Archive for the Loon Media Category

Sacha Cohen and Arab Minstrelsy

Posted in Feature, Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2012 by loonwatch

by Daniel Ibn Zayd (Original guest piece)

In May of 2005 I joined a group of students and activists to watch a documentary entitled Paul Robeson: Here I Stand. Paul Robeson was an American political figure, though he remains virtually unknown by most in his home country. Many might recognize him from a booklet of stamps published by the United States Postal Service, entitled “African-Americans on Stamps: A celebration of African-American Heritage”. The booklet opens with Robeson’s smiling face, and states: “By the late 1930s, [Robeson] had become very active and outspoken on behalf of racial justice, social progress, and international peace.” This is true. He was also exiled from the United States, his citizenship revoked and then re-instated; he was poisoned with drugs and tortured with electric-shock therapy, the latter while under American supervision in hospital custody in London. He was repeatedly forced to defend himself during the Communist witch-hunts of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He died in relative obscurity in 1977. For any group that has suffered similar treatment, this will sound all too familiar.

Like many acculturated Americans, I was familiar with Robeson as an entertainer; his rendition of “Ol’ Man River” from Showboat (written by Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern in 1927) is considered an American classic. The dirgeful ballad describes the toil and strife of the black slave working the gambling ferry boats:

Colored folks work on de Mississippi,
Colored folks work while de white folks play,
Pullin’ dose boats from de dawn to sunset,
Gittin’ no rest till de judgement day.

In the score this refrain is marked optional; replaced with “[a] musical part” depending on the whim of the director, in deference to audiences perhaps not comfortable with this rendition. This “comfort level” is the driving force of acceptance of Othered minorities as citizens, as well as their presence within cultural manifestations and national mythologies. The allowance or not of these couplets speaks of an understood ever-shifting limit of tolerance, the tolerated never quite alloted full freedom.

From this vantage point, the recent presidential election takes on a different significance, the opposite of current received wisdom, that a historic event has taken place with the election of a black American as marking a “post-race” America. Barack Obama’s election instead represents a similar “limit of tolerance”, based on the behavior, thought, and action of the one tolerated. His mediation* as a new “ideal” on the other hand, wholly separate from actions which make him hard to differentiate from his predecessors, and removed from the mood on the street and realities suffered on the ground, is, in this light, not a contradiction.

One month before the election in 2008 I stopped into a hip-hop clothing store in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Various T-shirts sported the visage of Obama along with statements of pride and hope. “My President Is Black” read one, against the backdrop of an American flag, and with the words “The American Dream” on the reverse. This explosion in production of T-shirts and signage outside of the licensing purview of the Democratic National Committee[1] bears witness more to the weight placed on Obama’s shoulders than belief in “Hope” or “Change”. On the wall of the shop was a graffitied art piece reflecting Obama’s perceived political peers: Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela. To peer into Obama’s future we simply have to examine King, sadly reduced post-mortem to a shill for Alcatel and Cingular, and Mandela, who now serves a similar function as an ideal wholly removed from the realities of a post-apartheid South Africa, currently morphed into a neo-liberal and globalized nightmare.

Malcolm X, on the other hand, represented in image as well as in word and deed something much closer to the reality of lived life for many in the country, as stated in his famous “Ballot or the Bullet” speech in 1964:

No, I’m not an American. I’m one of the 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the 22 million black people who are the victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy. So, I’m not standing here speaking to you as an American, or a patriot, or a flag-saluter, or a flag-waver–no, not I. I’m speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don’t see any American dream; I see an American nightmare….

Reframed, these T-shirts thus become a grassroots manifestation of the poet Langston Hughes’s The Dream Deferred[2]; they implicitly contain the projection of what might happen if the dream is put off any longer. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of an Obama presidency.

Malcolm X also happens to be the only Black activist in the USPS booklet (this due to lobbying efforts), nonetheless painstakingly described therein as a “lifelong criminal” who did time in prison before his conversion to Islam. No mention is made of his assassination, perhaps due to his description of the assassination of John Kennedy as America’s “chickens [coming] home to roost”. This was echoed by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright[3] who said the same about the attack on the World Trade Center, and Like Malcolm X and Paul Robeson, Reverend Wright also suffered a smear campaign to paint him as a threat to the nation.

Full acceptance in a culture which mocked their aspirations

Part of what marks X, King, Robeson, and even Obama is their not matching their bestowed stereotype. In his book Harlem: The Making of a Ghetto[4], Gilbert Osofsky states:

What was most striking about the Negro stereotype was the way it portrayed a people in an image so totally the reverse of what Americans considered worthy of emulation and recognition. The major and traditional American values were all absent from the Negro stereotype. The Negro was conceived of as lazy in an ambitious culture; improvident and sensuous in a moralistic society; happy in a sober world; poor in a nation that offered riches to all who cared to take them; childlike in a country of men….Negroes hoped for full acceptance in a culture which mocked their aspirations.

The condition of the American black man was a function not just of racism, but of a built-in inability of those so tagged to voice or discuss the nature of the problem; an inversion in which the dominant discourse promulgated stereotypes which were subsumed within the dominated culture itself, and then further assumed and re-characterized by the targeted group in question.

It is only relatively recently that we are witnessing documentation of Robeson and his work–time having defused any revolutionary potential here–along with one of the first stars of an entertainment realm that tolerated black performance: Bert Williams. In 1903 Williams staged a musical comedy entitled In Dahomey that was so successful it forced the racial integration of many theaters in the States. Simultaneously, W.E.B. DuBois was seeing the birth of a Black cultural awakening in such work. In an essay from 1916 entitled “The Drama Among Black Folk”, he wrote:

In later days Cole and Johnson and Williams and Walker lifted minstrelsy by sheer force of genius into the beginnings of a new drama. White people refused to support the finest of their new conceptions like the “Red Moon” and the cycle apparently stopped. Recently, however, with the growth of a considerable number of colored theatres and moving picture places, a new and inner demand for Negro drama has arisen which is only partially satisfied by the vaudeville actors….The next step will undoubtedly be the slow growth of a new folk drama built around the actual experience of Negro American life.

This cultural expression, wrested from the dominant class, spoken in its own language, and directed inward in terms of audience was the de facto segregated black nation attempting to stand on its own feet and create its own place, speak in its own voice. For this reason it could not be tolerated. Dubois’s appeals for funds for such a theater went unheeded; audiences wished to see re-affirmation of their view of black Americans, as shaped by white actors in blackface makeup. The stillborn theatrical awakening was reduced even further to the horrific tragedy of actors such as Williams smearing oily burnt cork ash on their own [not] black [enough] faces.

This inversion of Black culture through the mediation of the white artist is evident as well in Porgy and Bess, an opera about Black life (written by George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward in 1935). In a biography of George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, the jazz-era band leader stated, “the times are here to debunk Gershwin’s lampblack Negroisms.” Similarly, when listened to outside of the dominant discourse such as on the radio show L’épopée des musiques noires broadcast on Radio France Internationale[5], such artists speak openly of the racism that they suffered and which continues to plague them. That Duke Ellington successfully staged all-black musicals that rose above the minstrel dross remains lost within history; meanwhile, Showboat and Porgy and Bess have replaced actual historical memory.[6]

Black to the future
This specter of white men in black face rises every so often as a reminder and as a warning, but also as a marker of white privilege defended as “free speech”, as in the case of firefighters on Long Island who wore Afro wigs and black face in a community parade in the late ’80s[7]:

The police commissioner’s management authority has been undermined by federal Judge John Sprizzo’s June 23 ruling, following a non-jury trial, that the city did not have the right to fire a police officer and two firefighters who rode in blackface and wore Afro wigs on a parade float in 1988. Police Officer Joseph Locurto and the two firefighters were punished, wrote Sprizzo, “in retaliation for engaging in protected speech.” This “protected speech” involved being part of a float with the banner “Black [sic] to the Future: Broad Channel 2098,” which the defendants said was a parody of black racial integration into the mainly white Broad Channel neighborhood. They threw watermelon and fried chicken at parade goers and, as the parade was ending, a firefighter grabbed the back of the truck and dangled himself toward the ground, re-enacting the brutal dragging murder of a black man in Texas two months earlier.

Although we might not remember the vaudeville circuits of the early 20th century, this news item attests to the lingering epithets and uglinesses that were used to disparage blacks of that period. Their deep-seatedness is revealed in the non-reaction to their use, and the ensuing disapproval if not dismissal of the discussion that might follow such an event. This legally protected “free speech” leaves no humanizing aspect untargeted, by referring directly to black stage characters and their disempowering nicknames (Step-‘n’-Fetch-It, Jim Crow); to the sight of white eyes peering out of black face ([rac]coon); to the percentage of black blood in a person’s bloodstream (high yellow, quadroon); to one’s renegade slave background (maroon). Furthermore, the “reverse” of this often used as a defense, namely, disparaging terms for whites, are few in number, hardly as powerful, and are by contrast comical in their ineffectiveness.

This brings up the main point of any such discussion of representation, which cannot be limited to its visual or aural perception: the power differential involved. Who is the audience, and where do they fit societally speaking? What is my physical, technical, and economic ability to reach them? What are the various legal rights that enable and/or impinge such communication? What is my privilege to make such a statement, and what personal, communal, moral, etc. limitations might I place on myself before doing so? What is my luxury to so speak, above and beyond these other aspects of such expression?

Examples of unspoken referents thus weigh even heavier, in the sense that one need not even speak to evoke the same racist sentiment: Confederate flags flying over southern state capitol buildings (or in hidden locations out of public view); separated primary elections that reflect the class breakdown of the political parties along racial lines; the voting down of a federal holiday commemorating Martin Luther King (“states’ rights” makes direct reference to George Wallace’s statement of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”); the practice of diluting minority power via the gerrymandering of electoral districts; the use of scare tactics at the polls; the prohibition of the vote for felons; etc.

The equivalent disparity of direct expression within the culture, along similar overt as well as covert lines, includes endless examples: Billie Holiday used to relate how she was run out of Mobile, Alabama for singing Strange Fruit (written by Abel Meeropol in 1937), a song about the infamous practice of lynching. In Louisiana more recently, black students were convicted and imprisoned for their protest and reaction to a noose[8] being hung from a tree on the school lawn; this “warning” to the black student population came after they decided to assemble underneath the “white student’s” tree.[9] A super-mediated* discussion of the word “nigger” took place when Michael Richards (Kramer from the television show Seinfeld), not happy with some black hecklers, informed them that “fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass.” More disturbing are the commemorative postcards made from photographs of hanged men, these “black bodies swinging/in the Southern breeze”, surrounded by smiling white faces as might be seen at a picnic or a communal pigsticking, and today disturbingly mimicked by images from Abu Ghaib prison in Iraq, as well as of soldiers in Afghanistan posing with corpses.

A share of the wealth and a piece of the action
It should thus come as no surprise that during the Democratic primaries of 2008 Andrew Cuomo made reference to Barack Obama’s “shuck and jive”, a phrase which has no meaning outside of imposed black vaudeville dialect for shiftiness and evasiveness, making semantic reference to costume change, rapid dance steps, and a fancy ability with words. The attorney general’s disavowal of the term as racist is contradicted by his former statement that voting for his [black] rival for the New York governor’s race, Carl McCall, would result in a “racial contract” between Black and Hispanic Democrats which “can’t happen”.[10] Similar was the statement from Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland that Obama seemed “uppity”. Everyone who speaks American English completes this noun phrase with the one epithet that follows, explicitly referring to a black man who should “know his role”.

These terms and images are so loaded that they only need be hinted at to get the message across; even in their denial they hit the target and leave their mark. The resulting backtracking can be seen to be prefigured; meaning they are planned if not staged, the knowledge remains that exculpation awaits for simply denouncing the action of having stated them, or else by labeling the targets thereof as “oversensitive”, “politically correct”, or “racist” themselves. In this way, the legacy of the ignoble practices and codes of that time most assuredly live on, as a chronic condition of the culture itself; the equivalent of linguistic sucker punches such as “I would never refer to my opponent as a Communist”[11].

Then candidate Obama listlessly defended himself against such provocations, and was rewarded with the presidency. In stark contrast, no U.S. postage stamp, indeed, few American history books represent any leader from the Black Power movements of the 1960s, and this despite the acknowledgment at that time by then president Richard Nixon, who used the term Black Power in a speech attempting to subvert the movement at its core:

[M]uch of the Black militant talk these days is actually in terms far closer to the doctrines of free enterprise than to those of the welfarist thirties–terms of “pride”, “ownership”, “private enterprise”, “capital”, “self-assurance”, “self-respect”… What most of these militants are asking is not separation, but to be included in–not as supplicants, but as owners, as entrepreneurs–to have a share of the wealth and a piece of the action. And this is precisely what the Federal central target of the new approach ought to be. It ought to be oriented toward more Black ownership, for from this can flow the rest–Black pride, Black jobs, Black opportunity and yes, Black power….[12]

The actuality is better known: the former Black Power movement leaders have either been assassinated or put in prison, have come around to parrot the dominant discourse, or have retreated to obscurity and/or academia; all have been rendered place-less, historically silenced and disappeared. Similarly, if no one remembers the black musicians of jazz, blues, funk, gospel, etc. that the U.S. Postal Service attempts to pay tribute to, everyone on the other hand knows their white stand-ins, their role-reversers: Elvis, Joe Cocker, The Rolling Stones, Eminem, etc. To reinforce this diminishment, blacks of a certain celebrity are often referred to as the shadow of their white counterparts, especially in terms of politics and culture: “the black Daniel Webster” applied to Samuel Ringgold Ward, or “the black Callas”, attributed to Barbara Hendricks, or now, “the black Kennedy”, in a reflection of racial privilege, and the one-way directional flow of cultural appropriation and political designation.

The rainbow sign
In one such Black spiritual now forgotten, God gives Noah the “Rainbow Sign” that ends his estrangement from the land; however the sign comes with a warning that He is done with water, promising “the fire next time”. In his book of the same name, James Baldwin describes Malcolm X’s relationship with the United States thus:

Whether in private debate or in public, any attempt I made to explain how the Black Muslim movement came about, and how it has achieved such force, was met with a blankness that revealed the little connection that the liberals’ attitudes have with their perceptions or their lives, or even their knowledge–revealed, in fact, that they could deal with the Negro as a symbol or a victim but had no sense of him as a man. When Malcolm X, who is considered the movement’s second-in-command, and heir apparent, points out that the cry of “violence” was not raised, for example, when the Israelis fought to regain Israel, and, indeed, is raised only when black men indicate that they will fight for their rights, he is speaking the truth. The conquests of England, every one of them bloody, are part of what Americans have in mind when they speak of England’s glory. In the United States, violence and heroism have been made synonymous except when it comes to blacks, and the only way to defeat Malcolm’s point is to concede it and then ask oneself why this is so….there is no reason that black men should be expected to be more patient, more forebearing, more farseeing than whites; indeed, quite the contrary. The real reason that non-violence is considered a virtue in Negroes…is that white men do not want their lives, their self-image, or their property threatened.

Here Baldwin presages the purely symbolic non-threatening black man who will be acceptable in the United States. Another such example, Bill Cosby, echoes this when he states that “all the problems [on his TV show] were not solved, but were dealt with without violence.” In contrast to the [acceptable] violence of Israel and England (which too has its own “Jerusalem”[13]) Baldwin reveals what is most threatening about the landless or placeless minority nations within Anglo-Saxon realms. More importantly, he reveals society’s inherent fear of those who have similarly examined the topic of self-representation (Ture, Fanon, Roy, Dabashi, etc.), and who conclude that violence is, perhaps, the only possible reaction to greater violences both actual and virtual suffered by the oppressed.

We’re here without any rights
This discussion of violence controlled by those who have the power to define the parameters for said violence brings us to Sacha Cohen, and his portrayal of an Arab leader in his movie The Dictator. In naming the dictator “Gen. Shabazz Aladeen”, pointed reference is made to the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X’s taken name, juxtaposed mockingly against the exoticized “Aladdin” (which removes any religious significance here). In an interview with Howard Stern[14] Cohen states:

“All these dictators blame everything on the Zionists,” said Baron Cohen, “it’s a great scapegoat. Now, young people are saying the reason we’re not happy is we’re living in these dictatorships. There’s a guy who’s a trillion-aire who’s sleeping with models and actresses, and we’re here without any rights being persecuted.”

In a failed bid to play victim, Cohen instead reveals his “Arab-face” minstrelsy; his portrayal of stereotypes are in fact directed at an audience the class of which has controlled the destiny of those living “under dictatorships” for the greater part of the last century, if not the past 500 years. The insinuation here is that such dictatorships are a function of the Arab inability to assume democracy (a great Orientalism, barely worthy of non-scholars such as Bernard Lewis) and claiming falsely that the region has no democratic or, indeed, socialist, pan-Arabist, anti-colonialist, etc. aspects to its past. It is too easy to discuss these neglected historical forces of liberation in the Arab and Muslim world to debunk such heinous racism–Mossadegh, Shari’ati, Fanon, Memmi, Nasser, etc. (among many, many others) all come quickly to mind–and this, coupled with the fact that the Third World’s leftist realm has been targeted for extermination for decades if not more than a century, only reinforces the hubris of Cohen’s statement.

In economic terms, it also reveals the power differential inherent to capitalism and globalization, and is reminiscent of Bill Cosby’s attacks on “bling”-style rap artists–he doesn’t even admit to their more political precursors–who have managed to acquire wealth and status by following all of the lessons learned in a neo-liberal society (similar to Mexican drug cartels, the Mafia, the Saudi monarchy, etc.) but who get punished when they become too competitive (like Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan) and are thus rendered docile and brought within the domain of global Capital. “The trillionaire sleeping with models and actresses” is a glorified trope within American culture, so it is odd to find it given populist overtones as concerns the current Arab revolts and uprisings, as if we are to believe that in any way Sasha Cohen finds common cause with the Arab street.

The idea that the struggle against the colonial apartheid state of Israel, indeed, that the resistance to First-World globalizing dominance in the region as premised and foregrounded by the Palestinian struggle, might somehow be simplistically reduced to “criticism” of Zionism (in and of itself an ignoble ideology) is so Orwellian an inversion as to be unworthy of retort. There is no point wasting time considering the cultural “flip”, in imagining an Arab or Muslim “doing the same thing” culturally speaking; there is likewise no point in discussing the ridiculous concept of “reverse racism” when such debates require a thorough examination of said expression along economic and political lines. This, the power differential of the dominant culture as portrayed by that culture’s media, is the central point of this discussion, and however we might examine it, those who are minority, who are Other, fundamentally cannot rise above such representations as they are played out within this mediated system.

A critical black gaze
As a black American convert to Islam, Malcolm X, despite mediated attempts to historically reduce him, could very well be a case of a sub-mediated* image that survives such a pulverization[15], and as such, serves as a model to follow to bring us out of this quandary. As stated by bell hooks, in one of her essays[16] concerning and quoting Malcolm X:

Understanding the power of mass media images as forces that can overdetermine how we see ourselves and how we choose to act, Malcolm X admonished black folks: “Never accept images that have been created for you by someone else. It is always better to form the habit of learning how to see things for yourself: then you are in a better position to judge for yourself.” Interpreted narrowly, this admonition can be seen as referring only to images of black folks created in the white imagination. More broadly, however, its message is not simply that black folks should interrogate only the images white folks produce while passively consuming images constructed by black folks; it urges us to look with a critical eye at all images. Malcolm X promoted and encouraged the development of a critical black gaze, one that would be able to move beyond passive consumption and be fiercely confronting, challenging, interrogating.

Proclaimed “hope” or promised “change” should not derail any criticism of the Image Machine, especially when this Machine has minimized minority histories to literally belittled images riding on tickets of commerce; to bogus misrepresentative celluloid trash; to symbolic representations of white privilege embodied in the heads of state and power: All the more reason we must be “fiercely confronting, challenging, interrogating…look[ing] with a critical eye at all images”.

The answer to such racism lies not in a faux multi-culturalism, nor in a homogenizing, “borderless”, “nomadic” neo-liberalism. The answer lies in manifestations of resistance to this dominant culture which are able to pre-emptively prevent co-optation by the dominant discourse. Hamid Dabashi, in his book Post-Orientalism: Knowledge and Power in Time of Terror, states:

Out of this cul-de-sac, one possibility has always remained open: a creative re/constitution of cultural character and historical agency from a range of poetic and aesthetic possibilities, where the notion of the beautiful is violently wrested out of the banal, the sublime forcefully out of the ridiculous, agency defiantly out of servitude, subjection combatively out of humiliation.

This requires, however, that we change our perspective and our own viewpoint first; that we radically re-orient ourselves in terms our relationship to cultural consumption and its source. These manifestations as described by Dabashi are hard to suss out since we have unfortunately lost the ability to read them as such, for having been so long out of touch with our own creative potential, and for having forgotten the formerly “local” media manifestations of guerrilla television, public access cable, pirate radio, radical journals, homegrown theater, etc.

True to our native land
On January 30, 2009, in Denver, Colorado, a black woman was asked to sing the national anthem during the State of the City address by the mayor of Denver, John Hickenlooper[17]. Instead of the Star-Spangled Banner, Rene Marie offered a rendition of the “black national anthem”, resulting in hate mail and an outcry denouncing her action. She stated that her decision was based on “how I feel about living in the United States, as a black woman, as a black person”. Further, she said that she would no longer sing the national anthem because she “often feels like a foreigner in the United States”.

The correct response of the mayor’s office should have been “this is her right; this is her freedom of speech”, like our blackfaced firemen, like Andrew Cuomo; this was not forthcoming. The song which originally debuted in 1900 is entitled, Lift Every Voice and Sing (words and music by John Johnson, ironically quoted in the benediction for Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony), and it ends with the lyrics: “May we forever stand,/True to our God,/True to our native land.” This takes on a particularly humbling tone given the replacement of the previous attempts of minority Americans to leave their ghettoes with more current almost prideful acceptances of this, their “allowed” place.

This is manifested in the outlying reaches of Los Angeles–180 degrees removed from Cohen’s Hollywood–the scene of the Watts and Rodney King riots, and described in the music of Bambu[18] among many others, and where a “beautiful” form of dance was created from the “banal” by Tommy Johnston, aka “Tommy the Clown”, borrowing from stripper pole-dancing, although performed by both sexes, and used to entertain children and adults at birthday and block parties. The dance is referred to as clowning, and it went on to spawn another form of dance, angrier and reflective of street realities for a generation lost, often mimicking police beatings and other brutalities, called crumping. Both are performed by youth attempting to escape the reality of gang-controlled streets, where misuse of colors is a marker for murder, and choices of home, school, job, and future are systemically limited.

In the documentary about this dance form called Rize![19] the youth in the movie describe their lives imbued with a renascent spirituality, sense of purpose, and avoidance of the commercialization that has befallen previous expression from this community. Included in this film is the striking image of a black man now painting his face up in white clown makeup and not minstrel black burnt cork, referencing a forgotten cultural marker and not a racist imposition; following Malcolm’s advice to “never accept images that have been created for you by someone else.”

Speak from the street
And so as Arabs and Muslims now targeted with similar minstrelsies, we do ourselves no favor when we simply smear brown paint on our brown features in order to entertain the Master in the Master’s house; we perform no beneficent action by simply parroting endless mediated exchanges with little bark and less bite. Sacha Cohen would ironically represent all of us as tinpot dictators, when it is he, culturally, politically, economically, and in terms of class and avowed ideological affiliation, who has much more in common with this fetid realm of the world stage than does the majority of Arabs and Muslims on the planet. What does Sasha Cohen know about what is going on in his own backyard, much less this world in active revolt? Indeed, it is Cohen who needs to “know his role”.

While we point out this obvious classist and racist arrogance, we must also strive to find the countervailing non-mediated* representatives that exist closer to home and which speak from the street: the Egyptian women whose strikes in the textile mills (not Twitter) led to intifada; similarly the women of the neighborhoods surrounding Tahrir Square in Cairo whose cooking fed this revolution; the 70,000 Palestinian refugees marching to the Lebanese border in May of 2011; the owner of the last kufiyyeh factory[20] in occupied and embattled Al-Khalil, undone by sanctions and outdone by Chinese imports; the Syrian migrant workers slaving to build Beirut skyscrapers, far from their rural communities rightfully rising up in revolts kidnapped by regional powers; the Bedouin populations kept stateless and impoverished; Palestinian hunger strikers; etc. ad infinitum, all with their unique creative contributions of craft, art, music, graffiti, dance, calligraphy, song, poetry, spoken and written word, theater, etc.

For of this common resistance might rise the creative manifestations–the “new folk drama”–that feed back into the revolts against the likes of Sacha Cohen and his ilk who would define us and confine us; manifestations[21] that do not allow simply for a misconstrued and patently false “comfort level” or status quo, that do not inadvertently sell us short, that do not continue to sell us out. In this is perhaps a great step forward, since, as Malcolm X asks of us, once the realization of such mediated deception and the unveiling of the deceivers hits home, once we move from defensive mode to rediscovering the energy that would be better put to creative output, once we wean ourselves from the source of our own misrepresentation, then we might actually recognize the creative source all around us; a new nahdah; proving with our creative action what we already know to be true in our thoughts and words. Paul Robeson, in control of his own creative manifestation in concert, changed the formal and staged lyrics of “Ol’ Man River” to better frame his feelings of being an outsider within American society. It is likewise time for our own re-imaging; our own reformulation; our own restaging.

* Mediation
Mediation defines expression as a function of the distance from direct sensorial witnessing, on a spectrum that ranges from non-mediated to super-mediated.

Non-mediated: A spontaneous expression that is not designed, pre-selected, edited, planned; the voicer of the unsaid.

Example(s): The spontaneous verbal utterance or physical actualization in reaction to witnessing a car accident; Kanye West going off-prompt during a televised fundraiser for the victims of hurricane Katrina, stating: “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.”

Super-mediated: Expression that is designed, pre-selected, edited, or planned, possibly within the constraints of a given group, its ideology, its manifesto or tenets, that may or may not stand in opposition to the dominant discourse, but whose use of tools, languages, systems, and technologies in fact are meant to enable, sustain, and promote such dominant discourse.

Example(s): The television show Cops with an episode concerning drunk driving; drivers’ education movies; a presidential press conference in the aftermath of Katrina.

Sub-mediated: Expression that is designed, pre-selected, edited, or planned within the constraints of a given group, its ideology, its manifesto, or tenets, that absolutely stands in opposition to the dominant discourse often in its uniqueness and its non-derivation from current customs or tropes, and which avoids or attempts to subvert the tools, languages, systems, and technologies of super-mediation.

Example(s): The white-painted ghost bikes of various cities that represent both the individual killed in an accident and their collective whole; the Legendary K.O’s rap song set to mashup videos for “George Bush Don’t Like Black People”.

1 “Dreaming XXL”; Jake Austen. Harper’s, November 2008. pp. 58–59.

2 What happens to a dream deferred?/Does it dry up/Like a raisin in the sun?/Or fester like a sore–/And then run?/Does it stink like rotten meat?/Or crust and sugar over–/like a syrupy sweet?/Maybe it just sags/like a heavy load./Or does it explode?


4 Harper Torchbooks, 1966.

5 The Story of Black Musics [sic] <;;

6 Both musicals are featured as postage stamps. To note is that “First-day” issue of stamps exists for a very particular audience that collects such stamps for their value; this is a different audience than the subject of the stamps themselves.




10 Reference to this conversation taped by a reporter for the Jewish Forward. Interesting here and necessitating another treatise is the ability of Cuomo to claim “whiteness”, as opposed to his formerly equally marking ethnic identity.

11 Testimony of Paul Robeson before the House Committee on Un-American Activities;;.

12 Black Liberation and Socialism, Ahmed Shawki.

13 William Blake poem and later hymn.



16 Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations

17 USA Today, January 31, 2009; “Controversy after singer substitutes ‘black national anthem’ for ‘Star-Spangled Banner’.

18 Pull It Back:;

19 Rize!:;

20 Kufiyeh project:;


Daniel Ibn Zayd was adopted in 1963 and returned definitively to his land of birth in 2004; there he teaches art and illustration and in 2009 founded the artists’ collective Jamaa Al-Yad. He has written for CounterPunch, The Monthly Review Zine, Dissident Voice, and The Design Altruism Project, as well as on his blog: He is a contributor to Transracial Eyes, a web-based collective of transracial adoptees. He can be reached at @ibnzayd on Twitter and by email:


Dean Obeidallah: Sacha Cohen’s Movie a Minstrel Show

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2012 by loonwatch

Danios wrote recently about Ashton Kutcher’s putting on ‘brown face,’ and ridiculing Indians in a Pop Chips commercial. He pointed out that though Kutcher’s ad was pulled we still have Sacha Baron Cohen’s anti-Arab minstrel show proceeding without much protestation or discussion–until now.

Muslim comedian Dean Obeidallah has weighed-in now, and if I didn’t know any better he must have read our article because he raises similar arguments,

To me, this is essentially the same as white performers in blackface portraying black people in buffoonish negative stereotypes for the enjoyment of white America.

But I am not advocating a ban on offensive comments or the telling of culturally insensitive jokes. I certainly am not calling for more PC comedy. I’m not calling for a boycott of anyone nor asking for one more insincere “I’m sorry to all those who were offended by me” from a celebrity.

I’m in no way arguing that Arab culture is off-limits or cannot be mocked. I’m a comedian of Arab heritage and have performed comedy shows not only for Arab-American groups across the United States, but also in the Middle East, from Egypt to Qatar to Saudi Arabia. I find the biggest laughs are elicited when performers hold up a comic mirror to Arab culture.

But for some reason, the entertainment industry appears to truly enjoy ridiculing “brown” people, Arabs and Indians, and has no qualms about casting people not of our heritage to portray us. Indeed, just last week Popchips snack company found itself embroiled in a controversy because an ad showed Ashton Kutcher playing an Indian character in brownface, similar to what Cohen is doing in “The Dictator.”

Sacha Cohen’s movie a minstrel show

by Dean Obeidallah

(CNN) – Sacha Baron Cohen’s new movie, “The Dictator,” is a modern-day minstrel show judging from the trailer and Cohen’s comments promoting the film while dressed as the film’s star, “Gen. Shabazz Aladeen,” the leader of a fictitious Arab country.

Cohen, who is not of Arab heritage, plays this Arab character while sporting a long fake beard and speaking in a strong Arabic accent, which would be fine, except the character is showcasing the worst stereotypes of Arabs.

For example, at a news conference in New York City this week promoting his film, Cohen exclaimed: “Welcome devils of the Zionist media and death to the West.” He then joked about liking TV shows that showed Arab terrorists killing Americans and admiring fashion designer John Galliano for hating the Jews.

To me, this is essentially the same as white performers in blackface portraying black people in buffoonish negative stereotypes for the enjoyment of white America.

But I am not advocating a ban on offensive comments or the telling of culturally insensitive jokes. I certainly am not calling for more PC comedy. I’m not calling for a boycott of anyone nor asking for one more insincere “I’m sorry to all those who were offended by me” from a celebrity.

I’m in no way arguing that Arab culture is off-limits or cannot be mocked. I’m a comedian of Arab heritage and have performed comedy shows not only for Arab-American groups across the United States, but also in the Middle East, from Egypt to Qatar to Saudi Arabia. I find the biggest laughs are elicited when performers hold up a comic mirror to Arab culture.

But for some reason, the entertainment industry appears to truly enjoy ridiculing “brown” people, Arabs and Indians, and has no qualms about casting people not of our heritage to portray us. Indeed, just last week Popchips snack company found itself embroiled in a controversy because an ad showed Ashton Kutcher playing an Indian character in brownface, similar to what Cohen is doing in “The Dictator.”

Read the rest here…

Egypt ‘necrophilia law’? Hooey, utter hooey.

Posted in Loon Media, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2012 by loonwatch


The new myth is that Islam somehow promotes…*drum roll*…necrophilia!

While you can likely find a fatwa for everything, when the recent story claiming that the “Egyptian parliament was considering passing a law that would allow husbands to have sex with their wives after death” went viral, the BS meter shot up pretty high for us.

But not for many mainstream media outlets who ran with the story without fact checking, thereby reinforcing Islamophobic myths and anti-Islam talking points.

Despite the ardent desire on behalf of Islamophobes such as Robert Spencer (he saw it as evidence of Sharia’ takeover) for the story to be true it was revealed pretty quickly that it was a hoax.

Spencer still has not updated the story to point out that it was a hoax. Now a lot of the haters have egg on their faces, this is not the first or the last time that such lies will be promoted in the media.(h/t:ZH)

Egypt ‘necrophilia law’? Hooey, utter hooey.

(Christian Science Monitor)

Today, Egypt‘s state-owned Al Ahram newspaper published an opinion piece by Amr Abdul Samea, a past stalwart supporter of the deposed Hosni Mubarak, that contained a bombshell: Egypt’s parliament is considering passing a law that would allow husbands to have sex with their wives after death.

It was soon mentioned in an English language version of Al-Arabiya and immediately started zipping around social-networking sites. By this afternoon it had set news sites and the rest of the Internet on fire. It has every thing: The yuck factor, “those creepy Muslims” factor, the lulz factor for those with a sick sense of humor. The non-fact-checked Daily Mail picked it up and reported it as fact. Then Andrew Sullivan, who has a highly influential blog but is frequently lax about fact-checking, gave it a boost with an uncritical take. TheHuffington Post went there, too.

There’s of course one problem: The chances of any such piece of legislation being considered by the Egyptian parliament for a vote is zero. And the chance of it ever passing is less than that. In fact, color me highly skeptical that anyone is even trying to advance a piece of legislation like this through Egypt’s parliament. I’m willing to be proven wrong. It’s possible that there’s one or two lawmakers completely out of step with the rest of parliament. Maybe.

SEE ALSO – IN PICTURES: Behind the veil

But extreme, not to mention inflammatory claims, need at minimum some evidence (and I’ve read my share of utter nonsense in Al Ahram over the years). The evidence right now? Zero.

There was a Moroccan cleric a few years back who apparently did issue a religious ruling saying that husbands remained married to their wives in the first six hours after death and, so, well, you know. But that guy is far, far out on the nutty fringe. How fringe? He also ruled that pregnant women can drink alcohol. Remember, alcohol is considered haram, forbidden, by the vast majority of the world’s Muslim scholars. Putting an unborn child at risk to get drunk? No, that’s just not what they do. Whatever the mainstream’s unpalatable beliefs (there are plenty from my perspective) this isn’t one of them.

It’s important to remember that the structure of the Muslim clergy is, by and large, like that of a number of Protestant Christian sects. Anyone can put out a shingle and declare themselves a preacher. The ones to pay attention to are the ones with large followings, or attachment to major institutions of Islamic learning. The preacher in Morocco is like the preacher in Florida who spent so much time and energy publicizing the burning of Qurans.

Stories like this are a reminder of the downside of the Internet. It makes fact-checking and monitoring easier. But the proliferation of aggregation sites, newsy blog sites, and the general erosion of editorial standards (and on-the-ground reporters to do the heavy lifting) also spreads silliness faster than it ever could before.

Daily Mail Continues to Publish Inflammatory Headlines

Posted in Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , on April 21, 2012 by loonwatch


Daily Mail Eid rape headline

The above was a recent headline in the Daily Mail. One wonders if the Daily Mail would ever run an article titled, “Christian gang kidnaps and rapes two girls as part of their Christmas celebration?”

The wholesale misattribution of the criminal conduct of these men to Islam fits a long pattern of Islamophobic reporting at the Daily Mail.

Bob Pitt of Islamophobia-Watch breaks it down below :

Another inflammatory anti-Muslim headline in the Mail

That’s the headline to an article in today’s Daily Mail, reporting on the conviction of a group of men for abducting, assaulting and raping two girls, aged 15 and 16.

The article quotes one of the convicted men as claiming that sex with the two girls was consensual: “It was Eid. We treated them as our guests. OK, so they gave us [sex] but we were buying them food and drink.”

And that single quote is the sole the basis for an inflammatory headline that plays to the poisonous far-right racist myth that Muslims are directed by their faith to sexually molest young girls.

It’s worth noting that the report is written by Katherine Faulkner, who last year co-authored the equally irresponsible and misleading report of a drunken assault in Leicester, which led to an EDL protest against so-called “anti-white racism” in the town.

It is no accident that the Mail was one of Anders Breivik’s favourite English-language newspapers. It is cited numerous times in the manifesto he published to justify his terrorist killings and an article by Melanie Phillips is reproduced in its entirety.

Richard Silverstein: UK Jewish Chronicle Hosts BNP White Supremacist Blogger

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2012 by loonwatch


Our friend Richard Silverstein at Tikkun Olam was the first to expose the UK Jewish Chronicle’s hosting a White Supremacist blogger by the name of Carlos Cortiglia. It was largely through his efforts that the Jewish Chronicle removed Cortiglia’s posts, but not before Silverstein got screenshots. The UK Jewish Chronicle has not explained why they gave Cortiglia a platform, they seem to be just covering it up (h/t: Jenny):


by Richard Silverstein (Tikkun Olam)

UPDATE: I e mailed the Jewish Chronicle editor asking about Cortiglia’s status as a JC blogger.  No one replied, but Ben White has noticed that the BNP leader’s posts are no longer publicly available on the site.  So the response to my inquiry must’ve been to take the posts down.  Their approach seems to hush this up so the embarrassment will not be too public.  Hopefully, we can disabuse them of that notion.

Another JC reader notes that apparently any JC reader can set up their own personal blog on the newspaper’s website, which is what Cortiglia did.  I’ve corrected my post title and text accordingly.  Finally, Cortiglia’s four posts are were still available using these links (here and here).  Whether or not Cortiglia was a featured blogger or a reader-blogger on the JC site, the fact remains that they published four of his posts, made them publicly accessible for eight months, and gave him a platform he wouldn’t otherwise have enjoyed.

UPDATE I: The JC has totally removed Cortiglia’s four blog posts, but we have screenshots for every one.  The JC editor, Stephen Pollard, is lying when he told the Guardian’s Hug Muir that Cortiglia’s blog was taken down in September.  The accompanying screenshot disproves this, as the four posts were on the site and freely accessible till yesterday.  Such lies only exacerbate the offense of the JC hosting BNP PR for eight months.  I don’t understand why, when faced with embarrassment, people don’t admit to the offense and move on.  Lying only focuses more attention on the matter.

*  *  *

Stephen Sizer reports that the UK national Jewish community’s Jewish Chronicle has offered a blog-column toCarlos Cortiglia, a leader of the British National Party, the nation’s leading white supremacist political party.  Cortiglia is the BNP candidate in the London mayoral race.

I asked Electronic Intifada’s Asa Winstanley to put BNP’s politics in a U.S. context, and whether it could be compared to the Tea Party.  He replied that BNP carries more political weight, but its politics are more extreme:

Although they have moved towards a focus on Islamophobia and the counterjihad movement in recent years, their background is in the more traditional European neo-Nazi context and the National Front…

They used to be solidly anti-Semitic and it’s said [their national leader, Nick] Griffin used to deny the Holocaust. In recent years and especially since 9/11, they’ve decided they hate Muslims more than Jews or blacks so have put the focus on agitating against Muslims…

As part of their appeal to unite against Islam, they’ve made more recent attempts to distance themselves from anti-Semitism (although it can’t be far underneath the surface). Interestingly they are also now very pro-Israel.

This seems part of the growing convergence of the European far-right and pro-Israel ultranationalists.  A perfect representative of this is of course Anders Breivik, who’s just gone on trial for murdering 77 young Norwegians.  I’ve also written here about a group of Russian neo-Nazis who were welcomed to the Knesset by two far-right Jewish MKs.  The operative concept here seems to be that the enemy of my Muslim enemy is my friend, even if he’s a Nazi.

But white supremacists?  Is this how low the mainstream UK Jewish leadership are prepared to go?  To make common cause with those who only a decade or so ago admired Adolf Hitler and denied the Holocaust?

On a somewhat related subject, Electronic Intifada reports that the faux progressive UK Jewish rights group, Engage, surreptitiously accepted funding from the UK Jewish Board of Deputies in order to mount an anti-BDS campaign.  All the while Engage touted itself as an independent Jewish progressive voice, when it was a paid shill of the monied pro-Israel interests of the UK Jewish leadership.  When you’ve been doing this as long as I have you develop a sense of smell about groups like this.  They make a pretence of believing one thing and do something entirely different.  Engage is one, as is StandWithUs.

Another Fake Story About Muslims Demanding Special Treatment

Posted in Loon Blogs, Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2012 by loonwatch

One of the anti-Loons of 2011, Sheila Musaji dissects the anti-Muslim propaganda of Daily Mail, Telegraph and hate bloggers Pamela Geller and Bare Naked Islam.

Another fake story about Muslims demanding special treatment

by Sheila Musaji

First let’s see how the Islamophobes slanted yet another story, and then we’ll look at the facts.

Pamela Geller posted an article Imposing Islam: London University mulls alcohol ban.  She posts an article from The Telegraph with this introduction Another nail in the coffin. Here again we see the imposing of Islam on the public square, all part of the ongoing campaign of the islamization of the West, as meticulously documented in my book, Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance.  The bottom line is, if alcohol is haram for Muslims, then don’t drink it. Period. Don’t impose Islam on non-Muslims.

Bare Naked Islam posted DON’T BAN BOOZE, BAN MUSLIMS! referring to the same Telegraph article, with the introduction You are now entering yet another Sharia-Controlled Zone in England: London Metropolitan University has just announced that it is considering banning alcohol on campus because it is ‘offensive to Muslims.’

Here is a sample of the comments under the Bare Naked Islam story:

— Muslim slaughter innocent people as the devil himself…There is “Nothing” religious about the Muslim Satanic cult! Not only do the Muslim hate non-Muslim, they HATE dogs also…If you would see what Muslim do to dogs this to would make your blood boil! There is NO place for a Muslim on earth…You want peace in the world, then rid the world of the vile creatures called Muslims and Commies!! How many more Million among Millions of innocent people have to die before the vile creatures are killed?!

— Many people are offended by moslems; myself included, so why can’t we ban islam?

— The ENTIRE Western world ought to ban Muslims from entering their countries. Further, they also need to start a crusade to drive Islam out of sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, East Asia, and any part of the Americas, Australia/Oceania where it’s taken serious hold. Do them as they have done non-Muslims for 1400 years.

— If Muslims HATE our way of life so much, then why do they come in such huge numbers to our countries? Oh, I momentarily forgot; they come to CONQUER and impose Islamic sharia law where defenseless non-Muslims have NO human rights.

Now we get to the facts that set off this hate-fest.  Once again, just as in the incident at Catholic University when Muslim students were falsely accused of “wanting crosses removed”, no Muslim students made any request to the University in England regarding alcohol.  There was no “imposition”, no “demands”, no “creeping Sharia”, no attempt at “Islamization of the West”.

Engage, a British Muslim group in England published an article outlining what actually happened.

There is coverage in the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and the London Evening Standard on comments by the vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University that the university is considering creating ‘alcohol-free zones’.
He stated that this was to cater for a “21st-Century balance”, given its diverse student population. Almost 20% of the LMU’s students are Muslim, and according to the Vice Chancellor, Professor Malcolm Gillies “For many students now, coming to university is not about having a big drinking experience.”

The Guardian headlines with ‘University where 20% of students are Muslim considers alcohol-free zones’. The article states:

“A London university is considering establishing alcohol-free zones on its campuses because so many of its students consider drinking to be immoral.

“Professor Malcolm Gillies, vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University, said the selling of alcohol was an issue of “cultural sensitivity” at his institution where a fifth of students are Muslim.

“Speaking to a conference of university administrators in Manchester, he said that for many students, drinking alcohol was “an immoral experience”.

“He told the Guardian the makeup of his institution had changed considerably over the past few decades. In the past it had been “substantially Anglo Saxon – now 20% of our students are Muslim,” he said.

““We therefore need to rethink how we cater for that 21st-century balance. For many students now, coming to university is not about having a big drinking experience. The university bar is not as used as it used to be.”

“Alaa Alsamarrai, the vice-president of student affairs for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, said Muslim students wanted universities to be inclusive so that students “from all walks of life can come and share experiences”.

““Alcohol is a barrier to many Muslim students participating in freshers’ events and often in society activities, so we are in support of moves to have alcohol-free zones and events,” she said. “However, if a student wants to drink, we don’t want to ban them from doing that.”

Contrast this reporting with the sensationalist headlines in the Daily Mail and Evening Standard.

The Daily Mail headlines, ‘London University considers stopping sale of ‘immoral’ alcohol on campus because it offends their Muslim students’, whilst the ES headlines, ‘London university to ban alcohol because students say it’s ‘immoral’ ’

Both are factually inaccurate, as the restriction on alcohol selling would only apply to some areas on the campus, the so-called ‘alcohol-free zones’. This is something which is not clarified at all in the LES, whilst the Daily Mail makes it clear much later in its article, where it states, “Professor Gillies said he would work with the student body to move towards having areas on campus where ‘one serves alcohol and others don’t’”.

Moreover, the Daily Mail’s claim that the move is to be considered on grounds that it ‘offends Muslims’ is ludicrous. Nowhere in the comments of Professor Gillies is there the suggestion that the arrangement is motivated because alcohol causes offence to a particular group. Rather he states that it is an issue of “cultural sensitivity”, and that he is “raising the issue of changing values in student populations and the question of how a responsible university responds.”

The Daily Mail’s report is typical of its habit of publishing stories on the latest thing to ‘offend’ Muslims. Such sensationalist, and irresponsible reporting, serves to embed the false impression that Britain’s Muslim communities require ‘special’ or ‘exceptional’ treatment, apart from the rest of society.

Islamophobia Watch reports on another important detail left out of the irrational Islamophobic accounts.

The right-wing press has latched on to an interview with Prof Malcolm Gillies of London Metropolitan University in which he reportedly said he wants to create alcohol free areas on campus out of “cultural sensitivity”.

… Also worth noting is the following statement by the London Met branch of the University and College Union:

1. London Met Uni has some 25,000+ students studying in over a dozen buildings – all of which have alcohol-free coffee bars/student areas, across two distinctly separate campus areas in North and East London, with only a single student bar at each campus (the only places that serve alcohol at the university).

2. There have been no complaints or demands from students directly or via the students union for alcohol to be either banned, or partially-banned, on campus.

3. Gillies is currently selling off large sections of the university estate, including ‘The Hub’ –the student union facility (inc student bar) at the City Campus. The VC’s comments need to be seen in that light – i.e., they are simply a convenient cover for reducing student social facilities.

4. The language adopted by the VC in this regard is extremely divisive and is already stoking tensions where none had previously existed between the multiplicity of London Met’s student constituencies. The fact that the EDL (English Defence League) and other extreme Right and fascist groups have latched on to this is a major concern.

5. If Gillies were serious about student welfare and wider social and cultural equality and fairness, why has he personally defended the following university management decisions:

i) direct links with the Uzbekistan regime – noted for the torture of its opponents (primarily Muslim incidentally), and forced sterilisation of woman (see this week’s BBC report on the issue –

ii) cutting of most of the university’s student chaplaincy service – including the forced redundancy of the Imam;

iii) the drastic reduction in the opening hours of the Women’s Library (down to only 1 day per week), and its eventual closure;

All of this is happening at a time of huge cuts to student courses/modules – including the majority of the ‘critical’ subjects – such as philosophy and history, and mass redundancies amongst staff – both academic and student service related.

At best, Gillies utterances are a crass example of the disconnect becoming more and more evident at London Met between university management and the staff and students they supposedly represent. At worst, it is a quite cynical attempt to stir-up a divisive atmosphere in order to deflect attention from the far more serious issue of the deliberate destruction of a once proud inner city ethnically mixed and vibrant modern university.

After this interview with Prof. Gillies was published, the BBC asked some Muslims  what they thought about possible alcohol free zones.  Here are a couple of the responses:

Alaa Alsamarrai, the vice-president of student affairs for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), said: “We want our universities and unions to be inclusive – where students from all walks of life can come together and share experiences.  “Alcohol is a barrier to many Muslim students participating in freshers events and often in society activities – so we’re in support of moves to have some alcohol-free zones and events.  “Though if a student wants to drink in their lifestyle, we of course don’t want to ban that.”

Farooq Murad, Muslim Council of Britain secretary general, said that thousands of Muslims attended university and as far as he was aware there had never been a demand for an alcohol ban on campuses.  “There has always been a balance between social life and studying. We believe university authorities should be able to decide what works best for them in managing their campus space. Muslims have studied at universities for decades and we cannot imagine that others drinking alcohol will impede them from continuing to attend.”

The Times Higher Education reports on MORE FACTS that completely undermine the Islamophobic take on this story.

The president of London Metropolitan University students’ union has called for the vice-chancellor to apologise after he suggested the sale of alcohol should be banned from parts of the campus because some Muslim students believed drinking was “immoral”.

Claire Locke said Malcolm Gillies had “offended” Muslim students by generalising about their beliefs. There had been no calls from students to create alcohol-free areas on the London Met campus, she said.

Ms Locke argued that London Met’s Muslim students were “respectful of other people’s cultures”. Muslim students’ union officers were currently fighting for a new student bar to be opened at the university’s City campus, she added.

Outright lies or distortions about anything concerning Islam or Muslims is so common among the Islamophobes that on TAM we have an article collection that we try to update regularly called What Everyone “Knows” About Islam and Muslims.  The demonization industry has become so prolific that it is difficult to keep up with the updates as they churn this crap out daily.

The most commonly repeated false claims about Muslims and Islam are that:

Everyone “knows” that most or all terrorists are Muslims, and there are no Christian and no Jewish terrorists (or terrorists of any other religious stripe), and that Muslims are all militant,  inherently violent, more likely to engage in violence against civilians, and more likely than other Americans to be radicalized.

Everyone “knows” that Muslims are not interested in dialogue.  That Muslims don’t help Christians in need.  That Muslims can’t have Christians as friends, and are anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, and intolerant of other faiths.

Everyone “knows” that Muslims don’t unequivocally denounce terrorism, that American Muslim leaders have not responded to radicalization in their community,  that mosques are the source of radicalization, that 85% of mosques are run by radicals, that Muslims don’t cooperate with law enforcement.

Everyone “knows” that Muslims are not equivalent to real Americans, that they are the enemy within, and a fifth column,  that good Muslims can’t be good Americans, that Muslims are not loyal to America, that they are not a part of our American heritage,

Everyone “knows” that Islam itself is the problem and makes Muslims “backward”, that Muslims have made no contribution to the West, that Islam is “of the devil”, a Crescent menace, a “green peril”, that was spread by the sword,  an “evil encroaching on the United States”, and not a religion.

Everyone “knows” that this is a Christian nation, which the Muslims are trying to take over, starting with getting an Eid stamp which is the first step towards shariah law which is a threat to America, and a threat to our judicial system, by purposefully having more children than others to increase their numbers, and they will be the majority in this country in 20 years.  Muslims are a threat to America

Everyone “knows” that Muslims have no respect for the Constitution, they don’t obey the laws of the United States,  that they are opposed to freedom of speech, don’t allow and freedom of religion.

Everyone “knows” that Muslims are given a pass by the elite media.  It’s “us versus them”.

Everyone “knows” that the Muslims’ goal is world domination under a Caliphate, and the proposed Cordoba House in NYC is a demonstration of supremacism and triumphalism, and that Muslims planned to open it on the anniversary of 9/11.

Everyone “knows” that Muslims don’t speak out against extremism or terrorism, and even those Muslims who do speak up or seem moderate are simply lying or practicing taqiyyah.

Everyone “knows” that the Qur’an is uniquely violent, that the Islamic concept of God doesn’t include God’s love, and does not include the concept of a Golden Rule,  that Allah is a moon god.

Everyone “knows” that Islam is a monolith and all Muslims are the same, like the “Borg”.  This means that every act committed by an individual who is a Muslim is directly attributable to Islam, and never because the individual is crazy, criminal, or perverted.

Everyone “knows” that Muslims don’t have a sense of humor

Everyone “knows” that Muslims are like the Fascists and Nazis and that in fact they supported those movements.

The problem is that what “everyone knows” is wrong.  These self-righteous and incorrect statements are usually followed by a demand that the Muslim community do something about whatever is the false flag of the day or face the inevitable consequences.

In addition to these “everyone knows” statements of demonization and misrepresentation, there is also a whole industry of simply connecting with Islam or Muslims with any negative idea, event, or societal trend (even when there is no sane connection to make).  These I think of as “Through the Looking Glass” claims.

For example, lots of “news” items never happened, or are simply not true.

— Arabs didn’t celebrate 9/11 at a Dunkin Donuts in New Jersey.
— Budweiser did not pull all its product from the shelves of a convenience store where there was celebration of the terrorist attacks – this never happened.
— The Muslim statement of faith (Shahada) is not an expression of hate.
— An American Missionary in Africa didn’t face possible murder charges and hanging because of a traffic accident.
There is no verse of the Qur’an on “The Wrath of the Eagle”.
— The supposed bomb threat made by an Arizona student that led to an evacuation of the school was a hoax by non-Muslim students.
— The story that Iran was considering forcing Jews to wear a yellow star appeared in several publications and it was totally false.
— The story that Iran was going to attack the U.S. and/or Israel with nuclear weapons on August 22, 2006 was a lie.
— The slaying of the New Jersey Coptic family was falsely charged to Muslims.
— The story about the British banks banning piggy banks so as not to offend Muslims never happened.
— Muslims are not more likely to support terrorism and violence than Christians or Jews.
— Muslims did not destroy the Library of Alexandria.
— Nurses in Britain were not “ordered to drop everything and turn Muslims’ beds toward Mecca five times daily”.
— There is no  Muslim sword through the 41-cents mark on the U.S. Eid stamp.
— Sirhan Sirhan is a Christian, not a Muslim.
— The Virginia Tech massacre had no connection with Islam.
— The University of Oklahoma bombing had no connection with Islam.
— A bus driver in Britain didn’t tell passengers to get off the bus so he could pray.
— Rachel Ray’s Paisley scarf is not a symbol of “murderous Palestinian Jihad” (and neither is a Keffiyah).
— A Muslim student in Florida did not refuse to stand for the pledge of allegiance.
— There were no Muslims acting suspiciously on Air Tran flight 297.
— Wearing a tee-shirt with Arabic writing on it does not make a person dangerous.
— A Madrassah is simply a school.
— The zebibah (prayer bruise) on some Muslims foreheads is not a sign of a “commitment to jihad”.
— There is no “spit jihad”
— There is no hijabi employment jihad
— There is no Muslim “marriage to important men” jihad plot
— Jihad is not terrorism.
— Ashura is not a “Muslim blood festival”.
— Muslims are not forbidden to have non-Muslims as friends.
— The Shahada (declaration of faith) is not  an “expression of hate” that is “closely identified” with terrorism.
— The Nuclear Security Summit logo is an atom on a circular path, not an Islamic symbol.
— The U.S. Missile Defense Logo is not evidence of ‘Submission To Shariah’, and neither is the Flight 93 memorial.
— The Google Veteran’s Day logo doesn’t display a secret Muslim agenda.
— Muslims also died on 9/11.
— Barack Obama is not a Muslim, but so what if he was?
— Mattel is not promoting Sharia with a subversive doll that supposedly says “Islam is the light”.
— The Hamas “child bride” incident was nothing of the sort.
— The best buy Happy Eid statement on an ad was not a subversive attempt to “water down” American holidays
— The “Muslim plot” to kill the Pope never happened
—The story about a flight from London to Malta being stopped because a Muslim man was praying in the aisle was a lie
— Five American Muslim soldiers never plotted to poison their fellow soldiers.
— There is no devious Muslim plot to groom attractive Muslim women to marry important men or politicians – an Islamic/socialist/left wing plot to advance a pro-Muslim Agenda and take over America.
— Straight prayer lines, beards, hijabs, gender segregation during prayers, wearing a watch on your right hand, wearing “non-western” clothing, etc. are not “Sharia adherent behaviors” that might correlate with the promotion of violence.
— Muslim environmentalists are not part of a sinister plot to colonize the west.
— All of the rapes Oslo, Norway over the past three years were not “committed by Muslim immigrants using rape as a weapon of cultural terrorism”.
— There was no Muslim plot hatched in an on-line forum to attack British Jews over Israel’s actions in Gaza, and there was no “Islamist” named Abu Islam making these fake postings.
—Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazd did not justify and provide Islamic guidelines for the raping of prisoners.  The story was a lie.
— Keith Ellison’s use of the Qur’an in the photo op after his swearing in was not “undermining American culture”
—There is no Muslim scholar named Sheikh Haron, and everything he does or says as a supposed member of the Muslim community is a lie.
—Muslims do not block New York streets to pray every Friday.
—There is no plot to have terrorist babies born in the U.S.
—Stephen Coughlin, a Pentagon anti-terrorism specialist was not ousted because his superiors thought he was too critical of Islam
—The Holocaust museum shooting had nothing to do with Islam.
— Anders Breivik’s terrible massacre in Norway was not “a jihad” or even commited by a Muslim
— The word Slav does not come from the word for slave and has nothing to do with Islam.  Slavery is not only a Muslim problem.
— There is no Muslim vehicular jihad plot
— All rapes in Norway have not been committed by Muslims (not even most)
— Whole Foods offering halal products during Ramadan was not “shilling for jihadist interests”
— There is no plot by Muslim cabdrivers in New York City to impose Sharia on America
— Muslims are not more likely than non-Muslims to approve of violence against civilians (PEW poll)
— Muslims are not intolerant of other faiths (Gallup poll)
— Claims about Muslim inferiority due to “inbreeding” are racist and a misrepresentation of the issue
— The photo of a Yemeni passenger on the Mavi Marmara holding a dagger was totally misrepresented
— There was no assassination attempt on an EDL leader in Britain
— Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf did not make a comment blaming “the Jews” for 9-11
— “Islamophobia” is not an “attempt to silence freedom of speech”
— There was no Muslim Thanksgiving turkey “stealth jihad” plot
— The ridiculous complaints about crosses at Catholic University were not made by Muslims
— The White House Iftar was not a “ghoulish” or “disgraceful” attempt to appease Muslims
— Muslims don’t hate dogs
— Muslim handshaking customs are not an attempt to force Sharia on others.
— The tragic Belgian massacre by Nordine Amrani was not a “jihad” attack and Amrani wasn’t a Muslim
— The Hollywood shooter, Tyler Brehm was not a Muslim
— An Eid party for Muslim special needs kids was not any sort of “stealth jihad”
— Requesting reasonable religious accommodation in the public sphere is not “creeping Sharia”.
— Muslim students did not “target Jewish students” with eviction notices at a Florida University.
— A spelling bee for students at Muslim schools was not an example of the inability of Muslims to integrate.
(Note: click on the links to see responses to particular claims or incidents

Where do these false claims come from?  They come from a relatively small group of individuals and organizations involved in an Islamophobia industry.  Please see A Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry where The American Muslim (TAM) has collected information about these individuals in an easy to use format.  Just click on the links provided to go to in-depth articles and backgrounders on these individuals.

Eli Clifton: Time For The National Review To Take A Stand Against Islamophobia

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Media with tags , , , , on April 13, 2012 by loonwatch


Don’t hold your breath:

Time For The National Review To Take A Stand Against Islamophobia

The National Review has been cleaning house over the past week. Last week the conservative publication fired John Derbyshire for a racist rant and today the magazine terminated its relationship with Robert Weissberg for his ties to a white nationalist group.

But while the National Review has decided to very publicly purge itself of white supremacists and racists, bigotry toward Muslims appears to go unchallenged in the pages of the magazine and on its blog, National Review Online (NRO). NRO contributing editor Andrew McCarthy, who accused President Obama of standing with the Muslim Brotherhood against 9/11 families in his post “The President Stands With Sharia,” told Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) hearing on the radicalization of American Muslims:

What “radicalizes” Muslims is Islam — the mainstream interpretation of it. The “radicals” propagating it do not need the “captive audience” provided by the prison environment. The “radicalization” is happening in plain sight.

The denigration of Islam and Muslim Americans isn’t limited to McCarthy’s screeds. A number of noted Islamophobes are regularly given free rein to guest post on NRO’s site or write in the magazine, including:

  • Robert Spencer, who just last month concluded that “Islamic supremacists” may have subverted the “U.S. defense against jihad terror,” because the man who heads the Central Intelligence Agency’s Counterterrorism Center — and is credited with crippling Al Qaeda and other militant networks in Pakistan — was identified as a Muslim in a Washington Post profile.
  • David Horowitz, who, in an interview last year, stated, “What has the Arab world contributed except terror?…The theocratic, repressive Arabic states do no significant science, no significant arts and culture.”
  • Daniel Pipes, who, in the pages of The National Review in 1990, wrote, “All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.”

The National Review has been notified of the Islamophobic statements made by a number of their contributors in the past. To date, they appear to have decided to do nothing. Perhaps now is the time for The National Review to take a hard stance against all bigotry, intolerance and racism.