Activist Acknowledges Role of State & Media in Perpetuating Islamaphobia
Good day. I would like to address you as a working class Black freedom fighter in the US. Your letter had profound questions and points that merit examination and I would offer insight from a perspective of one who has managed to remain above ground thus far in a society that has been maintained by centuries of genocide and colonial exploitation of oppressed peoples.
Athough I am not Muslim, I understand the significance of this religion. The first Muslims in the United States came from West Africa during the slave trade. Elite members of the southern slaveocracy did their best to try to uproot them from their traditions and heritage, of which Islam played a pivotal role. Ramadan was observed even under atrocious conditions, and despite all efforts to erase other Islamic customs observed by slaves, Islam is still widely practiced by Black people in the United States, today.
I have studied many of the tenets of Islam, and although many of its doctrines have unfortunately been warped by people, organizations, and governments alike, one of the most profound tenets of Islam, and one that I whole heartedly agree with and live by, is the unconditional support for the oppressed. As a part of an oppressed nationality within an oppressor nation, it is incumbent upon me to express solidarity with others worldwide whom are facing very similar and very dire circumstances. The Palestinian struggle comes to mind.
Unfortunately, those who have perverted Islam, like those in the west who pervert Christianity, or those in Israel who pervert Judaism, have wrought damage on the perception of Islam. These perceptions of Islam are then perpetuated in the west through a multi-billion dollar propaganda industry, and put on replay for a sedated and intellectually sterile population.
There are many answers to your question as to why public consciousness around contemporary issues tends to lag behind. Our ruling regime has placed carefully concentrated safeguards for ensuring our continued distraction. For many people in oppressed nations, they view life in the United States as a luxury. In many material regards, it is. However it comes at a price. The price is being saturated with the reactionary propaganda and surveillance by the regime.
Living in the US means having every facet of your life programmed to support the current existing state of things. It is a cyclical rat race that takes beauty and spiritual essence out of a living being and replaces it with consumerism, and some imaginary “American dream” of prosperity that will never come into fruition for the vast majority of the population. The racist, settler colonial ideology of our ruling regime is spread to the population, and with this comes very cold and calculated mechanisms of social control. People are pitted against people that they’ve never even met, perceptions are skewed, and fear is pervasive.
The truth is, people in the US are traumatized into submission. The knowledge that we’re living in a nation that was founded on the genocide of the indigenous people, and maintained by the brutal enslavement of African people, with no reconciliation but rather a reinforcement of the attitudes which provide fertile soil for treating the rest of the planet in such a horrible manner, is pulling on the subconscious of the population here.
Islamophobia is maintained in this country because currently the harbingers of US imperialism are seeking to colonize the middle east, either directly or by proxy. Islamophobia, fear of the “other”, is a way to elicit tacit approval by the population to do so. That’s it. Like fear of “savages” was the ethos that pervaded during western expansion (i.e. the genocide of the indigenous population in the Americas), like racism was (and is) the pervading ethos behind treating Blacks as subhuman to justify slavery, Islamophobia is the manufacturing of a new enemy to justify further conquest and exploitation of the Muslim world.
Again, I am not religious, but I have been inspired by religious movements. I am inspired when some tenets of Islam are interpreted as a need to resist imperialist military aggression, just as I am inspired when tenets of Christianity are interpreted as a need to revolt against a slave master. I whole heartedly support liberation theology. I stand against Islamophobia as I know what it is predicated upon, and I will continue the work to provide an understanding of this perspective to those at home.
Joel Northam is a member of the Black Autonomy Federation. Twitter: @BlackAutonomist.
Source: LetterForTruth.com Responses Section