8.30.2010

islamophobia in the u.s. is an "increasingly vehement, nationwide movement"

Our comments in this post morphed - predictably, I think - into a conversation about the insanity taking place in the US against the planned Muslim cultural centre in lower Manhattan. In a recent column, Haroon Siddiqui pointed out that:
This theme has emerged in opposition to mosque projects in California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan, New York state, Texas and Tennessee.
but concludes:
These groups are noisy but marginal. This is the opposite of Europe, where Islamophobia has gone mainstream. In North America, it is still held in disdain.

From what I gather, Islamophobia is much deadlier and more virulent in Europe, but I think Siddiqui is misreading the situation in the US, perhaps confusing it with the more mild forms of Islamophobia we see in Canada. (I'm using "mild" as a relative term here, not to excuse or explain away.)

Islamophobia is indeed held in disdain by many good people in the US, but in a country founded and built on racism, any bigoted movement can quickly gain traction - especially when the actions of the government do nothing but reinforce the hatred. This is, after all, a country where more than half the national budget is spent on wars against Muslim countries.

Glenn Greenwald:
One of the most under-reported political stories is the increasingly vehement, nationwide movement -- far from Ground Zero -- to oppose new mosques and Islamic community centers. These ugly campaigns are found across the country, in every region, and extend far beyond the warped extremists who are doing things such as sponsoring "Burn a Quran Day." And now, from CBS News last night, we have this:
Fire at Tenn. Mosque Building Site Ruled Arson

Federal officials are investigating a fire that started overnight at the site of a new Islamic center in a Nashville suburb.

Ben Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department confirmed to CBS Affiliate WTVF that the fire, which burned construction equipment at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, is being ruled as arson. . . .

The chair of the center's planning committee, Essim Fathy, said he drove to the site at around 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning after he was contacted by the sheriff's department.

"Our people and community are so worried of what else can happen," said Fathy. "They are so scared" . . .

Opponents of a new Islamic center say they believe the mosque will be more than a place of prayer; they are afraid the 15-acre site that was once farmland will be turned into a terrorist training ground for Muslim militants bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.

"They are not a religion. They are a political, militaristic group," Bob Shelton, a 76-year-old retiree who lives in the area, told The Associated Press.

Shelton was among several hundred demonstrators who recently wore "Vote for Jesus" T-shirts and carried signs that said "No Sharia law for USA!," referring to the Islamic code of law.

Others took their opposition further, spray painting a sign announcing the "Future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro" and tearing it up.

Earlier this summer opponents criticized the planned mosque at hearings held by the Rutherford County Commission, as supporters held prayer vigils.

At one such prayer vigil, WTVF reported opponents speaking out against construction.

"No mosque in Murfreesboro. I don't want it. I don't want them here," Evy Summers said to WTVF. "Go start their own country overseas somewhere. This is a Christian country. It was based on Christianity."

The arsonists undoubtedly will be happy to tell you how much they hate Terrorism. And how there's a War on Christianity underway in the U.S. The harm from these actions are not merely the physical damage they cause, but also the well-grounded fear it imposes on a minority of the American population. If you launch a nationwide, anti-Islamic campaign in Lower Manhattan based on the toxic premise that Muslims generally are responsible for 9/11 -- and spend a decade expanding American wars on one Muslim country after the next -- this is the inevitable, and obviously dangerous, outcome.

Why should non-Muslim Americans care about this? Besides the same reasons white Americans needed to care about civil rights, non-gay Americans need to care about same-sex marriage, and men need to care about feminism, because what kind of world do we want to live in? Besides that. This growing hatred against an imagined internal enemy is one of the requirements of the fascist shift. How much clearer can the parallels be?

23 comments:

Timothy said...

Then they came for the Jews...

L-girl said...

Then they came for the Jews...

Exactly. I didn't know how to phrase this in the post, but part of what drives me NUTS about this is how so many North American Jews are so focused on the supposed threat to Israel, never seeing that the conditions that gave rise to the birth of the state of Israel are building for another group right now.

I recently had a conversation with a Jewish Canadian man about Israel. He deplores the oppression of the Palestinian people, but fears a world where there is no "Jewish homeland".

When I said, "Right now, globally, bigotry against Muslims is far more dangerous than anti-Jewish bigotry," he said, "Really? Do you think so?" He was completely mystified.

JoshuaRandall87! said...

“The struggle for world domination will be fought entirely between us, between Germans and Jews. All else is facade and illusion. Behind England stands Israel, and behind France, and behind the United States. Even when we have driven the Jew out of Germany, he remains our world enemy.- Rauschning,Hitler Speaks,p. 234

Now to just change it a bit:

The struggle for world domination will be fought entirely between us, between American and Muslims. All else is facade and illusion. Behind Iraq stands Iran, and behind Yemen, and behind the United Arab Emirates. Even when we have driven the muslims out of the U.S., he remains our world enemy.-
Scary eh?

L-girl said...

Thanks, Josh. Scary and all too familiar.

Nice to see you here, btw.

redsock said...

A lot of the stuff I see about these conservative rallies (87,000* for Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" event in DC?!!?) helps me imagine what pre-lynching meetings must have been like in the South.

(* A conservative says it was more like 500,000. Damn liburl media.)

deang said...

Tariq Ali addressed the claimed core issue in USians’ anti-Moslem anger, the claim that the attacks of 9/11 were carried out for religious reasons by people motivated by Islam. As Ali explains in this 2009 interview with Allison Kilkenny and Jamie Kilstein, those attacks were carried out for political reasons:

the guys who carried out the hits of 9/11, the biggest motive was political. The thing about them, and even that I don’t think is religious, is that they were prepared to sacrifice their own lives to be successful. Now, suicide terrorists, or suicide bombers, in most cases are not religious. The Tamils [Tamil Tigers] in Sri Lanka, who had been fighting against the Sri Lankan government, and whose specialized in suicide attacks, did it for political reasons. The Palestinians do it for political reasons. So to try and say that the reason one is opposed to religion is because religion pushes people into carrying out these attack, the obvious answer to that this is a tiny, infinitesimal minority within a particular religion, which is stated. They, themselves, say they’ve done it for political reasons. I mean, they use a religious rhetoric, but lots of people do that. Born again groups here do that. But essentially the motivation is political.

That’s something that seemed obvious to me all along. The targets were clearly politically significant, not religiously significant. If the suicide bombers had been motivated by religion, as Americans claim, you’d think they would have attacked maybe the largest US churches or something, or maybe something in Hollywood, whose immodest portrayals of sex and women, spread around the world, are surely offensive to fundamentalist Moslem sensibilities. And if the suicide bombers were “against our freedoms,” as so many Americans claim, you’d think they would have attacked the edifice housing the Bill of Rights or something.

But no, to the citizens of one of the most fanatically religious countries in the world, the United States, it was all about the fact that the attackers weren't Christian.

johngoldfine said...

“The struggle for world domination will be fought entirely between us, between Germans and Jews. All else is facade and illusion. Behind England stands Israel, and behind France, and behind the United States. Even when we have driven the Jew out of Germany, he remains our world enemy.- Rauschning,Hitler Speaks,p. 234


No doubt the sentiments are accurately Hitlerian, but we're entitled to wonder if Hitler referred to Israel so long before the fact of it. Perhaps something was lost or gained in translation.

In any case, Wikipedia notes that the book is considered "discredited."

A little more research yields:

"Rauschning’s writings were presented as Allied prosecution exhibit USSR-378, at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg but dismissed by the OSS as unreliable. In May 1983, Swiss historian Wolfgang Haenel compiled the criticisms of Rauschning’s books in a presentation at the Ingolstadt Contemporary History Research Center, demonstrating that Rauschning only met Hitler on four occasions, not the "more than a hundred" that he claimed. Words attributed to Hitler were copied from the works of Ernst J√ľnger (1895 - 1998) and Friedrich Nietzsche, Guy de Maupassant and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, with the assistance of two journalists: Emery Reves in Paris, and Henry Wickham-Steele in Britain. Hitler biographer Ian Kershaw discounts Rauschning. Also see The Journal of Historical Review, Fall 1983; Die Zeit; Der Spiegel, 7 September 1985."

--http://www.freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/hitler.html

When googling "Rauschning,Hitler Speaks,p. 234" very quickly one arrives here: http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/hitler-quotes/

A site, that IMO, Jewish glorifies victimhood, which makes me even more wary of the quotation.

L-girl said...

But essentially the motivation is political.

That’s something that seemed obvious to me all along.


To me as well. I can recall a conversation I had that very week while we were all still reeling from the attacks, saying that the attacks were obviously politically motivated, that this was a political movement, not a religious movement.

But I think in order to understand that, one has to be aware of the US's role in the world. The majority of USians, I believe, don't understand how the country's policies oppress people around the world. They truly don't know the answer to that much-asked question, "Why do they hate us?"

L-girl said...

John, thanks for that. I didn't recognize the name, and assume "Israel" was a translation shorthand for "Hebrews" or "Juden" or whatever they were calling us at the time. Thanks for the research. Hiterlian, to be sure.

Amy said...

I am disgusted and frightened by all the anti-Islam sentiment out there, but not surprised by it, sad to say. People are angry about so many things here---look at those Tea Partiers, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, etc. They need a means to vent that spleen, and Islam right now is generally perceived as an acceptable target because of 9/11. The silence of those who know it is wrong is even scarier than those who are outspoken. I fear that there are more people who are complacent about or agree with all that hatred than we can even imagine.

redsock said...

People are angry about so many things here

And yet almost all of the things they fear (or are told to fear) do not exist.

L-girl said...

People are angry about so many things here

And yet almost all of the things they fear (or are told to fear) do not exist.


Or are no threat to them - immigrants, Muslims, "socialists" (what they think are socialists).

Mike said...

Well you need to scapegoats, otherwise people might start believing the capitalist system itself is a problem and we can't have that can we? They might actually do something crazy like start thinking a system that benefits the top 1% at the expense of the other 99% is wrong and needs to go... or something like that. You know weird crazy left wing nutbar stuff.

L-girl said...

Yes, you're absolutely right. The system needs scapegoats in order to function. Or not function.

Amy said...

I agree. The system is broken, the society is broken. And my heart is broken. I actually had hope when Obama was elected that the system and its people were better than I thought. My hopes were proven ridiculous.

L-girl said...

My heart was broken, too, long before I ever heard the name Obama. I guess that's why I left.

My mother often says how patriotic she used to be, how sad it makes her to not have that pride anymore.

Amy said...

Oh, it wasn't the first time my heart has been broken. It has been broken many times. But I am always naive enough and hopeful enough that things will change. I thought that the 2008 election was an indication that people had changed. I was wrong. So my heart was broken again.

Mike said...

As far as the system being broken goes, I disagree the real tragedy to me isn't that the system is broken it's that it's working fine just the way it's meant to but I don't like the way the way it works and it needs replacing. It sort of hit me watching various rightwingers over the last little while here and in the U.S. say the "fundamentals of the economy are sound ", which they are. Theyr'e just humming along working the way they're meant to, but not in a way I agree with and that's what seems most angering to me. The system works but only for the benefit of the few. It really needs replacing but sorry for the rant.

L-girl said...

We're talking about two different things here. One is capitalism, the other is democracy.

Capitalism is doing what it does. It is a fundamentally flawed system. When it is functioning properly, some people get very very rich and the rest of us get fucked.

Democracy and the democratic process in the US are broken. What's left is a thin facade of democracy - a sham.

L-girl said...

But I am always naive enough and hopeful enough that things will change. I thought that the 2008 election was an indication that people had changed.

What would have brought about this change, other than your desire to see it?

* * * *

Some people may have changed. But they are not the people who run things. No one who is willing and able to do what it takes to get elected POTUS can create change. If that person was going to create change, he or she could not be president.

Change won't come from above.

David Cho said...

When I tell people that I am in complete support of the community center near Ground Zero and the anti-Islam hysteria is utter nonsense, the usual response starts with, "How can you as a Christian..."?

Sounds like you get your share of "how can you as a Jew"

Just like Obama is a secret Muslim, I tell them I am a secret Buddhist.

Mike said...

Ah point taken L-girl, about it being question about democracy not the economy, I sometimes get the two causes confused my apologies.

L-girl said...

No need to apologize, Mike. I agree with you completely.