Tactical Talk (Update) With anti-Muslim sentiment and racist fears about President Obama at an all-time high, America is experiencing “the worst spasm of paranoia and bigotry of the post-Cold War age,” Peter Beinart writes in the Daily Beast. And we can look to the “red scares” of the last century for answers. During the Cold War, paranoiacs like Joseph McCarthy turned their fury on “the enemy within”—supposed communist agents in the US—in an isolationist bid to reduce America’s commitments overseas.
Today, with polls indicating that a majority of Americans foster isolationist tendencies, conservative politicians have found a convenient scapegoat in Muslim-Americans. “The awful irony, of course, is that persecuting Muslims at home actually endangers American security by fueling al Qaeda recruitment,” Beinart writes, just as McCarthyism aided the Soviet Union’s propaganda machine.