With God on their side

The Malaysian prime minister's anti-Semitic remarks draw outrage, as they should. But the Bush administration stands by the religious-fanatic general it has appointed to head up the war on terrorism's intelligence effort.

Topics: Religion, Anti-Semitism

From the start, we’ve been warned of the catastrophic consequences of converting the war against terrorism into a war of religions or cultures. “The war on terrorism is not a clash of civilizations,” President Bush has declared.

But there’s a certain vicious symmetry being played out in the press these days — pointing down just that disastrous path. On Thursday, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad declared at the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Singapore that “The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They got others to fight and die for them.”

Just the night before, NBC News, and the following day the L.A. Times, reported certain ear-catching declarations by Army Lt. General William G. “Jerry” Boykin. Dressed in his full-dress Army uniform, Boykin told an Oregon religious group in June: “Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army.” In another speech, according to L.A. Times military analyst William Arkin, Boykin showed slides of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, and asked, “Why do they hate us? The answer is because we’re a Christian nation. We are hated because we are a nation of believers.” Our “spiritual enemy,” he went on, “will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus.”

Before another religious group in Florida, Boykin described how his Delta Force commandos in Mogadishu finally tracked down one of the Muslim rebel leaders because “I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”

Boykin is not just any Army general: Last June, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld nominated him for a third star and made him deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, placing him in charge of tracking down the most notorious leaders of the world of terrorism.

The reactions to the speeches of Lt. Gen. Boykin and Prime Minister Mahathir are as instructive as the statements themselves.



Mahathir, 78, is known for his fiery, often racist rhetoric. Predictably, his words were denounced around the globe as outrageously anti-Semitic. He, of course, has no boss, but within a day, Malaysia’s foreign minister Syed Hamid Albar, saddled with an impossible public relations task, was doing his best to distance his country from Mahathir’s remarks. The prime minister, he claimed, had not been understood: It was important to realize that Islam was not anti-Jewish. “Please forget about anti-Semitism,” Syed Hamid told reporters. “Islam has never advocated being anti anybody including the Jews. The only problem with the Jews is when the State of Israel was created.”

The brunt of Mahathir’s message, in fact, was to urge Muslims to foreswear religious extremism, suicide bombings and violence as futile. They should learn to emulate the Jewish response to oppression, he said. The Jewish people, he argued, had “survived 2,000 years of pogroms not by hitting back, but by thinking.” He suggested the use of political and economic tactics, not violence, to achieve a “final victory.”

Mahathir, who has been in power for 22 years, is due to step down later this month. Not so Lt. Gen. Boykin.

Also, unlike Mahathir, Gen. Boykin does have bosses: George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld.

Now, the U.S. government’s reaction to Mahathir’s speech was swift and clear-cut: “The remarks are offensive, they are inflammatory, and we view them with the contempt they deserve,” a State Department spokesman told reporters.

What about the Bush administration’s reaction to Boykin’s remarks? Questioned by the press, Donald Rumsfeld pointed out that the war against terrorism is “not a war against a religion.” But despite repeated probing from reporters, Rumsfeld claimed he did not know the “full context” of Boykin’s remarks. He declined to condemn the general, or even indicate whether he might review the general’s words to take possible action.

“There are a lot of things that are said by people that are their views,” Rumsfeld said, “and that’s the way we live. We are free people and that’s the wonderful thing about our country, and I think for anyone to run around and think that can be managed or controlled is probably wrong.”

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “There is a very wide gray area on what the rules permit,” but, he added, “At first blush, it doesn’t look like any rules were broken.”

But, facing a mounting storm of protest from key politicians and Muslim groups, the Pentagon finally blinked — sort of. On Friday morning, the Pentagon announced that, in the future, Lt. Gen. Boykin will curtail his speechmaking; there was also talk that the general himself might appear to explain his position later in the day.

It’s doubtful, though, that such actions will quell the outrage. Silencing the public expressions of the new deputy undersecretary for intelligence will do nothing to still his fervid views, religious convictions, and, one assumes, his actions.

In any case, Lt. Gen. Boykin seems certain of his ultimate commander.

As he told the Oregon congregation, “George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States. He was appointed by God.”

Barry Lando, a former producer for CBS's "60 Minutes," lives in Paris. The documentary "The Trial of Saddam Hussein -- The Trial You'll Never See," which he co-produced with Michel Despratx, was broadcast Oct. 26 on Canal Plus, a cable TV station in France.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>