I am not a practicing Muslim. I can’t remember the last time I prayed. I was born in Iran, and without doubt there are many in my family who pray regularly – although I can’t say that they are particularly religious, or support the theocracy. In fact, I would say, I have an issue with religion – all religions. I find deeply religious people to be generally intolerant, and often very ignorant. Its rare that I find myself defending a religion or standing up for anyone’s religion. But, having said all that, I have an issue with American Islamophobia. Its almost as if the situation has reversed itself. Those attacking Islam seem to be the ignorant and intolerant ones. I have listened very carefully, and its seems to me that American Islamophobia has some common (and distinct) problems… compared to say European Islamophobia or Israeli Islamophobia. Here they are:
- Americans glop all Muslims. When Americans are Islam-phobic they paint a broad brush and often confuse one form of Islam with another. To put it into context, it’s like calling painting all Christians for the practices of one sect or another …. Saying all Christians are idiots because 7th day Adventists stay home on Saturdays, or pointing to a Bull killing in a catholic festival in the Philippines as a silly ritual practiced by all Christians. Do you see? There are in fact vast differences between many Islamic sects and indeed very often some cultural elements have become components of how the religion is practiced and confused with the religion itself. To some in the West, fanatic Islam as practiced and financed by Sunni Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia, espoused by 9/11 terrorists, Al Qaeda, ISIS is part of their daily information diet on TV news and it is glopped with other Sunni sects, not to even mention Shiites, Ismaili’s, Dervishes, etc. For reference, there are 1.5 Billion Muslims, and Saudi Arabia has a population of 20 Million i.e. something under 2% of all Muslims. There are vast difference between how Indonesians or Malaysian practice Islam and what is more commonly done in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia). And even in Saudi Arabia, most of the Saudis who live on its Persian Gulf coast are NOT Sunni – they are Shiites (something like 30% of its population). And by the way, in iran women drive cars; they don’t in Saudi Arabia (anywhere because of Wahabis rule and set the rules, even for their Shiite minority). The role of “Sharia in Islam” (something equivalent to the 10 commandments in Christianity) as part of national legal practice and governance in Saudi Arabia is completely different to governance in say Malaysia. Glopping is a big mistake. If ordinary Americans have a problem with how Islam is practiced in Saudi Arabia, they should note that the majority of Muslims probably have similar issues with Saudis and Wahabists too. Remember the people fighting ISIS (Wahabists) are Muslims – not Americans. Its Syrians, Iranians, Iraqis, Kurds …. NOT Americans.
- Americans Ignore America’s past and present alliances. Even a cursory examination of the history of fanatic Islamists like Taliban, al Qaeda and ISIS will show that the West and especially the US fostered these groups. They owe their existence to American money and arms. Don’t believe me, well check it out for yourself. Read the ‘Benghazi’ transcripts. The CIA station in Benghazi (that was attacked) was collecting arms the US had supplied Libyan rebels, and shipping them down to Turkey to hand over to rebels (like ISIS, al Nusra front etc.). Go see the movie Charlie Wilson’s War … America’s role in assisting the Taliban is right there on the big screen. When the Taliban were fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, they were allies. When they partnered with Osama Bin Laden the same nuts became American enemies. Fighting Islamic terrorism has become big deal, a big business. Since George W. Bush declared the “War on Terror” in October 2001, it has cost the American taxpayer approximately 6.6 trillion dollars and thousands of fallen sons and daughters; but, the wars have also raked in billions of dollars for Washington’s military elite. Manufacturing enemies, generating causes for war fills many pockets. American Islamophobia is ‘manufactured’ too. Americans need to be careful not to be brain washed or manipulated.
- This positions America in a poor strategic position. At the end of the day, there are 1.5 Billion Muslims. This is about 25% of the globes population, and rising fast. Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe and the U.S.!! Surprised? You should be. In this age of mass communication, facebook, youtube… satellite TV… do American really believe that their ‘phobias’ remain confined to American audiences? No. And this means when Moroccans go to a show room to buy cars, when a Bruneian government official has to make a decision what type of power station system to buy, when someone in the Muslim region of India (the world’s second largest Muslim country) decides what cell phone to buy … they will all shy away from the American Brand… won’t buy Ford, GE, or Apple! Its more than a coincidence that American exports are continuing to decline and American multinationals now command a smaller share of global trade than say 20 years ago,. In a political domain, pro-western candidates are getting hammered in many countries precisely because of Islamophobia. There is a real and tangible impact to America’s economy and influence by American Islamophobia. The closest analogy I can think of is the impact of Anti-British sentiment in post-colonial Britain. Many markets the Brits normally commanded started buying from other nations after they became independent, and it decimated Britain’s economy. They could no longer rely on their traditional markets. The same is happening to the U.S. America is basically getting shut out of 25% of the world’s market by rampant American stupidity with respect to Islam. Do Americans really want this?
- American Islamophobia is useful to America’s Enemies. Why make it so easy for those that compete with the U.S.? If you are competing with an American brand for market share, all you have to do is show some American Islamophobia on the evening news, or on social media … and bang… you can gain market share at the expense of the American brand. In market after market, shop after shop, there is a very real war between brands. In election after election, there is a very real war between candidates. Linkage to the U.S. can sometimes be a huge negative. Uber nationalists leverage American phobias to undermine U.S. national interests and U.S. companies. This surely is not good. Again, why make it easy? American ignorance is helping America’s enemies. And what is even worse is that in fact American islamophobia does not represent America or American values.
- American Islamophobia is not American at all. America is one of the greatest nations in the world. I am proud to be an American and live here. What makes America great is the whole idea of America being a melting pot. What is distinctly American is the fact that America was built by immigrants. Black, white, brown … you name it. Freedom and liberty are enshrined into America’s constitution. Ironically, as much as I have an issue with American Islamophobia, I would die for someone’s right to express their Islamophobia. Even if I disagreed with it, I see it as a central element of America. One central tenet of this country is that people have a fundamental right to live and worship as they want to – be it Amish immigrants in Pennsylvania, or Red Indians in a reservation in New Mexico. People can believe whatever they want to believe. To be openly phobic towards someone’s faith is not American at all. There is fundamentally no value to ‘expressing’ Islamophobia – unless of course someone is trying to generate hostility. Then you have to ask yourself why? Why create a crisis? Why?
- American Islamophobia smacks of political manipulation. When I say, American Islamophobia is not American at all, then what is it? There are Europeans visiting the U.S. – characters like Gert Wilders (from Holland’s uber-right movement), Nigel Farage (from UK’s uber-right movement) who openly espouse anti-Muslim ideologies. The Nazi’s in Europe have gone from hating (and killing) Jews, to targeting Muslims. And they are spending money trying to get America to mimic them. Why? Why spend time and money traveling up and down the U.S. espousing European xenophobic ideas? Whose money are they spending? It’s as if Islam is the most critical issue the world is facing? Really? It becomes very easy for local politicians to hide behind these foreigners to manipulate American thinking. You invite them over to speak, pay their bills, then you have someone like Trump say “I think we should ban Muslims from entering the country” at a critical moment in the election cycle.
I think someone in the Republican Party figured that there is a certain (ignorant and intolerant) demographic group that can be exploited for votes by spouting out xenophobic statements – and who would put their own welfare, and interests behind what could be interpreted as pseudo-nationalism and pseudo-war against the Democrats. They can ‘label’ Obama as a Muslim and then use Islamophobia to garner anti-democrat votes. These morons don’t care that they can’t afford medical treatment, or get decent jobs – it’s all because of Muslims …like Obama. These same politicos are willing to risk U.S. prestige, U.S. prosperity, U.S. exports, U.S. global influence … America’s future… to get votes by using Islamophobia to manipulate the morons.
- American islamophobia is a distraction. Let’s look back now for a second. Reagan had a war on drugs. It turns out that his own people were importing crack cocaine from Nicaragua, distributing it in the ghettos, making billions of dollars, then modified laws to create automatic 20 year sentences for drugs, and ended up jailing 2.5 million African-Americans (tripling the prison population) in a phony war on drugs! In the process, they kept these same African-Americans from voting – shifting the balance of U.S. politics towards Republicans. The war on terrorism (and with it American Islamophobia) is the very same thing. Since 9/11/2001 the U.S. has been in a perpetual state of war. The government has spent over 6 Trillion (yes, with a T) on war, and America remains deeply engaged still in the Middle East. We been arming rebels in Libya, Syria, Yemen … to name a few. And even though most American troops have left Iraq and Afghanistan, we are still spending 600 Billion dollars on defense (more than almost the rest of the world combined). It’s a weird proposition to tell Americans (and their children by the way) that we need to take their hard-earned tax payments and spend it on meaningless wars. But if you make them feel that we are somehow fighting an imagined enemy … maybe it’s easier to tax them? These wars and this Islamophobia is a distraction. Imagine if we spent all this money on domestic infrastructure – Airports, roads, ports, bridges … Imagine if we spent all this money on research and development to get ourselves off Oil – using renewable energy, and save our planet? Imagine if we spent this money in developing nations like Latin America or Africa – trying to rebuild our American brand of generosity and compassion …creating new markets in the process? Islamophobia has basically resulted in a lot of waste! It’s a complete distraction.
We have ‘bigger’ fish to fry – than to go after 1.5 Billion human beings who have essentially the same values and issues Americans have. They love their children and want a better world for them. Why are people so stupid?