- Category: Occidentalogy
- Written by Stephen Lendman
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(5) "The West spreads democracy, while Islam spawns terrorism." As a result, Western civilization must modernize and tame it. America, of course, disdains democratic freedoms, preferring easily co-opted despots, not social justice and liberation.
Kumar fights myths with scholarly analysis, exposing them as hateful and bogus.
In a September 22, 2010 interview, she examined Islamophobia in America, saying fear and animosity toward Muslims prevail.
"I don't think, however that (it) comes from regular Americans. Rather, (post-9/11), the mainstream media and the political elite have helped generate an attitude toward Muslims that has been largely negative. Most recently," Tea Party extremists exploited it. Another group called "Stop Islamization of America" promotes the notion "that Muslims are conspiring to take over the US."
Films, the major media, and hate groups have manipulated ordinary Americans. "Every country that seeks to obtain the consent of its citizens for war must construct an enemy that is feared and hated." Bush officials used Islam, much like Cold War tactics vilified communists and Japanese Americans were denigrated and abused during WW II. "Today all Muslims are viewed as responsible for the events that took place on 9/11," hatemongering and fear replacing truth, Hollywood and major media reports in the lead.
Films especially depict "Arab men as barbaric, violent, gaudy, lascivious, and of Muslim majority countries as uncivilized, misogynistic, irrational, and undemocratic." Major media reports pick it up, "tak(ing) their cues from the 'primary definers of news,' that is, people who are the key political and economic leaders." They've largely "branded the Muslim community as untrustworthy and anti-American." Mainstream media reports echo the same theme.
On January 10, Kumar titled a Monthly Review article, "How to Fight Islamophobia and the Far Right, in Europe and the United States," saying:
"An alarming trend (swept) Europe." Far right parties bashed Muslims and immigrants to achieve "electoral gains in (numerous) European countries." It showed up in France, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria, Latvia, Romania and Slovakia, hard times the driving force for change, including in America.
"What we are seeing is a right-wing populist movement beginning to manifest racism at its core." It's both electoral and grassroots "based on intimidating Muslim communities and Latino immigrants." Islamophobia incites "war on terror" hysteria and "serv(es) the domestic agenda of the far right in ways similar to what has gone on in Europe."
A weak-kneed centrist approach "only strengthens the far right," as true in America as abroad. Combating Islamophobia demands exposing it "as the scapegoating tactic of a system in crisis." To prevail, however, requires "political and economic alternative(s) to neoliberalism and war," but don't expect major media help promoting them.
Kumar's International Socialist Review March/April 2007 article titled, "Islam and Islamophobia" explained how, over the previous year, Muslim-bashing in America and Europe was relentless. It's no different today. Their common thread "is a polarized view of the world," a classic good v. evil struggle, hyperbolically portraying a democratic West against barbaric, uncivilized Islam, wanting to create "an Islamic empire stretching from Europe to South East Asia." Never mind that people of all religions and ethnicities everywhere want social justice, freedom and peace.
Orientalists, however, view the West as "dynamic, complex, and ever changing," while Islam "is static, barbaric, and despotic." It needs "Western intervention to bring about progressive change," what Islamic societies can't do for themselves.
Kumar argues that "Confronting Islamophobia and challenging American racism toward the people of the Middle East is an essential precondition for the rebirth of a strong antiwar movement." Its inability or unwillingness to challenge Islamophobia has been one of its biggest weaknesses. "Our future, quite literally, depends on building such a movement." Progressive change depends on a foundation of peace, equal justice, and democratic freedoms, achievements so far nowhere in sight.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Email address removed. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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