Islamophobia fueled by right-wing politics and propaganda
"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing."
Those are the words of the late civil rights leader Malcolm X, and they as relevant today as they were in his lifetime. It is an oft-quoted passage, but only because its meaning has a universal resonance.
The cyclical nature of a system so deeply steeped and implicated in racism, and much bigger than Obama, is revealed even more clearly when set against the backdrop of history.
Malcolm X was both Black and Muslim, and his words are also applicable when we describe the treatment of Muslims throughout the world today. The attack is emanating from both the media and politically, resulting in the rise we are seeing in attacks on Muslims, and the subsequent glossing over, normalization, and justification of such incidences. There is no dispute, however, about whether such fascism is on the rise-but there does seem to be an argument over whether or not the foul treatment of Muslims is just, and given that Islamophobia is clearly a distinct phenomenon and nothing seems to be working to counter this tide of racism.
From daily occurrences of racism picked up to by the mainstream, to an overt and covert policy seeking to divide and ruin Muslim lands and people, the advance towards fascism is undeniable, the trajectory remaining unchanged since 2001 and the birth of the New World Order. Of course, many groups are persecuted the world over, including within Europe and the US, but the rise in Islamophobia and attacks on Muslims, with everyday examples of casual racism witnessed almost daily, continues to be perpetuated from the top down as part of political policy.
But the problem goes beyond the realm of politics. It has become a cultural war, as well, with silly films, like “American Sniper,” proving to be about as helpful to Muslims and as accurate as the film “Jaws” was to sharks. The cultural narrative all too often masquerades as patriotism, while the people doing bad things rarely believe they are doing bad. It’s a battle on many fronts. Just like Islamic State has a savvy media campaign, so too do the Islamophobes, and often with the same paymasters.
In the US, the Islamophobia industry is thriving, with the likes of Pamela Geller spearheading various malicious campaigns, including anti-Muslim posters on subway trains depicting Muslims as criminals and barbarians. For a nation that took part, and is taking part, in the genocide of Muslim peoples in their own lands, and at the same time embrace as normal and acceptable such blatant racism, truly beggars belief.
People often argue that the vast majority of citizens do not conform to this form of racism. But then if such racism persists what difference does it make to those on the receiving end if those who claim to not be racist or Islamophobic remain silent? If a judge rules that racist posters depicting Muslims as savages are acceptable, but racism elsewhere is decried, then surely we rob the word racism of all meaning.
People are mortified, and rightly so, at anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish people and communities when they take place and rational-minded people would agree that anti-Semitism and any other form of vile racism should and must be rejected. When we think about the holocaust, one of the biggest crimes against humanity, we understand why people remain so sensitive to any form of racism directed at Jews given the genocide they experienced.
Why then, do people accept such racism and bigotry against ordinary Muslims, when Muslims themselves are living through their own holocaust or genocide? The Muslim world has been in flames thanks to the democratic bombs of NATO over the duration of the last decade and a half. We are living through a chapter of history, just as in WW2, where innocent people are being butchered, while ordinary people stand at the sidelines clapping, hailing themselves as libertarians and social democrats. They might not see themselves as willing cheerleaders but that is what liberal justifications for racism amount to. There is no neutral position here. If one stays silent, such a position automatically takes the side of the oppressor.
At times it seems as if a new form of militant atheism, alongside a kind of postmodern new age Euro centrism, has made it fashionable to encourage and ignore casual racism directed at Muslims.
We saw last week, in a story which is still developing, the kind of everyday Islamophobia many Muslims face. A Muslim woman on board a commercial flight was casually discriminated against by an airline crew member and refused a can of soda drink. Why? Well, being a Muslim woman and therefore somehow genetically predisposed to acts of terrorism, she may decide to bring the aircraft down in between sips. The story went viral and perhaps justifiably so.
Last week Samantha Elauf won a case in the Supreme Court, which acknowledged that a potential employer refused to offer her a job because it would have to accommodate her religious beliefs and didn't like her appearance. The fact that she won may be positive, but it says something in this day and age that an individual can be so callously denied the opportunity to work based on individual prejudice - and then must endure a 7-year legal battle to secure justice.
Here in the UK we are used to seeing Islamophobia from all angles, from police spy programs targeting Muslims, to women having their head scarves ripped off in public, to schoolchildren being criminalized with blatantly racist and Islamophobic questions, which read like a junior level Guantanamo-esque interrogation program with loaded questions that were apparently green-lighted by the government. One wonders how people would view this kind of treatment were it directed at any other group than Muslims. People simply wouldn't accept it. So why should people expect Muslims to put up with what they wouldn't put up with for themselves?
Increasingly, Islamophobia is seen as the rule as opposed to the exception. In Arizona recently, large demonstrations of anti-Muslim protestors have taken place outside a mosque where inside ordinary everyday Muslims, Americans, gather to practice their right to worship as guaranteed by the US Constitution. It was good to see that many people formed a large counter demonstration, but it’s difficult to imagine large groups gathering outside a church or synagogue rallying against an entire people without there being a public outcry.
Again though, large menacing groups gathering outside a peaceful place of worship, threatening the people on the inside is nothing new to the US. The Klu Klux Klan used to gather outside Black churches and other Black organizations to intimidate and threaten. Not the best parallel, you might think, but please remember, when fascism is on the rise we do not suddenly wake up in the midst of a society resembling a nightmare. It happens over time, a gradual process. The steady but sure normalization of hate against Muslims arguably could be viewed as a stepping stone in this process.
After all, was the Muslim school that was vandalized in Rhode Island in February really so different from how the KKK used to operate? We've seen mosques attacked here too in the UK. How long before someone gets seriously hurt or worse?
And there's a direct link between this growing phenomena and the fact that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the wake of the 'Arab Sting' are being systematically carved up and divided by NATO and its death squad proxy groups. You simply could not have a situation where ordinary people standing by watching as hundreds of thousands of Muslims and other religious minorities - from Iraq to Libya - are killed and displaced without a deep-rooted psychology that believes on some level that what is happening to Muslims is just. It’s that simple.
If we accept this racism stems from the top down, then we must accept that while we have a duty and right to pressure those at the top, we have to expect that change will therefore only come from the bottom up. In this sense, good people everywhere need to organize now to counter the new fascism, Islamophobia, to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Because to continue down this path will ensure disaster and will see communities turned against themselves. It will leave future generations wondering how on earth we ever allowed things to get to this point.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.