Sunday, November 22, 2015

North America's wave of Islamophobia -- This is what the start of fascism looks like

Peterborough Mosque target of racist violence
This has been a week where the pretense of civility, acceptance and  multi-cultural tolerance has been challenged in North America not just by the usual suspects that are the forces of right wing reaction, but as well by those who call themselves progressive and who should know better.

Driven by narratives of fear-and-loathing we are seeing a rise in xenophobic, racist and even violent actions and rhetoric both in our political discourse and, far more dangerously, in the "real world".

Most alarmingly is what is happening within "mainstream" discourse in the United States where Republican front-runner Donald Trump, among others, is now openly parroting the worst aspects of 1930's fascism by calling for mass deportations, forcing Muslims to wear identity badges and calling for supporters to physically attack protesters in their midst.

In Canada we have a wave of cowardly violent racist and often misogynist assaults committed primarily by men against primarily female targets. These are growing increasingly disturbing by their very frequency and by the fact that it turns out that 60% of Canadians, presumably due to the attacks in Paris, now oppose the new Liberal government's humane plan to expedite and expand the number of Syrian refugees finding safety in our country by the end of the year. A plan that, sadly, now appears to be being undermined with the Liberals seemingly on the verge of capitulating in part to xenophobic "concerns".

The attacks in Paris have served as a catalyst to liberate bigots and racists from their last restraints and to facilitate a vile and vicious "clash of civilizations" lie driven by North American religious zealots, populists and the always necessary weak-willed fellow travelling "liberals" that are relied upon by the far right to capitulate to their narratives when anything "bad" happens and when the bigots run the flag up the flag pole.

Thus we see the disgraceful sight of many Democrats lining up to support Republican insanity trying to stop Syrian refugees. A cowardice and racist indifference that will go down in history akin to that displayed in the face of those (primarily Jews) who sought refuge prior to World War II and who were turned away with equal ugliness and indifference as to the actuality of their probable fate.

A legacy of which Canada is just as guilty and upon which we should contemplate before we repeat the predictably awful mistakes of the past.

John Clarke  of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty wrote of that faction of the "left" and of "atheists" going along with this as well as on Islamophic attacks generally:
To me, it seems obvious that the Western imperialist countries are looking to demonize Islam in order to justify war and occupation in countries with largely Muslim populations. It is also the chief means by which they hope to win support for guarded borders and domestic repression. This agenda is intensifying horribly.
I am really quite shocked and appalled that anyone who considers themselves an anti capitalist would refuse to challenge Islamophobia and stand in solidarity with Muslim people at this time. The mainstream hatemongers and the fringe elements in Canada who are engaging in threats and attacks are racists who feel at liberty to single out Muslims because they are many people of colour. However, they are also persecuting a religious minority. I have nothing but contempt for the brand of 'enlightened' atheism that opposes all religion but reserves a special hatred for Islam. If body count is the issue, a lot more people have died in the name of Christianity than Islam. If religious practices are to be condemned, I fail to see while its more 'barbaric' to wear the hijab than to drink the Blood of Christ.
A despicable and dangerous attack is underway. That maniac Trump, leading in the race of the Republican nomination, wants to force Muslims to carry special ID. Women are being beaten and having their hijabs ripped off of them in this City. To me, solidarity with those facing this attack and full support for their right to religious freedom is a duty for all of us.
Those on  the "left" who parrot bigotry under the false flags of supposed enlightened secularism are simply fellow travelers of the new emerging fascism and are nothing other -- like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins -- than the more "eloquent" apologists for the actuality that is the racist political imperialism and narratives of the George Bushes and Donald Trumps.

I have written in the past of how both simplistic "left" narratives about the niqab or hijab feed into Islamophobic racism and of how the actions and rhetoric of Canadian and Quebecois politicians inflamed popular sentiment around these issues in dangerously racist, populist tones.

Now matters seem to be coming to a head with almost daily reports of attacks on mosques, on women wearing hijabs on Toronto's subway, on women simply wearing headscarves in public and more.

People need to understand that ignorantly sanctimonious and simpleminded notions about the niqab or hijab  are not an abstraction and are not some pathetic reddit thread populated by white philosophy dropouts typing away furiously in their basement about how Islamophobia cannot be racism because entitled twits with no understanding of how real world racism and bigotry work say so.

Hundreds of thousands of human beings from all walks of life are fleeing the joint evils of ISIS, Syrian government and rebel, and Western (and now Russian) imperialist interventionist mass bombings and mass murders in Syria as well as Iraq. They are fleeing the horrific violence that has killed countless innocents and children. They are fleeing an inconceivably awful reality where there is almost no refuge from the daily degradation of air strikes, mass executions, and staggering levels of destruction and civilian suffering.

One can wax poetic with nonsensically historically blind narratives about how it is not "Canadian" or "American" to turn away those fleeing oppression. Sadly, this is not true. Canada and the United States, while they have both occasionally risen to the occasion,  have a long and despicable history of turning away those in need and fleeing oppression.

The question now is are we to do this again? Are we to allow bigots like Donald Trump or those parroting bigoted rhetoric like Brad Wall to define our policies? Are we going to let  Western racism disguised as pretend concern for women and a supposed rejection of obscurantist religious practices (a concern and rejection that, oddly, seems to be almost exclusively focused on those of the Islamic faith) help to foster a climate of racism and mass ignorance?

Or will we stand up and be counted to stop what is now is developing as one of the defining moments in recent history. A moment where we will affirm that the rhetoric of inclusion that so many of us love to pretend is woven into the fabric of what is ":Canadian" or "American" has some truth to it or where we will show it to be yet another collective lie of our history books already replete with racist lies.

Make no mistake. The sharpened and heightened rhetoric and violence of the last few weeks is what the real beginning of fascism looks like.

We need to stop it now.

See also: ISIS is not Nazi Germany and the "appeasement" argument is ludicrous

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