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The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims Paperback – September 18, 2012
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
- Paperback : 248 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0745332536
- ISBN-13 : 978-0745332536
- Product Dimensions : 5.7 x 0.54 x 10.82 inches
- Publisher : Pluto Press (September 18, 2012)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,972,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This book is well written, clear, and abundant of true-life examples that demonstrate the results of Islamophobia and the lives it ruins, or ends. Lean names names, quoting the words of Islamophobes at length. Much of what they say is truly sobering, if not outright terrifying. After reading the book, the reader should have several antidotes at her disposal to demonstrate to others the grave threat the Islamophobia industry poses to democracy, justice, and world stability.
This book is also a call to a response. It names an evil, and should leave the reader with no other response than to take action. Not only are the lives and freedoms of millions of American Muslims at stake, the Islamophobia industry makes possible unjust and criminal United States military action abroad. Islamophobia is a threat to the entire world. However, if you need convincing, please read this book.
Top reviews from other countries
This is a must read for every Muslim and those who want to stand up against hate.
In this informative book Nathan Lean introduces and exposes some of the main American promulgators of "Islamophobia" (such as Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller), shedding light on their histories, motives, and biases. This is instructive and appreciated - though sometimes over-stretched. For instance, Lean dedicates a chapter to a documentary titled "Obsession", drawing particular attention to the film's funding and agenda. What he fails to mention about this documentary is that it begins by making a clear distinction between the majority of law-abiding, secular Muslims, as opposed to the radical Islamists which it will focus on. Is the documentary alarmist? Sure. Biased? Absolutely. Dishonest? Yep. But Islamophobic..? Maybe not. Strictly speaking, anyway.
Occasional moments of simplification and guilt-by-association aside, Lean does do a decent enough job of nailing his targets (even if he does bypass most of their arguments and claims along the way). But having achieved this, the author must also link their work to the rise in anti-Muslim sentiments among the general population. It's here that he falls a bit flat. Early on, he writes:
"Few writers or scholars would be so bold as to argue that public fear and anxiety of Muslims is an entirely fabricated phenomenon. I hasten not to break their ranks and wade into the waters of what is certainly an untenable position."
(Kindle Edition; Loc 476)
Despite having written these words, Lean nonetheless continues as though delusion really is the only possible motive. At one point he dismissively writes:
"It could not have been the extensive presence of Muslim terrorists that led to the catharsis of fear. There simply were not many."
True enough, but terrorism isn't the only relevant factor. It's not as though there's nothing controversial about mainstream Muslim attitudes and practices (not to mention that framing the issue in terms of "fear" rather than "disagreement" is also misleading.) This is as true on this side of the pond as it is in America. One much-publicised 2007 opinion poll found that 36% of British Muslims aged between 16 and 24 agreed that Muslim conversion [i.e. apostasy] is forbidden and punishable by death; it was also the case that 61% of British Muslims believed that homosexuality is wrong and should be illegal. Perhaps there's been some sort of misunderstanding here. Maybe those numbers aren't as damning as they at first appear. Who knows? But still, in the absence of any specific reason to dismiss these findings, might we at least agree that figures such as these might count as a reason for concern? If I had been brought up in a Muslim household, and found myself having doubts about my faith, or if I suddenly found myself attracted to other guys... I think these numbers would bother me a bit. Unfortunately, Lean neglects to addresses any of these legitimate concerns, thereby setting up any criticism of Islam as a symptom of bigotry (see his recent and determinedly uncharitable assessment of Sam Harris and the New Atheists for more of that sort of dishonesty.)
Moreover, what of the West's long historical struggle to extricate itself from theocratic tyranny? Might this not be a psychological factor that could account for negative attitudes towards pious Muslims..? Granted, this is more of an issue in Europe than it is in America, but even in the States there's a great deal of suspicion towards anything that smacks of theocracy and fanaticism. That's why one rarely hears a single kind word about Pat Robertson. In defence of the old fool, I feel that it's only fair to mention that he's never openly declared that people who lose faith in Christ should be put to death. That's more than can be said for those young British Muslims that I mentioned earlier - or the countless Islamic scholars throughout the world that are in agreement with them.
It's often claimed that critics of Islam see the faith and its adherents as alien and "Other", but might it not be precisely the reverse? Maybe the dislike many people have for Islam reflects their rejection of their own civilisation's Dark Age..? There was a time when Christians also put people to death for heresy. Nobody wants to go back to that. In other words, it's not that Muslims are mistakenly perceived as "Other", but rather that they have -rightly or wrongly- become associated with the West's own dark and familiar past.
Lean never considers or explores this matter. Actually, he doesn't make ANY attempt to understand where these negative attitudes come from, aside from insinuating that it's all the fault of the Islamophobia industry. Maybe there is a cottage industry of pundits who want to promote hatred of Muslims, but perhaps it's also true that many Muslims really do hold disturbing attitudes that any liberal-minded citizen should be concerned about and disagree with - why assume that the two points are mutually exclusive? We don't need to pick sides here. We just need to keep level heads and open minds - Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Long story short, it would seem that Lean is rather too quick to cry racism and bigotry, though in light of what he reveals in his book we can certainly say that there is a great deal of that to be found among some of Islam's more vocal critics and their fans. As such, this book works better when it focuses on the character assassination of specific individuals, rather than on broader socio-political commentary.
Occasional whitewashing aside, the book remains a useful resource, which should be required reading for anybody who has an interest in the subject.
The book talks about the motives some financial of celebrity Islamophobes such as the Bombastic Pamela Geller who deliberately encourages prejudice but has never been convicted and this causes division and alienation amongst different communities increasing discontent. It is one thing to objectively criticise and fairly debate that is relevant to the situation which is legitimate freedom of speech. But a unilateral approach has been prevailing to promote hate by using posters to promote such antipathy which also influenced the carnage in Norway in 2009 but this was not reported in the media. Europe is also covered on why with the problems of immigration and social deterioration it is also becoming a trend there. Terrorist attacks have decreased and have been rare and yes there are issues amongst the Muslim community as there are in any other immigrant community which are highlighted by such authors as Tariq Ramadan.
Anyone who feels that this book is an apologist for terrorism has never read it or has a shallow understanding of this complicated subject no different to its promoters. I would recommend for background understanding the the works of the late Edward Said and the writings of John Pilger. To conclude the IRA did many atrocious acts of terrorism even blowing up Lord Mountbatten the Queens uncle but nobody pointed the finger at Catholicism.