Not only has Ibish’s strategy of presenting himself as a defender of Arabs and Muslims by taking on the lunatic fringe failed, it has also contributed to legitimizing the mainstream racists and extremists. It’s Ibish’s friends, collaborators, co-authors, partners in “peace”, and ATFP gala keynote speakers that are most troubling for the Arab and Muslim communities, not Manji and the other assorted nuts.
Dr. Mohamed Elmasry wrote in The Canadian Charger:
For the last 10 years women in Islam and their status in Muslim countries were two popular topics in Western media. Muslim women, like Irshad Manji and Ayaan Ali, have become media darlings because they wrote books smearing their religion, and called for the “liberation” of Muslim women. But when revolutionary Muslim women like Asmaa Mahfouz and Tawakkol Karman, an Egyptian and a Yemeni, recently made history by leading their countries towards dignity, democracy, liberty and social justice, both were ignored by the Western media.
It’s good to see fractures among House Muslims. Arguing in favor of reformists over moderates, House Muslim Irshad Manji hates on House Muslim Faisal Abdul Rauf. May we see more of House Muslims at each others’ throats.
“Moderate” Muslims are part of the problem.
While housies* who had supported the Mubarak regime, like ADC and James Zogby, are flocking to jump on the revolutionary bandwagon, Irshad Manji doesn’t appear impressed with the Egyptian people’s toppling of 30 years of US and Israeli-backed dictatorship.
For the past two weeks, we’ve been hearing that the “wall of fear” in Egypt has collapsed. Not to rain on anyone’s revolutionary parade, but I beg to differ.
Why the indifference towards the Egyptian people’s amazing feat? In what almost sounds like a sentence lifted from Raphael Patai’s The Arab Mind, Manji, who doesn’t know Arabic or hold a degree in Arab cultural studies, confidently opines:
the politics of the family. That’s where fear begins in much of Arab society.
Manji narrates the stories of two anonymous Egyptian women who fear their parents and then offers gratuitous advice:
I have no idea whether Mona or the woman I met at the café in Cairo participated [in the protests to oust Mubarak]. If they did, they’ll now need to apply their gutsiness to relationships at home.
Of course, just like Patai cited an Arab friend in the introduction to his book to give a facade of legitimacy, Manji found a Syrian sociologist, Halim Barakat, whose research she used to back up her claim. Her application of Barakat is problematic on two levels.
First, Manji misinterpreted and misapplied Barakat (carelessly or deliberately). She quoted one sentence from Halim Barakat’s book:
Political leaders “are cast in the image of the father, while citizens are cast in the image of children.” (Remember the speech in which Mr. Mubarak defiantly affirmed that he wouldn’t step down? He painted himself as the father figure who deserved absolute compliance from his 80 million toddlers, whom he’d previously ordered to go home.)
Manji doesn’t give us a citation for that, likely because she conveniently lifted it from a blog post by Brian Whitaker, whom she quotes in the same post. Since Whitaker doesn’t mention the book, Manji doesn’t bother to look it up herself. The quote came from The Arab World: Society, Culture and State. Had Manji actually read the book (it’s online; she didn’t even need to make a trip to the library), she would’ve noticed that the author in the very next paragraph preemptively rebuts any simplistic generalizations and negative stereotypes that orientalists like Manji may spout:
To consider the complexity of society and the variations introduced by social class, lifestyle (bedouin, rural, or urban), political order, and encounters with other societies, we must reexamine some previously accepted generalizations. One such generalization is that the Arab family socializes its children into dependency. The dependency present in Arab society is only partly a product of family; much of it is owing to political and economic repression
Barakat goes on to give an example of a Palestinian refugee camp that had transformed its social dynamics over the course of one year thanks to political organization. The excerpt is so exciting and similar to self-empowerment we’re seeing in Egypt, it’s worth reprinting in full. It’s not surprising that Manji would’ve excluded this had she looked up the book, considering her support for Israel:
After a three-week study of a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan immediately after the June 1967 war, I concluded that a few well-armed and well-organized persons might be able to invade and control this camp of more than three thousand people because the camp lacked organization. Every family lived on its own, totally preoccupied with immediate and personal problems and interests. Less than a year later, in the spring of 1968, I visited the same camp and found it totally transformed. In the interim, Palestinian resistance organizations had mobilized the people, trained them, engaged them in political dialogue, and involved them in preparation for surprise attacks. People were talking about principles, arguing about ideological issues, learning about themselves and their enemies, and proudly narrating the stories of heroes and martyrs of the liberation struggle. The explanation for this sudden transformation from a condition of dependency to a condition of autonomy is located not in the realm of the constant (that is, early childhood upbringing) but in the realm of social variant.
Thus, Barakat would say the Egyptian revolt transformed Egyptians’ (reluctant) dependency on Mubarak was brought about by the social variant change they chose. In other words, a more thorough examination of Barakat, as opposed to Manji’s intellectually lazy approach, suggests that the social change she yearns for – “Maybe it can work the other way around, too. Maybe democracy in parliament will convulse autocracy in the house” – has already has already been set in motion.
Second, like Patai, Manji selects a social dynamic and orientalizes it. She presents it as uniquely and distinctively Arabic. It’s like Patai’s saying Arabs cringe at sexual degradation; as if other peoples enjoy it. Even if we were to assume for the sake of argument that her simplistic father figure theory of power dynamics is correct, she is unaware that this is a predominant image in western society also as postulated by Freud (Group Psychology and Analysis of the Ego).
How about Manji demonstrate some gutsiness herself and apologize for supporting Israel, the primary culprit behind Egyptians’ oppression. Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel was the main reason Mubarak was armed and supported in the billions of dollars annually in US foreign aid. Enthusiastically endorsed by Daniel Pipes and Alan Dershowitz and a supporter of the collaborating PA’s Salam Fayyad, Manji is no friend to Arabs and is in no position to offer advice, much less racist advice.
Irshad Manji, ikhrasi khales!
* Housies: Short for “House Arabs and House Muslims,” terms inspired by Malcolm X’s term “House Negro”.
This Christmas, please ensure continued aid to Israel considering that the treacherous BDS movement is picking up steam. Could you replace the late Shake Soccer with a dozen greedier and more racist oil princes for me to befriend? I’d also like to be promoted from my current position as a DNC committee chair; I’d like to become President Obama’s valet. Let me know if you have a shortage of elves so I send you a couple AAI interns. And if you have time, could you by any chance look in to your lineage to see if you have any Arab ancestors?
Can you get an Arabic dictionary for Christmas so I put it under my pillow and learn the language by osmosis? And do you still give out “integrity packages”?
Though I support the French niqab ban, this Christmas I would like to ask you for a niqab. I’m too embarrassed to show my face for having normalized with Israel.
Dear Mr. Claus,
I’ve already scored dinner with Michael Oren. If you could arrange for me to dine with any living relatives of David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan, that would be awesome. Could you also get me a copy of “Sufism for Dummies“?
More young Arab-Americans in the US Army, CIA and FBI, please! Surely our occupied brothers and sisters in Afghanistan and Iraq will understand our obsession with proving loyalty to the stars and stripes. While you’re at it, could you get Barack Obama to acknowledge our existence? It hurts our feelings when he doesn’t return our calls.
Assalamu alaikum Brother Santa,
We’d like a fatwa that it’s ok for Muslims to work for the FBI and enlist in the Army. We already encourage it, but an official fatwa would make more Muslims feel comfortable joining to fight our important war against Afghans and Iraqis. Also, please tell us who your Jewish counterpart is so we complete our interfaith outreach for this year. Rest assured we won’t bring up Zionism.
Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Concentration camps for every Muslim-American outside who doesn’t belong to my organization, please. I’d also like to see an American flag shrouding the ka’ba if it’s not too much trouble.
Santa, how the hell are ya!
Could you get Geert Wilders to endorse my book? Having Daniel Pipes and Alan Dershowitz support it is great but not enough.
An Arabic Rosetta Stone would also be nice so I learn how to pronounce “madrasa” and “ijtihad.”
Idea for this post inspired by the witty article by David Macaray at: http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/12/letters-to-santa-claus/
A number of groups organized a protest today outside the White House to oppose the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen and support Wikileaks. Veterans for Peace, GetUp!, Code Pink, Chris Hedges and Ray McGovern were among the organizers and speakers. Braving snow and very cold temperature, the activists also demanded the release of Bradley Manning and an end to civil liberties erosions.
One wonders why housies* weren’t the groups leading, or simply participating in or even promoting, this effort. What could they have possibly been busy with?
Ray Hanania was advocating for the two-state solution on the pages of the Jerusalem Post; an approach that concedes 78% of historic Palestine to Zionist settlers.
James Zogby was tied up promoting his book as well as an upcoming J Street event.
Feisal Abdul Rauf was chatting with the New York Times about his 40-plus year-long career of begging for tolerance from Zionists in the form of interfaith sessions.
Mona Eltahawy was addressing the TEDWomen audience. She spoke about everything there is to know about Muslim women in a nutshell except for the fact that they’re on the receiving end of US bombs and depleted uranium and bear the brunt of oppression under occupation in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine as widows and mothers of shattered, displaced, tortured families.
The American Task Force on Palestine‘s plate was full, hosting war criminal Tony Blair.
David Ramadan’s was too busy advocating for a “a strong Reagan Republican President in 2012” and a “strong US presence and role worldwide.”
Rima Fakih joined World Wrestling Entertainment celebrities to entertain members of the U.S. military at Fort Hood, Texas.
Irshad Manji was discussing the existence of God on the pages of the Global and Mail.
Zuhdi Jasser’s American Islamic Forum for Democracy was celebrating “the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Nasser Al-Awlaki, father of Anwar Al-Awlaki, represented by Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights” over the use of targeted killing of American Citizens.
Who has time for serious anti-war activism with schedules as busy as these?
* “Housies” is short for House Arabs and House Muslims, equivalent to Malcolm X’s “House Negro” and “Field Negro.”