America and The Islam Problem
By: Ashique Nilambur
‘Islam is the motherload of bad ideas’ American right Media’s repeats after Sam Harris
The Hollywood actor was referred as “Imam Ben Affleck”[i] and “a caliphate crusade”[ii] for his defense on Islam in a recent T. V appearance in HBO. Ben Affleck described depictions of Islam by T. V. host Bill Maher and guest Sam Harris as ‘gross’ and ‘racist’[iii]. Bill Maher accused Islam ‘the only religion that acts like the Mafia’ and ‘f*cking kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book’. Sam Harris further added stating ‘Islam is the motherload of bad ideas’, for which Ben responded that it is completely stupid to even suggest that on 1. 6 billion Muslims all over the world. Ben Affleck was attacked by American (right) media for ‘defending the theocrats’.
On the October 7 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, David Webb accused Affleck of living in a ‘unicorn- like world’ and called Islam ‘an intolerable religion’[iv]. Bill Hammer, the Fox News Host defended Maher against claims that his sentiments are bigoted, asking, “How do you define what’s bigotry and what’s just reality?” implying that Islam is rooted to radicalism and religious extremism[v].
On the October 6 edition of her radio show, Laura Ingraham detailed atrocities committed in the name of Islam by Al Qaeda on September 11, 2001, and asked listeners “what is it going to take” for liberals like Affleck to “wake up” to militant affiliates of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In an editorial of the National Review Magazine the editor, Rich Lowry launched into the Affleck for not accepting “frank truths about the Muslim World’ reflecting the words of Harris and Maher[vi].
You might think that Ben Affleck have defended ISIS, or Al- Qaeda or ‘extremist countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran. No, that is not the case. But Affleck and fellow panelists Nicholas Kristof and Michael Steele expressed concern that both Harris and Maher were conflating the beliefs of relative minorities with those of the broader Muslim population worldwide. He accused their religious stereotyping being the result of Islamophobia and ‘bigotry towards Muslims as people’.
The many ideological issues like the role of liberal Americans in the Muslim world, the role of liberals Muslims, the humanitarian Imperialist approach of the West and America in particular, and on radical Islam are out of the scope of this article, rather it aims to remind the capitalist, imperialist notion of Islam and how its Medias promote anti- Islam sentiments and prejudices. Ben wasn’t talking about the so called ‘radical Islam’ rather he was talking about the West- certified Moderate Muslims or the liberal Muslims. He says: “How about more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punch women, who just go to school, have some sandwiching, pray five times a day, and don’t do any of the things you are saying of all Muslims. It’s stereotyping.” Mehar was keen to point that all Muslims are radicals and violent.
It reminds me the goals of two workshops taken place in America, one in 1992 and the other ten years written by Carl W Ernst writes in his preface to his book ‘Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World’[vii]. The 1992 workshop aimed ‘to convince Americans that Muslims are human beings’ and the 2002 workshop came to the same conclusion, that ‘the real issues is to humanize Muslims in the eyes of non- Muslims’. Twelve years later, now, we could possibly bring the same conclusion, but more vigorously.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of wisdomislam.org
[vii] Ernst, W Carl. (2004) “Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary Islam”. Edinburgh University Press