Nel's New Day

February 12, 2015

Islamophobia Kills Muslims, Drives War Debate

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 11:14 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Craig Stephen Hicks, a white man in Chapel Hill (NC) shot three Muslim student–Yusor Mohammad, her husband, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salh–in the head. His wife claims that it wasn’t a hate crime, and police have said that the motivation was a parking place dispute. Hicks is a self-declared atheist, and his Facebook page shows a rabid opposition to any religion. If the situation had been reversed—three Muslim killers and one white man—there would have been claims of terrorism and demands that all Muslims condemn the action while the nation went into lockdown. Hicks, however, will most likely be seen as an isolated psychopath instead of a terrorist, and media reports about the event were initially minimal with the Washington Post ignoring it for 17 hours.

Muslims, however, are more often the victims of violence in the United States than the perpetrators. The year 2013 saw more than 160 anti-Muslim hate crimes in which mosques and Islamic centers have been firebombed and vandalized. During Ramadan in 2012, seven mosques were attacked. In 2010, a white college student and self-described patriot tried to slash the throat of Bangladeshi cab driver Ahmed Sharif. The white supremacist who slaughtered six people in a Sikh temple in 2012 may have thought he was targeting Muslims as did Erika Menendez, who pushed Sunando Sen in front of a subway train in the same year.

The police came to the conclusion that the parking place was the motive in less than 24 hours, despite the fears of their neighbor that the victim had expressed before their murders. Tensions for Muslims in the area had been increasing since the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris. Nearby Duke University has canceled a plan for the Muslim call to prayer from a campus chapel tower after the Fox network and evangelist Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, opposed the idea.

While Congress ignores terrorism against Muslims on the home ground, they’re quibbling about the problems in the Middle East. For six months, the GOP leadership in Congress have complained about the president not asking for permission in his military offensive against ISIL. They’ve demanded that the president seek permission from them but refused to put together any resolution. Yesterday, the president decided to play their game and stop bickering by providing Congress with a proposed resolution for new war powers to go after ISIL. The proposal replaces George W. Bush’s 2002 legislation that authorized the debacle in Iraq but leaves the resolution passed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Democrats said the proposal is too broad with too few restrictions, and the Republicans said it is too narrow with too many restrictions.

As Steve Benen pointed out, the process was predictable:

  1. Congress’ demand to President Obama: “Send us a resolution!”
  2. President Obama responds to Congress: “Fine, here’s proposed language.”
  3. Congress declares to everyone: “We don’t like this resolution!”

Sen. Marco Rubio reacted by saying that the requested authorization should be just one sentence: “We authorize the President to defeat and destroy ISIL, period.” That’s probably what he wants if he gets to be president—limitless power to do anything, anywhere.

As Congress debates a war against ISIL and most people in the United States ignore the building anti-Muslim fear and antipathy in the country, religious leaders foment more hatred. For example, former governor and likely repeat GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said that the Obama administration is “bending over backwards to do everything possible to accommodate Muslims but they don’t mind stomping all over Christians and they do it regularly.” Another possible GOP candidate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal warns of an Islamic “invasion” and “colonization” of the United States designed to impose Sharia law on unsuspecting Americans.

Bill O’Reilly started talking about “no-go zones” in Paris because of Muslims, and the far right religious leaders have declared that these exist in the United States. Tony Perkins thinks that they’re in part of Minneapolis, and Reagan administration Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense Frank Gaffney has identified Dearborn (MI) as one of these areas. WorldNetDaily columnist Erik Rush called for all Muslims to be killed in response to the Boston Marathon bombing and now blames all Muslims for the death of 12 people at the Paris satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

These are the sources for conservative “thought,” the impetus for war, and the persecution of Muslims in the United States.

February 5 was the seventh annual Texas Muslim Capitol Day in Austin (TX) when Islamic believers go to meet with lawmakers and learn about the democratic process. This year, however, virulent anti-Islam protests greeted them. One of the lawmakers said that she would require the Muslims to “publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws.” In Texas, at least for some lawmakers, this step is required before politicians will speak to constituents.

The 9/11 attack moved the Islamophobes from a fringe group to the mainstream by 2010 when leading conservatives opposed a small Islamic prayer center near Ground Zero in New York. In her 2010 campaign, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), along with 16 other candidates, called it a “victory mosque,” celebrating (in her mind) the Islamic conquest of the U.S. on 9/11. Eight states passed legislation against “foreign law” or “sharia law” in the past five years. In 2010, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich called for a federal ban on sharia law.

By 2012, the far-right had convinced 30 percent that President Obama may be a Muslim, double the number in 2008 after vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin accused him of being a Muslim and started a whisper campaign against him. The numbers of people who are openly Islamophobic rose enough that leading Republicans are comfortable with anti-Islam rhetoric in order to gain votes. During his 2012, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called Sharia law “an enormous problem” in the country, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) called for restricting Muslim immigration to France and the U.S. That’s a strong statement from someone who claims that he is a libertarian.

For 2016, the question is whether the holdouts will cave in. In 2011, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appointed Muslim-American attorney Sohail Muhammed as a state Superior Judge and accused the opposition to his act of being “crazies.”  Christie hasn’t looked very strong lately, however, considering his backpedaling with the vaccine situation after he quarantined a healthy nurse, then said vaccines should be optional, and rapidly switched to possibly mandating them because of negative publicity.

Muslim-baiting in the United States will continue until a Republican leader is brave enough to confront the haters like Jindal or Palin. The question is when that Republican decides to stand up. Until then, the violence against Muslims in the United States will grow, and the taxpayers will fund more wars in the Middle East.

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1 Comment »

  1. “Erik Rush called for all Muslims to be killed in response to the Boston Marathon bombing… ” Sooo, I guess this means that all white guys are responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, and all Asian guys are responsible for the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, all christians are responsible for the shooting of Dr. George Tiller, and …. Violence is committed one person at a time, encouraged by ingrained cultural beliefs, direct teaching, or insanity (or a combination). I live in Dubai, UAE, and I can tell you that hearing the call to prayer every day does not make me afraid, angry, or convert to Islam. I work with persons of Muslim, Christian, Hindu, and other faiths, and I can tell you that we all get along as well as people in any workplace anywhere. Conservatives will say anything to create fear and closed-mindedness. Thanks for your blog, Nel!!

    Like

    Comment by Jenny Baltes — February 13, 2015 @ 8:44 AM | Reply


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