Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Islamo-Fascism Week" - Neo-Nazis! Commie Haters! Islamophobes! Racists!

Posters popped up at George Washington University (Washington, D.C.)

They made interesting reading.:
  • "Hate Muslims? So do we."
  • "typical Muslim" has features such as
    • "lasers from eyes"
    • "venom from mouth"
    • "suicide vest"
    • "hidden AK-47"
    • "peg-leg for smuggling children and heroin"
  • "to find out more, come to Islamo-Fascism Week"
That's an excerpt, you get the picture. The posters had, presumably, been put up by Young America's Foundation, a conservative group, that is promoting the event.

"Hate Muslims? So do we" - What's Going On?

When I read excerpts from those posters, I thought that one of the genuinely wack nativist "conservative" groups was advertising their biases. Happily, I kept reading.

Islamo-Fascism Week is a series of discussions of which is being promoted by the conservative group, Young America's Foundation. Islamo-Fascism week is planned for dozens of campuses, including George Washington U. "Organizers — who are planning events at dozens of campuses — say that they are just trying to make students aware of the threats posed by radical Islam to the United States." ("Are You Ready for 'Islamo-Fascism Week'?," Inside Higher Ed (October 9, 2007))

At first glance, I thought that Young America's Foundation were tring to be funny, and failing miserably. George Washington U. officials ripped the posters down - an understandable move - and enraged students with more traditional views.

Hats off to Inside Higher Ed. Their article included a link to a Web page about Islamo-Fascism Week by the event's sponsor, Terrorism Awareness Project (TAP).

More remarkable, Inside Higher Ed posted a long quote from the TAP page:

"The purpose of this protest is as simple as it is crucial: to confront the two Big Lies of the political left: that George Bush created the war on terror and that Global Warming is a greater danger to Americans than the terrorist threat. Nothing could be more politically incorrect than to point this out. But nothing could be more important for American students to hear. In the face of the greatest danger Americans have ever confronted, the academic left has mobilized to create sympathy for the enemy and to fight anyone who rallies Americans to defend themselves. According to the academic left, anyone who links Islamic radicalism to the war on terror is an 'Islamophobe.' According to the academic left, the Islamo-fascists hate us not because we are tolerant and free, but because we are 'oppressors.' "

I'm going to repeat two points from that quote.

According to the academic left:
  • Anyone who links Islamic radicalism to the war on terror is an 'Islamophobe.'
  • The Islamo-fascists hate us not because we are tolerant and free, but because we are 'oppressors.'
I spent quite a bit of the sixties near a college, and the seventies and eighties on campus: those attitudes and beliefs are very familiar to me.

Back to the Posters

According to the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at George Washington University, the posters "were incorrectly attributed to a conservative student organization called Young America's Foundation (YAF), and the GW chapter of YAF denied any involvement with the posters. Seven GW students later confessed to having put up the posters to create awareness about the Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (IFAW) that YAF will be hosting at the end of this month."

The MSA has their own event, scheduled during the same week: "We would like everyone to know that the MSA values the first amendment right to freedom of speech a does not look to prevent the occurrence of Islamo-fascism Awareness Week (IFAW). Moreover, the MSA in cooperation with GW PeaceFORUM, Islamic Alliance for Justice and the Arab Student Association campus will be hosting an educational outreach program , “Peace…not Prejudice”(PnP), that hopes to advance campus dialogue and provide a platform for constructive academic discourse. Peace…not Prejudice is a nationwide program guided by MSA National and is being hosted at 50 other college campuses during the week of IFAW."

Hats off to the MSA at George Washington University. Instead of claiming that Islamo-Fascism Week is an attack on them, they're setting up their own discussions. These could be "constructive."

Red Scare, Neo-Nazis, Racists, and All That

I'm not so impressed by remarks like "Islamo-fascism Awareness Week polarizes the campus community and keeps stereotypes alive. ...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." (The Daily Californian (October 16, 2007))

So, if you don't agree that conservative concerns about Islamic terrorism are legitimate, you're a McCarthyite? To be fair, The Daily Californian doesn't quite say that.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said that "the main speaker for an upcoming series of "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" lectures at university campuses nationwide recently offered a keynote address at a European gathering that included representatives of racist or "neo-Nazi" political parties." (PR Newswire (October 21, 2007)

That "European gathering" seems to be the 'Counterjihad Brussels 2007' conference in Belgium, attended by those with links to far-right parties such as Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Belang (Belgium) and Ted Ekeroth of Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden). Both parties have been accused of either having a racist platform, a neo-Nazi past or having links to neo-Nazis and other racists.

I emphasized "have been accused of." Let's remember that it's an accusation. Just an accusation. I could accuse Nancy Pelosi of being a space alien, or an agent provocateur in the pay of North Korea, but that wouldn't mean that such (lunatic) accusations are true. Lets remember: Accusation isn't proof.

Debate Not Wanted

On the other hand, accusation can be very effective at stopping debate. Provided that the accusations involve emotionally charged words and phrases, and that the accusers what I'll call momentum: a history of people reacting in predictable ways.

"Nazi," "racist," "Red Scare:" these are emotionally-charged words. "Islamophibic" or "Islamophobe" promise to become equally effective; provided that they are repeated often enough over the next several years.

After all, nobody wants to be 'phobic' - that isn't 'mature.'

I see much of the outcry against "Islamo-Fascism Week" as an effort to suppress discussion on college and university campuses. My experience has been that there is a well-defined set of acceptable beliefs in American higher education, and that opposing views are most certainly not welcome.

This is just a suggestion, but: If you read or hear about those neo-Nazi, Commie-hating racist islamophobes at "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week," take a deep breath and think before forming an opinion.

Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.
Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.