This controversy is generally being framed as a choice between saying that school officials didn’t overreact or that they acted out of “Islamophobia,” as professional victim Haroon Mogul hysterically insists here.
Actually, there is a third option. I believe that MacArthur High School officials ridiculously overreacted, but not because of “Islamophobia,” but because of the general hysteria over school shootings that has led principals and teachers nationwide to react stupidly to innocuous actions. Yesterday I wrote: “All over the country, school officials are on constant high alert for weapons — a high alert that has more than once spilled over into outright hysteria, with students being suspended for drawing guns, pointing fingers at people and saying ‘Bang,’ etc.” Then there was the kid who got in trouble for chewing his pop-tart into the shape of a gun, and others.
These children didn’t run afoul of school administrators because they were Muslims — none of them were. They found themselves in hot water because administrators are so very afraid that their school will be the site of the next shooting that they leap on and magnify the smallest matters. Would Ahmed Mohamed’s clock have been suspicious if he were a white Methodist, and would he have been arrested anyway? Without any doubt. But his arrest has become an opportunity for the purveyors of the Muslims-as-victims myth, among whom Haroon Moghul is a leading propagandist, to push hard on their spurious and insidious claim that Muslims are suffering from unwarranted scrutiny, including counter-terror programs, which should accordingly be relaxed or scrapped altogether.
Moghul has thin gruel to work with in a school environment where a pop-tart gun can get you suspended and Ahmed Mohamed had what looked like the briefcase bomb that has figured in countless movies and TV shows, but he makes the most of it, adding to his long and sorry record of Islamic supremacist smear-mongering, victimhood posturing, and sly attacks on the freedom of speech. Here for CNN he pens one of his typical exercises in self-pity, giving us a good example of how the entire “Islamophobia” smear is based on projection, unsubstantiated claims, and sweeping false charges.
“Stand with Ahmed against Islamophobia,” by Haroon Moghul, CNN, September 16, 2015:
…Ahmed had actually told his teacher that he’d made the clock at home and brought it in to show what he was capable of. Well, one teacher showed us what this country is capable of, too. The police were called, arrested Ahmed on suspicion of building a bomb and the snap of a shocked young teenager in a NASA T-shirt has gone global.
Irving, Texas, is not far from Dallas, the same part of the country that was making a bid for the 2024 Olympics. Before you welcome the world, might I suggest you welcome your own citizens?
On Tuesday, Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz wrote an op-ed for The Daily Beast asking us to pay attention to Islam’s “jihadism problem.” (A few decades off, but hey, better late than never, guys.) Today, however, America woke up to its Islamophobia problem. It’s a reality American Muslims have endured for years.
Poor victims! Notice how Moghul doesn’t even consider the possibility that this could have been a case of overzealous school officials, of which there have been so many other cases. Yet it is extraordinarily unlikely that Moghul would ever have written anything about this case if the young man getting in trouble with school officials had been named, say, Josh Welch.
Because let’s be real. The clock didn’t look like a bomb.
Really? Let’s see:
But Moghul charges on:
Ahmed just looked to some like someone who might want to make bombs. He’s that very menacing brownish color that racists and bigots associate with either everything south of Texas or some country they probably think is called Terroristan. As it happens, he’s of African, specifically Sudanese, descent. He’s got a doubly Muslim name.
Are you surprised he was arrested?
Does Moghul have the slightest bit of evidence on which to base these overheated assertions that the school and the police were motivated by bigotry? None whatsoever. He doesn’t tell his readers what school officials and police are saying: “School district spokeswoman Lesley Weaver declined to confirm the suspension, citing privacy laws. Weaver insisted school officials were concerned with student safety and not the boy’s faith. The police chief said the reaction to the clock ‘would have been the same regardless’ of his religion. ‘We live in an age where you can’t take things like that to school,’ Boyd said.”
It’s been 14 years since September 11, and some Americans still cannot believe Muslims are human beings, or American Muslims are Americans or that no people shouldn’t be judged by the actions of people they are completely unrelated to.
And why? Let’s not beat around the bush. We have a whole class of professional bigots — I’ve called them “Islamsplainers” — whose very purpose in the world is to tell us what Islam really is. Except their explanations are based on no evidence, little argument and zero interaction with actual Muslims. They make broad, sweeping, ridiculous generalizations, which would be wholly and completely unacceptable if directed at any other people. Yet America takes them seriously.
The irony here is that Moghul’s whole case — both that for Ahmed Moghul and against the “Islamophobes” he names below — is based on “no evidence, little argument and zero interaction” with the people he is defaming. He is the one making “broad, sweeping, ridiculous generalizations, which would be wholly and completely unacceptable if directed at any other people.” Yet CNN takes him seriously.
Going back several years, I have on more than one occasion responded to Moghul’s arguments and charges, and written substantive responses to his articles. I’ve responded to his claims about “Islamophobia” and “Islamophobes”; disputed his assertion that the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam; and answered his attacks on Pamela Geller and me. Look at each piece: in each, I respond to Moghul’s arguments with reasoned arguments of my own, based on demonstrable evidence. Moghul did not respond to any of these pieces except with some contempt and ridicule on Twitter. Meanwhile, I have on more than one occasion invited him to debate. He refused. So which of us is uninterested in evidence and interaction?
It’s trickle-down Islamophobia, the opportunistic and grimy peddling of misinformation, making money and accumulating airtime by alarming Americans with exaggerated fears and wholly decontextualized theses.
Ah yes, “decontextualized,” yes, you see, you really can’t understand that “slay the polytheists wherever you find them” bit without some heavy heapings of context, which render it “give the polytheists a hug.”
Glenn Beck. Bill Maher. Robert Spencer. Pamela Geller. Sam Harris. Maajid Nawaz. Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Their views are vile, hateful, ignorant and, frankly, scary. Yet instead of being called out, they continue to receive mainstream endorsement. In fact, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a fellow at Harvard, while Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz’s terrible new book was also published by Harvard Press. Is this what passes for intelligent conversation in supposedly sophisticated circles?
Where is Moghul’s evidence that the views of the people he lists are “vile, hateful, ignorant and, frankly, scary”? Why, he provides none. And he knows that CNN won’t call him out for that, as they’re committed to his point of view as a matter of policy, so he doesn’t need to do something as gauche as actually argue his case. Is this what passes for intelligent conversation in supposedly sophisticated circles?
Our professional Islamophobes say the same things, over and over again. They publish the same arguments, over and over again. Glenn Beck’s new book, cleverly titled “It IS About Islam,” is pretty much a rehash of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s latest book, “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now.” (Probably none of them could invent a clock. Probably they’re just jealous.)
I have no idea whether or not Beck’s book is really “pretty much a rehash” of Hirsi Ali’s, but I doubt it, as Beck is not a Somali ex-Muslim who suffered female genital mutilation. But in any case, note that Moghul doesn’t actually respond to or refute any of the arguments made in either book. Instead, he just flings an ad hominem that could just as easily be turned against him: why doesn’t he actually refute Beck or Hirsi Ali, instead of just smear them? Probably because their books sell so much better than his. Probably he’s just jealous.
And people who don’t know any better eat it up. They think it’s the truth. They believe Muslim extremism is somehow different from other kinds of extremism. That radicalism is pervasive in Muslim communities. That American Muslims are terrorists. That our cemeteries are secret jihadist training grounds. (Really, we couldn’t think of a better cover story for jihad camp than “Muslim burial ground?”) That all Muslims are either jihadist apologists or jihadist denialists. That the dangerous nature of Muslims requires persistent surveillance.
Notice that rather than this being any actual quotes, this is just a smorgasbord of things that apparently Moghul wants you to believe Beck, Maher, Geller, Harris, Nawaz, Hirsi Ali and I say. I haven’t said them and I doubt that any of the others have, either, and Moghul is saved from having to account for or prove these ridiculous claims (who has ever said that cemeteries were secret jihad training grounds?) by not actually attributing them to anyone in particular. It’s lazy and sinister at the same time.
…Fast forward to today, and instead of being able to focus on what I want, studying what I want, contributing what I feel most able to, I have to talk about my identity 24/7, because who else is going to respond to the racists, the bigots, the misinformants?
Poor victim! But here again: Moghul doesn’t respond. He has never engaged me or any other of the people he defames substantively. He has refused my invitations to have a substantive discussion and debate. What he presents here is the appearance of a response, empty of any actual substance. And no doubt he will do it again, and again, and again, in the future, and his easy marks at CNN will publish it every time. Con men and propagandists like him dominate the mainstream, with no accountability whatsoever.