CROSSPOST: Dr Hatem Bazian
Three of Edward Said’s books are as timely today as the day they were published almost 40 years ago: Orientalism (1978), The Question of Palestine (1979), and Covering Islam (1981). The three constitute Said’s trilogy that focused on literary and artistic representation in the service of empire, colonial dispossession, and the media shaping and reproducing Orientalist tropes. Said’s contributions are an invaluable source for anyone attempting to deconstruct the ebbs and flows of events and development in the Arab and Muslim worlds. At the same time, the three books offer a strong critique of Western policies and public discourse that purport to cover the “East” as a separate and mysterious place filled with irrationality.
Observing the daily events in the Arab and Muslim worlds, one is at a loss to comprehend the sheer destruction and the snuffing out of hope faced by a multitude of peoples – 1.4 billion, to be precise. Said’s writing intuitively de-constructed the racialized lens used by Western academics, press, and policymakers to justify their continued disregard of the needs and well-being of the Arab and Muslim worlds.
Is Kant better than the Koran? The Dark Secrets of Immanuel Kant’ Ethics
In the article linked above, Muslim researcher Abdullah Andalusi responds to a piece laden with arrogance, and discusses the German philosopher Immanuel Kant.
It triggered a point which I have been meaning to address in the context of neoconservatives. Specifically, Andalusi notes in his conclusion that
“[s]ome Liberals may hurried respond ‘Kant was a man of his time’ however this does not remove the problem that Kant wasn’t merely stating his personal opinions and tastes, but producing ethical rulings derived from the ethical system he had constructed.”
It can be legitimately argued that Kantian foreign policy is the root of neoconservative propensity for perpetual war. The neoconservative Project for New American Century outlined a militarist vision of American global dominance, or Pax Americana, where American values are to be projected internationally. Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and the trail of violence and destruction which has culminated in the present situation in the Middle East to the battle cries of freedom, democracy and Western values are the bitter fruits of this poisoned tree.
Western foreign policy is something that western governments do not like talking about. It comes to the fore when highlighting the “brave Muslims” who fought for “our freedoms” during World War I and conveniently omitting the slaughter of Ottoman Muslims demanded of them. Or when Western leaders, like David Cameron explicitly try to refute the notion that foreign policy has anything to do with terrorism and fail miserably.
A similar trend of avoiding Western antics in the Middle East exists when discussing ISIS. The press and political rhetoric has often focused on the religious characteristic of the enterprise, often ignoring the foundations of ISIS, which rest upon former US detained, “bitter” nationalist, secular Iraqi Ba’athists who have adopted the garb of religion to amass control. The relevance of Western policies and escalation of violence in the Middle East is regularly demonstrated in the use of orange Guantanamo-style jumpsuits in their propaganda videos – something even Obama noted when he described Guantanamo as an “enormous recruiting tool for extremists”. To this end, it is difficult to envisage a glorified gang with a religious twang forming without the provenance that was the neoconservative foreign policy in Iraq. Even Tony Blair had to chokingly admit that there are “elements of truth” that the Iraq invasion helped feed the rise of ISIS.
In short, to deny anger and violence resulting from Western foreign policy in the Middle East is a delusion designed to whitewash Western militarism and its often catastrophic consequences.
And no, this is not an “Islamist lie” like Maajid Nawaz seems to have informed you. It is however, a neoconservative conspiracy, which spans the inception of the War on Terror.
David Cameron’s doublespeaking speech was incessant in its assertion that there is no conspiracy to “destroy Islam”.
Increasingly, it seems that practically any argument, however well referenced, even academically-backed, is to be rapidly brought into the sphere of “extremism” or “Islamism” and suppressed through State apparatus. They have become the terms through which the government is censoring counter-narratives.
For neocons, “active opposition” to their civic religion of secular liberalism and its symbols – “British values” of democracy, rule of law and human rights – is equivalent to “undermining” it. It is “an attack” no less. To protect it, the state has effectively deployed the counter-extremism and terrorism industry. However, the double-standards applied by neocons means that any effort to undermine Islam, as understood from the time of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and explained and refined through the past fourteen centuries by thousands of Ulama – scholars of impeccable learning and piety – cannot be seen as an “attack on Islam”. Nay, for David Cameron and his colonialist brown-sahibs, it is part of the “Islamist” narrative. Presumably the “extremism” policy, which imposes an extreme interpretation of secular liberalism on Muslims and an opposition to it seen as “undermining our values”, is also part of the “Islamist” narrative.
I have been waiting for inevitable to rear its ugly head. After all, it is Michael Gove at the helm of the Education sector, an anti-Muslim, neocon who is fulfilling Henry Jackson Society bedfellow Douglas Murray’s aim of “making the lives of Muslims in Europe difficult”.
If we recall, the “Trojan Horse” plot, a name which is one of the chapters of Michael Gove’s “anti-Muslim diatribe” Celsius 7/7 and a title given to Muslims of Europe by Geert Wilders, was found to be fabricated. Nevertheless, pressure from the prejudicially compromised Department for Education and headless Ofsted meant investigations were launched into a number of schools in predominantly Muslim areas. Schools previously rated as “outstanding” were soon placed into “special measures” as Ofsted inspectors conducted themselves in a highly anti-Muslim, unprofessional and inconsistent manner.
I stated previously that this had nothing to do with an “Islamic takeover”, but rather a furore had been architected to justify an intrusion on a much grander scale – the “Lee Rigby effect”.
Birmingham City Council’s, after their investigation into the Birmingham schools concluded there were no links to extremism.
The PREVENT Push into Madrassas
This is important, because on the back of the farcical Trojan Horse plot, which was more to do with disgruntled employees getting revenge as opposed to genuine issues of concern, Michael Gove has released plans to push PREVENT into madrassas, and in essence write the religion for Muslims.
According to reports,
“The code will make sure that all teachers are CRB [Criminal Records Bureau] checked, and that no corporal punishment is dealt out,” the official said. “The schools may also be required to teach a standard syllabus, because right now they can teach whatever they want. The syllabus will be supportive of the government’s preventing-extremism strategy, so there will be no fundamentalist teaching”
There are several issues here.