Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at the University of California at Berkeley

Gary Fouse

Get a load of this:

This, of course, is the brainchild of professor Hatem Bazian, who not so long ago was an activist student at Berkeley. Just this past week, he was sharing a stage at UC San Diego with Cynthia McKinney as she struggled to put a coherent thought together (see my post).

So now Berkeley, which is a boffo institution on its best of days, has this what-ever-you-call- it devoted to documenting any thought or utterance critical of Islam and the Islamist agenda of establishing world-wide supremacy over the rest of us and whatever other religion we may believe in.

Never mind that Muslims enjoy equal rights in America and full freedom to practice their faith-as they do in that other country so vilified by Bazian-Israel.

Never mind that in virtually every Muslim majority nation on earth, religious minorities are being actively persecuted by violent and often legal means.

Never mind that just since 9-11, there have been over 20,000 acts of terror carried out world-wide in the name of Islam.

Never mind the virulent expressions of hate spewing forth from the mouths of imams reading passages from the Koran directed toward Jews and Christians in mosques and madrassas around the world.

Never mind that on almost any day, Muslims in Iraq, Pakistan, or Afghanistan are killing other Muslims (Sunni-Shia) while Sufis and Ahmadiya Muslims are also persecuted in Muslim countries.

None of that matters, you see because all that matters is that little things like the above have given some folks a rather negative perception of Muslims.

Except for the fact that most Americans have done a good job of separating the innocent Muslims from the violent jihadists-and their apologists.

But let's take a look inside the pages of this "project" (link above). The first thing you note is the recent 4th annual study of Islamophobia conference (apparently just concluded). I wonder if Cynthia McKinney spoke at that one.

Also check out the inaugural edition of the Islamophobia Studies Journal and peruse the list of articles. They can be read in full if you are into masochism.

Like this one from Bazian:

"Since the events of September 11, 2001, the FBI and other security 
agencies have resorted to the recruitment of Muslim informants by means of 
enticement and, if necessary, threats of deportation or financial ruin. From 
the cases that have come to light, it is clear that vast sections of the Muslim 
community and its civic and religious institutions are the intended targets of 
these FBI operations."

Bazian then goes into a lengthy treatise of the "objectionable" FBI efforts to develop sources of information within the Muslim community and likens it to the COINTEL probes of decades past. Of course, what he doesn't stress is that the objective is to save innocent lives from terrorist attacks. His article, was of course, written before the latest attack in Boston.

Speaking of Boston, there is also this gem by Professor Muhammad Tamdgidi of the University of Massachusetts at Boston, in which he quotes a definition of Islamophobia as adopted by the Runnymede Trust on Islamophobia Report of 1997.

"The Runnymede report defined Islamophobia and “closed views of 
Islam” as follows:

1. Islam [is] seen as a single monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive 
to new realities. 
2. Islam [is] seen as separate and other—(a) not having any aims or 
values in common with other cultures (b) not affected by them (c) 
not influencing them.
3. Islam [is] seen as inferior to the West—barbaric, irrational, 
primitive, sexist.
4. Islam [is] seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of 
terrorism, engaged in ‘a clash of civilisations’.
5. Islam [is] seen as a political ideology, used for political or military 
6. Criticisms made by Islam of ‘the West’ [are] rejected out of hand."
7. Hostility towards Islam [is] used to justify discriminatory practices 
towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream 
8. Anti-Muslim hostility [is] accepted as natural and ‘normal’.4

But our friends at the IRDP wish to define Islamophobia as follows:

"Islamophobia is a contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure.  It is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalizing the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve "civilizational rehab" of the target communities (Muslim or otherwise).  Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended."

According to that latter definition, I am can proudly attest that I am not an Islamophobe. Admittedly, the former, at least in certain points, is more problematical for me. I know one thing, however; I don't go around referring to people from other religions as "apes and pigs" and envision the day when I will hunt them down behind the last tree or rock to kill them. I don't know where that fits into anyone's definition of "phobia", but it must fit in somewhere.

Another featured article is by two professors at British universities who compare Islamophobia with European anti-Semitism:

What is conveniently missing from this piece is the fact that most of the anti-Semitism in Europe today is by young male Muslim immigrants who are making it impossible for Jews to walk the streets of major cities  dressed in distinctive Jewish garb lest they be insulted, spat upon, accosted or assaulted by the aforementioned criminals while intimidated Europeans turn a blind eye. Also missing are images like this, which just may contribute to "British Islamophobia".

But here is where it really gets good. Introducing Professor  Ramon Grosfoguel of (where else?) UC Berkeley:


Ramon Grosfoguel

" For the sake of economizing space, when we use the term 
“world-system” in this essay, we refer to the “modern/colonial Westernized 
Christian-centric capitalist/patriarchal world-system” (Ibid). At the risk of 
sounding ridiculous, we prefer a long phrase like this to characterize the 
present heterarchical structure (multiple power hierarchies entangled to 
each other in complex historical ways) of the world-system, than the limited 
characterization of a single hierarchy called “capitalist world-system” with 
capital accumulation as the single logic of the system (Ibid). The latter leads 
to an economic reductionist understanding of the world-system, while the 
former leads to a more complex, non-reductive structural-historical analysis. 
Islamophobia as a form of racism against Muslim people is not an 
epiphenomenon but constitutive of the international division of labor." 

(It means capitalism is bad.)

"At a world level, Islamophobia has been the dominant discourse used 
in the post-civil rights and post-independence era of dominant cultural racist 
discourses against Arabs. The events of 911 escalated anti-Arab racism 
through an Islamophobic hysteria all over the world, specifically among the 
dominant elites of the United States and Israel. The latter is not surprising 
given US and Israeli representation of Palestinians, Arabs and Islamic people 
in general as terrorist decades before 911 (Said 1979; 1981). The
responsibility of US foreign policy is never linked to the tragic events of 911."

OK. Enough of that. I think you get the flavor. Essentially, everything about the West is bad, which leads one to wonder why the various authors have chosen to live in the West.

This is no Simon Wiesenthal Center, Folks. Keep in mind that as we speak, the 56-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation is still working hard to get the UN to pass a resolution that all member nations should criminalize any criticism of Islam. So is it fair to ask whether this "research and documentation" project is meant to be a repository of information on all those so-called "Islamophobes", real or imagined? Is there a larger agenda at work here against capitalism, democracy, true freedom and respect for ALL religions, and other institutions we have heretofore held so dear?

How sad it is that this is what passes for scholarship in places like the University of California at Berkeley.

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