…American media and the far right, ably assisted by Israel’s friends, acted as echo chambers of an administration to whom Muslims are an existential threat out to destroy Western civilization. Demonizing Islam and Muslims, largely unchallenged, became a daily occurrence on prime-time television.
It is said that before 9/11 nobody in America knew anything about Islam and after the terrorist attacks on Twin Towers everybody knew everything about Islam. Of course, what they presented was a hideously distorted image of the faith. All you need to know to be invited to lead a debate about Islam as a TV host or speak about Islam as an expert is to repeat some words like “salafi” or “jihad.” Islam thus became a faith persistently maligned in the public sphere, with little or no ability or opportunity to challenge its public perception.
Even before the 9/11 attacks Arabs and Muslims used to face sweeping stereotypes about their culture and religion in Hollywood films and television shows. The 9/11 attacks and the war on terror gave them unfettered freedom to indulge in their negative portrayal of a great religion.
All this served the Israeli purpose. According to the discourse encouraged by pro-Israeli pundits, Palestinians’ struggle against the occupation is part of Muslims’ war against Judeo-Christian civilization.
But the language spouted by Bill Maher and others, who insist that Muslims represent a threat to Western values, take a different form when it reaches parking lots or shopping malls as we saw in North Carolina last week…