The Islamophobia Machine – A New Growth Industry

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Just as some Jews betrayed their co-religionists by aiding the Nazi propaganda machine before and during WWII, today there are Muslims just as eagerly and effectively helping the Islamophobia industry to stereotype and marginalize their brothers and sisters of the faith. These Muslims are very much appreciated and celebrated by those who stand to benefit from the promotion of Islamophobia; in fact, they are in such demand that the hate-and-fear industry can’t find enough of them.

Islamophobia has been around for quite some time, but since 9/11 it began to take on form and structure, supported by financiers, researchers, writers and academics, many of whom were self-styled "experts" on Islam and terrorism. The Islamophobia industry directly filled a need created by right-wing politicians, war mongers, racists, lobbyists, and the military war business (from professional mercenary companies to arms dealers and manufacturers). Every time a perceived need is revealed in a capitalist society, an industry is created, sometimes by design, to fill that need.

The West led by the U.S. saw and promoted the need for an Islamophobia industry; and now that it is established, it will be around for years to come.

There are five central reasons for this phenomenon:

1. The Muslim world is rich in resources, especially crude oil, and the West is determined not to pay fair market value for it. Capitalist financial powers would rather rob Muslims and the entire Muslim world of this valuable resource, using violence if necessary, as in the case of Iraq,

2. In geopolitical terms, the Muslim world covers a strategically vital area, in which the West is determined to establish a permanent presence; military occupation is one favoured means of doing so, as in the case of Afghanistan.

3. The Muslim world represents a huge market of close to 1.5 billion people, whose buying power is essential if the West is to succeed in controlling the one-way flow of its goods — no matter how inferior they may be, compared to those of emerging economies in Asia and the flow of accumulated Muslim capital the other way.

4. The Israeli factor wields a persistently strong influence in Western politics, especially the powerful American Israeli lobby in Washington. The U.S and its allies are determined to maintain Israel as a strong military outpost in the Middle East and ensure that its anti-Muslim policies are immune from any negative judgment; hence the Israel-can-do-no-wrong bias.

5. The U.S.-led "war on terror," plus the politicization of all terrorist attacks dating from 9/11 and later, translates in practical terms to a need for Islamophobes and other organizations to work together in both the public and private sphere. This has led to the enactment of anti-civil liberty laws, Muslim profiling by authorities, the restriction of Muslim immigration to the West, and the further marginalization of Muslim minorities already established in Western society.

Like other corporate entities, the Islamophobia industry has been very active in creating a public "branding" for its product and a new lingo or jargon to identify its artificially created place in our language. Thanks to the Islamophobia industry, terms like "Islamist," "Islamofascism" and "Eurabia" are commonplace.

In the past, Islamist was used within academia to legitimately indentify specialists in Islam, just as the word Orientalist indicated someone specializing in the study of the Orient. But Islamophobes have mis-appropriated the term Islamist as a shorthand indicator of every imaginable negative idea pertaining to Muslims and Islam.

The term "Islamofascism" became familiar after the September 2001 attacks as a way to describe any ideology based on Islam, even if it had no connection whatsoever to negative constructs.

The American group FAIR — Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting – found in its search of a major reference database that Islamofascism was mentioned just twice before 9/11; both times in the British media. In 1990, a remark by Independent writer Malise Ruthven about governments in predominantly Islamic countries stated: "Authoritarian government, not to say ‘Islamo-fascism,’ is the rule rather than the exception from Morocco to Pakistan." Ironically, considering the term’s current usage, most of these authoritarian governments — including Morocco and Pakistan — were backed by the U.S. at the time. The second mention, also from the Independent in 1990, came in a response criticizing Ruthven for coining the term.

Reviewing the term’s subsequent history, however, FAIR reports that: "Since 2001, use of the expression has exploded. That year, according to a search of major English-language papers in the Nexis database, the word and its variant ‘Islamofascist’ appeared 12 times, nearly all in reference to Al-Qaeda. The next year that number rose to 69, and it reached 92 in 2003 as the word’s definition began expanding to include Saddam Hussein’s historically non-religious and somewhat ecumenical Ba’athist regime. (As an example, Tariq Aziz, Hussein’s familiar spokesperson, was a Christian.)

"The word’s prevalence continued to increase in 2005," FAIR continues, "the year George W. Bush used it in a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy (10/6/05); and in 2006 it appeared 594 times in major papers. David Horowitz’s ‘Islamofascism Awareness Week’ (IFAW) — organized on about a hundred (American) college campuses in October 2007 — was a sign that the term had fully arrived in some right-wing circles …"

The word "Eurabia" is another volatile word, coined to create a growing fear that every good thing in Europe (culture, economy, ethnic identity, etc.) will end as its Muslim population increases. The term motivates violence against Europe’s Muslim minorities. Meanwhile, American Islamophobes are using it to promote the idea that "you have to deal with the problem before it comes here."

FAIR also reported that; "At Michigan State University, the campus chapter of Young Americans for Freedom invited a bona fide fascist — Nick Griffin, the head of the racist British National Party — to speak on how Europe is becoming ‘Eurabia’."

These days, it seems any writer — including those who have never achieved much in the way of popularity, profile or status — can get a book, op-ed, article, or editorial letter easily published through the influence of the Islamophobia industry in Western publishing and media. Books on such a "hot" topic as the Islamic/Muslim "threat" are sure to be widely reviewed from coast to coast, regardless of their accuracy or quality.

 

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One of Europe’s Islamophobia industry leaders is Matthias Kuentzel, a political scientist in Hamburg, Germany, of whom his U.S. promoters say:

"Since 2004, he has been a research associate at the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism (SICSA) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2006, he became a member of the Boards of Directors of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. He is the author of the new book, Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11. It was awarded the London Book Festival’s annual grand prize for ‘books worthy of greater attention from the international publishing community’. His essays about Islamism and anti-Semitism have been published inter alia in The New Republic, Policy Review, The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal, Telos, and they have been translated into more than ten languages. In (2008) he is going to present his new book in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Buffalo, Bangor, Augusta and Washington DC."

Among those European and North American authors in greatest demand these days are a growing number of young Western Muslim women who have forged a public profile by blaming Islam for every problem and disadvantage in the lives of Muslims everywhere – including of course their own. They are strangely vague, or even silent, on the role of poor social and economic conditions that prevail in most developing Muslim countries and about the exploitation of resources in those countries by Western powers, their proxies, or even their operatives within those Muslim countries.

The Islamophobia industry is also responsible for translating books and opinion articles from other languages into English in order to accelerate the movement of anything that smears Islam and Muslims into the Western media bandwidth.

It is all too easy to make a career in the Islamophobia industry. Financing is readily available from governments and right-wing special interest groups, all of whom are interested in smearing Islam in order to promote their political agenda of dominating, exploiting, invading, and ultimately occupying Muslim countries and homelands. The power of Islamophobia is thus brought to bear heavily on Muslim minorities in Western countries, who are pressured into silence and the abandonment of their collective political voice.

Of course, those who work within and on behalf of the Islamophobia industry deny any wrongdoing or ethical compromise in their motivation. In fact, they deny that Islamophobia even exists! And when they are forced to actually acknowledge the term, it is always placed between quotation marks.

Moreover, they attack any voice coming from among the Western Muslim communities – their primary victimized group. They also cheer on other Islamophobes, as well as defending Muslim profiling by the FBI and the Red Alerts issued by the CIA against Muslim countries.

Islamophobes, regardless of what they call themselves, blame Muslims for every terrorist attack and find them all guilty-by-association for the crimes of a few. The only "good" Muslims in the view of the Islamophobia industry are those who agree to be stereotyped as "moderate," "modern," "liberal," "progressive," "ordinary" – in other words, socially compliant and politically silent.

In October 2008, the national media watchdog group FAIR, released a first-of-its-kind report "profiling 12 of the leading Islamophobic pundits and media figures and examining the ways they’ve negatively influenced media coverage in the U.S."

The report, called "Smearcasting: How Islamophobes Spread Fear, Bigotry and Misinformation," describes a loose network of right-wing, anti-Muslim partisans "who regularly use innuendo, questionable sources of information and even lies to smear, and effectively marginalize, Muslims in the media."

Steve Rendall, one of the report’s authors and a senior analyst at FAIR, said: "This report takes a fresh look at Islamophobia and its perpetrators in today’s media … We found prominent right-wing pundits and activists using misinformation and innuendo to broadcast hate against an entire community — in this case, Muslim-Americans — and major media have either fallen asleep at the wheel or, in many cases, have actively helped to spread the smears."

"Media should seek various points of view, but the message of the Islamophobes cannot possibly comport with the standards and practices that should constrain media outlets from airing smears against ethnic and religious groups," Rendall continued. "We’re talking about double standards."

The report lists American talk show hosts like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and Glenn Beck; American activists like Michelle Malkin, Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz; and influential writers like Mark Steyn and Robert Spencer.

The report also features four case studies, or snapshots, that show how "smearcasting" has affected news standards and reporting, including the following:

Daniel Pipes led a successful campaign to oust the principal of a secular Arabic-language New York City public school by initiating a media-driven pressure campaign. The principal’s history of forging interfaith and interethnic alliances was ignored by a campaign that branded her as a "stealth Islamist." Media pressure eventually forced her to resign.

Columnist and Internet activist Michelle Malkin pressured Dunkin’ Donuts into dropping an ad featuring celebrity chef Rachael Ray wearing a black-and-white scarf — which Malkin falsely identified as a kafiyah (Middle Eastern men’s headdress), calling it a symbol of "murderous Palestinian jihad."

Inevitably, Islamophobia emerged in the 2008 U.S. presidential election race, from nefarious whisper-campaigns directed at Senator (now President) Barack Obama to the recent distribution of an anti-Muslim propaganda DVD called "Obsession" to 28 million newspaper subscribers in electoral swing states.

"We’re not talking about people raving on a street corner downtown," Rendall emphasized. "These are people who either have a powerful platform at their disposal, or are allowed unfettered access to powerful platforms by reporters and editors in what are considered mainstream publications."

On a note of warning he added, "These Muslim-bashing attacks have a real impact, not only on Muslims in America but on our civil discourse."

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