There is No War on Islam

werleman
C.J. Werleman

Alternet has an article by CJ Werleman, entitled “The American Disdain for Self-Reflection: What We Still Haven’t Learned After 9/11 and the Boston Marathon Attacks”, which I highly recommend reading. I have to take issue, though, with one argument in it. Discussing the recently released note by Dhokhar Tsarneyev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers, Werleman writes:

    Like every terrorist who attacked America on 9/11 and since, Tsarnaev made his grievance clear – that his attacks against Americans were motivated politically (wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), rather than religiously, but we continue to wage a war on Islam that is dressed up as a war on terror.

There is no war on Islam. True, the US’s drone attacks kill Muslims, but that is not a war on Islam. Among other things, the US supports the government of Saudi Arabia, which is an Islamic theocracy. Some will say that I am quibbling here, but this is actually an important point. We are dealing with complicated issues here – issues that are emotionally charged for some people – so we need to choose our words carefully.

Tossing around a term like “war on Islam” merely obscures the complexities of the current situation. In particular, it ignores the class dimension of the conflict. Here in the US, middle class and working class Muslims are monitored and sometimes harassed by the police. Yet our government and business elites flatter and cajole the leaders of Muslim countries, seeking to do business with them. This has resulted in some interesting contradictions. For example, the Sultan of Brunei – who recently announced that the citizens of his country will now be subjected to “full shariah“, including stonings, floggings, and amputations – owns the Beverly Hills Hotel, a Southern California landmark.

So we need to be more precise in our terminology, to express the full awfulness of what our government is doing.

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