Just Say ‘No’ to Bigotry

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is “two steps forward, two steps back” for pluralism

In the coming days, 200 college campuses across the United States will be “rocked by the biggest conservative campus protest ever”: Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. Organized and facilitated by the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Terrorism Awareness Project (TAP), Islamo-Fascism Awareness aims to confront the two “big lies” of the political left: “that George Bush created the war on terror and that Global Warming is a greater danger to Americans than the terrorist threat.”

This movement has little value beyond being a right-wing political stunt, and its occurrence at institutions of higher education is a massive shame. At best, it will spark superficial debate on religious fundamentalism without offering a balanced political or cultural history to support its claims. At worst, however, Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week will serve to further already damaging misconceptions about Islam as a religion, misconceptions that are already widespread throughout the American government and the public.

To deny that Islamic terrorists pose a threat to the West would be shortsighted and wrong. Fundamentalism and religious extremism—regardless of the specific faith that they spring from—have the potential to be oppressive and harmful. Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, however, does not only condemn Islamic fundamentalists, it also launches an attack on Islam itself by conflating those who pervert Islam to excuse unspeakable acts of violence with the faith on the whole.

TAP’s Web site makes a host of sweeping generalizations, over-dramatizations, and mis-interpretations of Islam. From the suggested film clips (entitled “The Islamic Mein Kampf,” and “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West”) to the link to a “Jihad Watch” Web page, the public face of TAP is one of cultural stereotyping. “Jihad is not, as some Western apologists claim, simply a striving for individual perfection,” the site reads: “The long term goal of jihad is world domination.”

Although the introductory sequence of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” reminds viewers that Islamic terrorists are but one slice of the entire Muslim population, one must dig deep into TAP’s propaganda to find such a concession. Elsewhere, the only statements made concerning Islam are of the “lies” Americans are fed regarding the religion as an inherently peaceful one.

The most unfortunate aspect of TAP’s Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, however, is the missed opportunity at hand. The political and cultural boundaries between the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world are fascinating and worthy of examination. Sadly, TAP and the Freedom Center have created a hostile binary between East and West instead of investigating the economic sociopolitical nuances that give rise to tensions between the United States and Muslim nations. Where an environment conducive to mutual understanding is so desperately needed, TAP has encouraged one of irrational fear and misunderstanding.

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week was kicked off yesterday around the country with film screenings, sit-ins, and appearances by speakers such as David Horowitz, Ann Coulter, and former Senator (R-PA) Rick Santorum. It is up to socially responsible and politically aware students to protest this perpetuation of harmful stereotypes.