The Left grows more shrill, hysterical, and ridiculous by the day, and nowhere is this more apparent than at the hard-Left publication Vox. In this piece, Jenée Desmond-Harris, with help from Muslim academic Khaled Beydoun, explains that today’s “anti-Muslim hate” is a recrudescence of “Orientalism,” the process by which the arrogant, racist, colonialist West demonized and “otherized” the poor, innocent Islamic world. People dislike Muslims because they think of them exclusively as those “brown people from over there,” you see, and being white racists, they hate those brown people from over there.
This windy and risible piece ignores the real reason why anyone has any suspicion of or dislike for Islam or Muslims: 30,000 jihad terror plots worldwide since 9/11. Desmond-Harris and Beydoun and the rest should know, and may well indeed know but are trying to obscure the fact, that the real purveyors of “Islamophobia” in the U.S. are not white racists or Donald Trump, or Geller, Gaffney, Horowitz and me, but Nidal Malik Hasan, Mohamed Atta, Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Mohammed Abdulazeez, Syed Rizwan Farook, Tashfeen Malik, Omar Mateen, and all the other Muslims who have plotted and/or carried out jihad massacres on American soil.
Then Maytha Alhassen decries references in Trump’s executive order “to keeping out people who commit ‘honor killings’ or persecute individuals based on sexual orientation and gender. These stereotypes are what she calls ‘classic Orientalist tropes.'” Tell Amina and Sarah Said, and Aqsa Parvez, and all the other Muslim girls who have been murdered in honor killings in North America, that they’re just manifesting “classic Orientalist tropes.” As they lie in their graves, that will make them feel so much better.
“Islam isn’t a race. But it still makes sense to think of Islamophobia as racism.,” by Jenée Desmond-Harris, Vox, February 2, 2017:
…Trump’s statements about Muslims and proposal of what he called “Muslim ban” during his campaign, combined with his remarks about Mexican immigrants, inspired a wide consensus that it was fair to call him a racist.
Now that a ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries is a reality, this criticism of his administration has deepened. It’s a rallying cry for activists and a concern of critics for whom the policy flies in the face of what they would like to think are modern American values.
But supporters of the executive order resist the application of the “r-word” here, saying that even if the order did explicitly target Muslims, that still wouldn’t be racist. After all, they argue, Islam is a religion, not a race. Muslims include people from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds — including many from countries affected by the ban whose national origins would fall under the “white” category on the current US Census if they were allowed in.
To understand why, despite all this, it makes sense to talk about anti-Muslim bigotry — both as expressed by the Trump administration and in general — as a kind of racism, you need to know about the roots of Islamophobia, and about how racial categories can shift with the political winds.
The roots of anti-Muslim hate: Orientalism
“Pre-9/11, the predecessor of Islamophobia was called Orientalism,” said Khaled Beydoun, a law professor at the University of Detroit who also works with UC Berkeley’s Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project. “That was the system that mothered Islamophobia; it feeds and provides many of the same stereotypes, systems of fear, and caricatures.”Orientalism, as explained by the eminent Middle East scholar Edward Said, who first developed the concept in his groundbreaking book of the same name, is essentially the cultural and historical lens through which the Western world perceived, defined, and “otherized” the East, and particularly the Muslim Middle East.
Beydoun said this centuries-old worldview “stereotyped Muslims as civilization threat and menace” long before it was dubbed “Islamophobia.” In his view, the anti-Muslim hate and bigotry that has been the topic of many public conversations over the past decade in the West is really just “essentially an extension of the fear and vilification of not only Muslims but everyone perceived to be Muslim that’s been taking place for centuries.”
This, according to Beydoun, has “brought about the conversion of Islam from religion to race, which as a result spawns popular perception of Muslims as exclusively Arab, and in turn blinds many from seeing Islam as a multiracial and ethnic faith group, of which black Muslims rank as the biggest group in America.”
Even though many American Muslims are black, and the former head of the largest Muslim organization in the US was a white woman, the bigotry of Orientalism doesn’t always pay attention to these details. That means centuries-old biases against Arabs haven’t had to change much to evolve into today’s anti-Muslim attitudes — they’ve just been refreshed and relabeled.
Ignorance and confusion mean contemporary anti-Muslim hate isn’t actually about religion
“When you’re Arab and Muslim, the categories can get conflated,” said Maytha Alhassen, a doctoral candidate in the department of American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California who has family roots in Syria and Lebanon. “When I’ve spoken to media, there’s been a distinct interest in looking at Islam as ‘those brown people from over there.’”
She said the many stories of Sikhs — who practice a religion totally separate from Islam — targeted in anti-Muslim attacks seem to provide an additional indication that this brand of hate is not as focused on an understanding of Islam as a religion. Instead, these actions are carried out against those who are perceived as culturally and ethnically “other.”
Alhassen said she’s not even a fan of the term “Islamophobia,” in part because the “neurolinguistic programming” that comes from putting together “Islam” and “phobia,” is part of how people try to defend their sentiments about people who practice Islamic traditions. “Anti-Muslim hate,” and “anti-Muslim rhetoric” are better. But, she said, “I like to be specific … if we’re talking about that ‘brown other’ that also could be Muslim, I use ‘Orientalist.’”
She said she’d use that term in particular to describe the sentiments in Trump’s executive order, including references to keeping out people who commit “honor killings” or persecute individuals based on sexual orientation and gender. These stereotypes are what she calls “classic Orientalist tropes.”…