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Ahmed Rehab: The Denial of Islamophobia

Greeneye recently did a great piece on Pascal Bruckner, a (wanna-be) “philosopher” who made the very poor and contradictory case that the word Islamophobia was “invented” to silence critics of the Koran, while at the same time minimizing bigotry against Muslims.

Much to our delight Marty Peretz wanted to help make our case that Pascal Bruckner’s article was not only woefully anemic intellectually, but thoroughly Islamophobic. Peretz of “Muslim lives are cheap fame” latched onto Bruckner’s article hoping that in some way another fake liberal might exonerate him of his lewd beliefs and laughingstock position, in doing so he just made our point even stronger. Good company you are in Pascal!

Ahmed Rehab shreds Peretz (hat tip: John P.):

The Denial of Islamophobia

by Ahmed Rehab

Faux liberal and pro-occupation advocate, New Republic editor Martin Peretz is back at it again.

Last fall, he caused a firestorm with his racist comments that “Muslim life is cheap” in a piece lambasting the New York Times for speaking out against anti-Muslim prejudice and defending constitutionally-protected religious rights.

Sounding more like a slumlord than a former Harvard assistant professor, he wrote at the time:

I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment, which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.

Peretz, who was slated to be honored by Harvard prior to the controversy, was roundly rebuked for his offensive comments, with Harvard put under intense pressure for honoring a bigot. Harvard students rallied outside his ceremony which several professors and staff boycotted; disgusted alumni returned their certificates to the university. Though the ceremony took place, his acceptance speech was cancelled.

But that humiliation has not stopped Peretz from his downward spiral to kookdom. On Monday, he dished out some raw Islamophobia-denial in a gullible column entitled “The Invention of Islamophobia”:

Anyone who suggests that there is a war being waged by Muslims in their own lands and in the lands in which they have settled–these last, by the way, are the really aggressive “settlers”!–against rationalists and true liberals, traditional conservatives and Islamic dissenters, Christians and Jews is likely to be labeled an “Islamophobe.” I have been, and thousands of you out there, perhaps millions, have been so labeled…or almost. And, at dinner with friends, have anyone of you just raised questions about the tyranny of silence which the “politically so correct” are trying to impose on those who are fearful of the admixture of faith and bombs and then not found yourselves attacked as at least “intolerant” and perhaps even a bigot? Or, yes, even an Islamophobe.

He goes on to claim:

Islamophobia–that is, the word itself–is meant to silence you. It has already silenced President Obama, hasn’t it? He hasn’t even spoken up for his fellow Christians who in recent weeks have been victimized in Iraq (where maybe we still wave some sway), Egypt (our very expensive ally), Nigeria, Pakistan et al.

(Actually that’s a lie. “President Obama, in a statement, called the attack ‘barbaric and heinous,’” the AP reports. But that’s not our topic.)

Allow me to clarify a few things for the confused, self-victimizing Peretz.

Firstly, being “fearful of the admixture of faith and bombs” does not constitute Islamophobia.

In fact, most Muslims in the world would admit to being afraid of this admixture.

I understand that it is difficult for stereotype-minded individuals to understand that other people are largely just like their own – that is, with their share of some bad who do bad things and a good majority who fear bad things – but that is what makes them bigots.

Bigots, by definition, tend to not only fear the bad apples in “other” group – which would be understandable – but they tend to go further by propping them up as the headline for the entire group, even if the bad apples are a small percentage.

And so for a certified bigot, all Blacks are street criminals, all Latinos are gang bangers, all Jews are greedy, and all Muslims mix faith with bombs.

As such Islamophobia is just another form of bigotry – in this case, bigotry against Muslims. But here’s the point Mr. Peretz, like other forms of bigotry, it is not so much about criticizing something as negative (as you cheekily posit), but the generalization of what is negative to all members of the group (which you and others demonstrably indulge in).

So when Peretz talks of a war being waged by “Muslims in their own lands and in the lands in which they have settled … against rationalists and true liberals, traditional conservatives and Islamic dissenters, Christians and Jews” without context, scope or qualification – as if all 1.4 billion Muslims are waging a war against all the billions of liberals, conservatives, Christians and Jews in the world – then Peretz is engaging in simplistic and vitriolic generalizations against Muslims that certainly constitute Islamophobia.

There is another related indicator of Islamophobia: selectivity.

So when Peretz is “fearful of the admixture of faith and bombs” only when that faith is Islam, but not when that faith is Christianity, Hinduism, his native Judaism or some other faith, then chances are Peretz is mired in Islamophobia.

Funny enough, there is one more common indicator of Islamophobia: criticizing those who resist the trigger-happy generalizations of Muslims as supposedly “succumbing to political correctness.” In that warped world view, the bigoted are the courageous freedom fighting patriots, and those responsible souls who say “no thanks” to generalizations are the weak-kneed politically-correct liberals who are going to bring America down.

So no, Mr. Peretz, before you start crying victim and feeling sorry for yourself as someone who is ridiculed for daring to speak out against the evils of Islam and Muslims and against the oversensitivity of the poor old politically correct masses, perhaps you can explain to us how opposing an American Muslim mosque for the alleged transgressions of Muslims in medieval Muslim lands is not a double generalization across time and space for which you should rightly be ridiculed and dismissed?

Islamophobia – that is negative stereotyping, bigoted expressions, and rampant generalizations against Islam and Muslims – is not only a sad reality in America today but one that is hard to miss just reading through the news headlines in 2010, let alone the third page. Not coincidently, those who are leading the Islamophobic movement in this country are the same people now leading the Islamophobia-denial movement. And in truth, Martin Peretz, though a member of the club, is not at the top of the list.

Whether anti-semitism or Islamophobia, those who coined the phenomenon did not “invent” the phenomenon, they simply called it out. It is an insult to Harvard, that someone like Peretz does not possess the requisite intellectual fortitude to tell the difference.

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  • Fact checker

    @ Jack Cope. Just FYI BNP’s old Nick went to the Oxbridge rival Cambridge.

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  • Mosizzle

    “I think it might be time to dust of the ‘Protocals’. I dont know if it was fiction or fake, but it sure is ringing true”

    The book did turn out to be forged but remember, it was wildly anti-Semitic and used by the Nazis so even saying something like it’s “ringing true” might offend Jews.

    “People like Mr. Peretz must now find another reason to change the conversation. Now, it isnt ‘we must protect Israel from Arabs’…but ‘we must protect the world from the evil Muslims’.”

    I will agree here. Islamophobes of the Zionist variety have been exploiting the 9/11 tragedy to turn the world against Muslims. Many Pro-Israel, Anti-Muslim blogs have the twin towers somewhere on their page, obviously to highlight to Americans that Muslims are a common threat. Many Israelis pretend that they know America’s pain because of the “Muslim terrorism” that they have experienced. It’s just a change of strategy but they need more allies so they are sometimes delighted when a country experiences terrorism because they assume that will draw them closer to Israel.

  • http://thebandofstrangers.blogspot.com/ Jack Cope

    My mistake, of course he did, but the point still stands, just going to a top uni doesn’t make you smart unfortunately, another being that Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, went to Oxford I believe…

  • Averroe’s Ghost

    Bush actually went to Yale, I believe…Mindy I got your point.

  • Nur Alia

    Lets not mask the real reason that Zionists like Mr Peretz keep trying to claim that ‘because we are Muslim we are violent’.

    The carefully cultivated public relations campaign about the oppression and occupation by the Israelis of the Palistinians is falling apart.

    The facts people are seeing now in the west are shocking to them, being lied to for 60 or more years. I ‘talked’ with a sister born in America who actually didnt know that there were Palistinian Christians. SERIOUSLY!

    As people like this dear friend were kept in the dark about the conflict because of the filtering of the media about the conflict for so long are learning more and more FACTS and TRUE history of this conflict, the perception that Israel needs to use military force to protect itself is being shown as a lie.

    They are losing the perception that Israel is a ‘mighty army’ because they can hold back millions of Muslims…and they are highly disappointed to find that most of the people Israel has killed or injured over the life of the conflict has been civilians, non combatants, and thier targets have been police bragades, food processing plants, grocery stores, apartment blocks, schools and houses of worship, and of course homes.

    People like Mr. Peretz must now find another reason to change the conversation. Now, it isnt ‘we must protect Israel from Arabs’…but ‘we must protect the world from the evil Muslims’.

    Of course, our loons, Geller, Spencer, and the ones near and dear to us like JihadBob pretend to be on the side of the Zionists, but in fact people like Mr Peretz are experts in propaganda dissmination, and really, the loons are being used by people like him.

    I think it might be time to dust of the ‘Protocals’. I dont know if it was fiction or fake, but it sure is ringing true…much like the fiction “1984” in this day and age.

  • mindy1

    @Islam denounces terrorism, it was just my way of saying I respect rational people 😉

  • http://thebandofstrangers.blogspot.com/ Jack Cope

    Islam Denounces Terrorism , little Bush managed to get to Harvard, enough said I think 😐

  • http://www.islamdenouncesterrorism.com/ Islam Denounces Terrorism

    Mindy1

    “I bow to Rehab’s rationality”

    Bow only to God 😉

    Even though Rehab is exactly right as per norm. Rehab always shoots arrows right on target (oops better be careful, don’t want to end up like Palin :)

    As for this Peretz, sheeeeeeesh, I can’t believe it, I mean a Harvard graduate…….you’d think he’d know better, or doesn’t his pea brain (how did he ever into Harvard?) make the connection between what he is saying and the exact same parallel with white supremaciests, who deny Judeophobia whilst promoting Mein Kempt and The Protocals and other anti Jewish polemics..

  • Muhannad

    Epic slicing and dicing by Mr. Rehab thanks to his usual logical objective style.

    And yes Peretz, you’re an old bigot:

    “Peretz — and everyone else — must know that if his legacy were to be settled as of today, it would be mixed at best. Beloved by many students and respected by some magazine colleagues, but broadly considered in his 70s to be a bigot”

    – The Atlantic’s James Fallows

  • Les

    Excellent article by Rehab. Peretz is a racist who’s oblivious to the fact that he’s a racist.

  • mindy1

    I bow to Rehab’s rationality 😀

  • Averroe’s Ghost

    Marty Peretz is sick, and he is staring down oblivion, leaving a cascade of imbecilic bigotry towards the end of his days. Peretz, wont even be remembered, his name will be blotted out forever.

    Great article by Mr. Rehab, denial is a dark tunnel that leads to no where except possibly more laughs!

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