Islamophobia is not always simply a hatred of Muslims. Most people would say ‘Oh Yes! I love Muslims too… but…’
Islamophobia is often a spontaneous gut response that is guided by an almost illogical apathy. By linking up various things as if in a reflex thought. So when you start talking about Palestinians, it immediately turns to Hamas. When you talk of protests, it would turn to “appeasing the Muslim vote bank”. When you talk of ‘India With Gaza’ or talk about the Kashmiri boy who was killed by the Indian military while he was protesting for Palestine, it immediately becomes ‘well what about Kashmiri Pundits’. There is a subtle suggestion throughout that the Palestinians have deserved all that they have got because they are ‘insurgents’. Despite strategically and superficially condemning the massacres, it’s the same ‘I love Muslims. But…’ syndrome.
This is somewhat like closet homophobia. Like, I have no problem with gay men, but what about raising kids…well, what about STDs (you get the hint immediately)….well what about social reality and cultural acceptance….very soon we might hear gibes about appeasing the “gay vote bank”.
It appears that the post-9/11 ‘war on terror’ discourse has found its roots in many people’s minds. Sometimes, unknowingly. An eye-opener in how the bourgeoisie hegemonises our minds. By using common-sensical views as a tool to not only oppressing the already oppressed but also to legitimise it by manufacturing consent of those sections of the people who could have otherwise been an ally of the oppressed. As Gramsci pointed out – we need to develop ‘good sense’ as opposed to ‘common sense’
Kasturi works with All India Progressive Women’s Association and Cinema of Resistance