut Mind January 16, 2012

Joel Richardson has a column at the Worldnutdaily attacking Ron Paul’s foreign policy arguments and claiming that a man named Robert Pape is the equivalent of Jeremiah Wright for President Obama. And all this because Paul dares to suggest that perhaps American policy has something to do with provoking violence in the Arab and Islamic world.

Paul’s emphatic trademark claim that the present rise of Islamic terrorism globally is the result of “blowback” from American actions abroad is nothing less than ridiculous and an absolute insult to my intelligence.

According to Paul, radical Muslims are not radical because they have drunk deeply from the trough of an expansionist, racist and murderous ideology, but rather because American actions abroad have brought about the natural response of resistance.

I get so tired of such simpleminded nonsense. Those two things are not mutually exclusive. Yes, reactionary Islam (I try to avoid calling them radical because radical is often a positive word to me, while reactionary is not) is an expansionist, racist and murderous ideology. And yes, decades of colonialism have provided fertile ground for that ideology to take hold and made the United States its most obvious target. This is not an either/or, it’s a yes/and.

How is Paul’s position any different from Jeremiah Wright’s claim that 9/11 was simply a case of “America’s chickens … coming home to roost”? Paul may say it in a far less shrill manner than Wright, but his position is virtually identical.

And how is that any different from Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and dozens of other wingnut preachers claiming that they hate us because we don’t persecute gays, or we allow abortion, or because of the ACLU? There’s one obvious difference: Our foreign policy actually affects them, while our domestic policies on gay rights and abortion do not. Is there any doubt that the seeds of the 1978 Iranian revolution that overthrew the Shah were sewn by the U.S. and Britain overthrowing Mossadegh and installing the brutal Shah in power? They didn’t just take over our embassy and hold American hostages out of some fit of religious madness, it was a response to 25 years of American-backed oppression. And as I have said time and time again, if there is one iron law in politics it is that oppressing a people radicalizes them.

Evil exists, and there are times when it must be resisted. Freedom requires both responsibility and sacrifice. To cast the radical Islamic terrorists as the victims and the American people as those who deserve blame, which Paul has done, is simply asinine and downright disgusting. Ron Paul’s soothing grandfather-like persona may be far more palatable to most than Jeremiah Wright’s obnoxious rage-filled rants, but his habit of victim-blaming is no less repulsive and should be rejected by all genuine American patriots.

Far more repulsive is this simpleminded “evil exists and we must fight it” position. In the real world, actions have consequences. Ideologies do not just appear out of thin air, they develop in a context. And to dismiss all discussion of that context on the grounds that it is blaming the victim is absurd. The answers aren’t simple ones. It isn’t as easy as “well this would never have happened if we hadn’t invaded Iraq.” But in the wingnut mind, where America is always the good guy and Muslims are always the bad guy, cause and effect are forever disassociated. And we need to have a serious discussion about the inevitable effects of American foreign policy.

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