Monday, September 13, 2010

Islamophobia. Ultimate anti-PD, indeed.

The issue of American Islamophobia has been back in the headlines over the past several weeks, and this past weekend saw its "culmination" (the Arizona anti-immigration law story sort of died out, so here comes the new "hit" about the other). The extent of damage this has done to the U.S. image abroad, especially in the Muslim world, is unquantifiable, but its consequences will, most certainly, be felt over the time to come.

There has been a lot of discussion on the matter in terms of undermining U.S. public diplomacy, and even in terms of being a genuine threat to Americans abroad. There has also been a significant outcry from Muslims around the world - ranging from those in the U.S. to Afghanistan and Indonesia - perhaps, as an early warning sign of what might come in case the issue is not addressed adequately, on time. Especially if it keeps being exploited by the more extremist Islamists for their own ends.

What is most alarming - however - is the transnational nature that current Islamophobia seems to be taking. The presence and the "Keynote Speech" of the Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders in Manhattan on September 11 was a major step in that direction. Top U.S. officials can criticize the burning of the Quran, or show support for religious freedom in NYC... but unless the people themselves truly embrace what the core U.S. values supposedly stand for, America and especially its image abroad will, most probably, be under threat again.

And no, the attempted whitewash by VOA cannot even get close to truly addressing this problem of attitudes and perceptions.


I would also, very much recommend watching the latest episode of Al Jazeera's "Empire" (particularly the second half), exploring the issue and its implications in a greater detail.

Should be truly worrisome. I hope there are people listening.


  1. Islam is a religion of peace so there shouldn't be a problem.

  2. I'm afraid it's being badly distorted by many, these days...

  3. It is not religion per se that is a problem... It all boils down to comments and interpretations, hence to people. Just remember the history of Christianity. I am sure even Confucianism can have its 'Jihadists' if needs be...
    In a sense it is a struggle for resources and power (to get and protect resources and to keep off the less fortunate ones). Religion, secular ideologies, propaganda or even PD are just manipulation tools as are various Bills of Rights, Declarations, Conventions, resolutions, etc.
    But it becomes progressively more difficult to control the disgruntled masses, especially through soft power. They are unhappy about the existing world order (or rather disorder) and they, too, are looking for tools that will help them change the situation.
    With more natural and man-made disasters in the offing the discontent will be on the rise as will be radical versions of various ideologies.
    Islam is a very convenient bugaboo to scare many people in the West. It also provides a very convenient smokescreen to distract people's attention from real culprits...
    This is not to justify, though, radical Islamists, terrorists, etc. It is just a reminder (and here I am probably forcing an open door) that for the most part non-State actors do not match (yet!) the State actors in terms of scale of destruction, terror and other heinous acts (which are, unfortunately, justified, condoned or disregarded in most cases by UN, regional organizations, etc., and in some cases even by human rights and humanitarian NGOs...

  4. interesting. i really cannot but agree with you.

    the thing is, however, that "control" and "order" - as much as it might sound tempting, and perhaps, necessary - seems to be giving way to global chaos. if the so-called "universal" principles of freedom - and especially, POSITIVE freedom - are to be adhered to, the rise of non-state grass-roots organizations (who effectively utilize the modern means of communication and coordination, be it for doing good or evil - doesn't matter) is all but inevitable.

    the idea of "control" is obsolete, in this context. what, i think, soft power should strive to do instead is effective coordination by "plugging in" into the emerging networks (instead of alienating them).

  5. I'm more scared of the "Tea-hadists"

  6. Why do you consider the VOA story you cited a "whitewash"? I'd like to get the editors to respond.

  7. why "whitewash"? because it does not show all the hostility evident in the society, and emphasizes the "support" that many show to Muslim Americans (while polls suggest that the majority - even if by a small margin - rather oppose the building of the Islamic Center). i did NOT say the report is biased; however, it could better reflect the COMPLETE picture. (i'm also NOT comparing VOA to any of the other "international broadcasters". that can be an entirely different discussion.)