‘Awareness’ weak on Islam’s Truths

A couple of fair voices on the so-called ‘Islamo-fascism’ Awareness Week’ that will attempt to smear all Muslims.

Adam Lichtenheld writes in the University of Wisconsin’s Campus newspaper:

Mr. Horowitz and his hounds claim that the event’s purpose is to advocate for moderate Muslims struggling against fundamentalism and highlight the oppression of Islamic women, while refraining from attacking Islam directly. This is hard to believe when looking at the week’s speaking lineup.

It includes Daniel Pipes, creator of Campuswatch.com, a forum of McCarthyist attacks on Middle East Studies professors who refuse to sympathize with Israel; Ann Coulter, the savage pundit whose rants of unfathomable ignorance have included assertions that Muslims — whom she labels “ragheads” — have a “predilection for violence;” Rick Santorum, the xenophobic, Bible-thumping ex-senator from Pennsylvania infamous for his anti-women voting record; Robert Spencer, the conservative commentator who denounces Islam and blames its teachings for producing terrorism worldwide; Dennis Prager, who condemned a Minnesota congressman for ceremoniously swearing on the Quran because it excluded the Bible and “failed to acknowledge America’s Judeo-Christian value system;” Mike Adams, a religious zealot who compares women who have abortions to Charles Manson; and Michael Medved, a guest-host for Rush Limbaugh who has claimed that Islam has a “special violence problem.”

In addition, the week incorporates the showing of controversial films including a piece on Palestinian suicide bombers that received widespread criticism for its pro-Israel bias; a short film that demonizes Muslims by attributing terrorism to the “violent, expansionary ideology” of Islam; an ABC miniseries ridiculed for portraying the Clinton administration as responsible for Sept. 11; and a documentary connected to a watchdog group that monitors the media for negative portrayals of Israel.

One is left to wonder how Mr. Horowitz could claim that his campaign is not meant to negatively portray Islam when its content is dripping with anti-Muslim sentiment. Many of the speakers are not only completely out of touch with the mainstream; they lack the qualifications or general credibility to foster intellectual discussions on Islam, terrorism, or women’s rights.

The point I highlighted above should not be lost on anyone. They have invited crowd pleasing (to the Right) flamethrowers, such as Ann Coulter – who by her own admission knows nothing about Islam – to simply throw out insults and racist slurs in the name of “intellectual dialogue”.

People need to see Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week for what it is: a strategic, fear-mongering maneuver meant to salvage support for the Iraq war as public discontent reaches an all-time high.

According to Mr. Horowitz’s website, he is targeting college campuses because they serve as “institutional bases for the academic left” which has “mobilized to create sympathy for the enemy.” Such is the arrogant simplicity by which the right defines patriotism — the mere blind obedience that classifies every global issue as a watered-down version of “Us vs. Them.”

Yet it is at universities where attempts to analyze and understand threats to American security help create critical research for government intelligence and public intellectualism. So in what lapse of rational thought did efforts to “understand” the enemy amount to being “sympathetic” to them? American universities were not the breeding grounds for the nineteen men who crashed planes into U.S. buildings six years ago. American universities are not responsible for recruiting Iraqi insurgents to kill U.S. soldiers or inciting suicide bombers to blow up people in Gaza.

It is at these institutions where the rights of Islamic women have been fought for so strongly and where the millions of Muslims around the world whose faith does not involve killing innocent people are most adamantly defended. It is at these institutions where vital efforts to extinguish the prejudice and intolerance that underlies the East-West gap originated — the same kind of intolerance the Horowitz Center intends to perpetuate next week.

In order to show that a majority of Americans reject this sick strain of racism — just as many Muslims reject terrorists who murder in the name of Islam — campus groups like Hillel and College Republicans should take the initiative to co-sponsor an event with the Muslim Students’ Association that is informative, factual and free of the extremist bias of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.

Anything less would be a sign of complacency.

The Muslim community has continuously rejected and condemned terrorism numerous times, but it is not good enough for these people. They want us to declare that our religion – because of the actions of an extreme fringe – is evil. Anything less than denouncing our religion is – in their minds – complicit with terrorism.

This was written in the Daily Californian :

If schools are willing to host such events, then Horowitz has every right to bring Islamo-Fascism week to universities. However, to place it under the guise of awareness, as if it’s under the same umbrella as Mental Health Awareness Week or Breast Cancer Awareness Week is misleading. No matter what its organizers say, Islamo-fascism Awareness Week does not serve to educate, but rather to fuel bigotry and fear.

The most glaring indication that the program has a sinister motive is in the name itself. By branding the week as “Islamo-Fascism,” it immediately sets up a charged atmosphere targeting a group of people based on race and religion. It also immediately simplifies very complex issues into the current stereotypes of terrorism perpetuated by media and pundits.

These events are reminiscent of the Red Scare Era, when fear of Communism swept across the nation. Many innocent people, targeted because of their jobs, sexual orientation and other miscellaneous reasons, became victims in the infamous witch hunt led by Senator Joseph McCarthy. Islamo-fascism week feeds that same fear, the fear of an unknown or misunderstood entity. The fear that gripped this country during the ’50s has now transformed into a fear of a racial group who practices a peaceful religion. In this country, ignorance and the media have helped maintain the stereotype that a terrorist is Muslim, looks a certain way and is from a certain region. Islamo-Facism Awareness Week only contributes to keeping this wrongful image alive.

These events also contribute to the divide and the unnecessary “us-versus-them” mentality. By linking the week to Islam and Muslims, it creates the binary atmosphere and alienates individuals. Already, there are dozens of Web sites promoting the event; one urges “Americans” to mark their calendars and learn about “Islam and their quest for world domination … Learn what the Religion of Peace does not want you to know about their agenda to dominate the world much like Adolf Hitler desired before starting World War II.”

In response to Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, several student groups on campus have organized their own events to illustrate the counterarguments that Horowitz’s program might not discuss. The best avenue for those opposed to Islamo-fascism week should not be to only focus on just setting up these meetings, but to also strive for a discussion that is fully open to conflicting arguments, instead of presenting a single-sided view. There are many politically conservative professors on campus who may share the same view as Horowitz and the host of guest speakers, but are willing to discuss their beliefs in a more academic and candid environment. Demonstrating these traits will give much more legitimacy to the alternative events. Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week seeks to divide people—don’t fall into the easy trap of adding to that split.

 

It is good to see people of good will from all faiths seeing this smear campaign for what it is

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