Berkeley Profs: ‘Islamophobia’ Greater Threat Than Islamic Terrorism

Hatem_bazianThe false narrative that “Islamophobia” is a growing threat received a boost at the “Fourth Annual International Conference on the Study of Islamophobia: From Theorizing to Systematic Documentation,” which took place at the University of California, Berkeley on April 19 and 20, 2013 under the chairmanship of its foremost conceptual proponent, Hatem Bazian. A senior lecturer in UC Berkeley’s department of Near Eastern studies, Bazian directs the Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project (IRDP), a program of the school’s Center for Race & Gender, and sits on the editorial board for the Islamophobia Studies Journal. The IRDP is heavily invested in promoting the belief that “Islamophobia” is on the rise globally and its annual conferences (click here and here to read about previous years) never fail to ratchet up the hysteria.

The conference opened just as a massive manhunt was launched in Boston for the two Islamic terrorists, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who bombed the Boston Marathon earlier in the week. Predictable anticipations of a coming “backlash” against Muslims—which never developed—were repeated throughout the event. Ironically, actual violence against Muslims came at the hands of Turks against Syrian refugees after a car bombing killed 52 people in Reyhanli, Turkey on May 11, 2013.

An audience of approximately sixty-five students, many of them women in hijab (head scarf), attended the second day of the conference, eager to learn about the “‘Othering’ of Islam,” the “racialization of Muslims,” and the definition of “Islamophobia”:

A contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure, which rationalizes the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve ‘civilizational rehab’ of the target communities (Muslim or otherwise).

In other words, it was a day of mind-numbing jargon delivered by academics bent on creating the very panic and division they claim to decry.

During the “Islamophobia, Law and Public Discourses” panel, Keith Feldman, an assistant professor of ethnic studies at UC Berkeley, gave a presentation titled, “How (Anti)Terrorism Went Viral.” He focused on the likening in public discourse of terrorism to a virus or a disease that’s contagious, without boundaries, and to which no country is immune. Feldman’s evidence included comments by Newt Gingrich and former George H. W. Bush special assistant Richard N. Haass, and the 1979 Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism (an obsession of conspiracy theorists).

“In addressing the particular question of anti-Muslim racism,” Feldman concluded, such language is used to secure “the homeland against a medicalized threat in its capacity to pathologize subject populations”—a claim undermined by the unacknowledged fact that only the word “terrorism,” not “Muslim,” was used by those he cited to describe this metaphorical infection.

Saeed Khan, a history professor and lecturer in Near East and Asian studies at Wayne State University, began his lecture, “Islamophobia and Other Anti-Progressive Campaigns in the Midst of Americas Demographic Shift,” by alluding to:

[W]hat has transpired over the last several days in Boston and the unfortunate inevitable reaction I think many in the room are expecting will happen vis-a-vis Islamophobia in its various manifestations.

Noting that some estimates put minorities in the majority in the U.S. by 2043, Khan predicted “an age of multiple moral panics because of this demographic shift” among whites and in particular, white Republicans. “I am situating . . . Islamophobia within this meta-panic,” he added, before devoting the bulk of his talk to the six “anti-progressive” issues he attributed to various Republican legislators:

Voter ID and voter suppression efforts, immigration ‘reform,’ those efforts targeting the LGBT community, reproductive and contraceptive rights, collective bargaining rights at work, along with anti-Sharia, anti-mosque initiatives. . . . By some strange coincidence, a single political party is behind all these efforts: the same politicians targeting all groups. Muslim groups are part of a bigger ‘Other.’

Khan didn’t explain how opposing the implementation of Sharia law in the U.S. dovetails with issues such as gay and women’s rights. Instead, he detailed his plans to conduct a “study, hopefully ready in time for the mid-term election season in 2014,” which “will be looking at all fifty states and DC, locating Islamophobia within these six groups as targets of a coordinated effort.” He left no doubt that this “coordinated effort” would include targeting the Republican legislators in question for defeat.

Jasmin Zine, an associate professor of sociology at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, spoke on “Constructing the ‘Enemies Within’: Muslim Youth, Islamophobia, and the Racial Politics of Canada’s ‘Home Grown’ War on Terror,” as part of the “Islamophobia in the Age of War” panel. Having based her research on interviews with young Canadian Muslims, Zine asked rhetorically how she could guarantee the confidentiality of her subjects under the “politics of empire” in “Canada’s war on terror.” As she put it:

I am a well known activist, but . . . what if my data can be confiscated, because of a ‘person of interest’ label? . . . How do we do our research because of this context of Islamophobia?

Lamenting “Canadian images of the home grown,” she complained that the “terrible tragedy in Boston has evoked this home grown terrorist . . . before the facts of the case were known.” The fact that the perpetrators of the Boston bombing were Islamic terrorists or that a thwarted plot to derail a passenger train traveling from New York to Toronto the following week involved three Islamic terrorists rather undermined her comments.

Noting that her interview subjects had expressed hesitation at playing paintball or “violent video games in public concourse at the university” for fear of looking like terrorists, Zine added, “I call this the Panopticon of self-surveillance; internalizing the gaze.” She described how she and her nineteen-year-old son also suffer from this alleged malady:

We go to Muslim youth events. We play a game: Spot the agent. The guy with the beard, the curious white woman—who? We know someone is there watching; we are very aware of it.

Beyond her paranoia and narcissism, Zine seemed unaware that these “hardships” weren’t exactly heartrending during a week when a number of Americans were killed and maimed by the very Islamic terrorists she deemed imaginary.

On the same panel, Tamirace Fakhoury, a political science and international relations professor at Lebanese American University in Beirut who was a visiting postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies in 2011, spoke about “Debunking Islamophobia?: the Discourse of Arab and Muslim Student Associations at UC Berkeley.” Her presentation explored the level of activism the “non-state actors” and “transnational contesters” in these student associations devote to countering “Islamophobia.” Her jargon-filled, stream of consciousness digressions were opaque:

Colonialist and Orientalist perceptions generating counter-narratives; disentangling the Palestinian issue from Islamophobic connotations; recasting as a civil rights narrative . . . Transnational associations recasting discussion of Islamophobia . . . analytical framework, which consists of structural context and the discursive strategies of actions.

In time, Fakhoury shifted course and suddenly stated, “The question here is whether these international associations of students matter.” Answering in the affirmative, assuming that “resistance” is their primary goal, she provided a list of helpful suggestions, including improving access to resources and fellowships, checking the ethnicity box on student applications “so that they could separate themselves with other Arabs,” and asking for courses that challenge the “Orientalist colonial narrative.” She urged students to invite speakers to campus to “show how and why Islamophobia is a policy construct of the United States” and to take advantage of “Berkeley’s opportunity structure” to further their “global commitment to morality social justice coalition building.”

Fakhoury concluded that students’ most significant objective should be to introduce resolutions at various campuses condemning “Islamophobic hate speech,” including the assertion that Islam is “inherently dictocratic.” She never mentioned the importance of free speech, an apolitical education, or the cultivation of an identity separate from one’s ethnicity or religion.

Hatem Bazian concluded the day by examining Twitter activity surrounding the conference. A PowerPoint presentation featured the faces of the scholar of Islam Robert Spencer, blogger and activist Pamela Geller, and television/radio host Glenn Beck. Claiming that Spencer had issued an “Islamophobic tweet,” the contents of which he didn’t reveal, he warned the audience that, “The Islamophobes are there,” before adding jauntily:

I always say thanks. There’s no such thing as bad publicity; it’s what you do with it, so once again we want to . . . thank them for engaging us in this material.

He then invited conference participants to submit papers for the next issue of the Islamophobia Studies Journal before summing up the hyper-politicized atmosphere of the conference by claiming that, “education is about social justice.”

When an audience member who identified herself as being from Cambridge, MA, asked, “What would you do if you were mayor of Boston?,” no one on the panel answered. Another audience member finally blurted out, “Stay calm, I’d say,” to which Mahan Mirza, the panel’s moderator and a teacher at Zaytuna College, Berkeley’s “Islamic university” and a cosponsor of the conference, responded: “I would be a radical mayor and advise the populace not to believe mainstream media reports.” The awkward silence that followed was broken only when someone asked about the previous talk, at which point the audience exhaled a collective sigh of relief.

The brutal terrorist attack on Boston and the then-growing awareness that the perpetrators were Caucasian Muslims did not fit the artificial “racialized” narrative of an academic enterprise devoted to battling “Islamophobia,” demonizing critics, silencing dissent, and politicizing higher education. Ideology and willful blindness to inconvenient facts are poor substitutes for honest examinations and rigorous debate about Islamist terrorism in the U.S. and beyond. As long as America’s Middle East studies establishment refuses to admit the obvious, taking them seriously about the most vital issues of our day is a fool’s errand.

Berkeley resident Rima Greene co-wrote this article with Cinnamon Stillwell, the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. She can be reached at stillwell@meforum.org.

Readers may contact UC-Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Center for Race & Gender Director Evelyn Nakano Glenn to express their objection to the highly politicized Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project:

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau
Office of the Chancellor
200 California Hall # 1500
Berkeley, CA 94720-1500
Phone (510) 642-7464
Fax (510) 643-5499
chancellor@berkeley.edu

CRG Director Evelyn Nakano Glenn
Center for Race & Gender
638 Barrows Hall #1074
Berkeley, CA 94720-1074
Phone: (510) 643-8488
Fax: (510) 642-9810
Email: englenn@berkeley.edu

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  • Herb Benty

    On Islamophobia equated with anti- progressivism by the stealth jihad apparatchik, Hatem Bazian. The marxist professors have embraced radical Islam simply because they both see the need to destroy America from within. Anyone hear of a stealth jihad problem in Russian or Chinese universities…..I thought not.

    • Robin Rosenblatt

      It is a repeat of Nazism and how it started.

  • ElizabethMC

    Ask the jackazz if he would prefer living next to someone who fears Muslims because they might be jihadists, or would he prefer living next door to someone who IS a jihadist.

  • κατεργάζομαι

    “Islamophobia” is the newest false narrative to replace the "race card." It is a Hegelian dialectic designed to divert attention, and shut down substantive conversation for legitimate issues. Example: If we state that 75% of Black children are born out of wedlock; we are "racist." Thus dialog on personal responsibility is abated.

    "Go Out and Kill Jews, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus!"

    ~ CAIR Says “Islamophobia” is the Biggest Problem in American-Islamic Relations.

    The Biggest Problem in American-Islamic Relations is that Islam's Stated Goal ….

    …..Destroy ALL that is NOT Islam.

    Over the last 1400 years, 270 million non-believers were murdered by Muslim jihadists
    Islam destroyed the Christian Middle East and Christian North Africa.
    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.

    In other words, Islam is a killing machine.
    It is just an easier task when they can get their political lemmings to stand in one concentrated area.

    • Donya

      False narrative? Since when did it become okay to reduce people to their faith? Open your eyes people… Did you know what a terrorist was before 9/11? When you picture a terrorist, what image comes to mind.? THIS, is Islamophobia, and it is so entrenched in daily thinking that we so easily dismiss our own racism. You argue that Islam is a killing machine- what about capitalism? 99% of the population owns 1% of the worlds wealth… is that not violent? Does that not kill people? And are you seriously going to blame Islam for "destroying" the Christian Middle east and and Christian North Africa? What did the church do to First Nations children? What did they do to disabled children? You so easily forget all the atrocities the Western world has played a FUNDAMENTAL role in (e.g., the demise of Afghanistan, complicity in Rwandan and Darfur genocides, etc).
      We need to critically reflect on the connotations of what we are saying. You've contradicted yourself by saying that islamophobia is the new false narrative, yet you paradoxically demonstrate such racist thinking when you finished your comment with "In other words, Islam is a killing machine. It is just an easier task when they can get their political lemmings to stand in one concentrated area." A
      HOW can you argue Islamophobia doesn't exist after YOU'VE just beautifully demonstrated how it works????

  • The Dead Critic

    What an insanely idiotic subject for study. Here's something that's badly needed in today's lecture hall….a comprehensive study and lecture on the worlds most needed thought process….. something called COMMON SENSE.

  • M J Murcott

    The politics of fear – http://youtu.be/-gjE41E60_4

  • VLParker

    Gee, I wonder what religion Bazian belongs to. The suicide of the West continues.

  • Cassandra

    Actually I had signed in for a class with Saeed Kahn. Than I found out that he was involved in interfaith and saw him on Utube giving a speech at Wayne state and I signed out. If I had attended his class he probably would have kicked me out. Most middle eastern studies departments are very bias. They indoctrinate students instead of teaching them.

  • http://twitter.com/Anneke9 @Anneke9

    "existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure"

    If you mean Dar al-Harb, just say "Dar al-Harb." It's pretty obvious that everyone on earth falls into one of those two categories except for Muslims.

    I'm going to be a radical commenter here and advise the populace not to believe mainstream Muslim propaganda.

  • Drakken

    I would highly suggest these muslims familiarize themselves with the Grimms Fairy tale of the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf, funny how life is going to imitate art,the wolf will be eating well.

  • jcreole

    I hope that other readers here will join me in making use of the contacts at the end of the article and urge UCal, Berkeley to stop supporting projects and organizations whose goal is to suppress dialog. If you do, please remember that critical fulminations will just affirm their resolve to support our enemy– try to make a positive suggestion.

    • hktony

      Not to be negative they are not a business they won't care because their students are also brain dead and will attend anyway. The only thing they understand are threats such as having bad publicity which may affect students enrolement. Or threats of attacks as muslims always use against the west. I am not supporting threats but do you think a polite letter will do anything but show them how weak we are? No Letters to the people who contrubute money to the university that would have more chance, but who are they??

  • Western Spirit

    PC with its Islamophobia foolishness is the weakness in the west's culture that will defeat us all.

    This is why I find the metal man of the prophet Daniel so fascinating. The top, the head of the metal man is gold and progresses down to the feet and toes that are a mixture of clay and iron. The clay represents weakness and the iron strength prophesying our world of today. Our country and the whole West of today is half clay and half iron. Half strong and half weak, the Right is strength and the Left preaches and practices weakness.

    Osama only saw the weakness, the weak horse, but was brought down by our military might that the Left is trying to make weak like them. How prophetic that the difference in Osama and Obama's names is one letter. And Obama is in a much better position to bring America down than Osama making Obama another important weakness in our culture.

    But to further recount the prophesy of Daniel a rock, not made by human hand, will destroy the feet and toes of iron and clay.

    • WilliamJamesWard

      Osama—-Obama……=SOB……………………………William

  • http://frontpage richard sherman

    BAZIAN reveres the sociopath MUHAMMAD who decapitated 900 UNARMED Jews of the Bani Quarayza tribe in 627….case closed.

    • Defcon 4

      Muhammad enslaved those he didn't kill and expelled the rest, which is exactly why Jews are officially banned from the despotic kingdom of Saudi Arabia today.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    The made up out of whole cloth bugaboo, Islamophobia, is a Muslim Brotherhood Mafia/CAIR piece of propaganda, and leftists are all too eager to ape said mendacity.

    But it is not as if others don't know the score. Yes, they do – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/12/06/islamophobia-

    Therefore, it is up to the rest of us to smack down the leftist profs, their chief enablers! Shout it from the rooftops…never let them get away with it – the profs and the jihadists! Six of one…half a dozen of another.

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

  • Jerry Meents

    If any professors at Berkeley think that Islamphobia is greater threat than terrorism, they should go live in Pakistan or any other countries were there lots of terrorist attacks for at least one year, and than tell
    us if they have chanced there mind's

  • watsa46

    Berkeley, center of neofacism left version. They must be receiving millions od petro$ to poison the American youth. Are American that stupid?

  • robindatta
  • WilliamJamesWard

    Fear Osama, Obama & Oberkley Islamist tools……Bazian should be deported, there must be
    a lonely penguin in the Antartic wanting to listen to his imaginations and propaganda.William

  • http://twitter.com/sheikyermami @sheikyermami

    They are not leftist profs, they are radical Islamic headbangers and Islamo-propagandists. They are agitprops operating behind enemy lines, to destroy western civilisation 'by their hands and the hands of the believers'.

    We are stupid to allow that.

  • Ghostwriter

    If these people were so concerned about Islamophobia,maybe they should have condemned acts of terror long ago instead of remaining silent.

  • Lookintothefuture

    Islamophobia – bring it on, and soon, it is 2 minutes to 12!

  • D. Partington

    These Muslim "intellectuals" are still kicking a dead horse: the idea that "orientalism" is still a determining factor in the West's attitude towards Islam. We distrust Islam because its documents, grounded in the belief that they are divinely inspired, make it a duty to kill those who reject Islam, when it is offered, or to accept "dhimmihood," the status of second-class protected Jews and Christians. Islam, thrugh its shari'ah, is antithetical to every positive virtue in Western civilization, and it is a fool who thinks that Islam and the West can coexist on an equal footing.

  • garyfouse

    Last seen, Bazian was at UC San Diego with his dancing partner, Cynthia McKinney, proof positive there is a lid for every pot. McKinney gave a rambling and unintelligible presentation that ended with her unsuccessfully trying to put on a video by Wesley Clark where he was claiming that GW Bush was planning to invade seven countries. It was like the opening scene of The King's Speech.

    Islamophobia Studies Journal! Give me a break! Bazian is a joke.

  • Blake

    islam does not belong in free countries

  • OG_Locc

    LMAO. Let’s see who kills more people over the course of Ramadan.

    Islamophobes vs Islam.

    I’ll bet *anything* on it. I’d love to see these professors put their money where their mouths are.

  • mathewsjw

    one way 2 Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Turkey, among other Muslim countries should be offered they idiots.

  • DontMessWithAmerica

    The late Eric Hoffer was once interviewed by Eric Sevareid on CBS and they got into an interesting game where Sevareid would throw out a word and Hoffer would give his opinion or reaction. Hoffer had a brilliant mind that was firmly attached to reality and yet original and insightful.

    When Sevareid said, “Kennedy,” Hoffer responded, “Kennedy is a European. Count the number of times he went to Europe and the number of times he crossed the Great Divide.”

    Then – and this is where relevancy surfaces in relation to this piece – Sevareid said, “Intellectuals,” and Hoffer responded: “Wonderful people. Give them money, give them adulation, give them anything but power because they are the most corruptible people on earth. They can rationalize anything.”

    Of course one can differentiate between true intellectuals and pseudos – the former in small numbers, more often in laboratories; the latter in great numbers filling the halls of academe. And what is their motivation to side with Islam and the left? Envy of accomplished people who DO things as opposed to teach things, mercenary ambitions to fall into the good graces of petro-dollar Muslims and primitive, congenital antisemitism dating back to the Inquisition.

  • joe dirt

    Mozlems have perfected the victim status, and suckered in just enough dhimmi’s to make their story sound legit.