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More on Islamophobia

By Taylor Marvin

Writing for the right-wing Gladstone Institute, former Pentagon official Harold Rhode explains that the martially-inspired names of some Muslim children is proof that Islam is uniquely violent. At the Daily Beast Ali Gharib does the good work of poking holes in Rhode’s ramblings, noting that many English names — including “Harold” — have similarly warlike origins.

It’s questionable whether this is even worth engaging. Despite his education and experience in the Muslim world, Rhode is doing nothing more than lazily cherry-picking anecdotes for a racist smear against Muslims. Like most instances of Islamophobia, this argument neglects to engage reality at all. If Islam is inherently warlike and expansionist, why has the Muslim world spent much of the last few centuries under European domination and colonization? If as Rhode suggests Muslims desire to to conquer the entire world and force it to submit to Islamic rule, why is this greater evidence of “endemic violence” in Muslims than Europeans, who actually did conquer most of the world? If by the 17th century Christian leaders decided “that if they did not to put an end to the violence, they could destroy their civilization,” why did they nearly do just that in the 20th century’s bloodiest wars?

Of course there’s no logic here — if Rhode wants to make Islam into an barbarically violent beast, he can twist his interpretation to make it just that. But his piece goes on towards more entertaining ludicrousness. Highlighting the flag of Saudi Arabia, Rhode points to its illustrated sword: “The message is clear: Islam is aggressive, Islam conquers by the sword,” he writes. Now, the government of Saudi Arabia is a repugnant dictatorship. But martial images aren’t restricted to Islam — in fact, they unsurprisingly adorn relatively few national flags of the Muslim world, just like everywhere else. The flag of Mozambique is adorned by an AK-47, certainly a more practical instrument of violence. Bolivia’s coat of arms features muskets or cannons — is the “clear message” that Bolivia conquers by the muzzle-loading cannon?

The llama symbolizes Bolivians' endemic hatred of grass and shrubbery.

The llama symbolizes Bolivians’ endemic hatred of grass and shrubbery.

The simple truth is that admiration for martial imagery is a common human behavior, and is of course not unique to Islam. There’s nothing to see here, besides Rhode’s own biases.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wonderfully put, I am going to re-blog, with your permission!!

    April 13, 2013
  2. Yes, of course.

    April 14, 2013
  3. Mark Smith #

    Islamophobia simply does not exist for rational fear is not a phobia.

    To say Islamophobia exists is irrational.


    Simply replace Indonesia for Sweden,etc

    “Indonesia’s moral police a threat to democracy” Date May 22, 2012 Michael Bachelard The Age

    “But many Indonesians are worried a profound shift is happening in their culture. They are watching as a social movement of arrogant Islam grows more powerful, and moves virtually unopposed from victory to victory.

    One liberal described it as the ”Talibanisation” of Indonesia”

    The fact is Islam as with any cultural foundation text informs a variance of behavior, clearly given time and space this includes terror against Other and subjugation of women as the political power of the adherents grow. Moderate liberals or no moderate liberals.


    The Quran informs the nature of the the Islamic feedback mechanisms to silence dissent – violence.

    There was a documentary on Hitlers rise to power recently which stated the moderate liberal Nazis would have been better served reading his foundation text rather than taking his word for it Germans (Nazis) were just good people seeking to do good.

    So words, images, even clothing hold meaning, to draw rather stupid analogies when there are so many victims every day is sickening.

    See the words the images today reflected from the Islamic cultural foundation text construct of Other=ethics=ideas=motivation=action for and against Other coloring the walls and remnants of buses, school yards, … .

    It is not a matter of a conscious notion on the part of all Muslims of ‘world’ domination, though you cannot deny some Muslims advocate this idea not without some violence.

    The Islamic text construct in space and time informs the taking political secular space with violence if necessary.

    Feel secure in you little cultural relativist ethical nihilist tower-cut all resources set aside to protect you from Islamic adherents mmm.

    April 14, 2013

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