Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Truth About Islamophobia in the United States

The sudden upsurge in hatred towards Muslims and Islam in the US, known as Islamophobia is not something that is happening by accident. It has been nine years since the horrible and criminal attacks of 9/11. Instead of feelings towards Muslims getting better as time goes by, according to US mainstream and alternative media, things are getting worse for Muslims in the US. This puzzling situation should cause us all to ask ourselves why? Is it strange that 9 years of war has not satisfied the desire for revenge, and that time has not healed the psychological wounds created by 9/11?

Is it possible that some special interest within the US does not want healing, and decreasing support for the so the called war on terrorism? We might also ask ourselves if there might be people in the US, who want the war on terrorism to include a war on US Muslims, hoping that such a war might lead to genocide here in the US similar to the genocide that took place in Nazi Germany.

The voices of those instigating hatred against Muslims in the US are harsh and hateful. One would never imagine that such words would ever be spoken publicly by Congressmen and women and other elected officials such as governors, and also political candidates. These are the people we would expect would be working hard to keep the country united and to demand that the US Constitution be upheld, and its rights extended to every citizen, and its principles preserved and protected. It would also seem that a government that sincerely felt that 8 or 9 million of its citizens were a threat to its existence, would not be acting in a way to incite anger and hatred, and especially not in a way that would provoke violence, unless violence is exactly what it hopes to provoke.

Just as things didn’t seem to add up in respect to the surge in anti-Muslim sentiment in Switzerland that led to a Minaret ban, when less than 1/3 of the population is Muslim, and those Muslims are mostly secular, the upsurge in fear and hatred of Muslims in the US is equally confusing. US Muslims represent one of the best educated and affluent religious communities within the United States and there is almost no crime committed by US Muslims. Can we avoid asking if these positive attributes might be the very reason that Muslims are the targets of what seems to be a very well orchestrated effort to demonize and dehumanize American Muslims? American history is ripe with examples of ethnic conflict that originated from feelings of envy, and fear of political and economic competition experienced by in-groups, in respect to newly arrived out groups.

The only way to truly understand what is creating Islamophobia in the US, is to look at what has been going on in the US from various perspectives since 9/11. Has the government acted to help its citizens recover from the trauma? Has the government and others worked to heal the society and bring the people together, or have they done the opposite? Is it possible that leaders of the US society are oblivious to what is needed to end or at least to curtail Islamophobia and are they doing enough? If not, why would a country allow hate speech to foment hatred and demonization of certain groups, knowing the documented relationship between hate speech and violence? These are some of the questions this article will seek to answer.

Professor Stevan E. Hobfoll, Ph.D., conducted a study hoping to determine how societies recover from traumatic events. He pulled together experts and clinicians from around the world, in the various fields of psychiatry that deal with stress, fear and anxiety. According to a review of the book written by Professor Hobfall and his colleagues on the topic, “the panel reviewed existing research, and then determined five key principles of effective mass trauma mental health care, which involves promoting a sense of safety, calm, a sense of being able to solve problems for oneself or as part of a group, and connectedness to social support and help.”

Looking at this list of five principles for recovery, it becomes extremely apparent that none of these government officials or candidates was employing the principles. In fact, based upon what they said, and the media sensationalism that resulted from their remarks, it might appear that the five principles were in fact being deliberately ignored, assuming that these officials and the media are familiar with these, or similar principles. Even if not familiar with these exact principles, it seems that any intelligent person would realize that hate speech incites hatred and violence.

In another important study on the relationship between hate speech and violence, findings were written by the authors, suggesting that hate speech is a very effective tool when used by governments and groups to incite ethnic tensions hoping to polarize societies and to cause genocides and violence. They wrote:

"The most drastic and well-known example of hate speech communicated through the media that has brought world-wide attention to the phenomenon in this region was disseminated by the radio station Radio T´el´evision Mille Collines (RTLM) during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.The broadcasts of this government-owned station, which incited the Hutu majority to murder Tutsis and opponents of the regime, are commonly recognized as having played a major role in this genocide (des Forges 1999;Gourevitch 1998).

Furthermore, hate radio has continued to exist even after the genocide, and has resulted in further conflict across borders. After Rwandan Patriotic Front troops succeeded in driving the genocidal government forces out of the capital of Rwanda in July 1994, RTLM used mobile radio transmitters to broadcast disinformation from inside the French-controlled zone on the border between Rwanda and Zaire (now DRC). This caused millions of Hutus to flee toward refugee camps, where they could be recruited as freedom fighters. Hutu extremists then began to stage raids into Rwanda from Congolese territory. Thereby, the ground for future conflict and war between Rwanda and the DRC was created, which discord continues to have a negative impact on the relations between the two countries and the lives of people (Gourevitch 1999; Nzongola-Ntalaja 2003).

In sum, hate speech and hate media have a historical and symbolic meaning in the region, and have played a crucial role in violent conflicts both between and within states. Within the DRC, the effects of hate speech have not been as drastic as in its neighboring country Rwanda. Nevertheless, hate media has been and is very present here as well, and continues to play a destructive role in the political events of the country. During the civil war in the Congo, which took place in 1998-2003 and caused four million deaths due to fighting and disease, hate propaganda was used, for example, in the eastern part of the country. Here it fueled ethnic conflict, for example between Hema and Lendu, two ethnic groups in the Ituri region. Based on the classification of dehumanizing speech as one of eight stages leading to genocide (Genocide Watch a), the occurrence of hate speech was among the factors that led international NGOs to warn against a potential genocide in the region (Genocide Watch b). "

When we compare the hate speech being made public through US mainstream media and printed in US news papers across the country, it seems apparent that not only were the five principles for healing US society after 9/11 ignored, but a campaign of hate speech was carried out by US politicians and their supporters that could lead to polarization of US society, violence and even genocide.

Some observers have suggested that the anti-Muslim hate speech campaign was initiated with the cooperation of the US government and media, for the purpose of perpetuating more hatred of Muslims based upon accusations that Muslims attacked the US on 9/11. They argue that such hatred must be continuously incited to continue support for the so called war on terrorism, and for Congressional approval of billions of tax payer dollars needed to pay for the wars. One such observer, Diana Ralph, Ph.D., wrote in an article entitled; “Islamophobia and the War on Terror, the Continuing Pretext for US Imperial Conquest” the following:

"The 9-11 attacks were the pretext which sold the myth of evil Muslim terrorists imminently threatening Americans. That tale allowed the Cheney-led members of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) to implement their 1990 DPG plan for world control. The “war on terror” has nothing to do with protecting the U.S. and world’s people from “terrorists”, and everything to do with securing the American empire abroad and muzzling democracy and human rights at home. Designed to inspire popular support for U.S. wars of world conquest, it is modeled on Islamophobic stereotypes, policies, and political structures developed by the Israeli Likkud and Bush Sr. since 1979."

There are others who argue that in fact the purpose of the hate speech that has created the phenomenon known as Islamophobia is aimed at provoking US Muslims to carry out acts of violence that would ignite a Muslim genocide here in the US, similar the genocide carried out Hitler against what were deemed undesirables and internal threats to the Third Reich. In an article written by Paul Kivel a US blogger writing on the issue of Christian hegemony, Kivel opines that Islamophobia is in fact created by white Christians to demonize Muslims, because they want to incite hatred and possible violence against Muslims. Interestingly, he also wrote that Islamophobia also hurts the US. He wrote:

"Islamophobia justifies systemic and institutionalized discrimination and violence against Muslims in the United States and by the U.S. throughout the world. Just as with racial profiling and discrimination directed against other groups, Islamophobia threatens our collective safety when resources are selectively and inappropriately directed at specific communities. It threatens our civil and religious liberties when one group is singled out as not entitled to constitutionally guaranteed rights. It also curtails our freedom when surveillance and harassment are legally sanctioned under the justification that the danger of some group is so great that we must limit our civil rights in order to prevent attack. When we speak out and stand strong as allies to the Muslim community we challenge violence and injustice, increase our safety and freedom, and challenge age-old Christian stereotypes and myths. We also uphold our legal rights to freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and freedom from discrimination and attack."

Whatever the cause or current purpose of the growing Islamophobia in the US might be, we can trace its beginning back before 9/11. We can trace the anti-Muslim hate speech to its beginnings with Steven Emerson, the anti Muslim polemicist who wrote his Master’s thesis at Brown University on the Nazi’s use of propaganda to foment hatred against Jews, which he argued led to the Holocaust.

We can trace it back to his colleague Daniel Pipes, who coined the term Islamism, and used that create to create something he called political Islam, and put in opposition, and in contrast to Islam the religion. We can also trace it back to people like Michael Horowitz who said that the Muslims must be pushed back to the Middle Ages and prevented from finding comfort and protection under the laws of the United States.

The truth about Islamophobia, is that it is aimed at dehumanizing and demonizing Muslims for many purposes, the most sinister of which is possibly to create a political climate in which the mass murder of Muslims, including Muslims in the US, is not only deemed a necessary evil, but is also justified as the only means by which to save what they claim is US Christian culture here in the US, and also the only way to insure that Jews can establish and life peacefully in a racist Jewish Only state in Palestine. While we know these claims are not true, we must also acknowledge that truth, treachery and evil never travel together. Chattel slavery was justified by believers in these same ideas in this same way, as were the Crusades, the Inquisition and also the Holocaust.

We must demand that our government and media end their collaboration in the creation of Islamophobia and we must not be silent and we must respond to the many lies, and anti-Muslim and also anti-Islam hate speech that is so prevalent in our media. If we fail to stop this now, we already know that it will not stop until homosexuals, the poor, the elderly, and the chronically ill and disabled will also become targets of public hatred and hysteria created by the likes of the present day Islamophobes and their enablers and supporters.

1 comment:

Race Equality Secret Service said...


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Who can stand against WALHALLA?

Think carefully.

Answer intelligently.

What say ye? (What say you all?)