by: ghostoffuffle

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Apologies for the delayed response- I spent almost all of yesterday driving.

I think the issue I hold with the above thought experiment is that you've managed at once to overly narrow and broaden the subject of the discussion to a point at which the original subject matter gets lost in the shuffle. We're no longer talking about racism versus nationalism versus xenophobia, we're talking about the merits and pitfalls of Sharia law- essentially a policy discussion. And we can argue the benefits and pitfalls of Sharia, but it's a little like listening to somebody complain about the Jews' conspiracy to control world media and then say, "let's dig into that, though; would a worldwide monopoly on the media really benefit us as a polity?"

Reading Roseanna and Amy's comments as charitably as you have for a moment, I'll discard nearly every other portion of the original quote; I'll ignore the part about "stinkin' Muslim crap" and "Muslim through and through" and "that's not America" and the speculation of whether or not this Somali immigrant-cum-stateswoman is here legally, and focus solely, as you'd have it, on her passing reference to Sharia. We then have to examine where she got this "Sharia" notion. Is there anything in Omar's voting record that indicates an affinity towards Sharia law? Have Rosanna and Amy studied Sharia? Do they even know what it means? In order to have the discussion you want, we have to take it as a matter of course that when they say "all that Muslim crap," they only take issue with the specter of Sharia, and that they are coming to the discussion with a viewpoint as informed as your own vis-a-vis apostasy, vis-a-vis state response to homosexuality, vis-a-vis capital and corporal punishment, etc. Furthermore, we have to grant that they care to recognize that "Sharia" only encompasses one practical portion of a fundamentalist minority of the world's second largest religion with a history spanning several millennia.

But ultimately, to do so would be absurd. I think you and I can agree without too much controversy that in the above case, "Sharia" is shorthand. It's a condensation of a rich and broad culture into a bogeyman signifier. Look, here's Islam:

And here's Islam:

And here it is again:

So why is it that in these discussions we always have to approach it from the terms of this

and this

and this?

You opened the discussion searching for a working definition of racism. I'd say that when person A narrows the culture, religion, and physical characteristics of person B down to the basest caricature, and then rejects person B based on that caricature, that's as good a definition of racism as one might need.

So, then. If it's not too hypocritical (I'll leave that up to your good judgment), I'd argue a sort of like-for-like. If someone is comfortable simplifying my cultural standpoint down to a cartoonish shorthand, I'm comfortable discarding the finer distinctions between xenophobia, racism and nationalism in favor of a catch-all term, in this case racism. The problem with ten-dollar words is that they have a way of sterilizing subject matter. As a for instance, "nationalism" has recently been re-introduced into the American lexicon as a non-pejorative. If we call all of what was discussed above "ethno-nationalism" rather than "racism," isn't it entirely possible that we might then inadvertently deem such behavior acceptable? Better to err on the side here of stigma rather than normalization, I think. Racism is a fine word for it.

For all that, though, your point is well taken. We could be only a little less charitable to the above actors and assume that their issue with Rep. Omar has nothing to do with the color of her skin in conjunction with her cultural background, and only has to do with her religion. When John F. Kennedy ascended to the presidency, there were those who vocally decried his "Papist" affinities and wondered whether the Vatican would now run the White House. This isn't a perfect analog for our current discussion, but it subtracts the thornier issues of phenotype. In which case, "racism" wouldn't exactly fit the bill, would it? Taken in this light, I can respect your original point. I ask you, then, to reconsider mine. Whether or not the dumbing-down of a religious or cultural group to base signifiers, and then ascribing nefarious motives to this simplified Other is racist or xenophobic or ethno-nationalist becomes extraneous. It all merits an unequivocal condemnation.

Oy, Democracy Now(!). I love Glenn Greenwald, but this is super disingenuous.

    And yet, all I heard from Democrats—not all I heard, because there were a lot of Democrats who supported Manning and Snowden and Drake—but certainly Democratic officials in D.C. were almost unanimous, under Obama, in saying that leaks—leakers should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, that they’re traitors.

There's the rub. Conflating "Democratic Officials in D.C." who were "almost unanimous under Obama" with the unspecified "Democrats" in the title is misleading at best, and dumps the burden of hypocrisy on Democrats in general. You know who else was "almost unanimous" in condemning Manning and Snowden? Republican officials in D.C. under Obama. The Manning and Snowden leaks didn't uncover partisan divide so much as they uncovered a philosophical- and frankly totally predictable- difference between those in power and/or who stand at any point to gain power and those who just want to talk on their goddamn iPhone in peace. Snowden and Manning, to varying degrees, uncovered infrastructural mechanisms for abuse that could be used by anybody in power to bad effect; accordingly, pretty much everybody with their hands closest to the levers- Democrat and Republican- cried foul.

Meanwhile, I know next to nobody in my everyday life- Democrat, Republican or Other- who believed that what Snowden did was bad. Okay, let's be honest, I know a few conservatives that still think it. Illegal? Sure, because it was. That's the nature of civil disobedience. But the general consensus on the street is that Snowden did the necessary, and that Manning's actions, although very carelessly executed, didn't merit the sentence. NB- Manning was put in jail by a Democrat, but released by that selfsame Democrat.

So it drives me crazy- fucking. crazy. to read Democracy Now(!) articles that try to paint Democrats in general as somehow hypocritical because of the above. Mainly because then all my militant liberal Facebook acquaintances, still inexplicably bitter at Hillary Clinton and her perceived misdeeds, wallpaper my feed the next day with articles like this as their next gem of evidence that the current Democratic wing is corrupt and hypocritical because Bernie.

This is not that. Everybody in power hated what Snowden did, and a plurality if not a majority of those not in power celebrated what he did. Meanwhile, the current situation has underscored not systemic problems that need to be corrected for the good of the whole electorate, but a very current, temporary administration running roughshod over the systemic safeguards meant to uphold the good of the electorate. Basic conflict of interest regulations? Naw, we're not gonna pay attention to that. Private citizen undermining current presidential policies via back channels to international rivals? See no problem there.

If leaks are how these things come to light, I as a Democrat- and a citizen- applaud them just as I applauded Snowden. That's in full recognition of the fact that such leaks are illegal.

The only thing that surprises me at this point is that rogue actors in the intelligence community up to now have (openly) broken the rules only to uncover abuses of power rather than to perpetuate them. Who would have thought that safeguards to civil liberty would have arisen with such regularity from the agencies who enjoy the highest abuse potential.