Saturday, January 2, 2016

Opportunistic Islamophobia by Andrew Levine

ANDREW LEVINE is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What’s Wrong With the Opium of the People. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park. 
His latest article - Opportunistic Islamophobia - is quite interesting. He discusses how George W. Bush's moment of decency in the aftermath of 9/11 -- when he rightly urged Americans not to blame all Muslims, and not to blame Islam, the religion the perpetrators professed and in the name of which they claimed to act -- was short lived when within days, he went before a joint session of Congress to proclaim that “they” did it because “they hate our freedom,” and that “we” will get “them,” just as surely as “whoever is not with us is against us.” Then he and Cheney and the neocons they empowered got to work mobilizing public support for the perpetual wars on the Muslim world that they had been yearning to launch.
On the question of seed of Islamophobia, Levine writes, "In the aftermath of Israel’s 1973 war with Egypt, when gas prices rose and Arabs got the blame, there were intimations of what could happen. But that blew over quickly, and was soon forgotten. It took 9/11 to break the spell."
Muslims in the United States now find themselves caught up in a similar situation, which visited the Japanese during the WW II. All the vast majority of them ever wanted was peace and quiet and opportunities to make a living. All they have been getting since 9/11 is grief.
In this resurgent Islamophobia, Judeo-Christians are taking the lead. Levine writes, "Before 9/11, even Christian fundamentalists were not especially bothered by the Muslims in their midst. It would never have occurred to them that their Muslim neighbors were slyly biding their time, the better to unleash terror on God-fearing Christians, overthrow the U.S. government and Constitution, establish a Caliphate, and impose sharia law upon the Land of the (formerly) Free. Even words like “caliphate” and “sharia” were unknown in their benighted circles... This has now changed one hundred eighty degrees.
Christians are not the only problem.   Lately, some rightwing Zionists have taken to championing Islamophobia too, creatively adapting many of the tropes of classical anti-Semitism to this end.
Jewish Islamophobia is a bastard offspring of the Zionist colonial project, but it should not be confused with settlers’ attitudes towards those Arabs, Muslim and Christian, whose land they coveted. In despising the indigenous peoples they dispossess, Zionists were, and still are, like colonists everywhere.
They therefore have never had much love for Arabs, or vice versa. "
He continues, "For the most part, though, Zionists respected Islam, and had no quarrel with Muslims generally. There are deep historical reasons for this. Until well into the modern era, Jews fared better in Muslim lands than in Christendom, and Muslims have always accorded the Jewish religion more respect than Christians did. The feeling was reciprocated.
But with Islamophobia on the rise in the West, and with Israel as dependent as ever on Western, especially American, military and diplomatic support, it seems to have occurred to Israel’s leaders, and therefore to its most zealous and retrograde supporters abroad, that it wouldn’t hurt to jump aboard the Islamophobia bandwagon."
Foreign policy gurus, fundamentalist Christian preachers, and Zionists struggling to keep public opinion on Israel’s side have all contributed to the rise of modern Islamophobia. What a hodgepodge! But they all have at least one thing in common: opportunism.
To read more, click here.

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