Monday, December 7, 2015

Anti-Islam Rhetoric Will Do Nothing to Stop Terror

Nashwa Khan,

image from

The recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have spurred a wave of anti-Islam sentiment among politicians and public figures in the United States. ... 
Perhaps most tellingly, presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich gave a speech last month showing how he would create an agency mandated to spread “Judeo-Christian values,” followed by a piece in TIME reiterating his stance on the need for boots on the ground to combat the terror group ISIS.
Far from spreading any nuanced understanding of the political climate or empathy between communities, these sentiments play into an imperialist framework, one that suggests the only moral way of life is one consistent with a narrow set of beliefs belonging to specific faith groups in the West. For that matter, “Judeo-Christian values” will not stop terror, because promoting them in the way Kasich proposes reiterates the very divisions ISIS is exploiting and makes the assumption that Muslim values are synonymous with terror, which is both Islamophobic and untrue. ... 
Furthermore, the values Kasich identifies as “Judeo-Christian” are not inherently linked to religion alone. Kasich stated, “U.S. public diplomacy and international broadcasting have lost their focus on the case for Western values and ideals and effectively countering our opponents’ propaganda and disinformation. I will consolidate them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core, Judeo-Christian Western values that we and our friends and allies share—the values of human rights, the values of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association.”
When has Christianity or Judaism ever been the only places for such values to exist—and where in those scriptures are these values particularly promoted? It seems as if Kasich is using these religions to disguise a paternalistic, condescending agenda that overlooks the possibility of morals without Judaism or Christianity, implying that they have to be taught to those who are not Jewish or Christian. This agenda also erases the fact that Islam promotes many of the same values as the Jewish and Christian faith. A number of fundamental Muslim values are anchored in human rights and equity, but all of these have been erased in the waves of Islamophobic rhetoric. ...

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