Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 9, No. 2, 2010
  Current Issue  
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
Sylvain Richard
Nancy Snipper
David Solway
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Diane Gordon
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Contributors
  Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
David Solway
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somverville
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

reader feedback


from Cihan Kaan
I was recently perusing an article in Arts & Opinion when I found David Solway's "Confronting Islam," – a reposting from Frontpage mag. I wondered at first if he had read his own article on victimhood, "A Culture of Losers," because from the logic he was espousing it sounded like he was playing into it. To bring up the Medinese, a tribal war that went on in Islam's early history would be like me bringing up a pre-Islamic battle between Egyptians and Sumerians to illustrate why Iran is the way it is. He goes through considerable lengths of equate modern Islam with Meccan Islam, even coming up with his own word for non-Muslims who offer objective views on the religion, labeling them "shmoos" as Solway blasts Karen Armstrong, one of the worlds celebrated interfaith writers and herself a devoutly spiritual person. This interview suffers from number of ailments, hypocrisies and dishonest representations but overall is harmful to the conditions of peace and understanding because it leaves the reader with a sense that Muslims are devising, plotting and planning to take over the world. This is typical of a cartoon or serial rerun from long-ago era. It is a replay that we see in articles of the same ilk again and again.

For starters, Solway (who represents many like-minded) regards Islam as an anti-Semitic force against him and the West. Islam and Muslims can never be assimilated. There is no middle ground; "moderate Muslims" are simply wolf in sheep's clothing saying we see things through ". . . rose-tinted cataracts" and "share a bed . . . with terrorists . . . filled with explosives." This is an extremely xenophobic if not totally fascist worldview. It's flat out dangerous to have this type of verbiage utilized to describe the middle-ground because it allows no breathing room for discourse, understanding or dialogue. His reasoning on why Muslims are awful, horrendous and riddled with flaws is a series of historical inaccuracies and regurgitated pieties on the Qur’an and Hadith which have all been thoroughly responded to by Muslims for years.

In my view, what Solway suffers from is 'inherited loss' or learning from your parents, or ethnography, or your religious practice about some cataclysmic event in the distant past you are supposed to relive as if you were there.

I was born in Dallas, Texas but I can't escape the stories of the Crimean-Tatar genocide where my ancestors perished. This is an event that happened in the last century like the Jewish holocaust just as non-Arab Muslims have been being killed, deported and destroyed since the days of Medinese. However the fact is that I am American, above all. Do I look back and blame Islam, the Russians or the Nazis? The difference is I don't look back, because like Lot's daughter you might turn to salt or in the case of Solway, a bit salty.

I can understand the position taken by my grandparents and parents referring to a century ago but when you rely on CENTURIES ago, like Solway in his examples, that Islam is "invasive" and "savage," his point is lost in the pillar of salt he has become. Solway establishes himself as "victim" and poet-martyr for the West, citing cruelties inflicted by Saracen heathens, but disregards recent current events from the collateral damage videos recently released and other examples of Western nations and their allies bombing, crushing and showing no compassion whatsoever towards Muslim countries.

There is so much historical distance and nuance between Arabs, Mongols, Turks, Mughals and Africans in the history of Islam, Solway’s technique of "pick and choose" fact bending is clearly meant to manipulate the reader to feel this sense of inherited loss at the expense of solid data. Of course, when approaching Islam from his point of view, there was one holocaust and it was his. Unfortunately there have been many throughout history. Man kills man and religion is used to control. It's just silly, nearly ten years after 9/11, the length certain intellectuals like Solway will go to degrade Islam under the self-proclaimed position they are educating people. I also wondered if he had read my response to Phyllis Chesler’s article in Arts & Opinion, "Secular Islam on the Rise" wherein I succinctly demonstrate that her original title was demeaning (she subsequently changed it) and I also described the situation Muslims in the U.S face. Allow me to repeat what I wrote:

"Why, as a moderate Muslim, is my view kept bottled up, and when I do speak or send letters, why are they either not printed and/or ignored? Why are there not opposing Op-Ed columns by an actual American Bred Muslims like myself to counter the regional and local weekly hate speech in newspapers and other media?
I propose a simple answer to the rhetoric;

If Islam were accepted, as are other religions, without being under the scrutiny of a Judeo-Christian lens, it would mean a change to our whole foreign policy -- in particular, the Palestinian-Israel situation. It would mean accepting 9/11 was carried out by a fringe group of "Political Terrorists," not Muslim Terrorists that used the Qur’an and certain Islamic ideas to motivate themselves. However, the ideas they used to motivate themselves exist in every religion. All religions designate in the negative the non-believer. The idea of eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, is popular with the West and also with Islam. These ideas will undoubtedly motivate the future of domestic terrorists in America: we already have the Virginia Tech shootings, Waco and other massacres on our own shores."

Right. That was years ago.

Since I've written that response we've seen a rise is what I like to call the "Business of Bashing Islam," from a multitude of books intended to miseducate and misinform as well concerted efforts from lobbyists in Congress to prevent any interfaith/incultural dialogue between Muslim and American organizations. Since I wrote that response, a bevy of domestic terrorists acts on our own soil have taken place, most recently the Hutaree Christian Militias whose sole purpose is to "decimate the anti-Christ" or rather kill Obama, a plan that would begin by killing innocents at a police funeral. These people were never referred to as terrorists, nor was the lone pilot who flew into the IRS building several months ago. As a matter of fact a clear line was drawn in the media and these evens have been swept under the carpet. Chances are we'll never hear about the Hutaree again, but the forces that created this phenomenon are still writing, blogging and reciting their hate-speech all over America. Solway belongs to this category albeit a more subtle and refined version a la Daniel Pipes and even a Rush Limbaugh. He would like to see Muslims nuked and/or put in detention camps to prevent as he calls it, a "War of the Worlds." Really? Last time I checked, the Taliban had AK-47's from 1960, Palestinians were throwing rocks and Iraqis ran away the second a bomb fell. Where's the war David Solway? Yours is the collective hallucination of a very frightened, very racist, and extremely dangerous intelligence trained to ritually hate Muslims and Islam. From my perspective, the next big thing will be a rebellion against the Pipes and Robert Spencers and Solways as people decide to learn about Islam from legitimate sources. The future is about exploring and exposing the ritual reruns these purveyors of hate rely on: the Muslim Punk band, The Kominas, have done it with their song "Sharia Law in the USA," which makes a farce out of Solway's perverted view of Muslims.

And when the next crazy American does something the news will enjoy two days of headlines before it is dropped. Who remembers the Christian Terrorist who shot up the Holocaust museum? It's a vague memory from 2009 the world has forgotten. Why don't we "never forget" that? Only when it comes to Islam do we “never forget.”

If the negative articles on Islam and terrorism were flipped, they would be considered anti-Semitic or anti-American. It’s a gross double-standard that Arts & Opinion stands by. For instance, David Solway's "Confronting Islam" is a divisive title for an article filled with historical inaccuracies and opinions from a pro-Israeli pundit and a right-wing publication loaded with illogical rationalizations used to manipulate the unsuspecting reader. Imagine writing an article in response to Solway entitled "Confronting Judaism" and the subsequent vitriol I would have to endure from the American-Jewish community.

Solway writes, "they break treaties." Last time I checked Israel had broken numerous treaties, but that doesn't matter according to Solway because in the 13th century . . . It seems at face value the rational he is presenting is unbiased and just a warning but his goal is to inspire hatred of the Muslim. In my view, Solway and his clique of writers are idol worshippers posing as Jews and their idol is hate. They should be writing on the margins in their own hate-zones, not on public op-ed forums like Arts & Opinion.

I think Arts & Opinion has to take some kind of stand on the rhetoric of so-called intellectual analysis of Islam by non-Muslim self-proclaimed Zionist writers who lay out streams of nonsense and racism. They write from a hardened-salty perspective without soul.

I will continue to observe and read the great articles from your contributors and but will be very weary when seeing the word "Islam" in an article title by a non-Muslim whose body of work can be whittled down to refined racism.

"Sharia Law in the USA" can be heard here:

Cihan Kaan is a filmmaker and writer. His forthcoming book Halal Pork and Other Stories will come out in Fall 2010.

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