ISLAMOPHOBIA NEWSLETTER #1,
December 30, 2012. Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace and
This newsletter was accidentally not published at the time of its composition.
My blog: War Department/Peace Department
See: Fear, Imperialism, etc.
Contents #1 December 30, 2012
Lean, Islamophobia Industry
Kumar, Islamophobia and Empire
Nation Magazine, 6 Essays
Bacevich, Boykinism (McCarthyism)
Rendall, Muslim Violence?
Pal, Islamic Nonviolence
"...the value of this book is incalculable, and Stephen Sheehi is due our deepest
thanks and admiration for his courage in writing it."
from the Foreword by WARD CHURCHILL
THE NATION (July 2/9, 2012).
9 essays: “Islamophobia: Anatomy of an American Panic.”
Thursday, June 14, 2012
The Nation has a special issue entitled "Islamophobia: Anatomy of an American Panic" with articles examining different aspects of Islamophobia in the
These include Moustafa Bayoumi, "Fear and Loathing of Islam", Jack Shaheen, "How the Media Created the Muslim Monster Myth" (subscription only), Petra Bartosiewicz, "Deploying Informants, the FBI Stings Muslims", Laila Lalami, "Islamophobia and Its Discontents", Abed Awad, "The True Story of Sharia in American Courts", Ramzi Kassem, "The Long Roots of the NYPD Spying Program", Max Blumenthal, "The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate", and Laila Al-Arian, "When Your Father Is Accused of Terrorism".
September 25, 2012
Boykinism: Joe McCarthy Would Understand
First came the hullaballoo over the “Mosque at Ground Zero.” Then there
was Pastor Terry Jones of
By Andrew J. Bacevich http://aep.typepad.com/american_empire_project/2012/09/boykinism.html?et_cid=29569951&et_rid=525719007&linkid=http%3a%2f%2faep.typepad.com%2famerican_empire_project%2f2012%2f09%2fboykinism.html%23more#more
Throughout, the official
And not without reason: although it might be comforting to dismiss anti-Islamic outbursts in the
Let’s begin with a brief history lesson. From the late 1940s to the late 1980s, when Communism provided the overarching ideological rationale for American globalism, religion figured prominently as a theme of
From time to time during the decades when anti-Communism provided so much of the animating spirit of U.S. policy, Judeo-Christian strategists in Washington (not necessarily believers themselves), drawing on the theologically correct proposition that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all worship the same God, sought to enlist Muslims, sometimes of fundamentalist persuasions, in the cause of opposing the godless. One especially notable example was the Soviet-Afghan War of 1979-1989. To inflict pain on the Soviet occupiers, the
Yet not so many years after the Soviets withdrew in defeat, the freedom fighters morphed into the fiercely anti-Western Taliban, providing sanctuary to al-Qaeda as it plotted -- successfully -- to attack the
With the launching of the Global War on Terrorism, Islamism succeeded Communism as the body of beliefs that, if left unchecked, threatened to sweep across the globe with dire consequences for freedom. Those who
Yet as a rallying cry, a war against Islamism presented difficulties right from the outset. As much as policymakers struggled to prevent Islamism from merging in the popular mind with Islam itself, significant numbers of Americans -- whether genuinely fearful or mischief-minded -- saw this as a distinction without a difference. Efforts by the Bush administration to work around this problem by framing the post-9/11 threat under the rubric of “terrorism” ultimately failed because that generic term offered no explanation for motive. However the administration twisted and turned, motive in this instance seemed bound up with matters of religion.
Where exactly to situate God in post-9/11
Waging War in Jesus’s Name
This debate over who actually represents God’s will is one that the successive administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama have studiously sought to avoid. The
Consider the case of Lieutenant General William G. (“Jerry”) Boykin. While still on active duty in 2002, this highly decorated Army officer spoke in uniform at a series of some 30 church gatherings during which he offered his own response to President Bush’s famous question: “Why do they hate us?” The general’s perspective differed markedly from his commander-in-chief’s: “The answer to that is because we're a Christian nation. We are hated because we are a nation of believers.”
On another such occasion, the general recalled his encounter with a Somali warlord who claimed to enjoy Allah’s protection. The warlord was deluding himself, Boykin declared, and was sure to get his comeuppance: “I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” As a Christian nation, Boykin insisted, the
When Boykin’s remarks caught the attention of the mainstream press, denunciations rained down from on high, as the White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon hastened to disassociate the government from the general’s views. Yet subsequent indicators suggest that, however crudely, Boykin was indeed expressing perspectives shared by more than a few of his fellow citizens.
One such indicator came immediately: despite the furor, the general kept his important Pentagon job as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, suggesting that the Bush administration considered his transgression minor. Perhaps Boykin had spoken out of turn, but his was not a fireable offense. (One can only speculate regarding the fate likely to befall a
A second indicator came in the wake of Boykin’s retirement from active duty. In 2012, the influential Family Research Council (FRC) in
So for the FRC to hire as its chief operating officer someone espousing Boykin’s pronounced views regarding Islam qualifies as noteworthy. At a minimum, those who recruited the former general apparently found nothing especially objectionable in his worldview. They saw nothing politically risky about associating with Jerry Boykin. He's their kind of guy. More likely, by hiring Boykin, the FRC intended to send a signal: on matters where their new COO claimed expertise -- above all, war -- thumb-in-your eye political incorrectness was becoming a virtue. Imagine the NAACP electing Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as its national president, thereby endorsing his views on race, and you get the idea.
What the FRC’s embrace of General Boykin makes clear is this: to dismiss manifestations of Islamophobia simply as the work of an insignificant American fringe is mistaken. As with the supporters of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who during the early days of the Cold War saw communists under every State Department desk, those engaging in these actions are daring to express openly attitudes that others in far greater numbers also quietly nurture. To put it another way, what Americans in the 1950s knew as McCarthyism has reappeared in the form of Boykinism.
Historians differ passionately over whether McCarthyism represented a perversion of anti-Communism or its truest expression. So, too, present-day observers will disagree as to whether Boykinism represents a merely fervent or utterly demented response to the Islamist threat. Yet this much is inarguable: just as the junior senator from
Notably, as Boykinism’s leading exponent, the former general’s views bear a striking resemblance to those favored by the late senator. Like McCarthy, Boykin believes that, while enemies beyond
Boykinism: The New McCarthyism
How many Americans endorsed McCarthy’s conspiratorial view of national and world politics? It’s difficult to know for sure, but enough in
How many Americans endorse Boykin’s comparably incendiary views? Again, it’s difficult to tell. Enough to persuade FRC’s funders and supporters to hire him, confident that doing so would burnish, not tarnish, the organization’s brand. Certainly, Boykin has in no way damaged its ability to attract powerhouses of the domestic right. FRC’s recent “Values Voter Summit” featured luminaries such as Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, former Republican Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Representative Michele Bachmann -- along with Jerry Boykin himself, who lectured attendees on “Israel, Iran, and the Future of Western Civilization.” (In early August, Mitt Romney met privately with a group of “prominent social conservatives,” including Boykin.)
Does their appearance at the FRC podium signify that Ryan, Santorum, Cantor, and Bachmann all subscribe to Boykinism’s essential tenets? Not any more than those who exploited the McCarthyite moment to their own political advantage -- Richard Nixon, for example -- necessarily agreed with all of McCarthy’s reckless accusations. Yet the presence of leading Republicans on an FRC program featuring Boykin certainly suggests that they find nothing especially objectionable or politically damaging to them in his worldview.
Still, comparisons between McCarthyism and Boykinism only go so far. Senator McCarthy wreaked havoc mostly on the home front, instigating witch-hunts, destroying careers, and trampling on civil rights, while imparting to American politics even more of a circus atmosphere than usual. In terms of foreign policy, the effect of McCarthyism, if anything, was to reinforce an already existing anti-communist consensus. McCarthy’s antics didn’t create enemies abroad. McCarthyism merely reaffirmed that communists were indeed the enemy, while making the political price of thinking otherwise too high to contemplate.
Boykinism, in contrast, makes its impact felt abroad. Unlike McCarthyism, it doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of incumbents on the campaign trail here. Attracting General Boykin’s endorsement or provoking his ire probably won’t determine the outcome of any election. Yet in its various manifestations Boykinism provides the kindling that helps sustain anti-American sentiment in the Islamic world. It reinforces the belief among Muslims that the Global War on Terror really is a war against them.
Boykinism confirms what many Muslims are already primed to believe: that American values and Islamic values are irreconcilable. American presidents and secretaries of state stick to their talking points, praising Islam as a great religious tradition and touting past
As long as substantial numbers of vocal Americans do not buy the ideological argument constructed to justify
Andrew J. Bacevich is currently a visiting fellow at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. A TomDispatch regular, he is author of Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War, among other works, and most recently editor of The Short American Century.
Copyright 2012 Andrew J. Bacevich
Rendall, Steve. Why Do They Hate Us Back?” Extra! (Nov. 2012)
“When considering ‘anti-American violence in the Muslim world,’ it would have been helpful to mention as context that such violence amounts to a tiny fraction of the mayhem visited on Muslims by the U.S. and NATO over the past decade.”
That is why “Islam” Means Peace: Understanding the Muslim Principle of Nonviolence Today, the new book by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of the Progressive, is so important. In addition to writing wonderful chapters on somewhat more well-known figures in the nonviolence world like Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Pal tells the story of many obscure Muslim peacemakers who deserve far more attention—such as Abdul Kalam Azad, who worked alongside Gandhi in
independence struggle, and Ibrahim Rugova, who led the Kosovar Albanians’
nonviolent movement against Milosevic. India
For anyone not well-versed in Islam, Pal also provides a great primer on the Qur’an, the real meaning of jihad and how Islam actually spread around the world, effectively rebutting many of the most common myths about the religion. I recently interviewed Pal for Religion Dispatches about this hidden history and how the nonviolent movements in the Middle East are shaking up both the region and the way that the West perceives Islam. (from review by Eric Stoner)
END ISLAMOPHOBIA NEWSLETTER #1