Wednesday, October 21, 2009

War, Negation and Muslim Identity Revisited

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

It would be utterly unfair and largely inaccurate to equate the ‘Western’ misrepresentation of Islam and Muslims, with the latter’s misrepresentation of the West. The former approaches its caricatured depiction from a chest thumping, Fox News mentality of militarily powerful and economically stable countries. Its view of the other is largely hegemonic and its standard solution to bringing wars to an end is with military surges and the increasing of military assistance (with Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan being the current cases in point.)

Collective Muslim identity however is largely fragmented, between governments that only represent themselves, and peoples facing many forms of oppression: political tyranny at home, external repression (war, foreign interventions, etc), economic uncertainty (fuelled by inequality and compounded by unfiltered globalization), and extremism.

The so-called war on terror, for obvious reasons, cemented that fragmentation.....

In the meantime, Muslims, who insist on living in the shadow of the ‘West’ as unreserved aficionados or obsessed detractors must redefine their own discourses. As for the latter, they must not allow war alone, MTV consumer media culture, hegemonic globalization and racist remarks by a politician or a born again evangelical to taint their entire view of what are essentially unique, diverse and in many ways impressive civilizations that have done much good. Indeed, there is the like of Boykin, but there are millions of others who are peace-loving, ordinary people, some of whom are ardent advocates of human rights, anti-war campaigners, including the thousands who have repeatedly broken the siege on Gaza, and previous to that Iraq. Muslims too must quit caricaturing them, reducing them to enemies, juxtaposing Muslims’ essential righteousness with ‘Western’ essential depravity. Not only are such reductions inaccurate and self-defeating, they also break down possible alliances between the forces of good in this world, in a time when they are of essence. "

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