The Planet Of The Arabs And Post-Racial America
A 32-year-old Iraqi woman who was found savagely beaten, a threatening note saying “go back to your country, you’re a terrorist” laying beside her body, recently died after she was taken off life support by her family, succumbing to her wounds. Shaima Alawadi, a mother of five, had been beaten on the head repeatedly with a tire iron and found unconscious in the family’s house in El Cajon, California.
Addressing KUSI-TV, Alawadi’s tearful 17-year-old daughter asked: “You took my mother away from me. You took my best friend away from me. Why? Why did you do it?”
Planet Of The Arabs
The vilification of Arabs and Muslims has long been a part of the West’s media industry; from sword-wielding Ali Baba-esque caricatures to bearded, gun-toting, “Allahu Akbar” screaming brutes. Despite the diversity of Muslim and Arab communities both assemblages are often propagated as being of one homogeneous collective and are therein animalized as such.
In the short 9-minute feature “Planet of the Arabs“, directed by Jacqueline Salloum, a collection of Hollywood clips from 1996-2000 drawn from a variety of sources, all of which depict Arabs and Muslims negatively in the media and is played as a sort of montage.
In the film review for “Planet Of The Arabs” for The Electronic Intifada the film is spotlighted as one which “…addresses the stereotypical, “dehumanized” film portrayals of Arabs as terrorists, bulbous-nosed ignoramuses, and wife-beaters. Even high-brow television shows like Law and Order have no problem with portraying an Arab Muslim as anti-Semitic and making praying to Allah sound like a bad thing.
Islam is about suicide bombing, it is implied, and somehow Allah is inherently different from the god worshiped by Jews and Christians.
While Arab men appear in films as hijacking terrorists, or knife-wielding horse riders in the desert, Arab women don’t really exist in the Hollywood world, and when they do appear they are often fully veiled and silent in burqas.”
The video may be watched below in its entirety:
Islamophobia In The United States
The grotesque demonization of Arabs and Muslims has given rise to Islamophobia and hate-crimes even against those who have been mistaken for being followers of Islam, including Sikhs.
According to ‘Same Hate, Different Target‘ a report on Islamophobia and Its Impact in the United States: January 2009-December 2010, co-sponsored by the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, there were a plethora of incidents in the United States of America wherein Muslims and Arabs were victims of racist, xenophobic attacks:
December 7, 2009 - An Idaho Muslim reported that hateful graffiti was scrawled on the side of his truck, and a flier for the Aryan Nations left on his lawn. The man found the phrase “Go Home Sand N**ger” and a series of swastikas painted on his truck. Local authorities say this attack has been part of a stream of hate related incidents in the area
August 25, 2010 - A Muslim cab driver was stabbed in what appeared to be a bias motivated crime. A 21-year-old male hailed a
cab in Manhattan. He reportedly asked the driver “Are you Muslim?” When the driver responded in the affirmative the passenger
slashed the driver with a knife on the throat, arm and face. The driver stopped the cab and approached a police officer, who arrested the assailant. The attacker has been charged with attempted murder as a hate crime, assault, aggravated harassment and criminal possession of a weapon.
September 9, 2010 - A vandal scrawled anti-Muslim hate graffiti across a retaining wall in Reno, Nev. The graffiti read, “Don’t burn the Koran. Why? Just burn Muslims.
The perverse vilification of Muslims and Arabs is not only being done on a case-by-case basis, the incidents are not as “isolated” as the media attempts to propagate; it has been revealed that there is systematic concentration focused on Muslims in the United States:
“The New York Police Department kept secret files on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims, according to newly obtained documents that spell out in the clearest terms yet that police were monitoring people based on religion.
The NYPD has faced intense criticism from Muslims, lawmakers and even the FBI for widespread spying operations that put entire neighborhoods under surveillance. Police put the names of innocent people in secret files and monitored the mosques, student groups and businesses that make up the Muslim landscape of the northeastern U.S.
Many of those under surveillance were American-born citizens whose families have been here for the better part of a century.”
Post-Racial America: A Farce
Post-racial America is “a theoretical environment where the United States is void of racial preference, discrimination, and prejudice.”
The very contention, that the United States of America is post-racial, is farcical; it is imaginative absurdity aimed at trivializing any serious discussion of race and xenophobia. A mixed-bag of human-beings occupying the same physical space is often touted as being evidence of a “post-racial” society and even the election of a Black president is heralded as being vindication in the flesh for those who have long argued that the United States of America is “post-racial”; yet these are all bodily changes, while what lies beneath is clearly much less progressive.
The mechanisms of oppression adapt and reconcile with any given environment. It does not cease to oppress, instead a variety of instruments are used in order for it to conceal its repressive handy-work.
Racism has become a eye-roll inducing word. Despite a vast majority of young people contending that “race is still a significant factor within various systems, such as criminal justice, education, employment, and immigration” the idea that racism exists in this “post-racial” America, in an often menacing and underhanded fashion, is scoffed at. This is where the absurdity of the term “post-racial” creates a barrier, in order to prevent such conversations from occurring. Racism is brushed aside as being “isolated” and even major news outlets seem to relish in their ability to cheapen the blows of a racist system by calling every “incident” as “racially charged” or having “racist undertones.”
Oscar Grant. Amadou Diallo. Sean Bell. Abner Louima. Trayvon Martin.
Do you know their names? Their stories? Can you pull up from the depths of your memory their faces?
The United States of America is far from “post-racial”. Though the slave-master’s whip is not physically in the face of people of colour does not mean it is not there. Despite no longer having to witness the hanging of Black men from trees does not mean that extrajudicial executions and wrongful judicial executions are occurring; as the times change so do the means of oppression. The instruments of oppression have evolved and have taken on different costumes; dismissing conversations about race and xenophobia as being unfounded or out of place do nothing more than fan the raging fires.
There must be a thorough examination of the gaping wounds caused by racism and this first means that we argue within the parameters of reality, outside the make-believe world of “post-racial America” and inside the ugly reality of an America where race still matters and where xenophobia has shaped an entire system of governance; where black boys in hoodie’s are gunned down for looking ‘gangster’ and ‘thuggish’ and where Islam is debated in the blood-sucking confines of political campaigns for political points.
An America which fears hoodies and head-scarves, melanin and Muslims, is not “post-racial” by any means; this America is instead suffering from institutionalized racism and instead of waiting for more “isolated” incidents to occur there should be calls for the discussion of race and xenophobia in America, openly and unabashedly. It is time to do away with the myth of a “post-racial” America and to shame its advocates.