Who Is Brigitte Gabriel?
Gabriel, like me, is a Lebanese Christian who, like me, moved to the United States and, unlike me, made a career out vilifying Muslims. She runs the so-called American Congress for Truth, an attempt to capitalize on hate through hate.
I have no problem vilifying Islamists, the fanatical, murderous and minoritarian but noisy strain of alleged Muslims who are grabbing all the headlines these days. I’ll vilify any religiously inspired fanaticism, whether it’s Muslim, Christian, Jewish, atheist, Republican or Shinto. Needless to say, Muslims have as much to do with Islamists as Yankee fans have with Red Sox fans.
Who Is Brigitte Gabriel?
Gabriel makes no distinction: In her view, “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.” That statement not only discredits her as an alleged journalist or analyst. It puts her in league with garden-variety bigots and backwoods survivalists. A New York Times Magazine interview shrewdly headlined her the “Crusader.”
She makes ridiculous statements, claiming that Muslims are running “jihad camps” in the United States, that “the moderate Muslims at this point are truly irrelevant,” and that, even though she receives death threats, she plasters a glamour shot of herself on her book cover because “in Lebanon, we were raised to be glamorous, feminine and sensual.” Fine answer, idiotic follow-up: “It’s the only good thing we inherited from the French.” My Jesuit education, for one, begs to differ. But Gabriel is not about education. She’s about glamorous demagoguery, for whixch there’s quite a market in the United States.
Who Must Be Stopped?
Anyway, Gabriel is about to publish a second book, the Muslim-peril-titled They Must Be Stopped.
We’d do better stopping any kind of illusion about Gabriel, especially when my friend’s email included a bit of back-and-forth between other writers who, raving about the Gabriel book, included other cut-and-paste bits such as a speech by Geert Wilders, the Dutch member of parliament whose Islamophobia picked up where Ayaan Hirsi Ali left off.
The Way to Address Gabriel's Islamophobia
Here’s what I wrote my friend:
Every country has its Brigitte Gabriel. She is Lebanon's Wafa Sultan or its Ayaan Hirsi Ali (there's a few things to be admired in Hirsi Ali; there are none in Gabriel). This is sheer Islamophobic bigotry, and I'm surprised that it's making the rounds of what ought to be, what I assume to be, more liberal email circuits. One remark by someone else in the email exchanges below your note illustrates the inanity: "She is a Christian who writes about the destruction of Lebanon by the Muslims who overtook that country once they obtained asylum there."
The Muslims didn't destroy that country anymore than the Christians did, and those who invited the destruction were more Christian than Muslim. The Muslims never got "asylum" there. It's their home, always has been as much as it's been the Christians' home. The Christians did a better job of lording it over Muslims for generations though. I'm not excusing Hezbollah. They're indefensible.
But believe me, if it's blood on the conscience we're talking about, the Christians have plenty to answer for. Gabriel is a great Israeli PR flacker whose demeanor and idea of truth would enable her to have a choice job on Sarah Palin's campaign. And Israel is no gauge of morality and civility in the region: Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 midwifed Hezbollah, let's not forget.
Don;t Forget Geert Wilders
As for Wilders: I'm all for his freedom to spout off whatever he likes and make whatever films he desires, but the guy is a neo-fascist in Dutch clothing. He sounds like those white Americans I hear freaking out about "minorities" taking over the United States (which they thankfully will by 2050, because frankly I'm getting tired of white xenophobia).
It's the old Islamophobic fear that Europe is being lost to the hordes from the East. Don't fall for it. It's your responsibility and mine to stomp out this kind of bigotry the moment we see it. If we don't, we're as guilty as Germans who kept their mouths shut when Jews were being vilified in 1930s Germany.
Make sure your Hadassah Book Club understands this issue in that context. It's no different.