News Release

“The Muslims Are Coming!”

ARUN KUNDNANI, arun at kundnani.org, @ArunKundnani
Kundnani is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror and a lecturer at New York University. His articles include “The belief system of the Islamophobes.”

He tweeted last night: “Glaring contradiction at heart of #ObamaSpeech: we mustn’t discriminate against Muslims but they’re responsible for stopping terrorism.”

He said in a recent piece: “The promise of the ‘war on terror’ was that we would kill them ‘over there’ so they would not kill us ‘over here.’ Hence mass violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Yemen, and Somalia — in the name of peace in the west. The ‘Authorization to Use Military Force’ that the U.S. Congress passed in the days after 9/11 already defined the whole world as a battlefield in the ‘war on terror.’ President Obama continues to rely on the authorization to give his drone-killing program a veneer of legality. …

“We all know the ‘war on terrorism’ kills more civilians than terrorism does; but we tolerate this because it is ‘their’ civilians being killed in places we imagine to be far away. Yet colonial history teaches us that violence always ‘comes home’ in some form. …

“For Muslim citizens in western states, these dynamics bring an enormous burden: they are reduced to the false choice of moderate or extremist, good Muslim or bad Muslim. The question that hovers over their very being is whether they will detach themselves from their connections to zones of violence abroad or channel that violence within the west. But this question is not posed directly; it is always displaced onto the plane of culture: do you accept western values?

“This framework imposes itself relentlessly on Muslim public expression, rendering suspicious anyone who refuses to engage in rituals of loyalty to western culture. Meanwhile, ISIS casts these Muslims as living in the ‘grey zone’ between western imperialism and the claim of a revived caliphate.

“What results is a mutual reinforcing of the militarized identity narrative on both sides: the jihadists point to numerous speeches by western leaders to support their claim of a war on Islam; and western leaders legitimize war with talk of a ‘generational struggle’ between western values and Islamic extremism.”