Wade Michael Page: Islamophobia Unleashed


How much longer will we tolerate politicians who stoke bigotry like that which drove Wade Michael Page to kill?
(Crossposted from Salon.com)
Here are some of the things we know about Wade Michael Page: He led a “racist white power trio” called End Apathy; he had a tattoo commemorating 9/11; he shaved his head; and, on August 5, he killed six individuals and wounded a police officer at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

Wade Michael Page. Credit: Salon.com.

We have yet to determine if Page mistook Sikhs for Muslims, but such questions are irrelevant. In today’s Islamophobic atmosphere, there has been increased marginalization of all AMEMSA (Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, South Asian) communities. In particular, Sikh Americans have faced the brunt of post-9/11 hate crimes and backlash, with Sikh men often being mistaken for Muslims. The first post-9/11 hate crime murder was of Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas station owner in Arizona, whom the murderer chose because he was “dark-skinned, bearded and wore a turban.”
This extremist violence and fear-mongering does not exist in a vacuum. The Southern Poverty Law Center recently reported the highest number of hate groups ever recorded in U.S. history,with nearly 1,018 active groups. Furthermore, anti-Muslim hate groups have increased 300 percent in the last year, and the FBI reported a 50 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes. The reasons for the record rise in hate groups are due to the faltering economy, changing racial dynamics in America leading to a minority-majority country, and the election of Barack Hussein Obama.
However, the reality according to the latest studies is that American Muslims help law enforcement and are more likely to reject violence than any other U.S. religious community, and nearly all American Muslims have no sympathy or loyalty for al-Qaida.
Yet facts and evidence do not detract a paranoid fringe from indicting American Muslims or anyone who looks “Muslim-y,” including Arab American Christians, Iranian Jews and Sikh Americans.
On Aug. 6, a second fire in less than five weeks burned down a mosque in Joplin, Mo., most likely a result of a hate crime. Furthermore, a committed anti-Muslim contingency in Murfreesboro, Tenn., continues to impede the progress of a mosque construction belonging to an American Muslim community that has peacefully lived there for over three decades.
Despite President Obama publicly proclaiming Jesus Christ as his savior, attending church, and celebrating Easter, nearly 17 percent of registered American voters still think our president worships Allah. Obama’s alleged “Muslimy-ness” continues to act as a smear, handcuffing “Muslim” to something deemed “foreign,” “hostile” and “anti-American.” Furthermore, Islam currently has its lowest favorability rating in America, even lower than the weeks following 9/11.
The cynical and deliberate baiting of ignorance, racism and Islamophobia by political players was exposed in an investigative report I worked on last year, “Fear Inc, The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” produced by the Center for American Progress. My co-authors and I identified a lucrative cottage industry composed of an interconnected, incestuous network of right-wing pseudo-scholars, policy experts, politicians and media pundits who have received nearly $43 million from seven funders to create and disseminate fear and misinformation against Muslims.
As an example, the exploitation of Shariah, or Islamic religious law, as being a fictional “threat to America” was used by nearly every major mainstream Republican candidate running for president, including Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty and the modern-day Islamophobic Nancy Drew, Michele Bachmann.
Instead of using their position of influence to build bridges of understanding, Bachmann and four GOP colleagues recently decided to stoke the flames of fear-mongering by engaging in a witch hunt against fellow Americans. Facts are not Bachmann’s strong suit. Instead, she continues the odious tradition of McCarthyism and relies on paranoia, hunches and the prevailing anti-Muslim sentiment in the country to justify smearing respected American Muslim individuals as being connected to radical Muslim organizations. Bachmann’s Islamophobia was appreciated by her Tea Party base who rewarded her “dangerous” and “downright vicious” conspiracy theories with July donations totaling $1 million. (For perspective, Bachmann previously raised $1 million over a period of three months, April through June.)
To liberally misquote Mel Brooks’ “The History of the World”: “It pays to be an Islamophobe.”
On the other hand, a target of her witch hunt, longtime Secretary of State Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, a recent mother, no less, was forced to hire a security detail after receiving death threats.
In his perpetual, pathetic quest to remain relevant, Newt Gingrich continued to pander to the radical right of the Republican Party and slither toward ignominy by offering support for Bachmann’s McCarthy-esque endeavor. To court his fringe base, Newt has likened Muslims to Nazis and vowed during his failed presidential campaign to initiate loyalty oaths for American Muslims.
He heroically labeled Bachmann and her four accomplices as the “National Security Five,” which sounds like a radical rendition of Scooby Doo’s Mystery Inc.
Unlike the cartoon, however, these elected officials are not uncovering villains; rather, they are preying on innocent citizens scapegoated for their religious affiliation and ethnicity.
This is particularly shameful for Gingrich considering he helped set aside prayer space on Capitol Hill for Muslim congressional staffers in the late 1990s. Furthermore, he belongs to the American Conservative Union, which hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference – featuring an all-star roster of conservatives. Key Islamophobe Frank Gaffney, a “longtime friend” and consultant to Bachmann who feeds her anti-Muslim, conspiratorial evidence, asserts CPAC has been infiltrated by radical Islam.
This revelation should inspire Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who serves as the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, to host yet another congressional hearing, this time, however, exposing the infiltration of the Republican Party by Mr. Gingrich, obviously the Muslim Brotherhood’s Manchurian Candidate.
King relies on key members of the Islamophobia network for his inaccurate information on American Muslim communities, including the discredited claim that over 85 percent of American mosques and their religious leaders are radicalized. In the past, King has also claimed there are “too many mosques” in America. King also falsely claimed that 90 percent of terrorist crimes are carried out by Muslims. In the U.S., 56 percent of terrorist attacks and plots have been perpetrated by right-wing extremists, 30 percent by eco-terrorists and 12 percent by Islamic extremists.
Yet, King is still allowed to chair congressional hearings on American Muslims. That’s like asking Dan Cathy, the homophobic president of Chick-fil-A, to host a hearing on LGBT issues, or asking Mel Gibson to chair a hearing on Jewish American communities.
In a perfect world, we would readily dismiss these cynical politicians as amusing cartoon characters who say nutty things, cueing a laugh track that prompts us to mock them. Sadly, they are elected officials and political players with a sizable constituency deliberately misinforming their base, keeping them ignorant and afraid, and inciting paranoia and radical sentiment for the sake of short-term political gain and publicity.
Unfortunately, a tremendous negative externality emerges from such ill-gained profit. As we have seen time and time again, extremist rhetoric inspires extremist violence.
Anders Breivik, the anti-Muslim, Norwegian murderer who killed 77 people last year, left behind a 1,500-page manifesto frequently citing the writings and ideology of the American Islamophobia network. Upon reviewing the manifesto, counter-terrorism expert Marc Sagemen said the Islamophobes’ “writings are the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.”
“This rhetoric,” he added, “is not cost free.”
The senseless murder of six Sikh Americans was the tragic cost of hate-mongers’ perverse ideology rationalizing violence against innocent civilians.
Perhaps it is time we turn the tables and expose the enablers and disseminators of divisive, fear-mongering rhetoric that has no place in today’s fragile and racially sensitive environment. Let Bachmann and company enjoy their short-term profit in the dustbins of history, seated next to ideological allies like Joseph McCarthy, as the rest of us move forward as communities united against hate.
Wajahat Ali is a playwright, attorney, journalist and essayist. He is co-editor of the anthology “All American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim”, which published in June 2012. His award-winning play“The Domestic Crusaders,” was published by McSweeney’s in 2011. He is the lead author of “Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.”

0 thoughts on “Wade Michael Page: Islamophobia Unleashed

  1. Page is a Neo Nazi, as you already known by now. As a Neo-Nazi, he targets his hatred at al non whites. This includes Blacks, Jews, Muslims and many many others. His presence and his action represents a threat to all us in that target group. SO you might say that we have a shared concern for this individual. It’s not because he is a Islam-phobe, it’s because he as a White Supremacist with a gun.
    I would still sooner live in the US as a minority than the Arab world where anti Semitic cartoons and TV is the norm

    • It doesnt matter what that man belive in or said every one has a right to freedom of speech so what if he was a neo -nazi the fact is he killed and shot at like 10 people thats against the law and must accept responsibility for his own actions. Inste

  2. The real extremists are radical muslim bombers who are also violent persecutors of Christians and Jews everywhere Islam holds sway. We are not the problem: they are.

    • Yes, Mark, you are absolutely right. But you will find few on this site that will agree. Here resides the willfully blind, the cherry pickers who select only those facts that fit their ideology. Wahahat Ali sees only those incidents in which he can lay the blame on the ‘right’ , and sees ‘islamophobia’ everywhere, but and ignores the other 95% of the incidents of leftist and/or islamic violence. He doesn’t see that anti-semitism is growing far more rapidly, especially in Europe.
      This is also the gathering place of those who say they support Israel but support most of the policies initiated by tthe assorted collected of far left pro-palestinian, communist and socialists, feminists groups, etc. who want to see Israel defeated or diminished. Somehow, they all find themselves in the same bed.
      Welcome to the Echo Chamber!

  3. Funny how this blog carries the term “Islamophobia” yet the Neo Nazi attack was on a Sikh temple. I guess the author is only concerned about his own victimhood and not of the real victims of this hate crime.

  4. Homeland Security
    My advice to anybody who looks like an Arab these days is,
    when you’re in a post office or jogging around the reservoir,
    never stop and jot down any notes,
    even if it’s a great idea for a poem.
    And for God’s sake don’t snap any photos at the airport,
    even of your cousins arriving from St. Louis.
    God forbid you should draw a map of the subway for them,
    showing the route between their hotel and your house!
    And if a new “friend” – the guy on the next barstool, say –
    starts suggesting pranks
    like blowing up tunnels or poisoning the water supply
    or, God forbid, assassinating anyone
    and how it might be done by you and a few pals,
    just keep saying what’s fun about that,
    even as a reality game, and you’re really only
    interested in poetry about nightingales.
    And if this “friend” brings up the subject of the Palestinians
    for whom you might reasonably have some sympathy
    and asks how about joining up to help in resisting the occupation,
    or aren’t you furious about the takeover of Iraq,
    and don’t you want revenge, he can get some weapons –
    just choke back your rage and go vague,
    become a dumb American and say Iraq? Where’s that?
    Don’t be surprised if photographs and taped conversations —
    did you think that button on your “friend’s” shirt
    was just a button? – are used against you
    as evidence that you’re a terrorist mastermind
    plotting to overthrow the government
    and install an Islamic Republic here –
    even if he’s the one who laid out the plot
    and all you did was cross your eyes.
    So even if you’d love to get rid of the criminals
    in the government of this, your adopted country,
    as bad as the ones you escaped from
    who jailed your father for years without trial,
    just cultivate a stupid grin and play dumb.
    And when they lead you away in handcuffs
    don’t bother protesting your innocence and calling for a lawyer.
    You can’t have one – and you’re guilty.
    –from After The Fall, Poems Old and New, by Edward Field

    • Interesting poem. Like the author of the blog, you seem to confuse Muslims with Sikhs. I guess that can count as ignorance on your part

  5. I think either me or many of you missed the point of this article. I understand that the writer used Islamophobia to make his point. I have no clue what it would be like for me to live in countries controlled by Radical Islamic rulers. I know what I read and have a good idea that they would not welcome a liberal American like me with open arms. But in America, it is true that every minority is discriminated against. Soon the white race, of which I am a member, will be the minority in America and I fear that we, by our actions today, are inviting sever discrimination upon our grandchildren. There is a large and dangerous movement of hatred for anything Arab, Islam, or anything resembling Arab or Islam. Those of us old enough to remember can attest to the treatment of people whose skin is black. Now that hatred has intensified and is directed in many directions. To many the idea that,” if someone is different from me, he is an enemy” applies across the board from skin color, religion, allowing abortion, feminism to political leaning. I think Pogo was right,”we have met the enemy and he is us.”

    • The attack was an attack on a Sikh temple. Sikhs are not Arabs. I am finding the disregard of Sikhs disturbing, veery disturbing.

    • Using Islamiphobia as a example for an attack o a Sikh temple is wrong and very disrespectful of the Sikh community. I expect a apology from the author being offered to the Sikh families who are the victims.

  6. Or their is no idea that should be rejected? Mein Kampf is OK? Qur’anic Suras calling for reasoned or violent expunging of Christians and Jews from the world should be read in US Mosques? Abortion is OK when SCIENCE determines the baby has all personal characteristics by the fifth cell division after conception?
    There is one God, described in Genesis. Like it or don’t He rigged the game from the the beginning. Israel the chosen land, From Israel came God’s chosen man, Jesus Christ. Prophecy writes history, and history records the fulfillment of prophecy. Genesis 12 warns all comers to keep hands off Israel and Jerusalem. Johnny come lately belief systems like Islam & Mormonism are pretty good if you are a man, and like some extra wives around. Both of these religious counterfeits cherry pick the original God-breathed scriptures, woe to the perpetrators and the adult followers who are without excuse.

  7. I hope the is not to upsetting for our blogger
    “Pakistan’s President Orders Report on Girl’s Arrest for Blasphemy
    Posted Monday, August 20th, 2012 at 11:05 am
    Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has asked the country’s Interior Ministry for a report about the arrest of a Christian girl on blasphemy charges for allegedly desecrating a religious text.
    Police say the girl was taken into custody on Thursday after angry neighbors surrounded her house in Islamabad and accused her of burning pages inscribed with verses from the Koran. Others said she was burning papers from the garbage for cooking.
    Police say the girl will be held for 14 days while the case is investigated. President Zardari on Monday took “serious note” of the girl’s detention and called for a report on her arrest.
    There are varying reports of the girl’s age, with some saying she is as young as 11 years old. Others quote police who say she is 16. There are also reports that the girl is mentally handicapped.
    Human rights activists say the blasphemy law in Pakistan is sometimes used to harass religious minorities.
    Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Khan Babar said blasphemy cannot be condoned, but no one would be allowed to use it to settle personal scores.
    Last year, Pakistan’s Minister of Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian member of the federal Cabinet, was gunned down in Islamabad. And Punjab province’s governor, Salman Taseer, was killed by one of his bodyguards for opposing the controversial blasphemy law.
    On Monday, Bhatti’s brother, Paul, told VOA’s Deewa Radio that “the girl is not mentally fit and also the law calls for medical examination as a prerequisite. She is a 12 year old girl and we have talked to religious scholars on the issue and hope there will be some way out.” Paul Bhatti currently serves as the prime minister’s national harmony advisor.
    Christians are the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Pakistan, making up about 5 percent of the population.”

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