Enter the surreal and absurd world of a former technocrat of the American empire turned book reviewing ‘vice president for research’ at the Orwellian “Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.”
It is unsurprising that the Rupert Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal would publish an op-ed by Jonathan Schanzer, a former Bush Jr. US Treasury Department “terrorism finance analyst,” that attacks Islamophobia as a nasty “pejorative neologism”; as they say, birds of a feather flock together. Murdoch of course is the owner of Fox News, an entity that the supposedly misdefined (according to Schanzer) Islamophobe Randolph Linn cited as inspiration for his views on Islam and Muslims; Linn was recently convicted on hate crime charges for an arson attack on a Toledo, Ohio mosque in October.
Schanzer’s “book review” of Aslan Media editor Nathan Lean’s well argued and factual book “The Islamophobia Industry” is a denial of Islamophobia, or since he does not prefer the word: it is an attack on the reality of the pervasive and irrational anti-Islam/Muslim ideologies that exist amongst a significant segment of the populace.
Schanzer’s book review begins by paying homage to war criminal President George W. Bush, who he lauds as a ‘protector of Muslim Americans.’
“The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends,” President George W. Bush declared soon after the 9/11 attacks. Mr. Bush’s statement set the tone for the tumultuous decade to come, one in which the nation prosecuted a war on terrorism in two Muslim lands while taking great pains to protect the rights of Muslim Americans.
Schanzer’s claim has some merit, a tiny bit that is, when it comes to Muslim Americans, though not for the rest of the world’s Muslims, particularly those forgotten dead Iraqis and Afghani victims of Bush Jr.
After the attacks of 9/11 Bush did state “Islam is a religion of peace” and several other self-serving platitudes, such as the one cited by Schanzer, partially tempering growing acts of jingoistic terror by enraged “Patriots” who wanted to grab the closest brown-looking ‘diaper head,’ but it is untrue to state that those declarations set the “tone for the tumultuous decade to come.”
Schanzer omits the fact that President Bush Jr., in calculated fashion, used the term “Crusade.” He used Crusade even with its well understood historical and theological import to describe the “War on Terror,” which curiously came to be understood by the less discerning “Patriots” as a “War on Islam.”
Bush also used the term “Islamofascism,” equating and conflating the religion of Islam with fascism, in the process displaying the extent of influence on the administration of the developing Islamophobia industry. He was proceeded in the usage of the term by David Horowitz, it’s most popular advocate through staged college campus events known as “Islamofascism Awareness Week“; coordinated with the Young Republicans and pro-Israel groups.
Schanzer himself was likely instrumental in the concerted Bush Jr. era effort at vilifying mainstream Muslim organizations such as CAIR, ISNA, MPAC and others as “un-indicted co-conspirators,” i.e. linking them falsely in the public imagination with terrorism; he conveniently leaves out the fact that he was part of a regime that illegally made public the “un-indicted” label.
The prosecutorial designation provided Islamophobes with a propaganda coup that they employ until this day, casting the aforementioned groups as “Hamas terror fronts.” It has also heightened suspicion of Muslim Americans as subversive “fifth-columnists.”.
Not to mention the fact that the Patriot Act has deleteriously impacted the civil rights of Muslim Americans. Who can forget the psychosis displayed by the Bush Jr. regime when they started deporting Muslim immigrants without citizenship status willy-nilly after 9/11, despite many of them having lived in the US for decades. As award winning author, Georgetown law professor, and civil liberties lawyer David Cole noted in his book Enemy Aliens,
In the war on terrorism, the federal government has detained over 5,000 nationals, engaged in guilt by association and ethnic profiling, and conducted secret searches and wiretaps without probable cause of criminality…
Cole argues that,
…in balancing liberty and security we have consistently relied on a double standard, imposing measures on foreigners that we would not tolerate if they were applied more broadly to us all.
I guess Schanzer means Muslim Americans should be thankful that the Bush Jr. regime didn’t take up Michelle Malkin’s “defense of internment camps” rhetoric.
if the author Nathan Lean is to be believed, Americans today are caught in the grip of an irrational fear of Islam and its adherents.
Despite the well documented rise of anti-Muslim bigotry in the form of hate groups, hate crimes and overall discrimination, Schanzer conveys the idea that America is not suffering from an appreciable level of hatred of Islam and Muslim Americans. This is frankly delusional–members of SIOA are not phantom ghosts, they are Americans. The man who shot Cameron Mohammed was not a djinn, his name was Daniel Quinnell. Muslim woman, Hani Khan, fired for wearing the hijab is real.
It is completely accurate to state that a significant portion of Americans, most strikingly on the Right, are “caught in the grip of an irrational fear of Islam and its adherents.” Clearly, Schanzer is feigning ignorance of the rantings and ravings of Right-wing cable TV, talk radio, the looniverse of the anti-Muslim web, the neo-Con think tanks such as his that provide cover for the hate industry.
In his short book on the subject, Mr. Lean, a journalist and editor at the website Aslan Media, identifies this condition using the vaguely medical sounding term “Islamophobia.” It is by now a familiar diagnosis, and an ever widening range of symptoms—from daring to criticize theocratic tyrannies in the Middle East to drawing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad—are attributed to it.
In reality, Islamophobia is simply a pejorative neologism designed to warn people away from criticizing any aspect of Islam. Those who deploy it see no difference between Islamism—political Islam and its extremist offshoots—and the religion encompassing some 1.6 billion believers world-wide. Thanks to this feat of conflation, Islamophobia transforms religious doctrines and political ideologies into something akin to race; to be an “Islamophobe” is in some circles today tantamount to being a racist.
Schanzer’s glib sneering about the term Islamophobia sounding “vaguely medical,” makes one wonder if he would use similar language about homophobia? One doubts it, even though Schanzer’s time in the Bush Jr. regime was punctuated by many instances of anti-Gay discrimination.
Schanzer’s silly parroting of the tired mantra that “Islamophobia” is a “pejorative neologism” is quite old now. Islamophobia has unretractable momentum on the global cultural scale and as I’ve written before is no longer a “neologism.” Does Schanzer know that the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff employed the word in her last UN speech!? Is he really accusing her of conspiring to conflate “Islamism” and the religion of Islam?
Nevertheless, Schanzer asserts the serious allegation that Islamophobia is familiar most of all for being a term that is flung about to diffuse those ‘daring to criticize theocratic tyrannies in the Middle East to drawing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.’
Of course we know who Schanzer is referring to here, Iran and not the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). KSA after all was a stalwart ally and priviliged friend of the US during his time in the treasury–where was his belated voice against the KSA’s theocratic tyranny during his time in the administration, even as they were rounding up and jailing dissidents in the name of the “War on Terror?” Will he utter a word against KSA even now? No, because he is a neo-Con schmuck more interested in the next nightmare of war, the wet-dream of destruction favored by the chicken hawks that butter his bread at the Foundation For the Defense of Democracies.
For sure, Islamophobia suffers just like any term describing a phenomenon of bigotry from unfortunate instances of conflation. Matt Duss points this out quite well,
Do some use accusations of Islamophobia to stifle legitimate criticism of Islam? Yes, certainly, just as some use accusations of anti-Semitism to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel (as we’ve seen in therecent smear campaign against Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel). But the fact that some use such accusations cynically and recklessly doesn’t mean that Islamophobia and anti-Semitism aren’t real existing problems.
Schanzer’s dishonesty is also clearly evident in that he can’t “understand” what part race plays in Islamophobia. Sunando Sen must be as invisible to him as the Iraqi civilians massacred in Haditha. If Schanzer can’t see the racist implications of a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb replacing a turban then what we should really be asking is: what the hell is he doing writing about a topic he has zero ability to grasp?
The reasons for his umbrage at the role of racism in Islamophobia become clearer as we read on, Schanzer writes,
Mr. Lean tars with the same brush the likes of the scholar Daniel Pipes and the Muslim activist, physician and U.S. Navy veteran Zuhdi Jasser. Mr. Pipes, the author writes, is “deeply entrenched in the business of selling fear.” He portrays Dr. Jasser as a puppetlike figure, “a ‘good Muslim,’ one that openly and forcefully denounced various tenets of his faith.”
Daniel Pipes has been well documented on Loonwatch, claims of his “scholarship” are exaggerated, for instance he has erroneously and repeatedly stated that the Quranic verse, “there is no compulsion in religion” is abrogated because, as he falsely asserts ‘it was revealed in pre-hijra Mecca.’ The fact that Pipes is a racist who fears “Muslim American enfranchisement” and believes the USA is ill-prepared for the “strange customs of brown skin Muslims” seems no impediment to Schanzer’s attempted whitewashing. What do you expect though from a former Bush Jr. regime technocrat, his boss did after all laughably nominate Pipes to the “US institute of Peace,” an oxymoron if ever I heard one.
The “good Muslim vs. bad Muslim” frame that Schanzer indulges in his defense of Zuhdi “strip Muslim American civil rights” Jasser is comical. For more on this pro-murder of Iraqi babies and Israeli occupation/settlement expansion “Muslim reformer” see: Zuhdi Jasser.
This bygone former technocrat in the Bush Jr. regime actually engages in what he accuses those who fight Islamophobia of doing, conflation and prejudice.
Mr. Lean also can’t seem to tell the difference between Islamist organizations and ordinary Muslims.
Islamist states and groups have been at the forefront of promoting the concept of Islamophobia.
According to anti-Islamophobia crusaders, though, even questioning the origins of the concept is itself a form of Islamophobia.
Schanzer’s exercise in book review is an overly generalizing attack on the facts regarding an industry of anti-Muslim hate; relying on proven false conspiracy theories about Islam, that among other things influenced the terrorist atrocities of Anders Behring Breivik.
He recycles familiar tactics, attempting to undermine the abundance of evidence regarding anti-Muslim hate and the Islamophobia industry that produces it. At the same time Schanzer attempts to sanitize to the best of his abilities those in the Islamophobia Movement he admires, his fellow: Neo-Cons, proliferators of war, violence, hatred and yes–Islamophobia.