Author Deepa Kumar on the imperial roots of anti-Muslim sentiment

Kumar

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The term “Islamophobia” became known to Americans after the September 11 attacks. Whether it was efforts on the left to combat anti-Muslim sentiment or efforts on the right to attack Muslim-Americans and deny that there was something called Islamophobia, the term was here to stay.

But if we only look at anti-Muslim sentiment post-9/11, we would miss a lot. In fact, as Deepa Kumar shows in her new book Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, set to be released next month, the production of Islamophobia has a long history. Generating anti-Muslim fervor was central to projects of empire-building in Europe and the United States. “This book is about the image of ‘Islam,’ that mythical creation conjured out of the needs of empire that has led even progressives to claim that Muslims are more violent than any other religious group,” Kumar writes in the introduction.

I caught up with Kumar, an Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle East Studies at Rutgers University, over the phone last week, and we discussed “liberal Islamophobia,” the anti-mosque movement and how the Israeli right’s ascendance changed the framing of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Alex Kane: Lay out for readers what your book is about and the argument you make.

DeepaKumarcHaymarketBooks
Deepa Kumar (Photo: Haymarket Books)

Deepa Kumar: The book is about the image of the “Muslim enemy” and the way that it has been used by elites in the West to forward their interests. In the US, Islamophobia or anti-Muslim racism assumed a prominent place in the public sphere after the events of 9/11. But what I show is that this form of racism is not new. So what the book sets out to do is to locate this ideology within the context from which it emerges. This context, I argue, at the broadest level, is empire. That is, Islamophobia has always been useful to imperial societies. So, the book begins with the crusades and the ways in which the “Muslim enemy” image was mobilized in the 11th century in Europe to advance larger political goals, and goes right up to the Obama era. In the late 18th and 19th centuries, which was the high point of European colonization of the Middle East and North Africa, you see a new body of ideas come into being called “Orientalism” that became the basis from which to justify colonization. Many of these Orientalist myths still persist today. So, the point of the book is to outline these continuities and to point to root causes and ways in which we can effectively fight back against Islamophobia.

AK: Reading the first chapter, I was struck by how, historically, Christian elites painted Islam as sexually deviant and perverse. That rhetoric is also heard today, with the “Muhammad is a pedophile” meme. I was also struck by Montesquieu writing that democracy is suited for the West and not for Muslims. Could you talk about these connections to modern day Islamophobia?

DK: Yes, this vilification of Islam and of the Prophet Muhammad has a long history. It goes back to the 11th century when the Papacy was trying to mobilize for the Crusades. The Vatican was horrified by the fact that Islam allowed men to take up to four wives, allowed for divorce, and even permitted divorced women to remarry! It was argued that it was this kind of promiscuity that allowed Islam to gain as many converts as it did (even among Christians). So the Church put forward the argument that Muhammad was a sexual deviant and therefore a false prophet preaching a false religion. These ideas have been resuscitated today by the far right.

An associated theme connected to sexuality, and one that gets taken up in 19th century Europe, is gender. Europeans circulated the notion that Muslim women are horribly oppressed (without actually consulting or talking to Muslim women) and that Muslim men are misogynistic. What followed from this was that Muslim women needed to be rescued by white men swooping in on their horses. And this is, of course, the justification that was given for the Afghan war—at least it was one of the justifications beyond the revenge motive.

And of course if you look at that narrative, it doesn’t begin in 2001. For instance, Lord Cromer, who oversaw the occupation of Egypt in the 1880s, claimed that Islam has completely stultified the lives of women and that he was therefore going to emancipate them. British colonization of Egypt was therefore an enlightened project. In reality this is not how things worked out. If anything things got worse for Egyptian women. And it’s not hard to tell why, because this supposed champion of Egyptian women’s rights worked tirelessly to deny British women the right to vote as a founding member and president of the Men’s League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage. If this justification was used by Cromer, an out and out sexist, over a century ago, George Bush who is no less of a sexist used the same argument again in the context of the Afghan war.

The other myth you mentioned was the idea that Arabs are incapable of self-rule and democracy and therefore it was the “white man’s burden” to bring democracy to these uncivilized people. Montesquieu explained why this was so by turning to the weather as an indicator of human temperament. He said that whereas in the West, which has cooler climates, men (and he meant men) were virile and active, in the hotter climates of the East the people were prone to being supine and servile. This is why, he said, they are better suited for despotism. This theory of “Oriental despotism” however is not unique to Montesquieu but was widely held by others. And this argument gets repeated in the early 20th century by Lord Balfour in relation to Egypt when he stated that the Egyptians are incapable of self-rule, and again by Theodore Roosevelt who said that the “Muslim fellaheen” are devoid of any traces of self-government in their entire history!

We find echoes of this again in the case of the 2003 war on Iraq. When weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq, the narrative then shifted to one of democracy. The US was going to bring democracy to Iraq and create a new Middle East. Sadly, even people on the left bought this “white man’s burden” argument. And I for one was ecstatic to see the Arab uprisings of 2011 because it showed quite concretely that Arabs are capable of taking down dictators and struggling for more democratic and politically (and economically) representative societies…despite the hot weather!

AK: Later in the book, in your discussions of Zionism, you note that Islamophobia is not necessarily embedded in Zionism. The early Zionist colonists spoke of Arabs and Muslims in derogatory terms. But it was more a general sense of disdain for non-Jews than specifically anti-Muslim sentiment. But that changed in the late 1970s. Could you expand on this?

DK: Israel saw the PLO and secular Arab nationalists as their main enemy, and the vocabulary of the “Arab terrorist” grew out of this context. But a couple of things happen in the late 1970s and 1980s that shifted the language from the “Arab terrorist” to the “Islamic terrorist.” Internally, this period saw the rise of the far right in Israel and an electoral victory for the right wing Likud party; this would then orchestrate a shift rightward in public discussion. Externally, in 1979, the Iranian revolution destabilized the carefully cultivated pro-US and pro-Israeli status quo. In the 1980s, the birth of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine lead the Zionist right to conclude that its struggle was now one against “Islam.” This is the context in which the “Arab terrorist” gets morphed into the “Islamic terrorist.”

There are two important conferences that Benjamin Netanyahu organized that brought together political figures from around the world, one in 1979 in Jerusalem and the other in 1984 in Washington DC. At the first conference Benzion Netanyahu [Benjamin Netanyahu's father] in his opening speech tried to equate the enemies of Israel (the PLO) with the enemies of the West, saying that the “terrorists” are really like fascists, like Nazis even if they claim to be fighting for freedom. You see here one of the early sources of the development of a concept that would arrive much later– “Islamofascism.”

At any rate, the changes I discussed earlier meant that at the second International Conference on Terrorism in 1984, there was an entire section on Islam and terror. Orientalists like Bernard Lewis, Elie Kedourie and others are invited to this conference, who then use the language of Orientalism and Islamophobia to now talk about this threat of “Islamic terrorism.” Now the enemy had morphed into the “Islamic terrorist” and Benjamin Netanyahu in his opening remarks argued that the two big threats faced by the West were the Soviet Union and Islamic (and Arab) terrorists, he puts “Arab” in brackets. And by the way the neocons in the US and the Likud right in Israel have shared this view and jointly developed and propagated it.

AK: This distinction between Arab terrorism and Muslim terrorism–what’s your sense of that distinction today? Is it blurry? Is there a separation in people’s imagination?

DK: Today, there is no such distinction. All Arabs are seen as Muslims and therefore automatically as terrorists. This distinction existed at a point when secular Arab nationalism (whether of the PLO kind or Nasserism) was seen a threat to the US’s agenda in the Middle East.

“Arab terrorism” had a particular resonance at that time. With the decline of Nasserism, and the rise of Islamism, the two got collapsed into one. Keep in mind of course that the US cultivated Islamists during the Cold War to act as bulwarks against secular nationalism and the left, but these former allies then became enemies. So the upshot is that today this distinction doesn’t exist as much. Certainly Hollywood has a long history of constructing Arabs as terrorists and it was a seamless transition to constructing Muslims as terrorists.

One telling example of this conflation in the popular imagination comes from the 2008 elections. In the run up to the elections candidate Obama was “accused” of being a “secret Muslim.” Now at one of McCain’s campaign stops a woman who was berating Obama saying she doesn’t trust him (which McCain agreed with) then went on to state that she didn’t trust him “because he’s an Arab.” And McCain replied, “no, no, he’s not an Arab. He’s a decent family man and a citizen.” Of course, the assumption there is that Arab men are not decent or family men or US citizens for that matter. Arabs are Muslims and Muslims are terrorists—that’s the logic here, and it’s a logic that popular culture has played no small role in shoring up. That said, I don’t want to downplay the attacks on South Asian Muslims. Since 9/11 they too have been detained, questioned, deported and otherwise treated very poorly (as have Muslims from certain African nations as well).

AK: Let’s move on to the Obama era. I hadn’t seen the term “liberal Islamophobia” before reading your book. Can you explain liberal Islamophobia and why you think the Obama era is characterized by it?

DK: I use the term “liberal Islamophobia” to make a distinction between the rhetoric of the right, which is more nakedly racist, and the rhetoric which emerges from the liberal establishment. At its core, liberal Islamophobia flows from the logic of liberal imperialism. As several scholars have argued liberal imperialism is based upon using liberal ideas to justify empire, and spans the gamut from the narrative about rescuing women and children from brutal dictators to fostering democracy. Liberal Islamophobia flows from this logic.

Towards the end of Bush’s second term the US had really sullied its image on the world stage, and particularly in the Middle East. It was clear to the elite in this country that the American image would have to be rehabilitated. The Democrats were ready with a plan. A leadership group on US-Muslim relations headed by Madeleine Albright (Clinton’s secretary of state who presided over the era of “humanitarian imperialism” in the 1990s) put out a document that argued that the Bush rhetoric of the “clash of civilizations” was too harsh, and that the next US president needed to reject this thesis and start to patch things up with the Middle East. Obama has proved very effective at this. Rhetorically speaking he has indeed toned down the harsh rhetoric of the Bush era. So during his inaugural speech he actually acknowledged the presence of Muslims in this country, which I think is a first for an American president.

And then, at one of his first speeches abroad in Cairo–he rejected the ideology of the “clash of civilizations,” which sees the East and West as polar opposites, and stressed the interconnections between the East and the West. He also went out of his way to acknowledge how scholars in the East laid the basis for astronomy, medicine and so on. This is a remarkable admission for an American president. But even while Obama has toned down the rhetoric from the Bush era, he hasn’t rejected Bush’s policies. If anything he adopted Bush’s second term policy goals both externally and internally. What he has done quite effectively is to pursue the goals of US imperialism using language that is more palatable.

Towards the end of Bush’s second term there was a shift towards the use of “soft power,” that is the “winning of hearts and minds” and that is what Obama adopted whole heartedly. But despite all the talk of “mutual respect,” Obama like every president before him has acted in the interests of the US on the international stage: extending the war in Afghanistan to Pakistan, dramatically increasing the number of drone strikes (and extending their use in Yemen and Somalia), participating in the NATO-led war on Libya, etc.

At the end of the day, liberal imperialists, for all their talk of “speaking softly,” accept the logic that the US can and should intervene anywhere it wants to around the world to pursue its interests with no respect whatsoever for the right of self-determination of the people in the countries it targets. Liberal Islamophobia is still racist at its core.

Now, most people can see and detect rabid racism against Muslims. So when Peter King holds his routine hearings on Muslim American “radicalization,” which smacks of McCarthyism, he is roundly criticized by civil rights groups and by liberals. However, when Obama does the same people don’t recognize it as Islamophobia.

For instance, Obama released his own “counter-radicalization” strategy in 2011 which called for the formation of a McCarthyite type informant network involving Muslim American teachers, coaches, and other members of the community. No one said a peep. This is because if you read the document it is filled with praise for Muslim Americans who have cooperated with the government, and it lauds the US’s multiculturalism and religious plurality. But it then goes on to target Muslims because like King the Obama document too views Muslims as “potential terrorists” who can become “radicalized” and must therefore be monitored and put under surveillance. It is not an aberration that federal money was used for the infamous NYPD spying program. And to the best of my knowledge Obama has neither spoken out against it nor has he tried to shut this (or other similar programs run by the FBI) down. The way liberal Islamophobia works is that it roundly criticizes Islam-bashing, thereby preempting charges of racism, but then it goes on to champion programs that target and vilify Muslims.

One more recent example is the Obama “kill lists” whose victims include not just people who are suspected of being “terrorists” but everyone in the vicinity as well. Without so much as a trial or any kind of charade of justice the Obama administration has given itself the power to execute people around the world, including US citizens. But he can get away with this because he doesn’t use phrases like Bush’s “wanted dead or alive” or words like “crusade.”

AK: And you also say that liberal Islamophobia enabled the explosive rise of the anti-mosque movement, like the one against the Islamic community center in lower Manhattan. Could you explain that?

DK: The dynamic is one where liberal Islamophobia at the top of society creates a greater opening for the more rabid racists. Since the events of 9/11 a network of Islamophobes, who I call the “new McCarthyites,” have been involved in a series of campaigns targeting Muslim schools, community centers and mosques. This Islamophobic network includes the Christian Right which works closely with the Zionist right (and the ex-Muslim right) and they are led intellectually by sections of the neoconservative camp (like Frank Gaffney and his group Center for Security Policy). Essentially, these Islamophobic warriors have tried to reproduce the kind of atmosphere in the US that we see in Europe where all symbols of Islam (mosques, veils, minarets) have come under attack. But up until the Obama era, their campaigns were largely failures.

The Obama presidency gave them an opening in several ways. First, they were able to accuse him of a being a “secret Muslim” whose agenda was to turn the US into a Muslim country. Sadly about 30% of the US population believes this nonsense. Instead of pushing back against this, Obama has always responded defensively. He has assiduously avoided visiting mosques, and during his campaign two Muslim women in hijabs were asked to move because his handlers didn’t want them to appear in the same frame as their candidate. Further, Obama has insisted again and again that he is a good Christian thereby giving ground to the implication that there is something wrong with being a Muslim.

You asked about the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy. This really was the first instance when the new McCarthyites were successful in grabbing public attention and setting the terms of discussion. The way it went down was this. A group called “Stop Islamization of America” created a big brouhaha around the proposed community center called “Park 51” or “Cordoba House.” They argued that this was a “monster mosque” and an insult to the memory of the victims of 9/11. Their rhetoric was extreme; Newt Gingrich even said that this community center was the equivalent of building a monument to the Nazis outside the Holocaust museum. In short, their argument was premised on the notion that any symbol of Islam close to the site of the former World Trade Center was offensive. The logic is that all Muslims are to blame for 9/11.

Now in response to this heated rhetoric the Democrats, who supposedly represent the other side, put up at best a tepid defense on the grounds of religious freedom. They didn’t push back against the notion that Muslims are not collectively to blame for 9/11 and therefore it should not be offensive to build a community center (modeled on the Y and the Jewish community center) at that location. Instead, Democrats too jumped on the Islamophobia band wagon. For instance, Howard Dean, the great liberal Democrat said that the community center was “a real affront to people who lost their lives” in the 9/11 attacks, and he argued that it should be moved. Similarly Obama argued that while he supports religious freedom he questioned “the wisdom” of putting a “mosque” in the planned location.

This then gave the rabid Islamophobes exactly the opening they wanted. Their argument that the center should not be built at that location was now accepted even by the “other” side. It is not a surprise therefore that they won public opinion on this issue with majorities coming out against the construction of the community center. Public opinion on Muslim plummeted alarmingly that year. At any rate, this is how liberal Islamophobia fans the flames of right wing Islamophobia.

AK: I have one more question, a “where are we now?” question. How do you assess how Islamophobia functions in our society today, and also how do you assess the efforts to push back against that Islamophobia? The efforts on the part of activists?

DK: Since the “Ground Zero mosque” controversy things have actually improved. The right has been pushed back thanks to the efforts of activists around the country. In NYC many of us were involved in a grassroots campaign to counter the hateful message coming from the far right. On September 11, 2010, we called a counter-demonstration to theirs and had twice the number of people at our rally. Our rally was diverse and multiracial with signs that read “Asalamu aleikum, Muslims are welcome here.” We pushed them back and they didn’t return; Park 51 opened. Similarly, progressive activists around the country have organized against the hate mongers.

What is significant is that Muslim Americans themselves have become more active. A majority of Muslim Americans voted for Obama in 2008 hoping that he would make things right, but as I mentioned earlier his policies have not been that different from Bush’s and in some ways they have been worse (he passed the NDAA which allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens if they are thought to be connected to terrorism for instance). Muslim Americans who have been targeted by the Bush and Obama legal systems have been fighting back since 2001, but in the last year or so the families of these victims (along with progressive lawyers) have started to come together to form nationwide networks. This is a huge step forward.

What has also impacted the climate around Islamophobia is some excellent investigative reporting by the Associated Press in particular, but also by Wired magazine and other such outlets. AP released a series of reports exposing the systematic racial profiling of Muslims by the NYPD in the tri-state area. This created some push back from mainstream figures like Newark’s mayor as well as presidents of various universities where Muslim student groups were spied on. In particular, Yale University’s president called it what it is: “racial and religious profiling,” arguing that this has no place in American society.

Since then a handful of Congressional reps have tried to put forward bills to censure the NYPD as well as the FBI. They haven’t succeed, the overwhelming majority voted against these measures, but such activities create a space in the mainstream from which anti-Muslim racism can be both acknowledged as a reality and criticized.

The recent New York Times story on the Obama “kill list” isn’t a gung-ho endorsement of such practices, if anything there is a lot of anxiety in that article about what this country has become in the era of the “war on terror.” This is a huge step away from the New York Times of 2003 that carried all the stories about WMD’s on its front page.

In short, the work of activists as well as investigative journalists has created a climate where we are better poised than ever since 9/11 to fight Islamophobia. I am also really encouraged by the solidarity on display in New York City.

At several rallies and press conferences people have connected the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” policy which mainly affects blacks and Latinos, to the targeting of Muslim Americans. It is this kind of solidarity and collective grassroots activity that can help to turn the tide against Islamophobia. But central to this struggle must be a recognition that the roots of Islamophobia lie in empire. The war at home is intimately tied to the war abroad (and the war at home is also a war on dissent–non-Muslims have also been targeted by the state for holding dissenting views).

Let me end with an example from history. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, over 100,000 people of Japanese descent (a majority of whom were US citizens) were put into concentration camps. If you read about these camps they were horrible places with no plumbing or cooking facilities—yet young and old were incarcerated. A few short years later, the US dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocents. These events are connected. When a nation goes to war it turns against those it sees as domestic representatives of the “foreign enemy.” We have to learn the lessons of history and show that what is happening to Muslims today is tied to the “war on terror.” We have to oppose the agenda of empire.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is an assistant editor for Mondoweiss and the World editor for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Middle East, Neocons, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics, War on Terror | Tagged , , , , ,

{ 166 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. CitizenC says:

    Stephen Sheehi has also written a book on this topic, “ISLAMOPHOBIA:
    The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims”. See

    link to claritypress.com

    Sheehi is director of Arab Studies at Univ of South Carolina.

    I haven’t read Kumar’s book, but it seems to suffer from the same weakness as Stephen’s, failure to situate the main locus for this in Zionism. Sure, there was orientalism, but it didn’t necessarily mean a new Crusades. Philip Baram’s book on “The State Department in the Middle East” argues that the US was sympathetic toward the Sunni elites whom it saw as the inheritors of sovereignty after colonialism. Given the interest in “oil” we hear so much about, that was natural.

    This outlook was overthrown by Zionism, which eventually supercharged and activated anti-Muslim biases. Bernard Lewis was talking in these terms as early as the 1960s. As Hizbollah and Hamas arose, from Israel’s depredations, so did Islamophobic discourse. 9/11 was mainly an attack on US patronage of Israel.

    At a panel on civil rights at the recent ADC mtg, Miko Peled argued that the US had imported Islamophobia from Israel. The panelists dodged the question.

    • ColinWright says:

      “…failure to situate the main locus for this in Zionism…”

      On the one hand, I agree that Zionism has certainly both sparked and poured fuel on the flames of Islamophobia.

      On the other hand, I don’t think Islamophobia stems solely from that.

      I’ve done a little reading on the various Christian/Muslim conflicts that basically constituted the history of the Balkans in the Nineteenth Century: the inspiration for Gladstone’s reference to ‘the Unspeakable Turk.’

      Now, on the one hand, one will fairly quickly notice that the massacres are pretty even-handed: if there were indeed ‘unspeakable Turks’ there were also ‘unspeakable Greeks,’ unspeakable Serbs,’ and ‘unspeakable Bulgars.’ All and sundry slaughtered each other with considerable enthusiasm.

      On the other hand, I noticed a curious thing: I could read about massacres of Muslims by Christians with somewhat more equanimity than I could read about massacres of Christians by Muslims. That ‘we’ did it to them was unpleasant: that they did it to ‘us’ was an outrage.

      Maybe this point will fail since I seem to have a largely Jewish audience here (who are neither Christian nor Muslim) but maybe not. However, I think there is a little Islamophobe in all of us. It goes back to the ‘Turk bells’ of Austria and some of our bloodier fairy tales and vague memories of colorful prints in childrens’ histories of handsome and devout knights setting off on crusade. We don’t have to accord any of this legitimacy, but it is there. However unjustifiably, for us Islam is ‘the other’ — and has been ever since Muslim raiders ran into Charles Martel at Tours in 732.

  2. Miura says:

    An oldie but a goldie by Edward Said on “this protracted insanity with the Middle East’s diehard rejectionists”.

  3. [1] – The term “anti-Muslim racism” and “racist” is used several times to describe ‘Islamophobia’. Is it racism or is it a cultural, political anti-Muslim phobia?
    In my understanding, people from Pakistan, Turkey and Tunesia etc. don’t constitute a ‘Muslim race’.

    [2] – In Germany for instance, our immigrant workers from Turkey or Arab countries were called ‘Turks” or “Tunesians” etc. – but suddenly there was talk about them as ‘Muslims’. – Were they relabelled from the German outside or did they relabel themselves as Muslims? – In my view, women, who started wearing the hijab relabelled themselves as primarily ‘Muslim’. This change came about mainly after 9/11 and the ‘war on terror’ being interpreted as a war on Islam. But who reinterpreted the ‘war on terror’ as a ‘war on Islam’?

    • Miura says:

      Since the Civil Rights triumphs in US and global decolonization of the 50s and 60s, racists have increasingly plied their trade by a sleight of hand in which race is “coded as culture”. This is what the French thinker Étienne Balibar has called “Racism Without Race“. In other words, “Racism…did not and does not depend on the actual existence of races.”

      • The term “racist” is just a more hated category than say “xenophobic”.
        That’s why it is used to attack someone – not because of its descriptive meaning. – The same is true for the term “fascist”. It’s one of the most hated categories, more than “stalinist” for instance. That’s why it is used to attack someone, not because of its descriptive meaning.

        Take the term “Islamofascism”. That sounds terrible because of its Hitler-Holocaust connotation. But the term is absurd because Islamism even in its most militant version is not genocidal-racist as Hitler’s Fascism was. Its concept is: All the world should be forced to become Muslim. That’s intolerant-totalitarian but quite the contrary to Hitler’s Fascism, who thought that Jews and Gypsies were inherently unfit to become Germans. But Muslims think everbody should and is fit to become a Muslim.

        I dislike using terms just because they sound bad irrespective of their descriptive meaning – that’s so with both terms ‘anti-Muslim racism’ and ‘Islamofascism’.

        • ‘Islamofascism’

          Christopher Hitchens – according to Wikipedia – used this criterium to equate Islamism with Fascism and combine it to ‘Islamofascism’:

          - “Both are chronically infected with the toxin of anti-Jewish paranoia (interestingly, also, with its milder cousin, anti-Freemason paranoia).”

          I’m not sure whether Hitchens uses the term “infected” as a biological metaphor or whether he actually thinks in biological terms. – Anyway, to use the term ‘fascist’ is a convenient way to put the Islamists in the same hated category as fascists – irrespective of the fact that fascism was racist and Islamism isn’t. – And again: anti-Muslim phobia isn’t racist either.

        • Miura says:

          It’s true racism, contrary to expectations as Balibar points out, has defied easy categorization, but to reduce it to a general term of abuse from which all meaning has been evacuated is also too cute by half. As someone who experienced Fascism from the inside pointed out, we have to apply “Wittgenstein’s notion of a game” to get a handle on racism, or as George Fredrickson calls the phenomenon, “ethnic chauvinism”. To borrow an analogy from computer security applying yesteryear’s “virus definitions” to 21′st century racists will always turn up False Negatives because those are the very characteristics these opportunists will never display. As Eco put it:

          It would be so much easier, for us, if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Black Shirts to parade again in the Italian squares.” Life is not that simple.

          For analytic purposes, we can follow Eco’s example and list characteristics of latter-day racists. In fact, many of the points of Eco’s article apply mutatis mutandis to these merchants of hate, e.g. exacerbated nationalism, distrust of the intellectual world, fear of difference, appeal against intruders, etc. The clothing in which these points are dressed will differ by locale and historic period, but the essence of racism will still emit the same noisome smell, and anyone not given to pettifoggery will be able to feel it–and perhaps more importantly own up to it–in their guts.

        • -”Eco’s … list characteristics of latter-day racists.” – Miura

          Umberto Eco (the author of your link to “Wittgenstein’s game”) does NOT list characteristics of “latter day racists”. His long list is about various characteristics that Fascist movements share, in part. – The concept of racial superiority is NOT among the features he lists. The word “racist” is only mentioned once in his article (in reference to Nazi-Fascism).

          Contrary to Italian Fascism, Nazi-Fascism had as one of its main defining characteristics an official ideology of “race”, the “Aryan race”, the concept of a hierarchy of races, a ‘science’ of racial differences and ranking. All based on genealogical bloodlines (today we would say DNA). – That was racism.

          - This racism holdes that by virtue of a different bloodline (genes) a person cannot culturally assimilate to a society that is mainly made up of a different bloodline (genepool). – That’s what I would call straight racism.

          - Anti-Muslim ‘racists’ aren’t straight racists. They are opposed to the Muslim religious-cultural tenets that are incompatible with Western-enlightened concepts of democracy, men, women, God, freedom, authority etc. – This does not imply that these concepts are inherent in the DNA of the various peoples from Muslim countries.

    • Mooser says:

      “In my understanding, people from Pakistan, Turkey and Tunesia etc. don’t constitute a ‘Muslim race’.”

      Gosh darn those fungible, constantly shifting, delineations of who, exactly, is a “race”! Just keep examining the statistics (under a good light, of course, no need to court eye-strain) and I have every faith you will eventually suss out the essential racial divisions of mankind.
      Pay no attention to those cranks who claim the entire concept of race is spurious, and scientifically nonsensical. So just to get us started on out way to the truth, tell us what a “race” is.

      • Mooser says:

        Oh, wait, never mind. I figured it out. Race is a lot like pornography. It’s really hard to define, but you sure as hell know it when you see it!

      • How come you think I could “suss out the essential racial divisions of mankind”? – I’m a sociologist not a biological anthropologist. But to give you a clue: Is someone who is anti-Lutheran a racist? Are the Lutherans the ‘race’ of descendants of Martin Luther and his wife Katharina von Bora.

    • Mooser says:

      “In my view, women, who started wearing the hijab relabelled themselves as primarily ‘Muslim’.”

      Well to each his, or her own, I always say. I wear mine just because I look so darn good in it.

        • Mooser says:

          Very funny, Phil. I have no intention of inflaming Muslim sensibilities with a picture of a hajib desecrated with two large holes to let the old palmates fly free. And unlike some people I could mention, I do not court publicity and notoriety for its own sake. Anyway, a Japanese friend gave me my own bottle.

    • ColinWright says:

      “…The term “anti-Muslim racism” and “racist” is used several times to describe ‘Islamophobia’. Is it racism or is it a cultural, political anti-Muslim phobia?”

      Well…both. We perceive Muslims as differing both by religion and by ‘race.’ I remember I once hired a kid who turned out to be a Bosnian Muslim. The memory still carries this mental note of an unresolved conceptual conflict. He was this rosy-cheeked, fair-haired, Slavic type. He wasn’t a Muslim. But he was. But he wasn’t. But…

      The intuitive equation is ‘white means Jewish or Christian.’ ‘ ‘Arab’ means Muslim.’ Ever had a hard time wrapping your head around the concept of ‘Christian Arabs’? It really does sound like something of an oxymoron.

      See Yishai’s claim that Israel ‘is for the white man.’ He was opposing ‘whites’ to Arabs in that remark, for all his prominence at the time in Israel’s expulsion of sub-saharan Africans. The guy is a Tunisian Jew — and he looks Tunisian. I even found a picture of a Tunisian Muslim who could have been his twin brother. It really was comic. Yet solely by virtue of religion, a Jewish Tunisian is ‘white’, whilst a Muslim Tunisian is not.

      Then too, on another discussion group, I’ve found people to be genuinely surprised by pictures of Israeli soldiers of Sephardic extraction. ‘They look like Egyptians!’ Well, they are — or something like. But we’ve created an opposition where it’s ‘white’ Jews and Christians versus ”Arab’ Muslims.

      So necessarily, Jews and Christians become ‘white,’ (however dusky they may be) whilst Muslims are always Arab, even if they’re Iranian or Turks. To cite another example, Greeks and the ‘Turks’ of Western Anatolia must be genetically extremely similar — yet I imagine one couldn’t help but be startled to discover they look similar. After all, one group (by virtue of being Christian) is ‘white’ whilst the other (also by virtue of religion) is not.

      I genuinely think that if one met someone knowing he was Christian or Jewish, he would have to get very, very dark before one would not perceive him as ‘white,’ while conversely, if one knew that the individual was Muslim, he would have to become very fair indeed before one would perceive him as ‘white.’

      Consider your mental label for Ahmadinejad. Looked at without knowing who he is, he looks fairly ‘white’ (at least by the rather generous standard that is applied in the United States.) Yet knowing who he is, does he still register as ‘white?’

      • Black and White

        I tell you, black Americans in Frankfurt – left-overs from the US army stationed here – are considered ‘white’ by virtue of them being Western, speaking English or German, playing Jazz, the way they dress etc. – unlike black Africans who stay black by virtue of cultural markers.

        • Miura says:

          You might enjoy this clip of the late comedian, George Carlin on an “openly white” US army man.

        • ColinWright says:

          Yeah. I’ve noticed something similar in the American South (and elsewhere, come to think of it).

          Perhaps needless to say, there’s been a bit of miscegenation over the centuries. One does have people of every possible hue. I can think of two individuals who really were just about the same blend. However, one presented himself as ‘black,’ and I thought of him as black, whilst the other was quite sure he was white — and so I thought of him that way.

          Of course, the height of absurdity is that Geert Wilders character, who dyes his hair blond and presents himself as a champion of the (white) West against the (Islamic) East.

          I checked — and sure enough. His mother is actually an Indonesian (and Muslim, I hope). I thought he looked a little weird…he is exactly as Dutch as Obama is white.

        • Miura – thanks for the link to the clip by George Carlin. I enjoyed it, in particular the line on “an ‘openly white’ US army man” who just happens to be black. (Colin Powell). Powell was stationed in Frankfurt for a few years and used to come to a (white) Jazz bar now and then. I haven’t met him. The owner of the place told me.

      • Miura says:

        Just goes to show you how much of a social construct race is. You can still find old-timers of Irish or Italian origin in some places who never realized they were “white” until they got labeled “white-ethnics” in the 60s:

        The European-Americans outside the South had called each other “races” prior to World War II, and the word connoted the kind of emotion we attribute to it today. Indeed, the phrase “race, creed, and color” was not redundant, and “race” referred primarily to white “races.” A firm in the 1930s could answer a survey on its hiring practices by saying “no colored hired in office [and] no discrimination as of race.”

        These white-ethnics worked their way toward whiteness, just as better educated Asians, and by some counts gay people as well, are becoming “white”.

        • ColinWright says:

          I’ve noticed that people who would be considered ‘white’ in the US don’t pass in Europe. I even recall an extended argument with a Dane (who was actually taking the liberal side of the dispute) in which it eventually transpired that he regarded anyone from the other side of the Mediterranean or South Asia as ‘black’ — which is certainly not the construction I put on the term.

  4. Avi_G. says:

    Very good interview and a fascinating tracing of the roots of Islamophobia.

  5. NickJOCW says:

    May I put an oar in here. I have not read this book, nor would I. However, Alex Kane asks unbiased questions and the author answers him with a ready enthusiasm that persuades me her responses offer a fair reflection of the work.

    This appears to be a scissors and paste job. By that I mean one that starts with a ‘conclusion’ and then selects this and that bit of what others have written to lay a path towards it. One can do that and attempt to reach almost any conclusion as we all know well enough from the numerous ad hominem offerings encountered on this very site.

    When a nation goes to war it turns against those it sees as domestic representatives of the “foreign enemy”.

    That’s true but over-complicated; imperial entities have ever regarded all else as barbarian and contemptible. Greeks viewed Romans that way long after Actium. Similarly 20th century anthropologists viewed earlier cultures as primitive and deficient. Freud attempted to relate the beliefs and customs of ‘primitive’ cultures to the behavior he observed in mentally disturbed patients. In essence Islamophobia is simply the ignorance of the ignorant.

    The Arabs preserved and expanded Greek intellectual achievements during the darkest days of medieval theological oppression. They also came up with the concept of zero without which mathematics and then physics would not have branched away from geometry. During the British Empire era you still had men like T E Lawrence, and latterly Wilfred Thesiger, the extensive popularity of whose works hardly fits a pattern of general Islamophobia. Add to that the respect and admiration many Arabs enjoy in a variety of fields today and it would be perfectly possible to employ the author’s same scissors and paste technique to arrive at a totally different conclusion. She is, from her picture, a decidedly nice looking young woman and somewhat reminds me of a Jewish girlfriend I had once who had served her time in the Israeli army and never let me forget it. The relationship did not last all that long although, I do recall, the candle did for a while burn fairly fiercely at both ends.

    • Philip Weiss says:

      well Nick thanks for the memoir, it is appreciated; so how do you explain the rise of islamophobia in US? myself i often retrieve Trita Parsi’s quotation about clash of religions becoming the “glue” for israel and us, post coldwar, from an israeli strategist…

      • Fredblogs says:

        There are more anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. than Islamophobic.

        Report based on 2010 FBI statistics:
        “Of the 1,409 hate crimes offenses motivated by religious bias, 65.4% were anti-Jewish; 13.2% were anti-Islamic; 4.3% were anti-Catholic; 3.8% were anti-multiple; 3.3% were anti-Protestant; 0.5% were anti-Atheism/Agnosticism/etc.; and 9.5% involved various other religions.”

        link to religionclause.blogspot.com

        • Roya says:

          Mhmm, because there are definitely Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, and Atheist counterparts to the ADL that record each and every anti-X incident in the U.S. And I’m quite curious as to what the 921 anti-Semitic incidents constituted. A few years ago, Israeli filmmaker Yoav Shamir made a documentary about anti-Semitism today, and thinking he would help their cause, the ADL invited him over to their headquarters. When he inquired about recent anti-Semitic incidents, they were hard-pressed to find him one juicy enough to investigate, since the vast majority of the 1,500 “incidents” that year were minor, such as schoolteachers being denied time off for a Jewish holiday and a woman who was offended by a cop’s use of the word “Jews.” Needless to say, the ADL condemned the film and all but called him a self-hating Jew.

          It’s quite an interesting documentary if anyone wants to see it. link to youtube.com

        • Sumud says:

          There are more anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. than Islamophobic.

          Islamophobic Zionist nut jobs like Pamela Geller are doing everything in their power to change that – and succeeding.

          link to www2.fbi.gov
          2009 FBI stats – Religious bias
          Law enforcement agencies reported 1,376 hate crimes motivated by religious bias. A breakdown of biases for these offenses showed:
          • 70.1 percent were anti-Jewish.
          • 9.3 percent were anti-Islamic.

          link to fbi.gov
          2010 FBI stats – Religious bias
          Hate crimes motivated by religious bias accounted for 1,409 offenses reported by law enforcement. A breakdown of the bias motivation of religious-bias offenses showed:
          • 65.4 percent were anti-Jewish.
          • 13.2 percent were anti-Islamic.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “There are more anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. than Islamophobic.”

          No, there were more reported antisemitic incidents than islamophobic ones. One need only refer to the movie “Defamation” to understand how silly and minor these antisemitic incidents are. Further, they are based on FBI statistics. Given the fact that the greatest Islamophobic event in the last dozen years was the pogrom against Muslims by the US government after 9/11, it is of little suprise that the victims of that event would have a disincentive to report after that fact.

        • ColinWright says:

          …but this is meaningless. What is or isn’t ‘a hate crime’ is hopelessly subjective. All kinds of racially motivated crimes occur. Whether they become or don’t become ‘hate crimes’ has everything to do with our ideological needs — and very little to do with the act itself.

          Take that Maryland Sniper. Most or all of his victims were white — and he was a ‘Nation of Islam’ member. Yet if you use the search function to scan the Wikipedia article, you will not get one hit for ‘hate crime.’ We decide what are and aren’t ‘hate crimes’ by breathtakingly hypocritical criteria.

        • ColinWright says:

          I find these statistics utterly improbable. I’d guess there is far more — and far more openly expressed — hostility towards Muslims than there is towards Jews.

          I would guess that incidents of ‘anti-semitism’ are more vigorously collected and reported by Jews. At a guess, most Muslims probably don’t mention it at all.

        • American says:

          Fredo is being selective in his use of stats. You have to look at overall “Hate Crimes” of which incidents against Jews are a subset in religious.
          You have to add up the numbers of all categories to see where the Jews fall..for example Jew are classified as a religion , in that category they had about 1000 incidents as compared to 3900 + incidents against various races and others. Black by far still suffer the most attacks. With Hispanics coming in second. And too Muslims and hispanics are less inclined to report attacks or incidents.

          By bias motivation
          An analysis of data for victims of single-bias hate crime incidents showed that:

          ■48.2 percent were victims of an offender’s bias against a race.
          ■18.9 percent were victims of an offender’s bias against a religion.
          ■18.6 percent were victims of an offender’s bias against a particular sexual orientation.
          ■13.7 percent were victims of an offender’s bias against an ethnicity/national origin.
          ■0.6 percent were victims of an offender’s bias against a disability.
          (Based on Table 1.)

          Racial bias
          Among the single-bias hate crime incidents in 2010, there were 3,949 victims of racially motivated hate crime. A closer examination of these victim data showed that:

          ■70.0 percent were victims of an offender’s anti-black bias.
          ■17.7 percent were victims of an anti-white bias.
          ■5.1 percent were victims of an anti-Asian/Pacific Islander bias.
          ■1.2 percent were victims of an anti-American Indian/Alaskan Native bias.
          ■6.0 percent were victims of a bias against a group of individuals in which more than one race was represented (anti-multiple races, group).
          (Based on Table 1.)

          Religious bias
          Of the 1,552 victims of an anti-religion hate crime:

          ■67.0 percent were victims of an offender’s anti-Jewish bias.
          ■12.7 percent were victims of an anti-Islamic bias.
          ■4.2 percent were victims of an anti-Catholic bias.
          ■3.0 percent were victims of an anti-Protestant bias.
          ■0.5 percent were victims of an anti-Atheist/Agnostic bias.
          ■9.1 percent were victims of a bias against other religions (anti-other religion).
          ■3.5 percent were victims of a bias against groups of individuals of varying religions (anti-multiple religions, group).
          (Based on Table 1.)

          Sexual-orientation bias
          Of the 1,528 victims targeted due to an offender’s sexual-orientation bias:

          ■57.3 percent were victims of an offender’s anti-male homosexual bias.
          ■27.5 percent were victims of an anti-homosexual bias.
          ■11.8 percent were victims of an anti-female homosexual bias.
          ■1.4 percent were victims of an anti-heterosexual bias.
          ■1.9 percent were victims of an anti-bisexual bias.
          (Based on Table 1.)

          Ethnicity/national origin bias
          Hate crimes motivated by the offender’s bias toward a particular ethnicity/national origin were directed at 1,122 victims. Of these victims:

          ■66.6 percent were targeted because of an anti-Hispanic bias.
          ■33.4 percent were victimized because of a bias against other ethnicities/national origins.

      • Mooser says:

        “They also came up with the concept of zero without which mathematics and then physics would not have branched away from geometry.”

        Never realised I owed them so much. Without them, this zelig would be merely a nudnik!

    • Fredblogs says:

      re: zero

      That would be the Indians, not the Arabs as the inventor of the zero, that is if you don’t count the close, but not quite there concept of the Babylonians.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

    • Roya says:

      “In essence Islamophobia is simply the ignorance of the ignorant.”

      Ignorance alone doesn’t explain the degree of Islamophobia in the U.S. today, let alone solely account for the masses cheering on the despicable things seen in the pictures here. link to mondoweiss.net Imagine if these dolls represented Putin and Correa instead of Ahmadinejad and Assad. While the average American is no doubt ignorant of Russia and Ecuador, the public would hardly be as receptive to even the idea of holding such a parade. Now if they were Netanyahu and Peres dolls, hmm, well-someone call the ADL!–I’m sure even harboring the thought counts as an “anti-semitic incident”.

    • ColinWright says:

      “…During the British Empire era you still had men like T E Lawrence, and latterly Wilfred Thesiger, the extensive popularity of whose works hardly fits a pattern of general Islamophobia…”

      That brings up a point. T.E. Lawrence and his popularity represent the ‘romantic’ positive response to the unknown. Add the film, Rudolf Valentino, and Scott’s The Talisman and we’ve got a definite if minor chord of Islamophilia — at least until Israel got up to speed with her hasbara.

      I’ve often found when encountering a new group, I have a similar response. One might decide they are all ‘bad’ — or one can decide they are all ‘good.’ I swiftly developed into a Southern romantic when I spent a few weeks traveling around the South. ‘These are great people!’

      Well, they are — but one eventually realizes that even Southerners can be dicks. Conversely, I’ve encountered perfectly pleasant members of groups I’ve initially conceived a dislike for.

      This could all degenerate into ‘everyone’s just great and all the same and isn’t prejudice awful’ — but that isn’t my point. My point is that both indiscriminate approval and indiscriminate disapproval are responses to the unfamiliar. What’s more, with continued exposure, one will probably be forced to temper those views, whether positive or negative.

      For example, I imagine most people here would prefer to think that Palestinians are just great folks. Well, maybe — but really, at this time, for most of us, they’re just stick figures in a morality play. At a guess, with more actual contact, we’d probably find that they had some annoying qualities, as a group.

  6. Fredblogs says:

    Remind me how old Aisha was when Mohammed married her, and when he started sleeping with her? Nothing to see here, no pedophilia there, nope. And of course Christian fear of Muslims in the 11th century couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with the then 3 centuries old occupation of Spain by Muslim forces, could it?

    There are Muslims who are just ordinary folk, particularly in America, but let’s not whitewash the negative history of the Muslims and pretend that there is nothing to fear from the militant ones of them.

    • Sumud says:

      There are American who are just ordinary folk, particularly in America, but let’s not whitewash the negative history of the Americans and pretend that there is nothing to fear from the militant ones of them.

      I’m talking actual 20th and 21st century here Fredblogs, not something that happened 1000 to 1500 years ago.

    • Roya says:

      “And of course Christian fear of Muslims in the 11th century couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with the then 3 centuries old occupation of Spain by Muslim forces, could it?”
      And I presume it would be detrimental to your argument to point out that the Golden Age of Jews in Spain coincided with the “occupation of Spain by Muslim forces.” Or that scholars have argued that religious minorities were treated significantly better in Muslim-controlled Iberia than in Christian western Europe. Yeah, let’s just whitewash that out.

    • Cliff says:

      3 centuries old OCCUPATION? Are you daffy? The Visigoths were tyrannical towards the Jews of Cordoba.

      There WAS no ‘occupation’ – the Visigoths were a barbarian tribe/kingdom that had attacked the Roman empire on its Northwest frontier and eventually settled in the Iberian peninsula. They fell, like all other kingdoms and empires fell in that time period (in rapid succession).

      The Muslims began a Golden Age in Al-Andalus and especially in Cordoba – where they transmitted ancient Greek texts into the Arabic language. Jews and Christians coexisted alongside Muslims. The Caliphate of Cordoba was especially known for his accomplishments in ‘cosmopolatising’ Al-Andalus.

      Great Jewish historical figures like Hasdai ibn Shaprut worked for the caliph personally and precipitated a Golden Age of Hebrew poetry.

      This was destroyed by in-facing within the Islamic community when the Almoravid dynasty (Berbers who were much more extreme in their interpretation of Islam) usurped the Caliphate of Cordoba, violently. What resulted was a fragmentation of Al-Andalus into a bunch of taifas – or small tributary kingdoms (who often worked against each other and with the Christians).

      Long story short = you have NO idea what you’re talking about. Let the adults discuss this. Go back to your hate blogs, Fredo. I’m sure Pam Gellar/Glick/JihadWatch/Elders of Ziyon/etc. are eagerly awaiting your preschool Zionist intellectualism.

      ‘Occupation?’ LOL

      • tree says:

        Long story short = you have NO idea what you’re talking about.

        That pretty much sums up all of Fred’s commenting history here.

        • Mooser says:

          “That pretty much sums up all of Fred’s commenting history here.”

          Yes, but it would be so anti-Semetic to ban him. Gotta face reality; when anti-Semetism meets Islamophobia here, somebody has to take a back seat.

      • ColinWright says:

        “…There WAS no ‘occupation’ – the Visigoths were a barbarian tribe/kingdom that had attacked the Roman empire on its Northwest frontier and eventually settled in the Iberian peninsula. They fell, like all other kingdoms and empires fell in that time period (in rapid succession)…”

        As an aside, this is an example of the telescoping effect that occurs when we look at the past. The Visigothic Kingdom in Spain was certainly fragile enough, but it did last for over two hundred years — that is to say, roughly as long as the United States has thus far. You make it sound as if it was around for three months.

    • Avi_G. says:

      This is one of those lies that has been circulated so many times by bigots like Fredo that he expects it to be taken as a given, as though it’s common knowledge and factually true. It’s a vicious stigma born of Zionists’ and racists’ hatred of Moslems and Islam.

      It’s amazing how this entire article seems to have gone over Freddy boy’s head.

      It’s a miracle someone like that can even type, let alone use a computer.

      But then again, link to 4.bp.blogspot.com

      • Mooser says:

        “It’s a miracle someone like that can even type, let alone use a computer.”

        Gee, I never gave the proposition that Fred produced his own stuff much thought. I always assumed he used the comments Hophmi was too drunk to use himself. Ah, good old Hophmi, the Zionist consigliere.

    • Taxi says:

      Betrothal to children was the norm all over the world in the old days. Most of the world has stopped doing this in our day and age. But if you insist on bringing up pedophilia and religious people, how about you google ‘Rabbis and pedophilia’? I got 267,000 hits when I googled.

    • aiman says:

      “Remind me how old Aisha was when Mohammed married her, and when he started sleeping with her?”

      Perhaps you can be the one to remind everyone. Muhammad married Aisha long before he consummated the relationship. If he was a pedophile he wouldn’t have waited that long. To say he was a “pedophile” belies any reasoning. It was normal practice in Arabian society at the time. For example, Jewish males married their nieces and there also appeared to be a marriage with one’s own mother which the Qur’an came to forbid. However, Muhammad and later jurists employed a high degree of cultural relativism and they allowed Zoroastrians to commit to their own practice of marriage, even with their mothers, which these jurists found repugnant, and Jews did marry their own nieces in Medina.

      These practices were contested in Muhammad’s own lifetime and he himself did much of that e.g. by not giving his daughter’s hand to an older man but to one who was her own age. He also introduced the idea that people must be willing to marry each other and not be forced into marriages. Later intelligent scholars like Muhammad Abduh whose mother was a member of a polygamous marriage spoke out against polygamy and child marriage.

      The truth is that in every element of human tradition there are practices which were accepted before, but also contested. Muhammad never assaulted or hit a woman and was very kind to animals. Muhammad, from his early days as a social critic, was also an opponent of hypermasculinity and he understood the connection between hypermasculinity and cruelty. Why he is singled out and was singled out by the early Christians is that Islam embraced the reality of sexuality and didn’t say that you had to be an ascetic to be virtuous. We should also remember that Muhammad married his first wife when he was 25 and she was 40 and only after her death, when he was 50 did he take more wives. In some ways this was a practice in earlier times to connect different tribes. He even had a Christian Coptic wife and told Muslims to always respect Copts and treat them well. Too bad that the Muslims of today don’t.

    • Hostage says:

      Remind me how old Aisha was when Mohammed married her, and when he started sleeping with her?

      Are you certain that you want to open that can of worms with the Talmud available online in html or pdf? Why don’t you remind us which Talmudic injunction a Jew would have violated if he did exactly the same thing? link to halakhah.com

      The readers might be more than a little offended by the so-called Judeo-Christian values discussed in the passages of the “Oral Torah” supposedly given to Moses at Mt. Sinai. See for example Sanhedrin 54b – Sanhedrin 55b,Yebamoth 59b, Yebamoth 63a, Kethuboth 11b, Gittin 70a, & etc. link to halakhah.com

      • Mooser says:

        “discussed in the passages of the “Oral Torah”

        They were very big on that when I was just a little cheder boy. I know it all by heart, but to keep it short, it comes down to brush three times a day, and floss, floss, floss.

    • ColinWright says:

      “…There are Muslims who are just ordinary folk, particularly in America, but let’s not whitewash the negative history of the Muslims and pretend that there is nothing to fear from the militant ones of them.”

      As Himmler said, there are good Jews, but one doesn’t want to whitewash the whole group.

      That’s about the size of it, isn’t it Fred?

      I’d say ol’ Fred has — perhaps unconsciously — given us some idea of the scope of the problem.

      The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  7. ‘Why Islamophobia?’

    That’s the wrong question to begin with. The first question is: why Islam?

    I think, Samuel Huntington got it right. The Cold War was a confrontation between two socio-economic systems, liberal capitalism vs communism. That confrontation covered up cultural and religious differences and identities. Once that confrontaton was over, the cultural and religious identities reemerged. – See the breakup of Jugoslavia with its different identities: Russian Orthodox – Catholic – Muslim.

    I think the emergence of political Islam has to be seen in this global context.

    • Avi_G. says:

      Klaus Bloemker, no offense but you’re making a nice salad there.

      Political Islam was always around. You’re grabbing the issue by the tail instead of starting with the head. In other words, look into Leo Strauss and his work starting in the 1940s. And, read up a little about post-modern colonialism.

    • ColinWright says:

      I think, Samuel Huntington got it right.

      Maybe, but at the same time, I think he makes the usual mistake of political scientists, which is to take the word ‘scientist’ in their title seriously and try to impose overarching, absolute schema on a realm of knowledge that isn’t really amenable to the application of approaches that work great in the physical sciences.

      Some of it gets really strained. Is there actually an ‘Eastern Orthodox’ world? Are Czechs somehow really distant from Germans but more or less like Russians? Do Filipinos really particularly resemble Japanese in any way at all?

      One winds up with a theoretical framework that distorts as much as it clarifies, and other than suggesting the not very revolutionary idea that there will be cultural clash and strife, doesn’t offer much at all.

      To offer an observation that goes directly against how Huntington would have us see the world, in the wake of some serious construction on my house, I was standing around talking with the Mexican carpenter. He was complaining about a Guatemalan that had also been working on the project, and it struck me: between one thing and another, Jaime was a lot closer to me in his outlook on life than he was to Marcelino.

      But not according to Huntington. You see, Jaime and Marcelino would both be on one side of one of his neat little lines, and so alike to each other, but different from me, who would be on the other side.

      It’s just not that way. There are lots of qualified generalizations to be made, and more or less useful paradigms — but really, not much in the way of grand schema that are of much use. See Marxism for this impulse run amok.

    • ColinWright says:

      “I think the emergence of political Islam has to be seen in this global context.”

      I disagree. I think the process has occurred more or less independently of the Cold War.

      If one looks that the various post-colonial regimes that have came into being, with the exception of Saudi Arabia (which, significantly, never fell under foreign domination), they all attempted to ape the West and apply its institutions to their own circumstances. ‘Ba’ath Socialism’ says it all. The Shah of Iran was praised for his Westernism. Nasser, Jinnah — they all tried to look ‘Western.’ Turkey’s Ataturk pushed this to the logical extreme. He literally tried to reinvent Turkey as a European country.

      Of course, the result tended to be a lot of feeble tyrannies that had no real relation to the places they were trying to rule. About all they could offer was corruption and a kind of febrile nationalism. Even Turkey never really achieved either prosperity or the vigorous participation of most of its people in the national political and economic life of the country. It was a success only by comparison with its neighbors.

      What we are getting now — and the Islamic Republic of Iran was the first if unsuccessful example — is an attempt to relate the real cultures of these countries to their political life. Again, Turkey has taken the lead — and so far with considerably more success than Iran.

      It’s going to be interesting to see what they come up with. After all, the American ideals of democracy, unfettered free enterprise, and a government that was as small, weak, and heavily circumscribed owed a lot to the preferences of what once really was a nation of independent small farmers. So we’ll just have to wait and see what the preferences encouraged by Islam translate to in a modern context.

      I really just wish them well. I find nothing remotely threatening in any of it. I find the people who find it threatening to be a positive menace.

    • American says:

      “I think the emergence of political Islam has to be seen in this global context”

      I think ‘political’ Islam needs to be seen as what it is…. a defiance or push back to America and other outsiders as the ‘deciders’ in the ME.

  8. Blake says:

    I think we all know who is instigating this Islamophobia. Divide and conquer. Sharia Law demands of Muslims to follow the laws of the country in which they live.

    • Roya says:

      The countries in which they live? You mean Morsi and Ahmadinejad are not actually conspiring to take over the world with sharia law?! B-b-but Fox News tells me otherwise!

    • Mayhem says:

      @Blake, regarding your apologetic poppycock:
      The Muslims in a country that is not governed according to Islamic sharee’ah should do their utmost and strive as much as they can to bring about rule according to Islamic sharee’ah, and they should unite in helping the party which is known will rule in accordance with Islamic sharee’ah. As for supporting one who calls for non-implementation of Islamic sharee’ah, that is not permissible, rather it may lead a person to kufr… [refer Qur'an 5:49-50]

      • aiman says:

        This is getting hilarious…

        Are you reading someone’s commentary of the Qur’an or the Qur’an itself? You can find some pretty bad commentary out there. For example, some countries like Saudi Arabia ban commentaries that emphasise justice because that would question their own legitimacy. I’ve also once alerted people to remove a translation that contained anti-Semitic footnotes in a Saudi translation. Most of these people were unaware of it, they accept translations as Saudi Arabia et al. offer these for free to further their ideological rendering of Islam.

        For one it’s really bad English, so I’m guessing it’s from Maududi or Qutb, both post-colonial torchbearers of Islamism. These Islamist torchbearers, like the Zionists, worshipped the state. Asma Barlas, the great female thinker, has used the word “blasphemy” to refer to their interpretation.

        This is Muhammad Asad’s translation of 5:49, which is banned in Saudi Arabia, and is otherwise considered the best contemporary translation:

        “Hence, judge between the followers of earlier revelation in accordance with what God has bestowed from on high, and do not follow their errant views; and beware of them, lest they tempt thee away from aught that God has bestowed from on high upon thee. And if they turn away [from His commandments], then know that it is but God’s will [thus] to afflict them for some of their sins: for, behold, a great many people are iniquitous indeed.”

        Here’s the interpretation:

        69 Lit., “between them”: see notes 55 and 65 above.
        55 I.e., as to what is right and what is wrong in the sight of God. Most of the commentators assume that this passage refers to a specific judicial case, or cases, which the Jews of Medina brought before the Prophet for decision; but in view of the inherent Qur’anic principle that every historical reference contained in it has also a general import, I rather believe that the “judgment” alluded to in this verse relates to deciding as to whether any of their beliefs – other than those which the Qur’an explicitly confirms or rejects – is right or wrong.
        65 Lit., “judge, then, between them…”, etc. This apparently applies not merely to judicial cases but also to opinions as to what is right or wrong in the ethical sense (see note 55 above). As is evident from the mention of the “followers of the Gospel” in the preceding verse, and of the Torah in the earlier passages, the people spoken of here are both the Jews and the Christians.
        70 The implication is that a conscious disregard of God’s commandments brings with it its own punishment: namely, a gradual corruption of the community’s moral values and, thus, growing social disruption and internecine conflict.

        In an earlier post I already wrote that Muhammad and the early jurists showed a full degree of cultural relativism for Jewish and Christian practices. And let their own laws decide their matters. In his dealings Muhammad even referred Jews to their own laws. Check out the Constitution of Medina drafted by Muhammad: link to en.wikipedia.org.

        Quoting post-colonial commentaries is a waste of time, the only people interested in these are fundamentalists in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and people like Pam Geller.

      • Roya says:

        @Mayhem: And how exactly is this supposed to disprove “apologetic poppycock”? Spell it out for me please, with a focus on why said verse poses a threat to you.

      • ColinWright says:

        “The Muslims in a country that is not governed according to Islamic sharee’ah should do their utmost and strive as much as they can to bring about rule according to Islamic sharee’ah…”

        This isn’t how Surahs 5:49-50 run at all. I just took a look.

        Quit hanging out at Islam-hate sites. Getchorself a cheap paperback Qur’an and check these references.

        • Blake says:

          I see a lot of bashing the Quran through the selection of isolated texts without reference to what precedes and what follows it. This is also stated by those who haven’t taken the time to investigate it themselves. I also am not hearing any cries of Islamophobia when this occurs. I respect other people’ s beliefs, but what they say is disrespectful. I have also seen hasbara propagandists use texts which say that legitimizes “Israel” so they seem to want it both ways.

        • Mayhem says:

          Interpretation or otherwise the important points to recognize are
          1. there are plenty of Muslims who will take my interpretation as being the ambition of Sharia law and speak and act accordingly
          2. nothing said here has substantiated Blake’s premise that Sharia Law demands of Muslims to follow the laws of the country in which they live
          3. whatever the Koran might say there will always be bountiful excuses and rationalizations made to justify contradictory behaviors

        • Blake says:

          The vast overwhelming majority of Muslims abide by the law of the country in which they reside. Love the way how you think you have a mandate to speak for everyone yet this mandate you think you are entitled to is an epic fail.

        • aiman says:

          Mayhem, you just contradicted yourself by endorsing two different “facts”. Compare your point 1 and point 3. Most Muslims have not “read” the Qur’an just as most people of any tradition are not really familiar with their texts. Religion in the 20th/21st century has been and is more a cultural/national identity, particularly in the developing world, places that were colonised until recently. Islamist torchbearers like Maududi, replicating the British Empire’s dalliance with imperial power, were obsessed with statehood and proposed that the state should regulate the very pattern of human living and then go on to conquer other states in the name of Islam. Asma Barlas, interpreting God’s commandment to Muhammad in the Qur’an, has called the interference of the state in people’s lives as blasphemous.

          A scripture can mean different things and has everything to do with the interpreter. You have interpreters ranging from humanist to fundamentalist. Fundamentalist texts are not tied to deep theological understanding but are an offshoot of colonialism, and fundamentalist theologians are basically political figures who manipulate(d) historical hurt to advance power that they felt belonged to them and their communities. It all boils down to power, what you do with power. This debate is also happening in Judaism, what do you do when you have power. It is not a problem with monotheism. Read up on Indian nationalism, the same debate there. On one side you have Arundhati Roy and on the other you have Hindu fundamentalists who trace their ideological lineage back to Savarkar who was a Hindu atheist fundamentalist by the way. There are two sides to the coin and the battle between moral and amoral people in every tradition will go on. You can choose where you wish to stand.

        • Sibiriak says:

          Excellent points!

        • ColinWright says:

          “I see a lot of bashing the Quran through the selection of isolated texts without reference to what precedes and what follows it…”

          If only it were limited to just that. A lot of these ‘quotations’ seem be made up out of whole cloth. I suspect these people hang out at Islam hate sites, and pick up their ‘knowledge’ from there.

    • Mooser says:

      “Sharia Law demands of Muslims to follow the laws of the country in which they live.”

      So does reality and common sense, and the desire to get along or even prosper. Odd, that.

  9. I missed her main presentation at the Arab Spring conference in Portland but caught her second presentation. It was very good. Afghanistan in particular is really a sore spot with me, not only does it prove definitively the hypocrisy of modern allegedly liberal, allegedly feminist imperialism, but we teen anarchists who didn’t support the US in Afghanistan were attacked ruthlessly for supporting alleged Soviet imperialism.

    Before Islamophobia was the communism scare. After it will be, who knows what. Meanwhile for the 1st world, there’s always environmentalists as the enemy.

    There’s always an excuse.

    • ColinWright says:

      “…but we teen anarchists who didn’t support the US in Afghanistan were attacked ruthlessly for supporting alleged Soviet imperialism…”

      …and so you should have been. The Soviets were unbelievably brutal in Afghanistan. They killed 10% of the population and rendered another third homeless. Those figures resemble those the Nazis posted in their occupation of Serbia.

      Our own subsequent folly doesn’t alter that fact. It would indeed have been obscene to have supported such behavior — for any reason.

      There is a right and a wrong that exists independently of ideology. Whatever one’s perspective, one should never get drawn into supporting what one would otherwise regard as evil. Indeed, this is exactly the sin most of us so endlessly decry in supporters of Israel.

  10. Brewer says:

    I find it difficult to evade the growing belief that Islam is subject to a deliberate campaign of defamation as a very real part of the Zionist tactic.
    Take this for example:
    link to huffingtonpost.com

    ….where the awful Harris indulges in misquoting and long-debunked tropes to foster the notion that Iranian leaders are lunatics.
    He invokes: ” their Shiite eschatology, focused on hastening the coming of the Hidden Imam” in utter contradiction to that eschatology which firstly forbids any hastening by man of the event and secondly holds that Israel will rule the World first – very similar to the coming of the Messiah as held by the Orthodox Judaics and similarly believed literally by only ultra- orthodox Shiites.

    He says: “… the former Iranian president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, famously declared “[T]he use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel would destroy everything.”"

    ….when the entire quote runs :
    “the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world.”

    He then promotes a trope that has long since been debunked:

    “Was their recruitment of young Iranian boys as would-be bomb sappers in the eight-year war with Iraq, and armed only with plastic keys to enter “heaven” and the awaiting 72 virgins, the behavior of a “rational” government?”

    None of this has any foundation in fact. The “plastic keys” originates from the film “Not without my daughter”, filmed at GG Studios, Neve Ilan, Israel. The book and film were totally discredited by a Finnish documentary “Without my daughter”:
    link to youtube.com

    It would be very interesting to know who financed the original stinker for which Sally Field got the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress.

    • ColinWright says:

      “I find it difficult to evade the growing belief that Islam is subject to a deliberate campaign of defamation as a very real part of the Zionist tactic…”

      I’ve long taken it for granted that this is the case. It’s hard not to notice that the brave and essentially good-hearted if somewhat violent Arab of Lawrence of Arabia has been replaced by some sort of leering homicidal maniac who would probably deflower the family dog after he had finished raping and killing your children. Indeed, see Borat on this point.

      It’s really startling to realize in reading accounts of the 1948 war, for example, that when Arab soldiers actually did get their hands on Jewish civilians, they usually behaved themselves fairly well by the standards that actually tend to apply in war.

      That it is startling is testimony to just how effective Zionist propaganda has been. I don’t think the effort is concerted consciously — it’s sufficient that enough realize on their own that making Arabs look bad almost necessarily makes Israel look good.

      …it is also further testimony to the essential vileness of Israel that the most unrestrained vilification of a fifth of the human race is necessary for the survival of a state that makes up only 0.1% of it herself.

    • aiman says:

      Harris is regurgitating Bernard Lewis’s propaganda. We do know on whose lap these commentators received their “primary” education: link to israelnationalnews.com

  11. Cliff says:

    The author means well, but she is being as absurd as Zionist reactionaries by looking back at history and not seeing the ‘bigger picture’ of events.

    Why did the society in Muslim Spain eventually collapse? This was part of the Islamic golden age after all. The European Renainessance (sp) basically transmitted documents that were transmitted already by Arab scholars in previous generations in Al-Andalus.

    You had a somewhat analogous society in Christian Constantinople in the East.

    Al-Andalus was cosmopolitan for its era before it fell to in-fighting and the inevitable fragmentation and then conquest by Christianity.

    To make it clear – the Muslims of Spain were quite lax in their interpretation proceeding the Berber usurpers. The Almohads who later usurped the Berbers were even more extreme. Each time Islamic Spain was repressed though, it flourished elsewhere, albeit in a smaller locale and shrinking border.

    Over time, it was Granada that became the melting pot of different religions. Even still though, it was never as tolerant as it was during the time of the Caliphate.

    Pope Alexander was probably more upset that all these Abrahamic religions were coexisting while the Islamic empire in the Byzantine East was growing stronger. After all, while the Muslims would LOSE Spain, they eventually ( and when I say ‘they’ – you have to remember, that Islam here is considered Dar-Al-Islam) capture Constantinople. It’s kind of like a weird trade of sorts and this going on during the time or the crusades too (after the 2nd one I think).

    The author, Kumar, however, makes a statement early on that seems as if though Christian church officials had some mundane 21st century Islamophobic prejudices.

    These were huge imperial differences. They have morphed over time.

    People like the average Zionist are too dumb to see the whole picture, and Islam today is in no position of power as it was in the 12th century. So, it’s safe to say that the kind of prejudice Muslims face today is more varied.

    But I would say that looking back at history – especially the example she gave – with a PC view, is kind of hilarious.

    I only recall actually Jews being massacred in Granada (by extremist Muslims, during the Almohad dynasty I believe – hence, Fredblogs would have been a supporter of that regime as Zionists supported Mubarek) or elsewhere in such an absurd, reckless and hateful manner.

    I mean, we look back at history and try to understand the motivations for actions and try to parse people or peoples political machinations. In the case of the massacre at Granada – I believe the extremists felt that Jewish power had grown too much and felt they literally needed to be cut down to size and proceeded to kill people in the streets.

    I suppose, Pope Alexander was as insane towards the Muslims then. In his letter to the Pope, King Alfonso the 7th lamented that he hadn’t killed every last Muslim soldier in some major battle of Al-Andalus (the battle was a massacre though, like 20K dead). He was happy that he had killed so many and this was during the ‘Reconquistada’ – even though Christendom, nor anyone else ever ‘owned’ Spain. Spain didn’t even exist until later on anyways.

    Everyone should read the predictably HILARIOUS comment by our resident Zionist reactionary and fascist/racist/Israel-Firster and anti-American hate-blogger, Freddy. He literally is cheering on the Visigoths for oppressing Jews and forcing them to convert.

    Hey Fred, read some of your history please, ignoramus.

    • Mooser says:

      “Why did the society in Muslim Spain eventually collapse?”

      Cliff, ask a couple more questions like that, and I’ll expect the answer to be “Fu-Manchu did it!” You sound like Sax Rohmer.

      • Cliff says:

        Moosey,

        Are you implying I am being conspiratorial or Freddy is?

        It was a rhetorical question of course.

        The Third Caliphate or the Caliphate of Cordoba as he proclaimed himself was brought down by the disgruntled Berber/Almoravid dynasty. Al-Andalus broke up into small tributary kingdoms after that and never again enjoyed the same level of freedom and tolerance.

        The Berbers wanted a stricter interpretation of Islam. They had long been marginalized by the Arab Muslim elite of Cordoba in spite of converting to Islam. This was the price of tolerance. Under Islamic law, other religious minorities enjoyed religious freedom that the recently converted Berber Muslims enjoyed. Except, the Berbers wanted more.

        They wanted the social status as well, but they were looked down upon and blah blah blah.

        There is an excellent documentary on Al-Andalus.

        The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain: Full documentary (PBS)
        Link: link to youtube.com

    • ColinWright says:

      “…Everyone should read the predictably HILARIOUS comment by our resident Zionist reactionary and fascist/racist/Israel-Firster and anti-American hate-blogger, Freddy. He literally is cheering on the Visigoths for oppressing Jews and forcing them to convert…”

      That’s actually a tantalizing episode. The exact context is hard to make out — not to mention what exactly happened (passing a law in the Sixth Century wasn’t the same as enforcing it). It’s all buried in the murk of the Dark Ages — and then on top of that, the whole state in question was overrun shortly thereafter.

      I do know that until shortly before, the Visigoths had been Aryans, ruling over/interspersed in uncertain ways with the native orthodox Christians.

      Then the Visigoths themselves converted, and evidently, there were Jews as well, because there was that brief flurry of anti-semitic legislation and sentiment. But who and what were those Jews of Visigothic Spain? That would be interesting to uncover.

      • ColinWright says:

        “…the Visigoths had been Aryans, ruling over/interspersed in uncertain ways with the native orthodox Christians.”

        Whoops. That’ll be obscure. Arians – followers of the Arian heresy.

    • ColinWright says:

      “Pope Alexander was probably more upset that all these Abrahamic religions were coexisting while the Islamic empire in the Byzantine East was growing stronger. After all, while the Muslims would LOSE Spain, they eventually ( and when I say ‘they’ – you have to remember, that Islam here is considered Dar-Al-Islam) capture Constantinople. It’s kind of like a weird trade of sorts and this going on during the time or the crusades too (after the 2nd one I think)…”

      This is a tad confused, but you seem to be confused about who held Constantinople when.

      For the record, in was in Christian hands until 1453. The Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade took it from the Byzantines in 1204 and held it until 1261, when the Byzantines got it back.

  12. Sibiriak says:

    Cf. Richard Webster, “The Dark Mirror of Islam” (1990)

    link to richardwebster.net

    Excerpt:

    “It would seem that the more we have succeeded in emptying our own religious tradition of the cruelty and intolerance which characterised it throughout much of our history, the more we have destroyed our understanding of the historical process itself. Unable to come to terms with the violence of our own religious heritage, we have increasingly come to perceive the violence of other religious traditions as strange, alien, or even evil. In other words, Islam has become, as Judaism once was, a dark mirror in which we see and persecute the reflection of our own unacknowledged past.

    It is time that we laid down that mirror and contemplated our own history more directly. If we could but bring ourselves to look carefully into the empty sockets of the scarred, gouged-out face which is the history of twentieth-century Europe, we might begin to recognise that cruelty, torture and terror are by no means alien to our own culture.

    We might understand that the very forms of modern political totalitarianism which we have been taught to revile stand in an uncomfortably close relationship to a religious tradition which is still generally revered. We might even begin to develop a deeper insight into the nature of fundamentalism.

    For by far the most remarkable feature of most Western discussions of Islamic fundamentalism, including the recent contribution to this column by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Habgood, is our seeming reluctance or inability to acknowledge that our own culture is itself the product of a fundamentalist religious revolution of unprecedented rigour and severity. This revolution took place in the sixteeenth and seventeenth centuries. It was carried through both by Puritan preachers and by leaders of the Counter Reformation with fanatical zeal and, at times, murderous cruelty. It has left deep scars upon our culture, and its heritage survives today in the rigour of the political and economic doctrines to which we are in thrall.

    As the Muslim new year begins, the most helpful way in which we in the West could celebrate it is not by issuing more contemptuous and insulting denunciations of their fundamentalism, but by coming to terms with our own. For the task of escaping from fundamentalist doctrines is indeed urgent. It is a task which can be achieved only by cooperation and not by conflict. It is a task in which the West needs the help of Islam just as much as Islam needs the help of the West. “

    • Mooser says:

      “It is a task in which the West needs the help of Islam just as much as Islam needs the help of the West.”

      Funny, no matter how we begin, we end by casting “Islam” against “the West”
      You’re sure the twain don’t meet?

      • ColinWright says:

        “Funny, no matter how we begin, we end by casting “Islam” against “the West”

        You’re sure the twain don’t meet?:

        Yeah…and is ‘Islam’ a monolith? Is a Moroccan really more akin to a Pakistani than he is to a Spaniard? After all, Swedes and Filipinos are both Christians, but I do believe there are discernible cultural differences.

  13. I found Deepa Kumar very thoughtful and thought provoking, but one line stood out as “imbalanced” and “unthoughtful”.

    “If this justification was used by Cromer, an out and out sexist, over a century ago, George Bush who is no less of a sexist used the same argument again in the context of the Afghan war.”

    George Bush’s use of arguments similar to Cromer’s were in all probability cynical, but to call George Bush “no less of a sexist”, would have to be backed up by some sort of quotations or policy decisions to be considered anything but glib and false.

    • Mooser says:

      Your stirring defense of George Bush’s egalitarianism and sense of gender equality is stirring. How you could type through the stinging hot tears and rage I’ll never know. But once you saw George Bush maligned, you couldn’t rest until you tried to correct this obnoxious canard.

      • Avi_G. says:

        Mooser strikes again. Kaboom.

        • Mooser says:

          AviG, I will not stand idly by (even tho that’s what I do best) when fellow-circumcisers are are maligned! Jews and Muslims must co-operate if we are to guard our children against growing up with foreskins.

      • ColinWright says:

        Watch out. My daughter (who is distinctly contrarian) announced that ‘George Bush is my boyfriend’ when he ran in 2000.

        Of course, the next year she observed that Osama bin Laden ‘looked like Santa Claus.’ She’s quite balanced about these things.

  14. ColinWright says:

    As a blackly comic note on all this, we rely on a rather self-effacing shade tree mechanic by the name of Henry. He tends to argue that actually, your car doesn’t need to be fixed at all, but once he agrees that work is indeed necessary, and that he rather than you should do it, he’s extremely capable and quite reasonable.

    So we like him. My wife, however, can be very openly racist. She was over there once, and started going on about ‘Arabs,’ whom she has decided she detests.

    So she’s in full stream. After a bit, Henry interrupts her to mention that he’s Lebanese.

    • Mooser says:

      “After a bit, Henry interrupts her to mention that he’s Lebanese.”

      Like she’s never watched, and enjoyed, the Danny Thomas show. Like she’s never pictured herself as “that girl”. Just remember, without Marlo Thomas, there would have been no Marlo Thomas, and where would we be then? Probably saving quite a bit on lost hats, anyway.

      • ColinWright says:

        One too many Marlos, but pretty good otherwise.

        However, my wife is from El Salvador, was born in 1969, and came here in 1984 or thereabouts. She couldn’t tell you who ‘that girl’ was if her life depended on it.

        • Mooser says:

          “She couldn’t tell you who ‘that girl’ was if her life depended on it.”

          That is great. How I wished I shared her happy condition.

  15. What Deepa Kumar says is wrong to begin with: The crusades do not stand for an early Western imperialism – they were a reaction to Eastern, Muslim imperialism.

    The crusades had no economic benefit for those who participated, they were primarily a pilgrimage to atone for one’s sins. – They were different from the Spanish conquista in the 16th century and the English East India Company.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “The crusades do not stand for an early Western imperialism – they were a reaction to Eastern, Muslim imperialism.”

      But what business was it of Europeans as to which Middle Eastern people governed what Middle Eastern lands?? It is the equivalent of multiple waves of Persians trying to take over Amsterdam if the Belgians overran the Dutch.

      • Mooser says:

        “The crusades do not stand for an early Western imperialism – they were a reaction to Eastern, Muslim imperialism.”

        Ah, of course! And don’t you dare to contradict him. Klaus was there at the Gates of Vienna, fending off the Muslim horde.

        • ColinWright says:

          “Ah, of course! And don’t you dare to contradict him. Klaus was there at the Gates of Vienna, fending off the Muslim horde.”

          Klaus is half-right. While I dispute his alternative view of the Crusades as a response to ‘Eastern, Muslim imperialism,’ they weren’t ‘an early Western imperialism’ either.

      • Is it news to you that barely 70 years after the death of the Prophet (in 632) the Arab Muslims reached Gibraltar on the back of their war-machines, their Arab horses?

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Is it news to you that barely 70 years after the death of the Prophet (in 632) the Arab Muslims reached Gibraltar on the back of their war-machines, their Arab horses?”

          And what does that have to do with a series of events that took place a couple hundred years later?

          (And if the Muslims’ horses were “war-machines,” what were the Christians’ horses? Let me guess: “freedom-bringers.”)

        • Mooser says:

          Klaus, don’t judge me by my looks. I’m not that old. But I’m willing to take your word for what you’ve seen.
          Gosh, if only some-one had thought of using horses (you know, those Arab war machines) against tanks and machine guns. WW1 might have turned out a whole lot different!

        • ColinWright says:

          “…And if the Muslims’ horses were “war-machines,” what were the Christians’ horses? Let me guess: “freedom-bringers.”)”

          Woody:

          Why are you aimlessly belligerent?

        • -”what were the Christians’ horses?” – Unfortunately, they had very few.

          In 711 the Islamic forces crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, conquered all of Spain, crossed the Pyrenees and were in France at the Loire river in 720. – How come?
          The Arab cavalery was superior to the Christian foot soldiers, infantry. –
          It was Charles Martel who first put together a force of heavily armored cavalerymen at the battle of Tour in 732 – and won.

          Mooser unknowingly got it right: The Arab horses were war-machines, comparable to modern-day tanks. – That’s why the Arab (imperialist)conquest got that far.

        • -”using horses (you know, those Arab war machines) against tanks” in WW I – Mooser
          ————————————————–
          Wikipedia on “Horses in WW I” :

          - “The use of horses in World War I marked a transitional period in the
          evolution of armed conflict. Cavalry units were initially considered essential offensive elements of a military force, but over the course of the war, the vulnerability of horses to modern machine gun and artillery fire reduced their utility on the battlefield. This paralleled the development of tanks, which would ultimately replace cavalry in shock tactics.”
          —————————————————————————–
          You see Mooser, horses and tanks: “tanks would ultimately replace cavalry”
          - BTW, one of my uncles was a cavalryman in WW I, buried somewhere on French soil. (I bet, that’s why my sister married a Frenchman.)

        • Mooser says:

          Gosh, Klaus, it’s just amazing how many things I unknowingly get right. In fact, in almost every case where I do get things right, that’s how I do it.

      • ColinWright says:

        You overlook the fact that prior to the Muslim conquests, the world wasn’t divided into ‘Europe’ and the Middle East.

        It was divided into those lands bordering on the Mediterranean, and those that didn’t. The Holy Land/Palestine was part of that Mediterranean world.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “It was divided into those lands bordering on the Mediterranean, and those that didn’t. The Holy Land/Palestine was part of that Mediterranean world.”

          But the point is that it doesn’t save the crusades from being termed Western Imperialism by arguing that people from the neighboring lands had taken over the place.

        • RoHa says:

          That depends on which part of the world you were in.

          If you lived in China, the world was divided into lands which were part of China and lands which weren’t. If you lived in Japan, the world was divided into lands which were part of Japan, and lands where people were moderately sane.

          (Both of these still hold, incidentally.)

        • ColinWright says:

          They weren’t ‘Western Imperialism’ because they weren’t imperialist in purpose. The intent was to recover the Holy Land — and even more specifically, Jerusalem. The Crusaders had no wider objectives.

    • Mooser says:

      “The crusades had no economic benefit for those who participated, they were primarily a pilgrimage to atone for one’s sins.”

      Oh yes, back then people weren’t allowed to do well by doing good. That’s a condition of this degenerate modern age. Oh well, if there’s anything Mondoweiss needs it’s a senile, right-wing, retired statistics prof.

      • And if it weren’t for you Mooser, commenting on Mondoweiss wouldn’t be fun.

      • libra says:

        Mooser: Oh well, if there’s anything Mondoweiss needs it’s a senile, right-wing, retired statistics prof.

        Very true. The ship has been quite unbalanced since its senile, liberal Zionist, retired accountancy lecturer was sadly lost overboard.

        And let’s face it, what’s the difference these days between a “right-wing” German and a “liberal Zionist” American? Other than you don’t need an Enigma machine to decode the German’s English.

        • Mooser says:

          Libra, a witty comment indeed, and the resemblance hasn’t escaped me. Perhaps I unknowingly got it right.

          “Other than you don’t need an Enigma machine to decode the German’s English.”
          No, just a knowledge of right-wing cant.

    • Cliff says:

      ‘the Holy Land’ much like the Iberian Peninsula, didn’t belong to anyone in particular. The Pope in question – Pope Alexander – was angry that Muslims and Jews and Christians were coexisting in Al-Andalus.

      That being said, there were more reasons and Islamic conquest and encroachment could certainly be one of them.

      I think the point to make here is that Islam back then was an EMPIRE – as in, caliphates.

      Deepa should reconcile the fall of Al-Andalus and subsequent Islamic Granada (although no one should be fond of the Berbers) with the Islamic conquest of Christian Constantinople.

      Also keep in mind that there was a massacre of Jews in Granada by an extremist group of the already extremist faction of Muslims ruling the city.

      History is more complex than the article lets on but I agree with the thrust of the points being made here nonetheless.

      The main fault I see here is applying a 21st century perspective to things that happened hundreds of years ago. There are certainly parallels and profound ones at that, but singling out Christian imperialism and citing Islamophobia as the cause back then as something unique is kind of stupid.

      It’s something that should be unique NOW given how our societal NORMS have changed.

      That is why Zionism and Israel are such an anachronism. They belong in another era where Western colonialism/fascism/open racism and all the rest was tolerated.

      The United States would not be able to get away with colonizing Mexico. The pressures in our society would not allow it.

      But Israeli society (unfortunately but I refuse to mince words) and I mean Israel Jews – is deeply racist and ethnocentric, hence, they simply do not give a damn.

      Nurit Peled-Elahahon(sp) recently echoed these comments in relation to the expose about the Israeli exam for teenagers, warning Israeli girls not to date Arab boys.

      • ColinWright says:

        There’s also the point that most of these past mechanisms of colonization didn’t involve the wholesale displacement of the subject population.

        Rather, the Muslims in Spain/English in Ireland/Germans in the Baltic/Spanish of the reconquista in what was by then Muslim Spain/Spaniards in Mexico etc, etc…inserted themselves above the peasant masses as a new aristocracy. If they displaced anyone, it was the indigenous gentry — and even then, most of the indigenous gentry often remained in place, but eventually saw the better part of valor and converted to join the new regime.

        The modern nation-state introduced wholesale population replacement — and introduced it with increasing ferocity and inflexibility. When the French recovered Alsace-Lorraine in 1918, they tossed one hundred thousand German speakers out on their ear. The German projects in Western Poland in 1939-44 don’t require description. The Poles and their Soviet masters returned the favor in spades in 1945-46.

        Israel can be seen as the most extreme and indefensible example of what is really a very recent development: conquest not as a matter of installing a new upper crust and enforcing a certain degree of assimilation, but as a matter of total population replacement.

    • ColinWright says:

      “The crusades do not stand for an early Western imperialism – they were a reaction to Eastern, Muslim imperialism.”

      Now you’re wandering onto my home turf — and boy, are you in trouble.

      Nope. Except in the sense that the Crusades would have been nonsensical if the Holy Land had still been in Christian hands, the Islamic conquest of the Holy Land had nothing to do with the Crusades. The Islamic conquest happened, and no one had any such impulse. Christian pilgrims continued to flow to the Holy Sites (or trickle — this was the Dark Ages) and the situation was more or less accepted for over four hundred years.

      To the extent that anything at all in the Middle East as opposed to internally sparked the European impulse to go on ‘crusade,’ it seems to have been the choking off of the pilgrim traffic in the eleventh century. This was a consequence of the Turkic incursions into Anatolia and the Levant culminating in the defeat of the Byzantines at Manzikirt in 1071 (Boy this brings back memories). There was a general climate of utter lawlessness and insecurity, and pilgrimage became quite impossible.

      In this connection, it’s worth noting that what pilgrimages there were became increasingly large — up to five thousand in a single party — and militarized. What we call the ‘crusaders’ of the First Crusade actually described themselves as pilgrims, and saw themselves as going on ‘pilgrimage.’ Jerusalem taken, some even went down to the Jordan, bathed themselves, got a palm frond, and went home. Mission accomplished, so to speak.

      Others carved out Feudal fiefs for themselves — and the rest is history. The succeeding crusades were all about securing or recovering the gains of the First Crusade.

      It would be a mistake to see the First Crusade simply as a pilgrimage — and still more of a mistake to see its successors as such. However, the movement was not a ‘response’ to the Muslim conquests. The Muslim conquests were ancient history by the time the crusades came along. That would be like seeing German unification as a ‘response’ to the Reformation.

      • tree says:

        This was a consequence of the Turkic incursions into Anatolia and the Levant culminating in the defeat of the Byzantines at Manzikirt in 1071 (Boy this brings back memories).

        I would have never guessed your age, Colin! ;-) You must be remarkably well preserved.

        In any case, I always enjoy the ancient history discussions, despite my eyes tendency to glaze over a bit.

      • Mooser says:

        “That would be like seeing German unification as a ‘response’ to the Reformation.”

        Did you throw that in to see Klaus wince? Or for another, more insidious reason? If so, I salute you!

        • -”German unification as a ‘response’ to the Reformation.” – Colin

          I don’t get it. German unification in 1871 as a ‘response’ to the Reformation? – Or what? German ‘reunification’ in 1990? – Mooser is gloating. Does he understand what you mean?

        • ColinWright says:

          I was thinking of German unification in 1871 — but the point would be the same either way.

          While no doubt there is a long and winding road from the Reformation to German unification — and perhaps it could be shown that the latter couldn’t have happened as it did without the former — the two events are separated by several hundred years, and the one didn’t directly lead to the other.

          Similarly with the Muslim conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries and the Crusades that began at the very tail end of the eleventh century.

          When we look at the past, we have a tendency to telescope time. My point is that by 1095 — when the First Crusade almost literally sprang up — the Muslim conquests were four centuries in the past, and Muslim rule over the Holy Land had long since been an accomplished fact. It is inherently unreasonable to perceive the Crusades as ‘a response to Islamic imperialism.’

          Whatever they were a response to, it wasn’t that. I actually wrote my senior thesis on the origins of the First Crusade, and I couldn’t really offer a conclusive explanation of its origin — I doubt if such an explanation could be formulated at this point.

          However, I could and can safely say what the Crusade wasn’t — and among other things, it wasn’t ‘a response to Islamic Imperialism.’ The Islamic conquests were simply too far in the past to have served as trigger except in the indirect sense of creating — like the Reformation — the world in which the events under consideration occurred.

          What goes for the First Crusade necessarily goes for all the others, since they were all attempts to recover what had been gained by the First Crusade. The Second Crusade came in response to the fall of Edessa, the Third Crusade in response to the fall of Jerusalem, etc, etc.

        • Well yes, I was kind of procative to point at the Arab, Muslim conquest (‘imperialism’) many centuries before the first crusade.

        • ColinWright says:

          “I don’t get it. German unification in 1871 as a ‘response’ to the Reformation? – Or what? German ‘reunification’ in 1990? – Mooser is gloating. Does he understand what you mean?”

          Now you’re asking me to interpret Mooser for you.

          I can speculate that he is thinking I would see something embarrassing in either the Reformation or German unification. I don’t.

          ‘More insiduous’ may refer to my attempting — I do like to do it — to draw parallels between Naziism and Zionism. However that fails because whatever the connection of the Reformation and German unification with Naziism, I don’t see either of the former as somehow tainted by the latter.

          However for any real certainty, you’re going to have to interrogate Mooser. We’re not in cahoots.

        • Mooser says:

          “I don’t get it. German unification in 1871 as a ‘response’ to the Reformation? – Or what? German ‘reunification’ in 1990? – Mooser is gloating. Does he understand what you mean?”

          Bulls-eye, Colin.

      • Jerusalem had been under Christian rule for most of the 1st century.

        Maybe, the first crusade can be interpreted sort of as a Christian project, similar to the Zionist one: We reclaim and redeem ‘our Holy Land’. – Aren’t the Zionists today’s crusaders? – Zionism has often been interpreted as Western imperialism also, but I think it’s something different.

        • gamal says:

          “Jerusalem had been under Christian rule for most of the 1st century.”

          what has that to do with anything? do all christians share common property, are they communists, how does as you have it “Christian rule”, which was based in Rome in the 1st century and was imperial in nature, not local christian rule (as if that matters, you have me doing it now), have any bearing on anything? why is this significant?

          “Zionism has often been interpreted as Western imperialism also, but I think it’s something different.” its imposition under the cover of british imperial bayonets and implementation under british imperial rule and subsequent sustenance by euro-american power can only mean you have one hell of a punchline so if not western imperialism what is it?

          does this mean spain when conquered by saudi arabia would not have been “invaded” something else, a historic reconstitution, a return, because of historic islamic rule, how is it relevant and to what is it relevant, the eternal struggle against “them” perhaps?

        • ColinWright says:

          What is now central Germany was under Slavic rule in the ninth century. Do you think the Poles are about to try to get it ‘back’? If they did try it on, would it qualify as a ‘response to Carolingian imperialism’?

          You are right that the First Crusade could be described as an attempt to ‘reclaim and redeem ‘our holy land.’ ‘ That is a reasonable way of putting it.

          However, I persist in denying that the First Crusade can be seen as ‘a response to Islamic Imperialism.’ I doubt if the Crusaders were aware there had been any such thing as ‘Islamic Imperialism.’ Islamic rule over great swatches of the known universe was simply an unsatisfactory aspect of the world as it was. Few people in the Western Europe of the time could have told you when it had come about with any more precision than they could have dated the Fall (indeed, somewhat less, since the Islamic conquests weren’t related either in the Bible or in the extant texts available from antiquity).

          Islamic rule was simply…there. Like winter, or crop blight (indeed, your basic eleventh century guy would have seen all these as more or less related to a greater extent than we would). The Crusade was partly an attempt to respond to that state of affairs, but it misstates things to see it as a ‘response’ to the act of conquest. It was a response to contemporary conditions, that I will grant.

          Aside from everything else, one needs to grasp the disorganization of the First Crusade, the ignorance of its participants, and the eschatological assumptions of its participants. It was an attempt to reach the ‘Jerusalem’ of theology — but literally, in this world right here.

          [I paraphrase] ‘And at every city we came to, the common people would begin to cry out ‘is this Jerusalem, is this Jerusalem?’ This started up in Hungary.

          And the ‘pilgrims’ (they described themselves as pilgrims) being eleventh century Europeans would usually storm and sack the city without regard to whether it was Christian or not, slaughter the inhabitants, and then go on their bloody way across the Balkans, through Anatolia, into the rather wild double siege of Antioch (Muslims in the citadel, Christians in the city, Muslims outside), and finally to the walls of Jerusalem where five years after they had set out, what must have been a much-diminished horde stormed the walls and reached the sacred city (and sacked it too, and slaughtered the inhabitants).

          I think this last is key. The point wasn’t really to conquer anything — although that certainly happened. It was to ‘reach’ something — specifically, Jerusalem. To the extent that the movement had a rational wellspring at all, it seems to have been a response to the Turkic invasions, which had cut the traditional pilgrimage routes.

          Viewing it this way makes some sense — although it doesn’t really serve as a complete explanation. With the growing religiosity of the West, pilgrimage had become increasingly popular — and in particular, reasonably enough, pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The Arabs didn’t mind, and the exigencies of long distance travel in the early Middle Ages aside, there really wasn’t a problem. But with the growing disruption of the Turkish invasions, pilgrimage became increasingly difficult as the century progressed, and finally was stopped completely.

          So perceive a growing mass of people who want to ‘go to Jerusalem’ — and can’t. There seems to have been (yawn) a notion that the world was about to end as well. Obviously, one possible response is to go to Jerusalem ‘n fulfill prophesy and be right with the Lord and all that –but you can’t. The pilgrimage routes are blocked. The dam finally breaks, and you have ‘the First Crusade.’

          But it wasn’t ‘a response to Islamic Imperialism.’ That misunderstands matters.

        • ColinWright says:

          ‘ “Jerusalem had been under Christian rule for most of the 1st century.”

          what has that to do with anything? ‘

          I doubt if Klaus is seeking to justify the Crusades. Although if he is, this site is about to get a lot more interesting.

          However, I can’t resist pointing out that he manages to both mistake and to minimize matters at the same time.

          Jerusalem couldn’t have ‘been under Christian rule for most of the 1st century’ because Christians didn’t rule anything in the first century. They were busy being fed to lions and things.

          Christian dominion over Jerusalem could be dated to either the beginning or the end of the fourth century, depending on whether you want to date it from Constantine’s edict of toleration or Theodosius’ edict of intoleration. It then lasted until whenever it was in the seventh century that the Muslims took it. Give us (‘us’ really isn’t quite right for the audience here, but there it is) three hundred years here.

          ‘We’ then got it back at the beginning of the twelfth century, held it for most of two centuries, and have briefly reaquired it twice since (under Frederick II in the thirteenth century and under Allenby I in 1918.)

          So Jerusalem has been in Christian hands for about five hundred years all told. Does this mean we get 20%?

          “…how does as you have it “Christian rule”, which was based in Rome in the 1st century and was imperial in nature…”

          I assure you ‘Christian rule’ was neither based in Rome nor ‘imperial in nature’ in the first century. You might as well discuss ‘Al Qaeda rule’ in 2012. Indeed, al Qaeda has considerably more coherence — if not security — than first century Christianity appears to have had.

        • ColinWright says:

          “Maybe, the first crusade can be interpreted sort of as a Christian project, similar to the Zionist one: We reclaim and redeem ‘our Holy Land’. – Aren’t the Zionists today’s crusaders? “

          I’ll point out that Zionism was avowedly secular in conception, while the Crusades were avowedly religious.

          However, both did wind up being targeted at obtaining dominion over a geographically conceived ‘Israel.’ There are striking similarities — and the original elements in Christianity that made the Crusades attractive can be seen to contribute to the Christian tendency to support Zionism. The Jews become surrogate Crusaders, doing what we daren’t do ourselves anymore.

          Like watching your kid play Pop Warner football. This works well in a number of respects. ‘Hit ‘em harder, Boy!’

        • ColinWright says:

          “You might as well discuss ‘Al Qaeda rule’ in 2012. Indeed, al Qaeda has considerably more coherence — if not security — than first century Christianity appears to have had.”

          Thinking about this, didn’t the Romans accuse the Christians of poisoning wells and things? Compare and contrast: Roman persecution of early Christians and our own hunt for al Qaeda.

          Of course, I doubt if the Christians did poison wells or whatever (although it’s possible), whilst al Qaeda really has tried to mount a war of terrorist provocation against the West. On the other hand, lately we seem to have taken to trying to invent terrorist plots. So there would be similarities.

        • The odd and absurd concept of the Zionist project – unlike other imperial projects – is this: ‘An indigenous people returns’ (after 1,800 years).
          - That’s the ideology behind Israel’s citizenship law, the ‘Law of Return’.

        • lysias says:

          Jerusalem had been under Christian rule for most of the 1st century.

          I think you must mean the 1st millennium (A.D.).

        • Yes, I mean Jerusalem was under the rule of the Christian emperor of Byzanz well beyond the first half of the 1st millennium. And to reiterate my point – though I retracted it somewhat – if it hadn’t been for the Islamic conquest, there would have been no need for a crusade.

          Anyway, I was somewhat angry at Deepa Kumar and her talk about the crusades being Western imperialism without mentioning the previous Islamic conquest (imperialism).

        • Colin -You point to the religious fervor of the pilgrimage-crusade. That’s good. You know more about that history than I do. Of course, in the minds of the pilgrims they didn’t ‘respond’ to an Islamic conquest some 400 years ago.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “And to reiterate my point – though I retracted it somewhat – if it hadn’t been for the Islamic conquest, there would have been no need for a crusade.”

          But you’re still assuming that Christians had some sort of “right” to free access to this city. That kind of thinking has lead to the current problems, as the zionists eat that stuff up.

        • ColinWright says:

          Don’t get me started. To begin with, they aren’t even ‘the indigenous people’ by any reasonable standard. It’s the most absurd nonsense.

        • aiman says:

          Fair enough. On the whole we can agree that the Crusades were criminal wars for territory by two medieval empires in the name of God, power was rather balanced and there was back-and-forth. That women, children and men were cruelly cut down makes the Crusades fundamentally amoral, and both sides were responsible for the butchery. Amen.

        • ColinWright says:

          “…Anyway, I was somewhat angry at Deepa Kumar and her talk about the crusades being Western imperialism without mentioning the previous Islamic conquest (imperialism).”

          I agree. It reminds me of much of the stuff I’ve been subjected to for much of my life (I grew up in Berkeley in the sixties). It’s utterly one-sided. It attempts to take the complexity, ambiguity, and moral subjectivity of reality and reduce it to a moral fairy tale, with the bad guys all on one side, the (virtuous) victims all on the other, and everyone judged by our values of the moment. Ironically, it’s the mirror image of the anti-Islamic cant we spend so much of our time inveighing against on this site.

        • gamal says:

          ah should have googled it obviously was never very clear when the roman imperium adopted christianity, however that is not really my point, unclear as ever, its just the reduction of the history of the mid east, the arabo-iranian ( and other unstated hyphens) cultural zone to rule by one or other confessional group is sort of hard for me to grasp, i am genuinely amazed that anyone could talk in these terms.

          does anyone when discussing the politics of europe dredge up the saxons huns pagans cathars, goths, etc or mongol conquest of the east and middle europe.

          you are of course quite right and point out explicitly what i was confusedly alluding to so unlike al-hallaj i am sadly not the truth. but then how could the renderings of the exploits of hengist and horsa be used to determine the rights and wrongs of political organization in todays UK.

          arabs and others are not the hangover of history they are contemporaries of all you blessed western rationalists, just like the peoples of papua new guinea they are twenty-first century people. not locked out of the modern world by en-culturation lack of education or native primitivism. i dont any longer really know what there is to say, in the west one is struck by the utter irrationality of discussions of ME politics, its just weird.

        • Mooser says:

          “Aside from everything else, one needs to grasp the disorganization of the First Crusade, the ignorance of its participants, and the eschatological assumptions of its participants.”

          Thank you, Colin.

        • Mooser says:

          “I agree. It reminds me of much of the stuff I’ve been subjected to for much of my life. It’s utterly one-sided.”

          One does ask ones self, given what I know of the subject, if that’s “the stuff” you’ve “been subjected to” or the stuff you’ve been told you’ve been subjected to. Sorta seems like if you were “subjected to” it “for much of” your life, several indisputable, easily verified examples would spring to mind.

  16. I would like to say one more general thing on the matter of ‘imperialism’.
    It’s of course not a modern Western invention. As Yahweh told Moses:”Ye shall rule over many nations but they shall not rule over thee.” The catch was, that the promised land was an unlikely spot from which to launch the conquest of the world.

    Or ask yourself: Why did the Spanish conquer Mexico? Why wasn’t it the other way round that the Aztec conquered Spain? Was it because the Aztec were a nice, peaceful people who just wanted to keep to themselves? No, it was because they lacked the technology to cross the ocean etc. (They didn’t have horses and guns.)

    Granted, people and nations differ in their ideology and policies of expansionism and domination. But it’s more often because of a lack of means than a lack of motive that they keep to themselves. – This can also be said about whether a company just sells to a local market or becomes a multinational, global one.

    • Philip Weiss says:

      as a misanthrope, i find i agree with your statements about imperialism.

      • Actually, I’m not a misanthrope, or pessimist. I’m an optimist who thinks that the era of imperialism by warefare is largely over and is being replaced by global capitalism. I like that – unlike nations, multinational companies don’t shoot at each other.

        • ColinWright says:

          On the other hand, pride goeth before a fall. The apogee of Medieval civilization came immediately before the onset of the Black Death.

          If there’s anything looking at predictions made in the past about the future can tell us, it’s that we’re highly unlikely to be right in our guesses about the future.

          In 1913, a certain Norman Angell wrote what is really a very well-reasoned, insightful book. He clearly demonstrated that the economic and technological conditions of the modern age made prolonged international war impossible.

        • Mooser says:

          “I like that – unlike nations, multinational companies don’t shoot at each other.”

          You can’t really be that appallingly ignorant, or that wedded to self-deception, and that full of bigotry and right-wing cant, can you? Hey, Bloomer, why don’t you tell us about the “free market”, too.

        • - ” Hey, Bloomer, why don’t you tell us about the “free market”, too.”
          ———————————
          First off, ‘Bloomer’ is the right way the Dutch pronounce my name.

          Second: The free market libertarians in America (Murry Rothbard etc., a lot of them Jews) first introduced me to anti-Zionism when I was at a summer conference at Stanford. They recommended Israel Shahak’s ‘Jewish History and Jewish Religion’ to me. – That changed my outlook toward Israel and Judaism. – The libertarians may be wrong on many counts but not on Israel.

      • Mooser says:

        “as a misanthrope,”

        Oh, please! You wouldn’t know what a misanthrope was if he bit you on the ass. And they will. Refusing to use capital letters does not make you a misanthrope, in case you thought it was evident.
        So does your concern for the Palesatinians arise out of your misanthropy? Be very enlightening if you could, for a fellow-misanthrope, explicate the though-process involved.
        But Lord, what a great “drag” name! Ms. Ann Thrope! I will start using it tonite, when I hit the streets.

    • aiman says:

      Bear with me since this is composed on the rambling chord:

      If you think that is all you are clearly mistaken, completely leaving out the pivotal role played by ideology. What was told to Moses is inconsequential, I doubt Israeli war makers believe that. Zionism is a European colonialist movement, it has little or nothing to do with the Hebrew scriptures. Also if a Jewish person were to give significance to what Moses was allegedly told, it voids the whole story of the Hebrews under Pharaoh.

      “No, it was because they lacked the technology to cross the ocean etc. (They didn’t have horses and guns.)”

      Lots of people had technology to cross oceans and conquer nations, not all of them did. The Mongols are a case study example. Who would have thought that groups of nomads beyond the walls of civilisation could cast down gigantic empires east and west. Did the Mongols have means? Certainly not at first. Where did their culture of conquest and organisation come from? Their ideology fueled their means. Even the Crusaders and Muslim Mamluks allied together in a rather unspoken way to bring crushing defeat to the Mongols for once, because they felt that the ideology of the Mongols was far callous and destructive than the humane tradition of monotheism, even in its lapsed form as the Crusades shows. For as the Mongol warlord boasted (and justifiably so given the invincible track record of the Mongols): “From the King of Kings of the East and West, the Great Khan. To Qutuz the Mamluk, who fled to escape our swords. You should think of what happened to other countries and submit to us. You have heard how we have conquered a vast empire and have purified the earth of the disorders that tainted it. We have conquered vast areas, massacring all the people. You cannot escape from the terror of our armies. Where can you flee? What road will you use to escape us? Our horses are swift, our arrows sharp, our swords like thunderbolts, our hearts as hard as the mountains, our soldiers as numerous as the sand. Fortresses will not detain us, nor arms stop us. Your prayers to God will not avail against us. We are not moved by tears nor touched by lamentations. Only those who beg our protection will be safe. Hasten your reply before the fire of war is kindled. Resist and you will suffer the most terrible catastrophes. We will shatter your mosques and reveal the weakness of your God and then will kill your children and your old men together. At present you are the only enemy against whom we have to march.”

      Regarding the ideology of imperialism, as Chris Hedges explains: “The historian Arnold Toynbee argues that racism in Anglo-American culture was given a special virulence after the publication of the King James Bible. The concept of “the chosen people” was quickly adopted, he wrote, by British and American imperialists. It fed the disease of white supremacy. It gave them the moral sanction to dominate and destroy other races, from the Native Americans to those on the subcontinent.”

      Also you forget that secular hegemony in the west takes from the Renaissance adoption of the “chain of being” principle. This “chain of being” principle is still alive today. The pro-Israeli establishment virtually sits on it and racism is a weapon of this propaganda. It is widely accepted in India with its caste system and Arabs, too, believe they are superior to Africans.

      No doubt non-Anglo imperialism also existed and exists and you’re right not much is said about it. It should be talked about as it’s important. Imperialism has been practised east and west. It had its own ideological purport. Having the means merely does not make an imperialist machine, you have to have the rationale. I don’t know though if all medieval conquests can typically be called “imperialist” since no power held complete legitimacy over people in general in some places.

      What is a common feature of imperialism is the means in conjunction with ideological insistence. You are right about the Americas. The Indigenous rulers of Tenochtitlan were just as repressive as the Spanish, but that was not imperialism but a form of native dictatorship and czarist servitude. Imperialism wants more than that, complete subjugation and sometimes eradication. If we are to define imperialism, yes the conquest of Constantinople by the Muslim Mongols was imperialist and criminal just as the Christian Byzantine conquest of Constantinople was imperialist and criminal before it. Both these forces spent days killing civilians and raping women and no doubt sodomising men, too, as sodomising weaker men was pretty normal practice in war and is still a practice of violence in war-torn regions in Africa and prison systems. Also the Ottoman Janissary system was clearly cruel and imperialist at once, feeding off the manicured ideology of religious supremacy and rule of arms.

    • ColinWright says:

      “…Or ask yourself: Why did the Spanish conquer Mexico? Why wasn’t it the other way round that the Aztec conquered Spain? Was it because the Aztec were a nice, peaceful people who just wanted to keep to themselves? No, it was because they lacked the technology to cross the ocean etc. (They didn’t have horses and guns.)”

      Disease, I will repeat. Many other cultures were ultimately at just a severe — indeed in some respects a considerably more severe — technological and cultural disadvantage vis-a-vis the West as were the Indians of Mexico. These cultures, however, were all in the Old World, and most that I can think of ultimately retained or regained their cultural identity. Modern Mexico (for all her posturing to the contrary) doesn’t even vaguely resemble pre-Columbian Mexico. Morocco is still identifiably Morocco.

      In the modern world it’s easy to undervalue the impact of plague. But when a disease like smallpox comes out of nowhere, and wipes out half the adults between 20 and 40…and then comes back in the next generation and does it again, and keeps doing it until the disease has become a childhood illness and the decimated remnants of the society have radically adjusted both their social organization and their birthrates to compensate, it’s pretty hard to hold off an alien culture — particularly when the representatives of that culture seem to be immune to the disease. It must have been like ‘things don’t work anymore — but the Spanish have the answers.’ Something like the Virgin of Guadalupe is really significant of total cultural conquest — and that can only happen to a severely disrupted population.

      Good ol’ Wikipedia: “…Two accounts, published in the 1640s, one in Spanish, one in Nahuatl, tell how, while walking from his village to Mexico City in the early morning of 9 December 1531 (then the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in the Spanish Empire),[1] the peasant Juan Diego saw on the slopes of the Hill of Tepeyac a vision of a girl of fifteen or sixteen years of age, surrounded by light. Speaking to him in Nahuatl, the local language, she asked that a church be built at that site, in her honor; from her words, Juan Diego recognized the Lady as the Virgin Mary…”

      Mission accomplished, as they say. Note that if the date is right, 1531 would probably have been marked by all the dreary pyrotechnics of a civilization collapsing as a result of very rapid population decline.

  17. In case, someone got me wrong. I don’t think the Jews are still bound to rule the world (as Yahweh told Moses) but don’t because they lack the means to do so.

    I mean, at the time Yahwe told Moses and thereafter, the ‘promised land’ was surrounded and sandwiched between various empires, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans – therefore it was “an unlikely spot from which to launch the conquest of the world”. (I was quoting anthropologist Marvin Harris.)

    • ColinWright says:

      I’d note that the story was probably concocted sometime around the sixth century BC in any case. One might as well read significance into some Victorian story-teller’s account of how Arthur came to build Camelot.

      Like any other historical source, the Bible can tell us a great deal about the concerns of its authors. Its assertions as to what happened a thousand-odd years previously have no significance in and of themselves whatsoever. The Victorian account would tell us a lot about the Victorian who wrote it and the mores and preferences of his society. It wouldn’t do anything to confirm the existence of a historical King Arthur — much less tell us what he believed and thought.

      • - “The Victorian account would tell us a lot about the Victorian who wrote it and [*]the mores and preferences of his society[*]. It wouldn’t do anything to confirm the existence of a historical King Arthur.” -

        Exactly, as King Arthur’s Round Table is an idealized historical myth, so is Moses meeting Yahweh on Mt. Sinai (at an undetermined location and point in time in the past).

        But, as you say, it tells us something about the author’s “preferences of his society” at the time of writing.

        My quotation from Deuteronomium “Ye shall rule over many nations” was meant to demontrate the preference to rule the world. – You have to see that quotation in the context and argument of my above two posts.
        ————————-
        Your reference to Norman Angell’s prediction in 1913 is very good.
        Do you remember the so called ‘convergence theory’ that predicted that for technological reasons capitalism and communism would converge. The US and the USSR would become similar. That didn’t happen either. Obviously, technology and economy aren’t destiny. Maybe, I should be less optimistic about the benefits of global capitalism.

        • Mooser says:

          “My quotation from Deuteronomium “Ye shall rule over many nations” was meant to demontrate the preference to rule the world. –”

          How does that apply to a Jew like me? I am for your information, the only Jew in the world who does not trace his ancestry to the ten tribes. My ancestors (they’ll refuse to admit it, but I’ve got proof!) were converted much more recently, probably by force or coercion of one kind or another, or out of convenience (you know, servant converts to same religion as master, hoping to gain points.) So do I inherit all the traits associated with Biblical Jews, or not?

        • Mooser says:

          “Maybe, I should be less optimistic about the benefits of global capitalism.”

          Hell, Klaus, you oughta know there’s no percentage in that!

        • -”How does that [Deuteronomium] apply to a Jew like me? -Mooser

          Don’t you believe in Yahweh’s commandments? Maybe, the 600 plus commandments have an expiration date. But then, Judaism and Israel would have an expiration date also. – See what Colin says on the matter.

        • -”My ancestors … were converted [to Judaism].”

          So Mooser, you are an adopted child of the extended Jewish family.
          But that means that you belong to the community of heirs – as every adopted child does – to the Holy Land. It’s as much your property as it is the property of the biological children of Israel. – Isn’t that so by our and Jewish laws of inheritance?

        • Mooser – I got an escape route for you not to inherit the Holy Land.

          Inheritance laws in Germany (and probably also in the US and Isarel) state that you can waive your right to inherit a property. And heirs do so, when the mortage on that property is higher than its market value. That’s probably the case with the Holy Land. – So, no Jew, whether a biological child or an adopted one, HAS TO inherit that land. – The bequeather may not like that but that’s the way it is.

        • Mooser – There is a caveat to what I said on Jews inheriting the Holy Land.

          I’m not an authority on halachic law. That law may state – contrary to secular law – that all born or adopted Jews, by virtue of their covenant with Yahweh, are BOUND TO inherit the Holy Land, and can’t waive that right.

          What are you gonna do in that case Mooser? You still got an option:
          You can opt out of Judaism. Elliot said, halachic law allows for that.

    • Mooser says:

      “I don’t think the Jews are still bound to rule the world (as Yahweh told Moses)”

      But there’s no doubt that today’s Jews are the descendants of the people Moses came down from the mountain and gave the news to, eh Klaus? I mean, those good old “the Jews”. Sure maybe a little mongrel German blood has stuck in, but not enough to make a difference, really.

      • -“there’s no doubt that today’s Jews are the descendants of the people Moses came down from the mountain and gave the news to, eh Klaus?”-
        —————————-
        Yes, that’s beyond doubt. If you have any doubt that you are a child of Israel, send some of your salvia to FamilyTreeDNA (I think they are located in Houston). For Jews it’s 159 Dollars – good luck Mooser.

      • Dear Mooser – “those good old ‘the Jews’ ”

        My wording: “the Jews” are not bound to rule the word (as Yahweh told Moses) is different from saying “Jews” are not bound to rule the world … ? – You are a great philological hairsplitter – come to Germany and be one of our philological bureaucrats.

  18. ColinWright says:

    “…But it’s more often because of a lack of means than a lack of motive that they keep to themselves. – This can also be said about whether a company just sells to a local market or becomes a multinational, global one…”

    Well, maybe. However certain cultures and certain peoples, while certainly quite energetic in assuring their own interests, have an essential disinterest in the rest of the world that limits their potential. Russia and China come to mind. Yes, Russia expanded a great deal in 1945, but primarily because she was expanding into the vacuum created by the collapse of Nazi Germany. Russians in the Third World have always managed to cut a rather dumpy, essentially uninspiring figure. They want to get back to their dacha — not build it in Peru. Japan had exactly one major eruption. It’s not because she’s small — Japan has long had a large population. It would seem to be more a matter of the Japanese just not having any overwhelming urge to help others to become Japanese.

    For better or worse, other cultures have been far more energetic about exporting all the blessings of doing things their way: Rome, Spain, Victorian Britain, the United States. Compare Japan to Victorian Britain, which seemed unlikely to rest until she had packed the entire population of the world into tweed suits and taught them to play cricket and put milk in their tea.

  19. kursato says:

    Geert Wilders is known in the Netherlands as the biggest supporter of Israel and a person who fuels islamophobia.

    Look who is financing him:
    link to trouw.nl

    You might want to use Google Translate if you dont know Dutch :)