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A Cumulative Effect

A Cumulative Effect

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Thoughts on other underlying causes of anti-Islam backlash. Updated.
Thoughts on other underlying causes of anti-Islam backlash. Updated.

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Published by: Abdul-Qaadir Abdul-Khaaliq on Aug 29, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/14/2012

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A Cumulative Effect
 
A View On Just Some Reasons For The Anti-Muslim Backlash In The US (originally published in 2002)
 
 Alhamdulillah wa salaat wa salaam 'alaa Rasoolihi wa ba'd 
 As a boy, I used to watch a lot of Popeye the Sailorman cartoons. I'll always remember one wherePopeye - as usual - had to fight his arch nemesis Bluto but this time Bluto was Ali Bluto or something,the leader of the Forty Thieves. Of course Bluto was - as usual - his nasty bearded self and Popeyemopped him up - as usual - after a can of spinach. This was probably one of a long line of caricaturesof Arabs or 'Moslems' I absorbed growing up as have many Americans over the years. It did notconsciously register to me at the time however, that any particular ethnic group or religion was beingportrayed. I didn't think of it really either when watching a corny movie where Hollywood heartthrobTony Curtis played an Aladdin type character who had to win the hand of the sultan's daughter. Therewas a lot of praising "Ala", funny gestures of greeting and departure, and of course beautiful girls indiaphanous belly-button revealing outfits which I imagine was very hot stuff way back then.The American comedic legend, Johnny Carson, who for a quarter of a century was a staple of American television, used to periodically do a comic bit in a gigantic turban as "Karnak", a sort of Guru Eastern Holy man composite. He would make outlandish predictions along with imaginativehilarious curses that had me and half of America laughing in bed. Of course there were Aladdin andCrusader movies, and plenty more cartoons and caricatures through the ages, most recent being verypopular animations, computer games - and let's not forget - the violent bad-guys that Hollywoodheroes like "Ahnuld" and others blow away right and left. Is the film "The Siege" forgotten or arevideo rentals up? There have been television episodes like the one where a Pakistani man wasconvicted of murder because he allegedly knew if he sent his American wife to Pakistan to visit
his
 brother's family to "reconnect" and rethink her life after he learned she had committed adultery, thathis brother would kill her as an "act of honor" (of course it makes no sense but
that‟s
the point).There was the other thankfully defunct show where a sexually frustrated veiled woman undresses anddemands that the male object of her lust "make her into a woman". Even science fiction is full of references taken directly from religious philosophies including Islam which are inserted in story linesthat often go right over the heads of most people unless they are familiar and looking for them.However, certain themes and characteristics stick in the mind and enter the heart. Allah only knowswhat ugly caricatures Hollywood has in store.In many places, it is already bad enough that anyone with a beard is suspect. Certainly, veiled womencannot be trusted! I mean, who knows what they have under all that? Now photos and profiles of beardless hijackers make EVERYONE suspect! It is sad to think that any Muslim or his family may bein danger or harassed for outwardly looking like Muslims in their own country. It is also sad that manyMuslims in America and elsewhere have chosen to discard any outward signs of being Muslims. It isironic that those who do so are nevertheless still victims of harassment and attacks.Americans (and others) have for years largely been blocked from, or not exposed to, the full humanpicture of who and what Muslims are in reality, nor what they believe nor what they have suffered. Ilearned virtually nothing factual about Muslims or Arabs in my school days and whatever I studiedwas so insignificant that I forgot it all. I mostly remember the negative stereotypes or statements.Americans and many other westerners have been fed a steady diet of Muslims as radicals, fanatics,backwards, anti-modernity, and ready to die for any old wild-eyed preacher/fanatic. They are toldreligious Muslim intellectuals or Islamic scholars are all fools stuck in the 6th century. In the last thirtyor so years (especially since the Oil Crisis, Iranian Revolution, Gulf War, embassy bombings and nowSeptember 11) they have been led to believe that Islam is a threat to all the values they hold dear withno distinctions made between what Islam says is destructive or constructive among them. There has upuntil now largely been no serious consideration or study of Islam, except in specialized circles. Few
 
people, including "expert" analysts seem to possess a really clear and accurate understanding oranalysis of the Muslim world or it is tainted with biases and agendas.Americans have been largely prevented from or uninterested in seeing the horror that is life forMuslims living in refugee camps or as victims of mass slaughter and blocked from hearing and seeingthe lives and stories of those who have lived through or seen the disease, torture and mutilation of theirbrethren because advertisers don't want their company's ads next to such pictures, among otherreasons. They have been largely denied hearing the personal accounts of what it is like to be maimedor have loved one killed by American arms or chemicals since that would be unpatriotic, but certainlyshown many images of the horror of others' pain and sorrow and the details thereof. Of course, thereare exceptions to this and major news organizations and communications technology have brought alot of things to the attention of the world that have helped to bring about more awareness and changeattitudes for the better, but it obviously has not been enough, and is in danger of all being forgotten inthe heat and rhetoric of war.The West, and particularly Americans, more easily get the graphic details of crimes both actually andallegedly committed by Muslims. Rarely do they hear of the many acts of charity, courage, enterpriseetc. that are a daily occurrence among Muslims and even part of their principles, so they don't believeit even exists or they are so surprised when they find out they do. This in combination with Muslimsspontaneous - but perhaps misdirected - expressions of joy at others pain are repeatedly televised whilethe thousands of others who see it as an inappropriate display and who relate to the pain of theslaughter, are not.While certain cultures are often portrayed as noble, dignified, or progressive, Muslims have beenthoroughly demonized and Islamic culture has long been portrayed as an ancient, irrelevant, passé andeven repressive civilization that only deserves a shelf on in the Eastern Philosophies section of thebookstore or library. At least that may be changing now since bookstores cannot keep enough booksabout Islam, Muslims or even translations of the Qur'aan (Koran) on their shelves. How many morenegative portrayals or images can I recall? Plenty...but you get the point.Arabs or Muslims are by no means alone in being negatively portrayed as void of worthwhile humanvalues. Racial stereotyping has a long and sordid history in America that no one can deny. Regardlessof how many Americans personally find it repugnant, the influence of these images neverthelesspersists. How long were American Indians portrayed as howling savages, African Americans asunintelligent, criminal and violent, Chinese-Americans as sniveling thieves, Italian-Americans asgangsters, Hispanic-Americans as slow and lazy, Irish-Americans as drunkards, Japanese-Americansas... you name it? Many groups or ethnicities have been targeted and widely accepted to be asstereotyped and some still haven't totally gotten beyond that negative historical portrayal, althoughthings have gotten better, with the exception of 
 No doubt the images and sounds of Sept. 11 and since have left a bigger impact than all of that puttogether as far as Arabs or Muslims are concerned. The cumulative impact of it all has had terribleresults. The worst images have been forever solidly cemented in the minds of millions. Should it thenbe any surprise as to why hostile reactions are directed at Muslims, Arabs, Eastern looking people orthe idea persists that Islam has something inherent in its ideology that leads to mayhem? I once heard aradio interviewer allude to this in a question to a Muslim. I was hoping the Muslim would respond,"Your inference and question are misdirected at the outset. For example, would you not find itoffensive for me to ask 'What is it as a white person that makes you inherently racist, or as a Jew thatmakes you inherently oppressive, or as a Black person inherently criminal, or as a Christian inherentlyviolent?! We all know what the reaction to that would be!
 On the other side of the coin, there was and is no dearth of comments from us like, "...they are alldisbelievers and they just want to take us out of our religion", "They all hate us", "Their women canneither cook or take care of a house but they are easy to give themselves to any man", "They are a

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