The Ideological Campaign
Against Muslims
Stephen Sheehi


ISBN: 0-932863-67-1
ISBN13: 978-0-932863-67-6
Paperback $16.95  Pub. Date: Feb. 1, 2011


    Stephen Sheehi is Associate Professor of Arabic and Arab Culture and Director of the Arabic
    Program at the University of South Carolina. He teaches intellectual, literary, cultural, and artistic
    heritage of Arabo-Islamic world. His work interrogates various modalities of self, society, art and
    political economy with Arab modernity.

    He is the author of Foundations of Modern Arab Identity, which examines the foundational writing
    of intellectuals of the 19th century Arab Renaissance or al-nahdah al-`arabiyah. The book
    discusses how Arab intellectuals offered a powerful cultural self-criticism along side their
    critiques and discussions of modernity, capitalism and European imperialism.

    He has also published in journals such as International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, The
    British Journal of Middle East Studies, Discourse, Critique, The Journal of Arabic Literature, and
    The Journal of Comparative South Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Studies.

    He has also written on the contemporary politics in Lebanon and academic repression in the
    United States.

    In addition to his scholarship, Prof. Sheehi has also been active in social justice movements in
    the Middle East and North America.



    Preface                                 Mumia Abu Jamal
    Foreword                                Ward Churchill


    Bringing Hate Speech into the American Mainstream
    Islamophobia as an Ideological Formation of US Empire
    Clinton-Bush-Obama: Islamophobia Continuity
    Vagaries of Islamophobia: Europe and the United States
    Orientalism vs. Islamophobia: Historical Variations

    Chapter One
    How Islamophobia Is Not Just Prejudice
    Ideology is Not a Conspiracy or Party Platform
    The Network of a Media-Intellectual
    Think-Tanks and Policy Institutes
    The Pragmatist Center
    Strategy Groups and Brain-Trusts
    The Institutional Network of Bernard Lewis
    The Master’s Discourse and the Students’ Vision
    Open Letter to President Clinton
    Bush’s War Network
    Fouad Ajami as [White] House Arab

    Chapter Two
    Academic Pretensions of Empire: Bernard Lewis  
    The Arc of Ideological Scholarship
    Post-Modern Mission Civilisatrice
    Taxonomy of the Siege: Fareed Zakaria
    Ignoring History: Neoliberalism as Modernity
    Systemic Failure to Systematic Reform
    The Force of a Homegrown Success

    Chapter Three
    The B-List: Native Islamophobes  
    Enter the A-List Propagandists: The Heroic Victims
    Pablum as Fact: The Tabloid Legacy of Lewis and
    Failure and the Politics of Reversal
    Islam’s “Submission” versus the Capitalist Jihad  
    Force Against/For Women: Muslim Irresponsibility and
    Western Responsibility
    Co-opting Feminism and Wars of (Women’s) Liberation

    Chapter Four
    Controlling Middle Eastern Studies
    Coordinating an Atmosphere of Fear
    Manuals of Repression
    The Mandible of Power
    Squadristi, Campus Cops and FBI on Campus

    Chapter Five
    A National Culture of Repression
    Hating the Other: Contextualizing Contemporary Hate-Acts
    The Psychology of Interment
    Techniques of Mainstreaming Cultural Islamophobia
    Engendering Fear to Engineer Consent
    Anesthetizing White America  
    Hyper-Sensitizing White America
    Flying While Muslim
    Islamophobia as the Ideological Dimension of US Middle
    East Foreign Policy
    Mass Arrests, Deportations, Special Registrations and
    “Watch Lists”
    The National Security State Emerges
    The War on Philanthropy
    Living in the Black Holes of a New “Normal”

    Chapter Six
    Bush’s “Dictionary of War” and the Lexicon of Punditry  
    The Hope and Change of Obama’s Nation
    The Lewis-Zakaria Effect
    The Nobel War Lecture and the Hard Reality of Soft
    Paradigm Shifts within Empire Management
    The Phoenix Institute’s “Strategic Leadership” Framework
    Hillary Clinton, the “National Security Team” and the
    Smartness of Power
    Obama the Non-Muslim
    It’s Israel, Stupid
    Ideology Wags the Dog   

    Muslim and Arab Americans Resist
    Political Islam as an Ideological Formation
    Ideology Over Lobbies and Oil
    Islamophobia and Keeping US Empire Relevant
    Reality Check
    The End of the Beginning



    Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims examines the rise of anti-Muslim and
    anti-Arab sentiments in the West following the end of the Cold War through GW Bush’s War on
    Terror to the Age of Obama. Using “Operation Desert Storm” as a watershed moment, Stephen
    Sheehi examines the increased mainstreaming of Muslim-bating rhetoric and explicitly racist
    legislation, police surveillance, witch-trials and discriminatory policies towards Muslims in North
    America and abroad.

    The book focuses on the various genres and modalities of Islamophobia from the works of rogue
    academics to the commentary by mainstream journalists, to campaigns by political hacks and
    special interest groups. Some featured Islamophobes are Bernard Lewis. Fareed Zakaria,
    Thomas Friedman, David Horowitz, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney,
    John McCain, Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama. Their theories and opinions operate on an
    assumption that Muslims, particularly Arab Muslims, suffer from particular cultural lacuna that
    prevent their cultures from progress, democracy and human rights. While the assertion
    originated in the colonial era, Sheehi demonstrates that it was refurbished as a viable
    explanation for Muslim resistance to economic and cultural globalization during the Clinton era.
    Moreover, the theory was honed into the empirical basis for an interventionist foreign policy and
    propaganda campaign during the Bush regime and continues to underlie Barack Obama’s new

    If the assertions of media pundits and rogue academics became the basis for White House
    foreign policy, Sheehi also demonstrates how they were translated into a sustained domestic
    policy of racial profiling and Muslim-baiting by agencies from Homeland Security to the
    Department of Justice. Furthermore, Sheehi examines the collusion between non-governmental
    agencies, activist groups and lobbies and local, state and federal agencies in suppressing
    political speech on US campuses critical of racial profiling, US foreign policy in the Middle East
    and Israel. While much of the direct violence against Muslims on American streets, shops and
    campuses has subsided, Islamophobia runs throughout the Obama administration. Sheehi,
    therefore, concludes that Muslim and Arab-hating emanate from all corners of the American
    political and cultural spectrum, serving poignant ideological functions in the age of economic,
    cultural and political globalization.


    “Sheehi’s analysis of Islamophobia as an ideological formation brings a much needed dose of fresh air,
    and analytical clarity... A worthy update of Said’s seminal discussion of Orientalism and one that leaves
    few players in the contemporary foreign policy establishment, in particular so-called liberals, unscathed.”
                                                                        MARK LEVINE, author of Why They Don’t Hate Us
                                                                                                                 and Heavy Metal Islam

    "[A] brilliantly synthetic work; a gift to all who struggle to understand the anti-Muslim sentiment so
    pervasive in contemporary America. In a richly detailed yet accessible manner, Sheehi tackles post-Cold
    War American Islamophobia in all of its complexity, weaving together its liberal and neoconservative
    strands, and illustrating that we must interrogate it not as a problem of “prejudice” or “misunderstanding,”
    nor as a debate about Islam itself, but as an ideological paradigm used to structure and justify U.S.
    policies, both domestic and international."
                                                                                  NATSU TAYLOR SAITO, author of Meeting the Enemy:
                                                                                  American Exceptionalism and International Law
"...the value of this book is incalculable, and Stephen Sheehi is due our deepest
thanks and admiration for his courage in writing it."
from the Foreword by WARD CHURCHILL

    EXCERPT (from the Introduction)

    Islamophobia as an Ideological Formation of US Empire

    All of this said, Islamophobia is not a political ideology in itself nor is it an isolated dogma just as
    Islam itself is not a political ideology. Islamophobia does not have a platform or even a political
    vision. Islamophobia is something more substantive, abstract, sustained, ingrained and
    prevalent. This book contends that Islamophobia is an ideological formation. This does not
    mean that it is the purview of any particular political party. Rather, an ideological formation is
    created by a culture that deploys particular tropes, analyses and beliefs, as facts upon which
    governmental policies and social practices are framed. This book argues that Islamophobia, in
    its current form, is a new ideological formation that has taken full expression since the collapse
    of the Soviet Union. Islamophobia does not originate in one particular administration, thinker,
    philosopher, activist, media outlet, special interest group, think tank, or even economic sector or
    industry though indeed, these actors are collectively responsible for the virulent dissemination of
    anti-Muslim and anti-Arab stereotypes and beliefs, circulated in order to naturalize and justify US
    global, economic and political hegemony. The Bush administration unabashedly wore its disdain
    for Muslims and Arabs on its sleeve from the first day of his administration. The subsequent
    chapters will show that even the Clinton and Obama administrations are rife with Islamophobic
    paradigms and acts that couple with a similarly imperial American outlook. Indeed, we have
    witnessed the unprecedented mainstreaming of Islamophobia since 9/11. An extremist flake
    such as Robert Spencer, for example, has authored two vitriolic, racist screeds on Islam that
    became New York Times bestsellers while Bruce Bawer’s incendiary and hackneyed The Enemy
    Within was nominated by the prestigious National Book Critics Circle for the best book of

    While scholars, activists and community groups as well as projects such as Fairness and
    Accuracy In Reporting have taken on the ideological hacks and pseudo-intellectuals in the
    mainstream,12 this book adopts a different tack. Rather than understanding Islamophobia as a
    series of actions and beliefs that target Muslims and arise from a generic misunderstanding of
    who Muslims are and what Islam is, it reveals that Islamophobia is an ideological phenomenon
    which exists to promote political and economic goals, both domestically and abroad. The effects
    of Islamophobia can be a series of acts institutionalized by the United States government ranging
    from war to programmatic torture to extrajudicial kidnappings, incarcerations and executions to
    surveillance and entrapment. The effects of Islamophobia are experienced in the daily lives of
    Muslims who encounter harassment, discrimination and hate speech in the street, anti-Muslim
    rants on nationally syndicated television and radio shows, and hate acts such as mosque
    bombings. These effects, however, will only be understood as scattered albeit tangentially
    related acts if they are not seen to be located in a complete paradigm or discourse of
    Islamophobia that permeates American culture and society.
    For these effects to work in unison with a rhetoric that justifies them, Islamophobia must act
    concurrently on two levels; the level of thought, speech and perception; then, the material level of
    policies, violence and action. Therefore, this book is structured by a dual methodology that
    excavates how Islamophobia operates as a powerful ideological formation that facilitates
    American Empire. On the one hand, the book anchors its analysis on works by Bernard Lewis
    and Fareed Zakaria, on “native informants” such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji, and on
    speeches by presidents Bush and Obama as well as their cabinet members and underlings
    whose analyses and political philosophies provide the discursive bedrock that naturalizes and
    justifies Islamophobia as state, foreign, security, economic and energy policy, domestically and

    To streamline the massive, multifaceted ideological edifice of Islamophobia, two similar but
    competing paradigms of Islamophobia by Bernard Lewis and Fareed Zakaria will be mapped
    out. As bears repeating, these two are certainly not progenitors of the Islamophobic narratives
    deployed post 9/11, but arguably their work condenses Islamophobic narratives that have
    previously circulated and accumulated over the preceding decade. Lewis and Zakaria distilled
    many Islamophobic tenets into two separate but intersecting Islamophobic discourses that
    explicitly intend to legitimize the deployment of US political power in the Middle East and the
    control of its own domestic populations. The talking points within these two versions of
    Islamophobia are continually repeated throughout the mainstream media, in policy circles, and
    by native informants (persons of Muslim or Arab descent who are purportedly best placed to lay
    bare an inside view or critique of Arab/Islamic culture), but more importantly, echo in the
    speeches of Bush and Obama.

    On the other hand, this book will show how these Islamophobic discourses have very real
    effects. In other words, the words of Islamophobia are the raw materials for the sticks and stones
    that break Muslim bones. Through engineering, managing, mediating and directing Euro-
    American hatred and fear of Muslims and Arabs inside the US and globally, new levels of
    domestic control and surveillance could be achieved. Domestic policies that previously would
    have been considered unconstitutional, even un-American, could be justified as necessary
    matters of security and self-preservation. Torture (from water-boarding to extreme isolation of
    American defendants in the United States), racial profiling, kidnapping and extraordinary
    renditions, extrajudicial assassinations, freezing habeas corpus, and total war against and
    occupation of sovereign countries are the effects of the deployment of Islamophobic foils,
    stereotypes, paradigms and analyses.

    This book will examine the violent and not-so-subtle effects of Islamophobia, particularly how
    attacks on Muslims and Arabs in the US are multipronged. Government organizations and
    agencies work with the legislature, the Executive and even the judiciary in targeting, profiling and
    disenfranchising Muslim and Arab Americans of their Constitutional rights. Political interest
    groups, lobbies and political action committees work with local, state and federal authorities to
    isolate, intimidate and harass Muslim communities, student organizations, activists, and
    scholars. Likewise, the media efficiently disseminates overtly anti-Muslim propaganda that
    demonizes Muslims and Arabs and amplifies mainstream hostility to Islam and its adherents.
    We will also see how against the backdrop of a sheet of Muslim-hating white noise, extremist
    acts are committed against Muslims, Arabs and minorities who are mistaken for them.

    Indeed, the book is not comprehensive. Unfortunately, the list of anti-Arab and Islamophobic hate
    acts, speech, activists, legislators and incidents are far too numerous to review. If this book were
    to name the litany of Islamophobic acts committed by the government, private citizens, public
    organizations and Hollywood and the media, then it would be a tome-like catalogue of hate.
    While diligently tracking Arab-hating and Islamophobia is important, this book hopes to crack
    open the complexities of the ideological formation itself, to understand how it is constructed and
    organized, and critically observe how it is manifested in American society. For this reason,
    Islamophobia is defined and examined in terms of discursive archetypes taken in the form of two
    master-narratives as provided by Lewis and Zakaria. Rather than discuss every Islamophobic
    rogue pseudo-scholar, political hack, charlatan native informant, opportunist pundit or activist
    journalist, the works of a handful of Islamophobes serves to define the scaffolding upon which
    Islamophobic acts and policies are grafted and American foreign and domestic policies find