America is a seething hotbed of “Islamophobia,” filled with ignorant racist rubes who irrationally fear the benign Muslim religion, according to the Obama administration’s lead investigator into the Benghazi atrocities.
So said former Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering in more polished, diplomatic language during an Oct. 23 panel discussion at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The talk was on “what role the faith community can play in fighting Islamophobia,” a make-believe mental illness that Islamists would love to have listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Radical Islam’s stateside defenders frequently accuse anti-terrorism hawks of “McCarthyism,” hurling the epithet “Islamophobe” the same way American leftists use the word “racist” to shut down debate.
Pickering’s pontifications came two and a half weeks after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named him to head a State Department “Accountability Review Board” tasked with examining the circumstances surrounding the deaths on Sept. 11, 2012, the 11th anniversary of 9/11, of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, information management officer Sean Smith, and security personnel Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
“I’m not great at quotations,” he said, foreshadowing a misattribution to come.
“Perhaps it was [German theologian and dissident] Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said of the Nazis, when they came for the Jews, I didn’t speak up. I was not a Jew. When they came for the Catholics, I didn’t speak up, I was not a Catholic. When they came for us, no one spoke up. There was no one left to do so,” Pickering said, paraphrasing famous, poignant verses actually spoken by Third Reich-era German pastor Martin Niemoller.
Pickering said that Americans’ lack of familiarity with Islam –and not Islamic terrorist attacks on Americans— fuels hostility toward Muslims.
“Data shows that those Americans who do not know Muslims, who do not know much about Islam, are the ones who harbor the greatest feelings of prejudice,” he said.
There is a “strong, continuing, and perhaps, in an unfortunate way in some areas, growing, prejudice against Muslims and Islam,” he said.
However, he added that veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have so far avoided embracing this anti-Islamic bigotry. “Many of the soldiers are still serving and I think that also is helpful because they understand that as loyal Americans that kind of prejudice is not to be expressed.”