Very often, mainstream cultures are exposed to racial or ethnic discrimination, which, in turn, results in the succession of phobias. There is true assumption that a particular issue arising from the clash between the American and Muslim civilizations may support the above-mentioned suggestion. Recently, the concept of Islamophobia has acquired the status of a burning issue in the American minds. It may result in either a disastrous consequences similar to the events of the 9/11 accidents or a natural desire of the most powerful country to make Muslim denomination responsible for the failures to preserve the global order. Such controversy has become a subject of the heated debate surrounding the existing conflict between Christianity and Islam. Thus, it is necessary to clarify the reasons why the Americans support the underlying racial prejudices. Although Islamophobia is justified by a variety of powerful and widely held myths concerning the resurgence of terrorism, violence, and lack of democracy from the Muslim’s part, there are multiple ways to debunk them, which simply point to the assumption that the American prejudice in regard to the Muslims’ religion is an issue of blatant racism.
The most interesting aspect in the controversy is the fact that Islamophobia is treated as any negative phenomenon of prejudicial nature. However, it is doubted that anything can be done in terms of extricating the problem, since it belongs to the scope of the worldview inherent to a particular American generation, trying to revenge for the 9/11 accidents. Broadly, the issue may be treated from both perspectives: one may either sympathize with the Americans due to the above-mentioned disaster or scrutinize whether the empathy can be extended towards the followers of Islam as the general conception about their nature has been transformed and dislocated into the unfavorable position. According to some scholars, lately, the conflict between the Americans and the Muslims has taken the side of the latter due to the pressure to which they have been exposed. Christine Ogan prefers to analyze such relationship from the perspective of the negative effects that media exert on shaping the public opinion about Islam, while En-Chieh Chao emphasizes the connection between Islamophobia and cyber bullying. The emergence of prejudices victimizing the representatives of the Arabic cultures and televising them as “the ticking time bombs programmed by their religion to inevitably turn to violence” (Kumar 267) destroyed every positive idea about the underlying religion, linking it to the notion of terrorism. Although some people are inclined to think that Islamophobia has developed from such point, there are reasons to believe that it was only a considerable factor influencing its rise from religious discrimination.
Generally, the emergence of Islamophobia shifts to a diachronic perspective, which is historically bound. However, it does not solely correspond to the evident results of the incidents regarded as the acts of Muslim terrorism and irrationality. In such particular context, the historical perspective denotes the existence of their religion and the norms it challenges in the American society. Linking the evidence from Kumar’s article, it is reasonable to provide a simple definition of Islamophobia and fortify it with the author’s five-dimensional approach as related to the American nation in particular. Apparently, Islamophobia can be easily defined as the negative attitude shaped as a combination of bias towards Islam, which is specifically perceived with a sense of ‘distinctiveness.’ In the American context, the reasons for the underlying hatred are not limited to current religion; yet it spreads to the representatives of the Arabic countries located in the Middle East, or their cultural peculiarities. They are generally viewed as barbarians (Sweeney & Opotow 499). Such condemning attitude towards the Muslims emanates from the framework of the Orientalist modes of thought, presented by Kumar as the ‘commonsense,’ which appeared as an American emotional and behavioral response to the power of another culture. The following five myths were proposed by the author and debunked in the most logical and effective way. According to Kumar, Islam is 1) a “monolithic”, 2) “uniquely sexist”, 3) “inherently violent religion”, 4) “incapable of rationality and science”, which in contrast to the West “spawns terrorism” (257). Evidently, such five points constitute the essence of Islamophobia through the prism of the American worldview.
From a solely critical and neutral perspective, the above-mentioned reasons for the emergence of Islamophobia consist in demonizing not only the religion and its representatives. The scale seems to be much broader as the Middle East is generally taken into account. In addition to the fact that the epithets used to describe the Muslims are marked with an accusatory nature, they become substantially improper in comparison to Christianity. It means that the best way to refute such statements is to compare both religions regarding their similarities (it is the way Kumar has chosen to ridicule the American worldview). Therefore, the term ‘clash of civilizations’ is too soft to characterize the underlying conflict as it is exclusively a matter of rampant religious, ethnic, and racial discrimination, which manifests itself in the inability of the Americans to grasp the distinctiveness of another culture and its adherent religion divergence from Christianity.
Bearing in mind the previous points, the most provocative aspect that deserves attention regarding the underlying conflict, is the particular accusation concerning the Muslims’ lack of democracy and the reluctance to change their lifestyles. It can be easily argued and refuted with the emphasis on a claim that it is, by all means, contradicts with the democratic disposition to oppress any religious liberty or denomination. It should be stated that the concept of Islamophobia is two-fold, as it preserves both political and social implications. Nowadays, in the United States, Islamophobia manifests itself as a political phenomenon, while in Europe it reaches the level of a public issue. The recent past of Europe indicates that the European society has serious problems with the recognition of religious, linguistic, and racial differences. In addition, in Europe, the religious and racial differences, in contrast to the countries of the East, are not used as a unifying factor, but as a divisive one. A good example of it was the attitude to the Jews. Nowadays, the European worldview proclaims the so-called policy of alienation towards the Muslims on the pretext that they allegedly do not prefer integrating into the society. At the same time, the officials of the European countries tend to forget that all the Muslims are considered immigrants in such context.
Unfortunately, although in many European countries and the United States, there is a trend to speculate about ‘democracy,’ Islamophobia is growing every day, and it is justified by the notorious ‘freedom of speech’. The racists ‘forget’ that everyone has the right for religious liberty. That it why, the criteria that are considered sacred in the Islamic religion, or any other, must not be ridiculed, referring to freedom of speech, as it is highly unethical. Sivandanan in his interview says that “Every freedom carries with it its own responsibility” (76), laying emphasis on the fact that people are not allowed to cry ‘fire’ in a theatre. Drawing parallels with democracy, he states that freedom of speech is not an absolute. The leaders of many Muslim countries want Islamophobia to be recognized as a crime, but the West has not taken even the basic measures to stop the shameful phenomenon yet. The West, presenting the Islamic world as an exporter of terrorism, pursues a policy of a moral genocide against the Muslims and their religion by shaping Islamophobia as a freedom of speech. It is worth mentioning that there are certain groups that spread anti-Islam prejudice in the United States.
Probably, violence is nowadays the first factor associated with the Muslims. It is not only caused by the 9/11 accidents, but also due to the historical circumstances dictating the further development of the religion. Media’s influence on the depiction of violence at its core can be displayed by the referral to the cartoon that featured the Prophet with a bomb. Nevertheless, Kumar managed to dispel all the doubts concerning the pretentiousness and falsehood of the cartoon by presenting an overview of the Christian Crusades. Complying with the researcher’s view, one may assume that there is no justification for Islamophobia as it is based on the untrue connections promoted by the anti-Muslim racists, who pursue the goal of liquidating Islam due to its nature. The appeal to the description of the Crusades means that Christianity and Islam are religions having certain similarities that provoke violence.
Despotism is another myth worth solving in the context of wrong interpretation in regard to ‘the Muslim mind.’ Kumar specifies that for the Americans specifically, “it is the burden of the West to civilize, modernize, and democratize” (270). As the issue of democratization has already been clarified and solved, it is reasonable to take into account the one concerning modernization. There can be no doubt in the assumption that nowadays the Muslim countries are the ones of the most modernized in the world. Presumably, the Americans cannot reconcile with the underlying fact, as it means that other countries have reached its peak in modernization and development. Thus, referring to the Muslims as to the irrational cultures devoid of science and reason is entirely wrong. Nowadays, the United States is rather jealous about the oil industry inherent to them, which makes the issue more complicated.
To sum up, the conflict between the Americans and the Muslims have acquired the status of unacceptability due to the emergence of Islamophobia, a notion, which is marked with hatred encompassing not only the religion, but also the way of how Arabic cultures live and behave themselves. Although the representatives of Islamic religion are responsible for numerous wrongdoings, it is not the reason to hate them as such misdemeanor can be easily compared to terroristic acts. Islamophobia cannot be justified by means of freedom of speech, as it has become an issue of the ethical character, violating the religious liberty and the ordinary cultural traits of the Muslims.