By Moustafa Bayoumi | The Nation | August 10, 2012 | [Original Article]
"The tragedy of the shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, is enormous. Six innocent people were gunned down in a Sikh temple by a white supremacist—but they weren’t innocent because they were Sikh, they were innocent because, well, they were innocent! Had Wade Michael Page walked into a mosque and begun shooting Muslims, the victims of his rampage would have been no more deserving of death.
It’s true that we don’t yet know Page’s precise motivations, but in all likelihood it wasn’t Sikhophobia, a term barely known in the United States. It was Islamophobia. That’s why to say that Page made a “mistake” in targeting Sikhs, as many have reported, or that Sikhs are “unfairly” targeted as Muslims, as CNN stated, is to imply that it would be “correct” to attack Muslims. Well, it’s not, and even if this is an error embedded in the routine carelessness of cable news, we need to be attentive to the implications..."
"...But Islamophobia is real. Not only does it exist but it’s an increasingly toxic part of the political discourse of this country. To think that the compulsive hatred and fear of Muslims is reserved for the extreme right is to wall oneself off from how mainstream conservative discourse participates in this paranoid obsession that the old America is being nefariously and surreptitiously taken away from them. At bottom, this is an anxiety about the loss of privileges and power, quite likely related though not exclusively driven by downward economic mobility. (The New York Times offered the suggestive detail that property Page owned in North Carolina was foreclosed on in January.) Whatever the causes, the form that this hatred takes is cultural, and Muslims, Mexicans, non-white immigrants, really anyone who isn’t “American” by the most conservative definition becomes suspect..." [Read More]