Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dr. Hatem: Muslim intellectuals and America's imperial project

Increasingly, Muslim American intellectuals call on segments of the community to refrain from engagement or critique of America's role abroad and urge a focus on domestic and "our" own problems. Here, the call is narrowly focused on refraining from foreign policy issues that may constrain the intended integrationist trajectory that might face derailment if serious opposition is mounted. Is the domestic really disconnected from the global? If it is disconnected, then in what way and how should it be navigated?

How can an intellectual argue for a focus on the domestic at a time when U.S. power, in all its manifestations, is on display daily across the globe? Walk to any grocery or department store across the country and you are immediately connected to the global dimension and the heavy impact of U.S. foreign policy, which is wedded to pernicious capitalist consumption. One may choose to ignore the "inconvenient truth" of the heavy weight of U.S. power across the globe because centering it in thought and action will complicate Muslim Americans' ability to "fit-in" and be accepted as the jolly next-door neighbor that patriotically flies the biggest and highest flag on the street.
[...] American Muslim intellectuals are joining the bandwagon and fitting in perfectly as functionaries of this massive and persistent domestic and global imperial enterprise. In 1967, MLK spoke of the internal and external colonial as he moved to critique the Vietnam War and the on-going racism directed at African Americans and minorities in America's cities.
Muslim intellectuals should carefully examine the monumental contribution of African American intellectuals in the 20th century - if not before - so as to understand the American imperial project with which they are being asked to partner. The problem is how to decipher the current state of affairs where Muslim intellectuals are being funded directly or indirectly by various U.S. government institutions to produce a Muslim subjectivity that affirms and rationalizes the empire, non-stop militarism, obscene capitalism, securitization and otherization paradigm. Under various rubrics, integrations, assimilation, patriotism, Americanism, exceptionalism and inclusion, Muslim intellectuals at America's red carpet of power end up reproducing the paradigmatic externalization of the community as a whole and rationalize empire in the process. 

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