The American Islamophobia Machine: Media, Entertainment, and Politics

Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Corporate Controlled Media with 0 Comments

Abby Martin talks about the Islamophobia machine and how to stop it with Nadhira Al-Khalili, legal counsel for the Council on American Islamic Relations.  Below is a partial transcript.

Abby Martin:

2010 saw a 50% increase in hate crimes against Muslims.  In a post 9/11 world, this is the one group that has continuously felt the brunt of the ignorance, hatred, and intolerance in America – a dangerous climate of Islamophobia, which is unsurprisingly perpetuated by the media and government establishment alike.  And, it’s not even just Muslims.  It’s those who are simply perceived as Muslims: Hindus, Sikhs – essentially anyone with brown skin. Let’s take a look at some of the most recent incidents:

  1. A 52-year old man named Randolf Lynn was just convicted of lighting the prayer room on fire at the Islamic center of greater Toledo (Ohio).  During his arrest, he told the police officers: “F*** those Muslims.  They would kill us if they got the chance.”  Later, Lynn told the judge that he committed the crimes because Fox News and  conservative talk radio had “riled him up” and convinced him that “most Muslims are terrorists.”   I wonder where he got that idea… [This is followed several examples of news reporters stirring up fear and hatred of Muslims.]
  2. How about the case of  Sunando Sen, a 46-year old Hindu man, who was pushed onto a New York City subway track and killed by an oncoming train.  The perpetrator, now identified as Erika Menendez, said: “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims.  Ever since 2001, when the put down the Twin Towers, I’ve been beating them up.”

These are just two cases, but there are countless others.  Look, I’m not saying the Fox News is the culprit.  Islamophobia is being pushed through every strata of American culture: through news, media, entertainment, and politics.  So, to talk about this trend and what can be done to change course, I’m joined by Nadhira Al-Khalili, legal counsel for the Council on American Islamic Relations or CARE… Hate crimes have gone down, but really when it comes to Muslim community, it seems like they are escalating.  Can you comment on this trend?

Nadhira Al-Khalili:

Absolutely.  Well, we’ve noticed a very large spike starting in about July of last year, and it continued until September, and now we are seeing this recent uptick.  For example, the gentleman that was pushed into the New York subway, and the gentleman who just plead guilty to burning a mosque in Toledo, Ohio.  So, it’s just been continuing at an amazing pace since around July of last year.

Abby Martin:

It’s really strange…  Logically, it would seem to me that the more time passes from a traumatic event like 9/11, you would think that more people would become tolerant – the propaganda would stop working on them.  Fear would be curbed.  Obviously, this isn’t the case.  Why are we seeing this continue?

Nadhira Al-Khalili:

Right. You would think that.  But, CARE has been around since 1994 and we’ve been doing the same thing: we’ve been trying to educate people Muslims and trying to educate them about Islam.  But, recently the Islamophobes – there are people who are professionals whose main job is to say and do negative things about and against Muslims – these people have now been given wider stages, and have been given more time on the air on news media. For example, Fox News… is now featuring many more Islamophobes than they ever have in the past.  And, we believe that the media has a direct correlation to the things that are happening in real life.

Abby Martin:

Should we be blaming the media or should we be blaming ourselves for being intolerant, lacking empathy? I mean really, where does the fault lie?

Nadhira Al-Khalili:

That’s exactly right.  We can’t blame the media.  We can only blame the people at the other end: the people who are absorbing the message, because the message is going to be there.  It’s a vocal minority who makes these negative statements and has these negative opinions about Muslims.  And yes, they’ve been getting more air time…   But, it’s up to the American people to look at them and think.  And, not let the media control what they think and what they do.  So, it’s up to the American people to actually go out and try to find out the truth, and try to find out information.  And, not just sit on living room couches and absorb the things that they are being fed by Fox News and by other conservative media outlets.

Abby Martin:

It’s so covert as well.  We have Fox.  But, there is also a lot of sophisticated propaganda kind of entering the subconscious of even the more intellectual liberal base – like show like Homeland.  I don’t know if you are aware of this show… Ultimately, Muslims are all terrorists. That’s pretty much the take-away message from that show.  What damage does this kind of covert… it’s just all different elements that are perpetuating this myth?

Nadhira Al-Khalili:

The damage is obviously deadly.  You know, there is a ramification and people die from people who are absorbing these negative messages.  So, what we have to do as Americans is to sit back and say that this society should not allow for any minority group to be persecuted.  A society is successful when every single member of the society has rights and has protections.  We cannot live in a community that says “Love your neighbor unless your neighbor is Muslim.”  So, we need Americans to say that every single person, every minority, every member of a protected class of a small group of people who might be maligned by the media, might be maligned by their neighbor or whoever  – we need people to say: No! That’s not correct.  These things that you are saying are not correct.  We cannot give a negative aspect or negative characteristics to an entire group of people just based upon something that we hear in the media.

Abby Martin:

How much of this demonization is manufactured in the sense that here we are in perpetual war with a lot of these countries across the Muslim world… The establishment needs to create an enemy.  They need to dehumanize.  There’s racism inherent in every war in order for war to be perpetuated.  I mean, how much is this manufactured by the establishment to create this enemy image?

Nadhira Al-Khalili:

A lot of it is.  And, as you just mentioned there needs to be a war.  There needs to be perpetual war, and someone is profiting from this war.  And, it’s not you and me and other members of the American society as a whole.  There’s a small group of people who are profiting from this.  And, for them, they need to continue to with this stereotype and these negative images so that the American people will buy into this and say: “Yes Congress, give more money to the military so that they can continue expanding the military budget.”  Or, having drone strikes, or allowing the president to have a kill list, and all these things that Americans know about, but they’re just kind of complacent about – because they’ve been taught that… we need this to protect our country, to protect our values from “the other” who are Muslims.  Muslims are being portrayed as the other.

Abby Martin:

In order for war to function, the oppressed must be an enemy in the eyes of the oppressors.  For the enemy to be maintained, the media and the government must work together to sustain it. This dehumanization and demonization of entire race and religion is what I call the Islamophobia machine – a machine whose gears of racism will continue to grind as long as these wars continue to be fought.  So, you and I need to put our bodies on the gears to stop it.

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