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February 04, 2003

Muslim Pride

This article shows that anti-Islamic bumperstickers and coffee cups are selling like hotcakes. Okay, Islam is part of America and we'll have to find some way to get along, but even if they find individual Muslims likeable, most Americans seriously dislike Islam and many hate it.

What the bloody hell are American Muslims going to do about it? Their response thus far seems to be following the black routine: cry about discrimination, get the sympathy and advocacy of a minute number of white liberals while the white majority seeths with mounting hostilities at these bathetic political melodramas that exacerbate the original problem. Would someone please explain to me why new minorities are jumping headfirst into the black Victomology establishment when this, among other things, has done nothing to repair their image in whites' minds?

Posted by razib at 11:48 AM

You have to distinguish between what's good for the group and what's good for individuals who want to pursue a career in ethnic activism.

Posted by: Steve Sailer at February 4, 2003 12:06 PM

And you also have to distinguish between the reaction that you can see and that which you can't - it seems likely that the victim/activist contingent is going to be a lot more visible than the many muslims who are just going about their lives, much the same as before. And that latter group doesn't deserve your condemnation, though it seems they still need to figure out that the professional victims need to be reined in, not just ignored...

Posted by: bbartlog at February 4, 2003 12:43 PM

Okay, Islam is part of America and we'll have to find some way to get along, but even if they find individual Muslims likeable, most Americans seriously dislike Islam and many hate it.

So what? Those who hate Islam will not be convinced whatever an individual Muslim does. On the other hand, the advocacy groups complaining about stuff will be there and will thrive because that's how politics in the US works. The South is still bitching about the Civil war 140 years later.

In my experience, people who differentiate between individual Muslims and Islam as a whole I can get along fine with. Those who consider me part of some evil Islamic monolith can go fuck themselves.

Posted by: at February 4, 2003 02:25 PM

The last comment was by me.

Posted by: Zack at February 4, 2003 02:26 PM

BTW, that Salon article provides some examples of the use of "we are the victims" by rightwingers. What are your thoughts about that?

Posted by: Zack at February 4, 2003 04:42 PM

good point about the South - Lew Rockwell is a perfect exhibit of victimology on this,.

Posted by: Jason Soon at February 4, 2003 06:29 PM

The Muslim whiners have white liberal media sympathy. No one with any national clout listens to Southern whiners. The best way to put a cork in these types of complaints is to beef up the economy so nobody is resentful enough to pursue this type of wallowing. If the South was as rich as the Northeast, nobody would be bitching about the Civil War.

Posted by: duende at February 4, 2003 07:11 PM

Victimhood status is helpful because people feel sorry for you and give you special benefits. It works. I think blacks have benefited from framing themselves this way to whites, although recently some people have begun to get wise. Right-wingers are adopting the same rhetoric with good reason, although it is not in their nature to whine. Interestingly, part of what the right-wingers are basing their victimhood status on is the abuse of victimhood status by blacks and other minorities.

Posted by: Mantra at February 4, 2003 08:34 PM

Duende, would you agree with the following?

The best way to put a cork in these types of complaints is to beef up the economy so nobody is resentful enough to pursue this type of wallowing. If the African American was as rich as the Caucasian, nobody would be bitching about slavery/Jim Crow/racial discrimination.

Posted by: Zack at February 4, 2003 10:04 PM


if the achievement gap could be bridged, the resentment over slavery etc., would disappear substantially. How could someone not agree with that?

Posted by: Jason Malloy at February 5, 2003 07:31 AM

"No one with any national clout listens to Southern whiners."

I guess you missed that whole Trent Lott thing, huh? The government is headed up by Southern Republicans that at the least give a hearing to confederate whining, and are perfectly willing to manipulate it to their advantage and kiss up to its proponents, although it's debatable how much any of them actually buy into the resentments they take advantage of.

On the larger subject, I'd say the victomology game is an example of the pursuit of a local maximum. It gives a short term boost to the minority's status and power by demanding at least superficial respect. But it fails to address any underlying complaints and so forfeits the possibility of longer term and more significant advances by playing up racism and resentment on both sides.

Posted by: Doug Turnbull at February 5, 2003 07:57 AM

In this respect, I'll quote Steve Sailer:

"If African-Americans were able to make as much money as Asian-Americans, then black-white relations would look a lot like Asian-white relations. There would still be competition and conflicts, of course, just as there are between families - because racial groups are extended families. Yet, blacks would be far less bitter and quick to blame whites for their shortcoming if, like Asian-Americans, they had fewer shortcomings. "

Posted by: duende at February 5, 2003 08:06 AM

Granted, I read only the free part of the article. I found it horribly superficial. For every "soignee blonde in short skirts", I'll put up a Naked-for-Peace Marin County woman. I'll match every "T-shirt with slogans like 'Fry Mumia'" with a placard reading "Bush = Hitler" or "No War For Oil." In short, this is _not_ a serious argument; this is name-calling.

The sub-head is "Partisans of the extreme right gathered outside of Washington this weekend to cheer on Cheney and Coulter -- and vent their rage at the liberals who rule America." Okay, that's fair, except I think the liberals rule the media, not America.

Of course, the writer quotes the holy historian Richard Hofstadter on "the paranoid style of American politics." Umm, how is it "paranoid" when Moslem terrorists are killing Americans?

Posted by: Lyn Thomas at February 5, 2003 09:22 AM

Lyn -
I don't think the author was making much of an argument per se; just bringing to light some rather extreme positions and behavior on the right, and pointing out that they fit a certain profile. If your point about fools on the left was simply to point out that the right has no monopoly, then of course I agree with you; but if you are trying to justify the behavior at the CPAC conference, then you will need to do better than 'tu quoque'. I have always found it strange that the nominally Christian right was so full of hatred and intolerance - but religious fanatics everywhere are more similar than they would like to suppose.
As regards Hofstadter and the 'paranoid style' - I think the article does a pretty good job of showing that the overall ideology at the conference fits the profile. Your dismissal ignores the fact that so much of the fear and hatred is directed at fellow Americans whose political views are different - but who, CPAC rhetoric notwithstanding, are not bent on America's destruction, nor motivated by malice. And even if a portion of the paranoia is directed outward - the author's observation is still accurate.

Posted by: bbartlog at February 5, 2003 12:37 PM

I don't like you calling southerners whiners. The confederate soldiers were courageous fighters not whiners. I'm tempted to whine but that wouldn't do my point any good.

Posted by: Jon Wilkins at February 5, 2003 06:33 PM

most Americans seriously dislike Islam, and many hate it!!!

Really? Not in my own personal experience. Anecdotal, admittedly, but is yours not? What's your evidence? (And are these people who are so polite to my face really saying nasty things behind my bak. I think not -- two-facedness is not a National American trait)

Supposing you have some sort of survey/statistical evidence, then what to do about it?". Not a damn thing.

If there are hate-consumed bigots out there, so be it. It's not my job to turn them into nice, get-along type people. If you dislike someone based on their religion, it's your own personal flaw, and I'm not your psychotherapist. Go fix it yourself. As long as the principles of public civility and non-discrimination are observed, does it matter if the USA is made up mostly (as you say) of seething, raging Muslim-haters?

Posted by: Ikram Saeed at February 7, 2003 09:37 AM

Whoops. Forgot to close the italics.

One more thing, Duende. I found this odd:

has done nothing to repair their image in whites' minds?

Why would it be the responsibility of black's to fix white's minds?

Posted by: Ikram Saeed at February 7, 2003 12:32 PM

both assertions can be factually correct.

1) the majority of americans might dislike muslims in general on the basis of what they know of the religion (the 1/3 that are conservative Christians especially have an a priori issue here of both disliking its heathanism & loving the unsaved sinner)

2) but they might like the typical decent muslims they meet in their everyday life

most americans have issues with premarital sex-but most americans engage in premarital sex. most americans believe that drugs should be illegal, but most american adults have used illegal drugs at least at one point in their life. very few americans believe that adultery is acceptable, but a sizable minority engage in it.

and so forth.

many american groups-from germans, to irish, to all catholics, have had to deal with the distrust of their fellow citizens as generalities. these groups proved themselves by becoming patriotic americans that died in the wars that this nation fought, or in public service (as the irish have, via politics & civil service). it will happen with muslims, or it won't-time will tell.

Posted by: razib at February 7, 2003 01:55 PM

Mr. Saeed,
Are you (and other Muslims) philosophically obligated to change the minds of Americans who hate Islam? I'd say no. But your life would be MUCH easier if 50% of those Islam haters were persuaded to be indifferent to it. These folks probably won't change their minds until radical Islam wanes, and I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that. I doubt that any great number of these people feel motivated to change on their own. So if American Muslims want to be accepted into the American mainstream, they will have to engage in some SERIOUS image repair with little help from non-Muslims. I'm sorry man, but life sucks.

Posted by: duende at February 8, 2003 08:52 AM

But your life would be MUCH easier if 50% of those Islam haters were persuaded to be indifferent to it

I disagree. Life is not difficult under current conditions for Muslims in the USA. There is no crisis. A wall of hate can easily be found on the web. But in real life, haters are few and far between.

Life is difficult enough with ordinary woes of job and family to waste time babysitting and handholding a bunch of paranoiac bigots.

Besides, in a few years Americans will be doing that Sino-rivalry thing again and be very busy hating and demonizing theChinese. The railroading of Wen Ho Lee was just a taste of the future anti-Chinese bigotry that will be found in America. Muslims have little to worry about. (a joke?-- yes sort of!)

Posted by: Ikram Saeed at February 8, 2003 01:35 PM

man ikram, you know i'm part chinese right? jason soon even says i look a bit yellow....

Posted by: razib at February 8, 2003 10:50 PM