UC Berkeley and the ‘Islamophobia’ Lobby

Cinnamon Stillwell is the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. She can be reached at stillwell@meforum.org.


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Keith Feldman, an assistant professor in UC Berkeley’s ethnic studies department, opened the first panel with a jargon-riddled talk titled, “Seeing Time: Visual Culture in the Drone Wars.” Against a backdrop of the now famous photo of President Obama and his national security team watching the strike on Osama bin Laden from the situation room, Feldman noted that the name for the mission was “Geronimo” and, from this, claimed that killing the terrorist mastermind was a “residue of late nineteenth century colonial settler violence.” Later, he used a photo of a black lynching victim from the 1880s to make the same ahistorical comparison, stating, “Take out the lynch victim, take out the body of Osama bin Laden, and see what the architecture of violence looks like.”

Feldman spent the bulk of his lecture arguing against using drone strikes to kill terrorists, which he dubbed “racialization from above,” and then asked, “What happens when Islamophobia takes to the skies?” Undeterred by the marked increase in drone strikes under Obama, Feldman reserved his ire for former President George W. Bush, whom he called “the illustrious geographer of the war on terror.” From what he described as “the borders of U.S. imperialist cartography to the everyday violence of homeland security,” there was no method of combating terrorism that Feldman found acceptable.

Munir Jiwa, founding director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Islamic Studies and assistant professor of Islamic studies at the Graduate Theological Union, followed with a talk on, “the hegemonic frames through which Islam and Muslims come to be framed.” These included the controversy surrounding Park 51, otherwise known as the Ground Zero mosque, about which he contradicted himself. First he criticized Park 51’s opponents by stating, “The idea that a mosque would contaminate the sacred ground of Ground Zero needs to be put into question.” Then he railed against those who welcomed the project because organizer Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was perceived, as a Sufi, to be a moderate, noting sarcastically, “Because they were Sufis, it was palatable. These are the good Muslims building a community center open to all religions.” In other words, neither the project’s proponents nor its opponents can win.

Jiwa opposed Western intervention in the Muslim world in the interest of protecting women’s rights, drawing an absurd moral equivalence between the circumstances of Afghan and American women in the process:

What if Afghan women were coming to the West to save American women? What if Afghan women in burkas hearts’ bled for women in this part of the world?

Furthering engaging in moral and cultural relativism, Jiwa added, “What’s more insidious is the new discourse around gay rights that Massad talks about.” Jiwa was referring to Columbia University associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history Joseph Massad, whosecontroversial book, Desiring Arabs, posits that homosexuality in the Muslim only exists as a product of Western cultural imperialism. The young men being hanged in Iran for the “crime” of homosexuality would beg to differ.

Jiwa issued an apologia for Muslim violence in response to perceived blasphemy by asking of the Danish cartoon controversy, “Why it is that people need to provoke?” He then blamed author Salmon Rushdie for not “understand[ing] why Muslims were hurt” when his book, The Satanic Verses, earned him a death sentence from the late Ayatollah Khomeini.

Zaid Shakir, co-founder—with Hatem Bazian and Hamza Yusuf—of Zaytuna College, a self-described “Islamic university” in Berkeley, spoke towards the end of the day.  Insinuating that American Muslims’ struggle for justice is analogous and therefore as righteous as that of black Americans, Shakir urged “Muslims . . . to champion African-Americans’ struggle because it’s the same issues.” He then made the hysterical claim that, “anti-Muslim fervor allows Latinos to be put into concentration camps.” Co-opting the language of the Holocaust to refer to detention centers for illegal immigrants was Shakir’s odious way of inflating his own cause.

Repeating Bazian’s opening joke, he referred to “Obama, the first Muslim president” before launching into a conspiratorial tirade about thedocumentary, Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, which he blamed for the alleged rise in “Islamophobia” around the 2008 election:

The financiers of the Islamophobic media are the same people financing Obsession. It was designed to defeat Obama so that a more pro-war candidate, more right-wing, could win—someone more subservient to Zionist interests.

Of course, Obama won the election, and with a majority of the Jewish vote. No doubt, Shakir will chalk up either a win or a defeat for Obama this year to the Islamophobic Zionists.

It was a day of contradictions, ahistorical comparisons, numbing jargon, and, most of all, the elevation of victimhood to a privileged status. If aliens from another planet observed this conference, they would deduce that the streets of America were filled with murderous mobs and ranting rednecks out for Muslim blood. Then they would wonder how that is so when the academics at this conference, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, exhibited the very opposite: comfortable, professional lives buoyed by accolades and accommodation. If this is the product of “Islamophobia,” then they have little to fear. Of the consequences of Islamism, however, the same cannot be said.

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  • H&R_ Barack

    I maintain that the expression "ISLAMOPHOBIA " is an Hegelian-Marxist dialectical term that is used by those who are too indoctrinated, intellectually lazy, or dishonest, as well as STOOPID to conduct a mentally rigorous discourse based on facts and substance.

    But then that is just another day in Berkeley, pass the couscous.

    • cheese_burger

      The term 'islamophobia' was created by an Islamic think tank. Google it to confirm.

      • H&R_ Barack

        Comparison of Arab and Jewish Nobel Prize Winners (here) http://www.jewishmag.com/99mag/nobel/nobel.htm
        May indicate that the term "Islamic think tank" is an oxymoron. :)

        My point was really directed at the dialectic being active in every political issue that encourages taking sides. Other examples; Homo-phobia, Bigot, Sexist, Islamophobia and such are all Hegelian conflicts intended to steer some political arena,

        No matter what the issue, the invisible dialectic aims to control both the conflict and the resolution of differences, and leads everyone involved into a new cycle of conflicts.

        I hate the tactic no matter which side uses it. Lately the term coined by Sarah Palin and parroted by all the talking heads on the "conservative" political aisle, is "Corporate Crony-ism" – That expression goes right up my back!

        Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—an Islamist organization will use any means possible to affect their goals.

      • SCREW SOCIALISM

        "Islamic think tank"

        Another oxymoron, like "anti-war socialist".

  • H&R_ Barack

    From the 7th century, and to the present, the openly stated goal of Islam is to bring the entire world into Dar Al-Islam, or the "peace" of Islam. This is a clearly defined condition under which no other system is tolerated.

    Unfortunately for Muslims, and considerably more so for the rest of the world, Islam is extremely strict and uncompromising,

    Over the last 1400 years, 270 million non-believers were murdered by Muslim jihadists.

    It is estimated that upwards of 60 million Christians were slaughtered during this conquest.

    Also, half the Hindu civilization was annihilated and 80 million Hindus murdered.

    Islamic jihad also destroyed over 10 million Buddhists.

    Moreover, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)— sponsors the the openly stated Islamic goal of bringing the entire world into Dar Al-Islam!

    • rooter

      AMEN !!!!!!!

    • Choi

      And there is NO other religion whose symbols include Swords/Scimitars(for converting the unwilling & CONQUEST)

  • StephenD

    H&R, giving the facts only proves we are "Islamaphobes" to them.

    I'd love to see someone like Robert Spencer debate Tairq Ramadan. Wouldn’t you love to see him try to explain away the call for Muslims to not take a Christian or Jew as a friend, or how their great hope cannot be fulfilled until “the rocks and trees themselves call out to the Muslim, oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come kill him.”
    For me, I want them to tell me why the silence is so deafening when it comes to atrocities committed in the name of Islam. If they are so “moderate” and “peace loving” I want to know what they did personally in the wake of the Fogel Family Massacre.
    This is a cult from the pit of hell.

    For me I am not an Islamaphobe. Rather, I am an Islamaloather.

    • Choi

      Ramadan would "agree" to debate Robert a week from NEVER.
      He knows WHAT the outcome would be.

  • rooter

    Islamaphobia equates to common sense.

  • Marty

    It would be so refreshing to observe at one of these workshops, a condemnation of the expulsion of the nearly one million members of Jewish communities in the Middle East from their ancestral homelands. But this will not occur and that is because these morally repugnant conferences are essentially no more than Israel-hate festivals and excuses to proclaim the benefits and justificationd for rabid anti-semitism. The hypocrisy of the participants defies imagination. Ramadan is the poster child for taquiyya, a liar and a fraud whose fluency in several languages makes him the perfect representative of the moderate islam that has never existed. I'm exposing the distortions and the deceit that is incumbent in these events in my classroom. At least students on this campus (we're in Texas) will know the truth.

  • cheese_burger

    From the Article:

    "Hatem Bazian, IRDP director, Near Eastern studies senior lecturer, and conference convener started out by apologizing for the forty-minute delay in kicking off the event. He chalked it up to “Muslim Time”—a reference to the popular phrase among African-Americans, “Colored People’s Time”—and joked that “Swiss watches run forward, but Muslim watches run backward.”

    My comment:

    "Hate-em" …what an appropriate name for a Muslim.

    Yes, Muslim watches do run backwards, and Islam as a whole has been running backwards for 1,400 years.

    "Islam is Deceit" Muhammad said so. It's all there in the Koran, Sira and Hadiths. Muslims are trained from birth to lie. By the time they are old enough to walk, they have been indoctrinated to hate all non-Muslims, and kill them whenever possible. This is indisputable. Muhammad's own words, in the Koran, SURA 9:5

    Muslims are also trained from birth to be pedophiles, and practice pedophilia, just as Muhammad practiced pedophilia.

    So why would any sane human being ever trust or believe the words of a proven (by the Islamic belief system) lying, child molesting Muslim?

  • curmudgeon

    at berkeley, politically actives have an unerring ability to see which side of any issue is the most evil. then they side with them. if you ever are in doubt about any issue, and are not sure which side is right, just check berkeley opinion. decent people belong on the other side.

  • Ghostwriter

    Unfortunately,the whole "Islamophobia" conference is basically more self-serving twaddle from people who want to hear themselves talk.

  • SCREW SOCIALISM

    After 9/11, who isn't "islamophobic"?

    That's why post 9/11 every airport in the world has checkpoints.

  • http://garyfouse.blogspot.com gary fouse

    Bazian is a two-trick pony. He has two presentations on his laptop/power point: Islamophobia and Israel bashing. Meanwhile, as they sit around and decry Islamophobia, they say little or nothing about the religious persecution against non-Muslims in Muslim countries. Bazian, even by Berkeley standards, is an embarrassment to the UC system.

    Did anyone ask Ramadan why he calls for a MORATORIUM on stoning rather than an outright ban? When I met him a couple of months back at Loyola Marymount, he said he couldn't do it that way. "The Muslims won't accept it." Hmmm.

    Gary Fouse
    adj teacher
    UCI-EXT

  • Choi

    There is an excellent book about how American universities were in bed with Hitler & the Nazis written by Steven Norwood,"The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower:.
    Yesterday it was the Nazis,today it's the Islamists and the Lefty America-Hating Anti-Semites .
    The ROT in Academia is permanent.

  • dos

    "9/11 conspiracy"? Be careful not to insult Al Queda, they will do "honor killing" and "jihad" to those who take their claimed credit of "9/11 mass murder" away from them. LOL.

  • Gorbachev

    Missing the real issue here. Their talks are filled with internal contradictions and hilarious ahistorical comparisons not just because they have ideology to promote and hide, but because this is how left wing thinkers think. It’s all mushy propaganda masquerading as thought. Believe it or not, the university system is built on this foundation today. The shoddy talks here described are paragons of lucidity and clear thinking compared to most revolutionary Marxism.

    The entire academic culture has become useless, a cruel mockery of itself. This is the real crime.

    What’s worse: it happens in an echo chamber, so those insidecant see how valueless their work is.

  • BS77

    Just ask the dodo leftist: Would you rather your children be raised in America or Saudi Arabia? Would you rather get medical care in America or Sudan? Would you rather find work in America or Gaza? Would you trust the food and water supply in America or Somalia? Would you rather your wife live in America or Iran? Would you rather your children go to school in America or Afghanistan? Get the picture. Leftists are dim bulbs. Where will you find a better life, more freedoms, greater opportunity…..come on you Occupy A hole, let's hear your answers!!!! On this Memorial Day, take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces to protect our precious nation.

  • H&R_ Barack

    Sign from Marxist-Socialist, Workers World read: "WE Need Jobs – Not Racism & Bigotry!"

    ……..so move to Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Sudan or Chicago!

    Q: WHY would a group that calls themself, "Workers World" be the least productive in the zimmer?

  • iskender

    Hello,
    We present our site

    Have a look to http://www.islam-documents.org

    (which is the improvment of the other islam-documents.com, once based in Tunisia).

    There is thousands of texts (around 20 000) about the origins of islam, with a critical, humanist, democratic and scientific view (and even ironical). It is now the bigger "sourcebook" on that subject, with often unpublished documents: Muhammad biographies (SIRA), the main books of traditions (HADITH) , muslim chronicles (TABARI…), companions biographies (TABAQAT), quranic verses, quranic commentaries (TAFSIR). It is sometimes funny, or stupid, ugly, frightening, but always interesting!

    A new version is now available, improved and corrected: around 3700 pages. We are working for a new version published every year.

    All is in french. so sorry. but you need to read it to understand muslim thinking and acts. It is a rare opportunity to reach genuine information from islamic doctrinal texts.

    Bye. Take care.

  • http://garyfouse.blogspot.com gary fouse

    Bye. You too.

  • dysgenic

    It's interesting the way writers at Front Page Magazine talk about the accusation of Islamophobia in exactly the same that writers at what Jews call "antisemitic" websites talk about the accusation of "antisemitism." So when will Jews acknowledge that, to echo the writer, "something more than mere bigotry might be at the heart of what has been disenguously dubbed" antisemitism?

  • dysgenic

    "exactly the same" should be "exactly the same way" in the above comment

  • http://garyfouse.blogspot.com Gary Fouse

    Dysgenic,

    Your sentences suggest that there are valid reasons for being anti-Semitic. What are they in your view? Is it because Jews all over the world support Israel? There are many Jews who oppose Israel or don’t care. Is it because in your mind, Jews have money, control Wall Street, control Hollywood, control all the world’s capital? Maybe you also think that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was authentic and that Jews want to or do control the world. Maybe you think that Jews kill Christian children to use their blood to make Matsa. One thing I have learned as a Christian fighting anti-Semitism is that Jews are very diverse and fragmented in their beliefs.

    I do know that Jews have no desire to make the whole world Jewish. They do not believe in killing those of other religions. They are not engaged in spreading hatred of other faiths.They are not engaged in world wide terror acts on a daily basis. What they are doing is assimilating into the countries in which they live, working and being successful. What is wrong with that unless your are an OWS type?

    Islamophobia? Yes, it exists. I do not agree with those that say all Muslims are this or that because I know better. I interact with them everyday. But Why does Islamophobia exist? You know the answer.

  • Dr. Kochava Malchiel

    I have witnessed with my own eyes Muslim students and faculty at CAL waving Nazi swastikas.