I agree with the 49% of Australians who polled in favour to “stop Muslim immigration”? I agree. The “Muslim” threatens to destroy an innocent and singular Australia.
It may come as a surprise to those who know me. But, forced to be politically sensitive, engaged, and ever conscious of my community’s troubles and affairs, I as a Muslim and as a committed critic of Australia’s pervasive racism, for once concur with the white paranoid sentiment.
I agree mostly because in 15 years of hearing the tired mantra about an alien and encroaching Islam, the word “Muslim” has come to symbolise a thing beyond being Australian, a thing of chaotic violence and a carrier of a confronting and thick difference.
So naturally, the logic follows, that national borders should be a protection from and a purger of unfriendly elements that threaten our assumed cultural purity. But more so, I agree because at its core, driving its narratives, lays racism’s decrepit yet persistent logic. Its greed. Its thirst to dispossess. For, racism is dispossession.
It is the dispossession of land, of culture, of history and of dignity and rights; it is the dispossession of justice and of knowledge; the dispossession of even one’s own skin. For black, brown, red and yellow are categories of a western civilisational canon; our skins are stolen and given their inferior meanings by those who labeled themselves a colourless white.
Some have managed to win back their labels, but as it stands, it’s worth asking, should I understand the “war on terror” as time when I am being dispossessed of the word Muslim?
A collation of zealots from east and west seem determined to use “Muslim” for whatever their purpose, but I have never lost sight to the fact that terrorism’s violence would not register a count against racism’s.
So, I am not interested in policing the already over-policed Islamist, not interested in having my political voice dispossessed so that every time I talk I must highlight that it is the terrorists who are to blame for the plight of Muslims in the west.
No, the terrorists are not to blame for Australia’s racism. If someone cannot tell the difference between Susan Carland and Osama bin Laden then they are not ignorant. They are willingly ignorant.
But that’s the logic of racism, to dispossess the racist even of their own humanity and their sense of it, and above all to dispossess Muslim from their own lived Islam, from its own contested cultural debates, from its own expansive and endlessly deep heritage, from its own linguistic lineage.
The “Muslim” has come to be a hollowed, emptied term that functions as a trigger for white anxiety. Little surprise then, when you add Muslim next to another anxiety-laden word “immigrant”, the result equates to half the country reaching out for the treadmill’s emergency red stop button.
Modernity’s pace seems too quick for some, but the keen reader would have noted that in my opening agreement I put the Muslim in scare quotes. I do this for a reason. The word “Muslim” belongs to a conversation born out of the “war on terror”. I distinguish it from the quote-less everyday Muslim whose complex life is beyond the headline and Hanson’s narrow parameters.
Any one simplified and generalising statement about Islam betrays the religion and its communities’ diverse contests, betrays Muslims’ internal debates on how to best articulate Islam’s universality. Whereas, the “Muslim” functions in a pure simplicity. It simply means them. It represents an abject figure that has to be excluded from the circle of us so to imagine a supposed pure integrity of our culture.
In my own experience, the everyday Muslim has no problem with Australia. In fact, they are infuriately, to a fault, in love with this country. In love to the point that they maintain hope that its democratic value will correct its racism.
I have little sympathy for these moderates and their “heartbreak” at the poll’s results, for I agree with the poll precisely for the opposite reason. The “Muslim”, not the Muslim, is a threat because it stands for a 200-year racial paranoia that threatens to expose the undemocratic truths of this country’s racism, threatens to unleash the violent whiteness that lurks within, that lurks looking for an excuse to sprout its head.
Consider, how, in another Essential poll in 2014, only 17% of people voted that we should prevent immigration based on one’s religion. Add the word “Muslim” the number significantly rises. Does this increase not exactly expose how the word “Muslim” functions as a trigger to suspend reason, suspend values, suspend realities. Who is betraying the the myth of the secular: Muslim immigrants or those who wish to empower the state to socially engineer our religious make up?
The poll I fear has little to do with realities or values and everything to do with the reciting the racial scripts that are prepping us to suspend the very thing that hinders the acceleration of Australia’s racism: the myth we are not racist. It becomes easier to be only after it becomes acceptable to say. So, yes. Stop the “Muslim”.
Source: The Guardian