By Adam McCabe
In the weeks following September 11, various Watchdog groups including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and the Center for New Community (CNC) began to use the fear generated from the horrific attacks to further their own agendas.
These Watchdog groups quickly updated their Websites and made contact with various media outlets to condemn "hate groups" and either their connection to or their exploitation of the terrorist attacks. Of course the "hate" label is one that is attributed to various groups and individuals whose one commonality is the degree to which the Watchdogs hate them.
While the terrorists themselves might have seemed a likely target for such organizations, we found renewed rhetoric against their old enemies in nearly every media outlet. Such groups spewed out tabloid sensationalism suggesting that "neo-Nazis" were making a "bin Laden connection" and joining forces with al-Qaida.
In a self-revelatory comment one ADL spokesperson said, "these groups latch on to any current event to try in some warped way to make it work in their favor."
In several articles these champions of freedom denounce the position of "hate groups". Making "hate" clear to their audience spokesmen like Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism outlines hateful positions regarding September 11:
"[some] groups insist Jews were responsible, while others say Arabs did it because of the government's support for Israel. And some blame the country's lax immigration policies, which they say have led to multiculturalism and a destabilization of traditional American values."
Similarly Devin Burghart of the CNC notes that the strategy of "hate groups" since the attacks is to "blame Jews for September 11, rile up anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment and blame immigration as the root cause for the attacks."
There probably were those who "blamed Jews" for the 9/11 attacks among the American right wing. But so few must have made such comments, that although some obscure quotes work their way into recent articles and comments by the leading watchdogs, no quotations blaming Jews made it into the USA Today of 11/27 nor in the Atlanta Constitution of 11/25. Several such stories did cross my desk, however each and everyone originated from Arab and or Muslim periodicals. Although such stories blaming Jews were in abundance following September 11th in Arab publications, these are not mentioned for example in the USA Today story which condemns such positions presumably held by predominantly White organizations in the US.
In an attempt to blur positions and confuse the public, the position that Bin Laden and his followers carried out the attacks due in part to US support of Israel is pinpointed as one of irrational hate. However polls have shown that more than 70% of Americans believe the attack on the World Trade Center did have something to do with US foreign policy in the Middle east and especially our relationship with Israel. Actually bin Laden himself has said this. Bin Laden in various communications has cited the plight of the Palestinians and that the US is under the influence of Israel. The issue of US foreign policy with regard to Israel has been commented on by legitimate journalists all across the US and Europe. To suggest that reconsidering US foreign policy is hate is nothing more than a grand-standing stunt of organizations seeking to curb any and all criticism of Israel.
It apparently is also "hate" to discuss US immigration policy in light of the World Trade Center attacks. Apparently it is fine to discuss US immigration policy when the economy is booming and the discussions surround allowing more immigrants into the country. However, the reverse position is "hate." As the economy is suffering and more Americans are unemployed than in recent memory and aliens are attacking our landmarks and killing our people such a discussion is forbidden. Perhaps one should consider if it is a hateful position to allow people into a country, any country, who are hell-bent on killing that country's people and attacking the innocent. An open-door immigration policy could in fact be hateful to the indigenous people of a region. How hateful was the immigration policy of the colonial period for the native Americans?
Realize Watchdog groups don't condemn policy, they condemn debate and discussion. Such things are not to even be considered! Legislation of ideas is the order of the day. For even expressing such an opinion, articles such as this one, and its author will be recorded and listed as "hate" or "miscellaneous hate" as the ADL so likes to call it.
Finally attributing anti-Muslim sentiment to the "hate groups" of the extreme right is rather foolish. The fact that 19 hijackers were Muslims and that they perpetrated the worst act of terror ever on American soil stirred up more anti-Muslim sentiment than the right ever could. I've seen young children with t-shirts emblazoned with Osama bin Laden's face in the cross hairs of a gun-site. These were not being sold by any "hate groups." We've all heard President Bush say "wanted dead or alive." Surely such sound bytes don't stir up anti-Muslim sentiment - certainly, at least not as much as the "hate groups" can. In fact, "hate groups" express a wide range of opinions; the New Republic recently marveled at the fact that William Pierce, director of the National Alliance has taken a pro-Muslim stance.
It is actually the Watchdog organizations very critique of "hate groups" that they themselves are guilty of. They have exploited the events of September 11th for their own gain and their own agendas. Articles are replete with the number of "hate" groups - one would suspect that the increase in such statistics is directly proportional to the contributions such organizations receive. It's as if the images of the planes flying into the Trade Center towers, the people throwing themselves out of windows and hurling dozens of stories to their death, the collapse of the towers, the faces of those lost, and the images of those who carried out the attacks are not horrible enough. If the death and destruction and mayhem of September 11th doesn't keep you awake at nights, if it doesn't still bring tears to your eyes, there are those who strike up images of jackbooted neo-Nazis joining arm-in-arm with the Al-Queda network to destroy our way of life.
I'm sure images of Osama bin Laden hiding in South America with an ailing Fuehrer whispering into his ear can't be far behind.
Installed: 07/27/98, 1: 00 AM, PST