Koran Burning: Dehumanizing Muslims
by Stephen Lendman
Despite constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom, America consistently violates fundamental rights, including respecting all faiths equally.
More than other ethnic/religious groups, Western discourse portrays Muslim/Arabs stereotypically as culturally inferior, dirty, lecherous, untrustworthy, religiously fanatical, and violent.
In his book, “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People,” Jack Shaheen explained how they’ve been defamed and vilified throughout decades of cinematic history. From silent films to recent ones, they encourage prejudicial attitudes, and reinforce notions of Western values, high-mindedness, and moral superiority.
Worse still are slanderous post-9/11 media commentaries about dangerous gun-toting terrorists, the need to closely monitor them, and rid society of those considered dangerous.
Never mind rule of law principles, right or wrong, or whether accused targets are guilty. Saying so’s all that matters to justify America’s war on terror. It needs enemies. When not around, they’re invented.
As a result, Muslim Arabs and others suffer hugely, including at home. Koran burning incidents provide more proof. They symbolize America’s contempt for Islam.
Importance of the Koran
According to observing Muslims, the Koran’s an exact record of words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to Muhammad. He taught them to others. Scribes passed them on. Throughout centuries of Islamic history, its 114 chapters remained unchanged.
The Koran’s the primary source of Muslim faith and practice. It covers all human concerns, including wisdom, beliefs, worship and law. It also focuses on God’s relationship with humanity, and provides guidelines for a just society, proper relationships, and just divisions of power.
It teaches love, not hate; peace, not violence; charity, not selfishness; and tolerance, not terrorism. Its five pillars include profession of faith, prayer five times daily, fasting during Ramadan, charity, and performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime for those able to afford it.
Clashes Over Latest Afghanistan Koran Burning Incident
It’s happened before and each time incites rage. The latest incident involves US Bagram Air Base forces dumping Koran copies and other Islamic holy materials in debris piles for burning.
Military officials lied saying they contained “extremist inscriptions” and were used to “facilitate extremist communications.” The latest incident followed previous ones and release of a January video showing Marines urinating on Afghan corpses.
Protests erupted each time. Hollow apologies heightened anger, especially after a decade of brutal war, occupation, daily killings, and extreme deprivation in ravaged Afghanistan.
America’s History of Dehumanizing Enemies
“You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” is one of many memorable Rogers and Hammerstein “South Pacific” songs. Its lyrics went as follows:
“You’ve got to be taught To hate and fear, You’ve got to be taught From year to year, It’s got to be drummed In your dear little ear You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid Of people whose eyes are oddly made, And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade, You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, Before you are six or seven or eight, To hate all the people your relatives hate, You’ve got to be carefully taught!”
Early or later, it works the same way by drumming it repeatedly into impressionable minds, including US military recruits in training.
It begins by creating Groupthink. Individuality and free thought are expunged. Recruits are intimidated to go along.
For example, Marines begin days chanting:
“This barrack contains 45 highly motivated, truly dedicated romping stomping blood thirsty kill crazy United States Marine Corps recruits, sir.”
Unlike football crowds chanting “defense,” Marines shout “kill.” Their combat mandate demands it. By combining weapons training with brainwashing, robotized human killing machines are created.
Major media and Hollywood scoundrels help. They’re enlisted to demonize enemies. Racial epithets vilified Japanese soldiers. They were dehumanized as brutal animals. So were North Koreans, Vietnamese, and other non-whites. Asians and Arabs are called sneaky, deviant, and other degrading terms. Training manipulates impressionable minds to believe it.
In fall 2006, former Marine Sgt. Martin Smith’s article headlined, “Learning to be a Killer: Remembering Marine Corps boot camp,” saying:
Indoctrination involves “dehumanizing the enemy in order to train (recruits) how to overcome any fear or prejudice against killing.”
“The process of dehumanization is central to military training. During the Vietnam War, the enemy in Vietnam was simply a ‘gook,’ ‘dink,’ or ‘slope. Today, ‘raghead’ and ‘sand nigger’ are the current racist epithets lodged against Arabs and Muslims.”
“After every command, we would scream, ‘Kill!’ But our call for blood took on particular importance during our physical training, when we learned how to fight with pugil sticks-wooden sticks with padded ends-how to run an obstacle course with fixed bayonets, or how to box and engage in hand-to-hand combat.”
“We were told to imagine the ‘enemy’ in all of our combat training, and it was always implied that the enemy was of Middle Eastern descent. When some raghead comes lurking up from behind, you’re gonna give ’em ONE,’ barked the training DI. We all howled in unison, “Kill!”
“We were being indoctrinated with schemes for war in the Middle East. Our hatred of the ‘Arab other’ was crafted from the very beginning of our training through fear and hate. In these ‘dirty wars,’ troops cannot tell friend from foe, leading to war crimes against a civilian population.”
Other US service branches also manipulate young minds to kill. They reinforce training mandates in war zones. They violate lawful rules of engagement (ROE). In Iraq, some commanders ordered killing all military-aged Iraqi men on sight.
Yet US Army Field Manual 27-10 incorporates Nuremberg Principles, Judgment and the Charter and Law of Land Warfare (1956). They prohibit crimes of war and against humanity and require disobeying lawless orders.
But US service members risk Court Martial and prison terms by putting rule of law principles above chain of command orders. Either go along or be penalized if charged.
Manipulating Public Opinion
Vilifying enemies isn’t new. Nor do boot camps alone create Groupthink. Political, academic, religious and other leaders euphemize killing and dehumanizing to justify lawless acts.
For example, calling Soviet Russia the “evil empire” or communism a “cancer” manipulates public opinion to accept aggressive state policy as justified.
In Nazi Germany, Jews were called “parasites,” “Jewish bacilli,” and other dehumanizing terms to facilitate Hitler’s “final solution.” Raul Hilberg’s “The Destruction of the European Jews” is its definite history.
He called their annihilation no accident, saying:
“When in the early days of 1933, the first civil servant wrote the first definition of ‘non-Aryan’ into a civil service ordinance, the fate of European Jewry was sealed.”
He also said “moral obstacles must be removed” and internal conflicts resolved to facilitate the horrors of war and planned atrocities.
Throughout America’s history, racist/hateful dehumanization targeted Native Americans, Blacks, Latinos, other marginalized groups, and now Muslims. For example, Native people were called plundering, murdering savages, and much more. Doing so facilitated ritual slaughter.
America’s holocaust inspired Hitler’s. How could Washington complain when it committed its own. Each time, mass slaughter’s justified, sanitized, and/or suppressed. Pain, suffering, and death aren’t images policy makers want publicized.
Rhetoric softens horrific acts. Civilian deaths become “collateral damage.” In Vietnam, “pacification” meant forced displacement. “Incursion” was code language for invasion. Creating a “sanitized belt” meant removing everyone, bulldozing areas, and erecting “defensive positions” with heavy weapons.
“Sincere regrets” conceal deliberate killing. Free fire zones become “humanitarian bombing.” Propaganda softens and conceals crimes of war and against humanity. Language hides ugly truths.
Ronald Reagan’s national security advisor, Robert McFarlane, euphemized war horrors. He said America must remain prepared for “low-intensity conflict. The use of force can never be our preference or our only choice. It cannot yet be discarded, however, as an instrument of policy.”
In fact, it’s often preferred policy. It’s disguised as humanitarian, democratic liberation, when, in fact, it’s imperial aggression for unchallenged dominance.
Orwellian language facilitates warmaking. When used effectively, mass slaughter and destruction become normal, though for the most part ugly facts are suppressed.
Entire war zones become destroyed villages to save them. Brainwashed troops make it possible with ease.
Groupthink removes ravaged countries, mass slaughter, and human suffering from their mindsets.
Training indoctrination makes them effective killing machines in combat. Burning Korans alone show they’re well taught.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.