I finally discovered the threat to my well-being as a Muslim living in the West. His name is Dick Cheney.
At first I thought the threat was the anti-hijabers who want to pass laws banning head scarves in public buildings because they seek to liberate the Muslimah from an oppressive patriarchal society. Or maybe it's because modest women make white guys nervous. I dunno.
Then I was sure it was Fox News. They did their best to ridicule and then dissect President Obama's speech to the Ummah. They were certain there were hidden messages to terrorists in his quotes of the Qur'an, and then wondered why he threw Israel and all Muslim women "under the bus" for reasons only they know. But then Fox newsman Shepard Smith expressed alarm about the crazies "way out there on a limb" over Obama. Suddenly, I have warm fuzzy feelings for Fox.
But, no. It's Cheney. The well-spoken and forthright Dick Cheney has been making the talk show and lecture circuit rounds sounding the alarm that Obama is making the Western world less safe from terrorists. Every former president and vice president for the past 200-plus years has managed to keep his mouth shut and let the new administration do its job. But Cheney feels an obligation to tell the world that the new administration is ready to let terrorists win.
How does this make Cheney a threat to me? He invokes the memories of 9/11 at every opportunity, reminding Americans that nearly 3,000 people died at the hands of Islamic extremists. We should never forget the events of 9/11 and who perpetrated those crimes. But there's a difference of remembering and honoring the dead and using the tragedy as crass exploitation to wage fear.
He says shutting down Guantanamo Bay and bringing detainees to prisons on U.S. soil will make America less safe. Cheney says the Bush administration did a heck of a job keeping terrorists from striking again. But it's only a matter of time before the Obama administration lets one get through and the U.S. has another 9/11 on its hands.
The subtext in Cheney's speeches is that Muslims are a threat to U.S. security. I remember a few weeks ago a video clip from Jon Stewart's Daily Show showed an imprisoned convicted killer describing how he ate portions of his victim, prompting one to wonder just who is the threat: a cannibalistic killer escaping from a maximum security prison or a 19-year-old wanting to prove his manhood on the battlefields of Afghanistan.
Cheney doesn't talk about a cannibal's threat within America's borders because it's not germane to his argument. We assume that convicted serial killers and mad-dog rapists are safely behind bars. But for some reason the wily terrorist with a secondary education, no family, no English language skills and zero understanding of American culture outside of Steven Segal and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, will wreak havoc on Anytown, USA.
By reminding the American public that terrorists may be your next door neighbor, Cheney encourages the Ann Coulters and the Michael Savages and their extremist followers to spew their hate. These modern-day Father Coughlins acquire new recruits to wage a war against imaginary threats of the Islamification of the West, the implementation of Shariah at the local traffic court, and wearing the hijab that seems to threaten Western civilization.
Cheney's speeches give the appearance of reasonable dissension of Obama's policies, but they are calculated to whip the right-wingers into an anti-Muslim frenzy. This will embolden state legislators to pass laws banning the hijab in public buildings and on government-issued identification cards. We've already seen such attempts. The Oklahoma state legislature attempted to pass a law banning the wearing of the hijab on driver's licenses and other government photo IDs. The bill was dismissed in April. Yet these efforts, fanned by Cheney and right-wing pundits, create an intolerant climate.
I worry for my brothers and sisters in the West. I hear nary a beep of concern over the demonization of our religion and the fact the all of us are branded with the terrorist label by Cheney and is ilk. No, Cheney didn't tell the world that my best friend in Canada is a terrorist, or that my small circle of Saudi girlfriends in Newcastle, UK, are terrorists. But he might as well have. We're in Canada, the US and the UK for an education. But every time Cheney spouts off, his 21st century brown shirts write endless "Every Muslim is a Terrorist" tracts.