Tag Archives: Islamophobia

Foolish Phobia Friday

19 Jul

Paranoid Parrot

1. Homophobia: From the Niagara Falls Reporter, as part of a story about why fighting is good for hockey

Ha ha! Gays! The ways in which the passage above is offensive are many, but to suggest that gays are not manly, or are emasculated; and to contrast the desirability of fighting versus homosexuality are idiotic and ignorant. Chances are, there are plenty of gay guys who could beat the living crap out of the author, so I fail to see the validity of the argument. 

Since that paper got a new publisher with a regressive attitude towards women and who expounds on “manliness”, this sort of thing is to be expected. 

2. Islamophobia: Member of Congress and renowned lunatic Michele Bachmann (R-Cloudcuckooland) refuses to be out-crazied by the likes of Allen West, so she had her own Joe McCarthy Moment this past week, “revealing” that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the highest levels of the federal government Islamo-Kenyan-Indonesian N0bama Administration. Actually, the term she used was downright pornographic, “deep penetration in the halls of our United States government”. When asked to clarify, she singled out Huma Abedin, who is the wife of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner and an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Abedin also happens to be Muslim (married to a Jewish man, incidentally, thus proving that co-existence is possible). 

A writer for Salon summarized the six-degrees-of-terrorism in which Bachmann engages: 

As evidence, she pointed to Abedin’s late father, Professor Syed Z. Abedin, and a 2002 Brigham Young University Law Review article about his work. Bachmann points to a passage saying Abedin founded an organization that received the “quiet but active support” of the the former director of the Muslim World League, an international NGO that was tied to the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe in the 1970s through 1990s. So, to connect Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood, you have to go through her dead father, to the organization he founded, to a man who allegedly supported it, to the organization that man used to lead, to Europe in the 1970s and 1990s, and finally to the Brotherhood.

Ms. Abedin’s office released this statement:

They are nothing but vicious and disgusting lies that have no place in reasonable political discourse. And anyone who traffics in them should be ashamed of themselves.

Finally, a homophobic nominally Christian woman from Minnesota is willing to stand up to the Islamic faith!  To his credit, Senator John McCain took the Senate floor to blast Bachmann, as everyone with a brain should. Always. About everything. 

3. Omniphobia: “traditional marriage” enthusiast and drug addict Rush Limbaugh claims that, “Bane”, the villain in the new Batman movie, was thusly named so that the Hollywood media elite (which is code, incidentally, for a different type of hatred) can equate Mitt Romney’s “Bain Capital” with evil, or something. Bane was actually created by comic book writers in 1993. So, you’d have to believe that it was a very prescient conspiracy, indeed. 

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All-American Muslim Nontroversy

13 Dec

This past weekend, home improvement megachain Lowe’s caved in to pressure from some reactionary Christianist organization in Florida to pull its advertising from a new TLC series called “All-American Muslim.” The show is especially designed to show people that the overwhelmingly vast majority of American people of Muslim faith are perfectly normal, just like any other American person of different faiths. It’s a point that’s not only true, but truly important to get out there in the face of a growing right-wing Islamophobia / xenophobia.

The Florida Christianist group is the same one that boycotts Walt Disney World over Gay Day.

Anyone who has listened to WBEN’s troubled mulleted talkmeister Tom Bauerle at any point in the last few years knows what I mean. If you are aware of last year’s Park 51 nontroversy, or know the name “Pamela Geller,” you know what I’m talking about. In bad economic times, it’s easiest to blame it all on some enemy, like Hitler blamed Germany’s post-Versailles decline on “international Jewry”. Former right-wing Islamophobe Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has reformed himself and now devotes much time exposing these neofascists for what they are.

Yes, there are very bad Muslims in the world who want to kill you and your way of life. But that isn’t the basis for an indictment of an entire religion and all its adherents. There are many bad people out there, and if you live your life in fear of them, you’re not really living much of a life at all.

In the same weekend that Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich went out of his way to assail the Palestinian people of the former Ottoman Empire as “invented”, American ignorance of Islam is on full display with this Lowe’s nonsense.

Buzzfeed posted what it considers to be the 25 dumbest comments. Wading through them, you begin to lose all hope for America. When you realize that at least one or two people you know who consider themselves to be tea partiers think the same way, you realize how pervasive this ignorant xenophobia has become.  The Muslim families depicted on the TLC program are better Americans than, e.g., this guy:


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Email me at buffalopundit[at]gmail.com.

Fear and Loathing In D.C.

11 Mar

Yesterday, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee in the House of Representatives and IRA Sympathizer Rep. Peter King (R, NY-3) held a Congressional hearing entitled “Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response”.

As the hearings began, Rep. King defended his decision to hold the hearings saying that the threat of neo-Nazis and lone mad men don’t compare to the threat which Al-Qaeda poses to American citizens. “Despite what passes for conventional wisdom in certain circles, there is nothing radical or un-American in holding these hearings,” he said.

During an interview on Wednesday, King said, “It makes no sense to talk about other types of extremism, when the main threat to the United States today is talking about Al-Qaeda,”

However, Rep. King could not be more wrong.  This was not a hearing about “homeland security”, it was a fear-based witch hunt targeting American Muslims.  There is also significant evidence to the contrary as to Rep. King’s claim that there is no greater threat to our security than Muslims.

As a January 2011 terrorism statistics report — compiled using publicly available data from the FBI and other crime agencies — from the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) shows, terrorism by Muslim Americans has only accounted for a minority of terror plots since 9/11.

In fact, right-wing extremist and white supremacist attacks plots alone outnumber plots by Muslims, with both groups being involved in 63 terror plots, 18 more plots than Muslim Americans have been involved in.

I look forward to Rep. King’s investigation into right wing extremist activities in America.

Additionally, King’s hearings come at a time when Muslim American terrorism and involvement in extremism has actually plummeted in the past couple years, according to a Duke University study put out last month. Moreover, nearly 4 in 10 Al-Qaida related plots in the United States have been broken up thanks to intelligence provided by the Muslim community themselves and 70 percent of recent terror plots in the United States have been foiled by help from Muslim Americans.

Tending the flames of Islamophobia in this country is a full time job and King was certainly glad to throw logs on the fire.  This hearing served one purpose and one purpose only, to define and conflate the Islamic American community as a perpetual enemy and to identify them as a group of “others” who need to be watched and “surveilled” while providing another election bogeyman for the Republican Party.

Yesterday’s hearing was a shameful display of Congressional power and a reminder of Sen. Joe McCarthy’s HUAC hearings in the 1950’s.  Just as McCarthy’s “Un-American Activities” language presupposed guilt for those brought forward to testify, the title of this event presupposed radicalization of an entire community of Americans.

Rep. John Dingell, (D, MI-15) spoke at the hearing to remind Rep. King that he once witnessed Sen. McCarthy’s hearings and warned against allowing history to repeat itself.

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Rep Brian Higgins (D, NY-27) is a member of the Homeland Security Committee and was present at today’s hearing and I looked forward to his thoughtful take on the hearings.  Throughout the day, I checked his website, Twitter Feed and Facebook page for statements about today’s hearings and all I found was the following:

While I’m glad that Rep. Higgins is concerned with gas prices, visa waivers for Polish people, and something about ice skating, I was looking for some sort of feedback on what was a pretty important news story.  Proving that social media does actually work when a Congressman has a responsive staff, I quickly received a prompt and courteous reply to my requests for comment from Rep. Higgins’ Communications Director.

She provided me with his statement from Committee today which was not available online.

In the aftermath of 9/11, we were all taught that we are not at war as a nation with Islam, we were at war with those who hijacked that religion and used it to justify their murderous and cowardly acts.

From that a lot of relationships were developed between the law enforcement community, local, state and federal, with the muslim community to try to better understand one another.

I think we’re at a point where progress has been made but still much work needs to be done.  When I look at or hear the Sheriff from Los Angeles talk about the programs that have been developed in your community, it’s very similar to that of my community in Buffalo, New York.

A smaller city directly south of Buffalo is Lackawanna, an old steel city that was home to the Lackawanna Six. It was six muslim american men who were convicted of providing material support to al Qaeda by training in their camps in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

You know, there’s a lot of misunderstanding when you get into this issue and I think people get invested into their own emotional positions that don’t have a factual base. I’ll give you an example: in this nation we have not only a Christian-Judeo tradition, we have a Christian- Judeo-Islamic tradition in this nation.  But the basis of those religions are compassion, forgiveness, love, and tolerance. The prophet Mohamed is a prophet of mercy. In my Catholic religion I was raised by the Sisters of Mercy.

I think we all have a lot to learn from one another about this issue. We have a long way to go. The radicalization of Muslims in America is in large part influenced by the convergence of new technology that allows groups to communicate in ways they never were able to before. I think that provides a basis from which our nation, all our law enforcement agencies in each individual state and locality develop those relationships with the Muslim American community.

In the end we are all Americans and people don’t come to this country by and large (emphasis mine, CS) to create havoc. They come because they thirst for the freedom we have. That’s what they want for themselves and their families.

While Higgins is not known for grandstanding in committee nor making broad-based statements of opinion on issues of import, this is a carefully parsed statement designed to neither grant legitimacy to the larger question about the nature of the hearings nor to appear weak on terrorism.  While the content of his response was expected, I am still saddened to see members of Congress and our community writ large fail to stand up to the type of patriotic bullying advanced by hypocritical blowhards like Rep. King.

Today’s hearing violated the spirit of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment as the purpose of the hearing targeted a religious group by virtue of their religion.  Seemingly put together to smear Muslim American advocacy groups and cast aspersions on their relationships, acquaintances and governing principles, yesterday’s hearing was a case study in fear and loathing.

When injustice and fear-mongering go unchallenged, we do our nation a disservice.  Today, I feel as if an opportunity to fight back a tide of xenophobic ignorance was lost.

One for Williams

22 Oct

The right wing has its OUTRAGEOUS OUTRAGE of the day®.  It’s usually something picked off of Drudge and then a game of telephone blows it out of all proportion by the time it gets to the wingnut sites or talk radio.  The current outrageous outrage is NPR’s “firing” of Juan Williams.

Here’s what Williams said:

I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.

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He went on, however:

“Wait a second though, wait, hold on, because if you said Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals, very obnoxious, you don’t say first and foremost, we got a problem with Christians. That’s crazy.”

The Daily Beast runs with the idea that Williams was fired because he said those words on Fox News.  NPR told Williams that his termination occurred because,

Ellen Weiss, NPR’s head of news, suggested that he “had made a bigoted statement,” which Williams denied. He said he asked her in the cell-phone discussion: “I don’t even get a chance to come in and we do this eyeball-to-eyeball, person-to-person, have a conversation? I’ve been here more than 10 years.”

Weiss’ response, according to Williams: “There’s nothing you can say that would change my mind. This decision has been made above me.”

So, so what?  Who cares?  NPR is free to hire and fire people as it sees fit.  Just like Fox News is free to pick Williams up for a new $2 million contract yesterday.  It doesn’t matter why NPR fired him, or under what circumstances or rationale.  It’s amazing what a weak grasp of the 1st Amendment the ignoranti have, crying out for Williams’ free speech!  (You don’t have a constitutional right to an NPR gig).

It’s suddenly become vogue to declare oneself as not being politically incorrect – Carl Paladino’s entire campaign is based on that trend.   That’s all well and good, and the government can’t force you to think one way or another.  But when you quite openly state that you hold a prejudice over someone because of the way they dress, because their religion or culture mandates it, ask yourself how it would go over if you criticized Hasidic Jews for their appearance, or the Amish, or any other culture that is out of the mainstream.   Does he reach for his wallet when he sees a Hasidim? Does he whip out his camera when he sees some Amish?  Does he fear molestation when he sees someone in a priest’s collar?  Does he [insert stereotype here] when he sees a [insert minority group here]?

Saying something bigoted, ignorant, or prejudiced is what ought to be socially unacceptable – not saying it and then attacking “political correctness”.  Frankly, we’re not even talking about “politics” in this case – we’re just talking about being a rational, thinking human being.

Much of what I’m seeing and hearing on Facebook or on the radio excoriates NPR for firing Williams for merely parroting what a lot of people think.  So, if a lot of people are prejudiced, it’s ok for you to be prejudiced, too?

Part of what the terrorists who want to kill civilians do is blend into the surroundings.  The last thing a terrorist would do is dress as if he were in downtown Peshawar in order to commit mass murder in the states.  So, the “fear” that Williams has is dumb, to boot.

Sometimes what becomes a firestorm goes beyond silly and into stupid territory.  Go ahead and “de-fund” NPR – an organization that does not receive any direct federal funding, and only sees federal money indirectly through grants, representing a whopping 1 – 3% of its total budget. It helps to listen to what NPR’s CEO says about it:

Q: Okay. What happened?

A: Let’s state a couple of facts. Juan is not an employee of NPR. He’s an independent contractor. He’s not NPR staff. He’s an NPR analyst. We have a contract with him for analyst opinions to provide news analysis. He is not a columnist or commentator. He also has an on-going relationship with Fox News. Mara Liasson is also on Fox News and is a full-time staffer. We accept that’s a whole other issue. However, we expect our journalists, whether they are news analysts or reporters to behave like journalists.

Q: So did Juan really get fired over just those Muslim comments? [He said he was uncomfortable with Muslims dressed in traditional garb on airplanes during a Fox News telecast yesterday.]

A: There have been several instances over the last couple of years where we have felt Juan has stepped over the line. He famously said last year something about Michelle Obama and Stokely Carmichael. [The quote on Fox News early last year: “Michelle Obama, you know, she’s got this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going” and that she’ll be an “albatross” for President Obama.]. This isn’t a case of one strike and you’re out.

There you have it.  Williams wasn’t even an NPR employee.  Time to get ready for tomorrow’s Outrageous Outrage of the Day®.

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Hatred of All Muslims: A Fringe Republican Platform Plank, On the Air in Buffalo

27 Jul

Yesterday, a rabid Islamophobe appeared on a local Islamophobe’s radio show. We all know this guy – his name in German means, perhaps appropriately enough, “little peasant”. He enjoys his cats and gardening. He hates Obama, thinks all liberals are insane, thinks that the government ought to be overthrown, and hates nothing more than the second-largest religion in the world. His guest yesterday is just as stupid.

He hates that religion and its adherents because a very small minority of people who practice it are terrorists and seek to murder Westerners, especially Jews in the West and also in Israel. He also enjoys pointing out that liberals who stand up for things that he considers to be quaint anachronisms – things like “freedom” and the “Constitution” – don’t criticize some of the Islamic customs and laws that subjugate women. The little peasant, however, ignores that Sharia law is not applicable to non-Muslims, and cannot be imposed upon them, either, unless one lives in an Islamic theocracy. Luckily, we live in a secular democratic republic – not a theocracy. So no religion’s laws can involuntarily control anyone’s life.

The little peasant and his guest went on and on about how the proposed Cordoba House community center/mosque set to be built two blocks from Ground Zero – a project that is overwhelmingly supported by the Mayor of New York City and the surrounding residents – is a criminal “triumphal” mosque and and affront to decency, democracy, etc. Their point of view is supported and echoed by the two Republican candidates for Governor of the State of New York, who are tripping over each other to see who can use stronger language to heap scorn and hatred upon not just that project, but Islam generally.

The “mosque” nontroversy is emblematic of a recent rise in Islamophobia. Thanks to 9/11, it is socially acceptable in certain circle to say things about Muslims that are not dissimilar to the race-baiting lies spread during 1930s Germany about Jews. There are a billion and a half Muslims on this planet, and a miniscule number of them advocate for any kind of holy war against Christians, Jews, or the West.

We can easily demonize the governments of places like Iran, but anyone who recalls last year’s green revolution also recalls the overwhelming desire that the participants in that revolution had for a normal life in a normal country. Because that’s what most people want – a normal life in a normal place.

Why is it that this rise in Islamophobia has occurred, and become more vocal and prevalent in recent weeks or months? TPM’s Josh Marshall originally wrote that it might be war fatigue, but I don’t buy that.

Instead, I agree what a TPM reader wrote here – that George W. Bush was very careful not to demonize all of Islam in the wake of 9/11 and during the Iraq war. The war was against al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism. Against Saddam Hussein and the insurgency. He always was responsible enough to maintain that Islam as a religion, as a culture, was not our enemy and would not be made to be.

Now that George W. Bush is gone from office, gone from politics, the radical hate wing of the Republican Party is free to spew the most vicious anti-Muslim lies it wants with impunity. Anyone who dares oppose these shriekers is labeled an apologist for terrorism and misogyny.

The weak, feckless excuse for “leadership” in the Republican Party / Tea Party has enabled the vicious Muslim-baiters to spew whatever reckless hatred they want, and there’s no one to stop them. The little peasant – who doesn’t understand the irony inherent in criticizing the “mainstream media” on the most-listened-to talk radio show on the biggest AM station in the Buffalo-Niagara region – is at the forefront of the local effort to paint all Muslims as al Qaeda sleeper agents, machetes at the ready to kill your family, and burqa on hand to cover your women.

Yesterday’s cavalcade of hate spewed on the little peasant’s show was not just factually ignorant, but ultimately irresponsible. In a normal world, the community would come to the defense of the overwhelmingly normal, law-abiding Muslim community living and working among us in Western New York. In this world, we get Cheektowaga septuagenarians calling in to see if they can out-hate the octogenarian Muslim hater who just called in from Tonawanda.