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Philip Giraldi: The Islamophobia Excuse

4 April 2012 General 17 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

The Islamophobia Excuse

It seems that the Republican presidential aspirants’ fervor to confront Islam has receded a bit with the decline and fall of Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, but one can likely still count on Rick Santorum to come up with some bon mots on the threat posed by Shariah law. Those who fear that hands will soon be lopped off shoplifters caught in Cleveland appear to be making much ado about nothing, but there is a much broader and more insidious agenda that is really playing out behind the scenes. Perry, Gingrich, and Santorum are all smart enough to know that Islamic law is hardly poised to dominate the U.S. legal system, but they are using it as the wedge issue to deny the patriotism of Muslims in general and fuel the demands to exercise a military option against Iran.

Promoting fear of Shariah law is essentially a red herring. There are more than 50 predominantly Muslim countries in the world, and, while most have elements of Shariah in their civil and family law, only two have it as their criminal codes. They are Saudi Arabia and Iran, one a close ally of the United States and the West and the other currently playing the cameo role of a threat to the entire world, to borrow a phrase from the eminent Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel. The countries that do not have Shariah as their criminal codes have modeled their laws on European and American models, some borrowing from Roman law and others from British common law.

Depicting Islam as manifestly medieval, backward, and cruel is not new, as it has been going on in one form or another since the Israelis and Palestinians first locked horns. Recognizing that the propaganda that is being ground out in the mainstream media derives from that conflict, it is easy to understand why Muslims are persistently portrayed in negative terms. And it should be equally unsurprising to learn that those who are denigrating Muslims and Islam are almost invariably among the most uncritical supporters of Likudist Israel and all its works.

The list of those who are passionate about how bad Islam is has a familiar ring to it. It is led by the truly vicious and fanatical like Pamela Geller and includes John Bolton, David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes, and Charles Krauthammer. Geller has written that there is “a systematic campaign to impose Shariah on the secular marketplace” and to pervert the justice system in favor of Islamic exemptions, a theme that has been picked up by Gingrich and Santorum, both of whom favor pointless laws banning Shariah in any form. In a milder form, the same viewpoint is reflected in both the news coverage and the editorial pages of newspapers like The New York PostThe Washington Post, and even The New York Times. The arguments being made are not necessarily intended to convince anyone other than those who are already more than half onboard, but they are designed to keep the issue of how Muslims are not quite like the rest of us on the back burner to so that the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and other Arabs will somehow always seem suspect. It also fuels other narratives that the neoconservatives and their friends support, like perpetual warfare against Islamic countries to bring about regime changes, suggesting that there is something that is not quite right in the way that Muslim countries govern themselves. The real objective is, however, spelled out in the paper that the neocons presented to Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996, “A Clean Break,” advocating the breakup of Arab countries into smaller components that would be perpetually at war with themselves, thereby assuring Israeli predominance in the region. As is so often the case, the conversation in the United States is really all about Israel.

The broader agenda of Islamophobia also fuels arguments to continue to stay the course in places like Afghanistan. Urinating on corpses, hunting and killing local farmers for sport, shooting women and children in the middle of the night, and burning Qurans are all justified because American soldiers find themselves in a difficult and stress-filled environment where the enemies are everywhere and are manifestly not quite real people in the same sense that boys from Kansas are. Muslims become abstractions, and there is the undercurrent of “Don’t they know we are there to help them?” The rarely spelled-out subtext in all the narratives that seek to explain or mitigate the barbaric behavior on the part of America’s finest is that the Afghans are not quite like us and they are not being grateful enough. Their otherness comes partly from the perception that they are primitive but even more from the fact that they are Muslims.

Moving beyond Shariah, those who wish to marginalize Muslims in American life point to the terrorism arrests of Muslims who are American citizens or legal residents of this country. There have indeed been such cases, but a careful reading of the court records suggests that the arrests are mostly what once would have been considered entrapment. A disgruntled young man toys with jihadist websites, is identified, and suddenly finds himself with a new friend who presents him with an unusable bomb to blow himself up in Times Square. He is then arrested and finds himself facing 20 years in prison. The reality, however,  is that of 14,000 murders in the United States in 2010, not a single one was attributed to a Muslim terrorist.

So why should Americans hate or fear Muslims? If it were only the idiosyncrasies of their culture that were an irritant, one would reasonably observe that the United States has absorbed plenty of cultures and lifestyles equally outside of the Western European mainstream. The fact is that the Islamophobia we are currently seeing really has two objectives. First and foremost it is to protect Israeli interests, making Muslims appear to be a threat and a group that is irredeemably un-American, while Israelis are presented as people who are more or less just like us. That means that only one voice will be heard on the Middle East, which is precisely what has taken place. The second objective is to justify the seemingly unending series of wars in Asia, presenting the local people as lacking in the civilized moral and political values that we all hold dear. Ironically, this latter argument is self-defeating, as it is the foreign wars of the past 11 years that have stripped Americans of many of their liberties and constitutional rights. What we choose to fear in Islam and deplore in Muslim regimes — the lack of individual rights — has come home to us.


  1. FOX news carried a report today of a 17 year old Christian in Egypt who was sentenced to 3 years in prison for posting Mohammed cartoons on his facebook page. Muslims in Egpyt also rioted and destroyed Christian homes over these cartoons.I know of no other religion where people who are NOT even of that religion face prison over cartoons.Stories like this that appear over and over again are what make people see Shariah as dangerous and unacceptable in free societies.

  2. Free speech is misnomer, used against Islam and Muslims. Holocaust denial is a crime in many European countries.. where is free speech… Why use free speech argument to heart the feelings of others …

  3. “suddenly finds himself with a new friend who presents him with an unusable bomb to blow himself up in Times Square.” i think your boy has confused the christmas tree bomber with the times square bomber. but i understand, too many bombers to keep straight. i love the picking one year’s stats. “14,000 murders in the United States in 2010, not a single one was attributed to a Muslim terrorist.” wow only 14,000 murders in 2010. i thought we have average over 25,000 since the 90s? guess i’ll check the link. but for any year to have “terrorist” murders is an anomaly, i hope? obviously in a nation of over 300 million people and only 10 million muslim the odds of there being muslim terrorist is pretty low. one would hope the odds of any terrorist deaths would be low to begin with.

  4. i gave the link a quick scan. don’t see the word terrorist in it at all. but it looks like blacks are quite violent. and

    “The year 2010 was overall the safest year in almost forty years. The recent overall decrease has reflected upon all significant types of crime, with all violent and property crimes having decreased and reached an all-time low. The homicide rate in particular has decreased 51% between its record high point in 1991 and 2010.”

    could someone read it for me. i’ve been told i need to get a life.

    did i stay on subject alright.

    “There have indeed been such cases, but a careful reading of the court records suggests that the arrests are mostly what once would have been considered entrapment.” no link to these court records? how avout just a list of the cases? what is meant by “would have”? before the supreme court ruled that is a defendent shows a propensity to commit the crime, it’ not entrapment. that was in the 70’s right? so let me see if i have this straight. the fbi sees a muslim veiwing jihadist website, the send an undercover guy to befriend the muslim. says hey why don’t we blow up some americans. and the muslim says yes, that’s entrapment? i quess said muslim hasn’t read the sublime koran.

  5. some lite reading for the author. lol

    “Nobody was injured. This figure represents a
    significant decrease from 2010, when six
    Muslim-Americans carried out terrorist
    attacks, five of them joining militants in
    Somalia and Yemen and one carrying out a
    domestic attack: Faizal Shahzad’s attempted
    car-bomb near Times Square in New York
    City, which would have killed hundreds of
    people, perhaps more than a thousand, if the
    bomb had been constructed properly.”

  6. Ok so only 2 countries have it in their judicial code. Let’s look at a new more modern and touted moderate Islamic country Tunisia.

    For those that do not want to read links: it discusses 2 men being jailed for facebook cartoons of Mohammad. Each has been cited “to seven years in prison for violation of morality, and disturbing public order,” said Chokri Nefti, a justice ministry spokesman.”

    These people also have a television station owner in jail for broadcasting a movie that had a depiction of Allah.

    People read stories like this and it does make them afraid. It is not Islamaphobia as there is depiction after depiction placed, almost daily, of Islamic leaders persecuting those that do not believe as they do. While I do agree that Sharia does not pose much of a threat to the United States, I would not close my eyes to the human rights abuses it inflicts on people daily all over the world. I realize that people want to sugar coat Sharia as simply a set of beliefs that distinguish the Islamic faith and is no threat to the average person. However, time and time again this view is shown to be wrong in a diverse number of countries, to make light of it simply insults and ignores those who have been and currently are being held under its Iron Shod Boots.

  7. what about “Sweater Vest Law” ???

  8. Go LIBERALS, don’t vote for Republicans!

  9. Santorum is a hypocrite in the extreme, given that he wants to establish Christianity as the official religion of America, and has stated that JFK’s speech about the necessity of separating church and state made him physically nauseated.

  10. …and the Christian version!

  11. I grew up in the ‘christian’ church. I left the church in order to keep from losing my faith and have searched many years for the TRUTH. I have read more of the bible than 10 average people, and more times. I have begun a study of the Quran and find it beautiful. To me the biggest difference between a Muslim and a Christian is this…. a Muslim will remind you that Allah knows what is in your heart and that you will be held accountable to Allah for how you treat ALL of his creation. A Christian will tell you that he knows what is in God’s heart and that the Christian himself will hold you accountable for behaviors he dictates in God’s name.

    Somehow the statement that the Muslims are the oppressive ones does not float ————– in the United States they make silly laws and we are told that we are responsible to KNOW the laws…. “ignorance of the laws is no excuse” …. to me, it would make sense to know the laws of the country you are living in… even more so if they have what you claim are laws of oppression// the 17 year old KNEW it was illegal to post ANY image and claim it was Mohammad, ANY image, let alone one of ridicule. He choose to post the ridicule image KNOWING there would be consequences. It does not matter if he is Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or even Atheist, claiming a certain religion should not put anyone above the law…… or are you folks claiming that the ridicule of another’s faith should fall under religious freedom….. if you claim to be Christian ………………… gosh you sound so very teabag and GOP ‘ ish.

  12. Islamophobia and Shariaphobia are tactics used by politicians to distract themselves from the real and pressing issues

  13. Obviously these republican candidates for US president sounds like dirty infidels, insane gangsters and extremist..! Even the whole world cannot do away with Islam as it is the system of worship brought to mankind by ALLAH..! And its a choice and one shouldnt force the other to accept it. Allah knows best. So it christianity. Americans should learn something about Islam coz why do you fear something you dont know.

  14. Catt, you’re so wrong in so many ways it makes it hard to respond. The depth of emotion you elicit when you agree to place people in jail because of something they drew or said almost overwhelms me. Your statement on how Christians think is totally off base as I have been a Christian all my life and never been around one that thinks as you say they do.

    As to oppression, I have, however, seen many news articles about acid being thrown on girls, people getting heads cut off in soccer fields, Christians going to jail for telling others of their faith, the inability to decorate Christian churches, the inability of females to go to school, an old woman arrested for going to market without an escort due to everyone in her family being dead, women being forced to prove they are virgins, girls being married young and divorced without cause by same man, forbidding others to exercise their religious beliefs, and the lists go on and on.

    The statement that Muslim nations are not oppressive leads me to believe you are vastly ignorant or that you simply have the ability to string together a series of words in order to illicit an emotional response. There is no way you can believe that statement.

  15. Douchebags are the only ones who seem to get elected. Real news will be when there is a woman president or they dont use fear and hate as a tool to accomplish anything.

  16. Rail against Shariah law all you want. For one thing, very little of it is based in the Koran, and some of it is even contradictory. But more importantly, Shariah is no threat whatsoever to the United States. Very few muslims occupy decision-making roles in government, nowhere have the less savory tenets of shariah actually been enforced, and I doubt that the tiny percentage of the US that Muslims make up could possibly force the issue physically or legally. Yes some, American Muslims have tried to kill people. So have African Americans, American Christians, American Jews, etc. Yet i don’t see anyone getting targeted for visiting KKK websites, and of course everyone cries foul over African Americans being arrested for simply associating with gangs and criminal elements. Yet it’s ok to do the same to Muslims?

    Also, consider the possible reason that they are driven to such rage. You live in a country where your religion is constantly characterized as being violent and neccessitating the killing of others. According to labeling theory, if an entire society makes that association, than someone with that attribute is naturally going to fulfill it due to influence. If people stopped spreading that association around, perhaps we would see less Muslim Americans falling prey to that influence and never be tempted to enact revenge on a society that has rejected them

  17. catt,

    let me see if i follow. “Christian himself will hold you accountable for behaviors he dictates in God’s name.” then you say “He choose to post the ridicule image KNOWING there would be consequences.” so what is the difference? muslims are holding the 17 year old in your scenerio “accountable”? you make no sense.

    “are you folks claiming that the ridicule of another’s faith should fall under religious freedom” no it’s called freedom of speech. lol i hope you aren’t an american. ignorance of the law is not a defence in court. but your ignorance of the constitution is astounding. in america you can ridicule religions all you want. jesus and muhammad may have been forward thinkers for 2000 and 1400 years ago. but today they would be considered morons for some of the “laws” they layed down.


    you’re right muslims don’t currently have the numbers to impose their will. at least on a national level. but that may not hold true for too much longer at some local levels. perhaps wearing shorts in dearborn maybe labeled as deviant in the next 100 years.

    outsiders was a great movie. poor greasers. so american society has rejected muslims? news to me. why do we keep importing more of them then?

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