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From Darren Wilson to Islamophobia


Part 4 of 6. See part 1, 2 and 3.

By Umar Lee

The terrorist attacks that brought down the Twin Towers in New York City,  hit the Pentagon in Virginia, and left a plane and its passengers scattered across a Pennsylvania field, occurred more than fourteen years ago.  Yet, despite 9-11 being so far in the rear view mirror, American-Muslims being a staple of modern America, and only a handful of minor incidents since, Islamophobia is now at an all time high.

Much of this is a result of the Islamophobia industry which has been well-documented on this site. I certainly don’t wanna downplay the negative impact of the Islamophobia industry and the agents of hate. However, these forces of hate have been at it for years, so why the uptick in Islamophobia?  Is Donald Trump to blame?  Yes, he partially is, but why did he find such an eager audience?

I’ll trace the resurgence in Islamophobia back to August 9 of 2014. In the small municipality of Ferguson in northern region of St. Louis County, Missouri, a young man by the name of Mike Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson.  Mike Brown laid on the ground for hours in the Canfield Green apartment complex dead in his own blood as a crowd of mourners gathered. Tensions flared that night and the next night the streets of North St. Louis County exploded in anger and grief.  A movement was born.  A movement which at that moment was united and later became divided.

Darren Wilson took a life and never served an hour in jail. With my two arrests in Ferguson (I grew-up in the area) I served more jail time than Wilson.  I grew-up in the racial-tension of North County and it defined our lives and it was now on an international stage. Mike Brown was African-American like most Ferguson residents and Darren Wilson white like most Ferguson cops.

While a movement emerged seeking justice for Mike Brown and other victims of police violence and repression another movement emerged in defense of Darren Wilson and police.  This pro-police movement produced an army of trolls on social media sending out threats and engaging in outright racist language.  As the weeks went on the hate speech increased and it got nastier.

While a segment of protesters and supporters began using the language of intersectional struggle (this segment of protesters associated with Black Lives Matter) the other side began engaging in their own version of intersectional thought.

Researching many of the most vocal pro-police trolls I discovered in addition to their anti-black racism many were also active in efforts against Muslims,  Latino immigrants, and others. When these trolls noticed the prominence of Muslim protesters such as myself, Bassem Masri, Talal Ahmad, Anthony Shahid, Mustafa Abdullah, and others it sent them into a particular frenzy of hate. I received dozens of graphic death threats, had the address of my grandparents published online, and was fired from my job because of the harassment of these trolls.

Today these trolls are still attacking protesters;  but they’ve found new energy in their attacks on Syrian refugees and new champions in Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

It was Ferguson that gave the army of hate it’s new level of vigor. The sight of people in the street demanding justice frightened them. Energized, this same army is now equally focused on Muslims.

In America you’re a part of White Supremacy or you’re a threat to it. Muslims, in whatever form of Islam we choose to practice from Salafeeyah to watered down Me Tooism, are a threat to White Supremacy. The message of Islam destroys White Supremacy.  The life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is an indictment against White Supremacy and the voices of Muslims must be silenced in their minds.

Just as the enemies of Islam have made common cause with those who oppose Latino immigration, African-Americans, and advocates for police reform, so to Muslims must form alliances with those with whom we share a common enemy.

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  • janna

    Yes, Just, we are in agreement.
    So… to change the subject… I assume there must be converts to Islam on this site. I would love to know what led you to it. If you don’t mind sharing.

  • janna

    Ilisha, I’ll tell ya what’s silly. Jumping to conclusions about what the other person is trying to say. 😉

  • Just_Stopping_By

    Okay, maybe we just had a bit of a misunderstanding.

    You started by saying, “It would be instructive to compare instances of islamophobia and Islamic bigotry side by side.” If what you meant is that there are all kinds of bigotry and that you could list examples that go either way in terms of which is worse, then we’re in agreement. (Of course, that seems to mean that it would not actually be particularly instructive to compare instances side by side, which is what may have confused me.)

    Anyway, if the question is simply whether any form of bigotry or incitement that leads to violence or even just discrimination against others is bad, then we’re in agreement. I hope we also agree that a website or an individual or group can legitimately work to fight one or more forms of bigotry or incitement (while not causing any bigotry or incitement itself) while not trying to fight every type of bigotry or incitement.

  • Ilisha

    It would be pointless for me to try to prove which is worse. If the whole world is the landscape, imagine all the data. What makes something “worse”? What counts as “Islamic bigotry” and “Islamophobia”? Who defines that and how? And ultimately what’s the point?

    For the sake of argument, let’s say you could make a convincing case. Then what? Would that mean Islamophobia is okay and we should shut down LW? I think not.

    I create analytical models for a living, and as such, I can’t take such a nebulous comparison seriously. It’s a silly notion.

  • janna

    Ilisha, your stories of islamophobia are selective too. Does that make them pointless?

    Just stopping by: Yes, of course, I agree. I could have listed an example that went the other way. My point is that islamic bigotry is at least as serious a problem as islamophobia.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    Ilisha beat me to it, but what I was going to say was that it is true that not every instance of bigotry or violence against Muslims is worse than every instance of bigotry or violence by Muslims. And the same can, of course, be said replacing “Muslims” with any other group.

    If that is your point, I think we all agree. If that’s not your point, then what is your point?

  • Ilisha

    Your comparison is necessarily selective, and therefore, pointless.

  • janna

    Well, that’s easy. I am just a newby, but I have seen plenty of islamic bigotry go by in the news. The two items I am thinking compare with the two recent items you have here on this site. Man pushes a Muslim woman
    toward a train, she sustains light injuries, in Britain. In Germany, an Iranian refugee pushes a German woman under the train, she is dead.

    Or, Philadelphia. You list a case here where a group of Muslims were attacked for speaking to someone in Arabic, a young man got badly beat up. Also in Philadelphia, a man named Archer, a devout Muslim, shot up a policeman, seriously wounding him, while admitting he was doing it for
    the greater glory of Allah.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    Fair enough. Go ahead and post your fair comparisons side by side and instruct us. You may be surprised to see that people here are frequently willing to examine valid data.

    That said, I don’t see how any such data would invalidate a single argument against Islamophobia. At best, the data might show that other problems exist. But, people are free to fight whatever problems they wish, not just the biggest problem. That’s why, for example, I don’t yell at people who contribute to charities other than the one(s) I think are the most worthy.

  • janna

    No, silly. Because fair’s fair.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    Yes, because two wrongs …

  • janna

    It would be instructive to compare instances of islamophobia and Islamic bigotry side by side.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    That you, Mike?

    Anyway, the number of deaths in the US due to Islamophobia is, thankfully, low. So, it would be hard to draw too much out of data on historical trends at such low levels.

    But, if your question is whether there are “no deaths to be listed,” the answer is no. For example: Glad to help educate you, “Mike.”

  • The greenmantle

    Organise Organise Organise together we are strong !

    Its not a new idea :-) but one the powerful dont like .
    Devide and rule is an old technique

    Sir David

  • JD

    Exactly .. When the Republicans who hate Gays Blacks Immigrants are done with these groups who do you think they will go after..If you don’t agree with people life style out of religion that is OK but muslim need friends you dont have to agree with them but you still need to help them. and they will help you

  • JD

    I think you mean..

  • Jekyll

    In America you’re a part of White Supremacy or you’re a threat to it. wow way to see it in black and white.

  • Jekyll

    God Bless His Soul.

  • Reynardine

    Justitute Scalia is dead.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    Some more information on the historical trend/data on attacks on mosques is available from CAIR here:

  • Reynardine

    Thank you for the list.

  • Reynardine
  • mindy1

    I am opposed to black lives matter (or the excesses it espouses) but I am not islamophobic.

  • Just_Stopping_By
  • Reynardine

    Please take that last line to heart. This is not the time to alienate allies over picayune self-righteousness.

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