OK, everybody, take out a piece of paper and write down today's lesson points from the Bush administration Ministry of Disinformation (a.k.a., the White House website):
Islamofascism - Bad! (nuclear war, invasion, death)
Islamofashion - Good! (smiles, happy, love)
Of course, nobody at the White House is using the word 'Islamofashion,' but they should be. A quick look at the first web site reveals a picture of the First Lady in Saudi Arabia wearing a women's head scarf, a tradition often referred to as wearing the ħijāb ('veil,' حجاب) or more specifically the khimār ('headscarf,'خمار). Meanwhile, George W. Bush's allies are fanning out across the nation screaming 'Islamofascism!' to anyone and everyone who will listen.
Happy in the Hijab
The headscarf, of course, is not new to U.S. diplomacy. What's new is the 'Islamofascist' right-wing hysteria now shaping the political debate in which the headscarf suddenly reappeared.
In April of 2007, Nancy Pelosi was photographed on a diplomatic visit to Syria wearing the ħijāb, leading right-wing pundits and their readers to conclude that an American diplomat who wears a khimār is appeasing fascism:
I've been to the Muslim world and I've walked around their mosques and been treated as a special guest by devout Muslims. NOT ONCE did they make me put on a veil or do anything to impose their religion on me. They knew I was Catholic and they respected that. This headscarf show is purely submission by Nance in a bid to suck up to her Islamofascist masters. No westerner does that unless she wants to do that. Knowing what real Muslims are like, this is clearly kowtowing from Nance. It makes me sick.
(full article is here)
Back in April, the right-wing had only just begun shouting 'Islamofascist!' and so there were relatively few people who really believed that Nancy Pelosi had 'Islamofascist masters.' Today, however, the right-wing is in high gear using the phrase 'Islamofascist' to convince the American public that a preemptive military strike against Iran is the only way to forestall the nuclear annihilation of the United States by a rogue nation--a rogue nation that imposes Islam on its people and forces its women to wear (ehem...) head scarves.
As a result of repeating the word 'Islamofascist' over and over again in well-planned name calling campaigns, the right is developing the dangerous habit of always talking about 'fascism' when they talk about Islam, producing a widespread cognitive dysfunction that reminds many people of the propaganda induced hysterias of the 1920s and 1930s. Although confined largely to right-wing agitators, it will soon be impossible for vast segments of the American public to distinguish between the religion practiced by Muslims ('Islam') and the propaganda pushed by Bush to whip up enough hysteria to support an attack on Iran ('Islamofascism').
Meanwhile--at this very moment when the media has picked up the term 'Islamofascist' with its typical, uncritical repetition of neo-conservative talking points--the White House photo team captures Laura Bush flashing her signature empty smile while donning an all-black khimār festooned with pink breast cancer awareness ribbons--a bizarre diplomatic cocktail consisting of one-part global woman's symbols of empowerment and two parts symbols of women's suppression, shaken and stirred, then poured generously onto the body of the First Lady.
A Message In A Headscarf
Is this Laura Bush sucking up to fascism?
Clearly not. The picture of Laura is not intended to send the message "Islamofascism, bad," but rather: "Islamofashion, good!"
What the American public is supposed to see in these moments is George W. Bush's thinly veiled effort to use the First Lady to send a message of reassurance to his princely counterparts in Saudi Arabia. That message is: Even as we smear all of Islam here at home with the made-up word 'Islamofascist,' we want the Saudi princes to know that it is just another dose of irrational fear served up hot and steaming for the American public.
Laura Bush's in a khimār means that America needs to turn 'Islam' into 'Islamofascism' at home in order to whip up enough fear of nuclear war to make a military attack on Iran seem like the only possible path to survival--but...we still love the Saudis (who don't let women drive cars).
Islamofascism, bad. Islamofashion, good!
Tomorrow's lesson: How to stop thinking and worry about nuclear bombs all the time.
(cross posted from Frameshop)