Islamophobia in Western Media

Post-9/11, Western media, especially in America and Britain, describe Muslims as fundamentalists, extremists, terrorists, and fanatics. Throughout the West, Islam is identified with violence, when, in fact it has common roots with Christianity and Judaism. Their tenets are based on love, not hate; peace, not violence; charity, not exploitation; and a just, fair society for people of all faiths. You'd never know it from Islamophobic media reports.
Islamophobia Defined
The Runnymede Trust identifies eight components, characterizing Islam as:


-- monolithic, static, and unresponsive to change;
-- having differing values from other cultures and religions;
-- being inferior to Western societies;
-- barbaric, irrational, primitive, sexist, violent, aggressive, threatening, supporting terrorism, and clashing with Western civilization;
-- an ideology used for political or military advantage;
-- irrationally criticizing Western values;
-- warranting discriminatory practices that exclude Muslims from mainstream society; and
-- believing anti-Muslim hostility is natural and normal.
A 2004 UK Commission on Muslims and Islamophobia report titled, "Islamophobia: issues, challenges and action," said 1.6 million British Muslims live "on a diet of death, hypocrisy and neglect that is traumatizing and radicalizing an entire generation. What does the future hold" it asks? How can secular Britain accommodate religious Muslims? What's been done to counter Islamophobia's debilitating effects? Why has official action been absent? "Why is the antiracist movement so reluctant to address prejudice, hate and discrimination based on religion?" Is Western Islamophobia institutionalized, and at what cost?
Its societies are led by white, mainly Christian, middle and upper class men. They're responsible for serving all their citizens. However, non-Muslim white people institutionalize Islamophobia, instead of denouncing and expunging it.
It's a new term for an old fear since eighth century Europe. Key since the 1960s is the presence of 15 million Western European Muslims, millions more in America. Resource wars is another factor, mainly for oil and gas. Others include misperceptions of Islam, wrongly associating it with violence and terror, as well as exploiting this notion for political advantage. Supportive media reports then stoke fear and hostility, portraying Muslims stereotypically as dangerous and threatening.
In America, noted academicians like Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington promote a clash of civilization thesis, Huntington saying the West's underlying problem "is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power."
On October 22, 2001, Edward Said's Nation magazine article, titled "The Clash of Ignorance," criticized both men, calling their thinking "belligerent." Citing Huntington's 1993 analysis "The Clash of Civilization?" and Lewis' 1990 "The Roots of Muslim Rage," he said both men treat Islam(ic) identity and culture in "cartoonlike" fashion, "where Popeye and Bluto bash each other mercilessly," the more "virtuous" one prevailing. They and others like them rely on stereotypes and gimmickry, not reason or informed analysis, Hollywood and the major media always in lockstep.
Huntington also said "Western ideas of individualism, liberalism, constitutionalism, human rights, equality, liberty, the rule of law, democracy, free markets, the separation of church and state, often have little resonance in Islamic societies." In fact, "Western values" are mirror opposite of what Huntington claimed.
A 2002 Paul Weyrich/William Lind essay headlined, "Why Islam is a Threat to America and the West," calling it a fifth column and religion of war. In September 2001, hatemonger Ann Coulter wrote:
"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officials. We carpet bombed German cities and killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."
In November 2001, Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham) told NBC Nightly News that "Islam is a very evil and wicked religion."
In February 2002, Pat Robertson said Muslims "want to coexist until they can control, dominate and then, if need be, destroy. (You) can't say that Muslim religion is a religion of peace. It's not."
Also in February 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft called Islam "a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sent his son to die for you."
From then until now, it hasn't let up, notable figures and media reports spreading hate and fear, supporting global imperial wars. Contrasting a West/East dichotomy, Edward Said wrote about colonizers v. the colonized, "the familiar (Europe, West, us) and the strange (the Orient, East, them)." The strong against the weak. The superior against the lesser. The belief that might makes right, no matter how misguided, destructive or hateful.
Professor Deepa Kumar is active in social movements for peace and global justice. She also conducts research in areas of war, imperialism, globalization, class, gender, and the media, including how it treats Islam.
Her recent essay titled, "Framing Islam: The Resurgence of Orientalism During the Bush II Era" deals with post-9/11 events relating, explaining the reemergence of "clash of civilizations" extremism. Under Bush II and Obama, it became "commonsense," a dominant political logic.
Kumar considered "five key taken-for-granted" post-9/11 myths, that:
(1) Islam is monolithic. In fact, as practiced in dozens of countries globally, it's diverse within many Sunni and Shiite branches.
(2) It's uniquely sexist. In fact, no more or less than allĀ  major religions. Christian dogma says Eve was created out of Adam's rib. European and American women once were burned at the stake as witches. It took them a 100 year struggle to be able to vote. Their rights have always been attacked, including over their own bodies, Christian fascists promoting male gender dominance, and right to fetal life over pregnant women and men.
(3) It's inherently violent and intolerant, the term "jihad' wrongfully used to connote holy war. In fact, it refers both to an internal struggle to overcome one's weaknesses, as well as a lesser one for self-preservation and defense.
(4) The "Muslim mind" is incapable of reason and science. On September 12, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI equated Catholicism with reason, saying violent Islam lacked it. Many others before him made the same argument, as spurious and racist then as now.

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