Posts Tagged ‘Islamophobia’


Fascists, Cowards, and Morons: Combating Anti-Muslim Bigotry While Maintaining Free Speech

by Matt Cerami 
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Andrew Cummins once said, in a quote often misattributed to Christopher Hitchens, that Islamophobia is “a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.”

It can be that word—we’ve certainly seen the word used as a conversation-stopper in any and all discussions about Islamic theology, and we’ve seen it used as a protective linguistic shield wielded by those who view honest criticism as inflammatory and religion as something untouchable or by various leftist intelligentsia in defense of a community who they implicitly believe are unable to defend themselves. We’ve also seen it used by Muslim communities who desperately want to protect their faith from the piercing gaze of rationalism. The fascists are those religious and political leaders who wish to impose a kind of intellectual tyranny where certain ideas are immune from criticism; those cowards are the privileged few who would restrain free speech and withhold inquiry for fear of backlash or causing offense; and those morons—well, I’ll leave that one alone, for now.

But there is something to be said about punching down. Anti-Muslim bigotry and hate crimes against Muslims are now, in the US, at the highest they’ve ever been, surging past even their immediate post-9/11 numbers—no doubt the result of a decade’s worth of wartime propaganda and the demonizing, xenophobic sentiments espoused by right-wing pundits daily.

And as I’ve contended before, language is not innocuous. Rhetoric can, and often does, manifest itself as action—this is particularly true when it comes to marginalized groups and the hegemonic discourse that can come to define them. The language of hate has once again morphed into the action of hate, and structurally oppressed minority communities are again suffering as a result. Examples of this have been cropping up in the news with frequency. It’s not by accident that Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, the man behind the recent shooting in Chattanooga, was almost immediately considered a possible terrorist—meanwhile, the word terrorist has not been once used, in any official context, to describe Dylann Roof, the ideologically motived shooter of nine African-American churchgoers. White-conservative-as-terrorist does not fit into our currently thriving political narrative—an unfortunate fact, considering that right-wing groups and individuals are responsible, by a wide-margin, for most of the terrorist attacks that occur in the United States.

We have a responsibility to combat this bigotry wherever we may find it, recognizing that even diplomatic and academic criticisms of Islam have been perverted—adopted by the ignorant and employed to more malicious ends. But we also have a responsibility to protect and promote freedom of speech absolute. At a recent briefing on anti-Muslim bigotry I posed the question (though without receiving a sufficient answer): how do we maintain the right to criticize ideas openly and freely without also perpetuating bigotry against people? Is there a divide between the two?

There is a divide, but I also believe there needs to be. Ideas are not people—criticizing the former does not by default imply a criticism of the latter. That Charles Darwin discovered biological evolution does not mean he’s accountable for the social Darwinists who later looked to his ideas for inspiration. Likewise, critical, respectful, and academic critiques of Islamic ideologies shouldn’t be censored just because others pervert that criticism for a more insidious purpose.

But we can also be honest about Islamophobia. I don’t think religion has much to do with the prejudice. The kinds of Americans who’ve been pushing for discrimination against Muslims aren’t necessarily known for their nuanced worldviews. Islamophobia is just racism. It’s bigotry against Arabs and Indians. It’s unlikely that someone who thinks “all Muslims should be deported” could tell you the difference between Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism, let alone their adherents; they just know that some people are brown, and brown people are bad. When US General Wesley Clark recently suggested that we throw all “radicalized” Muslims into internment camps, I don’t think he meant White Muslims, or Black Muslims, or Asian Muslims—he meant Arabs. When we see “No Muslims Allowed” signs pop up in storefronts and gun ranges across the South, I doubt that the proprietors mean to interrogate each customer on their religious beliefs—what they mean is no people who look like Muslims allowed; in other words, the imagined Arab-Muslim caricature that they warn their children about. I dare say that an Arab-Christian with a Middle-Eastern name would face as much discrimination in America as any Muslim would. Is it Islamophobia if the anti-Muslim bigot can’t tell you—or doesn’t care to know—the first thing about Islam? Or is it just good, old-fashioned, American racism?

The phenomena transcends political divisions—it’s a racism that the left has, in their insistence on tying ideology to race in this one instance, also been complicit in perpetuating. When Sam Harris calls Islam the “mother lode of bad ideas,” is he being Islamophobic? Perhaps—but it’s a curious thing that I’ve yet to see that damning suffix attached to any other faith name: that critics of Christianity (of which there are many on the left) are not ever called Christophobic, that Jewish critics are not called Judaiphobes, that Karl Marx, hero of the left, has never been called a capitalistophobe. Submit your ideology of choice and we could play this game forever.

So how do we navigate this? How do we maintain the right to criticize ideas while avoiding the negative affects of doing so? We’ve got to first separate ideas from people—ideologies do not constitute race. This must be done by people across the political spectrum. A liberal who suggests that criticism of Islam is racist does much to solidify the bond between Islam and people who look like Muslims in the mind of a conservative. We also have to identify American Islamophobia for what it is—racism—and use the appropriate rhetorical tools to fight it. Religious and racial discourses are not the same.

But above all, we must continue to forcefully condemn and excoriate bigotry in all of its forms. We can critique religion while also acknowledging that other critiques are ignorant, harmful, or unfounded. We can acknowledge that the Texans of Collins County, who recently expressed their fears at the prospect of having a Muslim cemetary in their town, are maybe not the morons of Cummins’ statement, but are morons nonetheless.

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‘Jewish Communal Fund’ seeds Islamophobia as toxic as Trump’s

Donald Trump’s disturbing comments about registering Muslims have put Islamophobia on the front pages. Even Jeb Bush has condemned them. And Jews have been outspoken. Andrew Rosenthal at the New York Times and the Anti-Defamation League have likened the racism to that faced by Jews in an era gone by, and J Street has called out the “bigoted” rhetoric.

Now we learn that one of the main sowers of Islamophobia in the United States, Pamela Geller, has had the support of the Jewish community. “Why is a mainstream Jewish charity funding Pamela Geller?” Eli Clifton asks, and reports in the Forward that Geller has gotten contributions through the Jewish Communal Fund.

Jewish Communal Fund, a mainstream philanthropic fund that describes itself as “dedicated to the welfare and security of the Jewish community at home and abroad,” has funded Geller’s work. JCF’s annual tax filings show contributions of $30,000 in the 2012 tax year and $70,000 in the 2013 tax year, the last tax year for which filings are available, directed to Geller’s AFDI [American Freedom Defense Initiative].

JCF functions as a donor-advised fund, meaning donors to the fund deposit money and receive an immediate federal income tax deduction

And JCF has strict rules about who gets money: “[T]he Board of Trustees of the Jewish Communal Fund retains the right to deny any grant request where the purposes and activities of the recommended charitable organization are deemed to be adverse to the interests of the Jewish community.”

No one will answer Clifton’s questions; but it turns out it’s not just Geller:

JCF’s contributions to anti-Muslim groups aren’t limited to the AFDI. In the 2013 tax year, JCF contributed $36,200 to the Clarion Fund, adding to a $27,880 grant made in 2007.

The Clarion Fund, an offshoot of the Jewish Orthodox fundamentalist Aish HaTorah, gained notoriety for its distribution of the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” to 28 million swing state voters before the 2008 presidential election between then-Sen. Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat, and Sen. John McCain, a Republican in Arizona. The film’s central thesis was that fundamentalist Islam is as bad as, if not worse than, Nazism.

As for Geller’s Islamophobia, the Southern Poverty Law Center describes her as the “figurehead” of Islamophobia; and of course it comes out of support for Israel:

Pamela Geller is the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead. She’s relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims, such as that President Obama is the “love child” of Malcolm X. She makes no pretense of being learned in Islamic studies, leaving the argumentative heavy lifting to her Stop Islamization of America partner Robert Spencer. Geller has mingled comfortably with European racists and fascists, spoken favorably of South African racists, defended Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic and denied the existence of Serbian concentration camps. She has taken a strong pro-Israel stance to the point of being sharply critical of Jewish liberals.

Geller is pro-Israel. The JCF is also pro-Israel. That’s why Clifton’s report is so meaningful to me. Defining the Jewish community as pro-Israel was the great project of Zionists in the years following the Biltmore program of 1942 and leading up to the Yom Kippur War in 1973, by which time the American Jewish community was wholly identified with support for Israel. Israel needed us; and we became one! as propagandists exclaimed. In fact, the Jewish community lost other broad bases of Jewish identification outside of Israel; it became completely Zionist– which is why members of that community assert with sincerity that anti-Zionists are anti-Semites.

Plainly Jews have a strong need for community, as so many other American minority groups do. But that community definition has been so circumscribed along Israel lines that virulent pro-Israel groups like Pam Geller’s or the neoconservatives have been included as brothers and sisters. The inclusion of militants led to fatal mistakes in the community, as when the Reform Jews endorsed the Iraq war; because they’d heard from friends and relatives that it would be good for Israel.

That is what is so stirring and important about Jewish Voice for Peace. It understands the importance of community but is offering a very different definition of Jewish community, one that condemns Islamophobia, opposes Israel’s crimes and has a welcome mat out for non-Jewish progressives.

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The far Right, corporatist, religious and political lunatic fringe, has an extensive history of fabricating and manufacturing hoaxes to demonise perceived enemies, or competitors.

Mere reality is insufficient to satiate their lust for unbridled power, sociopathic hatreds and extreme paranoia, so that fantasies and fabrications are routinely manufactured to nourish their pornography of paranoia.

Conspiracism, the manufacture of the ‘demonic other’ and group, cultural ‘scapegoats,’ has persistently played a vital and core role, in far Right propaganda.

The grubby, listed hate preacher, Robert Spencer, adored by neo-Nazis, fascists and Catholic/Christian/Jewish extremists, is an intermediate cog in the larger, manufactured Islamophobia Industry machinery, which has been staple cash cow for far Right religious and politicised extremists, hate mongers and fascists preying and profiteering from real and fabricated cultural tensions.

Whilst innumerable examples could be cited, here’s a recent faux ‘news’ ruse, promulgated by the superstitious, Rightist Catholic fanatical loon, Robert Spencer who deludes that despite his lies, disinformation and deception, he is doing ‘the work of god.’

 

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Daily-Caller-Refugees

Via by Richard Bartholomew

Here’s one I missed from a month ago. From the Daily Caller:

A group of 51 refugees were brutally assaulted outside a night club in Murmansk, Russia, after they groped and molested women at a night club Saturday.

The refugees had previously been ordered to leave Norway for “bad behavior” and tried their luck in Russia. What they didn’t realize when they went out clubbing in Murmansk is that Russians have less tolerance when it comes to sexual assault on local women than other European countries.

…The refugees tried to flee but were quickly captured by the Russians. They then took them out to the street and gave them a beating they will remember. Police arrived to break up the fight but locals report that they threw a few punches at the refugees before arresting 33 of them. Eighteen refugees were in such bad condition they had to be take to the hospital.

As shown above, the story is illustrated with a photograph of a gang of burly men, one of whom has a club, beating up another man, who cowers on the ground.

The source given in the link above is an Italian report from Imola Oggi (without the photo), which in turn cites Fort RussThe Fort Russ article is in English (“translated by Tom Winter”), and states that it “was prepared from material on social network sites.”

However, it followed an earlier report on the same site (“translated by Ollie Richardson”) which has a somewhat different version of the story:

Several refugees from Arab countries were beaten in the middle of the night of Saturday in the city of Polyarnye Zori (Murmansk oblast), reported a FlashNord source in the law enforcement bodies of the region.

The incident occurred in the nightclub Gandvik.

“According to preliminary data, five refugees were beaten in the entertainment establishment. According to witnesses, they behaved insolently and had been pestering local girls,” — said the Agency’s interlocutor.

“Five”. As opposed to “51”. And no reference to any arrests. But there’s more: the original article from FlashNord can be seen here. It was followed up on the same day with a second article, confirming that there may have been a fight outside the nightclub, but that details could not be confirmed from CCTV and it was all over by the time the police arrived.

So, it looks like there was an incident of some kind – but it is far from clear that it was anything more significant than the kind of fight that tends to occur sometimes near venues where young men have been drinking and are perhaps “on the pull”. Were refugees involved? Was the incident provoked by anti-social behaviour towards female clubbers? Nothing in the report confirms any such details (and I can’t find further evidence elsewhere) – and the story of a mass incident involving dozens of arrests appears to have been a fiction.

The photograph used by the Daily Caller doesn’t make much sense: it shows just one man being attacked, and – somewhat crucially – it was taken in middle of the day. The site either didn’t bother – or forgot – to remove the photo’s metadata caption, which identifies it as actually showing Russian Cossacks assaulting a Ukrainian in Sevastopol in 2014. It was published in its correct context in the media at the time (see below).

Did the Daily Caller intend to deceive? Robert Spencer, always eager to spread stories about how Muslims are depraved, appears to have taken it at face value as evidence, as did other right-leaning sites.

Perhaps it was intended merely to be illustrative – but given that the Daily Caller clearly approves of the outcome in their version of the story, such a photo serves to titillate, and perhaps to exhort.

Have we really reached the point where a photo of a bunch thugs beating someone up is to be celebrated because someone has said that it shows a refugee, and has further assured us that the victim did something anti-social and deserves his fate?

Spencer-vs-Mirror

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Rudd/Gillard adviser: Abbott drums up Islamophobia to help his election chances
Phobia, or irrational fear, is an unfortunate hallmark of social and political discourse throughout the world, often exploited for gain by those who have a responsibility to do exactly the opposite. Rampant homophobia is used to stoke fears that gay people were sexual deviants out to destroy our way of life. Now rampant Islamophobia advances a fear of Muslims as terrorists who are out to destroy our way of life. And the government is driving a lot of it.
Although the Prime Minister has admitted he feels threatened by homosexuality, these days neither he nor his government would dare to publicly suggest that the gays are coming to get us (even if some still feel that way in private). Furthermore, if a public figure does spout any homophobic bile — think Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi and bestiality — they are rightly howled down by a cacophony of voices of reason and decency. But with few notable exceptions, Islamophobia in the public domain is running rampant and is largely unchallenged.
Back in 2011, a 10-year study on Australian attitudes to other cultures found almost half the population to have anti-Muslim sentiment. Undoubtedly this number is even higher in 2015. Our entrepreneurs of fear — certain public figures and media outlets — are irresponsibly riding this wave, content in the knowledge that such fear is useful to their cause and likely to result in political and ratings gains. In opposition, Scott Morrison urged his fellow cabinet to better exploit growing community concern about Muslims in Australia. In government this has clearly been embraced, with an unrelenting focus on terrorism and border protection, and even a parliamentary inquiry into halal certification.
Islamophobia appears to be a general fear of Muslims synthesised with our fear of terrorism, and compounded by our general inability to distinguish radical extremists from ordinary Muslims. Despite the likelihood of being harmed by terrorism being negligible, the fear created by terrorism has huge and enduring effects on human behavior and hampers our ability to assess risk objectively.
Exploiting such fear in politics is as old as politics itself, and is a tactic that all sides of the spectrum frequently deploy. Afraid of losing your job? Vote for X. Afraid of catastrophic climate change? Vote for Y. Afraid of asylum seekers? Vote for Z.  So much of our political narrative is based on nurturing people’s fears and then offering a “solution” to them, and it persists because it works.
But when these fears are deliberately stoked and grossly exaggerated, it takes us from fear to phobia and further distorts reasonable thought, action and debate. All too often it also leads to the formation and growth of groups such as One Nation, the Q Society and Reclaim Australia. What do we gain when Abbott tells us that this “death cult” is coming to get us?  What do we gain when the media airs sensational footage of Daesh (also called Islamic State, ISIS or ISIL) militants training, marching, fighting or torturing? The real winner is Daesh.
Since our media aren’t exactly there on the ground, nearly all the footage is propaganda — written, directed and produced by the terror group. Naturally they supply us with images that show them looking more powerful, organised and respectable than they really are. Terrorism aims to instil fear, and when we overtly promote that fear, we are aiding the cause. What does Daesh want most after it has conquered and subdued?
Ongoing legitimacy, power and attention. Excessive media coverage of Daesh might not directly encourage terrorism but at the very least it legitimises, promotes and strengthens such groups, and we should debate the security ramifications of this more openly. By broadcasting their propaganda, we freely give Daesh more power and fuel Islamophobic sentiment. We forget Muslims in the Middle East are the overwhelming victims of Daesh terror while Muslims in Australia are indirect victims, frequently deemed guilty by association. We increasingly fear and blame Muslims in equal measure and are encouraged to do so by the entrepreneurs of fear. There are no easy solutions, but it’s clear we need more “entrepreneurs of calm” to countenance the fear merchants and inject some context and sensibility into the discourse.
Malcolm Turnbull briefly tried to be one such voice, cautioning overreactions to the fear of terror or Muslims. Undoubtedly he will be increasingly silenced as the federal government gears up for the mother of all fear campaigns leading into the next election. Islamophobia feeds into our worst instincts and needs to be courageously opposed, not elevated further in the public domain. When prejudiced views are articulated by those in high office, they gain a degree of social currency and legitimacy that perpetuates them further.
John Howard wanted us to be alert but not alarmed while Tony Abbott wants us to be in a permanent state of alarm. He knows it’s his best, and perhaps only, chance of being re-elected. Like the activists who challenged the prevailing culture of homophobia, we need to confront the prejudice and phobias of those around us and those entrepreneurs of fear who stoke them.
Via: CRIKEY

Reclaim Australia Dominated by a Christian Cult Leader

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Many may be surprised to find out that fervent nationalist group Reclaim Australia is driven primarily by a religious cult, Catch the Fire Ministries, and its political arm, Rise Up Australia. And the group wanting to “Keep Australia Australian” is headed by a Sri Lankan evangelist, Daniel Nallian, who moved to Australia in 1997.

Stating this fact by no means implies recent immigrants can’t have legitimate views about traditional Australian values, and multi-culturalism, (of course they can and do), but this challenges the common perception of Reclaim Australia as an extreme racist movement. Whilst convenient to the apologists of Islam to label them this way, the strange evangelical focus and multicultural nature of half its members provides a different narrative, albeit not one which is necessarily more conducive for an intelligent discussion regarding the perceived clash of Islamic and Western values.

According to “Evangelist Daniel’s” bio, Hillsong founder, Frank Houston, unsuccessfully “prophesied” over him in Sri Lanka, prior to his conversion by a member of his rock band. The Assembly of God evangelist claims that Jesus has saved his life multiple times.

Three months after experiencing salvation he came across his first trial during the communal violence in Sri Lanka when he was confronted with a mob who wanted to kill his parents. But praise God, his prayer as a new Christian was answered when the mob left without touching anyone. That day he said, “Lord, I will serve you as long as I have breath”.

Daniel Nalliah moved to Saudi Arabia to attempt to convert Muslims to Christianity, and was miraculously saved by Jesus again.

Pastor Daniel and his family were most miraculously saved from death and torture twice. He says, “If not for Jesus being alive, we would not be alive”! His testimony has touched the hearts of many all over the world.

Well, it’s good to have Jesus on your side.

The President of Rise Up Australia also believes Jesus communicates with him personally, and has ordained him with a special mission from God.

 While in Saudi Arabia, following an encounter he had with Jesus on 21st July 1997 (from 3.40am to 6.00am), in obedience to this, he decided to move to Australia and set up a base known as Catch The Fire Ministries Inc.

Then, Jesus appeared to Daniel again.

Dear Family in Christ,

On April 9, 2000 at 5:00am while in Ethiopia the Lord Jesus Christ woke me from sleep and spoke about Australia. He very clearly told me, Son, if my people will rise up and be proactive, they will stop the disaster which is coming on the land. But if my people sit back, relax and be reactive they will pay a heavy price to take back their land spiritually. He then spoke to me through (The Bible) 2 Chr. 7:14 and said, Gather my people across the land together and tell them to humble themselves, repent, pray and seek my face in one accord, then I will heal their land. This was the start of RISE UP AUSTRALIA prayer meetings.

There’s nothing like an argument from authority. Besides the obvious charlatanism these comments indicate a providential connection with “the land” which only aboriginal Australians lay claim to. One suspects the nationalism espoused by this particular Sri Lankan born follower of Jesus is subsumed by a larger cause.

Daniel Nalliah has claimed the Black Saturday bushfires were the result of the Victorian Government decriminalising abortion. The Queensland floods were due to Kevin Rudd speaking against Israel. He ran for a Senate seat for Family First party and disseminated brochures asking people to pray for God to pull down “Satan’s strongholds” which included bottle shops, gambling houses, brothels, mosques, and Buddhist and Hindu temples.

Reclaim Australian oppose multiculturalism, not multi-ethnicity. They oppose the melting pot of various cultures, insisting we enforce puritan Christian values on the whole society. Opposing Islam, abortion, gay marriage, promiscuity, pornography, and seeking Judeo-Christian focussed education, and other values of the religious right.

Unfortunately, this group adds nothing to debate on Islam, and the appropriate government response to jihadism.

Opposing Islamism with equally extreme ideas only adds height to the walls shielding Islam from appropriate examination. The core beliefs in jihad, martyrdom, the dar al-Harb, subjugation of women, and enforced religious belief underpin the ideologies of terrorist groups. The religion provides the ideology, and social network, to sustain the hatred, warmongering and predisposition towards violence which disenfranchised young men find so attractive.

Reclaim Australia provides succour to liberals whose knee-jerk response to any criticism of Islam is to brand it racism. Note the following in an otherwise well written expose by Jeff Sparrow:

 Let’s leave aside the question of how you can be “against Islam” without “targeting Muslims” (rather like being against Judaism without targeting Jews, one would have thought).

Many people say bad things about Christianity without facing accusations of “targeting” white Christians. Could we be against Nazism in the 1930’s without “targeting Germans”? Conflating the race of Jews and cultural traditions of Muslims provides a shield of political correctness.

Although, Sparrow’s remark paled in comparison to the apologetics of Anne Aly, who views criticism of Islam as the same thing as criticism of Muslims, at the hands of “bigots” and “racists.” Way to give your culture a free pass.

Applying the “racist” label too often shuts down debate, and censures the freedom to discuss the very ideas central to the conflict. Accusations of “racism” are too easy, and too convenient, a blunt instrument used to disarm opposing arguments. They also divert attention away from what appears to be significant motives within groups like Reclaim Australia, which is the debate about religious values, and the culture wars.

Reclaim Australia consists of a front for evangelical Christians. Those goose-stepping for God, combining religious zeal with associating with hate groups, are only reclaiming an historical bigotry. Australia was once a Christian country but never the sort of hollering, miracle worshipping, tele-evangelistic freak show that the backers of Reclaim Australia imagine.

This isn’t our country they are reclaiming. We should disavow their ideas, but for the right reasons. Opposing one totalitarianism with another misses the point altogether, providing a contradictory argument which undermines the Secular argument, the argument for tolerance and pluralism, freedom of speech, and religious freedom without religious coercion, within the framework of an agreed set of human rights and values.


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No, Islam is not a race. Yes, you are still a racist

Biological race doesn’t exist. But the concept of biological race is an invention with a long history. Its transformations help answer the question.

One of the earliest and most detailed systems of biological racial classification existed in the French colony of St Dominguez. According to the historian C.L.R. James, the system of classification contained more than 150 gradations of “blackness”.

Only people who could prove that they were “purely white” were granted full rights. This system was overthrown by a slave rebellion and revolution. The “aristocracy of skin”, a term used by the Parisian masses to describe racism, was temporarily defeated. Those 150 gradations of blackness, which were regarded as a natural fact, have long been forgotten.

Roughly 80 years later, biological racism enjoyed a renaissance, as all sorts of new so-called races were discovered. This was the advent of pseudo-scientific Darwinian racism. For example, the Irish were considered a separate race to the English, and closer to apes. Skulls were measured, intellects compared and, lo and behold, the Irish were found inferior. This conveniently explained the Irish famine, in which between 800,000 and 1.5 million people starved to death while the British exported their food.

Nowhere did social Darwinism go further than in Germany. Prior to the late 1880s, Jewishness had been regarded purely as a religion. Of course, Jews had suffered religious discrimination, but they could escape this through conversion, as many did. Yet, from the late 1800s onward, with the aid of “science”, Jewishness was transformed into a race, which was then associated with a series of visual and cultural markers, involving facial hair, big noses, dishonesty and suspicious customs such as kosher food.

These examples highlight how racism was never really about “natural” differences. It was a manufactured ideology of oppression. Racism is really about power.

Biologically linked racism started to go out of fashion with the fall of the Third Reich. But this didn’t mean that racism disappeared. It just changed form.

Take the example of the USA. Since the Declaration of Independence, the USA has concealed real inequality under a constitution and political system premised on formal equality.

In the past, the contradiction between real and formal inequality was justified by the alleged inferiority of non-white races. But the struggles and achievements of those non-whites increasingly made such claims untenable.

Today, no one credible argues that inequality and poverty stem from innate racial differences. Rather, we are told that “cultural problems” are to blame. The new rationalisation is not biologically based, yet it is the politically acceptable code for the same old racism.

Anti-Muslim racism, which exploded following 9/11 and the “war on terror”, fits into this mould. Small-l liberals have played a special role in promoting it. The polite arguments that Islam is more repressive than other religions, that Muslims lack respect for women or democracy, or are particularly violent, are all coded signals which, like a dog whistle, prick the ears of rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth racists.

This is what happened at the Cronulla riot in 2005, where men of Arab appearance were bashed by a white mob trying to defend “their” beach and “their” women. It was referred to by participants as “Leb and wog bashing day”.

Racism always relies on stereotypes and visual or cultural markers. So, the racists portray Muslims as big-nosed, fat, fanatical, bearded misogynists who want to slaughter animals and non-believers alike, impose sharia law, prohibit tasty food and beverages, destroy liberty and reason and generally fuck things up for the “enlightened” West.

Why do they want to do this? Well, who knows, but one thing is for sure – they aren’t as civilised as us.

All of these tropes are based on racial stereotypes of Arab people, which are as old as they are repulsive. Edward Said’s magnificent book Orientalism traces this tradition of representation through Western art and literature. It turns out that “good Muslim” vs. “bad Muslim” is just an updated version of the colonial era “good savage” vs. “bad savage” trope.

Christopher Hitchens took war-mongering atheism to new depths when he endorsed cluster bombs and said that the death toll in the Iraq war wasn’t high enough. But the tradition of atheism and Enlightenment values being used as the spear tip for colonial-style racism goes at least as far back as the Napoleonic campaign in Egypt.

Racism has changed with the times, but it is still a system of oppression that commits violence towards whole swaths of humanity, who are depicted through a few crude stereotypes.

So sure, Islam is a religion. But the statement “Islam is a religion, not a race” remains the most transparent of covers for real racism.


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Exposing Anti-Islam Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Latest Deception

One of America’s most prominent Islam bashers has a long history of making things up.


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