“It is up to American society to change, not Muslims”

Over the last few weeks, in light of anti-Park51 backlash and Qur’an burning threats, we’d ridiculed the great lengths some Muslim-Americans went to in order to prove themselves to US society and thank anyone and everyone who acknowledged Muslims’ membership in the Homo Sapiens club e.g.  Anything and Everything for the US, Thank Tolerant War Criminals, Quit Thanking Zionists for Tolerating You Already! It’s good to know Ikhras is not alone in rejecting the self-insulting “Muslims are people too!” discourse.

From the Los Angeles Times:

There are those, however, within the Muslim community and outside it, who say they resent the idea that Muslims need to do a better job of telling their story to American society.

“It shouldn’t be up to Muslims to say, ‘Hey, we’re good people,’ “ Ahmed Abdel-Moniem, a 24-year-old college student, said after praying Friday at a Los Angeles mosque. “We shouldn’t have to take time out of our day to teach people that they’re judging a whole group of people based on the actions of a few.”

Such a notion puts the onus on victims of discrimination, said John Esposito, director of a center for Muslim-Christian relations at Georgetown University. He said Americans “say things about Muslims and Islam that they couldn’t get away with saying about Jews or African Americans or Italian Americans.” It is up to American society to change, not Muslims, he said.

  5 comments for ““It is up to American society to change, not Muslims”

  1. Salman
    September 16, 2010 at 9:47 PM

    I do hope that you build on this article and make this a continuing theme/series. A cursory glance through any of the press releases among alphabet soup Arab/Muslim American groups (or those who claim to speak in their name) do the exact OPPOSITE of what you have written. Slavishy apologizing for each and every insult (perceived or imagined) for the sole purpose of trying to be taken seriously. The establishment looks on groups such as MPAC, CAIR, ISNA, ADC, et al as roaches or as a nuisance to be tolerated at best for their services in promoting the empire overseas in the Middle East.

  2. September 16, 2010 at 6:46 PM

    Our, Muslims in the United States, responsibility is, as Che said, and as the Ikhras FAQ states:

    “I envy you. You North Americans are very lucky. You are fighting the most important fight of all – you live in the heart of the beast.”

    Nothing more, and nothing less. If we look at our sisters and bros. across The Great Pond (aka Atlantic Ocean) we see that in Britain, it was Muslims who took the lead in anti-war organizing efforts. The situation is of-course different there – the immigrant Muslims’ class background, and the fact that they’ve been there for a few generations now. And until now, the US Islamophobia had been relatively benign – if a Muslim chose to follow the diktates of the dominant discourse. But now with 24 hour Islamophobia, I expect Muslims in the US will soon begin to look a lot like our sis. and bros. in Britain, either that, either we seriously resist, or we gonna end up in serious trouble.

    • September 17, 2010 at 9:29 AM

      thanks publicdebate.

      what do you think about the different compositions of the neo/proto-fascist groupings between the U.S. and Britain?

      i know a lot of people are calling the Tea Party and what’s going on in AZ a form of fascism, but, in the strictest sense of the term, i disagree with that.

      don’t get me wrong. fascists are definitely entering these formations, but for the time being they aren’t quite yet at the helm of any major organization or movement. for a long time neo-fascists in the U.S. were a minor subculture that had little appeal to everyday people and mass politics.

      al-Jazeera made the following documentary that shows how they are adjusting their methods:
      http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/peopleandpower/2010/01/201015124739316797.html

      in Britain, however, a mass organization called the English Defense League is gaining ground AND the BNP (a fascist party) has been winning local elections. i think this is another factor for why the politics of Muslim communities in Britain is that much more advanced than it is here in the U.S.

      it’s unclear to me what this moment represents because a lot of people are saying that this stuff around Park51 is being supported by the Republican party for their midterm elections meaning that it doesn’t quite have the popular footing that it’s made out to have in the media.

      now, since the Tea Party emerged, it has always carried itself as an insurgent wing that overlaps with the Republican party. parts of the Tea Party want to break away from the Republican Party, but others are glued to that political machine, and still others in the Republican party want to make sure they can maintain control over the Tea Party for their own politicking.

      i guess i say all this to point out that what is going on in terms of the composition of the Right and what that means for Muslims is still being worked out.

      if others have more details on these developments i would like to hear them.

  3. September 16, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    thanks, Team Ikhras, for posting this.

    i think this gets at the importance of developing a political framework that can help Muslims develop responses in our one-on-one conversations, debates and collective actions against white supremacist attacks.

    fundamentally, i think Ahmed Abdel-Moniem and John Esposito are correct: lumping an entire people into one caricature is racist.

    the double standard that Khadija points out is also very important to highlight.

    in a way, though, these responses are incomplete, and are individualized responses that stem from the political framework of liberalism. the political ideas of liberalism are the same that treat the individual as an isolated person, rather than as part and parcel of social phenomena and groupings.

    so while individual Muslims bear no responsibility for terrorist attacks, the reason they are being forced to respond to them is because white supremacist attacks on Muslims are part of a broader social process of racialization.

    the fact that we are being put on trial here in the U.S. is evident of the fact that we cannot escape the social forces that have engendered and created authoritarian forms of political Islam.

    through this social process we do have a relationship to these events, but, i agree, we are by no means responsibility for them.

    so when Muslims use this framework to individualize and separate themselves from authoritarian Muslim organizations, they do the same with these groups and events.

    cut off from a social and historical analysis, many Muslims, in this post-9/11 world, have moved from this initial response of “it’s not my fault; i personally didn’t do it,” to a condemnation of all forms of Muslim resistance and violence in the abstract. this framework is a breading ground for flag-waving, patriotic Muslim because the ruling class sets the terms of the debate.

    a discussion about the role of US Empire in creating and sustaining groups like al-Qaeda is preempted, and about why we are being put on trial for these events that, on the surface, it seems we have no relationship with.

    we need to be having serious discussions about analyzing how organizations like Hamas, Hizbullah and al-Qaeda are different — and they are worlds apart — and the historical and political processes that lead to their creation. from these discussions we should recognize that we do have a relationship with these events, and a historic responsibility to act against all authoritarian forces.

    so in a way, Muslims DO need to do a better job of telling our story, but not the story that we typically hear apologetic, subservient Muslims tell: “Islam means peace,” “we are just like you,” etc.

    we need to be telling the story that we are opposed to empire, white supremacy, and any authoritarian activities, whether they come from the American political establishment or a Muslim organization, and that the same forces that attack Muslims and support & engender authoritarian Muslim organizations, also attack non-Muslim working class families.

    it’s really a lot more than just sloganeering.

  4. September 16, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    Agreed. Absolutely. I never apologize for the actions of idiots that have nothing to do with me. The day Christians apologize for the likes of Timothy McVey, David Koresh and Terry Jones is the day I will apologize for Muslims. Americans need to shut up and get real.

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