Now for one of our regular features, the Outrage of the Week.
Since the tragic mass shooting in Chattanooga, there has been much talk about "homegrown terrorism," virtually all of which, of course, has focused on radical Islamist violence, as Dylann Roof gets flushed down the memory hole.
That focus has been focus maintained even though the Chattanooga murders haven't been definitively labeled as terrorism, at least not yet, not that the government, with the cooperation of the media, hasn't been trying to push the idea that it was, complete with an Islamist connection.
Because in our imagination, all terrorists, of course, even domestic ones, are foreign-looking with foreign-sounding names who are part of a global conspiracy out to destroy us, while right-wing mass killers are isolated wackos and deeply troubled people.
|Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez|
Oklahoma City. You remember.
But I'm getting off my point. The pundit class is all a-flutter with the big question: What will we do, what can we do, about these homegrown (of course) Islamic terrorists who are doubtless in our midst even if we can't tell who they are?
Well, Gen. Wesley Clark, the one-time golden boy of good liberal Democrats who for a time thought he would make a great president, has an answer.
Lock 'em up and throw away the key before they have the chance to do anything. Oh, and not only us: "Our allied nations like Britain, Germany and France" should do the same.
That's what he said on MSNBC on July 17 during a discussion about the Chattanooga shooting. Not in just those words, of course, he is more refined than that, more elegant in speech. But that is in essence what he said. And just to be clear, he's not talking about people who have committed some sort of crime, some act of terrorism. You don't have to actually do anything to wind up shut away in Clarkland.
No, you just have to be considered "disloyal." You just have to be "radicalized," you just have to not "support the United States." We did it in World War II, he said, when "if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war."
Of course, the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans and, to a lesser extent, German-Americans and Italian-Americans, is now considered to be one of the most shameful chapters in US history. But that doesn't matter to Clark, who not only wants to intern - that is, imprison - "radicalized, disloyal" Americans (remembering, again, that right-wing terrorists need not concern themselves), not only does he want to imprison "radicalized, disloyal" Americans, he wants to "identify the people who are most likely to be radicalized. We’ve got to cut this off at the beginning."
The fact that radicalization is a complex and amorphous process we really don't understand but which can serve political needs well, presents no issue for him. In fact, that very political malliability can easily serve to push the idea along.
Indeed, to show the depth of his grasp of the concept, Clark suggested that American Muslims could come to embrace radical Islam after "losing a girlfriend" or if "their family doesn’t feel happy here."
So yeah, it's sweep 'em up and lock 'em up. As for the throw away the key part, he said that the imprisonment should last for "the duration of the conflict." Since we've already been told that the "war on terrorism" could be a "generations long effort," the key would not only be thrown away, it would be landfilled. A life sentence in an internment camp for thinking "disloyal" thoughts.
Later, Clark tried, rather lamely, to walk back some of what he said without actually taking any of it back, largely by the now-stale trick of "I never said that particular word."
For example, he tweeted that
Never said "muslim", "internment" or called for new camps.Well, that's true, you never said the words "internment" or "new camps." (Maybe the old ones are good enough?) But you did say, quoting, "it’s our right and obligation to segregate them from the normal community." And your press representative did say, oddly by way of defense of you, that "there is a role for government to step in to prevent a dissenter from becoming an active shooter, or worse." Yeah, call in the precogs.
The worst thing about all of this is from the political principle known to some as "Nixon goes to China." The idea was that because Nixon was a foreign-policy hawk, he could make an opening to China in the way a foreign-policy dove or moderate could not get away with politically. In the same way, Bill Clinton was able to push through his disastrous welfare "reform" in a way a conservative president could not have.
Now we have the image of "Hey, even the 'liberal' Wesley Clark thinks we should start locking up anyone we're suspicious about."
If this had been said by one of the typical right-wing bozos, there would be some huffing and puffing but it wouldn't be taken seriously as a current policy proposal. Maybe something they hoped for in the future, but not to be taken seriously now.
But because this comes from Wesley Clark, because this comes from someone so thoroughly establishment, because this comes from someone placed on the left half of the American political spectrum, the half expected to be more resistant to such a plan, because of all that, Clark has given the idea of camps for think-crimes a legitimacy that a Sean Hannity never could.
And that is such an outrage.
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