When you write about titanic events in progress, you risk appearing a fool. Nevertheless I have some strong feelings this morning with Dzhokar Tsarnaev still at large that I cannot resist spelling out.
Over the last few days I have wanted to write about an article published by David Sirota on Salon, which was commented on admirably by my colleagues Roger Kimball and Richard Fernandez. Sirota wrote to express his hope that the Boston Bombers would be white Americans, because otherwise our putative race-hatred of Muslims or people of color of any sort would be enhanced. It’s all about “white skin privilege,” doncha know?
Today Sirota seems like an imbecile (well, he did before), but I would venture to say he doesn’t know why. So I will spell it out for him: the War on Terror (euphemism alert) is not about skin color. It is about ideology, Islamic ideology.
The Tsarnaevs are white people in the purest sense. They are Caucasians from the Caucasus, of all things, but they believe in Allah — do or die, apparently.
Too young for the civil rights movement, Sirota is an adherent of an ultra-bourgeois nostalgia for racism that hides under the ludicrous rubric “progressive.” It’s laughable, but it’s also sad and dangerous.
It avoids a confrontation with the great issue of our time — what to do about Islam, an all-consuming ideology that seeks to engulf the world. The Sirotas of our culture want to downplay that but the reality remains.
Sloughing this off on “white skin privilege” is particularly worrisome, even venal, because many will believe it. As one who was heavily active in the days that term was invented (’60s) and helped promulgate it in my writing and speechmaking, I can attest to how dangerous it is. Its intention was never really to cure racism, but to perpetuate it, to increase racial enmity by pointing the finger at people who were, if anything, only culpable in the most remote sense.
Sirota and his ilk are contemporary dupes of our 1960’s lie. We all pay the price for it.
Now the focus will shift to that other dubious term, Islamophobia. We should beware of being Islamophobic.
What does that mean? We should ignore that people around the world are killing each other and innocent others in the name of one version or other of Islam? The numbers doing that are staggering.
And why is this a phobia? A phobia implies that it is not happening. It is.
A hopeful sign has been the reaction of the Tsarnaev’s uncle, who is appalled by the actions of his nephews and is calling for Dzhokar to turn himself in.
We need more of this, much more. Organizations like CAIR, that spend so much time looking for prejudice and so-called Islamophobia, should look instead to reform the views of their own people. They could start with the rights of women and homosexuals and then move on to revising the whole idea of jihad and the way Islamic cultures treat other religions and peoples.
The Islamic people of the world need a reformation in the most extraordinary way. Ignoring that, as do the Sirotas of our culture, will not help it happen.
Image courtesy shutterstock / Lorelyn Medina