Hat tip: to all the countless people who sent us tips about Asra Nomani’s lunacy.
Islamophobia is a big business. From pretend-scholars of Islam to pretend-apostates from Islam, it seems like every other person is trying to cash in on the cash cow that is anti-Muslim bigotry. All sorts of opportunists have made six-digit salaries and full-time careers out of Muslim-bashing. So it shouldn’t surprise us that some Muslims would want to get in on the action. And so, I introduce to you one very prominent self-hating loon, namely Asra Nomani.
Nomani has become the “Muslim-for-hire”, selling out her religious community in exchange for fame and money. Like other anti-Muslim bigots, she arose out of obscurity and shot to national prominence by fear-mongering about the Evil Muslims. Now, she has a very steady career out of doing the neo-con bidding. Nomani is very useful to the right wing, as she provides them with the “voice from the inside.” She says the same things as the Islamophobes do, but when she says them, then the Islamophobes can point and say: “Look, even one of their own–a real life Muslim–says the same as we’ve been saying all along!”
This self-hating loon has consistently taken positions that are anti-Muslim. For example, she came to the swift defense of anti-Muslim bigots who opposed the construction of an Islamic cultural center two blocks away from Ground Zero, arguing that “their fears are legitimate.” When Juan Williams stated that he discriminates against people who “look Muslim”, it was none other than Nomani who came to his defense. (One wonders how she’d feel about an old woman being “worried” about a young black man walking towards her on the street? Would Nomani defend a white person admitting being fearful of blacks–and on top of that arguing that it was a justifiable fear?) Notice how she prefaces her statement with “I am Muslim.” Well then, you must automatically be a spokesperson for Muslims everywhere, and whatever you say about Islam and Muslims must be true. You are, after all, a real life Muslim! In fact, Asra Nomani can hardly ever write an article or argue a point without injecting herself into it, such is her self-absorbed nature.
When anti-Muslim bigots began burning the Quran, Nomani couldn’t get herself to say a word against these lovely people. (One wonders how she’d feel if people were burning Torahs? Remember how that ended up in Europe?) Instead, she came out on the side of bigotry once again, writing an article fit for Pamela Geller’s hate site. When right wing bigots need a Muslim voice, who better to do their bidding than Asra Nomani? By so doing, she allows people to say “well, there are Muslims on both sides of the aisle.” She might be one of the only voices chanting anti-Muslim talking points, but HEY A REAL LIFE MUSLIM SAYS WHAT WE’VE BEEN SAYING ALL ALONG! Suddenly there is an equivalence: “there are Muslims on both sides of the issues!”
Asra Nomani is marketed as a “progressive Muslim” and argues that what “we need [is] an expression of institutional Islam that is moderate, progressive and liberal.” Yet there is absolutely nothing progressive about her. Instead, she actually finds herself agreeing with right wing loons. In the very same article, she states that “the Tea Party activists actually express the sentiments of Muslims such as myself…” She criticizes liberal and progressive Americans like myself, saying:
Liberal and progressive Americans and their organizations have dropped the ball in having a nuanced, intelligent critique of extremist Islamic ideology, currying pluralism points instead in the name of interfaith relations.
So on the one hand, Muslims should be liberals and progressives…And on the other hand, she always is on the side of right wing loons and against real liberals and progressives. Nomani’s so-called “liberalism and progressivism” is akin to colonial feminism. Colonial feminism is when people with no connection to feminism suddenly become indignant about womens’ rights in Foreign-Looking Peoples and Countries. For example, many right wingers in America became the world’s most ardent defenders of womens’ rights when it came to invading and occupying Afghanistan. Those People Over There need to be conquered by Us, so We can show them how to treat women. (Lost on them of course is that they are dropping bombs on the heads of women.)
In the same way, Asra Nomani is far removed from liberalism and progressivism, having no relation to it whatsoever. Womens’ rights is nothing more than a great big stick with which to bash Muslims over the head with. Nomani is, allow me to coin a new term (albeit a cheap rip-off of the previous neologism), a colonial liberalist. Her liberalism and progressivism only comes in the flavor of Muslim-bashing. Her liberalism and progressivism goes into overdrive when it comes to the ultraconservative Saudi Arabia (so does mine), but meanwhile she remains silent when this Goodly Judeo-Christian Beacon of Light Country imprisons and tortures Muslims without charge. Iran’s belligerence is then seen as the Ultimate Evil, but meanwhile our own country’s multiple unjust wars cannot be questioned. When it comes to criticizing Muslims, she dons the mantle of liberalism and progressivism. When liberalism and progressivism would mean standing up for Muslims against right wing nut jobs, she’ll be sure to write a piece chastising Muslims.
As a colonial feminist and colonial liberalist, Asra Nomani provides the U.S. government with the proper environment for it to continue waging endless wars against the Muslim world, and to continue occupying their lands. This is no different than what the colonialists aforetime did. And the Arabs, Africans, and Asians are well aware of it. The British would always find some chump from amongst the natives to chant the colonialist line. Back then they used to shower that chump with gifts, money, and positions of power. In exchange, that person would sell out his own people. Today, the same dynamic exists: Asra Nomani says what they want her to say, and in exchange she gets media appearances on Fox News, sells her books for millions, and gains positions of prestige. (How Yale took her as a fellow amazes me.)
Whilst claiming to be the voice of progressive and liberal Islam, she remains chummy with the right wing nuts who find her ever the useful tool. As a proud progressive myself, I cannot understate the degree of harm that her type of self-hating Muslim-bashing “liberals and progressives” have done. Due to people like her, the term “liberal and progressive” has a negative connotation in the Muslim world. And why shouldn’t this be the case, when all the Muslims have heard from such so-called “liberals and progressives” is how barbaric they are, and how great the West is compared to them? People like her make it harder for true liberals and progressives to market themselves in the Muslim world.
Interesting is the fact that despite saying what they want her to say, many extreme right wing characters hate Muslims to such an extent that they can’t tolerate Asra Nomani because she still refers to herself as a Muslim. And so, the colonial analogy comes full circle: the chumps-for-hire were generally hated by their own people and scorned by the colonialists themselves. This one YouTube conversation between bigcherry99 and bronco200005 is accidentally very insightful:
bigcherry99: asra is a really nice lady, but i cannot believe she hasn’t completely denounced islam. what the hell is wrong with her?
bronco200005: @bigcherry99 well if she denounces islam wat will she be left to milk?? Christianity?? Judaism maybe?? I dnt fink so
I don’t “fink” so either. Her utility is only in that she is a Muslim. That’s what she milks. Her article promoting racial and religious profiling would hardly have gotten such significance had she been another non-Muslim calling for profiling of those Dark-Skinned Bad People. But because she plays (and exploits) the I’m-a-Muslim card, her writings are thus pushed to the forefront.
Career bigot and hate blogger Robert Spencer, who advocated a militant video calling for the genocide of Pakistanis and joined a genocidal Facebook group against Muslims of Turkey, gave high praise of Asra Nomani, saying: “why are voices like this so rare among Muslims in the West?” And he lauds her as “courageous.” She is praised elsewhere on his vitriolic website. Why is it, Ms. Asra Nomani, that one of the world’s leading Islamophobes is praising you so? If you are really a “liberal and progressive” Muslim, why is an extreme right wing website speaking so fondly of you? Is it perhaps because you say the exact same things that they normally do against Muslims?
Thankfully, almost no Muslims are buying what Asra Nomani is selling. Instead, her fans consist of right wing non-Muslims, who love the fact that A REAL LIFE MUSLIM is saying exactly what they say. One article critical of Nomani asked (perhaps rhetorically): “Are her remarks given any more weight or legitimacy by the fact that she herself is Muslim?” The answer to that question is obvious: if she wasn’t a Muslim, nobody would have heard of her. She’d have to get a real job then, or at least struggle for a job in the already saturated I-am-an-ex-Muslim-writing-a-book-against-Islam market.
And so, with the latest anti-Muslim controversy, Nomani once again sides with the voices of bigotry. As many of you know, many Americans are protesting the TSA (Transit Security Administration) and their invasive ways, including “touching [your] junk” and using XXX-ray scanners to see you naked. But as the ever astute Glenn Greenwald (a real liberal and progressive, unlike the right wing loon Asra Nomani) notes:
[The] American People. They’re not angry that the Government had adopted inexcusably invasive and irrational security measures. They’re just angry that, this time, it’s being directed at them — rather than those dark, exotic, foreign-seeming Muslims who deserve it, including their own fellow citizens. And if there were a successful bombing plot against a passenger jet, many of those most vocally objecting now would be leading the way in attacking the Government for not having kept them Safe, and would be demanding even more invasive measures — just directed at those Other People, the Bad Dark People over there.
Asra Nomani, ever the self-hating loon, tries to reassure Good Judeo-Christian Folk that they shouldn’t need to get screened like that, and that it’s better to just target Her People. This then is her “difficult solution” that “we need to consider”, namely “racial and religious profiling.” In other words, the “cop-a-feel strategy” (her words) ought to be used only against Muslims and Muslim-looking peoples.
Her article is full of weak arguments to prove her point. The article starts out with the following introduction (emphasis is mine):
In the wake of yet another Muslim terror plot, we can’t ignore the threat profile any longer–or the solution.
Which “Muslim terror plot” is she referring to? She clarifies in her article:
…the Somali-born teenager arrested Friday night for a reported plot to detonate a car bomb at a packed Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Portland, Oregon.
It amazes me that this loon was allowed to blog for Salon.com (which is one of my favorite sites). Another writer for Salon, the epic blogger Glenn Greenwald, wrote an excellent piece about how “the Somali-born teenager” was in fact set up by the FBI:
…The FBI — as they’ve done many times in the past — found some very young, impressionable, disaffected, hapless, aimless, inept loner; created a plot it then persuaded/manipulated/entrapped him to join, essentially turning him into a Terrorist; and then patted itself on the back once it arrested him for having thwarted a “Terrorist plot” which, from start to finish, was entirely the FBI’s own concoction. Having stopped a plot which it itself manufactured, the FBI then publicly touts — and an uncritical media amplifies — its “success” to the world, thus proving both that domestic Terrorism from Muslims is a serious threat and the Government’s vast surveillance powers — current and future new ones — are necessary.
How Asra Nomani’s conclusion from this entire escapade was that we need to adopt racial and religious profiling against Muslims (an essentially more right wing position than is currently in place, at least officially)–instead of reflecting on the backwards approach of the authorities in combating terrorism–only a self-hating loon could explain! But this indeed is where Nomani misses the mark entirely. Terrorism to her is the fault of “literal interpretations of the Quran” which supposedly sanction “terrorism, militancy, and suicide bombings in the name of Islam.” The Somali-born teenager was ready to kill children because of “literal interpretations of the Quran”, or at least so the argument goes. See!, argues the Islamophobe, even a Muslim herself says that the Quran is to blame for terrorism, militancy, and suicide bombing!
Of course, the reality is that the Quran forbids terrorism, suicide, and targeting of civilians. No literal interpretation of the Quran could justify such things. Neither did traditional Islam ever tolerate such. In fact, ultraconservative traditionalists–including the Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia–have declared terrorist tactics to be strictly prohibited in Islam, a view that is entirely consistent with the Islamic tradition. Contrary to popular misconception, Al-Qaeda types justify such deeds not in the Quran or Islamic tradition, but based on the political situation today, wherein the West (the United States and Israel in specific) invade, occupy, and bomb Muslim countries. Greenwald writes:
Finally, there is, as usual, no discussion whatsoever in media accounts of motive. There are several statements attributed to Mohamud by the Affidavit that should be repellent to any decent person, including complete apathy — even delight — at the prospect that this bomb would kill innocent people, including children. What would drive a 19-year-old American citizen — living in the U.S. since the age of 3 — to that level of sociopathic indifference? He explained it himself in several passages quoted by the FBI, and — if it weren’t for the virtual media blackout of this issue — this line of reasoning would be extremely familiar to Americans by now (para. 45):
Undercover FBI Agent: You know there’s gonna be a lot of children there?
Mohamud: Yeah, I know, that’s what I’m looking for.
Undercover FBI Agent: For kids?
Mohamud: No, just for, in general a huge mass that will, like for them you know to be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays. And then for later to be saying, this was them for you to refrain from killing our children, women . . . . so when they hear all these families were killed in such a city, they’ll say you know what your actions, you know they will stop, you know. And it’s not fair that they should do that to people and not feeling it.
And here’s what he allegedly said in a video he made shortly before he thought he would be detonating the bomb (para. 80):
…For as long as you threaten our security, your people will not remain safe. As your soldiers target civilians, we will not help to do so. Did you think that you could invade a Muslim land, and we would not invade you..
We hear the same exact thing over and over and over from accused Terrorists — that they are attempting to carry out plots in retaliation for past and ongoing American violence against Muslim civilians and to deter such future acts. Here we find one of the great mysteries in American political culture: that the U.S. Government dispatches its military all over the world — invading, occupying, and bombing multiple Muslim countries — torturing them, imprisoning them without charges, shooting them up at checkpoints, sending remote-controlled drones to explode their homes, imposing sanctions that starve hundreds of thousands of children to death — and Americans are then baffled when some Muslims — an amazingly small percentage — harbor anger and vengeance toward them and want to return the violence. And here we also find the greatest myth in American political discourse: that engaging in all of that military aggression somehow constitutes Staying Safe and combating Terrorism — rather than doing more than any single other cause to provoke, sustain and fuel Terrorism.
Even Asra Nomani’s article itself betrays this point, as she quotes Usama bin Ladin as follows (emphasis is mine):
“Our response to the barbaric bombardment against Muslims of Afghanistan and Sudan will be ruthless and violent,” he said in a statement. “All the Islamic world has mobilized to strike a prominent American or Israeli strategic objective, to blow up their airplanes and to seize them.”
Naturally, pointing out the obvious–that nothing promotes Terrorism more than us “invading, occupying, and bombing” their countries–would be anathema to a fake “liberal and progressive” like Asra Nomani. Instead, she’d rather agree with the likes of the Tea Party and other right wing nuts who–even though the United States has killed way more Muslims than “the Muslims” have killed Americans–wonder mysteriously why a few Muslims would want to attack us. It’s much easier to blame The Other for being so violent, and then have a self-hating loon affirm this for them. It is only by removing this key element–our invading, occupying, and bombing their countries–that we can condescendingly discuss what’s wrong with Islam. The truth is, however, that terrorism is directly related to our own foreign policy. As Nomani herself says (except she’s talking about racial and religious profiling):
I know this is an issue of great distress to many people. But I believe that we cannot bury our heads in the sand anymore.
Yes, it does cause great distress to many people that we dare cogitate that we are responsible for our own plight. But I believe that we cannot bury our heads in the sand anymore. How the media completely blacks out the obvious–and how any politician who dares argue this point must be immediately ostracized–is indicative of its truth.
Not only is Asra Nomani’s article ethically repugnant, she deceitfully cites “studies.” She cites the Rand Corporation’s study entitled “Would-Be Warriors.” Only a self-hating loon could read that entire report and only glean the point that she did! In fact, I wrote an article summarizing the Rand Corporation’s findings here:
The “threat profile”, as Nomani asserts, is defined as follows by Rand:
[Of the] 83 terrorist attacks in the United States between 9/11 and the end of 2009, only three…were clearly connected with the jihadist cause.
Fifty of the 83 terrorist attacks were committed by environmental extremists and animal rights fanatics, “which account for most of the violence.” Five civilians were killed by the anthrax letters.
The Rand study states:
There are more than 3 million Muslims in the United States, and few more than 100 have joined jihad—about one out of every 30,000—suggesting an American Muslim population that remains hostile to jihadist ideology and its exhortations to violence. A mistrust of American Muslims by other Americans seems misplaced.
Only a self-hating loon could argue that 3 million Muslims should be profiled for the crimes of 100. In fact, the Rand study blasts people like Asra Nomani who fear monger about the “threat profile.” Says Rand:
Public reaction is an essential component of homeland defense. Needless alarm, exaggerated portrayals of the terrorist threat, unrealistic expectations of a risk-free society, and unreasonable demands for absolute protection will only encourage terrorists’ ambitions to make America fibrillate in fear and bankrupt itself with security…Panic is the wrong message to send America’s terrorist foes.
Nomani argues for widened governmental power, including invasive security measures. Yet, the Rand report argues the opposite. As I wrote in that previous article:
Americans have ceded their civil liberties to the government due to the misplaced fear of terrorism. The first group affected by these heavy-handed laws are Muslim Americans, which hampers anti-terrorism efforts by alienating the very community whose cooperation is so necessary. The report declares:
In response, the country has conceded to the authorities broader powers to prevent terrorism. However, one danger of this response is that revelations of abuse or of heavy-handed tactics could easily discredit intelligence operations, provoke public anger, and erode the most effective barrier of all to radicalization: the cooperation of the community.
We argue that the loss of civil liberties and rise in xenophobia have a more significant and longer lasting effect than acts of terrorism.
Asra Nomani writes:
According to a terrorism database at the University of Maryland, which documents 60 attacks against airlines and airports between 1970 and 2007, the last year available, suspects in attacks during the 1970s were tied to the Jewish Defense League, the Black Panthers, the Black September, the National Front for the Liberation of Cuba, Jewish Armed Resistance and the Croatian Freedom Fighters, along with a few other groups.
In each of these groups’ names was a religious or ethnic dimension. For that time, those were the identities that we needed to assess. Today, the threat has changed, and it is primarily coming from Muslims who embrace al Qaeda’s radical brand of Islam.
So, terrorism was before linked to Jews, blacks, and Hispanics in the 1970’s. But now it is linked to Muslims. Hence, we should racially and religiously profile Muslims. OK, so would Asra Nomani have agreed to racially and religiously profiling Jews, blacks, and Hispanics in the 1970’s? (Notice how the “threat profile” is always The Other, never Good Christian White Folks, but Jews, blacks, Hispanics, and now the Evil Muslims!) I suspect Nomani will issue a response to my article, and if she does, then I want a direct yes/no answer from her: would she agree that it would have been the right thing to do at that time to racially and/or religiously profile Jews, blacks, and Hispanics?
But we need not restrict this to a hypothetical in the 1970s. Rather, it can be applied to the situation today. Nomani’s argument is very simple: Muslims are (according to her) the number one terrorists, therefore it makes sense to racially and religiously profile them. Extending that logic, one could easily sanction racial and religious profiling of blacks and Hispanics by police. One could cite studies and statistics just like Asra Nomani did against Muslims. For example,the government released a report which showed that “more than three times as many black people live in prison cells as in college dorms.” And: “The ratio is only slightly better for Hispanics, at 2.7 inmates for every Latino in college housing.” The same study found that the percentage of U.S. inmates that are black is 41%, and the percentage that are black and Hispanic is 60%. The same is the case in the UK, where the Metropolitan Police found that 54% of those who committed street crimes were blacks, 59% of robberies were by blacks, and 67% of gun crimes were by blacks.
One racist website breaks it down for us:
The chilling report by The New Century Foundation, called The Colour of Crime [PDF], shows in unflinching statistical detail, that in the USA:
- Blacks are seven times more likely than people of other races to commit murder, and eight times more likely to commit robbery.
- The single best indicator of violent crime levels in an area is the percentage of the population that is black and Hispanic.
- Of the nearly 770,000 violent interracial crimes committed every year involving blacks and whites, blacks commit 85 percent and whites commit 15 percent.
- Blacks commit more violent crime against whites than against blacks. Forty-five percent of their victims are white, 43 percent are black, and 10 percent are Hispanic. When whites commit violent crime, only three percent of their victims are black.
- Blacks are an estimated 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a white than vice versa, and 136 times more likely to commit robbery.
- Blacks are 2.25 times more likely to commit officially-designated hate crimes against whites than vice versa.
Meanwhile, over here in Our Country the pattern appears to be much the same
- Blacks are 5 times more likely to commit violence against the person.
- Blacks are 4 times ‘more likely’ to commit sexual offences.
- Blacks are fifteen times ‘more likely’ to commit robbery.
- Blacks are over six times ‘more likely’ to commit fraud and forgery.
- Blacks are over twice as likely to commit criminal damage.
- Black are five times ‘more likely’ to commit drugs offences.
This is of course all “threat assessment.” Another racist website argues that we are curtailing the government’s ability to Protect and Keep Us Safe by prohibiting racial profiling of blacks (emphasis is mine):
Data suggest ‘racial profiling’ may have scientific basis
1. African-Americans commit 90% of the approximately 1,700,000 interracial crimes of violence that occur in the United States every year, and are more than 50 times more likely to commit violent crime against whites than vice versa.
Study: blacks commit 90% of interracial crime
2. Blacks are so much more likely than Americans of other races to commit crimes that police may be justified in stopping and questioning them more frequently – just as they stop men more often than women and young people more often than old people.
These are some of the controversial findings of a new think tank report based on extensive cross-analysis of government crime statistics. The study finds that Asians consistently commit the smallest number of crimes, followed by whites. Hispanics commit violent crime at approximately three times the white rate, and blacks are five to eight times more violent. In one of its most startling conclusions the report finds that blacks are as much more violent than whites as men are more violent than women. “This is the painful reality that gives rise to ‘racial profiling,’ “ said Jared Taylor, the report’s author. “Police quickly learn who the bad guys are. When there is a murder they don’t look for little old ladies. They look for young men – unfortunately, they are often justified in looking for young black men.”
Why should you stop my grandma instead of that young black man? Isn’t that wasting resources? Any argument that Nomani and other right wingers make against Muslims in support of racial or religious profiling could be applied even more so to blacks and Hispanics. In fact, violent crime on the streets accounts for a hundreds times more American deaths than from terrorists. So if there is an urgency that must be met–if we simply just cannot avoid racial or religious profiling of terrorists due to the imminent threat–then surely there is an even greater urgency to apply such standards to our domestic police force.
This is Asra Nomani’s logic to justify racial and religious profiling. There is no logical way for her to support the racial and religious profiling of Muslims, and to be against it when it comes to black people and Hispanics. My point here is not to argue for the profiling of blacks and Hispanics. Rather, it is to show that we all immediately have a visceral reaction to the mere thought of this (as we should). But when people on national media routinely suggest the profiling of Muslims, then it’s something that is seriously debated. This proves that although blacks and Hispanics are certainly low on the social totem pole, the Muslims are the absolute lowest.
On the other hand, even passingly mentioning the idea of racially and religiously profiling Jews would be met with absolute shock. Yet, if we were to use Asra Nomani’s logic (and that of the right wing in general), then wouldn’t Iran be justified in racially and religiously profiling Jews in their country? After all, logic dictates that a Jewish guy is much more likely to be an Israeli spy than anyone else. Wouldn’t this be justified in light of the fact that Israel has repeatedly threatened Iran? Shouldn’t national interest trump everything else? So I’m sure we wouldn’t have a problem if the Iranians racially or religiously profiled Jews, right?
Racial and religious profiling is immoral. Our nation had already come to this conclusion. It is sad that Islamophobia has reintroduced this ugly evil. Asra Nomani, like all bigots, has to justify her bigotry with the necessary disclaimer: “I’m not racist, but…” She states:
I realize that in recent years, profiling has become a dirty word, synonymous with prejudice, racism, and bigotry…
Yes, she is correct. It is certainly synonymous with prejudice, racism, and bigotry. Too bad she didn’t stop there. Nomani concludes (emphasis is mine):
We have to choose pragmatism over political correctness, and allow U.S. airports and airlines to do religious and racial profiling.
Pragmatism? Perhaps Asra Nomani is a “racial realist”? Racial realists are just being “pragmatic” when they argue for racially profiling young black men.
Of course, none of this has anything to do with pragmatism, or any desire to actually stop terrorism. Terrorists do not fit one mold, and in fact come in all different shapes, sizes, and races. The Underwear Bomber was a black guy, and so was the recent Somali would-be bomber…Show both pictures to any random person on the street, and see how many of them would recognize them as “Muslim.” On the other hand, most people would see two black guys. Asra Nomani argues not just for religious profiling, but racial profiling. So is she arguing for racial profiling of black people? Or perhaps just young black men? The Underwear Bomber was Nigerian and the Oregon would-be bomber was Somali. Nomani states that “they trace their national or ethnic identity back to specific countries.” So, are we to screen out only Nigerians and Somalis as opposed to other black people? How many people could make that fine distinction? I’m sure there are plenty of black people–born and bred here in the United States–who could pass off as Nigerian or Somali. Should we also profile them?
(Many Islamophobes will chime in that they oppose racial profiling but support religious profiling…Would it then be OK to religiously profile Jews in the 1970’s or for Iran to do so today? The famous line “you-can’t-be-racist-against-Muslims-since-Muslim-is-not-a-race” is debunked by simply asking “would it be OK to discriminate against Jews in a similar fashion?”)
Asra Nomani came to Juan Williams’ defense, arguing that Williams was justified in fearing passengers who wore “Muslim garb.” Yet, Al-Qaeda operatives are told to blend in. They are not dressed in stereotypical “Muslim garb.” Oftentimes, they are as clean-shaven as they come, and wearing Western clothes just like you or I. Does Asra Nomani think that Al-Qaeda cannot recruit blue-eyed blond-haired terrorists? They sure can, and they have.
There are certainly times when we must choose between the ideologically sound choice and the expedient one. Even if that were the case here–even if we had to choose between being racially/religiously equal vs Being Safe–then our moral conscience should choose the former. Even if racial or religious profiling made us safer, we should not opt for that route, since it goes against our moral character. Benjamin Franklin famously said: “The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either.”
But in this case, racial and religious profiling of Muslims does not make us safer at all. Andrew Curry wrote an excellent article on Salon.com (why on earth did a great website like Salon.com ever hire a right wing Tea Party sympathizing loon like Asra Nomani!?) on how a recent study found that “such profiling is not only ineffective, it’s counterproductive.” (Not like the proponents of racial and religious profiling actually care about keeping us Safe; if they really did, they would be the first to oppose U.S.-led invasions, occupations, and bombings of Muslim countries.) The article reads:
In a study released on Tuesday, the Open Society Institute — a think tank and democracy-promotion organization funded by billionaire George Soros — argues that racial profiling of Muslims is essentially a public relations tool designed to make people feel safer in the immediate aftermath of a terror attack. After the 2006 bus and subway bombings in London, for example, highly publicized raids on mosques or ID checks in Muslim areas gave the public the impression the police were taking action.
There is also the desire to use racial and religious profiling to single out and blame Muslims. Your people are to blame. And Asra Nomani, the ever eager self-hating loon, chants: my people are to blame for all this. But just because she is Muslim, it does not give her the right to cede Muslim rights to the majority population. She cannot be allowed to speak for all Muslims, no more than Uncle Tom was allowed to speak for black people. Neither should Nomani be thought of as some Muslim “liberal and progressive”, when in fact she has nothing to do with liberals and progressives. Liberals and progressives stand for all minority groups, be they Christians being targeted in Iraq by Muslim extremists or Muslims being targeted by Jewish extremists in Israeli Occupied Territories. We stand up for them not to score cheap political points, nor to reinforce the Team Muhammad vs Team Jesus mentality. The last thing we tolerate is the demonization and singling out of one community, which is what Asra Nomani facilitates. She is not a liberal or progressive Muslim; she is a self-hating loon and self-absorbed opportunist.
This entire “I’m a Muslim, Please Profile Me” nonsense is theatrics. Nomani knows she would be immune from scrutiny due to her fame. Subjecting her fellow Muslims to such treatment–which she herself calls “cop-a-feel strategy” and knows is an outrage to The Real Americans (Good Judeo-Christian White Folks)–this she has no problem with. She has no qualms about selling out her religious community for the fame and money it provides her.
It seems that the last article Asra Nomani wrote for Salon was in 2003. Perhaps she realized that a right wing nut like herself has no reason to write for such a website. In light of the fact that Nomani’s last article on Salon was so many years ago, it might be making much ado about nothing to question that site about this. Nonetheless, I think it might behoove people to message Salon and especially people like Glenn Greenwald to give them a heads up that Asra Nomani does not in any way, shape, or form represent Muslims. This is not to say that a Muslim is not allowed to give a dissenting opinion from the Standard Muslim Line…I’m all for that. But, notice how she seems to use her Religious Affiliation as an immunity card, always making sure that it is known that she is a Real Life Muslim. Furthermore, she posits herself as a representative for Muslims, using such constructs as “The Tea Party activists actually express the sentiments of Muslims such as myself…” A Muslim supporting the Tea Party is as much of a political oddity as a gay black man supporting the Republican party. Ms. Nomani, try making an argument without seeking to validate it with the “I’m-a-Muslim” routine.
Asra Nomani’s support for the right wing Islamophobia machine was highlighted in a previous profile of the loon Wafa Sultan by our very own Garibaldi. Sultan, like Nomani, lives off of the anti-Muslim cash cow–the “I’m a real life (former?) Muslim” canard–and she uses it to deliver speeches and write books declaring Islam a greater threat to civilization than Nazism. Amongst other things, Sultan is friends with and is admired by career Islamophobe Pamela Geller, who she often lectures with. Sultan was seen at a synagogue calling for nuclear strikes on Muslim countries.
Asra Nomani, the so-called “liberal and progressive”, has expressed her deep admiration for Wafa Nuke-the-Muslims Sultan, referring to her as a fellow “bad girl of Islam.” From Garibaldi’s article on Sultan:
Another good example of her (Sultan’s) tale of woe is the profile carried by self-described “bad girl of Islam” Asra Nomani in TIME magazine. Asra Nomani, who can’t pen anything without including herself writes,
I connected with her (Sultan’s) anger and pain. She questioned Islam in 1979, when, she says, she witnessed the murder of a professor by men with alleged ties to the ultraconservative Muslim Brotherhood political group.
One wonders if Nomani was so moved by her “connection” with Sultan that she (and her editors) forgot to fact check whether or not Sultan actually could have witnessed the murder of her professor in her classroom. InFocus, a California based magazine did more thorough research into the matter than TIME in a piece titled Wafa Sultan: Reformist or Opportunist,
As to the claim that her professor (thought to be Yusef Al-Yusef) was gunned down before her eyes in a faculty classroom at the University of Aleppo, Halabi said the incident never took place. “There was a professor who was killed around 1979, that is true, but it was off-campus and Sultan was not even around when it happened,” he added.
InFocus contacted the University of Aleppo and spoke to Dr. Riyad Asfari, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, who confirmed Halabi’s account. “Yes, the assassination took place off-campus,” he said. Dr. Asfari was keen to add that no one had ever been killed in a classroom anytime or anywhere at the university.
Syrian expatriate Ghada Moezzin, who attended the University of Aleppo in 1979 as a sophomore, told InFocus that she never heard of the assassination. “We would’ve known about the killing if it had happened,” she said. “It would have been big news on campus and I do not recall ever hearing about it.” Moezzin, who lives in Glendora, Calif., added that government security was always present around the university given the political climate in Syria at the time.
Anyone read Asra Nomani’s article entitled “My Big Fat Muslim Wedding?” In it, she uses her n=1 experience to stereotype Pakistani men as brutish. A great reply to her silly article was written by G. Willow Wilson:
Asra Nomani’s recent essay in Marie Claire, My Big Fat Muslim Wedding, lays out a scenario that has become familiar to everyone in the post-9/11 world: despairing Muslim woman is forced to choose between her (literally) white knight and a traditional marriage to a boorish, vaguely ominous Muslim man. Losing love to Islam has become as universal a theme as finding love in Paris. It’s the subject of high art, low art and everything in between: Samina Ali’s Madras on Rainy Days springs to mind, as does the much-hyped failed marriage of Princess Meriam Al-Khalifa and Lance Corporal Jason Johnson. The implication of Nomani’s story, like those I’ve just listed, is that there are no decent Muslim men on planet Earth–or, if by some miracle they do exist, they are so difficult to find that it’s not worth the bother. This is the crux of the argument that Shari’a law should be changed to allow Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, and perhaps the reason even liberal Muslim groups can be defensive and traditionalist when it comes to this point. It is an implicit condemnation of Muslim men everywhere: in the eyes of women, they do not measure up in any way that counts.
Nomani’s complaints about her Muslim ex-husband are indeed cringeworthy: he is cold, withdrawn, childish, and sexually worse than useless. But this litany of failings is not limited to Muslim men–not by a long shot. The story of a passionate woman in a stale marriage is as old as Helen of Troy. The theme is so perennial that without the specter of Islam to dress it up, it’s almost boring. This is a case of cultural amnesia: as soon as a Muslim man enters the picture, women everywhere forget about Thelma and Louise,The Good Girl and The Divorcee, and pretend that sullen oafish husbands are an Islamic phenomenon. If this was really true, poor Shakespeare–along with hundreds of thousands of modern divorce lawyers–would have been out of a career.
Out-marriage is an issue religious groups have been wrestling with for some time. Of course men and women fall in love. Of course it’s not always convenient to their respective cultural and spiritual norms. Out-marriage is of such concern in the Jewish community that its leaders have gone to extraordinary lengths to encourage romantic relationships between young Jews. If they are successful, it is because they are not up against the same barrier: Jewish men are not perceived (by Jewish women or anyone else) as inherently threatening and perverse. In western culture, Muslim men start the marriage process with a handicap–because of the way they are portrayed and the example that is made of them, even Muslim women have begun, consciously or unconsciously, to view them with suspicion.
This puts those of us in healthy Muslim marriages to good Muslim men in a difficult position. On one hand, there is an onus on us to provide a counterexample, and inject a little hope into the grim picture of Islamic marriage. On the other hand, people in happy marriages are usually (and for good reason) unwilling to write about the intimate details of their sexual and domestic lives in magazines. So I will close with the conclusion I’ve come to after years of listening to girlfriends Muslim and non complain about men: the reason Asra Nomani discovered a dirth of eligible Muslim men is the same reason Carrie Bradshaw discovered a dirth of eligible Manhattanite men. The good ones go first, and they go fast. The battle of the sexes–love gained and lost, marriages failed and personalities mistaken–was raging long before the demonization of Muslim men became fashionable. Choosing a spouse with religion in mind is not always a mistake, especially if your heritage and your faith are important parts of who you are. The trick is, as always, to recognize a good thing when you see it–and never mistake the bad for something more.
G. Willow Wilson is author of the Eisner Award-nominated comic book series AIR. Her memoir The Butterfly Mosque is forthcoming from Grove Press.