Our media shows Muslim fundamentalists terrorizing the Middle East, shooting an Afghani schoolgirl, offering safety in Pakistan to those sworn to destroy us – a world we cannot understand whose people we have no choice but to fear.
What impression do they have of us?
An ongoing study, “The Republican Party Project”, offers a mirror where we can glimpse what they see. It is timely since our government is now shut down by the Republican Party. Muslims have seen us attack them with rhetoric, sanctions, drones, and armed forces. Now they see us at war with each other. They must have a theory about why we do these things.
Republican Party demographics suggest their idea may parallel ours about them.
The Project`s research finds the Party comprises 47% evangelical and religiously observant (30% evangelical), 22% libertarian-leaning Tea Party supporters and 25% moderates. The Christian half sees an America being destroyed by cultural rot from the outside. The libertarian quarter sees an America being destroyed by accelerating dependency on ever bigger government. Both groups are in a desperate fight to restore a deeply valued culture. The moderate quarter feels, and is unrepresented.
We see fundamentalist Muslims suppressing moderates “over there”. What the mirror shows is fundamentalist Christians and libertarians suppressing moderates “over here”.
We can imagine a response like this: “If American fundamentalists will risk plunging their economy into unfathomably deep depression, if they care so little for their people’s future, can there be any limit to the suffering they would wreak on us?” It`s a logical question.
Our media offers a worldview of Muslims “over there” who are our enemies unto death. It is logical to assume the media “over there” offers a worldview of Christians and other fanatics “over here” who are their enemies unto death. They will not have forgotten the “Crusade” President Bush said 9/11 compelled us to undertake, his “War on Terror” that would not end while a single terrorist remained alive.
The infection carried by these fantasies about those “over here” or “over there” whose symptoms are fear and hatred is highly contagious. We must reverse our rising fear and hatred of each other. We can counter the actions motivated by fear, hatred and greed without succumbing to the same infection.