Laid Bare by Prejudice and Paranoia: How America’s Historical, Misconceived, and Evolving Fear Gave Rise to Modern Islamophobia
CitationParvez, Muhammed. 2019. Laid Bare by Prejudice and Paranoia: How America’s Historical, Misconceived, and Evolving Fear Gave Rise to Modern Islamophobia. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractIslamophobia has been a major topic of academic and scholarly discussion, as well as a force in the ordinary lives of many Americans, especially since 9/11. This thesis attempts to build on the topic of contemporary Islamophobia in light of America’s historical race- and religion-related prejudicial treatment of “otherized” minority groups. Rather than dismiss Islamophobia as a recent phenomenon, with hatred of Muslims only arising as a result of the 9/11 attacks, this thesis argues that America has a much deeper societal tendency to create an enemy, not only as a response to perceived threats, but in order to affirm the American identity. Throughout history, there seems to be a symbiotic relationship between America’s creation of enemies and minority group racial prejudice. It happens to be the case that Muslims are the latest victims of such racial hatred as Islam is viewed as an intrinsically violent religion in the West. To identify the root cause of this social injustice, this thesis takes a close study of Islamophobia, and its various structures and dimensions. The thesis discusses enemy- and race-construction theories, along with people’s social and psychological behavior during times of national crisis. It also looks at other, similar episodes of race-related historical prejudices, such as Orientalism, the “Yellow Peril”, and “Japanophobia” during World War II. To consider these, the thesis studies different theories, research findings, and the writings of social and religious scholars. This analysis reveals that there is indeed a specific, American tendency to misconceive and manufacture a fear of “the other” which is perceived to be different from the rest of society. As this fear affirms the American identity, it is conveniently used by both the mainstream media and politicians alike, and it has had special success more recently, through the proliferation of virtually unregulated viral, and open-source social media. The result has a chilling, devastating, and disruptive effect in Americans’ everyday lives.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42004147