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Islamophobia: Why Do We Hate Them?

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message David William Pear     Permalink
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"We hate them because of their irrational violence that is in their DNA, and because of the way they treat their women and homosexuals; their backwardness, their lack of democracy and resistance to modernity; and their imperial designs to invade us and conquer the world, and because they attacked us on September 11, 2001 killing 3,000 innocent Americans."

The above and much worse are said repeatedly by commentators, the mass media, pundits, politicians, religious leaders, academia, and Hollywood as reasons that we should hate Muslims. President George W. Bush put it even cruder here.

Long before the "Global War on Terror" and the "Clash of Civilization" excuse for Islamophobia, racial slurs against Muslims were frequent in the White House. During the Reagan administration Arabs were often called "sand n-----s". Racism in the Reagan administration was not just limited to Muslims and Arabs:

According to the New York Time: Terrel H. Bell, who served in Mr. Reagan's Cabinet from 1981 to 1984, the slurs included references to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as ''Martin Lucifer Coon".

Bush and Reagan were not alone in the long history of racial slurs within the White House. Richard M. Nixon's racism is infamous. His own secretly self-recorded words revealed his racism against: Jews, African Americans, homosexuals, Asians, Arabs, Irish, Italians and all groups that he feared and hated, which given his paranoia was just about everybody.

Islamophobia reflects the long and deep history of racism in America. The first Muslim immigrants to America came in chains as African slaves. During the era of Jim Crow laws, those of Middle Eastern descent were discriminated against as were blacks. All people of color were subjected to segregation, discrimination, racism and lynching. Arabs were even convicted and sent to prison for violating miscegenation laws that did not end until 1967.

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The point is not to single out presidents, but the point is that racism spreads out from the top as well as growing from the bottom of society. Even when racism is buried in the subconscious mind it does not take much to bring it to the surface. Politicians know it and cunningly use racism to get elected, further their agendas, and get reelected.

For example, people may not remember who George H.W. Bush ran against for president in 1988, but they still remember Willie Horton (watch the Bush campaign ad). Bush-1 ran a racist campaign that he was tough on crime and supported capital punishment, and the image of an African American that looks like Willie Horton is what many white Americans fear when they think about criminals and murderers.

Ronald Reagan ran a successful campaign against a fictitious black "welfare queen" that drove around in a brand new Cadillac collecting welfare checks. Nixon used the "Southern Strategy" to woe southern Democrats who feared and hated the success of the Civil Rights Legislation for African Americans, enacted and signed by President Lyndon Johnson. While Johnson was a civil rights legislation champion, he was also a crude racist.

Racism is so deeply ingrained into the American culture that presidents, politicians, the media and the main stream cannot get away from it. Politicians will use racism to further their wars, imperialism, and world domination; and the American public is easily manipulated for consent by racism, fear, and hate. Obama has reduced the rhetoric but not his "liberal interventionist" war against Islam, according to Vijay Prashad (watch interview).

During World War Two there was a similar phobia against Japanese. Over 120,000 Japanese American were rounded up and put into concentration camps and indefinite detention. There was little if any public protest. To the contrary many Japanese Americans destined for internment camps were taken advantage of and had to either abandon their personal property, or it was seized unconstitutionally by the U.S. government. The public mostly approved.

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Once WW2 broke out the Japanese race was subjected to dehumanizing characterizations, such as comparing Japanese to bugs, ants, and monkeys. They were called a dangerous and barbaric race. "Life Magazine", owned by "imperialist" Henry Luce, even published a pseudo-scientific article on the distinguishing physical characteristics of an enemy "Jap" and a friendly Asian.

It is pure racism with an agenda that is at the core of Islamophobia. Religious intolerance is promoted by self-styled historians and experts who exploit Islamophobia. Just as the "black face" of Willie Horton was a symbol of crime, Muslims and Islam are slandered as the "brown face" of terrorism. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Latinos and African Americans who "look Muslim" are subjected to the same fear and hate. Obama is still portrayed as an Arab and secret Muslim.

Islamophobia is an irrational fear, hate and slander. It is the way that Americans, either with agendas or because of ignorance, dehumanize the perceived enemy in the so-called War on Terror. The Muslim religion and Arab culture, customs, dress and "differentness" is stereotyped as inferior and subhuman. The atrocities of a few Muslims during wartime are generalized as the evil of the "Muslim mind"---yet the atrocities of the U.S. are dismissed as collateral damage, mistakes and isolated incidents.

Not all Americans hate and fear Muslims, but enough do that racial and religious slurs can be said in the mass media, in the Halls of Congress, by the President, religious leaders, pundits, intellectuals, Hollywood, and by the military, and seldom challenged or condemned. The U.S. military and our "warriors" openly defame Arabs and Muslims as "ragheads" and "hadji", just as soldiers in prior wars in Korea and Vietnam called Asians "gooks" and "slopes". Islamophobia needs to be recognized and called what it is: Fear and hatred based on racism.

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David William Pear is an progressive columnist writing on economic, political and social issues. He is a regular columnist for The Real News Network, Op Ed News, and an editor for OEN. His articles have also appeared in Truth Out, Consortium (more...)

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