Saturday, January 29, 2011

Islamophobia or Islamonausea? Los Angeles Still Doesn’t Get It

Paul Schnee

Last month the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution supporting “any legislation that would oppose Islamophobia and random acts of violence against Muslims.” This is at a time when there are over 35,000 gang members on the streets of Los Angeles, when the school system is in distress and when there is a budget deficit of over $200 million. Rahm Emanuel once famously said that a crisis should never be allowed to go to waste, but the Los Angeles City Council is wasting its time addressing a crisis that does not exist. An epidemic of anti-Muslim sentiment might well have been expected in America shortly after 9/11. It didn’t happen then and it’s not happening now. The FBI statistics for 2009 and the LA County Hate Crime Report published by the Anti-Defamation League both show that 4% of religious hate crimes in Los Angeles County are committed against Muslims as opposed to 3% against Protestants, 9% against other Christians, 13% against Scientologists and, wait for it, 65% against Jews. The ADL’s report is compiled using official crime statistics as well as information provided to and evaluated by ADL’s professional staff, by law enforcement officers, by community leaders and by victims.

The term “Islamophobia” implies that Americans and, in the specific case of this resolution, Angelenos have an irrational fear of Islam. Considering the attacks against us on 9/11 and the ones in Bali, Madrid, London, Glasgow’s airport and Mumbai were all carried out by Muslim terrorists there is nothing in the least phobic about the public’s attitude toward radical Islam. The shoe-bomber, the underwear-bomber, the Times Square bomber and Major Hasan at Fort Hood in Texas were all devotees of Islam. However, it is resolutions of this sort along with the insistence on the part of our president that Islam has played a vital and important role in American life, when the facts prove the opposite, that lead to an increased feeling of Islamonausea.

In America, when Muslim taxi drivers are excused from carrying blind passengers with seeing-eye dogs because the animal is an abomination to them, when Muslim check-out operators in supermarkets are excused from handling liquor or ham, when a Muslim father kills his daughter for becoming too westernized, when a Muslim husband almost decapitates his wife for seeking a divorce and when an American judge refuses to prosecute a Muslim husband for beating his wife because the beating falls within the rubric of Sharia law, our distaste for and suspicion of this retrograde ideology increases by leaps and bounds.

We already have laws that would punish “random acts of violence” as well as hate-crimes. When one considers this unnecessary and pandering resolution one starts to question the source of election funds. Add to this concern the real possibility of the United Nations actually thinking about a resolution to ban any criticism of Islam and our sense that there is an enormous effort underway to institutionalize Islamic totalitarianism, together with the violence and terror it always engenders, becomes even more acute. It is highly discouraging that the Los Angeles City Council would sink to the level of this enterprise. By this anxious act of political correctness the City Council have aligned themselves with a sickening ideology that subjugates women, gleefully hangs homosexuals, and persecutes non-Muslim minorities throughout the world. Thus they become hypocrites to their own values. Their resolution is so nonsensical that it slanders nonsense.

Passing this resolution reinforces the entirely false impression that we are involved in a clash between civilizations when, in fact, we are involved in a clash between barbarism and civilization. It’s best not to get the two confused.

The resolution text:

WHEREAS, any official position of the City of Los Angeles with respect to legislation, rules, regulations or policies proposed to or pending before a local, state or federal governmental body or agency must have first been adopted in the form of a Resolution by the City Council with the concurrence of the Mayor; and

WHEREAS, the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission and various civic and religious stakeholders have worked to resolve various levels of conflict impacting residents of our City; and

WHEREAS, the City of Los Angeles facilitates access to local government by empowering communities with the knowledge and skills to participate effectively. Los Angeles is comprised of diverse populations that are easily overlooked without proper attention: 47% of the City is foreign-born, speaks 224 languages, and affiliates with 600 religious sects; and
WHEREAS, the City of Los Angeles has historically opposed hate crimes and random acts of violence in previous actions of the council such as the Jewish Federation Alliance in 2008 (CF:08-0100-S1), The Beith David Educational Center Temple in Tarzana (CF:06-0010-S23) in 2006, The Hate Crimes Report (CF:03-2746) of 2002, Shadow Hills Burning Cross Incident (CF:99-0010-S39) in 1999; Hate Crime Destruction at the Go For Broke Monument in Little Tokyo (CF:04-001-S17) in 2004 ,the LAUSD Racial and Ethnic strife in the San Fernando Valley and South Los Angeles (CF:05-0731) in 2005; and

WHEREAS, the concept of religious pluralism is used to describe the significance of interfaith dialogue between members of different religious groups with the goal of minimizing conflicts between the different groups; and

WHEREAS, the City of Los Angeles’ commitment to pluralism and to the free exercise of religion are the cornerstone of American values that have helped produce one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse and vibrant cities in the world; and

WHEREAS, there has been a marked nationwide increase in acts of violence, discrimination and hostility directed at Muslim Americans on the basis of their religious identity including here in Southern California; and

WHEREAS, this rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, commonly called Islamophobia, has contributed to opposition to the lawful construction and expansion of religious centers across the United States, including in Tennessee, Wisconsin, Illinois, Connecticut and California; and

WHEREAS, more than two dozen mosques across America have been the targets of vandalism, arson and other hateful acts in the past two years. In addition, hate crimes and incidents have increased tremendously in recent months and have led to hostile environments for many Muslim Americans; and

WHEREAS, The City of Los Angeles has a history of opposing various degrees of discrimination and supporting the rights to religious liberty and equal protection and recognizing that when those rights are threatened for some they are weakened for all; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, with the concurrence of the Mayor, that by the adoption of this Resolution, the City of Los Angeles hereby includes in its 2011-2012 State and Federal Legislative Program, support and sponsorship of any legislation which would OPPOSE Islamophobia and repudiate random acts of violence against Muslim Americans.

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