Glenn Greenwald publishes a book about the Snowden files, complete with back story on his relationship with Edward Snowden and new revelations about NSA spying, but what appears on the front page of Daily Kos? A quote by Glenn Greenwald in a long interview taken out of context and interpreted in the worst way possible.
Given Greenwald's intellectual fecundity and argumentative ferocity, being gay may be the least interesting thing about him. But even Greenwald doesn't claim that his sexual orientation doesn't matter. After all, if he were straight he would be living in Manhattan, his home for most of the last 20 years. Instead, he lives in Rio de Janeiro, barred from moving to the United States with his Brazilian boyfriend, David Michael Miranda.Anybody who is truly familiar with his body of work realizes that there are few public figures who have spoken out more forcefully against racism than Glenn Greenwald.
"Brazil recognizes our relationship for immigration purposes, while the government of my supposedly 'free,' liberty-loving country enacted a law explicitly barring such recognition," says Greenwald, referring to the Defense of Marriage Act with the disdain he typically shows for policies he believes are eroding Americans' freedoms. Greenwald's attacks on the powerful make him a tempting target for reprisals. So it's no surprise that, soon after he started blogging, critics sometimes tried to out him in a game of "gotcha." But what upset Greenwald was the implication that he had been closeted in the first place. "There was nothing to out," he says. "I've been as out as I can be since I was 20."
The racism that fuels the 'war on terror'
A new Gallup poll released Monday morning has a surprising finding: a majority of Americans - while supporting air strikes in foreign countries against foreign nationals suspected of Terrorism - oppose such air strikes when used to target US citizens who are suspected Terrorists, whether at home or on foreign soil
The reason this is surprising is that when the US actually killed a US citizen on foreign soil on the grounds that he was a suspected Terrorist - Anwar al-Awlaki - large majorities approved. One poll at the time reported that "a large proportion of Americans believe the US Government made the correct decision in killing a US born Islamist militant in a drone strike last month" - specifically, that "69 per cent of respondents think the action taken by the US Government to kill Anwar al-Awlaki was justified" (that included 77% Republicans and 73% Democrats approving). Another poll at the time reported that Obama's approval ratings on national security increased eight points in the wake of the Awlaki killing. Meanwhile, Obama aides ran to Politico to boast that Awlaki's corpse would be a significant asset in Obama's re-election bid, leading to this Politico headline
But it seems clear there is a much more odious factor driving some of this. Many Americans can (a) say that they oppose the targeted killings of Americans on foreign soil while simultaneously (b) supporting the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen because, for them, the term "Americans" doesn't include people like Anwar al-Awlaki. "Americans" means their aunts and uncles, their nice neighbors down the street, and anyone else who looks like them, who looks and seems "American". They don't think those people - Americans - should be killed without charges by the US government if they travel on vacation to Paris or go to study for a semester in London. But the concept of "Americans" most definitely does not include people with foreign and Muslim-ish names like "Anwar al-Awlaki" who wear the white robes of a Muslim imam and spend time in a place like Yemen.
Sam Harris, the New Atheists, and anti-Muslim animus
That said, what I did say in my emails with Harris - and what I unequivocally affirm again now - is not that Harris is a "racist", but rather that he and others like him spout and promote Islamophobia under the guise of rational atheism. I've long believed this to be true and am glad it is finally being dragged out into open debate. These specific atheism advocates have come to acquire significant influence, often for the good. But it is past time that the darker aspects of their worldview receive attention.
Whether Islamophobia is a form of "racism" is a semantic issue in which I'm not interested for purposes of this discussion. The vast majority of Muslims are non-white; as a result, when a white westerner becomes fixated on attacking their religion and advocating violence and aggression against them, as Harris has done, I understand why some people (such as Hussain) see racism at play: that, for reasons I recently articulated, is a rational view to me. But "racism" is not my claim here about Harris. Irrational anti-Muslim animus is.
Combating Islamophobic violenceHe doesn't just hang out with his buddies on a website where everybody agrees with him. He makes his case in public to the face of his opposition.
Shortly after the Islamic Society of Joplin opened a mosque in 2007 in Joplin, a small town in Southwest Missouri, the sign in front was set on fire, an act determined to be arson. On the 4th of July of this year, someone who is undoubtedly a deeply patriotic person was filmed by a surveillance camera throwing a flaming object onto the roof of the mosque in an attempt to burn it down, causing some fire damage (see the video below); despite a $15,000 reward offered by the FBI for information leading to the arrest of those responsible and a clear shot of the attacker’s face, nobody has come forward to identify him.
On Monday of this week — the day after the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin — that same Joplin mosque burned to the ground, completely destroyed by a fire that began in the middle of the night. So powerful was the fire that “only remnants indicated a building had been there, including some stone pillars that were still standing and a few pieces of charred plywood loosely held up by a frame.” Although the cause has not yet been determined, investigators — for obvious reasons — have labeled the fire “suspicious” and are searching for signs of arson. As obviously ugly as these incidents are, they offer an opportunity to make an important statement.
So why all the hate for Glenn Greenwald? Despite all of the cries that we must call out "racism on the left", the "calling out" is always directed toward lefties who have the audacity to criticize the Democratic Party.
In his early days as a blogger, Greenwald supported Democratic candidates who shared his pro-civil liberties views. But events in recent years -- in both the White House and Congress -- have changed his mind. "I just don't think meaningful change is possible through piecemeal reforms in either of the two political parties," he says. As for the Democrats themselves, he can barely contain his disgust. "The Republicans," he says, "have long lived by what they call the Buckley Rule: always support the furthest-right candidate who can plausibly win. That's because they believe conservatism will work and want to advocate for it. Democrats [by contrast] prop up the most centrist or conservative candidates -- i.e., corporatists -- on the ground that it's always better, more politically astute, to move to the right."Unfortunately for Glenn, he devotes his energy to criticizing the government's illegal crackdown on civil liberties and increasingly unpopular and horribly racist war against terror, both of which threaten the freedom and safety of the American people far more than whatever dumbass thing Rush Limbaugh said on the radio today.
Greenwald believes the same manipulation of the two-party system is essential in the fight for gay rights. He says he is encouraged by the rise of the Log Cabin Republicans not because he likes a thing the GOP endorses, but because "it sends a signal to Democrats that they can't keep using gay voters as an ATM machine."
I get it. This is a partisan Democratic website, and I'm cool with that. Heck, the Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest has been a daily must-read for me for years. I always tell my students to engage in the causes that stir their passions. Personally, I find neither Bridgegate nor Donald Sterling to be particularly compelling or important stories. However, I'm a NASCAR fan and I know how a lot of people feel about that.
BUT. Eating one of our own, attacking him for making a statement that he clearly never made, regurgitating old slurs that are easily and frequently debunked, IS. NOT. ACTIVISM. You're not helping to elect Democrats. You're not "informing" or "debating". You are revealing this community's blind spot for a very unfortunate reality. The Democratic Party establishment from the President on down has adopted the Republican Party's foreign policy and philosophy of civil liberties. If you don't like it, attack the message, not the messenger. The former may convince me that I am wrong, but the latter will always convince that I am right.