@GuernicaMag published Jalees Rehman’s  piece entitled “Occidentophobia”: The Elephant in the Room and Dr. Jalees asked for my comments. These are my quick $0.02.

The Pew surveys show that Muslims are as likely to hold lazy views, i.e. prejudices, of “Westerners” as “Westerners” are to hold of Muslims.

However, the danger of a Pakistani Muslim believing that a German non-Muslim is selfish is less than that of a German believing Muslims are violent religious fanatics, especially when there are more Muslims living in Germany than Germans (and white Europeans and their descendants) in Pakistan. After all, it is not Muslims who have military bases and wage wars in predominantly non-Muslim countries, rather it is non-Muslims who do these things in predominantly Muslim countries.

In fact, Dr. Jalees’s argument reminded me of the reverse racism discussions in the United States. White people find blacks who make racist utterances or even violent attacks against whites and then claim that no special effort should be made to end racism against blacks since there is also racism against whites. Reading this 1 hour after I wrote it, I want to make sure people understand that Dr. Jalees is definitely not doing the reverse racism argument. It just reminds me. Of course, that’s the entire “don’t air the dirty linen” trap we must avoid falling into.

For this reason, I am not as outraged by the prejudices of unemployed youth towards the dominant social/ethnic/racial groups as I am by the fact that people from the dominant groups make up the police, judiciary and corporate boards which detain, imprison and then make money off of those now incarcerated youth.

Of course, prejudice is damaging first of all to the person who holds it. Only by accurately perceiving the world can a person act in his own interest.

For example, when you hear a Muslim in Turkey say something stupid like “Jews control the U.S. government,” is that ipso facto proof that he’s a raging anti-semite ready to do a pogrom on the nearest Jewish village? Or is it simply an inability to find a rational, moral explanation for the United States’s support of Israel, which claims to represent all Jews, that forces the Turkish Muslim to come up with a conspiracy theory, which is unfortunately buttressed by propaganda from internal political, social and religious forces opposing liberalism in Turkey?*

Arundhati Roy warns against oligarchical elites using prejudice as a weapon to divide the revolutionary classes. That is the real danger of Islamophobia and Occidentophobia.

Again, my quick first impressions. Point out my mistakes and I may change my mind!

P.S. I should add that Dr. Jalees’s article is good, but it’s ignorance, not anti-Western attitudes, that is the problem. And in many cases, and I can only speak about what I see from Muslims in the U.S., it’s ignorance of U.S.’s history as a bastion of white patriarchal supremacy. This ignorance distances us from the people who should be our natural allies in our lives in the U.S., namely the progressive, revolutionary struggles of the Native Americans, blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, women and gays.

P.P.S. I also worry that this kind of article would be misused by the “kick their ass, take their gas” crowd itching for more wars in Iran and Pakistan.

*The U.S.’s war on science, which is nearly the essence of prejudicial thinking, is also, IMO, about oligarchical control.

Comments on Jalees Rehman: “Occidentophobia”: The Elephant in the Room


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s