Monday, October 22, 2007

No need for students to fear right wing blowhards

No need for students to fear right wing blowhards

By Rebecca Mahfouz

President George W. Bush is asking taxpayers for another $46 billion to maintain his Iraq destroying hobby, the global economy is a shambles and Americans are being spied on (mostly during phone calls, as they chat about how their jobs have been outsourced and how they can't afford to see a doctor). All these minor happenings aside, the issue that, according to the far right, Americans should really be focusing on is why it's still important to hate Muslims.

That's right folks, it's Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. David Horowitz and his frantic minions will spend this week visiting universities across the country to inform us all that the "Islamofascists" have taken over our universities and are especially likely to be lurking in women's studies departments.

According to the Terrorism Awareness Project's Web site, "The nation will be rocked by the biggest conservative campus protest ever--Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, a wake-up call for Americans on 200 university and college campuses." The University of Michigan is, of course, included on the list of campuses about to be "rocked."

The week's festivities will include sit-ins at women's studies departments and campus women's centers "to protest their silence about the oppression of women in Islam," as well as "teach-ins" on the very same subject. Additionally, the list of luminaries who have signed on to speak at campus events is astonishing. Such intellectual giants as Ann Coulter and Daniel Pipes will lend their paranoiac screechings to the cacophony of hysterical anti-Muslim voices set to converge on America's universities.

Although the group is trying to frame the event in terms of "raising awareness" and fighting back against the "lies of the political left," it's actually an opportunity for Horowitz to give vent to his pathological hatred of Muslims and for his followers to intimidate and harass students and faculty who don't share their hateful views. There will, of course, be those students who are willing to jump on board the Muslim-bashing train, but I'm confident that most will let this silliness pass unremarked. A few will protest, or try to shut down the ersatz crusader gatherings on their campuses, but really, there's no need to put up much of a fuss in the face of this particular display of far-right idiocy.

Naturally, many students are distressed at yet another attack on Muslims, and are worried that the events and speakers will feed Islamophobia among college students. Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, however, will likely have the opposite of its intended effect. While the aim of the week's theatrics is to dehumanize Muslims and blame all the world's ills on a single religion and its adherents, the organizers seem unaware that universities are where the educated and those who intend to become so tend to congregate.

By using a Bushism in the very title of their event, by accusing benign organizations like the Muslim Student Association of ties to terrorist groups and by inviting the foulest of right-wing hatemongers to represent them, they've made it unnecessary for reasonable people to so much as acknowledge the presence of the loons on their campuses. The melodramatics of the organizers of "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" undermine whatever small credibility it might have had.

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