About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Grandin, Gabriel, and the Recycled Hate

Greg Grandin's book, Empire's Workshop, should be assigned reading for any member of U.S. society that has decided that there is a grand threat to American security by every member of Islamic society (or the Chinese army in Mexico). Over the course of 251 riveting pages, Grandin lays out the connection between the United States and Latin America, and how the U.S. has relied on Lat Am as a place to build and test its overseas empire. He starts with a focus on the Good Neighbor Policy, then shifts into the Cold War - mostly the Reagan years - and looks at how different groups have used issues in Latin America to build their coalitions back in the United States. Most compelling is his argument that the same folks that built Reagan's team on Latin America in the 80s - the folks that brought you Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua - are the same people that are today bringing you Iraq, Afghanistan, and the "war" on terrorism. Case in point... .

Brigitte Gabriel, an immigrant to the US from Lebanon and a Maronite Christian (or former Maronite - I'm unclear on that point) is currently touring the US to packed crowds shilling her book and telling Americans that Islam has permeated every level of American society, including the FBI, the CIA, and American education. Sound like HUAC in the 50s or Reagan in the 80s? She cut her teeth as a reporter for Pat Robertson's CBN - the same folks funding and participating in the Contra war crimes ACT! For America (exclamation point required). The NYT reports that ACT! has 500 chapters around the country (150,000 members), going after school curricula that might mention anything positive regarding Islam. One member even taught a class on Islam at an Oregon community college before students got him shut down.

There is a movement in the conspiracy right wing that "leftist" governments create disasters in order to more greatly control society. Looking at first the hysteria in the 80s over communists in Latin America, the 90s over Clinton's penis, and now in 21st century and Islam, I wonder if there isn't a grain of truth in that from the point of view of our Straussian friends in the right - who, true to form of their muse - see that "there is only one natural right - the right of the superior to rule over the inferior." Such a goal is only possible if populist boogeymen like the fear of Sharia law in Oklahoma (???) or Muslims taking over South Dakota keep the eyes of the working class off the real problems in American society. I once explained Gramscian hegemony to a class of graduate students, and one of them perked his ears up and said "Oh, so Gramsci explains why all the trailer houses and shacks in East Texas have Republican signs on the lawn." Something like that, only I might go so far as to say that in this game even the Republican party is the victim of a discourse of Straussian duplicity.

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