Marathon: Islamophobia!

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Eric Bowsfield returns to help Heather hash out the issue of Islamophobia and how it affected the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. We discuss the basics of Islam as a religion, the definition of Islamophobia, and the difference between Islamism and Jihadism. Then, we break down the academic career of Dr. Sebastian Gorka, a top aide to President Trump with a history of being an Islamophobe, an anti-Semite, a member of a pro-Nazi group — and an expert witness for the prosecution in Dzhokhar’s case.

Episode Extras

News articles about Sebastian Gorka’s role in White House and Dzhokhar’s case:
Washington Post: For a Trump adviser, an odyssey from the fringes of Washington to the center of power
Talking Points Memo: Did Gorka Really Wear A Medal Linked To Nazi Ally To Trump Inaugural Ball?
Forward: EXCLUSIVE: Nazi-Allied Group Claims Top Trump Aide Sebastian Gorka As Sworn Member
Fusion: Trump adviser who claimed to be an expert witness in Boston bombing trial never actually testified

My previous blog posts about Islamophobia in Dzhokhar’s trial:
Junk Psychology and Courtroom Islamophobia
Further Notes on Dr. Matthew Levitt’s Tsarnaev Trial Testimony

Definition of Islamophobia:
UC Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender

Reza Aslan’s doctoral thesis:
Global Jihadism: A Transnational Social Movement

Court documents:
Sebastian Gorka’s expert witness report
Memo from the prosecution stating intent to use Gorka as an expert witness

Articles contesting guilt of Guantanamo detainees:
Miami Herald: Guantanamo Secret Files Show U.S. Often Held Innocent Afghans
ACLU: Will the 9/11 Defendants Ever Get a Fair Trial?
Washington Post: The Guantanamo quagmire: Still no trial in sight for 9/11 suspects
Miami Herald: New Guantánamo intelligence upends old ‘worst of the worst’ assumptions
Mother Jones: “I Want Americans to Know That Guantánamo Happened Not to Monsters, but to Men”

Dr. Daniel Nexon’s article about Gorka’s PhD dissertation: 
Sebastian Gorka May Be a Far-Right Nativist, but for Sure He’s a Terrible Scholar

My blog post about Gorka:
Trump Advisor Sebastian Gorka Contributed to the Tsarnaev Case, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office Lied About It

Exhibit Photo of Dzhokhar with the black flag of the Shahada

Gorka defending the unconstitutional Muslim travel ban:
The Guardian: Trump aide says London attack by UK-born man justifies travel ban

Articles about Gorka’s future in the White House:
LA Times: Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka to leave the White House
Daily Beast: Trump and Bannon ‘Personally Intervened’ to Save Seb Gorka

12 thoughts on “Marathon: Islamophobia!”

  1. Oh absolutely!! You’ve done a fantastic job with all of your podcasts! It’s sad that Dzhokhar cannot know all that you have done for him, but maybe some day his family will.

    By the way, this is kind of off topic, but have you seen the new Hulu series Handmaid’s Tale? I thought of you when I was watching it, it’s pretty amazing and relatable in Trump’s America.

    1. When I heard

      ” I was asleep before. That’s how we let it happen. When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the Constitution, we didn’t wake up then either. They said it would be temporary. Nothing changes instantaneously. In a gradually heating bathtub, you’d be boiled to death before you knew it”

      It gave me chills

      1. Wow, that’s almost exactly how it is in the book. That part always freaked me out. I just found it again in my copy:

        “It was after the catastrophe, when they shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency. They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time.
        Keep calm, they said on television. Everything is under control.
        I was stunned. Everyone was, I know that. It was hard to believe. The entire government, gone like that. How did they get in, how did it happen?
        That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting going on in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on.”

        Back when I first read it, it shocked me the book was written before 9/11. But in later reads I noticed a lot of what happens in mirrors pretty closely the 1979 Iranian revolution. I think there’s simply certain hallmarks to these sorts of things throughout history, which are not at all hard to pick up on when you know where to look.

    2. I haven’t seen the show yet, but the book is one of my favorite novels of all time, actually! I must have read it five or six times over the last ten years. It’s incredibly poignant and has gotten more and more relevant with each read through. I definitely recommend reading it, although I’ve heard great things about the show as well. 🙂 Margaret Atwood has long been one of my most admired authors. I’ve strived for ages to be able to write as beautifully as she does.

      Has the show covered “nolite te bastardes carborundurum”? (Though perhaps I shouldn’t be publicly asking for spoilers!) I’ve kept that whole sentiment close to my heart throughout the years after I first read the book, and everything with Dzhokhar’s case has only made it all the more applicable to my daily life.

  2. Yes they did! Don’t let the bastards grind you down! And I agree, wonderful book! I love the show, but was pissed off about some of the changes that they’ve made to it, the greatest of which is that in the show, they’ve completely gotten rid of the racism. Gilead is now an “inclusive” society and there are lots of black Handmaids and other black and one, I believe, Hispanic character. In the book, I remember that racism was actually an important component of Gilead and all the other races were removed from the country. Not saying I support racism, but it WAS an important part of the book!

    Also wanted to add that it was American political landscape at the time that inspired the book. It was written during the 80s when we had Reagan and Falwell and the “moral majority” and all that bs. Margaret Atwood felt that these people, if given crate blanche to do as they pleased, would enact this type of society and I’m inclined to agree. They’ve actually gotten worse in the ensuing decades!

    I will also add that, with about 2 or 3 exceptions, those who identify as “evangelical Christians” have bayed the loudest for Dzhokhar’s blood.

    1. Yes! Oh, gosh, I love that book so much. I don’t have Hulu right now, so I’m kinda waiting until all the episodes are out and then conveniently sign up for the 30-day free trial in time to binge watch the show.

      I think that’s a fair critique. I’m not sure the book ever explicitly delves into race, but I always got the sense the “Marthas” were black and in a slave-like situation, although I may have been assigning that read to them myself. It also sounded like most undesirables were being shipped off to labor camps, and I assumed that’s where most of the minority populations were going. I think there’s some pressure in modern screen portrayals to be more “inclusive” with casting, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. But it can be a bit tone-deaf when there are artistic opportunities to delve into issues and it seems like certain productions would rather play it safe. A story like The Handmaid’s Tale is not the place to play it safe! I was similarly disappointed when I finally saw Rogue One not that long ago. Sure, the cast was diverse, but I thought the story was very weak and didn’t seize upon any obvious opportunities, especially when the Empire has always had some serious white supremacy undertones (all the Imperials were white British dudes in the original trilogy). The premise was perfect to show why certain marginalized people were turning to a ragtag rebel group while under the thumb of the evil Empire, but…. nope. Not even a little. Not that Star Wars has to be too heady with social issues, but it would have been so easy to do just a little of it, give the rebels the moral high ground and make the stakes higher for everyone.

      But I could go on and on. Fiction is where all my training lies; it was only a strange set of circumstances that have led me to focusing on nonfiction/academic writing. 😉

      I also agree that Atwood was surely reacting to what she was seeing in the landscape of the 80s. Many societies have cycled through the situations that have resulted in the rise of oppressive regimes, regardless of their flavor. I too have seen plenty of what can only be described as blind hate from people who claim to be devout Christians. I studied the Bible plenty in Catholic school, and I’m pretty sure Jesus never said it was okay to kill someone because you don’t like him, especially in the face of contradictory evidence. I’ve also decided to read the Quran in honor of this year’s Ramadan. So far it’s reading like “The Bible: the Sequel,” so I get really tired of people (like Sebastian Gorka) who claim that there’s some evil to be lurking there that will pre-dispose anyone who reads it to violence.

      1. You know it’s funny, I think you mentioned that in one of your blog posts on here that in order to be a good fiction writer, you have to be able to simulate how things would happen even if they haven’t happened at all. That’s one of the problems I have with “political correctness.” It completely destroys this.

        In the book for example, black people are called “sons of ham” and are all deported en masse to their “national homeland.” I think the American right especially would love that.

        Oh and I never even bothered with the new Star Wars. For me the original trilogy is the ONLY Star Wars there is! Lol!

        Oh btw, check this out. These people from daily stormer actually want to make Handmaid’s Tale a reality.

  3. I do think “political correctness” or “cultural sensitivity” (and the labels themselves can become loaded, I think maybe it should just be called the “don’t be a dick” rule) has its place, particularly in areas of diplomacy. It’s been really troubling to see the Trump administration shy away from simple acts of inclusion like mentioning the Jewish people on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and now Rex Tillerson has become the first Secretary of State in almost 20 years not to hold a feast for Ramadan. (But then Trump goes to Saudi Arabia, calls Islam one of the world’s great faiths, and loads the Saudis up with military grade weapons even though there have been ties between the government and terrorist groups. Ah, hypocrisy.) But fiction, and art in general, is a different beast. That I totally agree with – if writers worry too much about appearing “inclusive” in their work, they will inevitably end up presenting something artificial and bland. Fiction in general is meant to reveal some universal truth, something that readers can all connect with, and usually, the truth is pretty ugly. Hiding it behind some fake veneer is a huge disservice to the world, and helps fuel certain people’s views that instances of real suffering aren’t actually problems.

    And wow, my goodness, I had a difficult time getting my brain to believe that article wasn’t satire at first. Then I started worrying about the person who wrote it. He (just going to go ahead and assume it’s a he) seems to have a lot of unresolved anger issues. I also find it kind of fascinating how much jargon the article contained – stuff like WHITE SHARIA (which I assume must always be put in all capitals??) that I’d never heard of before, yet he was writing like it was a widely accepted term. It’s interesting how things on the “alt-right” (back in my day, we just called them neo-Nazis) have such a narrow focus: a good writer tries to be neutral in tone and defines terms so that any layperson can grasp the concepts. The general tone and focus of an article like that shows it’s geared entirely toward an “in-group” already likely to agree with him – which is why the stuff will never gain wider appeal. (I mean, he’s pretty much warding off half the potential population by calling women slurs!).

    Edit: Also, this reminded me of an article in the Washington Post I saw several months ago, about the godson of David Duke who was something of a celebrity in white nationalist circles, and how he wound up realizing he was wrong and gave up the movement. The guy’s name is Derek Black, and the article is long, but definitely worth reading:

  4. I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret on the “alt right” Heather, it’s just an extension of the manosphere. That means while, yes, there is some racism involved, their real driving force is their hatred of women; specifically white women.

    In fact Andrew Anglin, the manlet who wrote the article I shared with you, stated and I quote,

    “Your real enemy is not the Jews white man. It’s your own females.”

    He has repeatedly called for white women to be raped en made and refers to men who refuse to engage in such behavior as “pussies, faggots and losers.” He has called for us to be beaten and even has called for us to be killed if we don’t “obey.” They call it “white sharia” because they openly admit to being extremely jealous of how some Muslim men can abuse their women.

    The terrifying thing is that while the writers of daily stormer are not in Washington DC making our policies, there certainly are many men sympathetic to their views who are!

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