Friday, September 24, 2010

Islamophbia

The Republicans have largely embraced Islamophia, which they are coupling with plain old white racism to polarize the electorate and trash the Obama administration.

Historian Lawrence Davidson takes on the phenomenon in The Great Muslim Scare ConsortiumNews 09/17/2010. He has some helpful observations about how a significant portion of the US public embraces what can rightly be called Islamophobia, which can be distinguished from actual criticisms of particular Islamic practices or policies of Islamic-majority countries by the intensity and irrational quality of their claims:

Since the end of the Cold War, communism has been replaced by a new enemy, the religion of Islam and the billion Muslims who make it up. ...

The 9/11 attacks seemed to be proof positive of [the Islamophobes'] position and, with the media's full cooperation, increasing numbers of citizens began to think a new crusader war was justified. After all, did not President George W. Bush say that the attackers "hate our values?"

... there are millions of Americans who may find [Pamela] Geller's [anti-Muslim] message attractive. For example, most of the followers of Glenn Beck, Franklin Graham, Michael Evans, Rob Grant and the late Jerry Falwell are probably on the same page as Pamela Geller.

Taken altogether they might account for about 10 percent of the adult population (that is roughly 30 million people). These are the sort of people who think that Barack Obama is a closet Muslim and that there is an Islamic plot to take over the country and institute Sharia law. [my emphasis]
But, like too much of the commentary from high-profile liberals on the Tea Party antics, Davidson relies on decades-old analyses of far-right "true believers", in this case Eric Hoffer and Walter Lippmann.

There's nothing wrong with that in itself. And at least he didn't cite Richard Hofstadter's The Paranoid Style in American Politics (1965). But with all the far-right activity in recent decades, and the excellent reporting and analysis on them being done by people like Dave Neiwert and Sarah Posner and Digby and others, we don't just have to rely on decades-old psychological and ideological sketches of far-right adherents from past generations.

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