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Reply #358


Response to Kurska (Reply #338)

Fri Apr 5, 2013, 08:16 PM

358. At your request

That you think, or propose as an abstract idea, that someone someone "chooses" to practice a religion and that justifies being smeared based on a very limited of understanding of that religion is, in my view, unacceptable. There is not one understanding of Islam or one implementation of the Koran. That you imagine it is all the same is unfortunate. I realize that most of us in the US learn very little about the Muslim world. But to fail to understand the limits of ones own education in this particularly area and broadly condemn a huge swath of the population is truly unfortunate.

The Islamphobia in many posts in this thread is a manifestations of cultural imperialism, of a deeply imbued aspect of American national mythology that imagines ourselves superior to the rest of the world. All countries have nation myths. That is key to national identity. The American national myth centers on believing ourselves to be the best nation in the world, "a free country," and imagining that much of the rest of the world lives under oppression.

That cultural imperialism has been imbued in us to legitimize military, political, and economic imperialism. My point about the wars was mean to highlight that we as Americans are not as superior as you seem to believe. As you are aware, in regard to the the Muslim world, that has included bloody wars killing hundreds of thousands of people. Now are we as individual Americans responsible for those interventions? I consider this question a tangent from the central issue, but since you insist, I will answer. Yes, in a way we are all responsible. We all pay a sizable portion of our tax bill to fund those wars. I think it unlikely you did not vote for any of the governments that executed them, unless you have never voted. George Bush began the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Bill Clinton regularly bombed Iraq, entered Somalia, and did a host of other things in the Middle East. Jimmy Carter began arming the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, and Barack Obama has continued war in Afghanistan and kept Guantanamo Bay open. Governments from the 1950s through 1979 backed the oppressive Shah of Iran, who was put in place via an American coup that replaced a Democratic leader. But under the Shah woman dressed in Western garb that people here find acceptable. If they dressed otherwise or dared to veil, they were beaten by state police. Since WWII, the US has propped up dictatorships throughout the world, including in Muslim countries like Indonesia, where the US funded genocide (under LBJ). Administrations since WWII have funded Israel and its occupation of Palestine. In terms of foreign policy, there has been little if any difference between Republican and Democratic governments, so all of us have voted for people who carried out that military and political imperialism. We have all benefited from the oil gained through those interventions that met US economic and geopolitical interests.

My point, however, is not to levy blame but to encourage reflection on cultural stereotypes and recognize that the simple statement of attributing a set of beliefs to all Muslims reveals you have little understanding of the religion or Muslim people. Passing judgment on the rest of the world serves no one. It only contributes to being the ugly American who thinks itself superior, a myth that serves to justify interventions abroad. I'm not saying that you and others deliberately seek to justify that action. You do not. You do, however, display cultural manifestations of that imperialism. That cultural imperialism was not borne of its own. It has been taught to us in order to justify US action abroad.

The rest of the world need not be like us to be respected. In fact, in terms of their actions abroad, they are far less complicit that the US. So rather than pointing fingers at those in other countries and condemning huge swaths of the world's population, learn something about those peoples. Rather than relying on cultural stereotypes, we must interrogate them: think about where they come from and what purpose they serve. Then we can think about what we as individuals can to to affect the issues we care most about.

__________

As an aside, to imagine all Muslims are homophobic is simply wrong. I live in Minneapolis, the city with the largest Somali population in the US. I canvassed those voters, who came out to vote down a proposed constitutional amendment making same sex marriage illegal. You can go to the MN Secretary of State's website and look at votes on that amendment by precinct, and you will see solid Democratic votes in Somali neighborhoods, including on that measure. Why? I think it may be because they have developed a loyalty toward the Democratic party and we asked them to vote no on the issue. The world is not as one dimensional as many think.


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