Furthermore, I find it amusing that when Muslims are associated with conspiracy theories to Islamicise Britain (as Melanie Phillips is frequently liable to claim) or â€˜Eurabiaâ€™, we donâ€™t see that level of condemnation [as we see of antisemitic conspiracism].
Firstly, if you feel that the sort of conspiracy theories directed at Muslims are not sufficiently critiqued, it would certainly be appropriate to say so. I’ve noticed them and wondered about them, but my perspective is different from yours.
Perhaps more importantly, though, I’m concerned that you might be missing something essential about antisemitic conspiracism. It’s dependent upon a view of Jews as too much assimilated. While (many) Muslims are visibly Other, Jews are (to make use of an illustrative but fortunately historical extreme) shapeshifters. Jews, mistakenly perceived in the West as white when not all are, live in the uncanny valley. The more assimilated and successful Jews become, the greater the threat we represent to antisemites.
To the best of my knowledge, conspiracism in Islamophobia arises through an Orientalist history that views both Jews and other ‘Orientals’ as superficially clever, but it does not have the same history in Islamophobia as it does in antisemitism. Because of the rules of evidence employed by conspiracists, always returning to disgraced and discarded ideas like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the disgrace proving the “danger” and hence relevance of the text, conspiracism is heavily dependent on its own antisemitic history. While many Islamophobes view Muslims as conspiring to infiltrate the West, those with the most extreme conspiracist worldviews unanimously view Muslims as (racially inferior to whites) victims of Jewish supremacism. And because the Otherness of Muslims is visually marked, I’m not sure it could change targets even if it that history could be overcome.
Instead, I think it’s more likely that the successful assimilation of Muslims will be viewed as a Jewish plot –as affirmative action, multiculturalism, the UN, and progressive immigration policies here in the US already are.
That last sentence, as it deals with white supremacists’ desire to rank minorities, risks a comparison that I hope I can back away from. I have no desire to pit Jews against Muslims in “the Oppression Olympics.” Islamophobia is certainly an important topic these days, and I have no desire to stand in the way of the fight against it. I have no doubt that it has the potential to become actively genocidal in any one of a great many Western nations. I have no doubt that it has informed the current wars that have killed so many people already. I have no desire to stand in the way of the important job of accurately and effectively critiquing Islamophobia. But I do very much doubt that Islamophobia will ever follow an antisemitic logic rather than an Islamophobic one.
This is a really intelligent point, and one I hadn’t considered earlier.
Its certainly true that bigotry towards Muslims is primarily couched in terms of ‘they’re different to us and will destroy our lifestyle‘, while anti-semitism towards Jews is much more about how they’ve infiltrated the ruling classes.
So the last point – that the logic behind anti-semitism is different to the logic behind hatred of Muslims – looks like a good point to make.
But you can also see how hatred of Muslims has also changed. It started back in the days with how the Middle Eastern governments were all backwards and had to be controlled, then kicked off recently with how these people are all terrorists, and rapidly morphed into a general hysteria about how British Muslims were going to destroy this country’s values.
The statistics game, where people try to predict how the demographic growth of Muslim children, is the latest re-incarnation.
You could also argue that Michael Gove MP’s assertion – women wearing veils are Islamists (or potential terrorists) is part of the same narrative: keep on defining them as a threat to our society. Keep on looking down on them, and if they look down on us then get outraged.
Anyway, I’m glad he made the point because its interesting to think about.
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