‘Islamophobia’ Thought Crimes at Berkeley, Part II

islamophobe[To order David Horowitz and Robert Spencer’s pamphlet Islamophobia: Thought Crime of the Totalitarian Future, click here.]

To read Part I, click here.

The second day of the University of California, Berkeley’s Fifth Annual International Islamophobia Conference—organized by the Center for Race & Gender’s Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project (IRDP)—featured as much hysteria, victimhood, and anti-Western rhetoric as the first (which we reported on yesterday).

Viewing the second day’s antics via live stream, two commercials ran repeatedly: one featuring sexy Latina actress Sofia Vergara selling shampoo for her long, flowing, decidedly unveiled locks, and the other seeking recruits for the U.S. Marines. This led one disgruntled online viewer, expecting an anti-American atmosphere to prevail in the virtual world as well as at the conference, to ask in the comments section, “What’s up with these super wack commercials killing Arab, African brown people?,” which elicited an apology from the organizers, who assured him they had no hand in picking the commercials.

During the afternoon, Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst, an assistant professor of religion at the University of Vermont, spoke on, “Muslim Subjects and Citizens: Discursive Ties, Lingering Orientalism, and Islamophobias.” She attempted to draw parallels between the era of British colonialism and modern-day America, claiming that Muslims were seen, then and now, as “traitors,” “fanatics,” and as having “suspect, dual allegiances.” She described this phenomenon as the “insidiousness of Orientalism,” before reaching the ahistorical conclusion, “We find the same thing over 200 years later in America.”

She next asserted that the “rhetoric after 9/11 was similar to the British Raj,” including seeing “Muslims as agents of sinister forces.” In a thinly veiled allusion to Sharia (Islamic) law, Fuerst condemned what she called “anti-foreign law legislation” and chalked it and other efforts to combat Islamism up to being part of an “extended, insidious Orientalist discourse” rather than to the obvious desire of Americans to retain their constitutional liberties.

Deepa Kumar, an associate professor of media studies and Middle Eastern studies at Rutgers University, presented, “Islamophobia in the Obama Era: Liberalism and the National Security State.” Kumar proved to be one of the funnier, more engaging speakers of the day; in lieu of dry academic subject matter, she focused on popular culture, interspersing her talk with clips from movies and television shows such as “Homeland.” Yet her lively humor couldn’t hide her stale political correctness.

Referencing the films Black Sunday (1977) and True Lies (1994), she noted that even before the Islamic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, “Americans were convinced that terrorism comes with brown, male, Arab bodies.” She continued:

9/11 cements the imagination. It was no longer necessary to keep demonizing brown people, but to justify a massive national security state.

Shifting to the “post-racial era” of the presidency of Barack Obama, Kumar noted that:

The language of liberalism and multiculturalism comes to be used to strengthen the national security state. Obama has done this quite effectively, picking up where [President George W.] Bush left off.

To illustrate her point, she played clips from a Department of Homeland Security video DHS intended to “raise public awareness about terrorism” called, “If You See Something, Say Something,” the purpose of which she summed up as follows: “We are being recruited to become agents of a surveillance state.” Kumar argued that the filmmakers went out of their way to cast white actors as the suspected terrorists and a multi-ethnic group of actors as the good citizens who report them to the authorities. Despite its basis in reality, she mocked the film’s portrayal of “unattended luggage and backpacks” as threats, claiming that they, too, were merely stand-ins for “the brown terrorist.”

Instead of chalking up these decisions to liberal political correctness, she called them another form of “Islamophobia,” adding “This is how latent racism works: unconsciously.” By this logic, both portraying Muslims as terrorists in the pre-9/11 era and avoiding doing so in the Obama era are examples of “Islamophobia.” The question for Kumar is: what isn’t?

Arun Kundnani, who holds adjunct appointments at New York University, Queens College, and John Jay College (where he teaches terrorism studies), rounded out the panel with the presentation, “Racialization and Radicalization: Islamophobia and the Surveillance of Muslims in the U.S.”

Kundnani lamented the “legalistic, technical” tone of the debate on mass surveillance by the National Security Administration in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations, which he claimed leaves out “the interlinking of race and surveillance” so that, “the last thing anyone wants to talk about is the experience of the targeted population.” He dismissed Snowden’s references to George Orwell’s 1984 and the idea that “digital surveillance is a new form of Big Brother” and claimed that “no one minds” that “surveillance works by targeting specific groups.” This surely dismisses valid concerns among Americans of all backgrounds over the potential loss of privacy to everyone, not just Muslims. Instead, Kundnani claimed we live in a “panoptical racist society,” in which “different races are policed differently.” Addressing the fact that Islam is a religion, not a race, he insisted that there are “racial signifiers in the discussions about Muslims,” which he compared to anti-Semitism.

Kundnani then likened U.S. authorities to the Stasi, the secret police in communist East Germany, but maintained that “using current data, we’re worse.” He associated Muslim-Americans with the “East German population,” alleging, absurdly, that the “everyday life of Muslims comports with classic accounts of totalitarianism.” Repeating his previous mischaracterizations, he concluded that “the minority is subjected to secret police because the majority doesn’t experience that.” Either Kundnani hasn’t properly understood the ongoing discussion about the scope of counterterrorism surveillance in the U.S., or he misrepresented it to suit his purposes, as the issue goes far beyond allegations of “Islamophobia.”

Ahmet Temel, a graduate student in religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, opened the next panel by speaking on, “Shariaphobia, A Recurring Obsession: Sharia as a Means to Justify Islamophobia.” Adding to the long list of supposed hatreds indicating a clinical diagnosis of “phobia,” “Shariaphobia” is used to smear opponents of the implementation of draconian Sharia (Islamic) law in the West.

Temel alleged that the “misrepresentation” of Sharia as “inherently brutal” and consists of only “three rubrics: punishment, the treatment of women, and fatwas,” which leads to “racism towards Muslims.” The “media creates an image of Sharia” that is “meant to make Muslims look archaic” and makes them “targets of Islamophobic attacks.” Moreover, “media reporting on Sharia shows images of stonings, veiled women, and bearded men,” which eventually leads to “physical attacks.” Yet Temel didn’t deny that stonings occur (he couldn’t given the numerous honor killings of veiled women by bearded men) and simply asserted that criticism of Sharia is nothing more than “a sophisticated way of attacking Islam as irrational, backwards, [and] violent.” He even bemoaned the “anti-Sharia, anti-Islamic agenda in the history” of his native Turkey.

The dissembling continued with Nancy A. Khalil, a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at Harvard University, who spoke on, “Jihad: American Media and Muslim Theology.” Disassociating jihad from its historic meaning, holy war, Khalil claimed that of the “different meanings of jihad . . . jihad against yourself is the most important one.” Similarly, she alleged that the word “Islam means both submit and peace.” She praised the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) “My Jihad” campaign, launched in response to activist Pamela Geller’s counter-jihad advertising series, as “reclaiming this appropriation of jihad from the association with violence” and “taking back jihad one hashtag at a time.”

IRDP’s is succeeding in its goal to instill the specter of “Islamophobia” into the West. In addition to the aforementioned December, 2014 conference in Paris, its expanded agenda includes upcoming conferences in both London and Salzburg. Last year, Bazian and other North American Middle East studies specialists participated in an international Islamophobia conference in Turkey, while the Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Chair at Indiana University-Bloomington organized its own conference. Bazian is fulfilling his pledge to create the new field of “Islamophobia studies” As there is no shortage of academics invested in pushing this agenda, look for its widespread use by those seeking to censor critics of Islam.

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  • johnlac

    There’s not much to disagree with the depiction of Islam as the religion of terrorists and oppression of females.Many of its adherents do it on a regular basis. Anyone aware of terrorist activities by Mennonites lately? The problem with all the liars for Islam is that they can’t bear to face the truth about their religion.

    • spyeatte

      You missed the Amish. Those are ones you have to keep an eye on…. :)

  • Father Dacius

    I just don’t care much for people who don’t appreciate the value of toilet paper.

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  • pennant8

    Odd that Deepa Kumar referenced the movie “Black Sunday” in her claim of Hollywood stereotyping of terrorists as looking like Arabs. Somehow I don’t think Bruce Dern fits that description.

    • Tim N

      But he was sure creepy in that role!

      • SFTOBEY

        Bruce Dern is creepy in ANY role. I’m afraid that he turned me off for good when he murdered John Wayne in the movie “The Cowboys”. He was even a d0uche in the movie, “Down Periscope”.

  • De Doc

    Apologist hacks, some of whom are deliberately obfuscating to shield their religion, while others veneer themselves in PC ideology to avoid presenting the uncomfortable facts and preserve their naïveté.

    The ‘Islam means peace’ mantra is so sickeningly tiresome, that even mainstream Muslim religious authorities have found a need to correct this falsehood. And that Americans associate swarthy skinned, Arabic named individuals with terrorism is not innate prejudice, but learned from the demographic profiles of those most commonly committing these acts.

    • SFTOBEY

      I wish I could give you 100 “UP” votes for your comment, De Doc. Well spoken.

  • zoomie

    it might be interesting to go to the 6th annual conference.
    really get them going by bringing a camera and taking lots of pictures !

  • Viktoria26

    religionofpeace.org anyone? 23,110 Islamist terrorist attacks since 9-11
    i don’t see Jews or Christians gearing up w/ explosive vests or RPGs to wipe out
    Muslims. and if you look at history, Africans were given a special label by Arab Muslims who treated them like slaves throughout their freaking history. Sick of
    all the lies

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    Deepa Kumar is a standard third-world Marxist. She says “Islamophobia is about politics rather than religion per se” and launches into Marxist political analysis. Wikipedia tells us “She argues that progressives should view these [Islamist] parties, when they oppose imperialist, as potentially deserving support of the left. She gives the example of Hezbollah in Lebanon, which with the popular support from Lebanese people fought back against Israel’s invasion in 2006.”

    Of course, David Horowitz told us about the left-Islamist alliance in his book “Unholy Alliance.” Leftist usually deny the embarrassing spectacle of supporting retrograde theocrats … but not Deepa. As David tells us, the left and Islamists are united in their hatred of America.

  • ArentIpretty

    Only the truly ignorant and politically correct accept the term “Islamophobia” as having any merit. Islam has proven itself historically, by its own doctrine, and by the actions of many Muslims to be opposed to all that is not for Allah.

  • popseal

    A beginner’s knowledge of the personal life of Mohammed should be enough. Islam is a primitive and dangerous superstition founded by a known killer 1400 years ago, but we on this site already know that.

  • tagalog

    Shariaphobia: the concept illustrates the truth that some phobias are a good thing.

  • Rostam

    Please read the following passage taken out of the current Iranian constitution, and see what they mean by “Jihad”.

    Why is a “harmless Jihad with one’s SELF” (as some apologists try to reduce it to) assigned to the ARMY and the Revolutionary Guards?

    Even if Jihad may have “two” meanings, should the world be afraid of the “second” kind ( the killing kind) or not?

    For those who are the targets of an armed Jihad (historically and today), it does not matter what “other” meanings Jihad has. As long as it is used as a brutal war of elimination, the others must be afraid (“phobia” ???), very afraid, and their defensive reaction is legitimate according to all logic.

    Historically, ALL Islamic wars ( waged by all conquerors and warlords who were Muslim) have been waged under the name of Jihad. This was never conducted by masses meditating and “fighting an internal issue within themselves”, but by warriors carrying weapons, killing “infidels” conquering new land, plundering assets, taking slaves and wives and colonizing the conquered lands. Now imagine a Berkeley intellectual trying to talk the hapless Hindu, Persian or Middle Easterner, not to be worried against the Islamic invasion as they hear shrieking hordes and see the swords shining in Muslim hands on the defenders’ last hour on earth !

    Now, the passage from the Iranian constitution preamble, explaining the logic behind all the constitutional articles:

    “An Ideological Army”

    “In the formation and equipping of the country’s defence forces, due
    attention must be paid to faith and ideology as the basic criteria.
    Accordingly, the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic
    Revolutionary Guards Corps are to be organized in conformity with this
    goal, and they will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving
    the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological
    mission of jihad in God’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of
    God’s law throughout the world (this is in accordance with the Koranic
    verse “Prepare against them whatever force you are able to muster,
    and strings of horses, striking fear into the enemy of God and your
    enemy, and others besides them” [8:60]).”

  • Rostam

    Please read the following passage taken out of the current Iranian constitution, and see what they mean by “Jihad”.

    Why is a “harmless Jihad with one’s SELF” (as some apologists try to reduce it to) assigned to the ARMY and the Revolutionary Guards?

    Even if Jihad may have “two” meanings, should the world be afraid of the “second” kind ( the killing kind) or not?

    For
    those who are the targets of an armed Jihad (historically and today),
    it does not matter what “other” meanings Jihad has. As long as it is
    used as a brutal war of elimination, the others must be afraid (“phobia”
    ???), very afraid, and their defensive reaction is legitimate according to all logic.

    Historically, ALL Islamic wars ( waged by all conquerors and warlords who were Muslim) have been waged under the name of Jihad. This was never conducted by masses meditating and “fighting an internal issue within themselves”, but by warriors carrying weapons, killing “infidels” conquering new land, plundering assets, taking slaves and wives and colonizing the conquered lands. Now imagine a Berkeley
    intellectual trying to talk the hapless Hindu, Persian or Middle
    Easterner, not to be worried against the Islamic invasions as they hear
    shrieking hordes and see the swords shining on their last hour on earth !

    Now, the passage from the Iranian constitution preamble, explaining the logic behind all the constitutional articles:

    “An Ideological Army”

    “In the formation and equipping of the country’s defence forces, due
    attention must be paid to faith and ideology as the basic criteria.
    Accordingly, the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic
    Revolutionary Guards Corps are to be organized in conformity with this
    goal, and they will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving
    the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological
    mission of jihad in God’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of
    God’s law throughout the world (this is in accordance with the Koranic
    verse “Prepare against them whatever force you are able to muster,
    and strings of horses, striking fear into the enemy of God and your
    enemy, and others besides them” [8:60]).”