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Wingnutteria sez: We’ve always been at war with Arabia

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 22:37 EDT
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For today’s entry in the “it doesn’t matter how evil/stupid/intellectually dishonest it is, if it pisses off the liberals, it’s gold” genre, I bring you Tucker Carlson defending the nutbar-dominated Texas School Board for their particular spin on the “everyone let’s hate Muslims now” frenzy. Some school board members are claiming, and this is so loony that I’m having trouble typing it, that the textbook industry is being taken over by a cabal of “Middle Easterners” that are using the textbooks to push Islam and denounce Christianity. (Please no one tell them that there are even more religions than these two in the world; they’ll lose it completely.) They claim that there’s bias against the Crusaders (!) and that the books spend more time detailing Islam than Christianity (probably because they assume the audience is familiar with Christianity). To make it even worse, what little “evidence” they have is from textbooks that aren’t in use.

Obviously, the real concern the members have is that boring old social studies textbooks that document world history might have factual information in them that might incline astute readers to wonder if Muslims aren’t human beings, or that Middle Eastern history is more complex than “a bunch of people sat in caves eating babies for thousands of years”, as right wingers might have you believe. They may even learn disturbingly humanizing information about the cultural innovations and traditions of many Muslim countries that might incline them to be (gasp!) less racist. After all, one of the most common habits of white supremacists it to pretend to be the member of a ill-defined tribe of white people that they claim invented pretty much everything. That way, even though they themselves are dumb fucks, they can believe that they’re superior just by being a member of this distinguished tribe. Learning that much of the Middle East was going through a cultural renaissance while Europe was still stuck in medieval thinking is the sort of information that can destabilize pat white supremacist beliefs about how Europeans are better at everything by virtue of genetics. They may even learn why we call our number notation system “Arabic numerals”, or why their math class after history has that awfully Arabic-sounding name “algebra”.

Anyway, reality, much less basic humanity, is no competition in Tucker Carlson’s eyes when there are liberals to piss off. He claims that there’s “studies” showing that textbooks are promoting Islam and denouncing Christianity:

The whining about the Crusades is particularly egregious, because the concern here is that students are learning the truth. And the truth is that Christians started it. Right wingers want to nit pick and claim this number of casualties or that, and it’s all an attempt to distract from the larger, more important point, which is that European coalitions repeatedly invaded Muslim lands in order to conquer the Holy Land. If the Christians had said, nah, we’re going to do our laundry instead, this wouldn’t have happened. That those who were in the defensive crouch won a couple of battles doesn’t mean that they suddenly became the aggressors in this. This is all dooking around in order to distract from basic realities. In fact, I would argue that it’s a kind of denialism, much like Holocaust denialism, except that it doesn’t seem as awful because the events that the wingnuts are obsessing over denying happened so long ago.

I’m not pointing this out to say that Christians are more or less bloodthirsty than Muslims. I reject the term “bloodthirsty” when applied across the board to entire groups of people as a natural state of being. Modern Christians didn’t conduct the Crusades any more than most Muslims support terrorism, and I don’t hold them responsible for them. I don’t think a bunch of high school kids are going to read about the Crusades and think, “Oh my god, all modern Christians are evil people!”

What this is about is a group of people who think the Crusades were a great thing and that we should still be fighting them, because they hate Muslims. Full stop. They want to rewrite history so that the Crusades seem more appealing in order to get more people to buy into that premise, because right now, most rational people tend to think of the Crusades and they think “unjust war of aggression”. You know, the truth. The wingnuts also have a side order of wanting to pretend that Muslim terrorists are soldiers in a battle that hasn’t ever really ended, and are just as much Crusaders as the medieval people who ransacked Jerusalem. Never mind that there’s no reason to believe that the 9/11 terrorists were yelling, “Remember 1099!”, or that’s widespread support for that sentiment. This is all about establishing the notion that we can engage in an endless war against various Middle Eastern countries, because we’ve always been at war with Islam. It’s very “1984″.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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