Marwa Berro at Between a Veil and a Dark Place: Missives of an Ex-Muslim Woman did a post last week wittily titled The racism of the white wolf who cried Islamophobia.
I’m tired of a certain faction of Western liberals, especially white guys, Westsplaining about how anti-Muslim bigotry and Western colonialism and imperialism and international geopolitics provide *essential context* for understanding the sources of Muslim problems, which don’t come from a vacuum, how there are striking *parallels* between liberal critique of Islam and right-wing anti-Muslim bigotry.
Not that there’s no such thing as anti-Muslim bigotry, not that imperialism and geopolitics have never fucked anything up, but…there’s more to it than that.
But those things are not an *explanation*. They are contributing factors at best that neither sufficiently explain nor excuse the blatant transgressions of Muslims and the horrible conditions in Muslim-majority countries. There is also an ironic lack of focus on Arab imperialism and the manner in which Islam has been reified, propagated, and been used to justify horrors in the Middle East and South Asia *far preceding* the West dipping its fingers into that mess. Sorry to strip you of credit for this, really, but it’s not the West that created the dehumanizing elements of Muslim cultures.
Not everything is about us (us being people in “the West”). Neither for credit nor for blame is everything about us. We don’t make everything happen. It can be useful to remember this.
There is also ironic lack of focus on the booming (essentially) slave trade disguised as a migrant worker system exploiting Africans and South and Southeast Asians that is utterly normalized in the Gulf and Levant.
That’s one reason I bring it up a lot. The main reason is of course that it exists and it’s horrible, but it’s also to make the point that people treat others (especially Others) like shit in a great many places.
And the supreme irony here? The blatant condescension of this PoV. It really is such a white-centric thing to try to explain the Muslim issue in those terms, to essentialize our problems in terms of your culture’s imperialism. It is also–and I’m not holding my breath for anyone to realize this anytime soon–buying into the same anti-brown racism to continually draw analogies between liberal critiques of Islam and right-wing anti-Muslim bigotries, to present eg the often-racist ignorant spewings of Dawkins and his ilk as the FACE of liberal and atheist discourse regarding the matter so you can self-righteously jump to condemn the obviously condemnable just as you raise it to the level of being representative of the entire liberal and atheist community, ironically completely drowning out and excluding the voices of Ex-Muslims and progressive Muslims, especially women, from the categories of ‘Western’ and ‘liberal’ and ‘atheist discourse’, othering us and contributing to our silence and marginalization. We don’t want Dawkins and Harris to be the driving voices of liberal discourse regarding Islam either. Stop excluding us. Stop alienating us. Stop reducing us to the norms of our home cultures, as if we’re incapable of engaging with them or transcending them, and stop creating a binary between us and our values and liberalism and its values.
To be fair, for all his faults, Dawkins has done a lot to amplify the voices of Ex-Muslims in general and e.g. Maryam Namazie in particular (but then he goes and undercuts some of that with his fatuous [at best] tweets about Islam). But yes: I think the non-Muslims who rant about Islamophobia do a very bad job of listening to people like Maryam and Marwa.