July 30, 2011
Stephen Sheehi wrote Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims to radically change the discourse surrounding Islamophobia in the mainstream in the US. But Sheehi,1 a scholar and veteran of the activist movement, is only too well aware that a controversial book distributed by a small social justice publisher is probably not going to make the inroads it should or be reviewed by the likes of the New York Review of Books or the Washington Post.
Rather, one of Sheehi’s primary aims was to challenge the Left, so-called “progressives” and liberals to face an uncomfortable truth, their own Islamophobia. “When people ask me at conferences, ‘What should be done?’ I tell them to stop asking questions about Islam. Just stop. It is racist to ask ‘Why are the Muslims different?’ or ‘I want to understand the Muslims so I am going to read the Qur’an’,” said Sheehi in Beirut.
Indeed, as if people read the Vedas to understand militant Hinduism, the Torah to comprehend the mindset of Jewish colonial settlers in the West Bank or the Bible to make sense of the Tea Party movement. But such seemingly well-meaning questions about Islam by leftists and liberals of all stripes just goes to reinforce the notion of Muslims as the “Other,” set apart in need of “tolerance” and “understanding.”
“Despite the genuine and scholarly research into the topic, the questions must stop being about Islam and democracy, Islam and modernity, Islam and human rights, Islam and women, and so forth,” writes Sheehi. “We must stop searching for answers, or making accusations for that matter, based on the binaries of Islam and the Whatever. We must reach beyond the Jihad vs. McWorld dichotomy.”
Read the rest of the article here.
Comment: The struggle continues even in a fasting time when we are called to pay heed to our personal excesses.
Ignoring the march on Islam and those outside and inside the religion who disfigure its revolutionary message is in my thinking the worst personal excess.
Islamaphobia won't just go away if we hide inside our personal fears.
Onward! to revolutionary change and liberation ...