Show 510: Islamophobia, ISIS, Hamas, & the Politics of Empire

Islamophobia, ISIS, Hamas, & the Politics of Empire w/ Deepa Kumar

A few days ago marked the 13th anniversary of the attacks on America on September 11th, 2001. Among the still many unanswered questions concerning politics, religion, and the nature of global violence — at least for Americans and some Europeans — is what role Islam has played in all of this? That is, it is assumed Islam is different, somehow, from other major religions because it was founded as a warrior religion and seems to be immune to the liberalization process other religions tend to have gone through.

But of course, religion can not be separated from the people who practice it, and thus there have been many racial undertones and overtones to the debates. Even in the atheist and otherwise secular world, many condemn and blame Islam far more than they condemn and blame Western Imperialism, geopolitics, or economics… And this has once again taken hold of the Western imagination with the recent battle between Israel and Hamas, and the brutal actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, better known as ISIS.

Today, new host Abby Davenport, will discuss these topics with a guest who we’ve had the pleasure to talk with on Equal Time in the past, Deepa Kumar. Deepa Kumar is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at Rutgers University; and is affiliated faculty with Middle Eastern Studies and graduate faculty in the Sociology department. She is a public speaker and has spoken at dozens of university and community forums on a range of topics: Islamophobia, Political Islam, US foreign policy in the Middle East and South Asia, the Arab Spring, women and Islam etc. She has shared her expertise in numerous media outlets such as BBC, The New York Times, NPR, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Hurriyat Daily News (Turkey), Al Jazeera and other national and international news media outlets.

Today we will be discussing current events in light of her latest book, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire.

Show 224a: “The Deepening Crisis: Islam and the Structure of Global Power”

From 9/11 to the continuing invasion and occupation of Iraq to the saber rattling of a possible war against Iran, Americans have been inundated by the so-called “war on terror;” and at least as some see it, the war against Fundamentalist Islam. On the Right, we hear of “Islamo-fascism” and are warned that if we don’t stifle the great evil of Islamic terrorism, we are heading for another world war. In liberal circles, while the rhetoric is different, we are still told that the U.S. will hunt down terrorists wherever they may be, and that militaristic – even nuclear – measures against the Middle East are very much “on the table.”

In contrast, the Left has recognized that the ‘war on terror’ is really a pseudo-war against that which the U.S. itself helped create, and that our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and perhaps soon in Iran – which are making the world less safe regarding terrorist actions – are about controlling the precious, if deadly, energy resource of oil, and thus controlling the market so as to benefit the rich power elite.
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Show 179: Lawrence Pintak

From the preface of Reflections in a Bloodshot Lens: America, Islam, and the War of Ideas

“For Americans, Islam has emerged as the quintessential “Other,” replacing the Soviet Union as the touchstone against which U.S. citizens measure their collective sense of Self. It has become a cliché to say that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 “changed everything.” On one level, that is true. The nation’s illusion of security was shattered; its relationship with terror as something that happened somewhere else was unalterably transformed. But on another level, 9/11 simply made overt a worldview that had long been present but little acknowledged.

“Since a keffiah-clad Rudolph Valentino first strode across the silent screen, Arabs and Muslims have been Othered in U.S. society, the subject of stereotype and differentiation. Blinded by their view of Self, most Americans knew – or cared – little about what the rest of the world thought of them. Meanwhile, Arabs and non-Arab Muslims harbored a host of clichés and preconceived notions that shaped their view of the U.S., set against the overarching perception that the U.S. is intrinsically linked to, and responsible for, the policies of Israel, the ultimate Other.

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