Gunning for Islam The Islamophobes: fringe wackos, or rising mass movement?

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Three people are dead because US "pastor" Terry Jones, in collaboration with the American media, staged (or threatened to stage) an anti-Muslim Koran-burning exhibition, which predictably stoked anti-American protests in Afghanistan: also predictably, US troops fired on demonstrators. The result: yet more "collateral damage."

In more 9/11 anniversary news: a rally sponsored by the David Horowitz-affiliated "Jihad Watch," in alliance with Pamela "Shrieking Harpy" Geller’s "Stop the Islamization of America" grouplet and the British neo-fascist "English Defense League," attracted a few thousand wackos to a site a few blocks from Ground Zero, where uber-wacko Geert Wilders (Dutch neo-fascist and leading Islamophobe) made the case for banning Islam in the name of … "Dutch tolerance":

"America, New York and Shariah are incompatible in New York. New York stands for openness and tolerance. Suppose there was a place and it only allowed people of one persuasion within its walls. It would not be New York. It would be Mecca."

Maybe Wilders has been smoking too much of that strong Dutch weed, but to argue that we’re too tolerant to tolerate the intolerant seems a bit odd. Then again, Dutch neo-fascism no doubt suffers in translation.

Wilders, Geller, and "Jihad Watch" anti-Islam guru Robert Spencer want to import Europe’s Muslim-hating racist fringe to America: their thesis is that Islam is not a religion, but a political conspiracy to impose Sharia law on non-Muslims. They raise the specter of an Islamic States of America, with American women draped in the chador and mandatory mosque attendance — a scenario that doesn’t even qualify as credible science fiction.

And if you think it doesn’t get any kookier than that, then you didn’t listen to John Bolton’s speech to the anti-mosque rally, delivered via videotape, wherein he attacked the effort by "politicians" to "impose tolerance and understanding on us, whether we like it or not." He also indirectly attacked his own former boss, George W. Bush, when he lashed out against Imam Feisal Rauf’s role as a State Department emissary of good will to Muslim nations. It was Bush’s State Department who first sponsored him in that role. Shortly before delivering his remarks, Bolton confirmed he is considering a presidential run: can he ride the wave of hate all the way to the White House?

Another aspiring anti-Muslim Know-Nothing demagogue who spoke at the rally is one Ilario Pantano, whose credentials as a murderous hater are surely impeccable. We last heard about Pantano when Army prosecutors accused him of murdering two Iraqis in some very cold blood, as Mother Jones relates:

"The central facts of the incident that made Ilario Pantano famous are not in dispute. On April 15, 2004, Pantano, a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, led a small group of Marines to search a suspected insurgent hideout in Mahmudiyah, Iraq, outside of Fallujah. As the patrol neared the house, two men tried to leave in a car. The Marines stopped, searched, and handcuffed the men. A Marine scoured the vehicle, but didn’t find anything incriminating. After other Marines found weapons in the house, Pantano had the men uncuffed and ordered them to search the car themselves. At some point during that search, Pantano felt threatened by the two men. He shot them both — pausing to load a second magazine into his M-16 before emptying that clip too. Then he placed a cardboard sign reading ‘No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy’ — the motto of his Marine battalion — on top of the car. He wanted ‘to send a message to these Iraqis and others,’ he said later.

"For a time in 2005, it looked like Pantano might be court-martialed for killing the two Iraqis. One of his subordinates claimed the shooting was unjustified. But the prosecution’s case collapsed in an early hearing, and Pantano was never even tried. The judge in charge of the hearing recommended non-judicial punishment — but Pantano’s commander didn’t agree, and he was never disciplined."

This is the kind of person at the head of the "anti-Islamization" movement — an escaped war criminal.

Pantano is now running for Congress in North Carolina — as a Republican, naturally.

Joe Conason made an important point about this hate movement, and that is its intensely partisan nature. Go here to listen to hate-monger Geller, aka Pamela Oshry, at a pro-Israel rally earlier this year. She ends her ultra-Likudist diatribe — "There is no Israeli occupation: the Arabs are occupying Israel!" — by urging her audience to "Dump Chuck!" Chuck Schumer, that is, the Democratic US Senator from New York who "dared" oppose John Bolton’s nomination for UN ambassador: after all, "reasons" Geller, Bolton is "the best friend Israel ever had!" What else do we need to know?

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Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.

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