August 16, 2007

On Dr. (In)Sanity and Other Islamophobes

The other day, I wrote about a Glenn Greenwald post where Glenn was referring to irrational Republicans who do the Islamophobic variation of Chicken Little:
Every now and then, it is worth noting that substantial portions of the right-wing political movement in the United States -- the Pajamas Media/right-wing-blogosphere/Fox News/Michelle Malkin/Rush-Limbaugh-listener strain -- actually believe that Islamists are going to take over the U.S. and impose sharia law on all of us. And then we will have to be Muslims and "our women" will be forced into burkas and there will be no more music or gay bars or churches or blogs. This is an actual fear that they have -- not a theoretical fear but one that is pressing, urgent, at the forefront of their worldview.

I got several hits over the past few days on that post through trackbacks, and visited some of the sites that had also referred to Glenn's post. One of these sites, The Carpetbagger Report, used a recent post by a "Dr. Sanity" as an example to prove Glenn's point.

I come across loons like "Dr. Sanity" all the time. Type the word "Islam" into Google's blog search engine or into Technorati, and you'll see that about 75% of all the posts are Islamophobic screeds. These are people who have drunk the kool-aid of the Party of Hate and Cowardice™. They may be well educated and act normally in almost every respect, but they are largely provincial when it comes to understanding the rest of the world and are all too often arrogant in their ignorance. They are following their forefathers in a long path of hate for "the other," we Muslims being only the hate du jour, behind the Catholics, Irish, Communists, Japanese, Jews, Blacks, and many other groups.

I think what has surprised me about all this is that well respected blogs like Glenn Greenwald's and the Carpetbagger Report have needed to point out what seems to me something very obvious. I largely ignore people like "Dr. Sanity" and their writings. I used to think that education was the key: that helping to provide information about Islam and the Muslim world would help to defuse some of the tensions and increase understanding... And maybe it has, but - if so - only to a very small degree. I've come to realize that most people don't want to learn. They are perfectly comfortable in their delusions, and suggesting ever so mildly that what they believe is wrong makes not the slightest difference in their outlook. Yes, there will be some whom one can have a reasonable conversation with, who have an open-enough mind to consider a new thought, but they are very much in the minority, a very tiny number indeed.


Anonymous said...

I agree, but I think it's important to distinguish the loonies from the sheep they command. I also think that 'education' (about Islam) is not the answer, but education in the sense of educating people on how to learn is.

Tasneem Project

JDsg said...

Generally speaking, I agree with both your comments. The number of Islamophobic blogs and posts is very large, and the vast majority of people who hold such views I do ignore. They are very much "the sheep." But bloggers like "Dr. Sanity" need to face more open criticism because they tend to be opinion leaders (in the language of marketing). Someone who's able to get 300+ comments consistently for their posts is more a leader than a follower.

Your other point, regarding the need to educate people on how to learn, is very important. This is one area I think where the US has been worsening, in the ability to think critically.

Even those who can think critically switch off that ability, especially when it comes to Islam. They read one side (all too often the Islamophobic side), but make little or no effort to see whether the points being made are correct.