Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dr. Jackson: Liberalism and the American Muslim Predicament (June 27, 2015)

And here we come to “the Muslim predicament,” especially in the West. Because liberals have largely succeeded in monopolizing the meaning of the fundamental principles through which we negotiate modern life (freedom, equality, tolerance, rationality, etc.), Muslims find themselves only able to claim these when their claims comport with liberal definitions thereof. And when their scriptural sources or traditional authorities appear to be out of sync with these definitions, Muslims find themselves in the position of George Orwell’s Winston: “How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?” From here they proceed, often on painfully tortuous logic, to try to reconcile every aspect of Islam with the reigning liberal paradigm. In this context, Muslims — and especially Muslim children — can never simply be themselves. Rather, they are condemned to a dark, musty and lonely world of quiet, subjunctive, nervousness (W.E.B. Du Bois’ “double-consciousness” on steroids), as they try to vindicate their identity and commitments — both to themselves and to the world around them — through processes of rational justification over which others preside as owners, even as they themselves continue to be cast as the greatest threat to basic human welfare.