The American press has manufactured an infamous controversy over the incorrectly-named “Ground Zero Mosque.” It is nearly impossible for us to resist such an easy opportunity to highlight the boundless stupidity of the right, which shines brighter than before in this latest artificial scandal. Tea Party reactionaries have been foaming at the mouth over the construction of a community center within a few blocks of “Ground Zero,” a center which has prayer space for several religions, including Islam. This controversy has borne ripe fruit from all sides; it has exposed the cowardice of liberals such as the President, but far more importantly it exposes not only the hypocrisy of the very same conservatives who have been screaming about non-existent threats to their Constitutional rights for well over a year now, and it has given us yet another example of racist undertones of conservative propaganda, dispelling the idea that this is only about religion. Moreover, these libertarian defenders of private property are now red in the face demanding that the government or some other entity block a transaction between the owners of real estate on one hand, and prospective renters. The by-products of this controversy are worth noting.
As in any American imperialist-manufactured scandal, misinformation and incredibly bad logic play a key role. Let us look at a few of the arguments revolving around the center, all of which bear witness to the nationalist intentions of the American bourgeoisie.
The prevailing argument in support of these reactionary protests goes roughly like this: “The rallies were not to oppose the religion of Islam. They were to oppose the location of the mosque. Nobody is saying that Muslims can’t worship as they choose, they just do not want a terrorist victory monument so close to Ground Zero.” The argument is always worded differently, but the phrase “terrorist victory monument” has become famous thanks to the ability of the right-wing noise machine to popularize useful phrases. The problem with this idea, in any form, is that it is contradictory. If a mosque is a “terrorist victory monument” then this means all Muslims are terrorists, period. Another argument is the idea that other predominately Muslim countries “would not allow churches.” The truth of these claims may vary, but they are irrelevant. The right to lease the property and build a religious-themed community center open to the public is protected by US law and applicable statutes. Finally, there is the argument of “Why can’t they build it somewhere else?” There is a simple answer: because they shouldn’t have to.
There, all the major points regarding the “mosque” have been answered. They may seem simplistic but then again, the arguments are coming from simple minds. Their arguments debunked, we must examine several more important issues to which we had alluded earlier.
Why Islamophobia is Implicit Racism
Islamophobia is nothing less than an acceptable form of racism in the US. Its proponents hide behind the claim that “Islam” is not a race; but from the images of Muslims and Islam these organizations and individuals propagate it is clear that they associate Islam with non-European “brown” people. Just as people are allowed to insult Latinos indirectly by always using the term “illegal alien” in conjunction with old stereotypes about Mexicans, anti-Islamic rhetoric is merely old racism in a new wrapper.
Consider the anti-Islamic immigration movement in Europe for example. If we suppose all Muslim immigration to Western European countries were to stop tomorrow, how likely is it that all these “defenders of Western culture” would welcome further immigration with open arms? Will they accept Chinese, Hindus, and Christian Africans without reservation? Will they accept Christian Arabs? What about Eastern Europeans? The attitudes displayed in the United Kingdom towards Poles clearly demonstrates that Islamophobia is just one form of acceptable xenophobia. If European, Christian Poles aren’t “Western” enough for the bigots in the European right, we’d be stupid to believe they would accept Indians or East Asians on the basis of not being Muslims. Bottom line- Islamophobia is a form of racism.
If one is still skeptical as to whether Islamophobia could possibly constitute a form of racism, look no further than the various conspiracy theories such as those peddled by the infamous, thoroughly debunked “Muslim Demographics” internet video, or the “Eurabia” conspiracy. Claiming incredible fertility rates for Muslim immigrants or that they will outbreed and then take over precious Europe is no different than myths about the “colored hordes” or “Yellow Peril” which enjoyed popularity among right-wing circles back in the first half of the 20th century. The very word “Eurabia” contains a bit of racist stereotyping; even if Muslim immigrants could somehow enslave Europe, if they didn’t turn their own non-Arab countries into Arabia why would they do so in Europe? Again, spend enough time reading the works of Islamophobes and you will see a clear equivalence between Muslim and “brown people.” We would be stupid to believe they would stop at Muslims.
The dictatorship of the proletariat does offer some real protection to religious people since no sect will ever be allowed to use the organs of the proletarian state to further their own religious ends. We cannot say the same about the current American regime, where despite a Constitutional “freedom of religion,” Evangelical Protestant Christian sects are allowed to impose their will on the majority via the political system through attacks on science via the school boards. Any attempt to limit their power and influence is met by ironic cries of persecution. While conservatives clog the airwaves with lies about the “Ground Zero Mosque,” evangelicals in the military continue to spread their propaganda to naive soldiers, sailors and airmen for imperialist interests. Given the number of right-wing terrorists in American history who have had military training in the past, we ought to be focusing on who is spreading apocalyptic propaganda in the ranks of the US military rather than some Islamic cultural center a few blocks from Ground Zero.
Link to debunking of “Muslim Demographics” video: