“Islamophobia’s” roots in anti-black racism

Tariq Nelson

Posted Apr 21, 2007      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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“Islamophobia’s” roots in anti-black racism

by Tariq Nelson

Last week, Blogger Umar Lee posted a picture that ultimately proved to be a brilliant demonstration that “Islamophobes” (I really don’t like that term and prefer anti-Muslim bigot) are indeed the ideological inheritors of the racists that used to lynch blacks in the early twentieth century.

Umar posted a picture of a lynching with a gathering of racists around and wrote in the caption: “1950 Little Green Footballs Gathering”. This simple picture and a few words from Umar drew the ire of Charles Johnson, the moderator of Little Green Footballs - and anti-Muslim bigot and racist – as well as other anti-Muslim bloggers. These anti-Muslim bloggers posted links to the picture for their legions of readers to comment at Umar’s site. And did they ever!

Umar received a blizzard of hate mails and racist comments on his blog from these people. Many of these people called him a “raghead” and “nigger lover” (because he is a white convert) and other things that can not be reprinted on this forum because it was so despicable. Umar had successfully demonstrated that the people of these anti-Muslim blogs are certainly the ideological descendents of the KKK.

In the early twentieth century, the KKK used to use the exact same tactics as the current anti-Muslim bigots do on the masses. In those days, since there was no internet, the main medium of passing off hate was the church where the Pastor was often the Grand Wizard of the local chapter of the KKK.

The Grand Wizard/Pastor would relentlessly speak of the dangers of blacks and how they were inferior and never ever give an example of a good black person. They presented themselves as the victims of blacks who were all aiming rape their daughters and plotting to take over and subjugate them. That is why the v ictims of lynchings were usually black men, often accused of assaulting or raping whites. Others “committed suicide”

They dehumanized them with names such as “niggers” and “coons” that threatened the “racial purity” of whites. The ultimate aim was to dehumanize blacks to the point where killing them became morally acceptable. After giving hateful sermons and public speeches about this “looming danger”, the dehumanization began to sink in. Lynchings began soon after that.

Because blacks had been so dehumanized by these racists, a person like Emmitt Till could be beaten to death for simply whistling at a white woman. Several whites could get away with murder in spite of overwhelming evidence against them because the all white jurys would refuse to convict a white man for murdering a black man. And they would see all of this as morally correct and good.

In 1887, in Thibodaux, Louisiana, a mob of whites killed between 20 and 300 blacks.

A black newspaper described the scene:

“Six killed and five wounded” is that the daily papers here say, but from an eye witness to the whole transaction we learn that no less than thirty-five Negroes were killed outright. Lame men and blind women shot; children and hoary-headed grandsires ruthlessly swept down! The Negroes offered no resistance; they could not, as the killing was unexpected. Those of them not killed took to the woods, a majority of them finding refuge in this city”

After that, lynching died off for a short period until the 1915 release of the film “The Birth of a Nation” which played a vital role in the dehumanization of blacks. In this film a black militia pillages a white home and attempts to rape the women, but are rescued by Confederate soldiers. Later in the film a white man from the North went into the South along with his biracial protégé with the aim of empowering blacks via election fraud.

The film also depicts a murderous former slave named “Gus” who (what else) has designs on white women and crudely proposes to marry one. When she refuses, he chases her into the forest where she became trapped on a cliff. She leaps to her death to avoid letting herself be raped. In response, the “heroic” Ku Klux Klan hunts Gus down and lynches him.

Then the biracial protégé tries to (you guessed it) force yet another white woman to marry him. Disguised Klansmen discover her situation and leave to get reinforcements. The Klan, now at full strength, rides to her rescue and takes the opportunity to evict all of the evil blacks. Victorious, the Klansmen celebrate in the streets, and the film cuts to the next election where the Klan successfully disenfranchises black voters.

I know all of that sounds really silly, but that film was key in the dehumanization of blacks and was the most profitable film of all time (in today’s dollars grossing $300 million) until it was dethroned by Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. They depicted blacks as uncontrollable animals and a secret plot with liberal whites to subjugate “good” whites.

In Lafayette, Indiana, a white man killed a black teenager after seeing that movie, the Klan grew stronger, and lynchings began again.

Anyone see the parallels? Who says that films are not powerful opinion makers?

I am not trying to be overdramatic here or say that those situations are the same as today or downplay the grizzly murders that took place during those tragic times, but I am illustrating the similarity in tactics and social vilification and showing where this has led in the past. It is also illustrative in that many of the anti-Muslim bigots are also anti-black racists as well. This shows that this vilification by these anti-Muslim bigots is a serious thing whether they realize it or not. I suspect they do.

Similar to the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, these anti-Muslim bigots are saying that all Muslims pose a danger to the society and that Muslims are hopelessly irrational and cannot be compromised with. We must be wiped out or leave our religion.

Similar to The Birth of a Nation’s “Gus”, these bigots put out films – albeit much more sophisticated - that vilify all Muslims and present a one sided, caricatured inhuman view of us.

Similar to the racists of the past, these modern racists and anti-Muslim bigots tell people of a sinister plot between liberal whites and Muslims to subjugate them.

As I wrote in an earlier article, part of what these bigots do with Muslims is relentlessly post news articles about violent Muslim behavior and/or misdeeds of individual Muslims, even when the perpetrator was obviously mentally ill, as “evidence” against all Muslims.

They give these examples of bad Muslim behavior and pass it off as the norm without EVER balancing it with news of good things that Muslims are doing. This series of bad news is meant to represent the normal everyday Muslim. They sarcastically write: “The religion of peace strikes again” as if to say that all of us are a part of this.

Every Muslim is described as a terrorist or terror supporter. Every repressive measure against Muslims is cheered on and any concession or incident of a Muslim getting justice or a new masjid being built is an example of “creeping dhimitude”. A non-Muslim supporter of Muslim rights is a “dhimmi” and depicted similar to the way white liberals were depicted in “The Birth of a Nation”.

Therefore, like in “The Birth of a Nation” the message is that it is a moral duty to disenfranchise these out of control beasts.

Every Muslim is up to no good. Every Muslim is plotting something insidious. A Muslim is not human. Their blogs are very popular and unyielding. It is no wonder we see polls of growing anti-Muslim hatred.

Thinking back, I saw signs of this early in my life as I can remember - as a child - the racist reaction at my (99% white) school in Mississippi to the bombings in Libya. (No one should interpret this as support of Qathafi. I am only talking about the reaction)

In the aftermath, a lot of the children and even the teachers made racist anti-Arab jokes. I can also remember the discomfort the black children felt at this. We certainly weren’t on Qathafi’s side, but we didn’t like these racist jokes either because we knew these people didn’t like us either. The same kids that used to tease black children with “nigger lips” jokes were the ones that making these anti-Arab jokes.

So, I saw signs of this very early in my life and though - at the time - I was too young to understand the nuances, it nonetheless made me uncomfortable because I knew that these people were racist

All of this is why it was not surprising that the commentators from the anti-Muslim blogs use the racist terms such as “nigger” and “nigger lover” in addition to “raghead” and the like. They are the ideological descendents of the KKK.

I must also note that several news organizations have noted a rise in white nationalism since 9/11. I don’t find this to be surprising as I think that this is directly connected to the rise in anti-Muslim bigotry. You get one, you usually get the other. One is connected to the other like a two headed monster.

A white nationalist political party in the UK (the BNP) that “stands for the preservation of the national and ethnic character of the British people and is wholly opposed to any form of racial integration between British and non-European peoples” has made gains in local elections since 9/11 running on an anti-Muslim platform.

In their platform they say that they intend to oppose ” the endless wave of Islamics who are flocking to our shores to bring our island nations into the embrace of their barbaric desert religion.”

One of their leaders stated: ““We should be positioning ourselves to take advantage for our own political ends of the growing wave of public hostility to Islam currently being whipped up by the mass media.”

So after 9/11, they expanded their racist message to include Muslims. Are we seeing the connection yet?

As crazy and racist as these people are, they have made small yet consistent electoral gains since 9/11 and now have 53 councillors in local government. In 2004, one of their candidates gained over 51% of the vote in the local district.

The BNP is still working and constantly whipping up anti-Muslim hysteria everyday to work toward their insidious goals. Their counterparts are doing the same here, except here most of them veil their white nationalism and racism. But we should remember that the two usually come together.

After reading the sick and racist comments from the Little Green Footballers on Umar’s blog, I wanted to share this with everyone to let everyone know that it is important NOW more than ever to support Muslim institutions such as the Muslim Link and our masjids to make them stronger. We must educate and befriend our non-Muslim neighbors before these bigots mis-educate them. We must define ourselves before they define us as people like “Gus”

I don’t say this so that we can go wallow in victim-hood or to get involved in wacky conspiracy theories – many of the anti-Jewish conspiracy theories are put out by the far right racists and we should reject this. This is also not to say that Muslims do not do stupid things. But it is not fair to portray all of us as irrational medievalists. We should also know that there are Nathan Bedford Forrestts (founder of the KKK) out there and they are looking to turn hearts and minds against us.

As I write this, my children are sound asleep. They along with your children have done nothing to deserve to be treated like beasts. Let’s resolve to leave a strong and peaceful legacy for them. I ask you all to reaffirm your commitments to support our Muslim institutions through you r personal/moral support and (certainly not least) your donations. Support your local masjid and help to make it a stronger institution. Too much is at stake. We must get involved!

May Allah protect us and our children…

Visit Tariq Nelson’s site at http://www.tariqnelson.com