Re Editor Suggests Nuking Mecca From

Re: Editor Suggests “Nuking Mecca”

From: Juan Cole

Re: Lowry

and Coulter

One reason that Lowry’s (and earlier Coulter’s) remarks are alarming is

that the political Right in the United States has a track record of

actually getting into power and then implementing policies earlier thought

bizarre by mainstream American society. Ronald Reagan was widely written

off in 1976, and the Laffer curve and supply side economics and cutting

taxes while increasing military expenditures without creating deficits

were viewed as ‘voodoo’ even by Republicans like George Bush senior. So

that Lowry is so far on the Right that few take him seriously is no

guarantee his views will never be prized by a sitting president. Given

that W. is so far right that he lost the senate because a member of his

own party could not stand with him, one is not sanguine about the Lowry’s

of the world remaining without influence.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz’s security doctrine, which

seeks perpetual war and aims at the break-up or overthrow of nations

perceived as potential security threats by the U.S. would likewise have

once seemed too bizarre for words. And yet the recently leaked Pentagon

plan for using tactical nuclear weapons against the very states Wolfowitz

had earlier tagged shows that his views are gaining currency in the

post-9/11 atmosphere.

Another reason for alarm is that corporate media consolidation is

gradually restricting the range of permissible expression in truly mass

media. The rise of Fox cable news and its recent defeat of CNN, and

Rupert Murdoch’s strategy of appealing to the hard core Right in the U.S.,

is pushing all cable news in the U.S. further to the right. The National

Review, the Weekly Standard, and other conservative organs provide the

talking heads for cable news. Christopher Hitchens is the only leftie I

can think of who gets much air time at all, and one wonders if this is in

part because he is a hawk in the War on Terror. The Lowrys and Steve

Emersons are increasingly the ones telling ordinary Americans about the

Middle East and setting agendas in the media. Interestingly, the academy

has been almost completely blackballed from the talking head circuit on

cable news. See:

Yet another reason for alarm is that Lowry’s column is likely to be picked

up and widely circulated in the Muslim world. Osama Bin Ladin himself

could not have thought up a better way of stampeding people into

al-Qaida’s arms than Lowry’s logorrhea about the U.S. nuking Mecca.

As for converting Muslims to Christianity, such a dark plot was hatched

here in the U.S. in the mid-19th century by the Presbyterian Church, that

bastion of Western irredentism. Large numbers of missionaries were

dispatched to Beirut, Tehran and elsewhere. Large amounts of money were

expended. The yields in saved souls were so tiny as not to be worth

mentioning. The Presbyterians then fell back on proselytizing the Eastern

Orthodox Christians (who still bear a grudge about Western “cults” preying

on them) and orphans. Some of the orphans reverted to Islam on reaching


Given that there are an estimated 100,000 white American converts to

Islam, and probably on the order of 300,000 in the Nation of Islam, and

given that no more than a few thousand Muslims have gone Christian in the

Middle East (mainly in Iran in the 1990s where the evangelicals claim some

successes), I’d say Lowry’s side is falling down on the job.


Juan Cole


University of Michigan

– Juan, 12:21 PM

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