“Institutionalized Islamophobia”? Really?
By Robert Spencer
Arab News, an English-language Saudi publication based in Jeddah, published an opinion piece last week by its editor, Rob L. Wagner: “Institutionalized Islamophobia.” Apparently Wagner, an American convert to Islam who lives in Saudi Arabia and is married to a Saudi woman, expressed views that are widespread among English-speaking Muslim journalists, as al-Arabiya also picked up his piece. And indeed, Wagner’s piece is a splendid example of the leaps of logic, hysteria, distortion of facts, and defamation of freedom fighters that characterize all the literature that is churned out in increasing quantity by the Leftist/Islamic supremacist “Islamophobia” Muslim victimhood industry.
Wagner begins by referring to the recent neo-Nazi murder of six Sikhs inside a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, noting correctly that “the media commented the killer must have mistaken the worshippers for Muslims,” but failing to point out that there was and is absolutely no evidence that the killer actually had intended to target Muslims rather than Sikhs. Wagner tries to cover this up by stating that “since 9/11, the Sikh Coalition reported more than 300 attacks against Sikhs and their temples,” and that four days after 9/11, a Sikh was murdered because “he apparently was mistaken for a Muslim.” He follows by recounting a recent incident in which a Sikh temple was defaced by graffiti referring to 9/11, but makes no attempt to establish that all or even a majority of the attacks on Sikhs were perpetrated by people who thought they were Muslims.
Another failed sleight of hand follows. Wagner grants that “up until 2010, the number of attacks against Muslims dropped since 9/11,” and that in 2009, according to FBI statistics, there were “just 107. However, in 2010, anti-Muslim attacks rose to 160.” Immediately following this comes: “The United States has been through this before with the persecution of Japanese Americans during World War II when more than 100,000 were interned in camps in California and the Northwest.”
Now, wait a minute. Any and every attack on an individual solely because of his religion is reprehensible and to be condemned, but “the United States has been through this before”? 160 hate crimes, which range from shouted insults to actual assaults, now equal the internment of 100,000 Japanese Americans? Rob L. Wagner would like you to think so, because he is doing his best to push the idea that Muslims in America are the victims of widespread violence and discrimination in the United States today. Postwar Japanese Americans, he asserts, “still often faced discrimination in housing and employment,” and likewise today, “anti-Muslim violence and discrimination continue with regularity 11 years after the New York and Pennsylvania attacks.”
Yet Wagner does not, and cannot, adduce even a single example of Muslims facing discrimination in housing and employment, because they don’t. “It’s telling,” he says, “that Sikhs mistaken as Muslim is ‘understandable’ and that attacks against Muslims are ‘expected.’” But whom is he actually quoting who said that it was understandable that Sikhs would be mistaken for Muslims and that attacks on Muslims were expected? He doesn’t say, and here again, he does not because he cannot. No one says such things, but Wagner has to invent the specter of someone doing so in order to buttress his narrative of Muslims as victims, rather than perpetrators, of religion-based violence.
“Islam,” Wagner complains, “in the minds of many Americans means terrorism. No other religious group suffers a similar stigma.” Of course, no other religion has believers all over the world who virtually on a daily basis commit violence in its name and cite chapter and verse of its holy book to justify that violence, but Wagner doesn’t mention that. Instead, he claims that “anti-Muslim hatred is a moneymaking business that has attracted the kind of people who once handed out leaflets on street corners and lived in the basement of their parents’ home” – and then he supplies a list that includes, among others, (of course) Pamela Geller, David Horowitz, “Walfa” (sic) Sultan and me.
The ad hominem attack is a typical feature of writings that try to convince Americans that “Islamophobia” is a real problem and Islamic jihad terrorism isn’t. I doubt that Wagner has ever met Geller, Wafa Sultan, or Horowitz, and he has certainly never met me (although he used to leave nasty comments in large numbers at my website www.jihadwatch.org). He has no idea if any of us are actually “the kind of people who once handed out leaflets on street corners and lived in the basement of their parents’ home,” and as for the idea that countering jihad is a “moneymaking business,” I am quite certain that Arab News is better funded than any organization dedicated to resisting the spread of Islamic supremacism in the West.
Wagner also contradicts himself, for even though we are the sort of losers who would or should live in our parents’ basements, we’ve been remarkably (even diabolically!) effective: “The efforts by Spencer et al has changed the dynamic how Americans view Muslims and even how some members in government treat them.” He quotes Islamic supremacist writer Reza Aslan making the preposterous and hysterical charge that “Islamophobia has become so mainstream in this country that Americans have been trained to expect violence against Muslims — not excuse it, but expect it.”
In reality, no one expects violence against Muslims, but many Americans expect Muslims to be violent – and that’s what Wagner and Aslan are upset about. But all their wolf-crying about “Islamophobia” cannot alter the fact that those Americans are concerned about Muslims not because of Pamela Geller and me, but because of the likes of Naser Abdo, the would-be second Fort Hood jihad mass murderer; and Khalid Aldawsari, the would-be jihad mass murderer in Lubbock, Texas; and Muhammad Hussain, the would-be jihad bomber in Baltimore; and Mohamed Mohamud, the would-be jihad bomber in Portland; and Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square jihad mass-murderer; and Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, the Arkansas military recruiting station jihad murderer; and Naveed Haq, the jihad mass murderer at the Jewish Community Center in Seattle; and Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar, the would-be jihad mass murderer in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh, who hatched a jihad plot to blow up a Manhattan synagogue; and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be Christmas airplane jihad bomber; and many others like them who have plotted and/or committed mass murder in the name of Islam and are motivated by its texts and teachings — all in the U.S. in the last couple of years.
Clearly Wagner and Aslan have the same goal: they both want to deflect attention away from the reality of these jihad plots and establish their spurious narrative that Muslims are really the victims. Insofar as they are heeded, anti-terror scrutiny lessens, and jihadis are able to plan their next mass murders unimpeded. And by that, we see clearly which side Rob Wagner and Reza Aslan are on.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Did Muhammad Exist?, is now available.