American Islamic Terror: A Symptom of Victimhood?

Following every Islamic extremist attack in the United States, there is an inevitable attempt by the mainstream media and Islamic apologists to dissociate the attacker from “true Islam” as well as to project a certain amount of blame onto American society for its continuous marginalization of Muslims. Islamic apologists frequently claim that the predominantly white, Christian American Volksgeist encourages the persecution of Muslims and leads to feelings of social and religious isolation among Muslim Americans. As a result, a number of young Muslims become extremely susceptible to online radicalization campaigns and subsequently commit acts of terror against American citizens.

On November 28, a terrorist attack occurred at Ohio State University when a Somalian refugee drove a car into a university courtyard and then proceeded to attack students with a butcher knife. A few months prior, the attacker had complained in the school’s student newspaper about rampant Islamophobia on campus, and just before committing the attack he had posted a rant on Facebook about America’s military actions in the Muslim world. Following the attack, Professor Engy Abdelkader of Georgetown University appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight asserting that indeed, toxic Islamophobia in America was a leading cause of such acts of terrorism. “Cultural homelessness”, she claimed, “where they [Muslim immigrants] don’t necessarily feel that they identify with their home country… and they also feel alienated from their new host country”, makes Muslim immigrants susceptible to radicalization.

Abdelkader, who continuously refused to acknowledge the possibility that any reformations might be needed within the American Muslim community itself, thus implied that the real cause of the Ohio State terrorist attack was Islamophobia. The true guilt of the attack lay with the American citizenry on account of its unwillingness to make Islamic refugees feel accepted. Moreover, the issue at hand, in both her view and the views of many other Muslim apologists, is not with the violent actions of the immigrants themselves but with the refusal of the American people to fully accommodate Muslim immigrants’ way of life.

CNN recently featured a piece by Daniel Burke entitled “The Secret Costs of Islamophobia”, in which the current plight of American Muslims is decorously attributed to the close-mindedness of the American people. In this article, Burke asserts that even after 9/11 most Americans claim to know little to nothing about Islam. He adds “few things are more frightening than ignorance in action”, and proceeds to provide a litany of hate crimes perpetrated against American Muslims by ignorant and bigoted “Islamophobes”. It is curious that he dedicates an overwhelming amount of text to listing these hate crimes in detail but only mentions in passing the high number of attacks committed by American Muslims in the United States.

The extreme alienation which American Muslims feel, according to Burke, causes them to seek intellectual asylum overseas, importing foreign imams to American mosques and remotely following the teachings of leaders in their home countries. Burke cites Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, the cofounder of the first accredited Islamic university in the United States, who once wrote that he felt alienated upon returning to the United States from his studies in the Middle East and thought that to be a good Muslim he had to surrender some of his “American-ness”. According to Burke, this widespread sense of alienation and victimization among American Muslims leads to feelings of emptiness, isolation, and disconnection from society. Moreover, it is because of these feelings that radicalization becomes possible.  

Burke does not only focus on modern, post-9/11 Islamophobia in the United States. Rather, he traces the justification of Islam’s victimhood status in America all the way back to Christopher Columbus’ motivation to seek out “new riches” in the New World to fight against the Turks. Moreover, he even imports accusations of racism into his narrative by discussing the arrival of African Muslim slaves onto American shores and how in the 20th century, marginalized black Americans were drawn to movements such as the Moorish Science Temple and the Nation of Islam. Burke frames his historical analysis of American Islamophobia in terms of what he calls “America’s oldest idea: that this land is, and should always be, a white Christian nation.” Thus, it is with the white, Christian tradition that the American Muslim community appears to find itself at odds. Moreover, it is on account of the rampant and historical oppression inflicted by the American Christian tradition upon the Muslim world that radicalization becomes viewable through a sympathetic lens.     

Following every Islamic extremist attack in the United States, there is an inevitable attempt by the mainstream media and Islamic apologists to dissociate the attacker from “true Islam” as well as to project a certain amount of blame onto American society for its continuous marginalization of Muslims. Islamic apologists frequently claim that the predominantly white, Christian American Volksgeist encourages the persecution of Muslims and leads to feelings of social and religious isolation among Muslim Americans. As a result, a number of young Muslims become extremely susceptible to online radicalization campaigns and subsequently commit acts of terror against American citizens.

On November 28, a terrorist attack occurred at Ohio State University when a Somalian refugee drove a car into a university courtyard and then proceeded to attack students with a butcher knife. A few months prior, the attacker had complained in the school’s student newspaper about rampant Islamophobia on campus, and just before committing the attack he had posted a rant on Facebook about America’s military actions in the Muslim world. Following the attack, Professor Engy Abdelkader of Georgetown University appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight asserting that indeed, toxic Islamophobia in America was a leading cause of such acts of terrorism. “Cultural homelessness”, she claimed, “where they [Muslim immigrants] don’t necessarily feel that they identify with their home country… and they also feel alienated from their new host country”, makes Muslim immigrants susceptible to radicalization.

Abdelkader, who continuously refused to acknowledge the possibility that any reformations might be needed within the American Muslim community itself, thus implied that the real cause of the Ohio State terrorist attack was Islamophobia. The true guilt of the attack lay with the American citizenry on account of its unwillingness to make Islamic refugees feel accepted. Moreover, the issue at hand, in both her view and the views of many other Muslim apologists, is not with the violent actions of the immigrants themselves but with the refusal of the American people to fully accommodate Muslim immigrants’ way of life.

CNN recently featured a piece by Daniel Burke entitled “The Secret Costs of Islamophobia”, in which the current plight of American Muslims is decorously attributed to the close-mindedness of the American people. In this article, Burke asserts that even after 9/11 most Americans claim to know little to nothing about Islam. He adds “few things are more frightening than ignorance in action”, and proceeds to provide a litany of hate crimes perpetrated against American Muslims by ignorant and bigoted “Islamophobes”. It is curious that he dedicates an overwhelming amount of text to listing these hate crimes in detail but only mentions in passing the high number of attacks committed by American Muslims in the United States.

The extreme alienation which American Muslims feel, according to Burke, causes them to seek intellectual asylum overseas, importing foreign imams to American mosques and remotely following the teachings of leaders in their home countries. Burke cites Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, the cofounder of the first accredited Islamic university in the United States, who once wrote that he felt alienated upon returning to the United States from his studies in the Middle East and thought that to be a good Muslim he had to surrender some of his “American-ness”. According to Burke, this widespread sense of alienation and victimization among American Muslims leads to feelings of emptiness, isolation, and disconnection from society. Moreover, it is because of these feelings that radicalization becomes possible.  

Burke does not only focus on modern, post-9/11 Islamophobia in the United States. Rather, he traces the justification of Islam’s victimhood status in America all the way back to Christopher Columbus’ motivation to seek out “new riches” in the New World to fight against the Turks. Moreover, he even imports accusations of racism into his narrative by discussing the arrival of African Muslim slaves onto American shores and how in the 20th century, marginalized black Americans were drawn to movements such as the Moorish Science Temple and the Nation of Islam. Burke frames his historical analysis of American Islamophobia in terms of what he calls “America’s oldest idea: that this land is, and should always be, a white Christian nation.” Thus, it is with the white, Christian tradition that the American Muslim community appears to find itself at odds. Moreover, it is on account of the rampant and historical oppression inflicted by the American Christian tradition upon the Muslim world that radicalization becomes viewable through a sympathetic lens.     

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