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Making Muslims the Enemy
Peter Gottschalk and Gabriel Greenberg
In the minds of many Americans, Islam is synonymous with the Middle East, Muslim men with violence, and Muslim women with oppression. In the post-9/11 world, a clash of civilizations appears to be increasingly manifest and the War on Terror seems a struggle against Islam. These are symptoms of Islamophobia.
The term "Islamophobia" accurately reflects the largely unexamined and deeply ingrained anxiety many Americans experience when considering Islam and Muslim cultures. Historically, Americans have seldom given voice to these anxieties since they have had, until the last half-century, few connections to Muslim cultures and a small domestic Muslim minority. However, in times of crisis, such as the Iranian hostage situation or, most recently, the September 11th attacks, the long-simmering resentments, suspicions, and fears inherited along with a Christian European heritage manifest themselves most directly in conditions that appear to affirm Americans' darkest concerns. Like a vicious cyclone feeding off of its own energy, Islamophobia takes uncommon events as evidence fitting its worst expectations and turns these into proof that perpetuates those ill-informed expectations.
explores the presence of these anxieties through the political cartoon—the print medium with the most immediate impact. This book shows graphically how political cartoons dramatically reveal Americans' casual demonizing and demeaning of Muslims and Islam. And the villainizing is shown to be as common among liberals as conservatives.
also discusses the misunderstanding of the Muslim world more generally, such as the assumption that Islam is primarily a Middle Eastern religion, where as the majority of Muslims live in South and Southeast Asia, and the misperception that a significant portion of Muslims are militant fundamentalists, where as only a small proportion are.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7425-5286-9 • Hardback • July 2007 •
Political Science / Civil Rights
Religion / Islam / General
Religion / RELIGION / Politics & State
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is associate professor of religion at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. He is the author of
Beyond Hindu and Muslim
is a recent Wesleyan graduate specializing in history.
2 Chapter One: Overview of Western Encounters with Muslims
3 Chapter Two: Symbols of Islam, Symbols of Difference
4 Chapter Three: Stereotyping Muslims and Establishing the American Norm
5 Chapter Four: Extreme Muslims and the American Middle Ground
6 Chapter Five: Moments
8 Note on terms and names
This ground-breaking book should be read and reread-readers will become acutely aware how cartoonists have repeatedly disparaged all things Muslim and Arab. The book teaches us to see beyond damaging stereotypes. It is a remarkable achievement, illustrating that although there exists a fine line between satire and racism.
Jack G. Shaheen, author, Reel Bad Arabs
If 9/ll jolted Americans into a new awareness of Islam, it has produced less insight and understanding than caricature and fear. Part of the knowledge gap is due to Muslims themselves, but the larger problem derives from deliberate distortions projected via the media (radio, TV, print and the Internet) in concert with scurrilous scholarship and Christian right Islamophobes. This deftly constructed and amply illustrated volume by Gottschalk and Greenberg will expose Islamophobic distortions while also providing a much needed antidote to their public venom.
Bruce Lawrence, Duke University
As Islamophobia threatens to become the new anti-Semitism,
Islamophobia: Making Islam the Enemy
becomes 'must' reading. Gottschalk and Greenberg perceptively and graphically demonstrate the extent to which prejudice and discrimination against Islam and Muslims have become inherent in American mainstream culture.
John L. Esposito, author, What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam
is an important contribution to the understanding of prejudice as a common factor in American culture, particularly the media. The analysis of political cartoons convincingly shows how pervasively anti-Arab and anti-Muslim attitudes have become accepted, even by people who probably consider themselves fair-minded. This study needs to be read by everyone concerned with the problems of religious and racial bias in America today.
Carl W. Ernst, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
A must read for anyone interested in understanding the underlying challenges that Muslims face in America. Provides an important insight into the stereotyping of Muslims that daily projects them as the different 'other.'
Yvonne Haddad, Georgetown University
Islamophobia. Making Islam the Enemy
is a very well-written, timely and incisive book about a topic that is finally starting to win the attention of the American public. The authors take the reader through a journey of Western suspicion and prejudicial depiction of the religion of Islam, from the Crusades to more recent political encounters with Muslim powers. They present a fascinating review of American media presentations of Islam and Muslims, including film, television and political cartoons.
is a fairly presented, sharply critical exposé of the roots and manifestations of western fear and suspicion of this important world religion. It should be required of every high school and college student of history, political science and American social studies.
Jane Smith, Hartford Theological Seminary
Gottschalk, a professor of religion at Wesleyan University, and his former student Greenberg analyze what Islamophobia is and how it is manifested through political cartoons, many of which are included with revealing results...With its incendiary cover art and on the heels of the Danish cartoon controversy, this book should attract well-deserved attention.
Contains a thoughtful discussion and is bound to stimulate interest among readers.
Middle East Journal
, Winter 2008
This slim volume by Gottschalk and Greenberg is a splendid teaching tool for classroom use, not only because it provides a readily accessible narrative about American stereotyping of Islam and Muslims, but also due to its focus on the political cartoon. This would be a beneficial text for undergraduate courses on Islam or the Middle East, since it is both accessible and tackles a popular art form that has almost universal appeal.
Daniel Martin Varisco, Hofstra University; author of Islam Obscured: The Rhetoric of Anthropological Representation
; Contemporary Islam
, December 3, 2008
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