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The discursive construction of Muslim identity as an enemy "other" in America

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The discursive construction of Muslim identity as an enemy "other" in America
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Brigham, David Gardner ( author )
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Denver, CO
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University of Colorado Denver
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Abstract:
This thesis argues that there is a discursive construction of Muslim identity in the United States which is implicit and informs our understanding without being critically examined. I utilize the theoretical construction of Edward Said which he called Orientalism to argue that this identity construction can be traced back over a half a millennia in European colonial discourse. I focus specifically on the recent Muslim Radicalization hearings by Congressperson Peter King to argue that this discourse is alive and well and taking place in a center of power in our government. While there is a counter narrative that takes place in the hearings it is largely ignored by those who are replaying an Orientalist narrative because a fundamental part of that discourse is a disinterest in facts. I conclude by arguing that this discursive construction needs to be recognized and challenged because it has real world consequences.
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Political science
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Department of Political Science
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by David Gardner Brigham.

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Full Text
THE DISCURSIVE CONSTRUCTION OF MUSLIM IDENTITY AS AN ENEMY
OTHER IN AMERICA
by
DAVID GARDNER BRIGHAM
B.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 2008
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Political Science
2013


This thesis for the Masters of Arts degree by
David Gardner Brigham
has been approved for the
Political Science Program
by
Lucy Ware McGuffey, Chair
Tony Robinson
Michael Berry
November 5, 2013
11


Brigham, David, G. (MA, Political Science)
The Discursive Construction of Muslim Identity as an Enemy Other in America
Thesis directed by Senior Instructor Lucy McGuffey
ABSTRACT
This thesis argues that there is a discursive construction of Muslim identity in the United
States which is implicit and informs our understanding without being critically examined.
I utilize the theoretical construction of Edward Said which he called Orientalism to argue
that this identity construction can be traced back over half a millennia in European
colonial discourse. I focus specifically on the recent Muslim Radicalization hearings by
Congressperson Peter King to argue that this discourse is alive and well and taking place
in a center of power in our government. While there is a counter narrative that takes
place in the hearings it is largely ignored by those who are replaying an Orientalist
narrative because a fundamental part of that discourse is a disinterest in facts. I conclude
by arguing that this discursive construction needs to be recognized and challenged
because it has real world consequences.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Lucy Ware McGuffey
m


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I would like to thank Michael Hill for using his resources on Capitol Hill to obtain
transcripts for the King Hearings when they were still yet unavailable from Congress.
IV


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION........................................................1
II. MEDIA COVERAGE......................................................3
III. LITERATI RE REVIEW: ORIENTALISM.................................. 10
Oklahoma City Bombing............................................11
September 11, 2001.............................................. 14
Introduction to Orientalism......................................16
Islamic Orientalism..............................................26
Conclusion to Orientalism........................................33
IV. PETER KINGS MUSLIM RADICALIZATION HEARINGS........................36
First Hearing....................................................37
Chairperson King's Opening Statements........................37
Congressperson Keith Ellison.................................40
Congressperson Frank Wolf....................................42
The testimony of Dr. Zuhdi Jasser............................48
Mr. Melvin Bledsoe...........................................53
Testimony of Mr. Abdirizak Bihi..............................55
Sheriff Lee Baca.............................................58
Second Radicalization Hearing....................................60
Third Radicalization Hearing.....................................65
Fourth Radicalization Hearing....................................68
V. CONCLUSION.........................................................72
BIBLIOGRAPHY.......................................................78
v


LIST OF TABLES
Table
1.1: List of Peter Kings Muslim Radicalization Hearings


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
Discourse is a regulated system of producing knowledge within certain
constraints whereby certain rules have to be observed... To think past it, to go
beyond it, not to use it, is virtually impossible because there's no knowledge that
isn't codified in this way about that part of the world. -Edward Said
(Foundation, 2005, p. 10)
In the United States there is a discourse that constructs the identity of Muslims in
ways that are problematic. Edward Said argues that this construction of Muslim identity
is so implicit in our discourse that we are not aware of how it influences our
understanding to the extent that it is frequently repeated ad nauseam, goes unquestioned,
and unnoticed. This thesis will examine the construction of Muslim identity, as replayed
in recent Congressional hearings, utilizing the theoretical framework of Edward Said.
Beginning on March 10, 2011, Congressman Peter King of the third district in
New York began a series of hearings in the House Homeland Security Committee on
Islamic terrorist radicalization,1 which focused on the Muslim American community.
The hearings stimulated a lot of mudslinging among political pundits in the media about
the efficacy and intent of the hearings. Two questions central to this debate were: 1) did
these hearings unfairly target the Muslim community as being responsible for Islamic
radicalization and to some extent for terrorism and 2) were these hearings helpful in
combating radicalization in the Muslim community or would they harm this effort? From
these two initial questions a number of queries, observations, and accusations were
1 The term 'radicalization' is not well defined by the sources used for the purposes of this thesis; it will
therefore be defined genetically as a person or organization with a propensity toward terroristic violence.
1


posited, with a myriad of concerns that were often difficult to untangle from one another.
A few examples include: questions about how and to what extent the Muslim community
cooperated with law enforcement; accusations of association with radical or terrorist
elements against individuals, mosques, and other organizations; the recounting of
incidents of terrorism, and in some instances the assignment of blame; and so on.
All of these developments deserve attention, but putting aside the details of this or
that question, incident, or accusation, there are themes that permeate these hearings and
the larger debate which originated much earlier in Western discourse. These themes
include broad questions regarding the view that the dominant Western culture has of
other peoples and cultures. This view broadly includes notions of American
exceptionalism, colonization theory, critical race theory, and constructivist foreign
policy, to name a few. In short, understanding the meaning of and construction of the
identity of the 'other' in our discourse requires us to ask difficult questions pertaining not
just to their identity, but as importantly to the core of our own identity. It is imperative
that we understand how we construct the identity of the 'other' because when we
construct the 'other' as unknowable, disposable, or as an enemy, history has shown that
this can result in horrific consequences up to and including genocide. To that end, this
thesis will examine the themes in Western discourse with regard to Islam, Muslims, the
Middle East going back centuries, with a particular focus on the construction of
difference and how that plays into narratives about Islamic violence, radicalization and
terrorism, to ascertain to what extent these themes are replayed by Peter Kings hearings.
However, I must first address what others have said about the hearings in order to better
explain how my approach is different.
2


CHAPTER II
MEDIA COVERAGE
With the exception of an article by Hakimeh Saghaye-Biria, which I will address
at the end of this section, most of the coverage of these hearings has been done by
political pundits and media talking-heads, the majority of whom have dealt with the
hearings in a blunt way. While the liberal side has repeatedly compared Congressman
King to Joseph McCarthy and his infamous hearings on communist infiltration in the US
government, conservatives have repeatedly suggested that these hearings are necessary
because our "politically correct" discourse about Islam and American Muslims has put
this country at risk of another terrorist attack.
Both of these approaches treat the issue as a matter of law enforcement with the
crux of the question being the origin of terrorist threats and how best to combat them. Do
threats emanate from the Muslim community as a whole or from individuals? The
answer to this question dictates an approach: do we look at individuals or to the Muslim
community as a whole? King's hearings focus on the community as a whole. The
proponents of this approach argue that being nice about the issue by assuming that the
Muslim community as a whole bears no responsibility for terrorism increases the chance
of an attack. In contrast, opponents of King's approach argue that it vilifies the Muslim
community and makes it less likely that they will cooperate with law enforcement. There
are hundreds, if not thousands, of articles taking both sides of this dichotomy and some
with other approaches entirely. Many of these articles consist of pundits arguing back
3


and forth amongst themselves with the seeming intent of scoring points. I have chosen a
handful of online newspaper articles that do a fair job of representing the discourse on
this subject in the media. I will begin with a few liberal approaches to this subject and
follow with a few conservative perspectives.
On the liberal side of the debate, Mike Honda (2011) argues that the hearings are
a part of a larger discourse in this country that treats Muslims as the enemy. Honda
compares this process to the Japanese internment in the US during WWII. As a small
child, Honda, his family, and over a hundred thousand Japanese Americans were locked
up in internment camps. Honda reports that:
We were treated like cattle in those camps. Never mind the fact that we were born
in America. Never mind the fact that we were patriotic Americans and law-
abiding citizens. Never mind the fact that we were constructively contributing to
the American economy. Despite all this, hundreds of thousands of Americans
suddenly became the enemy at the height of the war, with no cause, no crime and
no constitutional protections. (Honda, 2011)
Honda argues that the same kind of rhetoric is being used to demonize Muslims
based on their religion rather than their ethnicity. He concludes that for this reason the
hearings are morally and strategically wrongheaded: morally because it goes against
American values and strategically wrong because alienating the Muslim community will
make it less likely that they will cooperate with authorities in combating terrorism.
Another liberal approach is that of Ryan Lenz of the Southern Poverty Law
Center (2010). Lenzs concern is that the approach of King's hearings may increase
violent attacks against Muslims. Lenz argues that King is "known for his incendiary
remarks about Muslim Americans." For example, King stated in an interview with
Politico that "we have too many Mosques in this country. There are too many people
4


sympathetic to radical Islam." King later clarified that this quote was taken out of context
and that he only meant that too many mosques do not cooperate with law enforcement.
Ibrahim Hooper from the Center for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) "disputed
Kings claim that American
Muslims do not cooperate with police agencies. Hooper said several law
enforcement bodies, including the FBI, have thanked Muslim communities for
their assistance. He said Kings history of harsh comments against Muslims
undermines the congressmans credibility to make such claims. He doesnt come
to this issue with clean hands, Hooper said. He comes with the strong
perception of bias and an anti-Muslim agenda, and thats exactly what we dont
need at a time when anti-Muslim sentiment is skyrocketing (Lenz, 2010).
Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a vocal opponent of Kings hearings,
expressed concern that they would incite fear and prejudice in our national conversation
in a way not seen since Joseph McCarthy's communist witch hunts. Ellison explained:
What did Joe McCarthy do? He identified people he thought were subversives
and then used his congressional gavel to hold hearings to drag people in. He
ruined a lot of reputations and injected a tremendous amount of fear in our
country (Lenz, 2010).
On the conservative side of the debate, Andrew C. McCarthy of the National
Review also criticized King's hearings, instead for not going /a/- enough in criticizing
Islam. McCarthy argued that it is not a perversion of Islam that radicalizes Muslims, but
rather that Islam itself is a radical anti-Western ideology whose natural offspring is
radicalized terrorists. Thus, McCarthy is thankful for King's efforts in exposing Islam as
a radical ideology, but fears that by not going far enough the hearings will not accomplish 2
2 King was not taken out of context; he did in fact say that there were "too many mosques in this country."
He has adamantly denied this despite the fact that the interview was widely available online at the time of
the hearings. King may have misspoken, but he was not taken out of context. See:
http://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0907/Rep_King_There_are_too_many_mosques_in_this_country_.
html and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5n_n5JQ0BY
5


anything. He specifically laments that certain self-proclaimed experts on terrorism were
not allowed to testify "due to fear of the predictable reaction of the Muslim
Brotherhoods American grievance network" (McCarthy, 2011).
Pamela Geller, creator of the right-wing blog Atlas Shrugs, also criticized King's
hearings for much the same reason.3 4 Geller argues along with McCarthy that King
should have invited the same self-proclaimed experts on Islamic radicalism because they
know who the enemy is and can define them. Geller goes further and argues that a
witness King called, Zuhdi Jasser, was not qualified to testify at the hearing. Geller
complains that Jasser is not really a Muslim because he is not extreme enough to be a
follower of Islam. Geller suggests that some conservatives view Jasser as,
"the voice of reason in our cause of educating Americans about the threat of
radical Islam. But in this, Jasser fails miserably. First off, there is no "reason" in
Islam. There is only Islam. You cannot question, reason, or go off the
reservation in any way. Hence, Jasser cannot educate about the threat, because he
obfuscates the truth and has invented the Islam he follows" (Geller, 2011).
For Geller, Jasser cannot be a Muslim because his identity does not conform to her
preconceived notions of Muslim Identity.
For his part, Peter King defended the hearings saying that he would not be
constrained by political correctness in defending the country from terrorist threats. King
referred to the criticism leveled against him as "mindless" adding that:
3 McCarthy also suggests that 80% of mosques in the United States propagate a complete endorsement of
violent Islamic radicalism and that this violence is a part of the religion practiced by 80% of Muslims
worldwide (McCarthy, 2011) citing a study of dubious credibility that does not even make this statement
(Kedar & Yerushalmi, 2011).
4 Geller was behind the campaign which reached national attention in 2010 opposing the Park 51 project in
Manhattan, labeling it the 'Ground Zero Mosque' which stirred anti-Muslim feeling in the US (Elliott,
2010).
6


While I have no doubt that the Committees radicalization hearings have had a
significant and beneficial impact in fostering an honest dialogue about the
growing issue of radicalization within the United States, I remain concerned that
this problem is far from resolved. (Weinger, 2011)
King claims that 13% or 357,500s American Muslims believe that "killing
civilians in the name of Islam is justified in some cases" saying, "these numbers are
startling and expose a dangerous disconnect between a number of Muslim-Americans and
the democratic values cherished by Western nations." King offers this claim despite the
fact that the Pew poll he cites for this data, titled "Muslim Americans: No Signs of
Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism" draws exactly the opposite conclusion
(2011).
Finally, the only scholarly article written on these hearings to my knowledge is by
Hakimeh Saghaye-Biria (2012). Saghaye-Biria uses critical discourse analysis to analyze
the replaying of racism during Kings first hearing. Saghaye-Biria argues that each side
used rhetorical tools to present the narratives they wish to promote and to discredit the
narrative the other side presents. Saghaye-Biria argues that the liberal side of the
discourse, exemplified by ranking committee member Thompson, attempted to develop a
construction of the identity of the Muslim community as being a part of the solution to
threats of terrorism, while the conservative side, exemplified by chairperson Peter King,
attempted to discursively construct this identity as being inherently un-American and
threatening to our security. 5
5 The U.S. Census Bureau does not collect data concerning religious affiliation so the population of
Muslims in the US is uncertain (U.S. Census Bureau: FAQs).
7


Saghaye-Biria illuminates a few points about the first hearing: first, witness
testimony is not conducive to having a constructive conversation in that testimony is one-
way communication; secondly, the people who were invited to testify, and more
importantly those who were excluded from testifying, set the stage for the kind of
discourse that can take place. Reflecting on this, Saghaye-Biria points out that
mainstream Muslim organizations and experts were excluded from testimony and thus
silenced. Those who did testify, with one exception, painted a narrative of the Muslim
community that not only silenced this community, but suggested that the bulk of the
Muslim community lack agency and are being manipulated by malefic Muslim leadership
in the US. This creates the image of Muslims as being a homogeneous, manipulable
population that in some way bears responsibility for the actions of all of its members.
Lastly, Saghaye-Biria expresses concern that congressional hearings by their very nature
set a tone for national discourse by expressing a power relationship in which Muslims are
deemed to be a problematic element in our society. Given the function of congressional
hearings, such problematization is expected to result in discriminatory policy outcomes
(Saghaye-Biria, 2012, p. 510).
In summary, we see there are a number of approaches being used here. Some
suggest the hearings are damaging to the Muslim community, are McCarthyist, and could
impede law enforcement in fighting terrorism. Some suggest that the hearings do not go
far enough and that we should not be afraid to seek out voices that suggest that Islam in
inherently violent and is the cause of terrorism. Finally, Saghaye-Biria points out that in
the first hearing both sides sought to further their own narrative, while the hearing itself
served to silence Muslims, homogenize them, and deprive them of agency. Saghaye-
8


Birias analysis very strongly points out the problematic construction of Muslim identity
with which this thesis is concerned.
As will be discussed shortly, the construction of Muslim identity in the West is
much older and much more complicated than any of the above analyses suggest. This
will become more apparent as we move along, but for the moment I will note a few
things. On the one hand, the liberals are to some extent grasping at straws in trying to
identify the source of what they perceive as bigotry. On the other hand, the conservatives
are confounded that their own preconceived notions of Muslims are being questioned at
all. This is because the discursive construction of Muslim identity is so deeply ingrained
in our national conversation that we are scarcely aware of its presence.
9


CHAPTER III
LITERATURE REVIEW: ORIENTALISM
There is a discourse in the West concerning the Middle East which is not
grounded in empirical fact, does not allow those being discussed to have a part in the
discursive construction of who they are, and that labels Muslims and Islam as being the
other by constructing them as being illogical, violent, degenerate, and mostly
damningly as terrorists. Edward Said has labeled this discourse Orientalism. This
thesis will expound on Saids construction of Orientalism in a larger historical
framework, and then apply this theoretical framework to the first four of Kings Islamic
Radicalization hearings. In so doing, the question that I am interested in answering is
whether Kings hearings replay this discourse or refute it, and to what extent.
However, three caveats are in order. The first is that Edward Said is a scholar of
literature and the Middle East; I am neither; my interest is therefore not to evaluate
specific details with regard to the history and culture of the Middle East, but rather to
discuss the themes in the Orientalist discourse as presented by Said. The second caveat is
that since Kings hearings entailed a good deal of media coverage I will focus primarily
on the spoken hearings themselves (as opposed to the submitted written testimony), and
even within that I will focus mostly on witness testimony. The reason for this strategy is
that much of the media coverage, and indeed many of the exchanges in the hearings
themselves, amount to little more than partisan gamesmanship by the Republicans and
Democrats. Third, in most cases I will not seek to empirically verify or falsify claims,
many of which could be examined at great length, because this does not help us uncover
the underlying discourse. Rather I will concern myself with how and if these claims fit
10


into the discourse, and how they aid in the construction of an Islamic 'other.' The reason
for this approach is that the partisan gamesmanship being played out in the media largely
ignores the issues that I would like to address with this thesis, which is the overall
discourse with regard to Muslims and Islam in the United States and how and if it replays
the historical Western discourse regarding Islam, Muslims, and the Middle East. This is
crucial because the focus of this thesis is on the discursive construction of Muslim
identity and most of the gamesmanship and squabbling over details distracts us from this
purpose. That being said, I will start with a few, but by no means exhaustive, examples
from recent history to illustrate some of the discourse with which this thesis is concerned
in order to better frame the issue of identity construction.
Oklahoma City Bombing
On April 19, 1995 at 9:02am, a 4,800-pound truck bomb detonated outside of the
Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: this was the worst
terrorist attack on U.S. soil to date. I had just turned eleven years old less than a month
before and was in school that day. My fifth grade class at Greenlee Elementary, only a
few blocks from the University I now attend, was interrupted that morning and we were
taken to the library to watch the aftermath of the terrorist attack unfold on the news. It is
still hard for me to understand the motivation of my teacher in wanting her students to
watch these events: were we old enough to be able to interpret such extreme destruction?
Certainly this was a calculation, since I do not recall any of the younger students in the
school being there, and I imagine we were given a choice in the matter, though I do not
recall this either.
11


What I do vividly recall is the destruction the bomb caused to the Murrah
building: the front completely collapsed into rubble; the images of police and other
rescue workers searching for survivors in the debris; and people outside of the police
cordon interviewed by the media, all in complete shock, trying to understand why this
had been done. Particularly jarring were the discussions about a daycare in the building
which was in operation during the attack, and that children and infants were likely
included among the victims. Who was responsible for this atrocity?
My memory of the days following the attack is vague, but I recall that in the
immediate aftermath and for the first few days the blame was largely focused on people
from a religion that I had never heard of and a region with which I was only familiar
because of the recent war in Kuwait. It was only after a few days that it became clear that
the attack was not committed by Middle Eastern Muslims, but rather by mid-western
American right-wing extremists.
Ibrahim Ahmad was arrested in the FBI's initial dragnet on a flight home to
Jordan from Oklahoma City on the day of the bombing. When authorities told Ahmad
that he was being arrested in connection with the bombing, he thought it was the end of
the world for him. For a day and a half after the bombing the world thought that Ahmad
was responsible for the atrocity until it turned out that American right-wing extremists
were the ones responsible (Fuchs, 1995).
The majority of the media in that time period had very few qualms insinuating
that Middle Eastern terrorists were responsible for the attack:
12


Within hours of the bombing, most network news reports featured comments from
experts on Middle Eastern terrorism who said the blast was similar to the World
Trade Center explosion two years earlier. Newspapers relied on many of those
same experts and stressed the possibility of a Middle East connection. The Wall
Street Journal, for example, called it a "Beirut-style car bombing" in the first
sentence of its story. The New York Post quoted Israeli terrorism experts in its
opening paragraph, saying the explosion mimicked three recent attacks on targets
abroad. (Fuchs, 1995)
Media outlets were following the lead of public officials and federal law
enforcement, both of whom speculated that Middle Eastern terrorists were responsible for
the bombing. Authorities suspected radical Islamic terrorists; an all-points bulletin
broadcast on the day of the blast describe[ed] the suspects as two men of Middle Eastern
appearance with dark hair and beards" (Fuchs, 1995).
Was this simply a case of the media reporting news that was not factually vetted,
or were they passing on speculation by federal law enforcement about possible suspects?
Either way, "they blew it," says Jeff Cohen, executive director of Fairness &
Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a liberal watchdog group that monitored coverage
of the bombing. No matter what law enforcement said behind the scenes, the press
went overboard on the Middle East angle and underplayed other scenarios, he
contends (Fuchs, 1995).
The proposition that the attack was the responsibility of Middle Easterners
prompted a couple of dozen media outlets to contact Edward Said, professor of English
and comparative literature at Colombia University, within an hour after the bombing.
While Said also happened to be a Palestinian, and had a great deal of expertise on
western literature with regard to the Middle East, he was not an expert on Middle Eastern
politics or terrorism. The only reason that he was contacted by the media was that he was
a public intellectual who happened to be from the Middle East. Said says that the media
contacted him:
13


Not because I had anything to do with it, but because by virtue of being from the
Middle East [they assumed] I would have an inside insight into this. You know,
and of course the proposition is so preposterous and so racist that just if you are
from the area you would understand who and why this is being done. Never
thinking for a moment that it was a local homegrown boy called McVeigh who
was totally American in his outlook and was doing it out of the best principles of
American extermination and Ahab-like anger at, you know, the world (Jhally,
Edward Said: On 'Orientalism', 2005)
September 11, 2001
Most of us remember where we were the morning of September 11, 2001. That
morning Mohammed Salman Hamdani left his home in Queens for his job as a lab
assistant at Rockefeller University in Manhattan. He never returned home. It was not
until March the next year that the Hamdani family learned that their sons body had been
found in 34 pieces in the wreckage of the North World Trade Center Tower five months
earlier and had only been recently identified (Dwyer, 2011) (Otterman, 2012).
Hamdani was a certified emergency medical technician and had spent a year
volunteering part-time driving an ambulance as well as having been a police cadet for
three years. When Hamdani left that morning on his usual route to work at the DNA
analysis lab, his family and friends believed, [he] must have seen the burning towers
from the elevated subway tracks in Queens and gone down to help (Otterman, 2012).
However, the media reports about the disappearance of Hamdani in the weeks and
months following the attacks suggested a different version of events.
On October 12, 2001 the New York Post published an article about the
disappearance of Hamdani which implied that Hamdani may have been connected to the
attackers on 9/11 because he was a Muslim. The Post article begins: The NYPD is
hunting for one of its former cadets, initially reported missing in the Twin Towers attack,
14


issuing an urgent "hold and detain" order for the Pakistani native and suggests that
Hamdani was last seen, Koran in hand, leaving his Bayside, Queens home for his job as
a research assistant at Rockefeller University, but he never made it to work (Gorta &
Crittle, 2001). The article reports that Hamdanis mother at the time theorized that he
was in custody because he was a Muslim and is quoted as saying: "The government has
him, like [it] has many of the Muslim kids... They are interrogating him, but they will
release him one day" (Gorta & Crittle, 2001). The article ends by saying that his parents
and siblings were preparing to make a pilgrimage to Mecca (Gorta & Crittle, 2001)
without clarifying that this trip was to pray for the safe return of their son and brother
(Dwyer & Wakin, New York Times, 2001).
This is the primary narrative of the article: Hamdani was a Muslim who
disappeared on the day of the events of 9/11 who was wanted by authorities. Since the
hijackers were Muslim, and Hamdani was a Muslim the inference was that he was
somehow involved in the attacks. The article suggests that Hamdani was carrying a
Koran with him to work that morning because the authors felt that it was important to
point out, not so subtly, that he was a Muslim. The narrative of the article indicates that
the primary suspicion of the family and authorities was that Hamdani had gone down to
the site of the attacks to help and had been killed in the collapse of the towers. However,
the authors go out of their way to add disclaimers when this is mentioned that discredit
this hypothesis and cast suspicion on Hamdani. In the first instance the un-named source
suggests that Hamdani had not died in the collapse of the towers but instead was being
sought by police. After all, he had official NYPD identification which meant that if he
were up to some tricks, he [could] walk past anybody. In the last few paragraphs, the
15


authors present the hypothesis that Hamdani had died in the towers collapse and then
immediately refute the notion:
The Police Department refused to comment on the case, but investigators
privately theorize that the family's first notion was correct: Hamdani died in the
disaster.
Still, sources close to the investigation say the hunt is still on cops at the
Midtown Tunnel reported spotting someone who looked like Hamdani yesterday
morning. (Gorta & Crittle, 2001)
In the weeks and months that followed rumors spread in Hamdanis neighborhood
and college campus that he may have been somehow involved in the attacks. It was not
until his remains were identified that these rumors were put to rest once and for all.
The media coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing and the case of Hamdani on
9/11 are anecdotal and therefore cannot stand as evidence for the full breadth of the
discourse on Muslim identity in the West. However, they point to a larger problem that
the rest of this thesis will investigate: the concept that there is a discursive construction of
Muslim identity that is problematic and is so implicit in our cultural narratives that it is
rarely questioned.
Introduction to Orientalism
Edward Said wrote a trilogy of books, Orientalism, The Question of Palestine,
and Covering Islam: How the Media and Experts Determine How We See the World,
because the discourse and images in the West that portrayed the Middle East and Africa,
where he grew up and had lived for some time, had very little to do with his own
experience of these places (Foundation, 2005, pp. 2-3). When we in the West think of
these regions and peoples, a number of images, treated as objective knowledge, are
16


conjured up automatically. Saids inquiry, which began with Orientalism, was to try to
understand the origin of these preconceived ideas. In the words of Sut Jhally:
The central argument of Orientalism is that the way that we acquire this
knowledge is not innocent or objective but the end result of a process that reflects
certain interests. That is, it is highly motivated. Specifically Said argues that the
way the West, Europe and the U.S. looks at the countries and peoples of the
Middle East is through a lens that distorts the actual reality of those places and
those people. He calls this lens through which we view that part of the world
Orientalism, a framework that we use to understand the unfamiliar and the
strange; to make the peoples of the Middle East appear different and threatening.
(Foundation, 2005, p. 2)
Orientalism constitutes the beliefs, images, assumptions, and other systems of
understanding, that are evoked and treated as objective knowledge when the Orient is
discussed in the West. This discursive construction of the Orient as different and
threatening extends to Orientals themselves as being "different and threatening."
Orientalism is a discursive construction of other places, far away from our own
experience: the Orient as opposed to the Occident, and thus a construction of the
unfamiliar as in opposition to the familiar. More importantly for my purpose it is a
construction of the identity of the Orientals themselves in their far away places, but is
also constructs their identity when they are in the Occident.
Since the term Orient is in declining use, a clarification is warranted here: when
Said refers to the Orient he means parts of northern Africa, Asia, and the Middle East
as opposed to the Occident, which is the countries of Europe, North and South
America. Following Saids lead, I use the terms Orient, and Oriental in conjunction with
Orientalism. I acknowledge that these terms are offensive, but recognize that they are the
labeling given to the discourse by Said rather than the names of the peoples they invoke.
The use of these terms also helps to communicate the part of the Orientalist discourse
17


which constructs the identity of the "other" as being homogenous which is one of the
major theme that I have abstracted from Orientalism and which exists implicitly but
ubiquitously along with the other themes which will be discussed presently.6 7
Saids construction of the Orientalist discourse is based on a systematic study of
literature and art in Europe which extends back centuries and which culminates with his
discursive analysis of modern media. Said explains the overall themes which he sees
after this exhaustive discourse analysis providing many examples along the way. What I
am presenting are the conclusions that Said reached from this analysis with only a few
examples. These could be construed as generalizations on my part however the analysis
and conclusions are not my own, though I have abstracted out of Saids analysis four
general ways in which Orientalism operates, to simplify the analysis as will be seen
shortly.
In Saids construction of Orientalism the information of which Orientalism is
constructed presents itself as objective knowledge, as factual and based on systematic
study of the subjects. However, the information that Orientalism addresses as facts tends
n
to be based on the construction of European colonial powers.
6 See: Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp. 53-5, for a discussion on this.
7 In some cases, a European colonial power overtly built the discursive construction in the act of
colonization. For example, when Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798 he brought with him scientists,
botanists, architects, philologists, biologists, historians, whose job it was to record Egypt in every
conceivable way. And produce a kind of scientific survey of Egypt, which was designed, not for the
Egyptian, but for the European (Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp. 80-8). In other instances, Orientalist
discourse had been constructed by authors and explorer in the region over the course of many centuries and
was merely invoked by a colonizing power (Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp. 166-97).
18


Said explains that most of the information of which explicit Orientalism is
composed is philological, or text-based, up until the 20th century. If scholars in France or
England in the 18th century wished to study, talk, or write about the Middle East, Africa,
or Asia there was an entire discursive construct already in place from which they would
draw the bulk of their information (Foundation, 2005, p. 4). Said tells us that this
philological discourse had been constructed in a manner which was wholly internally
consistent. In other words, these were stories cut of whole cloth which did not merit
further examination. It therefore would have been very difficult for any scholar to
understand their subject in a way that was different than this already constructed
discourse. Said explains that most of the scholars of the Orient in the West never actually
set foot in the region which they claimed to study. Said explains that for this reason,
among others, the base of knowledge upon which Orientalism rests while not consistent
with the actual lives and cultures that it attempts to describe is internally consistent with
itself. Thus, the Orientalist discourse includes a number of themes that consistently arise
since at least the early 14th century, but tend to have little to do with the reality of life for
those described (Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp. 50-2).
There are a few consistent themes that Said identifies which operationalize the
Orientalist discourse. Orientalism has an internal circular logic that is self-affirming
which has four major themes. Since each piece of Orientalist logic affirms the next, there
is no logical place to start in explaining how Orientalist discourse operates. It should also
be noted that in some constructions not all of the four themes that I identified are always
present. As I go through each theme, I will provide an example or two from Said himself
to help clarify.
19


The first major theme that Said identifies in Orientalist discourse is that the
people described are not given room to speak for themselves. The internal logic of the
discourse does not leave room for its subjects to have a voice. The Orientalists speak for
their subjects without any consideration given to the people for whom they speak. For
example, Arthur James Balfour, when lecturing in the British House of Commons with
regard to the problems with which we have to deal in Egypt, made the moral argument
that the Egyptian people were better off under British rule than they had ever been in
history. However, Balfour gave no thought to giving any Egyptian a voice in this
conversation because surely any Egyptian who was not happy with British dominance
must merely be a local troublemaker as opposed to the good native who overlooks the
difficulties of foreign domination (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 33).
The exclusion of the voices of those described was internally consistent with a
philological discourse written almost entirely by Europeans. Academic Orientalists for
the most part were interested in the classical period of whatever language or society it
was they studied [emphasis added]: therefore the primary consideration of these scholars
was not in the current state of the peoples whom they claimed to study but rather a
mythologized historical version of the society in which they lived (Said, Orientalism,
1978, p. 52). When Orientalist scholars approached these societies, the lens with which
they looked prevented them from seeing the reality of the daily lives of the people. Said,
in essence, argues that these Orientalist scholars could not even really see their subjects
as human beings, but rather as an abstraction to be studied rather than as human beings
similar to themselves. Instead, they saw an ancient civilization, or often the remains of a
20


decaying ancient civilization; because of their preconceived mythological construction,
they found it difficult to understand why the local populations did not share their vision:
When a learned Orientalist traveled in the country of his specialization, it was
always with unshakable abstract maxims about the civilization he had studied;
rarely were the Orientalists interested in anything except proving the validity of
these musty truths by applying them, without great success, to
uncomprehending, hence degenerate, natives. (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 52)
Orientalists were never challenged to think about the biases in their understanding
of the Orient. The exclusion of the voice of their subjects allowed the construction of this
internally consistent narrative and their continued exclusion allowed this narrative to go
unchallenged by knowledge that might question its foregone conclusions. In this regard
Said talks about the construction of the identity of the other as being an act of power.
Whereas they cannot define themselves they are thus spoken for (1978, pp. 32-33) and
that this act of identity construction is a form of imperial power (1978, p. 145) This is an
important step in constructing an 'other': defining them, for them, because they cannot
define themselves which in turn is establishes a power relationship.
The second major theme that Said identifies in Orientalist discourse is the use of
derogatory language in describing its subjects. Language like degenerate, illogical,
irrational, violent, and inferior were used by Orientalist scholars, writers, and
commentators to describe the people whom they study (Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp. 31-
49). Said cites George Orwells description of the perspective of the colonizer in the city
of Marrakech in 1939 in French colonial Morocco as an example of how the colonizing
powers viewed the Orient:
When you walk through a town like thistwo hundred thousand inhabitants, of
whom at least twenty thousand own literally nothing except the rags they stand up
21


inwhen you see how the people live, and still more, how easily they die, it is
always difficult to believe that you are walking among human beings. All
colonial empires are in reality founded upon that fact. The people have brown
facesbesides they have so many of them! Are they really the same flesh as
yourself? Do they even have names? Or are they merely a kind of
undifferentiated brown stuff, about as individual as bees or coral insects? They
arise out of the earth, they sweat and starve for a few years, and then they sink
back into the nameless mounds of the graveyard and nobody notices that they are
gone. And even the graves themselves soon fade back into the soil. (Said,
Orientalism, 1978, pp. 251-2)
This view was not isolated to one country or region because the people whom
Orientalists described were treated as though they are one homogenous group, one of the
major themes of Orientalism. The result of this kind of rhetoric is the tacit creation of the
o
Occident in opposition to the Orient, or the other (Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp. 72-3).
Further generalizations like these build a picture of a vast, non-Westem group of people
who are the object of pity and fear. Said offers two excellent examples of this kind of
steroetype: American statesmen and political scientist Henry Kissinger and retired
member of the U.S. Department of State Harold W. Gliddens perspectives on the Middle
East (respectively).
Kissingers method ... proceeds from what linguists call binary opposition,
(Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 46) in which two subjects are compared in such a manner
that does not suggest any subtlety or exceptions because the two are diametrically
opposite. The two examples that Kissinger employs here are the West and the Orient.
Kissinger argues that the former is deeply committed to the notion that the real world is
external to the observer, that knowledge consists of recording and classifying datathe 8
8 For an excellent treatment regarding how we define ourselves by defining our enemies see Faces of the
Enemy: Reflections of the Hostile Imagination, by Sam Keen.
22


more accurately the better. Kissingers proof for this is the Newtonian revolution:
Kissinger argues that because the West had a scientific revolution we view things
empirically and since the developing world did not they do not view things empirically,
so that we are better off intellectually than they are because we are reasonable and logical
and they are not, and the line is drawn between us and them (Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp.
46-7).
Gliddens analysis of the inner workings of Arab behavior tells us that Arabs
inhabit a shame culture in which absolute solidarity within the group is of utmost
importance, and yet conflict is normal and expected because domination of others is the
only way to gain prestige. Hence, when a rational Westerner would seek peace, an Arab
would choose to use violence as a means to an end (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 48).
Among Gliddens other descriptions about Arab behavior:
Arabs live naturally in a world characterized by anxiety expressed in
generalized suspicion and distrust, which has been labeled free-floating hostility;
the art of subterfuge is highly developed in Arab life, as well as in Islam itself;
the Arab need for vengeance overrides everything, otherwise the Arab would feel
ego-destroying shame. Therefore, ... Westerners consider peace to be high on
the scale of values,... [but] this is not true for Arabs. In fact, we are told,
in Arab tribal society (where Arab values originated), strife, not peace, was the
normal state of affairs because raiding was one of the two main supports of the
economy. (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 49)
Said concludes that the point of learned disquisition of those like Gliddens was
similar to that of Kissingers: to illustrate without doubt the fundamental differences
between us and them (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 49). We see here that both
Kissinger and Glidden speak for Muslims (Arabs, Islam) and in so doing setup an us- vs.-
them dichotomy that establishes the image of a Muslim 'other.' However, also note that
23


both analyses, while speaking for and about Muslims and portraying them in derogatory
language, make these assertions without evidence.
This is the third major theme that Said identifies in Orientalist discourse: that the
examiner of the Orient does not need to rely on facts or empirical evidence for their
claims to be accepted as true. The two previous examples evidence this habit; Kissinger
provides no evidence aside from a rhetorical argument: the point he makes is
sufficiently unarguable to require no special validation. We had our Newtonian
revolution; they didnt. As thinkers we are better off than they are (Said, Orientalism,
1978, p. 47). Glidden sets up a similar us-versus-them dichotomy, and cites exactly
four sources for his views which paint a psychological portrait of over 100 million
people, considered for a period of 1,300 years in only four pages. These sources are a
recent book on Tripoli, one issue of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, the periodical
Oriente Moderno, and a book by Majid Khadduri, a well known Orientalist (Said,
Orientalism, 1978, p. 48).
This is the apogee of Orientalist confidence. No merely asserted generality is
denied the dignity of truth; no theoretical list of Oriental attributes is without
application to the behavior of Orientals in the real world. On the one hand there
are Westerners, and on the other there are Arab-Orientals; the former are (in no
particular order) rational, peaceful, liberal, logical, capable of holding real values,
without natural suspicion; the latter are none of these things. (Said, Orientalism,
1978, p. 49)
Said goes as far as to suggest that the Orientalist attitude in general is anti-empirical:
It shares with magic and mythology the self-containing, self-reinforcing character
of a closed system, in which objects are what they are because they are what they
are, for once, for all time, for ontological reasons that no empirical material can
either dislodge or alter. (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 70)
24


The fourth major theme which implicitly underlies all of Saids analysis of
Orientalist discourse is an assumption that all of the orientals are the same or at least
similar enough that they can be analyzed without distinction one from another. This
attitude can be seen in the language itself, the orient vs. the Occident; those of us in the
Occident are heterogeneous while those in the orient are homogenous. This assumption is
especially dangerous when combined with the aforementioned stereotypes because it
creates an other that is wholly dangerous by virtue of being in distinguishable one from
another: a hive mind that cannot be understood beyond how they are to be controlled.
Finally, to reemphasize, this discourse is closed to outside information so that it 1)
speaks for its subjects, 2) contains derogatory statements about them, and 3) offers no
evidence to support its claims and at each turn 4) homogenizes and generalizes about
Muslims. All of these 2) derogatory things that are said about Muslims are true without
any need for 3) evidence, and since 4) all Muslims are the same in sharing these
fallibilities, they cannot be allowed to 1) speak for themselves. This logical system of
knowledge is therefore closed to critique from those whose identity it discursively
constructs, while also limiting the ability of those engaged in the process of Orientalist
discourse to think outside of the underlying systems of knowledge that it entails.
It is worth stopping here for just a moment to explain the power of discourse in
the context of Orientalism. Simply put, discourse is a narrative or story that we tell
ourselves. However, discourse encompasses all of the communication that we do as a
society. As Said notes discourse takes place within a context, our society, our culture,
our language (1978, pp. 272-3). Discourse has power because it is inescapable: we
cannot know that which exists outside of the discourse in which we gain our
25


understanding of the world. Discourse therefore limits our understanding to this context.
Finally those who have power over discourse have power over society. So that in the
context of the Orientalist discourse those who exercise power create the orient and the
oriental and those that came after this initial construction were limited in their ability to
understand this discursive construction by the construction itself. A few examples might
help illuminate this phenomena: if one were living in the south during Jim Crow, or if
one were living in a totalitarian regime where the only access to information was through
the government, it would be very difficult to imagine the world differently. While these
are extreme examples, and the Orientalist discourse is more subtle it is arguably as
powerful.
Islamic Orientalism
Said argues that the Orientalist discourse with regard to the Middle East, Islam,
and Muslims carries all of the major themes from Orientalism intact, but with a few
nuances and an ontological rigidity that bears some attention before moving on. As noted
above, the discourse is a closed system of knowledge that does not accept outside
information that might challenge its most basic assumptions. Said tells us that when
Orientalists were confronted with an Islam, a Middle East, and Muslims, which differed
from the understanding that their discursive construction suggested should exist, they
suffered an estrangement, which might have suggested to them that they ought to
question their own ontology. Instead, their estrangement from Islam simply intensified
their feelings of superiority about European culture, even as their antipathy spread to
include the entire Orient, of which Islam was considered a degraded (and usually, a
virulently dangerous) representative (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 260). In addition to
26


this ontological rigidity, Islamic Orientalism also included an unshakable religious
significance in that since Islam originated in the same region as Judaism and Christianity
it was seen as an original cultural effrontery, aggravated naturally by the fear that
Islamic civilization originally (as well as contemporaneously) continued to stand
somehow opposed to the Christian West [emphasis in original] (Said, Orientalism, 1978,
p. 260). Said argues that because of these factors, a rigid ontology, an intellectual
retrenchment due to estrangement, and Islams significance as a religious affront against
Christianity, Islamic Orientalism stopped progressing as a social science and became
more an entrenched ideology that viewed Islam as an other; the Orient, which was in
conflict with the Occident. In Saids words:
What I am describing, then, is something that will characterize Islamic
Orientalism until the present day: its retrogressive position when compared with
the other human sciences (and even with the other branches of Orientalism), its
general methodological and ideological backwardness, and its comparative
insularity from developments both in the other humanities and in the real world of
historical, economic, social, and political circumstances. (Said, Orientalism, 1978,
p. 261)
Unlike other forms of Orientalism, the Islamic school constructed an image of
their subject as being somehow opposed to the Christian West (Said, Orientalism,
1978, p. 260). Said illustrates that there is no single Orientalist explanation for why
Islam might be opposed to the West, but rather a number of narratives that are
consistently invoked. In the next few pages I will provide examples of how Muslims
were discussed by the Orientalists that Said analyses and end by summing up how these
fit together to create an image of Islam that is violently opposed to the West.
27


For one example, note Gliddens interpretation of Arab9 behavior above: that they
live naturally in a state of violence. Islamic Orientalists take this claim even further.
While most Orientalists share Gliddens view, that Arabs are violent by nature (and he
does explicitly argue this), they insist that Islam itself is the problem. In other words it is
not the particular region, culture or race of the people in question but their religion that
poses a problem.
There are a number of ways that Said argues that Islam is portrayed by the
Orientalists which fit together into the larger portrayal of Islam as being opposed to the
West. The first is that the Orientalist discourse portrays Islam as stuck in time; as an
anachronism that was reasserting itself in a revanchist manner after its defeat just prior to
the Renaissance (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 280). Said argues that this construction
derives from the discursive construction of the orient as being inferior, an ancient
civilization trapped in the past. This causes them to suffer inherently because the
inferiority of their civilization leaves them in primitive circumstances. This inferiority
and suffering causes them to feel resentment toward the Occident as the superior
civilization. It also causes jealousy of the Occident as the superior civilization. Because
of this suffering, resentment, and jealousy the orient is a threat to the Occident (1978, pp.
249-50).
9 It should be noted that Arab does not mean Muslim, and that today the majority of Muslims live outside
of the Middle East. However since Said was primarily concerned with Western Orientalist treatment of the
Middle East, it is fair to assume that his reference to Glidden with regard to Arabs was also a suggestion
about the behavior of Muslims in general.
28


A modem example of this argument is the phrase used by some Americans to
explain the attacks of 9/11: that they hate us for our freedom. No other explanation is
needed: we have the superior civilization, they hate us because of it. On September, 20
2001 George W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress, one of the memorable
quotes from his speech went as follows:
Americans are asking "Why do they hate us?"
They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected
government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our
freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and
disagree with each other. (Text: President Bush Addresses the Nation, 2001)
This is a modern example of this discursive construction at work offering simplistic
construction of Muslim identity as angry at the West because of the inferiority of their
circumstances.
The second part of this construction is of Islam as fiercely resistant to change.
Said argues that there is a narrative of Islam in Orientalist discourse as being immobilized
in a mythologized past; this narrative portrays Islam as being in opposition to the West
because of its resistance to any change toward modernity. This opposition meant that any
exposure to modernity threatened to change Islam and as Islam felt threatened, so too did
it threaten the West:
Indeed, so fierce was this sense of resistance to change, and so universal were the
powers ascribed to it, that in reading the Orientalists one understands that the
apocalypse to be feared was not the destruction of Western civilization but rather
the destruction of the barriers that kept East and West from each other. (Said,
Orientalism, 1978, p. 263)
This resistance to change, in the mind of the Orientalists, is reinforced by the
notion that Islam is a totalizing force in the lives of Muslims: that is to say that every
29


aspect of Muslim life is directed by and controlled by Islam. For example, in Sir
Hamilton Gibbs construction, Islam is concerned primarily with the Unseen10, [and] has
an ultimate presence and domination over all life in the Islamic Orient (Said,
Orientalism, 1978, p. 278). For Gibb then, all life in Islam is subordinated to religion:
schools, banking, journalism, all intellectual enterprise, and all politics. In 1932 Gibb
tells us that:
Until recently, the ordinary Muslim citizen and cultivator had no political
interests of functions, and no literature of easy access except religious literature,
had no festivals and no communal life except in connection with religion, saw
little or nothing of the outside world except through religious glasses. To him, in
consequence, religion meant everything. [Emphasis added by Saidl (Said,
Orientalism, 1978, p. 279)11
The American experience of Orientalism is slightly different than the European
one: Said argues that historically the U.S. had very little direct experience of the Middle
East or the Islamic world. As a result, the Orient never entered into the imaginative in
the United States in the same way that it did in Europe (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 290)
(Said, 1981, pp. 12-3). Said argues that for the United States:
.. .there was no deeply invested tradition of Orientalism, and consequently in the
United States knowledge of the Orient never passed through the refining and
reticulating and reconstructing process, whose beginning was in philological
study, that it went through in Europe. Furthermore, the imaginative investment
was never made either, perhaps because the American frontier, the one that
counted, was the westward one. (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 290)
10 Saids capitalization of the term unseen here indicates that while Gibbs recognizes an Islamic
deference to God, as with many other Islamic Orientalists he does not consider this deference to be to the
same God recognized by the Judeo-Christian tradition. Rather this is an indication of the Islamic
preference for mythological religious belief over secular modernity.
11 Said notes here that the arguments that Gibb makes are metaphysical in that he never specifies when
and where the Islam that he invokes is taking place.
30


As a result when the US found itself in the position of a world power in the wake
of WWII there was no collective approach to the Orient as a subject and our discourse
was more or less devoid of substantive content. Without this historical context the US
instead approached the Orient as a matter of foreign policy and instrumentalist
administration rather than as a conflict with deep historical and cultural origins (Said,
Orientalism, 1978, p. 290).
American Orientalists, particularly military and corporate interests, invested
themselves in learning the languages of the Middle East only to the extent that this would
benefit them with regard to strategic military advantage or profit. The Middle East was
viewed by the newly minted American empire as a source of material wealth and
potential conquest, there was however, very little cultural interest given to the region.
Those concerned with the region did not study literature from or about the region,
excluding even the Orientalist literature from which most of the American attitudes had
been adopted. Most of the information about the region and peoples came from so-called
experts who based their opinions on 3) 'facts', that is speculation drawn from the
imagination of the 'experts', rather than literary examples of what life might be like for
the people in question. The loss of the literary and cultural element in the American
Orientalist discourse resulted in a further implicit construction of an 'other' for which
nothing needed to learned other than how they might threaten us (Said, Orientalism,
1978, pp. 290-2).
The less direct experience of Muslims in the American discourse allows 2)
derogatory language to be used against Muslims in a way that no one would dare talk
about blacks or Jews (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 301). For example, one could not
31


suggest that the former group was lazy, violent or stupid, or that the latter group was
sinister, untrustworthy, or greedy. While this language used to be commonplace in our
culture against blacks and Jews it is no longer permissible to talk this way, especially in
the media or by politicians. Yet any and all of these accusations can be freely applied to
Muslims in our modem discourse, by public officials, in the media, and in public and
private conversation without as much as a pause for consideration of their basis in fact or
their hurtful and harmful effect, let alone that a Muslim might wish to respond.
Additionally Said argues that there is a degree to which the West is seen as a
modern secular society whereas the Middle East is viewed as being trapped in a
caricatured version of Islam, so that it is not Christianity versus Islam, but rather a secular
society threatened by one still enslaved by religion. This is the logical extension of the
narrative that suggests that Islam is a totalizing system of life, at the same time
completely political and theological, and all consuming of the existence of Muslims. As
opposed to the West, which has 'grown out of or matured beyond religion as a
civilization. We have embraced secular modernity, they have not, we are therefore
more modern than they are: this is the same dialectical opposition illustrated above in
Kissinger's construction that created an us versus them dichotomy that within the
framework of Orientalist logic requires no further examination of its merits.
Lastly, Said identifies the American relationship and view of Israel as being of
singular importance in the construction of the American discourse. Considering the
aforementioned lack of American experience in the Middle East, the US taking a stance
as the most significant ally of Israel, Said suggests, has imported a particular worldview
into the American discourse. Israel is viewed as a 'modern' Western state which stands in
32


opposition to the rest of the Islamic world that surrounds it. Said argues that this
construction is directly imported into American Orientalism, saying:
I mean the idea for example, that Hamas terrorists on the West Bank are just
interested in killing Jewish children, is what you derive from looking at this stuff
and very little attention is paid to the fact that the Israeli occupation of the West
Bank and Gaza has been going on for thirty years, it's the longest military
occupation in this century. And so you get the impression that the only problem is
that Israeli security is threatened by Hamas and suicide bombs and all the rest of it
and nothing is said about the hundreds of thousands, millions of Palestinians who
are dispossessed, living miserable lives as a direct result of what Israel has done
and is doing. So there's a sense in which the Arab struggle for national
independence and in the case of the Palestinians for national self-determination is
looked at with a great hostility as upsetting the stabilities of the status quo. And
that makes it virtually impossible, it's a tragedy, virtually impossible for an
American to see on television, to read books, to see films about the Middle East,
that are not colored politically by this conflict, in which the Arabs almost always
play the role of terrorists and violent people and irrational and so on and so forth.
(Foundation, 2005, p. 6)
Conclusion to Orientalism
There are four main themes that come into play when dealing with Muslims in the
Western discourse which I will focus on for the purpose of analysis, some of which can
be seen in the pages above. The first 1) is that 'they' are not allowed to speak for
themselves and so we define them (they are spoken for.) The second 2) is that there
many derogatory things that are said about Muslims (stereotyping.) The third 3) is that
empirical evidence is often scant or lacking entirely when talking about them (poor
evidence.) The Fourth 4) is the homogenization of Muslims into a collective
(homogenization.) This last theme is best understood as an underlying part of the first
three themes, and as such will be treated alongside them in the analysis to follow.
A few clarifications are in order. These four themes operate so closely together
that when one ends another begins, thus it is difficult to choose any particular order for
33


them: the reason is that this is circular logic. Also, note that in not all cases are all four of
these themes present. Let me present two examples of the logical procedure involved to
clarify.
This circular logic is self-verifying and self-reinforcing. The premise and
conclusion of each argument supports the arguments that precede and follow it, and thus
no outside argument or information is required to reach conclusions. Indeed, not only is
argument and evidence outside this paradigmatic logic unnecessary it is wholly
unwelcome; it is what it is, as it ever was, as it ever shall be, and nothing can change this,
not even facts.
This closed system of logic encompasses a view of Muslims as being the 'other:'
they are frightening by their differences, portrayed as illogical, angry, and, above all,
violent. We cannot trust what they might have to say for themselves because they do not
even know themselves in their irrational anger. We hear stories about them, such as their
violent acts, people stoned to death for violations of religious regulations we vaguely
associate with Islam (Littauer, 2013); people having their hands cut off (AP, For Mali
amputee, Islamic extremist legacy lingers, 2013) or being beheaded (Goldman, 2013) for
petty crimes or no crime at all; and most of all, suicide bombers (Ghazi, 2013) who are
willing to kill themselves for religious martyrdom, a promised gift of virgins in the
34


afterlife as a reward (Economist, 2004), or simply because 'they hate our freedom' (Text:
President Bush Addresses the Nation, 2001).12
These taken together give us an illustration of an enemy that we only need to
understand well enough to identify them as an enemy and no more. As we will see in the
Peter King's hearings, and in the history of this discourse, anything that is contrary to this
narrative and logic is unwelcome because any information contrary to this circular logic
would damage the internal consistency of the narrative.
12 Note that these are images and themes that we commonly hear about Muslims from the media, and that it
is not my intention to argue for or against the verity of these images, my purpose is to illustrate their
existence and examine its origins.
35


CHAPTER IV
PETER KINGS MUSLIM RADICALIZATION HEARINGS
When Peter King became chair of the House Homeland Security committee in
2010 he committed to hold hearings on radicalization in the Muslim community. King
has a colorful history: in 2004 King claimed in an interview with Sean Hannity that no
American Muslim leaders were cooperating with law enforcement and 80-85% of these
leaders were Islamic fundamentalists (Congressman: Muslims 'Enemy Amounst Us',
2004). During the 1980s King supported the Irish Republic Armys campaign of
violence in Britain (Shane, 2011). King has also written a book about a Congressman
who fights terrorism by holding Congressional hearings, which one Amazon.com
reviewer described as a book about meetings (Amazon.com). Suffice it to say, Kings
past, along with the intended purpose of the hearings, caused some controversy.
Each of the four Peter King hearings occurred with witnesses submitting verbal
testimony for five minutes each. At the conclusion of witness testimony, each member of
the committee was allowed five minutes to make statements and ask questions of the
witnesses. The methodology that I have chosen to use in testing the hypothesis that these
hearings replay the Islamic Orientalist discourse is this: I will take each witness in turn
and look at the narrative that they present and apply the (1-4) main steps in the Orientalist
logic to determine whether their testimony replays the discourse or presents a counter
narrative. I will then conclude my analysis of each hearing by examining whether or not
the hearing as a whole replays, contributes to, or confutes the Orientalist narrative as a
whole.
36


I spend the most time on the first hearing because it provides most of the themes
that are worth examination. The subsequent hearings replay much of the discursive
construction in the first hearing, while at the same time focusing more and more on the
issue of Islamic terrorism as a law enforcement issue while providing very little
substantive detail. The coverage of the hearings therefore gets shorter with each
subsequent one.
Table 1.1: List ofPeter Kings Muslim Radicalization Hearings.
Name of Hearing Date
The Extent of Radicalizati on in the American Muslim Community and that Communitys Response March 10, 2011
The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalizati on in U.S. Prisons June 15,2011
On Al-Shabaabs Muslim American Radicalization July 27, 2011
On Threats to Military Communities Inside the United States December 7, 2011
First Hearing
The Extent of Radicalizati on in the American Muslim Community and that
Communitys Response
Chairperson Kings Opening Statements
King began the hearings by acknowledging that there was some controversy
surrounding the hearings saying:
.. .this opposition, such as from my colleague and friend Mr. Ellison and Mr.
Pascrell, has been measured and thoughtful. Other opposition both from special
37


interest groups and the media has ranged from disbelief to paroxysms of rage and
hysteria. (Hill, Transcript 1, ND)
After acknowledging the controversy surrounding the hearings King responded by
arguing that the hearings were necessary because of national security concerns. Some of
Kings opponents argued that the focus of the hearing should be on radicalization in
general and not focus only on the Muslim community, to which King responded that "this
committee cannot live in denial, which is what some of us would do when they suggest
that this hearing dilute its focus by investigating threats unrelated to A1 Qaida."
King cited a number of sources to validate this claim: deputy national security
advisor Denis McDonough said that the U.S. is susceptible to terrorist attack from A1
Qaeda via recruitment within the Muslim American community; "Attorney General
Holder said the growing number of young Americans being radicalized and willing to
take up arms against our country, quote, 'keeps him awake at night.'" Holder also added
that those who were critical of the FBI's law enforcement measures "did not have their
facts straight," and former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano having said
that the "threat level today is as high as it has been since September 11th because of
increased radicalization in our country" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, pp. 2-3). While King
cites these people as sources in his assertion that the hearings are important in fighting
domestic terrorism, none of them was called to testify before the committee that day.
King then directed the attention of the audience to a map of the United States that
depicted 'terrorist plots', which had been foiled between 2009, and the date of the hearing
in March 2010. The data points on the map represented 23 instances in which the
government "blocked" "terror plots" in 23 cities across the country. King used this
38


illustration in an attempt to demonstrate that "the fact is that we've found out no one is
immune from these type of threats, these type attacks" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 3). On
the contrary, twenty-three incidents hardly constitute data with statistical significance
from which one can draw any conclusion, let alone the assertion that 'we' are all under
threat from Al-Qaeda.
King partly concludes the opening statement of the hearing by introducing two of
his witnesses, Mr. Bledsoe and Mr. Bihi, saying that:
"Their courage and spirit will put a human face on the horror which Islamic
radicalization has inflicted and will continue to inflict on good families, especially
those in the Muslim community, unless we put aside political correctness and
define who our enemy truly is." [my emphasis] (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 4)
This statement is problematic in a number of ways. King first begs his own argument
that Islamic radicalization is a threat which has and will continue to inflict "horror" on all
Americans. While there is no doubt that some have suffered grievous losses at the hand
of terrorism this is not a normal occurrence in the lives of Americans: statistically
Americans are as likely to be killed by a piece of home furniture as they are to be killed
by terrorist attacks (Zenko, 2012). Further, his assertion that it is "Islamic radicalization"
which is at fault for this "horror" suggests that there is something implicit within Islam
that encourages terrorism. In other words, he is suggesting that there is some seed within
anyone who is Muslim that can be cultivated by something called radicalization which
will then turn them into a terrorist. Lastly, and by far most troublesome is King's
assertion that we need to define our enemy.
This assertion would be less troublesome if it were clear whom King intended to
define as an enemy. Is our enemy individual actors who would commit terrorist acts in
39


the name of Islam, or any other ideology for that matter, or do we need to understand an
entire community as being responsible for these acts? King repeatedly invokes Al-Qaeda
as the primary agent of radicalization, and this is reiterated in the hearing by
congresspersons and witnesses, yet the focus of the hearing is not on Al-Qaeda but rather
on the Muslim community. So does radicalization arise from within the Muslim
community or is it driven by an external actor like Al-Qaeda? We are never told where
the line is drawn between terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda and the Muslim
community. If recruiting is taking place in the Muslim community by Al-Qaeda is it the
community that is somehow responsible or are the individual actors involved squarely
where we place the blame? King does not make this distinction before he concludes that:
As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, we cannot
allow the memory of that tragic day to fade away. We must remember that in the
days following the attack, we were all united in our dedication to fight back
against A1 Qaeda and its ideology. (Hill, Transcript 1, ND)
Congressperson Keith Ellison
Ellison and Wolf testified for five minutes apiece as member witnesses and were
not subject to questions from the committee. Ellison testified that hearings on Islamic
radicalism, which specifically focus on the American Muslim community, tacitly assign
collective blame for terrorism on the Muslim community. Ellisons primary argument in
his testimony is that the entire focus of the hearing is on the Muslim community as a
collective rather than on the individuals that perpetrated violent acts, as he thought it
should be. Moreover Ellison objects to the specific focus on Muslims; after all, in
response to other terrorist organizations or acts of terrorism Congress did not react to the
ethnic group or religion of these agents of violence as a matter of public policy and that
demanding a community response as the title of the hearing suggests, asserts that the
40


entire community bears responsibility for the violent acts of individuals (Hill, Transcript
l,ND,p. 10).
Ellison approaches the hearing as primarily a law enforcement issue. He argues
that the Muslim community was already hostile to terrorist ideologies that invoke Islam
and that the Muslim community has been very cooperative with law enforcement. In
Ellisons view, the approach of the hearings might alienate Muslims, and in fact make
them less likely to cooperate with law enforcement.
Ellison concludes his testimony by relating the story of Mohammad Salman
Hamdani, and by the conclusion was so emotionally overcome that he ended choking
back tears:
Let me close with a true story, but remember that it's only one of many American
stories that could be told. Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a 23-year-old
paramedic, a New York City police cadet, and Muslim American. He was one of
those brave first responders who tragically lost his life in 9/11 terrorist attacks
almost a decade ago. As the New York Times eulogized, he wanted to be seen as
an all-American kid. He wore number 79 on the high school football team in
Bayside, Queens, where he lived.
He was called "Sal" by his friends. He became a research assistant at the
Rockefeller University and drove an ambulance part- time. One Christmas he
sang Handel's Messiah in Queens. He saw all of the "Star Wars" movies, and it is
well known that his new Honda was the one that read with the "Yung Jedi"
license plates.
Mr. Hamdani bravely sacrificed his life to try to help others on 9/11. After the
tragedy, some people tried to smear his character solely because of his Islamic
faith. Some people spread false rumors and speculated that he was in league with
the attackers because he was a Muslim. But it was only when his remains were
identified that these lies were exposed.
41


Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other
Americans. His life should not be identified as just a member of an ethic group or
just a member of a religion, but as an American who gave everything for his
13
fellow Americans. (Hill, Transcript 1, ND)
It should be noted here that Ellisons testimony goes against the Orientalist
narrative, as will the testimony of other witnesses called by the Democrats throughout the
hearings. However, it is important to note that testimony which counters the Orientalist
narrative is largely ignored by the Republicans on the committee. This holds exactly
with the analysis done by Hakimeh Saghaye-Biria in which each side of the aisle is
putting forth a narrative and using rhetorical tools to further that narrative. Im adding to
this analysis that because the Orientalist discourse is not concerned with facts and is
circular in nature that it is impervious to these counter narraticves.
Congressperson Frank Wolf
Wolf testifies that there were a handful of terrorists with some connection to his
home state of Virginia. He treats these half dozen examples as being sufficient evidence
that we are all under threat from Islamic radicalization and terrorism. This mirrors King's
assertion that a handful of cases of domestic terrorism constitute a threat to the entire
nation. This is no different than most of the discourse from Republican Congresspersons
in this hearing and constitutes the backbone of the discourse in these hearings: it asserts
that the Muslim community and terrorism are linked. Every time the term 'radicalization'
is used in conjunction with Islam and 'Islamic fundamentalism,' it implicitly suggests that 13
13 There were a number of articles published about Hamdani which indicated that he was being sought by
authorities in connection to 9/11. I chose the New York Post article above because it was the most blatant
in its smear of Hamdani. A list of other articles concerning Hamdani, and Ellisons testimony was
compiled by MediaMatters.org to refute right-wing pundit's claims that Ellison's telling of Hamdanis story
was fictional.
42


there is something about Islam that either is terroristic in nature or which allows Muslims
to easily be radicalized into terrorists.
This particular representation of the Muslim community is implicit and nuanced
and will become clarified as we move deeper into the hearings. There is one example of
this process which mirrors the Orientalist discourse, an examination of which will help
clarify the discourse thus far which is the treatment of the Council on American-Islamic
Relations (CAIR) by Frank Wolf in this hearing.
CAIR is a grassroots civil rights and advocacy group. CAIR is America's largest
Islamic civil liberties group, with regional offices nationwide and in Canada. The
national headquarters is located on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C (About Us -
CAIR, 2012).
CAIR is involved in many aspects of civil and political life in the US where it
concerns American Muslims. For example, CAIR counsels, mediates and advocates on
behalf of Muslims and others who have experienced religious discrimination, defamation
or hate crimes. They follow government activity, lobbying for Muslims and monitoring
legislation that might discriminate against them. Their media department gives a voice to
Muslims in local and national media in an attempt to portray Muslims in an accurate and
favorable light. They are also active in research, conferences, seminars, workshops, voter
registration, and outreach to foster interfaith relations (About Us CAIR, 2012).
Wolf accuses the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of having
"disturbing origins," having connections to terrorist financing, and most importantly,
(because it is repeated frequently) that CAIR is an "un-indicted co-conspirator" in the
Holy Land Foundation trial. This last item is particularly significant because it is
43


repeated throughout the hearings. However, before clarifying this claim, I will allow
Wolf to make his case against CAIR.
Wolf suggests that CAIR is responsible for silencing the debate; Wolf quotes an
editorial in the Columbus Dispatch as saying:
"For many years CAIR has waged a campaign to intimidate and silence anyone
who raises alarms about the danger of Islamic extremism.. .Where CAIR errs is in
labeling anyone who discusses Islamic terrorism as a bigot and hate-monger, an
Islamaphobe, to use CAIR's favorite slur." (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 17)
Wolf goes on to say that in addition to silencing honest debate, CAIR actively
"dissuades American Muslims from cooperating with law enforcement." Wolf tells us in
the next breath that when dozens of Somali-Americans disappeared from Minneapolis in
2009 "CAIR attempted to drive a wedge between the Muslim community and the FBI,
which was seeking to track down the missing men;" reminding readers that 10 Americans
had been killed fighting for or in connection with terrorist actions taken by Al-Shabaab14
in Somalia, (whether these are the same men that disappeared Wolf does not tell us) (Hill,
Transcript 1, ND, pp. 17-8).
Wolf provides us with one piece of evidence concerning his accusation that CAIR
prevents cooperation with law enforcement:
"In January 2011, CAIR's California chapter displayed an old poster on its
website which stated, 'Build a wall of resistance, don't talk to the FBI.' Although
14
Literally, 'the boys' in Arabic, this is a terrorist group that has been running amok in Somalia for decades.
44


CAIR removed the poster once the media reported on it, it reflects a larger and I
think a very troubling pattern." (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 18)15
Wolf concludes that "CAIR is counterproductive and it is hurting the American
Muslim community. I raise these concerns because if we are to successfully counter
domestic radicalization, law enforcement in particular will need the active engagement of
Muslim communities" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 18).
Since Congressperson Wolf is an elected official and has served for over 30 years
in the House of Representatives, many people would be willing to give him the benefit of
the doubt when he makes these claims; my suspicion is that most Americans would grant
him this leeway and accept his accusations at face value. I however cannot. This kind of
analysis plays directly into the Orientalist discourse in constructing the identity of a
Muslim organization as an enemy without providing sufficient or accurate evidence: the
evidence that Wolf presents with regard to CAIR is scant, and at best anecdotal.
CAIR explains on its website that the poster Wolf talks about was used by a
chapter in California but was not authorized by any central authority in the organization
since each chapter of CAIR is independent and under local control. In addition, it should
be noted that while Wolf suggests that this incident is part of a larger "very troubling
pattern" he does not specify any other incidents to evidence this point. A pattern by
definition requires more than one data point, yet this is the only piece of solid evidence
leveled at CAIR.
45


More importantly, the accusation that CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in a
trial that convicted the Holy Land Foundation and a handful of its members of funneling
some 12 million dollars to Hamas is a particularly damning accusation and one that is
leveled at CAIR regularly. The problem is that the accusation is baseless.
When U.S. Department of Justice was preparing the case against the Holy Land
Foundation, it listed more than 300 "Muslim organizations and individuals, such as
CAIR, when it included them on the publicly-filed un-indicted co-conspirator list in
2007" (CAIR, 2012). This filing of "unindicted co-conspirator" was a tactic used by the
prosecution in the case of an evidentiary dispute that never came to pass which would
have allowed them to introduce hearsay evidence against the Holy Land Foundation. Put
differently, CAIR and the other organizations were named unindicted co-conspirators as a
legal tactic, but had done nothing wrong. It is literally the prosecution saying that just in
case they need testimony from someone they are putting other peoples names in the legal
filings, but admitting that they hadnt done anything wrong. This label has no legal
meaning and is not an indication of guilt.
The North American Islamic Trust was also included on this list of over 300
persons and organizations and spearheaded the lawsuit against the Department of Justice.
In October 2010 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Department of Justice
had violated the Fifth Amendment rights of all of the named individuals and
organizations. Essentially the court had suggested publicly that all of the named
individuals and organization were co-conspirators with the Holy Land Foundation which
was convicted of funneling money to Hamas. When the organizations and individuals
sought legal relief the court responded by sealing the records which labeled them un-
46


indicted co-conspirator. The problem was that the damage had been done; it was in the
public realm that these organizations had been labeled unindicted co-conspirators, and as
such sealing the records did not relieve them of the reputational damage that had been
done. This was a violation of the Fifth Amendment because this reputational damage
was done without recourse to due process of the law (see: Garza, 2012). CAIR
concludes:
".. .there is no legal implication to being labeled an unindicted co-conspirator,
since it does not require the Justice Department to prove anything in a court of
law. Merely claiming someone is guilty without due process is both un-
constitutional and offensive to the principles of our justice system." (CAIR,
2012)
This narrative about CAIR fits into the Orientalist discourse: it is not based on 3)
evidence because, while it is true that CAIR was labeled an unindicted co-conspirator,
this is no longer the case and should not be brought into evidence. Additionally, this
accusation is 2) derogatory because it indicates guilt and association with a terrorist
organization where none exists. Lastly this preemptively 1) silences CAIR and other
organizations by casting unfair doubt on anything they say, and by extension this silences
any Muslims, who by extension are then not allowed to speak for their community: it sets
a precedent that Muslims must be vetted or approved by people like Congresspersons
King and Wolf or they are not allowed to speak for themselves.
This also sets CAIR up as a straw man for right-wing news media and
Islamaphobic pundits because it casts doubt on everything that any spokesperson from
CAIR says. This is particularly damaging because CAIR it is a prominent Muslim civil
liberties organization that is present in many media stories about Islam. CAIR is one of
47


the few organizations that is given an opportunity to speak on behalf of Muslims and this
pre-emptive silencing through slander damages their ability to represent their community.
The Testimony of Dr. Zuhdi Jasser
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser is a devout Muslim, a medical doctor, and former officer in the
U.S. Navy; he is currently the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for
Democracy (AIFD), which he established in the wake of the attacks of September 11,
2001 as an effort to provide an American Muslim voice advocating for the preservation
of the founding principles of the United States Constitution (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p.
19).
Jasser began his testimony by dividing the debate on Muslim radicalization into
two polarities: one that refuses to believe that any Muslim could be radicalized, even
though he says, the U.S. has a significant problem with Muslim radicalization that is
exponentially growing. The other side of this polarization are those who feel that
Islam is the problem and suggests that all Muslims are radicalized or are becoming
radicalized (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 20). Jasser argues that the solution lies somewhere
in the middle: neither is it that all Muslims are radicalizing, nor is it that none in the
Muslim community are or have the potential to radicalize. Instead, radicalization is a
continuum of belief and behavior rather than a sudden change in an individuals beliefs
and behavior, and because this radicalization takes place within the context of the Muslim
community it is in large part the responsibility of that Muslim community to deal with
this problem. This is the main reason that Jasser has come to testify before the committee:
he believes that with the help of public sector resources the Muslim community can fight
back against radicalization. He argues, for example, that Al-Qaeda is waging a war to
48


radicalize Muslims in the US and that in the specific instance of propaganda on the
internet they are winning, however with resources from the government the Muslim
community can and should be fighting back in this internet propaganda war16 (Hill,
Transcript 1, ND, pp. 58-9).
This is where Jassers argument becomes more nuanced: these elements of
radicalization within the Muslim community come not just from Al-Qaeda but from a
separation between what he calls political Islam and spiritual Islam. Jassers
conceptualization of a political Islam which rejects the notion of a secular state, and is
intent of advocating Islamic laws which are in contradiction to our government, our
society, and our Constitution. The result is Muslims becoming radicalized on a
continuum, which results in a culture that refuses to cooperate with legal authorities (Hill,
Transcript 1, ND, pp. 20-2). Jasser's concern is that until we have an ideological offense
into the Muslim communities domestically and globally to teach liberty, to teach the
separation of mosque and state, you are not going to solve this problem. We are not going
to solve it (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 22). Jasser concludes in part:
So, ultimately, we need solutions. Our organization has talked to and created a
Muslim liberty project that looks at inoculating Muslims with the ideals of liberty,
giving them the empowerment to counter imams, to feel that they can represent
their own faith. (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 23)
16 Jasser asserts correctly that Al-Qaeda has propaganda magazines widely available on the internet. I
choose not to cite or include any of this material out of concern that even being in possession of it might
put me in a compromising position. I looked at Al-Qaeda's magazines released around the time of King's
hearings to see if they made any mention of the hearings. However, this was around the time that Osama
Bin Laden was killed and their magazines focused entirely on praising OBL as a martyr and a great leader.
It was at the point when looking at the magazines that I realized that they included articles about how to
maintain and fire an AK-47 and detailed instructions on how to build homemade explosives that I decided
the material was not something that should be in my possession.
49


What Jasser is setting up here is a narrative that carries throughout the entire
hearing: it is repeated time and again that the majority of American Muslims are good
honest citizens, but always with the refrain that there is an underlying current in the
Muslim community that is radicalizing; that this radicalizing element rejects American
secularism, is isolationist in nature, is propagating sharia (Islamic) law, and is growing.
This fits the Orientalist narrative in a several ways; one key Orientalist
assumption is that Muslims come from a background that emphasizes Islam as being a
political system, which is in contrast to Western secularism wherein religion is secondary
to politics in our civic lives. For example, Jasser argues that in a minority but significant
number of mosques, there is a separatist attitude which holds that the Islamic state takes
precedence; Islamic law takes precedence over American law, however most of our
families left that political Islamic party mentality in the Middle East and came here to be
part of a political infrastructure that separates church and state. So for Jasser the fight is
to get the majority of Muslims, who reject political Islam, to accept that there is an
internal problem in the Muslim community with which they must deal (Hill, Transcript 1,
ND, p. 33).
However, it must once again be noted that his claims here lack evidence. The use
of language here should be noted, because while the common refrain throughout the
hearings is that the majority of Muslims are 'good Americans' [read: not terrorists] the
immediate refrain is always similar to the one Jasser used above, that while it is a
'minority' that reject 'our' values, they are significant in number. Which is it?
50


This line of argument divides Muslims into two groups: those that are secular,
thus westernized and invested in American values; and those that are invested in Islam as
an all-encompassing political system, and therefore have little invested in the United
States as a political community and are potentially radicalizing or being radicalized.
There is a degree to which Jasser is attempting to create a separation between 'good
Muslims' and 'bad Muslims.' This is an entirely arbitrary denotation, as it is unclear by
what exact criteria Jasser would like to make this differentiation.
It is also worth noting that this argument furthers a narrative by which either
Muslims are members of a group that fully informs their identity and political allegiance
or individuals with priorities set by their own self-interest. That is to say that the
dichotomy Jasser creates here is between American individualists and those Muslims
who have a collective identity. This last item plays an important role in the assignment
of blame with regard to terrorist attacks and is a major question in the hearings: when
someone who performs a terrorist attack does so in the name of Islam, do we blame the
individual, or is the Muslim community to blame or in some way complicit? Should we
be looking at individuals for responsibility in terrorist attacks where a radicalized
Muslim is implicated to the Muslim community as a whole with regard to responsibility?
Jasser suggests that it is the Muslim community that is responsible because it is
their children that are being targeted by the radicalizers, and while this argument is
certainly true on some level, I question to what degree furthering this narrative is helpful.
On the one hand Jasser is saying that this issue is somehow separate from the rest of the
American community in that it is the responsibility of the Muslim community to deal
with it. While at the same time Jasser also creates a dichotomy whereby some Muslims
51


are westernized and civilized while others cling to a backward civilization that does not
separate church and state. The latter is a clear example of the notion that we are a
secular society while they have not civilizationally evolved enough to move into
secular modernity.
Finally, an important consideration with regard to Jassers testimony is this: while
Dr. Jasser has qualifications which merit respect (his military service, he is a doctor, a
respected member of American political society and the Muslim community), He is not
an expert on Islam or radicalization in the Muslim community and so his testimony and
the accusative language which he uses with regard to radicalization is anecdotal. Since
we cannot reasonably universalize an individuals experience it is difficult to draw strong
empirical conclusions from Jassers testimony.
For example, Jasser later responds to a question from King saying that he
witnessed a sermon in a mosque in Phoenix in which a CAIR sign was held up which
said something "extremely insulting about American soldiers and what they are doing in
Iraq. And you can't tell me that that doesn't have an effect on radicalization." Again, this
claim is anecdotal and hardly counts as serious evidence.
All of this testimony fits somewhat messily into that part of the Orientalist
discourse in which Islam and Muslims may be 1) spoken about without providing much
in the way of 3) evidence and yet the rhetoric is given the weight of truth. This
problematic discourse is compounded by talking about the entire Muslim community in
such a broad and general way.
52


Mr. Melvin Bledsoe
Mr. Bledsoe is the father of Carlos Bledsoe, also known as Abdulhakim Mujahid
Muhammad, who pled guilty in July 2011 to the murder of Pvt. William Long in 2009 at
an Army recruitment center in Little Rock, Arkansas (Staff, 2011). Carlos Bledsoe
converted to Islam in college, dropped out and moved to Yemen in 2007; he was arrested
by Yemeni police when he overstayed his visa in 2008 shortly after his marriage to a
Yemeni woman. Carlos was then deported back to the United States. At that time he
was questioned by both Yemeni security and the FBI, however before the murder he was
never put under surveillance (Dao, 2010, pp. 1-2).
Melvin Bledsoes testimony is primarily concerned with the changes that he and
his family experienced as his son was indoctrinated into radical Islam by those who, as he
puts it, programmed and trained my son to kill (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 23). Bledsoe
describes his son in his youth as being a normal happy-go-lucky kid who enjoyed team
sports, swimming, dancing, and listening to music (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 26). When
Carlos left Memphis to go off to college in Nashville in the fall of 2003 Mr. Bledsoe
describes a number of occasions and events that indicated to himself and his family that
something strange was happening with their son. The first was an intense argument over
the Muslim religion with his brother-in-law, which Mr. Bledsoe put down to Carlos
perhaps having some Muslim friends and had found offense in some comment.
However, the next time Carlos came home he removed all of the pictures in his room
including one of Dr. Martin Luther King. When questioned about this behavior Carlos
informed his family that he had converted to Islam and that everything he did from then
on would be to honor Allah (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 24).
53


His family visited him in Nashville in an attempt to ascertain what was happening
with their son. They found out that he had dropped out of school in the beginning of
2005, and was working a temporary job. Carlos had gotten a dog in college but had
released the dog in the woods because he was told that Muslims consider dogs as a dirty
creature. His family could not understand this since the Bledsoes had had a dog in their
home since Carlos was 5 years old (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 24).
All this was part of [Carlos] brainwashing, changing his thinking a little bit at a
time (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 25). The next step that Mr. Bledsoe describes was that
his son began demanding that his employer allow him to pray at certain times of the day,
regardless of what was going on in his workplace; Mr. Bledsoe explained to his son
that this was a very difficult arrangement for an employer (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 25),
apparently to no avail. Mr. Bledsoe continues:
At this time, at the next step on his progress of radicalization, Carlos was
convinced to change his name. He chose the name Abdulhakim Muhammad. At
this point his culture was no longer important to him, only the Islamic culture
mattered. Some Muslim leader had taken advantage of my son, but he's not the
only one being taken advantage of. This is an ongoing thing in Nashville and
many other cities in America. In Nashville Carlos was captured by best describes
hunters [sic]. He was manipulated and lied to. (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 25)
Bledsoe goes on to explain that his son went to Yemen in what he told his family
was an effort to visit Mecca. The people that brought him there set him up to work at an
English language school. However, the school turned out to be a front for terrorist
activities and Carlos ended up in a training camp run by terrorists. Carlos joined with the
Yemeni extremists facilitated by their American counterpart in Nashville (Hill,
Transcript 1, ND, p. 25).
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Mr. Bledsoe tells us that it was both an Imam in Nashville, his training in Yemen
and Carlos subsequent stay in a jail in Yemen with hardcore A1 Qaida member[s] that
finally radicalized him into a person that would finally kill Pvt. Long.
It is also apparent from his testimony that while Mr. Bledsoe's situation is tragic,
his story is entirely anecdotal. This anecdotal form of evidence, which we also saw with
Jasser, works because of the preexisting discourse: we have a pre-constructed notion of
Muslim identity and this anecdotal evidence serves to reinforce that image. Bledsoe has
no knowledge of Islam, Muslims, the Middle East, radicalization, or terrorism, and
without the relevant facts we are left with an absolutely horrible story about a father that
lost his son to Islamic radicals, who then murdered an American soldier in cold blood and
will spend the rest of his life in prison, but we do not learn anything constructive that
might help us understand how this might be prevented in the future. Instead, we are left
with an image of an incomprehensible internal enemy that we can fear but cannot
understand.
Testimony of Mr. Abdirizak Bihi
Mr. Bihi is a Somali American whose family members are refugees from the
ongoing civil war in Somalia. As Mr. Bihi puts it: "my sister and her family, she was one
of the luckiest ones that made it to the shores of the United States of America" (Hill,
Transcript 1, ND, p. 27). Mr. Bihi is the "Director of the Somali education and the
Somali Social Advocacy Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota," and "the uncle of Burhan
Hassan" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 27).Mr. Bihi's nephew at 17 years old along with
dozens of other Somali boys disappeared from his community in and around 2007 and are
thought to have gone back to Somalia to fight with Al-Shabaab, a Somali based offshoot
55


of Al-Qaeda, or some other radical group. Bihi's Nephew was shot in the head and
buried in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia in 2009. The details as to why he was killed
are unclear (AP, Minn. Teen Found Murdered In Somalia, 2009). For two years his
family desperately searched for their lost child and Bihi's testimony is primarily
concerned with this struggle.
Mr. Bihi says that when Hassan went missing he and his sister approached the
community at their mosque asking for help in finding him. However, the next day their
religious leaders denounced their claim that any boys had disappeared, saying that they
were tools being used by outsiders to discredit Islam and their community (Hill,
Transcript 1, ND, p. 28). Bihi says that they spent the next two years trying to convince
the Somali American community that there were indeed boys that had gone missing,
"after two years of demonstrations, educating, fighting with basically our rental and
personal money, and efforts of sleeping three hours a night, two and a half years, we won
the heart and minds of the community" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 28). Despite their
victory in getting the community to come to their side in the struggle to find their lost
children, the Islamic leaders in the community never came to their aid and in fact fought
them at every stage.
Bihi's testimony strongly suggests that there was strong complicity in the mosques
and Muslim leadership in stopping them from investigating the missing children. When
questioned at subsequent points in the hearing Bihi reiterates this point; that the imams
(Muslim clergy), mosques, and leadership in general are not to be trusted, and it should
be noted that he never confines this assertion to just his community or just to Somali
56


Americans, he asserts without caveat that there is some conspiracy going on in mosques
in general.
While Bihi's story is as tragic as Mr. Bledsoe's it also raises more questions than it
answers and is problematic in much the same way. Firstly, Mr. Bihi does not give us a
clear idea of what happened to his nephew other than that he disappeared to Somalia and
was found killed in Mogadishu. It is not clear if he was radicalized in some way and
convinced to go to Somalia, if he was kidnapped and taken, or in either case by whom.
There is some speculation that Hassan was killed by Al-Shabaab because he might have
linked them to the disappeared boys and that perhaps he was planning on coming home
(AP, Minn. Teen Found Murdered In Somalia, 2009), though this speculation is absent
from Bihi's testimony.
As with Mr. Bledsoe, Mr. Bihi does not have any qualifications to talk about this
issue in any more than an anecdotal way. While Mr. Bihi's story is no less tragic with
regard to the fate of his nephew, we would be better informed by the testimony of a
homeland security official for example, or an area specialist, and certainly there must
have been someone responsible for an investigation of the domestic case that could have
better informed the hearing.
Bihi's contribution to the discourse is that he is using 3) anecdotal evidence to
accuse the leadership of the Muslim community 4) at large of being complicit in
radicalization, a 2) derogatory statement if ever there was one, which together further
paints the picture of Muslims as being an 'other' which we cannot understand and which
threatens us. Again this analysis functions in the context of a pre-existing discursive
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construction of Muslim identity which is why the anecdotal nature of the evidence
presented is not questioned.
In both Mr. Bledsoe's case and Mr. Bihi's case we are left with the tragic
testimony of a father whose son is in jail for life and an uncle whose nephew was killed
for uncertain reasons. Neither of them can be blamed for taking the opportunity to have
their stories heard and to express their frustration and anger at the forces that contributed
to the tragic fates of their son and nephew respectively, and while they both have my
sympathy they and we would have been better served by testimony from experts whose
views were based on a macro study of the issues at hand in these hearings, rather than
testimony that is limited to the experience of individuals. This would better fulfill the
purpose of the hearings in the Homeland Security Committee which is to keep the
country safe from violent extremists.
Sheriff Lee Baca
The final witness of the hearing called by the Democrat, ranking member Mr.
Thompson, was Lee Baca. The Sheriff of Los Angeles County since 1998, Baca runs the
largest sheriffs department in the United States, has jurisdiction over more than 4 million
people, has over 18,000 staff, and has worked extensively with the Department of
Homeland Security, the Travel Security Agency, and many other federal agencies before
and after 9/11 to prevent terrorist attacks on U.S. soil (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 30).
Baca testifies that his Sheriffs Department has had a lot of success in reaching out
to the very diverse "ethnic, cultural, and religious communities that thrive in the Los
Angeles area. We establish strong bonds through continuing outreach and physical
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presence at important events to every community" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 31). Baca
says that the evidence is that violent extremism is on the rise among all groups regardless
of religious affiliation (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 31). Baca expresses concern that the
approach of the hearing singles out Muslims as being more prone to radicalization than
other groups. He argues that focusing on the Muslim community alone is counter
productive because it feeds into terrorist propaganda that the West is at war with Islam
and is counterproductive to efforts of law enforcement to build trust and cooperation with
these communities.
Baca argues that the Muslim community and leadership have been very
cooperative with law enforcement in his own experience and with regard to the
intelligence that comes across his desk on the subject. For example, he cites the
Congressional Research Service as reporting that since 9/11 there have been 77 terror
plots by domestic non-Muslims, while there have been 41 total plots by both domestic
and international Muslim perpetrators. In addition, "reports indicate that Muslim
Americans helped foil seven of the last 10 plots propagated by A1 Qaida, within the
United States" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 31).
Baca explains that in Los Angeles County, leaders from all sectors of the Muslim
American community have come together to form the Muslim American Homeland
Security Congress to help law enforcement combat violent extremism. In these efforts
and others "Muslim American community leaders in Los Angeles have not hesitated to
put themselves in potentially uncomfortable positions to interact with local law
enforcement" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, pp. 31-2). Baca is pointing to a relationship
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between law enforcement and the Muslim community that is reciprocal and respectful,
and feels that these hearings may serve to undermine these relationships.
Along with Keith Ellison, Baca counters the Orientalist narrative, however this
counter narrative that Baca presents is never acknowledged by the Republicans on the
committee. Instead they tend to question the other witnesses in the rest of the hearing to
confirm their own Orientalist narrative. So it is not fair to say that there are not counter
narrative present in the hearing, but rather that the Orientalist narrative is the dominant
narrative and is impervious to outside contending narratives because of its lack of
concern about facts.
It is important to note that I have not accused Peter King or anyone else involved
of replaying this discursive construction for malicious reasons. Indeed, I am fully
convinced that King has the best intentions in trying to protect his country and is
completely sincere in his motives. The point being that we are all susceptible to this
discursive construction of the other.
Second Radicalization Hearing
The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons
As with the previous hearing, I will examine if and how this hearing replays the
Orientalist construction of Muslim identity as an enemy other. Since many of the
themes from the previous hearing are replayed in this second hearing, it will be a
significantly shorter analysis. I will therefore summarize the witnesses in the hearing
first and analyze their significance afterward. This hearing focused on the threat of
Islamic radicalization in U.S. prisons. As with the previous hearing I will only use the
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testimony of the four witnesses to determine whether or not the hearing replays the
Orientalist narrative. However, for the sake of brevity each witnesss testimony will be
summarized as much as possible. This is possible because the themes of the hearings
carry through and despite variation do not require an explication of every detail.
The first witness was Mr. Patrick Dunleavy, former Deputy Inspector of the New
York Department of Correctional Services, Criminal Intelligence Unit. Mr. Dunleavys
testimony starts by telling us that Islamic radicalization in U.S. prisons is a threat with
which we should be concerned. Dunleavy testifies that Islam began to establish itself in
the U.S. prison system in the late 1960s. He tells us that one of the spiritual leaders that
began this movement is currently serving a life sentence for shooting two police officers.
Islam in U.S. prisons, he says, became more and more radicalized in the 70s and 80s and
increased its converts (Hill, House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND, pp. 5-6).
Then, in the late '80s and '90s, there was an influx of foreign-bom inmates from
the Middle East, some of whom were incarcerated for having committed violent
acts against non-believers, individuals who had either killed, bombed, or stolen
money in the name of Allah. They had international connections with terrorist
organizations such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad, A1 Qaida, Hezbollah and Hamas.
After they were arrested and incarcerated, they walked into the prison mosque and
were hailed as heroes. They were inspired to deference by the Muslim inmates
and by the Muslim chaplains. (Hill, House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND, p. 6)
Dunleavy cites two examples of inmates being associated with terror plots. The
first is an inmate who conspired with others on the outside to bomb the World Trade
Center in 1993; the other is a plot which was foiled by law enforcement in 2009 to bomb
synagogues in New York and shoot down military aircraft with Stinger missiles (Hill,
House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND).
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Dunleavys major concern is that the Islamic religious leaders who are allowed to
preach in mosques are not vetted in any sufficient way to prevent those who would
radicalize from infiltrating prisons. He cites two examples where this was a concern: one
in which an imam was caught attempting to smuggle contraband into a prison; the other
in which an imam was hired by the corrections department despite having served time in
prison for murder. (Hill, House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND, pp. 6-7).
While the incidents Dunleavy cites are troubling they are anecdotal. Dunleavys
credentials as a former officer in state corrections gives his testimony authority, but it is
curious that he does not provide better data to make his case. This is not to say that he
does not have this information, but he does not provide it at any point during the hearing,
let alone in his initial testimony. It does seem that if there were a time and a place to
present such information a congressional hearing on the subject of his expertise would be
that time and place.
The second witness at the hearing was Kevin Smith, deputy district attorney for
San Bernadino County, California. Smith tells us that he was a part of the prosecutorial
team in a terrorism case that began with radicalization in the prison system. An inmate
named Kevin James in the CA Department of Corrections began an organization based
on radical Islam around 1997. By the time he was paroled in 2004 James had drawn up
plans for recruitment, including acquiring small arms and explosives and training
operative to carry out attacks against designated targets. He and a partner recruited two
others and began robbing gas stations to raise funds for their new terrorist cell. At some
point James dropped his cell phone which authorities were able to use to apprehend and
indict the four group members on charges of of seditious conspiracy to wage a war of
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terrorism against the United States government (Hill, House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND,
pp. 8-9).
The third witness was Michael Downing, deputy chief and commanding officer of
the Los Angeles Police Department's Counter Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau.
Downing argues that prisoners are susceptible to radicalization because they are social
discontents with violent tendencies who exhibit high rates of recidivism when leaving
prison. Downing concurs with Dunleavy that there are serious problems with the hiring
practices of imams in the prison system. He further suggests that religious meetings are
not monitored, and that there are radicalization materials readily available to inmates.
Downing tells us that there is a sharp distinction between the Islam practiced outside of
prison, which is one of the great and peaceful religions of the world, and that promotes
value-based living, which stands in contrast to the radical Islam that inmates encounter
which promotes violence, dysfunction, danger and exploitation (Hill, House June 15
2011 Hearing, ND, pp. 10-12).
The fourth and final witness at the hearing was Dr. Bert Useem, head of the
Sociology Department at Perdue University who specializes in prison organization and
violence (Hill, House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND, pp. 12-13). Useem testifies that
prisons have not been a major source of radicalization. Useem argues that three sets of
facts support this conclusion.
First, U.S. prisons now confine 1.6 million people. Each year, 730,000 inmates
are released. Second, from 9/11 through the first half of 2011, 178 Muslim
Americans have committed acts of terrorism or were prosecuted for terrorism-
related offenses. Third, for 12 of these 178 cases, there is some evidence for
radicalization behind bars. Putting these three sets of facts together, if prisons
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were a major cause of jihadist radicalization, we would expect to see a lot of it,
but we don't (Hill, House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND, p. 13)
Useem argues that in his research on the subject he found a number of important
factors that have inhibited radicalization in prisons: prisons are far less violent than they
were decades ago. Prisoners are very closely observed by personnel, including watching
their behavior for radicalization and monitoring all communications. Correctional
leaders have taken steps to mitigate radicalization, including increased communication
with law enforcement and active measures to train personnel and screen for radicalizing
elements including clergy. Useem also found that the profiles of terrorists and the U.S.
prison population is different: U.S. prisoners tend to be poor, while terrorists tend to be
well off. Lastly, Useem found that there is a modest level of patriotism among inmates,
which makes prisons a hostile environment toward radicalizing ideologies.
Once again in this hearing the Orientalist narrative is the dominant one because
the majority of the witnesses were called by Republicans knowing that the testimony they
give would replay this narrative. As Saghaye-Biria (2012) pointed out in the first hearing
who was invited shaped the possible discourse that could take place. Bert Useem
provided strong evidence that counters the Orientalist narrative but as in the first hearing
this counter narrative was not acknowledged by King and his colleagues. So that while
the Orientalist narrative is not totalizing it is impervious to these outside discursive
challenges because Orientalism is self contained and not concerned with the rules of
17 For example, see: Useem, U.S. Prisons and the Myth of Islamic Radicalization, 2012.
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evidence. The result is that those who are pushing and Orientalist narrative are not
interested in even considering these counter narratives.
Third Radicalization Hearing
On Al-Shabaabs Muslim American Radicalization
The analysis of this hearing will proceed in the same manner as the last. I will
start with an overview of the witnesses and then proceed with a brief analysis of whether
or not they are replaying the Orientalist discourse on the construction of Muslim identity.
The third of Kings radicalization hearings focused on the effect of the Somalian terrorist
organization Al-Shabaab on Muslim radicalization in the U.S. which took place on July
27, 2011 (Hill, House July 27 2012 Hearing, ND). Chairperson King starts the hearing
off by stating that dozens of Americans had been radicalized by Al-Shebaab and had
gone back to Somalia to fight with Al-Shebaab for control of that country. Ranking
member Thompson points out that no attack had ever taken place against the U.S.
homeland or American interests abroad that originated with Al-Shebaab, that Al-Shebaab
numbers less than 3000 members, and is only one of many competing factions for power
in a complicated civil war in Somalia. While Al-Shebaab ought to be monitored by law
enforcement it does not appear to present any danger to the continental U.S. (Hill, House
July 27 2012 Hearing, ND, pp. 2-4).
The first witness in the hearing was Ahmed Hussen, a Muslim Canadian who is
active in various civic activities. Hussen testifies that there is a problem of alienation and
radicalization in the Canadian-Somali community that mirrors the issues in the
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American-Somali community. Hussen sets up the narrative that there is a failing in the
Somali community and that it is that communitys responsibility to address it.
The second witness was Anders Folk, a former Marine and US attorney for the
state of Minnesota who had prosecuted more than a dozen Al-Shebaab related cases.
Folk relates in his testimony that Al-Shebaab is a dangerous, violent organization in
Somalia and that they could hypothetically be planning an attack on U.S. soil.
The third witness was Tom Joscelyn, the senior director of the Center for Law and
Counterterrorism at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and is reported to be
an expert on terrorism by Peter King (Hill, House July 27 2012 Hearing, ND, p. 9).
Joscelyn is also a writer for the conservative website The Daily Standard and holds a
B.A. in economics (Our Team, 2013). Joscelyn reiterates that Al-Shebaab is a violent
organization in Somalia and infers that because a handful of people had been recruited by
Al-Shebaab to fight in Somlia that Al-Shebaab poses a threat domestically. Joscelyn
does add that most of the victims of Al-Shebaab are Muslims and that the Somali-
American community, does not support them because many of them were victimized by
Al-Shebaab (Hill, House July 27 2012 Hearing, ND, p. 10).
The final witness was Tom Smith, police chief in St. Paul, Minnesota which has a
large Somali-American population and other significant immigrant populations. Smith
testified that his police department has had a large amount of success in combating
radicalization and other criminal activities through engagement with the Somali-
American community, including after school programs, sports teams for the youth, and
groups for women and girls all led by local police officers. Smith explains that this
approach has opened up a once isolated community to freely engage with them to
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address challenges and solve problems. Somali-American youth that may be
tempted by an ideology of radicalization can now look to an expanded network of
trust, including police officers, mentors to provide support, resources and
guidance to steer them in a positive direction. (Hill, House July 27 2012 Hearing,
ND, pp. 11-13)
All four of these approaches treat the question of Al-Shebaab as a law
enforcement issue. The first three tell us that Al-Shebaab is a dangerous organization
with aspirations to recruit in the U.S. for fighting in Somalia, with the possibility that
they may aspire to attack domestically, while the fourth witness gives us some idea of the
challenges and approaches that law enforcement might use to combat Al-Shebaabs
recruitment aspirations. Even though, for the most part this is a legitimate exercise in
assessing the threat of terrorist organization domestically and abroad, there are a few
ways in which this fits into the Orientalist narrative which are worth a brief mention.
This hearing is held in the larger context of hearings about radicalization in the
Muslim-American community. While Al-Shebaab is the primary topic of interest here,
the forum in which this is being discussed does concern the larger community and as
such could be construed to homogenize this community as we have seen elsewhere. It
should also be pointed out that though this hearing had a lot of speculation about possible
attacks or possible Al-Shebaab aspirations it was void of any evidence to verify these
claims. Finally, it should be noted that no Muslims were invited to testify that day,
despite a request by congressman Ellison to be allowed to testify. Ellison is not only a
Muslim himself, but also is the representative for the largest Somali-American
community in the country (Ellison denied request to testify at Al-Shabaab hearing, 2011).
As with Saghaye-Birias analysis of the first hearing, the people that were allowed to
testify shape the possible discursive outcome in the hearing. Taken together in this
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hearing, we see a silencing of Muslim voices, a lack of evidence for hypothetical
domestic attacks, and a passive homogenization and slander of the Muslim community by
the association with the other hearings.
Fourth Radicalization Hearing
On Threats to Military Communities Inside the United States
The analysis of the fourth hearing will be similar to the last two. The fourth
hearing was held as a joint hearing between Senate and House Homeland security
committees on December 7, 2011. The hearing focused on the threat of terrorism in the
U.S. military community (Hill, House Senate Hearing December 7 2011, ND). The first
three witnesses will be handled together because their testimony is very similar, and the
fourth witness will be introduced and analyzed following them.
The first witness was Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Stockton (Hill, House
Senate Hearing December 7 2011, ND, pp. 8-9). The second witness was Colonel Reid
Sawyer director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (Hill, House Senate
Hearing December 7 2011, ND, pp. 9-11). The third witness was Jim Stuteville senior
advisor to the U.S. Army for Counterintelligence Operations and liaison to the Federal
Bureau of Investigation (Hill, House Senate Hearing December 7 2011, ND). These
three witnesses all have expertise in matters of homeland security and terrorism, and
taken together their testimony forms a cohesive narrative about an organized threat to the
military community, including threats to military families, recruitment stations, military
bases, and diplomatic missions among others.
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The witnesses tell us that there is an ongoing and growing threat to the military
community domestically and internationally, and that this threat is both internal to the
military in that members of the military are being radicalized to attack fellow members of
that community. The threat is external in that A1 Qaeda is targeting the military
community by focusing radicalized would be terrorists, on attacking this community.
The witnesses provide few solid numbers to justify these claims because the specific
numbers are only to be discussed in closed session (Hill, House Senate Hearing
December 7 2011, ND, p. 12). However, the witnesses current engagement with
intelligence operations and expertise in this field lends credibility to these claims. This
does however beg the question: what does this testimony have to do with Kings
radicalization in the Muslim American community hearings?
We find the answer with the hearings fourth witness, Daris Long (Hill, House
Senate Hearing December 7 2011, ND, pp. 44-46), a retired Marine Corps veteran and
father of William Long who was murdered by Carlos Bledsoe in 2009 at a military
recruiting center in Arkansas (see above). Long testifies that the government has failed
to protect us from domestic terrorist attacks. Long specifically tells us that the failure
comes from the unwillingness of the Obama administration and the media to call
domestic acts of terror by radicalized Muslims terrorism. He suggests that if the media
and government officials were more vehement in naming our enemies Islamic
extremists that some of these attacks could have been prevented. Instead Long says we
get platitudes and niceties: instead of calling it terrorism, Little Rock is a drive-by, Fort
Hood is just workplace violence (Hill, House Senate Hearing December 7 2011, ND, p.
44).
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Along with Mr. Bledsoe and Mr. Bihi, Mr. Long has lost a child and all sympathy
is due him for his loss. However, in the same way as above it must be pointed out that
Long is not an expert on terrorism, Islam, or terrorist radicalization. While his pain is
real, his testimony is anecdotal and tells us little about the problems this hearing is
attempting to address. Instead, this hearing leaves us with some uncertain knowledge
that our military communities are under attack and that in a specific attack the pain of a
father is very real.
This hearing drifts farther into the mire of Orientalist discourse in that it treats
Islam and Muslims as a complete abstraction: the Muslim community, while implicated
by Kings assertion that this is the fourth in his hearings on developments in that
community, is conspicuously absent from the hearings. This is because the construction
of Muslim identity is predefined and implicitly understood. This identity is built into the
narrative in such a way that the actors involved in replaying this discourse are not aware
that this is what they are doing. Because Muslim identity is predefined in this way in this
hearing, Muslims are not even given an identity: we arent told who they are, what they
are doing and no hint is given as to the motivation of radicalization or anything else for
that matter. Thus not just silencing this community from this hearing but in some sense
disappearing them all together into some abstract homogenous enemy about which we
know very little except that they threaten us.
While we do have expert testimony that there are threats, we are not given the
privilege of hearing any specifics since these are in closed session and thus not for public
record. The only specifics we are given are from Mr. Long from whom we only hear a
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bereaved father lament the failure of the government and media to say what he thinks
ought to be said about those he feels are responsible for the death of his son.
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CHAPTER V
CONCLUSION
In conclusion, I will briefly proceed back through Kings hearings to highlight the
construction of Muslim identity as a whole as presented by the hearings. I will highlight
the discursive Orientalist construction of Muslim identity which I find are replayed in
Peter Kings hearings. Finally, I will return to Saids Orientalism to briefly discuss
where we might consider going from here.
To work back through Kings hearings. In the last hearing, we are told that there
is a threat and that people have been killed. The Muslim community is implicated and
named, but never defined or explained; they have thus sunk into an abstraction: we do not
know who they are but we know their name and that they threaten us in some undefined
way.
The third hearing on Al-Shebaab tells us about possible attacks and the
hypothetical aspirations of Al-Shebaab to target the U.S. domestically. Here we see that
the enemy has a name and a place: Muslims and Somalia. Thus Muslim identity here is
solidified but in a distant foreign land and threats are made, but without substance.
The second hearing on prison radicalization brings the threat closer to home and
again gives us a few stories of radicalization in prisons. This constructs Muslim identity
in a way that could implicate criminality in the population that is being homogenized, and
adds the sub-context of prison violence to this identity in addition.
The first hearing gave us a closer look at a few stories that bring radicalization
closer to home: a father, whose son was radicalized in Islam, committed a murder in the
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name of Islam and is now in prison; an immigrant refugee from Somalia whose nephew
was radicalized and ran off to die in the civil war there. Additionally, a self-proclaimed
expert on the Muslim community tells us that the cause of these problems comes from
Muslims not conforming to American values. This gives us the narrative that anyone,
whether they be a Muslim immigrant or an ordinary American father, is susceptible to the
influence of radical Islam.
There are two competing narratives at play in these hearings. On the one hand
there is the Orientalist narrative, and on the other is a competing narrative that seeks to
challenge the assumptions of the Orientalist narrative. It is important to note that the
Orientalist narrative, while dominant, as evidenced by the choice of a majority of
witnesses that replay the Orientalist narrative, is not totalizing by recognition of the
presence of a narrative that challenges Orientalism. That said, the Orientalist narrative is
not susceptible to this discursive challenge by virtue of its disinterest in facts. So what
we see in the hearing is that those who are replaying the Orientalist discourse more or
less ignore facts presented that challenge their preconceived discursive construction of
Muslim identity.
Another conclusion from these hearings is that the discursive construction of
Muslim identity as an enemy other is so deeply ingrained in our society that the actors
involved in these hearings are not even aware that they are replaying this identity
construction. Peter Kings Radicalization in the Muslim American Community hearings
replay the Orientalist discourse in the four ways that I had abstracted from Edward Saids
work: they silence the community by allowing only a few members of that community to
speak at the hearings. Rather than focusing on the individuals responsible for terrorist
73


acts the community itself that is to be taken to task for acts of violence in the name of
radical Islam. Instead of taking account of individual action this defames the community
and homogenizes them into a whole that is responsible for the actions of all and removes
agency from individuals. This removal of agency from individual actors is not new to the
narrative but is emphasized by these hearings as a means to solidify the homogenization
of the group.
The discursive construction of Muslim identity is whole and complete without
any member of the community representing themselves. It goes beyond silencing in that
the implicit construction of their identity is already fully constructed. There is no need
for Muslims to speak on their own behalf because their identity is already complete.
Never mind that the evidence for this identity construction is sorely lacking. The result
as Said points out, and it bears repeating, is that things are said about Muslims that no
one would dare to say about any other minority group, and because of the discursive
construction of their identity and defined and fully understood no one questions these
sterotypes.
One of the most prominent aspect of these hearings is the lack of and disinterest
in using facts to evidence the claims made by the side that treats Islam as the problem and
places the blame on the Muslim community as a whole. Throughout the hearing we get
anecdotal evidence to support claims that radicalization is a major threat. Yes, attacks
happened. Yes, people were radicalized. Yes, people were killed. Of this there is no
doubt, but we need more than a handful of instances to draw firm conclusions, especially
if this is being used to implicate guilt in an entire population.
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This discursive construction without evidence solidifies Islam into a thing
abstracted from any other concern that exists and is threatening to our way of life. We
are all vulnerable to it. The people that live in the Muslim community are infected with
it, lack agency and are thus helpless against it, and are therefore threatening to us all.
Kings hearings follow a logical course of action. Here we have a story about an
American man, Carlos Bledsoe, who was radicalized in prison (albeit a Yemeni prison)
so King investigates prisons in his next hearing. Here we have a story about a young
Somali man who was radicalized in the U.S. and went to fight with Al-Shebaab in
Somalia and was killed, so Kings third hearing is on Al-Shebaab. Lastly, Carlos
Bledsoe killed an Army recruitment officer and so King investigates radicalization in the
U.S. military in his last hearing.
I have no doubt that King has the best intentions in using these hearings to combat
a real and ongoing threat. However, Kings lack of interest in hearing the voices of
Muslims and his misappropriation of anecdotal evidence as empirical fact lead to a
construction of Muslim identity as an enemy other: Muslims are not allowed to speak for
themselves in these hearings and are thus spoken for. The hearings give damning
accounts against them with very little evidence or explanation. Their identity is thus
defined for them: their identity constructed as a homogenous group with very little
agency that is defined as an enemy other.
Returning to Said we must understand that this construction of Muslim identity is
part of a much larger, much older discourse. The Orientalist discourse is built into the
background of all of our conversations about Islam and Muslims. I have attempted here
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to identify this discourse in the hopes that we may move forward in our national
conversation understanding that these underlying assumption and constructions of
identity ought to be questioned when they arise and challenged in their verity.
Finally, a few suggestions about where research might go from here. This
narrative is being replayed all throughout our discourse as a society. It would be easy to
say that it is only a conservative perspective that promotes this discourse: this would be
disingenuous. One need only listen to radically liberal Bill Maher (Poor, 2013) or Sam
Harris (Harris, 2013) to see that the virulently us-versus-them discourse on Islam is not
confined to one political camp or the other.
That said many of the witnesses that King invited and much of his information
seem to come from FOX News, right wing blogs like Pamela Geller (see above) and right
wing talk radio. This problem should be further investigated, especially in light of the
fact that Anders Breivik quoted Geller and other American right wing bloggers in his
manifesto that he published online. In July 2011 Breivik massacred almost 80 people on
an Island outside of Oslo, Norway, it was a liberal political youth camp and many of his
victims were children (Mala, 2011). Breivic committed the atrocity in part because he
believed that Muslims were infiltrating Europe and that liberal politicians were to blame.
This is not to say that this single incident condemns any group or individual other than
the perpetrator, but rather that this kind of rhetoric has consequences regardless of its
source.
Finally, we need to consider how this construction of Muslim identity affects
American foreign policy. This approach is constructivist in that it starts with domestic
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culture as an important factor in our foreign policy. While this approach is not whole in
and of itself it is well to ask ourselves why it is that we can see or ignore the dead bodies
of so many black and brown people around the world. We need to recognize this
discursive construction of identity and critically examine it, this is what Said spent his
career doing and we ought to continue this important work:
"For a myth does not analyze or solve problems. It represents them as already
analyzed and solved; that is, it presents them as already assembled images, in the
way a scarecrow is assembled from bric-a-brac and then made to stand for a
man." (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 312)
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Full Text

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THE DISCURSIVE CONSTRUCTION OF MUSLIM IDENTITY AS AN ENEMY by DAVID GARDNER BRIGHAM B.A. University of Colorado at Denver 2008 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulf illment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Political Science 2013

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ii This thesis for the Masters of Arts degree by David Gardner Brigham has been approved for the Political Science Program by Lucy Ware McGuffey Chair Tony Robinson Michae l Berry November 5, 2013

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iii Brigham, David, G. (M A, Political Science) America Thesis directed by Senior Instructor Lucy McGuffey ABSTRACT This thesis argues that there is a discursive construction of Muslim identity in the United States which is implicit and informs our understanding without being critically examined. I u tilize the theoretical construction of Edward Said which he called Orientalism to argue that this identity construction can be traced back over half a millennia in European colonial discourse. I focus specifically on the recent Muslim Radicalization heari ngs by Congressperson Peter King to argue that this discourse is alive and well and taking place in a center of power in our government. While there is a counter narrative that takes place in the hearings it is largely ignored by those who are replaying a n Orientalist narrative because a fundamental part of that discourse is a disinterest in facts. I conclude by arguing that this discursive construction needs to be recognized and challenged because it has real world consequences. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Lucy Ware McGuffey

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iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank Michael Hill for using his resources on Capitol Hill to obtain transcripts for the King Hearings when they were still yet unavail able from Congress.

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v TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 1 II. MEDIA COVERAGE ................................ ................................ ................................ 3 III. LITERATURE REVIEW: ORIENTALISM ................................ ............................. 10 Oklahoma City Bombing ................................ ................................ ....................... 11 September 11, 2001 ................................ ................................ .............................. 14 Introduction to Orientalism ................................ ................................ .................. 16 Islamic Orientalism ................................ ................................ ............................... 26 Conclusion to Orientalism ................................ ................................ ..................... 33 IV. ............................... 36 First Hearing ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 37 ening Statements ................................ ........................ 37 Congressperson Keith Ellison ................................ ................................ .......... 40 Congressperson Frank Wolf ................................ ................................ ............ 42 The testimony of Dr. Zuhdi Jasser ................................ ................................ ... 48 Mr. Melvin Bledsoe ................................ ................................ ......................... 53 Testimony of Mr. Abdirizak Bihi ................................ ................................ ...... 55 Sheriff Lee Baca ................................ ................................ ............................... 58 Second Radicalization Hearing ................................ ................................ .............. 60 Third Radicalization Hearing ................................ ................................ ................. 65 Fourth Radicalization Hearing ................................ ................................ ............... 68 V. CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 72 BIBLIOGRAPHY .. ...

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vi LIST OF TABLES Tab l e

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1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION D iscourse is a regulated system of producing knowledge within certain constraints whereby certain rules have to be observed To think past it, to go beyond i t, not to use it, is virtually impossible because there's no knowledge that isn't codified in this way about that part of the world. Edward Said (Foundation, 2005, p. 10) In the United States there is a discourse tha t constructs the identity of Muslims in ways that are problematic. Edward Said argues that this construction of Muslim identity is so implicit in our discourse that we are not aware of how it i nfluences our understanding to the extent t hat it is frequentl y repeated ad nauseam, goes unquestioned and unnoticed This thesis will examine the constructio n of Muslim identity, as replayed in recent Congressional hearings utilizing the theoretical framework of Edward Said. Beginning on March 10, 2011 Congressm an Peter King of the third district in New York began a series of hearings in the House Homeland Security Committee on Islamic terrorist radicalization 1 which focused on the Muslim American community. The hearings stimulated a lot of mudslinging among po litical pundits in t he media about the efficacy and intent of the hearings Two questions central to this debate were: 1) did these hearings unfairly target the Muslim commun ity as being responsible for Islamic radicalization and to some extent for terror ism and 2) were these hearings helpful in combating radicalization in t he Muslim community or would they harm this effort ? From these two initial questions a number of queries observations, and accusations were 1 The term 'radicalization' is not well defined by the sources used for the purposes of this thesis; it will therefore be defined generically as a person or organization with a propensity toward terroristic violence.

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2 posited with a myriad of concerns that wer e often difficult to untangle from one another A few examples include : questions about how and to what extent the Muslim community cooperated with law enforcement; accusations of association with radical or terrorist elements against individuals, mosques and other organizations; the recounting of inciden ts of terrorism, and in some instances the assignment of blame ; and so on All of these developments deserve attention, but putting aside the details of this or that question, incident, or accusation, there are themes that permeate these hearings and the larger d ebate which originated much earlier in Western discourse. These themes include broad questions regarding the view that the dominant Western culture has of other peoples and cultures. This view broadly includes notions of American exceptionalism, colonization theory critical race theory, and con structivist foreign policy, to name a few. In short, understanding the meaning of and construction of the identity of the 'other' in our discourse requ ires us to ask difficult questions pertaining not just to their identity but as importantly to the core of our own identity. It is imperative that we understand how we construct the identity of the 'other' because when we construct the 'other' as unknowa ble, disposable or as an enemy history has shown that this can result in horrific consequences up to an d including genocide. To that end t his thesis will examine the themes in Western discourse with regard to Islam, Muslims, the Middle East going back centuries w ith a particular focus on the construction of difference and how that plays into narratives about Islamic violence, radicalization and terrorism, to ascertain to what extent these themes are replayed by Peter King s hearings. However, I must first address what others have said about the hearings in order to better explain how my approach is different.

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3 CHAPTER II MEDIA COVERAGE With the exception of an article by Hakimeh Saghaye Biria which I will address at the end of this section m ost of t he coverage of these hearings has been done by political pundits and medi a talking heads t he majority o f whom have dealt w ith the hearings in a blunt way. While t he liberal side has repeatedly compared Congressman King to Joseph McCarthy and his infamous hearings on communist in fi ltration in the US government, conservatives have repeatedly suggested that these hearings are necessary because our politically correct discourse about Islam and American Muslims has put this country at risk of another terrori st attack. Both of these approaches treat the issue as a matter of law enforcement with the crux of the questio n being the origin of terrorist threats and how best to combat them. Do threats em anate from the Muslim community as a whole or from individu als? The answer to this question dictates an approach: do we look at individuals or to the Muslim community as a whole? King's hearing s focus on the commun ity as a whole. The proponents of this approach argue that being nice about t he issue by assuming that the Muslim community as a whole bears no responsibility for terrorism increases the cha nce of an attack. In contrast, o pponents of King's approach argue that it vilifies the Muslim community and makes it less likely that they will cooperate with law enforcement. There are hundreds if not thousands of articles taking both sides of this dichotomy and some with other approaches entirely. Many of these articles consist of pundits arguing ba ck

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4 and forth amongst themselves with the seeming intent of sco ring points. I have chosen a handful of online newspaper articles that do a fair job of representing the discourse on this subject in the media. I will begin with a few liberal approac hes to this subject and follow with a few conservative perspectives. On the liberal side of the debate Mike Honda (2011) argues that the hearings are a part of a larger discourse in this country that treats Muslims as the enemy. Honda compares this process to the Ja panese internment in the US during WWII. As a small chil d Honda, his family, and over a hundred thousand Japanese Americans were locke d up in internment camps. Honda reports that: We were treated like cattle in those camps. Never mind the fact that we were born in America. Never mind the fact that we were pat riotic Americans and law abiding citizens. Never mind the fact that we were constructively contributing to the American economy. Despite all this, hundreds of thousands of Americans suddenly became the enemy at the height of the war, with no cause, no crim e and no constitutional protections. (Honda, 2011) Honda argues that the same kind of rhetoric is being used to demonize Muslims based on their religion rather than their ethnicity. He concludes that for this reason the hear ing s are morall y and strategically wrongheaded: m orally because it goes against American values and strategically wrong because alienating the Muslim community will make it less likely that they will cooperate with authorities in combating terrorism Anoth er liberal approach is that of Ryan Lenz of the Southern Poverty Law Center (2010) that the approach of King's hearings may increase violent attacks against Muslims. Lenz argues that K ing is "known f or his incendiary remarks about Muslim Americans F or example King stated in an interview with Politico that "we have too many Mosques in this country. There are too many people

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5 sympathetic to radical Islam ." King later clarified that this quote was ta ken out of context and that he only meant that too many mosques do not cooperate with law enforcement. 2 Ibrahim Hooper from the Center for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) "disputed Muslims do not cooperate with police agencie s. Hooper said several law enforcement bodies, including the FBI, have thanked Muslim communities for perception of bias and an anti need at a time when anti M uslim sentiment is skyrocketing (Lenz, 2010) Co ngressman Keith Ellison (D Minn.) expre ssed concern that they would in cite fear and prejudice in our national conversation in a way not seen since Joseph McCarthy's communist witch hunts. Ellison explained : Joe McCarthy do? He identified people he thought were subversives and then used his congressional gavel to h old hearings to drag people in. H e ruined a lot of reputations and injected a tremendous amount of fear in our (Lenz, 2010) On the conservative side of the debate, Andrew C. McCarthy of the National R eview also criticized King's hearings instead for not going far enough in cri ticizing Islam. McCarthy argued that it is not a perversion of Islam that radicali zes Muslims but rather that Islam itself is a radical anti Western ideology whose natural offspring is radicalized terrorists Thus, McCarthy is thankful for King's efforts in exposing Islam as a radical ideology but fears that by not going far enough t he hearings will not accomplish 2 King was not taken out of context; he did in fact say that there were "too many mosques in this country." He has adamantly denied this despite the fact that the interview was widely available online at the time of the hearings. King may have misspoken, but he was not taken out of context. See: http://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0907/Rep_King_There_are_too_many_mosques_in_this_country_. html and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5n _n5JQ0BY

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6 anything He specifically laments that certain self proclaimed experts on terrorism were not allowed to testify "due to fear of the predictable reaction of the Muslim (McCarthy, 2011) 3 Pamela Geller, creator of the right wing blog Atlas Shrugs also criticized King's hearings for much the same reason. 4 Geller argues along with McCarthy that King should have invited the same self proclaimed experts o n Islamic radicalism because they know who the enemy is and can define them. Gell er goes further and argues that a witness King called, Zuhdi Jasser, was not qualified to test ify at the hearing. Geller complains that Jasser is not really a Muslim because he is not extreme enough to be a follower of Islam. Geller suggests that so me conservatives view Jasser as, "the voice of reason in our cause of educating Americans about the threat of radical Islam. But in this, Jasser fails miserably. First off, ther e is no "reason" in Islam. There is only Islam. You cannot question, reason, or go off the reservation in any way. Hence, Jasser cannot educate about the threat, because he obfuscates the truth and ha s invented the Islam he follows" (Geller, 2011) For Geller, Jasser cannot be a Muslim because his identity does not conform to her preconceived notions of Muslim Identity. For his part, Peter King defended the hearings saying that he would not be constrained by political correc tness in defending the country from terrorist threats. King referred to the criticism leveled against him as "mindless" adding that: 3 McCarthy also suggests that 80% of mosques in the United States propagate a complete endorsement of violent Islamic radicalism and that this violence is a part of the religion practiced by 80% of Muslims worldwide ( McCarthy, 2011) citing a study of dubious credibility that does not even make this statement (Kedar & Yerushalmi, 2011) 4 Geller was behind the campaign which reached national attention in 2010 opposing the Park 51 project i n Manhattan, labeling it the 'Ground Zero Mosque' which stirred anti Muslim feeling in the US (Elliott, 2010)

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7 significant and beneficial impact in fosteri ng an honest dialogue about the growing issue of radicalization within the United States, I remain concerned that th is problem is far from resolved. (Weinger, 2011) King claims that 13% or 357,500 5 American Muslims believe that "killing civilians in the name of Islam is justified in some cases" saying, "these numbers are startling and expose a dangerous disconnect between a number of Muslim Americans and the democratic values cherished by Western nations King offers this clai m despite the fact that the Pew poll he cites for this data, titled Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism" draws exactly the opposite conclusion (2011) Finally the only scholar ly arti cle written on these hearings to my knowledge is by Hakimeh Saghaye Biria (2012) Saghaye Biria uses critical discourse analysis to analyz e the replaying of racism during hearing. Saghaye Biria ar gues that each side used rhetorical tools to present the narrative s they wish to promote and to discredit the narrative the other side presents. Saghaye Biria argues that the liberal side of the discourse, exemplified by ranking committee member Thompson, attempt ed to develop a construction of the identity of the Muslim community as being a part of the s olution to threats of terrorism, wh ile the conservative side, exemplified by chairperson Peter King, attempt ed to discursively construct this identity as b eing inherently un American and threatening to our security. 5 The U.S. Census Bureau does not collect data concerning religious affiliation so the population of Muslims in the US is uncertain (U.S. Census Bureau: FAQs)

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8 Saghaye Biria illuminates a few points about the first hearing : first, witness testimony is not conducive to having a constructive conversation in that testimony is one way communication ; secon dly, the people who were invited to testify and more importantly those who were excluded from testifying set the stage for the kind of dis course that can take place. Reflecting on this Saghaye Biria points out that mainstream Muslim organizations and e xperts were excluded from tes timony and thus silenced. T hose who did testify with one exception painted a narrative of the Muslim community that not only silenced this community, but suggested that the bulk of the Muslim community lack agency and are be ing manipulated by malefic Muslim leadership in the US. This creates the image of Muslims as being a homogeneous manipulable population that in some way bear s responsibility for the actions of all of its members. Lastly, Saghaye Biria expresses concern that congressional hearings by their very nature set a tone for national discourse by expressing a power relationship in which Muslims are hearings, such problematizat (Saghaye Biria, 2012, p. 510) In summary, we see there are a number of approaches being used here. Some suggest the hearings are damaging to the Muslim comm unity, are McCarthyist, and could impede law enforcement in fighting terrorism. Some suggest that the hearings do not go far enough and that we should not be afraid to seek out voices that suggest that Islam in inherently violent and is the cause of terro rism. Finally, Saghaye Biria points out that in t he first hearing both sides sought to further their own narrative, while the hearing itself served to silence Muslims, homogenize them, and deprive them of agency. Saghaye

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9 ints out the problematic construction of Muslim identity with w hich this thesis is concerned. As will be discussed shortly, the construction of Muslim identity in the West is much older and much more complicated than any of the above analyses suggest. Th is will become more apparent as we move along, but for the moment I will note a few things. On the one hand, the liberals are to some extent grasping at straws in trying to identify the source of what they perceive as bigotry. On the other hand, the cons ervatives are confounded that their own preconceived notions of Muslims are being questioned at all. This is because the discursive construction of Muslim identity is so deeply ingrained in our national conversation that we are scarcely aware of its presen ce.

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10 CHAPTER III LITERATURE REVIEW: ORIENTALISM There is a discourse in the West concerning the Middle East which is not grounded in empirical fact, does not allow those being discussed to have a part in the discursive construction of who they are, and th at labels Muslims and Islam as being the mostly n of Orientalism in a larger historical framework, and then apply this theoretical framework to the first four so doing the question that I am interested in answering is discourse or refute it and to what extent. However, three caveats are in order. The first is that Edward Said is a scholar of literature and the Middle E ast ; I am neither; my interest is therefore not to evaluate specific details with regard to the histo ry and culture of the Middle East, but rather to discuss the themes in the Orientalist discourse as presented by Said. The second caveat is on the spoken hearings the mselves (as opposed to the submitted written testimony), and even within that I will focus mo stly on wit ness testimony. The reason for this strategy is that much of the media coverage, and indeed many of the exchanges in the hearings themselves amount to little more than partisan gamesmanship b y the Republicans and Democrats. Third, in most cases I will not seek to empirically verify or falsify claims many of which could be examined at great length, because this does not help us uncover the underlying d iscourse. R ather I will con cern myself with how and if these claims fit

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11 into the discourse and how they aid in the construction of an Islamic 'other.' The reason for this approach is that the partisan gamesmanship being played out in the media largely i gnores the issues that I would like to address with this thesis which is the overall discourse with regard to Muslims and Islam in the United States and how and if it replays the historical Western discourse regarding Islam, Muslims, and the Middle East This is crucial because the focus of this thesis is on the discursive construction of Musli m identity and most of the gamesmanship and squabbling over details distracts us from this purpose. That being said, I will start with a few, but by no means exhau stive, examples from recent history to illustrate some of the discourse with which this thesis is concerned in order to better frame the issue of identity construction Oklahoma City Bombing On April 19 1995 at 9:02am, a 4,800 pound truck bomb detonated outside of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma Cit y, Oklahoma: this was the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil to date. I had just turned eleven years old less than a month before and was in school that day. My fifth grade class at Greenle e Elementary, only a few blocks from the University I now attend was interrupted that morning and we were ta ken to the library to watch the aftermath of th e terrorist attack unfold on the news. It is still hard for me to understand the motivation of my t eacher in wanting her students to watch these events: were we old enough to be able to interpret such extreme destruction? Certainly this was a calculation, since I do not recall any of the younger students in the school being there and I imagine we were given a choice in the matter though I do not recall this either.

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12 What I do vividly recall is the destruction the bomb caused to the Murrah building: the front completely collapsed into rubble ; the images of police and other rescue workers searching fo r s urvivors in the debris; and people outside of the police cordon interviewed by the media, all in complete shock, trying to understand why this had been done Particularly jarring were the discussions about a daycare in the building which was in operati on during the attack, and that children and infants were likely included among the victims. Who was responsible for this atrocity? My memory of the day s following the attack is vague, but I recall that in the immediate aftermath and for the first few d ays the blame was largely focused on people from a religion that I had never heard of and a region with which I was only familiar because of the recent war in Kuwait It was only after a few days that it became clear that the attack was not committed by M iddle Eastern Muslims, but rather by mid western A merican right wing extremists. Ibrahim Ahmad was arrested in the FBI's initial dragnet on a flight home to Jordan from Oklahoma City on the day of the bombing When authorities told Ahmad that he was bei ng arrested in connection with the bombing he thought it was the end of the world for him. F or a day and a half after the bombing the world though t that Ahmad was responsible for the atrocity until it turned out that American right wing extremists were t he ones responsible (Fuchs, 1995) The majority of the media in that time period h ad ver y few qualms insinuating that Middle Eas tern terrorists were responsible f or the attack:

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13 W ithin hours of the bombing, most network news reports featured comments from experts on Middle Eastern terrorism who said the blast was similar to the World Trade Center explosion two years earlier. Newspapers relied on many of those same experts and stressed the possibility of a Middle East connecti on. The Wall Street Journal, for example, called it a "Beirut style car bombing" in the first sentence of its story. The New York Post quoted Israeli terrorism experts in its s (Fuchs, 1995) M edia outlets were following the lead of public officials and federal law enforcement both of whom speculated that Middle Eastern t errorists were responsible for the bombing. A uthorities suspecte an all points bulletin broadcast on the day of the blast describe[ed] dark hair and beards (Fuchs, 1995) Was this simply a case of the media reporting news that was not factu ally vetted, or were they passing on speculation by federal law enforcement about possible suspects? Either way, "they blew it," says Jeff Cohen, executive director of Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) a liberal watchdog group that monitored coverage of the bombing. No matter what law enforcement said behind the scenes, the press went overboard on the Middle East angle and underplayed other scenarios, he contends (Fuchs, 199 5) The proposition that the attack was the responsibility of Middle Easterners prompted a couple of dozen media outlets to contact Edward Said professor of English and comparative literature at Colombia University, within a n hour after the bombing. Wh ile Said al so happened to be a Palestinian and had a great deal of expertise on western literature with regard to the Middle East, he was not an expert on Middle Eastern politics or terrorism. The only reason that he was contacted by the media was that h e was a public intellectual who happened to be from the Middle East. Said says that the media contacted him :

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14 Not because I had anything to do with it, but because by virtue of being from the Middle East [they assumed] I would have an inside insight into this. You know, and of course the proposition is so preposterous and so racist that just if you are from the area you would understand who and why this is being done. Never thinking for a moment that it was a local homegrown boy called McVeigh who was tota lly American in his outlook and was doing it out of the best principles of American extermination and Ahab like anger at, you know, the (Jhally, Edward Said: On 'Orientalism', 2005) September 11, 2001 Most of us remem ber where we were the morning of Septem ber 11, 2001. That morning Mohammed Salman H amdani left his home in Queens for his job as a lab assistant at Rockefeller Un iversity in Manhattan He never returned home. It was not until March the next year that th e Hamdani family found in 34 p ieces in the wreckage of the North World Trade Center Tower five months earlier and had only been recently identified (Dwyer, 2011) (Otterman, 2012) Hamdani was a certified emergency medical technician and had spent a year volunteering part time driving an ambulance as well as having been a police cadet for three years When Hamdani left that morning on his usual route to work at the DNA his family and friends believed [he] must have seen the burning towers (Otterman, 2012) However, the media reports about the di sa ppearance of Hamdani in the weeks and months following the attacks suggested a different version of events. On October 12, 2001 the New York Post published an article about the disappearance of Hamdani which implied that Hamdani may have been connected t o the attackers on 9/11 because he was a Muslim. The Post article The NYPD is hunting for one of its former cadets, initially reported missing in the Twin Towers attack,

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15 ests that (Gorta & Crittle, 2001) The article reports that mother at the time theorized that he was in custody because he was a Muslim and is quoted as saying: "The government has release him one day" (Gorta & Crittle, 2001) The article ends by saying that his parents and siblings were preparing to make a pilgrimage to Mecca (Gorta & Crittle, 2001) without clarifying that this trip was to pray for the safe ret urn of their son and brother (Dwyer & Wakin, New York Times, 2001) This is the primar y narrative of the article: Hamdani was a Muslim who disappeared on the day of the events of 9/11 who was wanted by authorities Since th e hijackers were Muslim, and Hamdani was a Muslim the inf erence was that he was someho w involved in the attacks The article suggest s that Hamdani was carrying a Koran with him to work that morning because the authors felt that it was important to point o ut, not so subtly, that he was a Muslim. T he nar rative of the article indicate s that the primary suspicion of the family and authorities was that Hamdani had gone down to the site of the attacks to help and had been killed in the collapse of the towers However, the authors go out of their w ay to add disclaimers when this is mentioned that discredit this hypothesis and cast suspicion on Hamdani. In t he first instance the un named source suggests that Hamdani had not died in the collapse of the towers but instead wa s being sought by police. After all, he had official NYPD identification which meant that if he In the last few paragraphs, the

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16 authors present the hypothesis that Hamdani had died in the immediately refute the notion: The Police Department refused to comment on the case, but investigators privately theorize that the family's first notion was correct: Hamdani died in the disaster. Still, sources close to the inve stigation say the hunt is still on cops at the Midtown Tunnel reported spotting someone who looked like Hamdani yesterday morning. (Gorta & Crittle, 2001) ighborhood and college campus that he may have been somehow involved in the attack s. I t was not until his remains were identified that these rumors were put to rest once and for all. The media coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing and the case of Hamda ni on 9/11 are anecdotal and therefore cannot stand as evidence for the full breadth of the discourse on Muslim identity in the West. However, they point to a larger problem that the rest of th is thesis will investigate: the concept that there is a discur sive construction of Muslim identity that is problematic and is so implicit in our cultural narratives that it is rarely questioned. Intro duction to Orientalism Edwa rd Said wrote a trilogy of books, Orientalism The Question of Palestine and Covering Is lam : How the Media and Experts Determine How We See the World because the discourse and images in the West that portrayed the Middle East and Africa, where he grew up and had lived for some time, had very little to do with his own experience of these plac es (Foundation, 2005, pp. 2 3) W hen we in the West think of these regions and peoples a number of images, treated as objective knowledge, are

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17 conjured up automatically Orientalism was to try to understand the ori gin of these preconceived ideas. I n the words of Sut Jhally: The central argument of Orientalism is that the way that we acquire this knowledge is not innocent or objective but the end result of a process that reflects cert ain interests. That is, it is highly motivated. Specifically Said argues that the way the West, Europe and the U.S. looks at the countries and peoples of the Middle East is through a lens that distorts the actual reality of those places and those people He calls this lens through which we view that part of the world Orientalism, a framework that we use to understand the unfamiliar and the strange; to make the peoples of the Middle East appear different and threatening ( Foundation, 2005, p. 2) Orientalism constitutes the beliefs, images, assumptions and other systems of understanding that are evoked and treated as objective knowledge when the Orient is discussed in the West. This discursive construction of the Orient as different and threatening extends to Orientals themselves as being "different and threatening." Orientalism is a discursive construction of other places, far away from our own experience: the Orient as opposed to the Occident, and thus a constructio n of the unfamiliar as in opposition to the familiar. More importantly for my purpose it is a construction of the identity of the Orientals themselves in their far away places, but is also constructs their identity when they are in the Occident. Since t he term Orient is in declining use a clarification is warranted here : when Said ref Orient he mea ns parts of northern Africa, Asia and the Middle East as opposed to the Occident which is the countries of Europe, North and South America. I use the terms Orient, and Oriental in conjunction with Orientalism I acknowledge that these terms are offensive but recogni ze that they are the labeling given to the discourse by Said rather than the n ames of the peoples they invoke. The use of these terms also helps to communicate the part of the O rien talist discourse

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18 which constructs the identity of the "other" as being homogenous which is one of the major theme that I have abstracted from Orientalism and which exists implic itly but ubiquitously along with the other themes which will be discussed presently. 6 is based on a systematic study of literature and art in Europe which extends back centuries and which culminates with his discursive analysis of modern media. Said explains the overall themes which he sees after this exhaustive discourse analysis providing many examples along the way. What I am presenting are the conclusions that Said reached from this analysis with onl y a few examples. These could be construed as generalizations on my part however the analysis general ways in which Orientalism operates to simplify the analysis as will be seen shortly. In Said Orientalism the information of which Orientalism is constructed present s itself as objective knowledge as factual and based on systemat ic study of the subjects. However, the information that Orientalism addre sses as facts tends to be based on the construction o f European colonial power s. 7 6 See: Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp. 53 5, for a discussion on this. 7 In some cases, a European colonial power overtly built the discursive construction in the act of colonization. botanists, architects, philologists, biologists, historians, whose job it was to record Egypt in every conceivable way. And produce a kind of scientific survey of Egypt, whi ch was designed, not for the Egyptian, but for the European 8) In other instances, Orientalist discou rse had been constructed by authors and explorer in the region over the course of many centuries and was merely invoked by a colonizing power (Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp. 166 97).

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19 Said explains that m ost of the information of which explicit Orientalism is composed is philological or text based, up until the 20 th century. I f scholar s in France or En gland in the 18 th century wished to study, talk, or write about the Middle E ast, Africa, or Asia there was an entire discursive construct already in place from which they would draw the bulk of their information (Foundation 2005, p. 4) Said tells us that t his philological discourse had been constructed in a manner which was wholly internally consistent. In other words, these were stories cut of whole cloth which did not merit further examination. I t therefore would h a ve been very difficult for any scholar to understand their subject in a way that was different than this already constructed discourse. Said explains that most of the scholars of the Orient in the West never actually set foot in the region which they clai med to study. Said explains that f or this reason among others, the base of knowledge upon which Orientalism rests while not c onsistent with the actual lives and cultures that it attempts to describe is internally consistent with itself. Thus the Orient alist discourse includes a number of themes that consistently arise since at least the early 14 th century but tend to have little to do with the reality of life for those described (Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp. 50 2) There are a few consistent themes that Said identifies which operationalize the Orientalist discourse. Orientalism has an internal circular logic that is self affirming which has four major themes. S ince each piece of Orientalist logic affirms the nex t there is no logical place to start in explaining how Orientalist discourse operates. It should also be noted that in some constructions not all of the four themes that I identified are always present. As I go through each theme, I will provide an exam ple or two from Said himself to help clarify

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20 The first major theme that Said identifies in Orie ntalist discourse is that the people described are not given room to speak for th emselves. The internal logic of the discourse does not leave room for its subj ects to have a voice. The Orientalists speak for their subjects without any consideration given to the people for whom they speak. F or example Arthur James Balfour, when lecturing in the British House of Commons with regard to the problems with which w e have to deal in Egypt that the Egyptian people were better off under British rule than they had ever been in history. However, Balfour gave no thought to giving any Egyptian a voice in this conversation because surely any Egypt ian who was not happy with British dominance (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 33) T he exclusion of the voices of those described was internally consistent with a philological discourse written almost entirely by Europeans. the most part were interested in the classical period of whatever language or society it was they studie d [emphasis added]: th erefore the primary consideration of these scholars was not in t he current state of the people s whom they claimed to study but rather a mythologized historical version of the society in which they lived (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 52) W he n Orientalist scholars approached these societies the lens with which they looked prevented them from seeing the reality o f the daily lives of the people. Said in essence argues that these Orientalist scholar s could not even really see their subjects as human beings, but rather as an abstraction to be studied rather than as human beings similar to themselves. Instead, they saw an a n cient civilization or often the remains of a

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21 decaying ancient civilization; b ecause of their preconceived mythological construction, they found it difficult to understand why the local populations did not share their vision : When a learned Orientalist traveled in the country of his specialization, it was always with unshakable abst rarely were the Orientalists interested in anything except proving the validity of uncomprehending, hence degenerate, natives (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 52) Orientalists were never challenged to think about the biases in their understanding of the Orient. Th e exclusion of the voice of their subjects allowed the construction of this internally consisten t narrative and their continued exclusion allowed this narrative to go unchallenged by knowledge that might question its foregone conclusions. In this regard Where as they cannot define themselves they are thus spoken for (1978, pp. 32 33) and that this act of identity construction is a form of imperial power (1978, p. 145) This is a n important step in constructing an 'other': defining them, for them, because they cannot define themselves which in turn is establishes a power relationship The second major theme that Said identifies in Orientalist discourse is the use of derogatory la ng uage in describing its subjects , , and used by Orientalist scholars, writers and commentators to describe the people whom they study ( Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp. 31 49) Said cites George Orwell description of the perspective of the colonizer in the city of Marrakech in 1939 in French colonial Morocco as an example of how the colonizing powers viewed the Orient : When you walk through a town like this two hundred thousand inhabitants, of whom at least twenty thousand own literally nothing except the rags they stand up

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22 in when you see how the people live, and still more, how easily they die, it is always difficult to believe that you are walking among human beings. All col onial empires are in reality founded upon that fact. The people have brown faces besides they have so many of them! Are they really the same flesh as yourself? Do they even have names? Or are they merely a kind of undifferentiated brown stuff, about as individual as bees or coral insects? They arise out of the earth, they sweat and starve for a few years, and then they sink back into the nameless mounds of the graveyard and nobody notices that they are gone. And even the graves themselv es soon fade ba ck into the soil. (Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp. 251 2) This view was not isolated to one country or region because the people whom Orientalists desc ribe d were treated as though they are on e homogenous group one of the major themes of Orientalism. The result of this kind of rhetoric is the t acit creation of the Occident (Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp. 72 3) 8 Further generalizations lik e these build a picture of a vast non Western group of people who are the object of pity and fear. Said offers two excellent examples of this k ind of steroetype : American statesmen and political scientist Henry Kissinger a nd retired member of the U.S. De partment of State East (respectively). (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 46) in which two subjects a re compared in such a manner that does not suggest any subtlety or exceptions because the two are diametrically opposite. The two examples that Kissinger employs here are the West and the Orient Kissinger he notion that the real world is external to the observer, that knowledge consists of recording and classifying data the 8 For an excellent treatment regarding how we define ourselves by defining our enemies see Faces of the Enemy: Reflections of the Hostile Imagination by Sam Keen.

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23 Kissinger argues that because the West had a scie ntific revolution we view things empirically, so that we are better off intellectually than they are because we are reasonable and logical and they are not, and the line is drawn between us and them (Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp. 46 7) within the group is of utmost importance and yet conflict is normal and expected because domination of others i s the only w ay to gain prestige. Hence, when a rational Westerner would seek peace, an Arab would choose to use violence as a means to an end (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 48) A Arab behavior: Arabs live naturally in a world characterized by anxiety expressed in generalized suspicion and distrust, which has been labeled free floating hostili ty ; the art of subterfuge is highly developed in Arab life, as well as in Islam itself ; the Arab need for vengeance overrides everything, otherwise the Arab would feel ego destroying Westerners consider peace to be high on the sc ale of values [ but ] this is not true for Arabs. normal state of affairs because raiding was one of the two main supports of the (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 49) Said concludes that the point of was without doubt the fundamental differences (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 49) We see here that both Kissinger and Glidden speak for Muslims (Arab s, Islam) and in so doing setup an us vs. them dichot omy that establishes the image of a Muslim 'other.' However also note that

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24 both analyses while speaking for and about Muslims and portraying them in derogatory language make these assertions without evidence. This is the third major theme that Said identifies in Orientalist discourse : that the examiner of the Orient does not need to rely on facts or empirical evidence for their claims to be accepted as true. The two previous examples evidence this habit; Kissinger sufficiently unarg uable to require no special validation. We had our Newtonian (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 47) versus ages. These sources are recent book on Tripoli, one issue of the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram, the periodical Oriente Moderno (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 48) This is the apogee of Orientalist confidence. No m erely asserted generality is denied the dignity of truth; no theoretical list of Oriental attributes is without application to the behavior of Orientals in the real world. On the one hand there are Westerners, and on the other there are Arab Orientals; the former are (in no particular order ) rational, peaceful, liberal, logical, capable of holding real values, without natural suspicion; the latter are none of these things. (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 49) empirical : It shares with magic and mythology the self containing, self reinforcing character of a closed system, in which objects are what they are because they are what they are, for once, for all time, for ontological rea sons that no empirical material can either dislodge or alter (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 70)

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25 The fourth major Orientalist discourse is an assumption that all similar enough that they can be analyzed without distinction one from another. This attitude can be seen in the language itself occident are heterogeneous whi le those in the orient are homogenous. This assumption is especially dangerous when combined with the aforementioned stereotypes because it another: a hive mind tha t cannot be understood beyond how they are to be controlled. Finally, to reemphasize, this discourse is closed to outside in formation so that it 1) speaks for its subjects, 2) contains derogatory statements about them, and 3) offers no evidence t o suppo rt its claims and at each turn 4) homogenizes and gen eralizes about Muslims. A ll of these 2) derogatory things that are said about Muslims are true without any need for 3) evidence, and since 4) all Muslims are the same in sharing these fallibilities the y cannot be allowed to 1) speak for themselves. This logical system of knowledge is therefore closed to critique from those whose identity it discursively constructs, while also limiting the ability of those engaged in the process of Orientalist discourse to think outside of the underlying systems of knowledge that it entails. It is worth stopping here for just a moment to explain the power of discourse in the context of Orientalism. Simply put discourse is a narrative or story that we tell ourselves. However, discourse encompasses all of the communication that we do as a society. As Said notes discourse takes place within a context, our society, our culture, our language (1978, pp. 272 3) Discourse has pow er because it is inescapable: we cannot know that which exists outside of the discourse in which we gain our

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26 understanding of the world. Discourse therefore limits our understanding to this context. Finally those who have power over discourse have power over society. So that in the understand this discursive construction by the construction itself. A few example s might help illuminate this phenomena: if one were living in the south during Jim Crow, or if one were living in a totalitarian regime where the only access to information was through the government, it would be v ery difficult to imagine the world differently. While these are extreme examples, and the Orientalist discourse is more subtle it is arguably as powerful. Islamic Orientalism Said argues that the Orientalist discourse with regard to the Middle East, Isla m, and Muslims carries all of the major themes from Orientalism intact but with a few nuances and an ontological rigidity that bears some attention before moving on. As noted above, the discourse is a closed system of knowledge that does not accept outsi de information that might challenge its most basic assumptions. Said tells us that when Orientalists were confronted with an Islam, a Middle East, and Muslims, which differed from the understanding that their discursive construction suggested should exist they suffered an estrangement, which might have suggested to them that they ought to their feelings of superiority about European culture, even as their antipathy sp read to include the entire Orient, of which Islam was considered a degraded (and usually, a (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 260) In addition to

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27 this ontological rigidity Islamic Or ientalism also included an unshakable religious significance in that since Islam originated in the same region as Judaism and Christianity original cultural effrontery, aggravated naturally by the fear that Islamic civilization originall y (as well as contemporaneously) continued to stand (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 260) Said argues that because of these factors, a rigid ontology, an intel lectual Christianity, Islamic Orientalism stopped progressing as a social science and became which was in What I am describing, then, is something that will characterize Islamic Orientalism until the present day: its retrogressive position when compared with the other human sciences (and even with the other branches of Orientalism), its general methodological and ideological backwardness, and its comparative insularity from developments both in the other humanities and in the real world of historical, economic, social, and political circumstances. (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 261) Unlike other forms of Orientalism, the Islamic school constructed an image of (Said, Orien talism, 1978, p. 260) Said illustrates that t here is no single Orientalist explanation for why Islam might be opposed to the West, but rather a number of narratives that are consistently invoked. In the next few pages I will provide examples of how Mu slims were discussed by the Orientalists that Said analyses and end by summing up how these fit together to create an image of Islam that is violently opposed to the West.

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28 For one example n 9 behavior above: that they li ve naturally in a state of violence. Islamic Orientalists take this claim even further. does explicitly argue this), th ey insist that Islam itself is the problem. In other words it is not the particular region, culture or race of the people in question but their religion that poses a problem. There are a number of ways that Said argues that Islam is portrayed by the Orientalists which fit together into the larger portr ayal of Islam as being opposed to the West. The first is that the Orientalist discourse portrays Islam as stuck in time; as an anachronism that was reasserting itself in a revanchist manner after its defeat just prior to the Renaissance (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 280) Said argues that this construction derives from the discursive construction of the orient as being inferior, an ancient civilization trapped in the past. This caus es them to suffer inherently because the inferiority of their civilization leaves them in primitive circumstances. This inferiority and suffering causes them to feel resentment toward the occident as the superior civilization. It also causes jealousy of the occident as the superior civiliza tion. Because of this suffering, resentment, and jealousy the orient is a threat to the occident (1978, pp. 249 50) 9 of the Middle East. However since Said was primarily concerned with Western Orientalist treatment of the Middle East, it is fair to assume that his reference to Glidden with reg ard to Arabs was also a suggestion about the behavior of Muslims in general.

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29 A modern example of this argument is the phrase used by some Americans to explain the attacks of 9/11: needed: we have the superior civilization, they hate us because of it. On September, 20 2001 George W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress, one of the memorable quotes from his speech went as follows: Americans are asking ``Why do they hate us?'' They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other. (Text: President Bush Addresses the Nation, 2001) This is a modern example of this discursive construction at work offering simplistic construction of M uslim identity as angry at the West because of the inferiority of their circumstances The second pa rt of this construction is of Islam as fiercely resistant to change Said argues that the re is a narrative of Islam in Orientalist discourse as being immob ilized i n a mythologized past ; this narrative portrays Islam as being in opposition to the West because of its resistance to any change toward modernity This opposition meant that any exposu re to modernity threatened to change Islam and as Islam felt thr eatened, so too did it threaten the West: I ndeed, so fierce was this sense o f resistance to change, and so universal were the powers ascribed to it, that in reading the Orientalists one understands that the apocalypse to be feared was not the destruction of Western civilization but rather the destruction of the barriers that kept East and West from each other. (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 263) This resistance to change, in the mind of the Orientalists is reinforced by the notion that Islam is a totalizing force in the lives of Muslims : that is to say that every

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30 aspect of Muslim life is directed by and controlled b y Islam. For example in Sir 10 [and] has an ultimate presence and domination over all life in the Islamic Orient (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 278) For Gibb then, all life in Islam is subordinated to religion: schools, banking, journalism, all int ellectual enterprise, and all politics I n 1932 Gibb tells us that : Until recently, the ordinary Muslim citizen and cultivator had no political interests of functions, and no literature of easy access except religious literature had no festivals and no communal life except in connection with religion, saw little or nothing of the outside world except through religious glasses. To him, in consequence, religion meant everything [Emphasis added by Said] (Said, Orientalis m, 1978, p. 279) 11 The American experience of Orientalism is slightly different than the European one: Said argues that h istorically the U.S. had very little direct experience of the Middle East or the Islamic world As a result, the Orient never enter ed into the imaginative in the United States in the same way that it did in Europe (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 290) (Said, 1981, pp. 12 3) Said argues that for the U nited S ta tes : here was no deeply invested tradition of Orientalism, and consequently in the United States knowledge of the Orient never passed through the refining and reticulating and reconstructing process, whose beginning was in philological study that it we nt through in Europe. Furthermore, the imaginative investment was never made either, perhaps because the American frontier, the one that counted, was the westward one. (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 290) 10 deference to God, as with many other Islamic Orientalists he does not consider this deference to be to the same God recognized by the Judeo Christian tradition. Rather this is an indication of the Islamic preference for mythological religious belief over secular modernity. 11 and where the Islam that he invokes is taking place.

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31 A s a result w hen the US found itself in the position of a world power in the wake of WWII there was no collective appr oach to the Orient as a subject and our discourse was more or less devoid of substantive content. Without this historical context the US instead approach ed the Orient as a matter of foreign policy and instrumentalist administration rather than as a conflict with deep historical and cultural origins (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 290) American Orientalists parti cularly military and corporate interests invested themselves in learning the languages of the Middle East only to the extent that this would benef it them with regard to strategic military advantage or profit The Middle East was viewed by the newly minted Americ an empire as a source of material wealth and potential conquest there was however, very little cultural interest given to the region. Those concerned with the region did not study literature from or about the region, excluding even the Orientalist litera ture from which most of the American attitudes had been adopted. Most of the information about the region and peoples came from so called experts who based their opinions on 3) 'facts', that is speculation drawn from the imagination of the 'experts', rath er than literary examples of what life might be like for the people in question. T he loss of the literary and cultural element in the American Orie ntalist discourse resulted in a further implicit construction of an 'other' for which nothing needed to lear ned other than how they might threaten us (Said, Orientalism, 1978, pp. 290 2) The less direct experience of Muslims i n the American discourse allows 2) derogatory language to be used against Muslims in a way that no one would dare talk about blacks or Jews (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 301) For example, one could not

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32 suggest that the former group was lazy, violent or stupid, or that the latter group was sinister, untrustworthy, or greedy. While this language used to be commonplace in our culture against blacks and Jews it is no longer permissible to talk this way, especially in the media or by politicians. Yet any and all of these accusations can be freely applied to Muslims i n our modern discourse by public officials, in the media, and in public and private conversation without as much as a pause for consideration of their basis in fact or their hurtful and harmful effect l et alone that a Muslim might wish to respond A dditi on ally Said argues that the re is a degree to which the West is seen as a modern secular society whereas the Middle East is viewed as being trapped in a caricatured version of Islam, so that it is not Christianity versus Islam, but rather a secular society threatened by one still enslaved by religion. This is the logical extension of the narrative that suggests that Islam is a totalizing system of life, at the same time completely po litical and theological and all consuming of the existence of Muslims. A s opposed to the West, which has 'grown out of' or matured beyond religion as a civilization W e have embraced secular modernity, they have not, we are therefore more modern than they are : t his is the same dial ectical opposition illustrated above i n Kissinger's construction that created dichotomy that within the framework of Orientalist logic requires no further examination of its merits. Lastly, Said identifies the American relationship and view of Israel as being of singular impo rtance in the construction of the American discourse. Considering the aforementioned lack of American experience in the Middle East, the US taking a stance as the most significant ally of Israel, Said suggest s has imported a particular worldview into the American discourse Israel is viewed as a 'modern' Western state which stands in

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33 opposition to the rest of the Islamic world that surrounds it. Said argues that this construction is directly imported into American Orientalism, saying: I mean the idea fo r example, that Hamas terrorists on the West Bank are just interested in killing Jewish children, is what you derive from looking at this stuff and very little attention is paid to the fact that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has been goi ng on for thirty years, it's the longest military occupation in this century. And so you get the impression that the only problem is that Israeli security is threatened by Hamas and suicide bombs and all the rest of it and nothing is said about the hundred s of thousands, millions of Palestinians who are dispossessed, living miserable lives as a direct result of what Israel has done and is doing. So there's a sense in which the Arab struggle for national independence and in the case of the Palestinians for n ational self determination is looked at with a great hostility as upsetting the stabilities of the status quo. And that makes it virtually impossible, it's a tragedy, virtually impossible for an American to see on television, to read books, to see films ab out the Middle East, that are not colored politically by this conflict, in which the Arabs almost always play the role of terrorists and violent people and irrational and so on and so forth. (Foundation, 2005, p. 6) Conc lusion to Orientalism There are four main themes that come into play when dealing with Muslims in the Western discourse which I will focus on for the purpose of analysis, some of which can be seen in the pages above. The first 1) is that 'they' are not al lowed to speak for spoken for .) The second 2) is that there many derogatory things that are said about Muslims ( s tereotyping .) The third 3) is that empirical evidence is often scant or lacking entirely when ta lking about them ( poor evidence .) The Fourth 4) is the homogenization of Muslims into a collective ( homogenization .) This last theme is best understood as an underlying part of the first three themes, and as such will be treated alongside them in the anal ysis to follow. A few clarifications are in order. These four themes operate so closely together that when one ends another begins, thus it is difficult to choose any particular order for

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34 them: the reason is that this is circular logic. Also, note that i n not all cases are all four of these themes present. Let me present two examples of the logical procedure involved to clarify. This circular logic is self verifying and self reinforcing. The premise and conclusion of each argument supports the argument s that precede and follow it, and thus no outside argument or information is required to reach conclusions. Indeed, not only is argument and evidence outside this paradigmatic logic unnecessary it is wholly unwelcome; it is what it is, as it ever was, as it ever shall be, and nothing can change this, not eve n facts. This closed system of logic encompasses a view of Muslims as being the other: t hey are frightening by their differences, portrayed as illogical, angry, and above all violent. We cannot tr ust what they might have to say for themselves because they do not even know thems elves in their irrational anger. We hear stories about them, such as their violent acts, people stoned to death for violations of religious regulations we vaguely associate with Islam (Littauer, 2013) ; people having their hands cut off (AP, For Mali amputee, Islamic extremist legacy lingers, 2013) or being beheaded (Goldman, 2013) for pet ty crimes or no crime at all ; and most of all suicide bombers (Ghazi, 2013) who are willing to kill themselves for religious martyrdom, a promised gift of virgins in the

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35 afterlife as a reward (Econ omist, 2004) or simply because 'they hate our freedom (Text: President Bush Addresses the Nation, 2001) 12 These taken together give us an illustration of an enemy that we only need to understand well enough to identify th em as an enemy and no more. As we will see in the Peter King's hearings, and in the history of this discourse, anything that is contrary to this narrative and logic is unwelcome because any information contrary to this circular logic would damage the inte rnal consistency of the narrative. 12 Note that these are images and themes that we commonly hear about Muslims from the media, and that it is not my intention to argue for or against the verity of these images, my purpose is to illustrate their existence and examine its origins.

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36 CHAPTER IV When Peter King became chair of the House Homeland Security committee in 2010 he committed to hold hearings on radicalization in the Musl im community. King has a colorful history : in 2004 King claimed in an interview with Sean Hannity that no American Muslim leaders were cooperating with law enforcement and 80 85% of these leaders were Islamic fundamentalists (Congressman: Muslims 'Enemy Amounst Us', 2004) violence in Britain (Shane, 2011) King has also written a book about a Congressman who fights terrorism by holding Congressional hea rings, which one Amazon.com (Amazon.com) Suffice it to say, past, along with the intended purpose of the hearings, caused some controversy. Each of the four Peter King he arings occurred with witnesses submitting verbal testimony for five minutes each At the conclusion of witness testimony, each member of the committee was allowed five minutes to make statements and ask questions of the witnesses. The methodology that I have chosen to use in testing the hypothesis that these hearings replay the Islamic Orientalist discourse is this: I will take each witness in turn and look at the narrative that they present and apply the (1 4 ) main steps in the Orientalist logic to deter mine whether their testimony replays the discourse or presents a counter narrative I will then conclude my analysis of each hearing by examining whether or not the hearing as a whole replays, contributes to, or confutes the Or ientalist narrative as a who le.

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37 I spend the most time on the first hearing because it provides most of the themes that are worth examination. The subsequent hearings replay much of the discursive construction in the first hearing while at the same time focusing more and more on the issue of Islamic terrorism as a law enforcement issue while providing very little substantive detail. The coverage of the hearings therefore gets shorter with each subsequent one. Table 1.1: Name of Hearing Date The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community March 10, 2011 The Threat of Muslim American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons June 15, 2011 On Al July 27, 2 011 On Threats to Military Communities Inside the United States December 7, 2011 First Hearing The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and t hat King began the hearings by acknowledging that there was some controversy surrounding the hearings saying: this opposition, such as from my colleague and friend Mr. Ellison and Mr. Pascrell, has been measured and thoughtful. Other opposition both from special

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38 interest groups and t he media has ranged from disbelief to paroxysms of rage and hysteria. (Hill, Transcript 1, ND) After acknowledging the controversy surrounding the hearings King responded by arguing that the hearings were necessary because of n ational security concerns. Some of general and not focus only on the Muslim community to which King responded that "this committee cannot live in denial, which is what s ome of us would do when they suggest that this hearing dilute its focus by investigating threats unrelated to Al Qaida." K ing cite d a number of sources to validate this claim : deputy national securit y advisor Denis McDonough said that the U.S. is susceptib le to terrorist attack from Al Qaeda via recruitment within the Muslim American community; "Attorney General Holder said the growing number of young Americans being radicalized and willing to take up arms against our country, q uote, 'keeps him awake at nig ht. Holder also added that those who were critical of the FBI's law enforcement measures "did not have their facts straight ," and former Homeland Security S ecretary Janet Napolit ano having said that the "threat level today is as high as it has been sinc e September 11th because of increased radicalization in our country (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, pp. 2 3) While King cites these people as sources in his assertion that the hearings are important in fighting domestic ter rorism none of them was c alled to testify before the committee that day King then directed the attention of the audience to a map of the United States that depicted terrorist plots', which had been foiled between 2009, and the date of the hearing in M arch 2010. The data points on the map represented 23 instances in which the government "blocked" "terror plots" in 23 cities across the country. King used this

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39 illustration in an attempt to demonstrate that "the fact is that we've found out no one is immu ne from these type of threats, these type attacks" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 3) On the contrary, twenty three incidents hardly constitute data with statistical significance from which one can draw any conclusion, let alone the assertion that 'we' are all u nder threat from Al Qaeda King partly concludes the opening statement of the hearing by introducing two of his witnesses Mr. Bledsoe and Mr. Bihi saying that : "Their courage and spirit will put a human face on the horror which Islamic radicalization has inflicted and will continue to inflict on good families, especially those in the Muslim community, unless we put aside political correctness and define who our enemy truly is [my emphasis] (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 4) This statement is problematic in a number of ways. King first begs his own argument that Islamic radicalization is a threat which has and will continue to inflict "horror" on all Americans. While there is no doubt that some have suffered grievous losses at the hand of terrorism this is not a normal occurrence in the lives of Americans : statistically Americans are as likely to be killed by a piece of home furniture as they are to be killed by terrorist attacks (Zenko, 2012) Further, his assertion that it is "Islamic radicalization" which is at fault for this horror suggests that there is something implicit within Islam that encourages terrorism. In other words, he is suggesting that there is some seed within anyone who is Muslim that can be cultivated by something called radicalization which will then turn them into a terrorist. Lastly, and by far most troublesome is King's assertion that we need to define our enemy This assertion would be less troublesome if it were clear who m King intended to define as an enemy. Is our enemy individual actors who would commit terrorist acts in

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40 the name of Islam, or any other ideology for that matter, or do we need to understand an entire communit y as b eing responsible for these acts? King repeatedly invokes Al Qaeda as the primary agent of radicalization, and this is reiterated in the hearing by congresspersons and witnesses, yet the focus of the hearing is not on Al Qaeda but rather on the Musli m community. So does radicalization arise from within the Muslim community or is it driven by an external actor like Al Qaeda? We are never told where the line is drawn between terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and the Muslim community. If recruitin g is taking place in the Muslim community by Al Qaeda is it the community that is somehow responsible or are the individual actors involved squarely where we place the blame? King does not make this distinction before he concludes that: As we approach the 10 year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, we cannot allow the memory of that tragic day to fade away. We must remember that in the days following the attack, we were all united in our dedicat ion to fight back against Al Qae da and its ideology. (Hill, Transcript 1, ND) Congressperson Keith Ellison Ellison and Wolf testified for five minutes apiece as member witnesses and were not subject to questions from the committee Ellison testified that hearings on Islamic radi calism which specifically focus on the American Muslim community tacitly assign his testimony is that the entire focus of the hearing is on the Muslim community as a c ollective rather than on the individuals that perpetrated violent acts, as he thought it should be. Moreover Ellison objects t o the specific focus on Muslims; after all, in response to other terrorist organizations or acts of terrorism Congress did not re

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41 entire community bears responsibility for the violent acts of ind (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 10) Ellison approaches the hearing as primarily a law enforcement issue. He argues that the Muslim community was already hostile to terrorist ideologies that invoke Islam and that the Muslim community has been very cooperative with law enforcement. In them less likely to cooperate with law enforcement. Ellison conclud e s his testimony by relatin g the story of Mohammad Salman Hamdani, and by the conclusion was so emotionally overcome that he ended choking back tears: Let me close with a true story, but remember that it's only one of many American stories that could be told. Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a 23 year old paramedic, a New York City police cadet, and Muslim American. He was one of those brave first responders who tragically lost his life in 9/11 terrorist attacks almost a decade ago. As the New York Times eulogized, he wanted to be seen as an all American kid. He wore number 79 on the high school football team in Bayside, Queens, where he lived. He was called "Sal" by his friends. He became a research assistant at the Rockefeller University and drove an ambulance part time. One Christmas he sang Handel's Messiah in Queens. He saw all of the "Star Wars" movies, and it is well known that his new Honda was the one that read -with the "Yung Jedi" license plates. Mr. Hamdani bravely sacrificed his life to try to help others on 9/11. After th e tragedy, some people tried to smear his character solely because of his Islamic faith. Some people spread false rumors and speculated that he was in league with the attackers because he was a Muslim. But it was only when his remains were identified that these lies were exposed.

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42 Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans. His life should not be identified as just a member of an ethic group or just a member of a religion, but as an American who gave everything for h is fellow Americans. (Hill, Transcript 1, ND) 13 narrative, as will the testimony of other witnesses called by the Democrats throughout the hearings. However, it is important to note that testimony which counters the Orientalist narrative is largely ignored by the Republicans on the committee. This holds exactly with the analysis done by Hakimeh Saghaye Biria in which each side of the aisle is puttin this analysis that because the Orientalist discourse is not concerned with facts and is circular in nature that it is impervious to these counter narraticves Congress person Frank Wolf Wolf testifies that there were a handful of terrorists with some connection to his home state of Virginia. He treats these half dozen examples as being sufficient evidence that we are all under threat from Islamic radicalization and terr orism This mirrors King's assertion that a handful of cases of domestic terrorism constitute a t hreat to the entire nation. This is no different than most of the discourse from Republican Congresspersons in this hearing and constitutes the backbone of t he discourse in these hearings: it asserts that the Muslim community and terrorism are linked Every time the term radicalization is used in conjunction with Islam and Islamic fundamentalism it implicitly suggests that 13 There were a number of articles published about Hamdani which indicated that he was being sought by authorities in connection to 9/11. I chose the New York Post articl e above because it was the most blatant compiled by MediaMatters.org to refute right was ficti onal.

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43 there is something about Islam that either is terroristic in nature or which allows Muslims to easily be radicalized into terrorists. This particular representation of the Muslim community is implicit an d nuanced and will become clarified as we move deeper into the hearings. There is one example of this process which mirrors the Orientalist discourse, an examination of which will help clarify the discourse thus far which is the treatment of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) by Frank Wolf in this hearing. CAIR is a gra ssroots civil rights and advocacy group. CAIR is America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, with regional offices nationwide and in Canada. The (About Us CAIR, 2012) CAIR is involved in many aspects of civil and political life in the US where it concerns American Muslims behalf of Muslims and others who have experienced religious discrimination defamation lobbying for Muslims and monitoring legislation that might discriminate against them. Their media department gives a voice to Muslims in local and national media in an attempt to portray Musl ims in an accurate and favorable light. They are also active in research, conferences, seminars, workshops, voter registration, and outreach to foster interfaith relations (About Us CAIR, 2012) Wolf accuses the Council on A merican Islamic Relations (CAIR) of having "disturbing origins," having connections to terrorist financing and most importantly, (because it is repeated frequently ) that CAIR is an "un indicted co conspirator" in the Holy Land Foundation trial This last item is particularly significant because it is

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44 repeated throughout the hearings However, before clarifying this claim I will allow Wolf to make his case against CAIR. Wolf suggests that CAIR is responsible for silencing the debate; Wolf quotes an edi torial in the Columbus Dispatch as saying: "For many years CAIR has waged a campaign to intimidate and silence anyone labeling anyone who discusses Islamic terrorism as a bigot and hate monger, an Islamaphobe, to use CAIR's favorite slur." (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 17) Wolf goes on to say that in addition to silencing honest debate, CAIR actively "dissuades American Muslims from cooperating w ith law enforcement." Wolf tells us in the next breath that when dozens of Somali Americans disappeared from Minneapolis in 2009 "CAIR attempted to drive a wedge between the Muslim community and the FBI, which was seeking to track down the missing men;" r eminding readers that 10 Americans had been killed fighting for or in connection with terrorist actions taken by Al Shabaab 14 in Somalia, (whether these are the same men that disappeared Wolf does not tell us) (Hill, Tran script 1, ND, pp. 17 8) Wolf provides us with one piece of evidence concerning his accusation that CAIR prevents cooperation with law enforcement : "In January 2011, CAIR's California chapter displayed an old poster on its website which stated, 'Buil d a wall of resistance, don't talk to the FBI.' Although 14 Literally, 'the boys' in Arabic, this is a terrorist group that has been running amok in Somalia for decades.

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45 CAIR removed the poster once the media reported on it, it reflects a larger and I think a very troubling pattern." (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 18) 15 Wolf concludes that "CAIR is counterproductive and it is hurting the American Muslim community. I raise these concerns because if we are to successfully counter domestic radicalization, law enforcement in particular will need the active engagement of Muslim communities" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 18) Since Congressperson Wolf is an elected official and has served for over 30 years in the House of Repr esentatives many people would be willing to give him the benefit of the d oubt when he makes these claims; m y suspicion is that most Americans would grant him this leeway and accept his accusations at face value. I however cannot. This kind of analysis plays directly into the Orientalist discourse in constructing the identity of a Musli m organization as an enemy without providing sufficient or accurate evidence: t he evidence that Wolf presents with regard to CAIR is scant and at best anecdotal. CAIR explains on its website that the poster Wolf talks about was used by a chapter in Califo rnia but was not authorized by any central authority in the organization since each chapter of CAIR is independent and under local control. In addition, it should be noted that while Wolf suggests that this incident is part of a larger "very troubling patt ern" he does not specify any other incidents to evidence this point. A pattern by definition requires more than one data point, yet this is the only piece of solid evidence leveled at CAIR

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46 More importantly, t he accusation that CAIR is an unindicted co c onspirator i n a trial that convicted the Holy Land Foundation and a handful of its members of funneling some 12 million dollars to Hamas is a particularly damning accusation and one that is leveled at CAIR regularly. The problem is that the accusation is baseless. When U.S. Department of Justice was preparing the case aga inst the Holy Land Foundation, it listed more than 300 "Muslim organizations and individuals, such as CAIR, when it included them on the publicly filed un indicted co conspirator list in 2 007" (CAIR, 2012) This filing of "un indicted co conspirator" was a tactic used by the prosecution in the case of an evidentiary dispute that never came to pass which would have allowed them to introduce hearsay evidence aga inst the Holy Land Foundation. Put differently, CAIR and the other organizations were named unindicted co conspirators as a legal tactic, but had done nothing wrong It is literally the prosecution saying that just in case they need testimony from someon This label has no legal meaning and is not an indication of guilt The North American Islamic Trust was also included on this list of over 3 00 persons and organizations and spearheaded th e lawsuit against the Department of Justice In October 2010 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Department of Justice had violated the Fifth Amendment rights of all of the named individuals and organization s. Essentially the court had suggested publicly that all of the named individuals and organization were co conspirators with the Holy Land Foundation which was convicted of funneling money to Hamas. When the organizations and individuals sou ght legal relief the court responded by sealing the records which labeled them un

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47 indicted co conspirator. The problem wa s that the damage had been done; it was in the public realm that these organizations had been labeled unindicted co conspirators and as such sealing the records did not relieve them of the reputational damage that had been done. This was a violation of the Fifth Amendment because this reputational damage was done without recourse to due process of the law (see: Garza, 2012) CAIR conc ludes : conspirator, since it does not require the Justice Department to prove anything in a court of law. Merely claiming someone is guilty without due process is both un Constitutional and offensive to the principles of our justice system." (CAIR, 2012) T his narrat ive about CAIR fits into the Orientalist discourse: it is not based on 3) evidence because while it is true that CAIR was labeled an unindicted co c onspirator, this is no longer the case and should not be brought into evidence. Additionally, t his accusation is 2) derogatory because it indicates guilt and association with a terrorist organization where none exists Lastly this preemptively 1) silence s CAIR and other organizations b y casting unfair doubt on anything they say, and by extension this silences any Muslims who by extension are then not allowed to speak for their community: it sets a precedent that Muslims must be vetted or approved by peop le like Congresspersons King and Wolf or they are not allowed to speak for themselves T his als o sets CAIR up as a straw man for right wing news media and Islama phobic pundit s because it cast s doubt on everything that any spokesperson from CAIR says This is particularly damaging because CAIR it is a prominent Muslim civil liberties organization that is present in many media stories about Islam. CAIR is one of

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48 the few organizations th at is given an opportunity to speak on behalf of Muslims and this pre em ptive silencing through slander damages their ability to represent their community. The T estimony of Dr. Zuhdi Jasser Dr. Zuhdi Jasser is a devout Muslim, a medical doctor, and former officer in the U.S. Navy; he is currently the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) which he established in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001 of the founding principles of the United States Constit (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 19) Jasser began his testimony by dividing the debate on Muslim radicalization into two polarities though h e says, with Muslim radicalization that is T he other side o f this polarization are and suggest s that all Muslims are radicalized or are becoming radica lized (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 20) Jasser argues that the solution lies somewhere in the middle : neither is it that all Muslims are radicalizing, nor is it that none in the Muslim community are or h ave the potential to radicalize. Instead, radicalization is a continuum of belief and beliefs and behavior, and because this radicalization takes place within the context of the Muslim community it is in large part t he responsibility of that Muslim community to deal with this problem This is the main reason that Jasser has come to testify before the committee: he believes that with the help of public sector resources the Muslim community can fight back against radica lization H e argues, for example, that Al Qaeda is waging a war to

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49 radicalize Muslims in the US and that in the specific instance of propaganda on the internet they are winning however with resources from the government the Muslim community can and shoul d be fighting back in this internet propaganda war 16 (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, pp. 58 9) radicalization within the Muslim community come not just f rom Al Qaeda but from a separation between what h conceptualization of a political Islam which rejects the notion of a secular state, and is s which are in contrad iction to our government, our so ciety, and our Constitution. The result is Muslims becoming radicalized on a continuum, which results in a culture that refuses to cooperate with legal authorities (Hill, Transcript 1, ND pp. 20 2) Jasser s concern is that into the Muslim communities domestically and globally to teach liberty, to teach the separation of mosque and state, you are not going to solve this problem. We are not going to (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 22) Jasser concludes in part: So, ultimately, we need solutions. Our organization has talked to and created a Muslim liberty project that looks at inoculating Muslims with the ide als of liberty, giving them the empowerment to counter imams, to feel that they can represent their own faith. (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 23) 16 Jasser asserts correctly that Al Qaeda has propaganda magazines widely available on the internet. I choose not to cite or include any of this material out of concern that even being in possession of it might put me in a compromising position. I looked at Al Qaeda's magazines released around the time of King's hearings to see if they made any mention of the hearings. However, this was around the time that Osama Bin Laden was killed and their magazines focused entirely on praising OBL as a martyr and a great leader. It was at the point when looking at the magazines that I realized that they included articles about how to maintain and fir e an AK 47 and detailed instructions on how to build homemade explosives that I decided the material was not something that should be in my possession.

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50 What Jasser i s setting up here is a narrative that carries throughout the ent ire hearing: it is repeated time and again that the majority of American Mu slims are good honest citizens but always with the refrain that there is an underlying current in the Muslim community that is radicalizing; that this radicalizing element rejects American secularism, is isolationist in nature, is propagating s haria (Islamic) law, and is growing. This fits the Orientalist narrative in a several ways ; one key Orientalist assumption is that Muslims come from a background that emphasizes Islam as being a political system which is in contrast to West ern secularism wherein religion is secondary to politics in our civic lives For example, Jass er argues that in a minority but significant number of mosques the Islamic state takes precedence; Islamic law takes precedence over American law m ost of our families left that political Islamic party mentality in the Middle East and came here to be part of a political infrastructure that separ ates church the fight is t o get the majority of Muslims, who reject political Islam to accept that there is an internal problem in the Muslim community with which they must deal (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 33) However, it must once again be noted that his claims here lack evidence. The use of language here should be noted, because while the common refrain throughout the hearings is that the majority of Muslims are 'good Americans' [read: not terrorists ] the immediate refrain is always similar to the one Jasser used above, that while it is a 'minority' that reject 'our' values they are significant in number. Which is it?

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51 T his line of argument divides Muslims into two groups: those that are secular, thu s westernized and invested in American values; and those that are invested in Islam as an all encompassing political system, and therefore have little invested in the United States as a political community and are potentially radicalizing or b eing radicali zed. There is a degree to which Jasser is attempting to create a separation between 'good Muslims' and 'bad Muslims This is an entirely arbitrary denotation as it is unclear by what exact criteria Jasser would like to make this differentiation. It i s also worth noting that t his argument furthers a narrative by which either Muslims are members of a group th at fully informs their identity and political allegiance or individuals with priorities set by the ir own self interest That is to say that the di chotomy Jasser creates here is between American individualists and those Muslims who have a collective identity. This last item plays an important role in the assignment of blame with regard to terrorist attacks and is a major question in the h earings: wh en someone who performs a terrorist attack does so in the name of Islam, do we blame the individual, or is the Muslim community to blame or in some way complicit? S hould we be looking at individuals for responsibility in terrorist attacks cal Muslim is implicated to the Muslim community as a whole with regard to responsibility ? Jasser suggests that it is the Muslim community that is responsible because it is their children that are being targeted by the radicalizers and while this argum ent is certainly true on some level I question to what degree furthering this narrative is helpful. On the one hand J asser is saying that this issue is somehow separate from the rest of the American community in that it is the responsibility of the Musli m community to deal with it. While at the same time Jasser also creates a dich otomy whereby some Muslims

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52 are western ized and civilized while others cling to a backward civilization that does not separate church and state. The latter is a cl ear example of we are a secular society while have not civilizationally evolved enough to move into secular modernity. Finally, a n important is this: while Dr. Jasser has qua lifica tions which meri t respect ( his military service he is a doctor, a respected member of American political society and the Muslim community ), He is not an expert on Islam or radicalization in the Muslim community and so his testim ony and the accusative language which he us es with regard to radicalization is anecdotal S ince we cannot reasonably universalize an experience it is difficult to draw strong For example, Jasser later responds to a question from King sayi ng that he witnessed a sermon in a mosque in Phoenix in which a CAIR sign was held up which said something "extremely insulting about American soldiers and what they are doing in Iraq. And you can't tell me that that doesn't have an effect on radicalizati on." Again, this claim is anecdotal and hardly counts as serious evidence. All of t his testimony fits somewhat messily into that part of the Orientalist discourse in which Islam and Muslims may be 1) spoken about wi thout providing much in the way of 3) ev idence and yet the rhetoric is given the weight of truth. This problematic discourse is compounded by talking about the entire Muslim community in such a broad and general way.

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53 Mr. Melvin Bled soe Mr Bledsoe is the father of Carlos Bledsoe, also known as Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, who pled guilty in July 2011 to the murder of Pvt. William Long in 2009 at an Army recruitment center in Little Rock, Arkansas (Staff, 2011) Carlos Bledsoe converted to Islam in college, dropped out and moved to Yemen in 2007; he was arrested by Yemeni police when he overstayed his visa in 2008 shortly after his marriage to a Yemeni woman. Carlos w as then deported back to the United States A t that time he was questioned by both Yemeni security and the FBI however before the murder he w as never put under surveillance (Dao, 2010, pp. 1 2) his family experienced as his son was indo ctrinated into radical Islam by those who, as he (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 23) Bledsoe describes his son in his youth as being a normal go d team sports, swimming, dancing and listening to music (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 26) When Carlos left Memphis to go off to college in Nashville in the fall of 2003 Mr. Bledsoe describes a number of occasion s and ev ents that indicated to himself and his family that something strange was happening with their son. The first was an intense argument over the Muslim religion with his brother in law which Mr. Bledsoe put down to Carlos perhaps having some Muslim friends and had found offense in some comment. However, the next time Carlos came home he removed all of the pictures in his room including one of Dr. Martin Luther King. W hen questioned about this behavior Carlos informed his family that he had converted to Isl am and that everything he did from then (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 24)

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54 His family visited him in Nashville in an attempt to ascertain what was happening with their son. They found out th at he had dropped out of school in the beginning of 2005, and was working a temporary job. Carlos had gotten a dog in college but had nsider dogs as a dirty creature. H is family could not understand this since the Bledsoe s had had a dog in their home since Carlos was 5 years old (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 24) (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 25) The next step that Mr. Bledsoe describes was that his son began demanding that his employer allow him to pray at certain times of the day, lace; Mr. Bledsoe explained to his son that this was a very difficult arrangement for an employer (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 25) apparently to no avail. Mr. Bledsoe continues: At this time, at the next step on his pro gress of radicalization, Carlos was convinced to change his name. He chose the name Abdulhakim Muhammad. At this point his culture was no longer important to him, only the Islamic culture mattered. Some Muslim leader had taken advantage of my son, but he' s not the only one being taken advantage of. This is an ongoing thing in Nashville and many other cities in America. In Nashville Carlos was captured by best describes hunters [sic] He was manipulated and lied to. (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 25) Bledsoe goes on to explain that his son went to Yemen in what he told his family was an effort to visit Mecca The people that brought him there set him up to work at an English language school However, the school turned out t o be a front for terrorist Yemeni extremists facilitated by their Ameri can counterpart in Nashville (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 25)

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55 Mr. Bledsoe tells us that it was both an Imam in Nashville, his training in Yemen finally radicalized him into a person that would finall y kill Pvt. Long. It is also apparent from his testimony that while Mr. Bledsoe's situation is tragic, his story is entirely anecdotal. This anecdotal form of evidence, which we also saw with Jasser, works because of the preexisting discourse: we have a pre constructed notion o f Muslim identity and this anecdotal evidence serves to reinforce that image. Bledsoe has no knowledge of Islam, Muslims, the Middle East, radicalization, or terrorism, and without the relevant facts we are left with an absolutely horrible story about a f ather that lost his son to Islamic radicals, who then murdered an American soldier in cold blood and will spend the rest of his life in prison, but we do not learn anything constructive that might help us understand how this might be prevented in the futur e. Instead we are left with an image of an incomprehensible internal enemy that we can fear but cannot understand. Testimony of Mr. Abdirizak Bihi Mr. Bihi is a Somali American whose family members are refugees from the ongoing civil war in Somalia. A s Mr. Bihi puts it: "my sister and her family, she was one of the luckiest ones that made it to the shores of the United States of America" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 27) Mr. Bihi is the "Director of the Somali educat ion and the Somali Social Advocacy Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota," and "the uncle of Burhan Hassan" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 27) Mr. Bihi's nephew at 17 years old along with dozens of other Somali boys disappeared from his community in and around 2007 and are thought to have gone back to Somalia to fight with Al Sh a baab, a Somali based offshoot

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56 of Al Qaeda or some other radical group. Bihi's Nephew was shot in the head and buried in Mogadishu, the capital of Somal ia in 2009 T he details as to why he was killed are unclear (AP, Minn. Teen Found Murdered In Somalia, 2009) For two years his family desperately searched for their lost child and Bihi's testimony is primarily concerned with this struggle. Mr. Bihi says that when Hassan went missing he and his sister approached the community at their mosque asking for help in finding him. However, the next day th eir religious leaders denounced their claim that any boys had disappeared, sayi ng that they were tools being used by outsiders to discredit Islam and their community (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 28) Bihi says that they spent the next two years trying to convince the Somali American community that there were indeed boys that had gone missing, "after two years of demonstrations, educating, fighting with basically our rental and personal money, and efforts of sleeping three hours a night, two and a half years, we won the heart and minds of the communi ty" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 28) Despite their victory in getting the community to come to their side in the struggle to find their lost children, the Islamic leaders in the community never came to their aid and in fact fought them at every stage. Bihi's testimony strongly suggests that ther e was strong complicity in the m osques and Muslim leadership in stopping them from investigating the missing children. When questioned at subsequent points in the hearing Bihi r eiterates this point; that the imams (Muslim clergy), mosques, and leadership in general are not to be trusted, and it should be noted that he never confines this assertion to just his community or just to Somali

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57 Americans, he asserts without caveat that t here is some conspiracy going on in mosques in general. While Bihi's story is as tragic as Mr. Bledsoe's it also raises more questions than it answers and is problematic in much the same way. Firstly, Mr. Bihi does not give us a clea r idea of what happen ed to his n ephew other than that he disappeared to Somalia and was found killed in Mogadishu. It is not clear if he was radicalized in some way and convinced to go to Somalia if he was kidnapped and taken, or in either case by whom. There is some specula tion that Hassan was killed by Al Shabaab because he might have linked them to the disappeared b oys and that perhaps he was planning on coming home (AP, Minn. Teen Found Murdered In Somalia, 2009) though this speculation is ab sent from Bihi's testimony. As with Mr. Bledsoe, Mr. Bihi does not have any qualifications to talk about this issue in any more than an anecdotal way. While Mr. Bihi's story is no less tragic with regard to the fate of his nephew, we would be better in formed by the testimony of a homeland security official for example, or an area specialist, and certainly there must have been someone responsible for an investigation of the domestic case that could have better informed the hearing. Bihi's contribution to the discourse is that he is using 3) anecdotal evidence to accuse the leadership of the Muslim community 4) at large of being complicit in radicalization, a 2) derogatory statement if ever there was one, which together further paints the picture of Musl ims as being an 'other' which we cannot understand and which threatens us. Again this analysis functions in the context of a pre existing discursive

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58 construction of Muslim identity which is why the anecdotal nature of the evidence presented is not questio ned. In both Mr. Bledsoe's case and Mr. Bihi's case we are left with the tragic testimony of a father whose son is in jail for life and an u ncle whose nephew was killed for uncertain reasons. Neither of them can be blamed for taking the opportunity to hav e their stories heard and to express their frustration and anger at the forces that contributed to the tragic fates of their son and nephew respectively, and while they both have my sympathy they and we would have been better served by testimony from exper ts whose views were based on a macro study of the issues at hand in these hearings, rather than testimony that is limited to the experience of individuals. This would better fulfill the purpose of the hearings in the Homeland Security Committee which is t o keep the country safe from violent extremists. Sheriff Lee Baca The final witness of the hearing called by the Democrat, ranking member Mr. Thompson, was Lee Baca. The Sheriff of Lo s Angeles County since 1998, Baca runs the largest sheriff's departmen t in the United States, has jurisdiction over more than 4 million people, has over 18,000 staff, and has worked extensively with the Department of Homeland Security, the Travel Security Agency, and many other federal agencies before and after 9/11 to preve nt terrorist attacks on U.S. soil (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 30) Baca testifie s that his Sheriff's Department has had a lot of success in reaching out to the very diverse "ethnic, cultural, and religious co mmunities th at thrive in the Los Angeles area. We establish strong bonds through continuing outreach and physical

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59 presence at important events to every community" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 31) Baca says that the evidence is tha t violent extremism is on the rise among all groups regardless of religious affiliation (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 31) Baca expresses concern that the approach of the hearing singles out Muslims as being more prone to radicalization than other groups. He argues that focusing on the Muslim community alone is counter productive because it feeds into terrorist propaganda that the West is at war with Islam and is counterproductive to efforts of law enforcement to build tr ust and cooperation with these communities. Baca argues that the Mus lim community and leadership have been very cooperative with law enforcement in his own experience and with regard to the intelligence that comes across his desk on the subject. For examp le, he cites the Congressional Research Service as reporting that since 9/11 there have been 77 terror plots by domestic non Muslims, while there have been 41 total plots by both domestic and international Muslim perpetrators. In addition, "reports indica te that Muslim Americans helped foil seven of the last 10 plots propagated by Al Qaida, within the United States" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, p. 31) Baca explains that in Lo s Angeles County leaders from all sectors of t he Muslim American community have come together to form the Muslim American Homeland Security Congress to help law enforcement combat violent extremism. In these efforts and others "Muslim American community leaders in Los Angeles have not hesitated to put themselves in potentially uncomfortable positions to interact with local law enforcement" (Hill, Transcript 1, ND, pp. 31 2) Baca is pointing to a relationship

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60 between law enforcement and the Muslim community that i s reciprocal and respectful, and feels that these hearings may serve to undermine these relationships. Along with Keith Ellison, Baca counters the Orientalist narrative, however this counter narrative that Baca presents is never acknowledged by the Republi cans on the committee. Instead they tend to question the other witnesses in the rest of the hearing to confirm their own Orientalist narrative. So it is not fair to say that there are not counter narrative present in the hearing, but rather that the Orie ntalist narrative is the dominant narrative and is impervious to outside contending narratives because of its lack of concern about facts. I t is important to note that I have not accused Peter King or anyon e else involved of replaying this discursive const ruction for malicious reasons. Indeed, I am fully convinced that King has the best intentions in trying to protect his country and is completely sincere in his motives. The point being that we are all susceptible to this Second Radicalization Hearing Threat of Muslim American Radicalization in U.S. Prison s As with the previous hearing, I will examine if and how this hearing replays the Since ma ny of the themes from the previous hearing are replayed in this second hearing it will be a significantly shorter analysis. I will therefore summarize the witnesses in the hearing first and analyze their significance afterward. This hearing focused on t he threat of Islamic radicalization in U.S. prisons. As with the previous hearing I will only use the

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61 testimony of the four witnesses to determine whether or not the hearing replays the Orientalist narrative. However, for the sake of brevity each witness summarized as much as possible. This is possible because the themes of the hearings carry through and despite variation do not require an explication of every detail. The first witness was Mr. Patrick Dunleavy, former Deputy Inspect or of the New York Department of Correctional Services, Criminal Intelligence Unit. Mr. Dunleavy testimony starts by telling us that Islamic radicalization in U.S. prisons is a threat with which we should be concerned. Dunleavy testifies that Islam beg an to establish itself in the U.S. prison system in the late 1960s. He tells us that one of the spiritual leaders that began this movement is currently serving a life sentence for shooting two police officers. Islam in U.S. prisons, he says, became more and more radicalized in the 70s and 80s and increased its converts (Hill, House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND, pp. 5 6) born inmates from the Middle East, some of whom were incarcerated for having committed violent acts against non believers, individuals who had either killed, bombed, or stolen money in the name of Allah. They had international connections with terrorist organizations such as Egyptian Islami c Jihad, Al Qaida, Hezbollah and Hamas. After they were arrested and incarcerated, they walked into the prison mosque and were hailed as heroes. They were inspired to deference by the Muslim inmates (Hill, House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND, p. 6) Dunleavy cites two examples of inmates being associated with terr or plots. The first is an inmate who conspired with others on the outside to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993; the other is a plot w (Hill, House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND)

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62 e Islamic religio us leaders who are allowed to preach in mosques are not vetted in any sufficient way to prevent those who would radicalize from infiltrating prisons. He cites two examples where t his was a concern: o ne in which an imam was caught attempting to s muggle con traband into a prison; t he other in which an imam was hired by the corrections department despite having served time in prison for murder. (Hill, House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND, pp. 6 7) While the incidents Dunleavy credentials as a former officer in state corrections gives his testimony authority, but it is curious that he does not provide better data to make his case. This is not to say that he does not have this information, but he does not provide it at any point during the hearing, let alone in his initial testimony. It does seem that if there were a time and a place to present such information a c ongressional hearing on the subject of his expertise would be t hat time and place. The second witness at the hearing was Kevin Smith, deputy district attorney for San Bernadino County, California. Smith tells us that he was a part of the prosecutorial team in a terrorism case that began with radicalization in the pr ison system. An inmate named Kevin James in the CA Department of Corrections began an organization based on radical Islam around 1997. By the time he was paroled in 2004 James had drawn up plans for recruitment, including acquiring small arms and explosi ves and training operative to carry out attacks against designated targets. He and a partner recruited two others and began robbing gas stations to raise funds for their new terrorist cell. At some point J a mes dropped his cell phone which authorities wer e able to use to apprehend and

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63 (Hill, House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND, pp. 8 9) The third witness was Michael Downing, deputy chief and commanding officer of the Los Angeles Police Department's Counter Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau Downing argues that prisoners are susceptible to radicalization because they are social discont ents with violent tendencies who exhibit high rates of recidivism when leaving prison. Downing concurs with Dunleavy that there are serious problems with the hiring practices of imams in the prison sy stem. He further suggests that religious meetings are not monitored and that there are radicalization materials readily available to inmates. Downing tells us that there is a sharp distinction between the Islam practiced outside of and that promotes ntrast to the radical Islam that inmates encounter (Hill, House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND, pp. 10 12 ) The fourth and final witness at the hearing was Dr. Bert Useem, head of the Sociology Department at Perdue University who specializes in prison organization and violence (Hill, House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND, pp. 12 13) Useem testifies that prisons have not been a major source of radicalization. Useem argues that hree sets of facts support this conclusion. First, U.S. prisons now confine 1.6 million people. Each year, 730,000 inmates are released. Second, from 9/11 through the first half of 2011, 178 Muslim Americans have committed acts of terrorism or were prosecuted for terrorism related offenses. Third, for 12 of these 178 cases, there is some evidence for radicalization behind bars. Putting these thr ee sets of facts together, if prisons

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64 were a major cause of jihadist radicalization, we would expect to see a lot of it, but we don't (Hill, House June 15 2011 Hearing, ND, p. 13) Useem argues that in his research on th e subject 17 he found a number of important factors that have inhibited radicalization in prisons: prisons are far less violent than they were decades ago. Prisoners are very closely observed by personnel, including watching their behavior for radicalizatio n and monitoring all communications. Correctional leaders have taken steps to mitigate radicalization, including increased communication with law enforcement and active measures to train personnel and screen for radicalizing elements including clergy. Us eem also found that the profiles of terrorists and the U.S. prison population is different: U.S. prisoners tend to be poor while terrorists tend to be which makes pr isons a hostile environment toward radicalizing ideologies. Once again in this hearing the Orientalist narrative is the dominant one because the majority of the witnesses were called by Republicans knowing that the testimony they give would replay this n arrative. As Saghaye Biria (2012) pointed out in the first hearing who was invited shaped the possible discourse that could take place. Bert Useem provided strong evidence that counters the Orientalist narrative but as in the first hearing this counter narrative was not acknowledged by King and his colleagues. So that while the Orientalist narrative is not totalizing it is impervious to these outside discursive challenges because Orientalism is self contained and not concerned with the rules of 17 For example, see: Useem, U.S. Prisons and the Myth of Islamic Radicalization, 2012.

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65 evidence. The result is that those who are pushing and Orientalist narrative are not interested in even considering these counter narratives. Third Radicalization Hearing The analysis of this hearing will proceed in the same manner as the last. I will start with an overview of the witnesses and then proceed with a brief analysis of whether or not they are replaying the Orientalist discourse on the construction of Muslim identi ty. organization Al Shabaab on Muslim radicalization in the U.S. which took place on July 27, 2011 (Hill, House July 27 2012 Hearing, N D) Chairperson King starts the hearing off by stating that dozens of Americans had been radicalized by Al Shebaab and had gone back to Somalia to fight with Al Shebaab for control of that country. Ranking member Thompson points out that no attack had ever taken place against the U.S. homeland or American interests abroad that originated with Al Shebaab, that Al Shebaab numbers less than 3000 members, and is only one of many competing factions for power in a complicated civi l war in Somalia. While Al S hebaab ought to be monitored by law enforcement it do es not appear to present any danger to the continental U.S. (Hill, House July 27 2012 Hearing, ND, pp. 2 4) The first witness in the hearing was Ahmed Hussen, a Mu slim Canadian who is active in various civic activities. Hussen testifies that there is a problem of alienation and radicalization in the Canadian Somali community that mirrors the issues in the

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66 Amer ican Somali community. Hussen sets up the narrative tha t there is a failing in the Somali community and that it is that responsibility to address it. The second witness was Anders Folk, a former Marine and US attorney for the state of Minnesota who had prosecuted more than a dozen Al Shebaab rel ated cases. Folk relates in his testimony that Al Shebaab is a dangerous, violent organization in Somalia and that they could hypothetically be planning an attack on U.S. soil. The third witness was Tom Joscelyn the senior director of the Center for Law and Counterterrorism at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and is reported to be an expert on terrorism by Peter King (Hill, House July 27 2012 Hearing, ND, p. 9) Joscelyn is also a writer for the conservat ive website The Daily Standard and holds a B.A. in economics (Our Team, 2013) Joscelyn reiterates that Al Shebaab is a violent organization in Somalia and infers that because a handful of people had been recruited by Al Sheba ab to fight in Somlia that Al Shebaab poses a threat domestically. Joscelyn does add that most of the victims of Al Shebaab are Muslims and that the Somali American community does not support them because many of them were victimized by Al Shebaab (Hill, House July 27 2012 Hearing, ND, p. 10) The final witness was Tom Smith police chief in St. Paul, Minnesota which has a large Somali American population and other significant immigrant populations. Smith testified t hat his police department has had a large amount of success in combating radicalization and other criminal activities through engagement with the Somali American community, including after school programs, sports teams for the youth, and gr oups for women a nd girls all le d by local police officers. Smith explains that this approach has opened up a once isolated community to freely engage with them to

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67 American youth that may be tempted by an ideology of radical ization can now look to an expanded network of trust, including police officers, mentors to provide support, resources and (Hill, House July 27 2012 Hearing, ND, pp. 11 13) All four of these approaches treat the question of Al Shebaab as a law enforcement issue. The first three tell us that Al Shebaab is a dangerous organization with aspirations to recruit in the U.S. for fighting in Somalia with the possibility tha t they may a spire to attack domestically, w hile the fourth witness gives us some idea of the challenges and approaches that law enforcement might use to combat Al Shebaab s recruitment aspirations. Even though for the most part this is a legitimate exerc ise in assessing the threat of terrorist organization domestically and abroad, there are a few ways in which this fits into the O rientalist narrative which are worth a brief mention. This hearing is held in the larger context of hearings about radicalizat ion in the Muslim American community. While Al Shebaab is the primary topic of interest here the forum in which this is being discussed does concern the larger community and as such could be construed to homogenize this community as we have seen elsewher e. It should also be pointed out that though this hearing had a lot of speculation about possible attacks or possi ble Al Shebaab aspirations it was void of any evidence to verify these claims. Finally, it should be noted that no Muslims were invited to t estify t hat day, despite a request by c ongressman Ellison to be allowed to testify. Ellison is not only a Muslim himself but also is the representative for the largest Somali American community in the country (Ellison denied r equest to testify at Al Shabaab hearing, 2011) As with Saghaye the people that were allowed to testify shape the possible discursive outcome in the hearing. Taken together in this

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68 hearing we see a silencing of Mu slim voices, a lack of evidence for hypothetical domestic attacks, and a passive homogenization and slander of the Muslim community by the association with the other h earings. Fourth Radicalization Hearing On Threats to Military Communities Inside the Uni The analysis of the fourth hearing will be similar to the last two. The fourth hearing was held as a joint hearing between Senate and House Homeland security committees on December 7, 2011. The hearing focused on the threat of terrorism in t he U.S. military community (Hill, House Senate Hearing December 7 2011, ND) The first three witnesses will be handled together because their testimony is very similar, and the fourth witness will be introduced and analyzed fo llowing them. The first witness was Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Stockton (Hill, House Senate Hearing December 7 2011, ND, pp. 8 9) The second witness was Colonel Reid Sawyer director of the Combating Terroris m Center at West Point (Hill, House Senate Hearing December 7 2011, ND, pp. 9 11) The third witness was Jim Stuteville senior advisor to the U.S. Army for Counterintelligence Operations and liaison to the Federal Bur eau of Investigation (Hill, House Senate Hearing December 7 2011, ND) These three witnesses all have expertise in matters of homeland security and te rrorism, and taken together their testimony form s a cohesive narrative about an organized threat to the military community, including threats to military families, recruitment stations military bases, and diplomatic missions among others

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69 The witnesses tell us that there is an ongoing and growing threat to the military community domestically and internationally and t hat this threat is both internal to the military in that members of the military are being radicalized to attack fellow members of th at community. The threat is e xternal in that Al Qaeda is targeting the military co mmunity by focusing radicalized would be terrorists on attacking this community The witnesses provide few solid numbers to justify these claims because the specific numbers are only to be discussed in closed session ( Hill, House Senate Hearing December 7 2011, ND, p. 12) current engagement with intelligence operations and expertise in this field lends credibility to these claims. This does however beg the question: what does this testimony radicalization in the Muslim American community hearings? (Hill, House Senate Hearing December 7 2011, ND, pp. 44 46) a retired Marine Corps veteran and father of William Long who was murdered by Carlos Bledsoe in 2009 at a military recruiting center in Arkansas (see above). Long testifies that the government has failed to protect us from domestic terrorist attacks. Long specifi cally tells us that the failure comes from the unwillingness of the Obama administration and the media to call domestic acts of terror by terrorism. He suggests that if the media and government officials were more vehement in naming that some of these attacks could have been prevented. Instead Long says we get platitudes by, Fort Hood is just workplace violence (Hill, House Senate Hearing December 7 2011, ND, p. 44)

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70 Along with Mr. Bledsoe and Mr. Bihi, Mr. Long has lost a child and all sympathy is due him for his loss. However, in the same way as above it must be pointed out that Long is not an expert on terrorism, Islam, or terrorist radicalization. While his pain is real, his testimony is anecdotal and tells us little about the problems this hearing is attempting to address. Instead, this hearing leaves us with some uncertain knowledge th at our military communities are under attack and that in a specific attack the pain of a father is very real. This hearing drifts farther into the mire of Orientalist discourse in that it treats Islam and Muslims as a complete abstraction: the Muslim co mmunity while implicated developments in that community is conspicuously absent from the hearings. This is because the construction of Muslim identity is predefined and implicit ly understood This identity is built into the narrative in such a way that the actors involved in replaying this discourse are not aware that this is what they are doing. Because Muslim identity is predefined in this way i n this hearing Muslims are not even given a n identity : are doing and no hint is given as to the motivation of radicalization or anything else for that matter. Thus not just silencing this community from this hearing but in some sense disappearing them all tog ether into some abstract homogenous e nemy about which we know very little except that they threaten us. While we do have expert testimony that there are threats we are not given the privilege of hearing any specifics since these are in closed session an d thus not for public record. The only specifics we are given are from Mr. Long from whom we only hear a

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71 bereaved father lament the failure of the government and media to say what he thinks ought to be said about those he feels are responsible for the dea th of his son.

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72 CHAPTER V CONCLUSION In conclusion, I will hearings to highlight the construction of Muslim identi ty as a whole as presented by the hearings. I will highlight the discursive Orientalis t construction of Muslim identity which I find are replayed in where we might consider going from here. re is a threat and that people have been killed. The Muslim community is implicated and named, but never defined or explained; they have thus sunk into an abstraction: we do not know who they are but we know their name and that they threaten us in some un defined way. The third hearing on Al Shebaab tells us about possible attacks and the hypothetical aspirations of Al Shebaab to target the U.S. domestically. Here we see that the enemy has a name and a place: Muslims and Somalia. Thus Muslim identity he re is solidified but in a distant foreign land and threats are made but without substance. The second hearing on prison radicalization brings the threat closer to home and again gives us a few stories of radicalization in prisons. This constructs Musli m identity in a way that could implicate criminality in the population that is being homogenized, and adds the sub context of prison violence to this identity in addition. The first hearing gave us a closer look at a few stories that bring radicalization closer to home: a father, whose son was radicalized in Islam, committed a murder in the

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73 name of Islam and is now in prison ; a n immigrant refugee from Somalia whose nephew was radicalized and ran off to die in the civil war there. Additionally, a self pro claimed expert on the Muslim community tells us that the cause of these problems comes from Muslims not conforming to American values. This gives us the narrative that anyone, whether they be a Muslim immigrant or an ordinary American father, is susceptib le to the influence of radical Islam. There are two competing narratives at play in these hearings. On the one hand there is the Orientalist narrative, and on the other is a competing narrative that seeks to challenge the assumptions of the Orientalist narrative. It is important to note that the Orientalist narrative, while dominant, as evidenced by the choice of a majority of witnesses that replay the Orientalist narrative, is not totalizing by recognition of the presence of a narrative that challenges Orientalism. That said, the Orientalist narrative is not susceptible to this discursive challenge by virtue of its disinterest in facts. So what we see in the hearing is that those who are replaying the Orientalist discourse more or less ignore facts pr esented that challenge their preconceived discursive construction of Muslim identity. Another conclusion from these hearings is that the discursive construction of in volved in these hearings are not even aware that they are replaying this identity construction. s work: they silence the community by allowing only a few members of that community to speak at the hearings. Rather than focusing on the individuals responsible for terrorist

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74 acts the community itself that is to be taken to task for acts of violence in t he name of radical Islam. Instead of taking account of individual action this defames the community and homogenizes them into a whole that is responsible for the actions of all and removes agency from individuals. This removal of agency from individual ac tors is not new to the narrative but is emphasized by these hearings as a means to solidify the homogenization of the group. The discursive construction of Muslim identity is whole and complete without any member of the community representing themselves. It goes beyond silencing in that the implicit construction of their identity is already fully constructed. There is no need for Muslims to speak on their own behalf because their identity is already complete. Never mind that the evidence for this ident ity construction is sorely lacking. The result as Said points out, and it bears repeating, is that things are said about Muslims that no one would dare to say about any other minority group, and because of the discursive construction of their identity and defined and fully understood no one questions these sterotypes. One of the most prominent aspect of these hearings is the lack of and disinterest in using facts to evidence the claims made by the side that treats Islam as the problem and places the blame on the Muslim community as a whole. Throughout the hearing we get anecdotal evidence to support claims that radicalization is a major threat. Yes, attacks happened. Yes, people were radicalized. Yes, people were killed. Of this there is no doubt, but we need more than a handful of instances to draw firm conclusions, especially if this is being used to implicate guilt in an entire population.

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75 This discursive construction without evidence solidifies Islam into a thing abstracted from any other concern that exists and is threatening to our way of life. We are all vulnerable to it. The people that live in the Muslim community are infected with it, lack agency and are thus helpless against it, and are therefore threatening to us all. follow a logical course of action. Here we have a story about an American man, Carlos Bledsoe, who was radicalized in prison (albeit a Yemeni prison) so King investigates prisons in his next hearing. Here we have a story about a young Somali man who was radicalized in the U.S. and went to fight with Al Shebaab in Shebaab Lastly, Carlos Bledsoe killed an Army recruitment officer and so King investigates radicalization in the U.S. military in his la st hearing. I have no doubt that King has the best intentions in using these hearings to c ombat Muslims and his misappropriation of anecdotal evidence as empirical fact lead to a construction of Muslim identity as an enemy other: Muslims are not allowed to speak for themselves in these hearings and are thus spoken for. The hearings give damning accounts against them with very little evidence or explanation. Their ident ity is thus defined for them: their identity constructed as a homogenous group with very little agency that is defined as an enemy other. Returning to Said we must understand that this construction of Muslim identity is part of a much larger, much older di scourse. The Orientalist discourse is built into the background of all of our conversations about Islam and Muslims. I have attempted here

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76 to identify this discourse in the hopes that we may move forward in our national conversation understanding that the se underlying assumption and constructions of identity ought to be questioned when they arise and challenged in their verity. Finally, a few suggestions about where research might go from here. This narrative is being replayed all throughout our discour se as a society. It would be easy to say that it is only a conservative perspective that promotes this discourse: this would be disingenuous. One need only listen to radically liberal Bill Maher (Poor, 2013) or Sam Harris (Harris, 2013) to see that the virulently us versus them discourse on Islam is not confined to one political camp or the other. That said many of the witnesses that King invited and much of his information seem to come from FOX News, right wing blogs like Pamela Geller (se e above) and right wing talk radio This problem should be further investigated, especially in light of the fact that Anders B reivik quoted Geller and other American right wing bloggers in his manifesto that he published online. In July 2011 Breivik massacred almost 80 people on an Island outside of Oslo, Norway, it was a liberal political youth camp and many of his victims were children (Mala, 2011) Breivic committed the atrocity in part because he believed that Muslims were infiltrating Europe and that liberal politicians were to blame. This is not to say that this single incident condemns any group or individual other than the perpetrator, but rather that this kind of rhetoric has consequences regardless of its source. Finally, we need to consider how this construction of Muslim identity affects American foreign policy. This approach is constructivist in that it starts with domestic

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77 culture as an important factor in our foreign policy While this approach is not whole in and of itself it is well to ask ourselves why it is that we can see or ignore the dead bodies of so many black and brown people around the world. We need to recognize this discursive construction of identity a nd critically examine it, this is what Said spent his career doing and we ought to continue this important work: "For a myth does not analyze or solve problems. It represents them as already analyzed and solved; that is, it presents them as already assemb led images, in the way a scarecrow is assembled from bric a brac and then made to stand for a man." (Said, Orientalism, 1978, p. 312)

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86 http://www.theatlantic wire.com/global/2011/07/media reacts news norwegian terror suspect isnt muslim/40322/ Shaffer, M. (2011, 03 11). Mohammed Salman Hamdani: A Hero All Along Retrieved 10 26, 2012, from National Review: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/261970/mohammed sa lman hamdani hero all along matthew shaffer Shaffer, M. (2011, 03 10). National Review Online Retrieved 10 26, 2012, from Rep. Keith Ellison's "Bigotry": http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/261903/rep keith ellison s bigotry matthew shaffer?page=1# Sha ne, S. (2011, 03 08). For Lawmaker Examining Terror, a Pro I.R.A. Past Retrieved 11 14, 2013, from NewYorkTimes.com: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/us/politics/09king.html?_r=0 Staff, C. W. (2011, 07 25). Man Pleads Guilty to Recruitment Center Killing Gets Life. Retrieved 04 04, 2012, from CNN.com: http://articles.cnn.com/2011 07 25/justice/arkansas.recruiter.shooting_1_capital murder quinton ezeagwula carlos bledsoe?_s=PM:CRIME Text: President Bush Addresses the Nation (2001, 09 2001). Retrieved 02 07, 2013, from Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp srv/nation/specials/attacked/transcripts/bushaddress_092001.html

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87 Text: President Bush Addresses the Nation (2001, 09 20). Retrieved 10 17, 2013, from The Washington Post: http://www.washingt onpost.com/wp srv/nation/specials/attacked/transcripts/bushaddress_092001.html Thomas D. Petrowski, J. M. (2011, 09). FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Retrieved 04 04, 2012, from FBI.com: http://www.fbi.gov/stats services/publications/law enforcement bulletin /september 2011/case study Top Internet Misinformation and Conspiracy Theories About CAIR (2012, 03). Retrieved 11 21, 2012, from Council on American Islamic Relations: http://www.cair.com/AboutUs/MisinformationandConspiracyTheoriesAboutCAIR.aspx U.S. Cen sus Bureau: FAQs (n.d.). Retrieved 02 13, 2013, from ask.census.gov: https://ask.census.gov/faq.php?id=5000&faqId=29 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. HOLY LAND FOUNDATION FOR RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT ET AL NORTH AMERICAN ISLAMIC TRUST (2010, 10 20). Retrieved 1 1 21, 2012, from Find Case Law: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us 5th circuit/1541982.html Useem, B. (2012). U.S. Prisons and the myth of islamic terrorism. Contexts 34 39. Weinger, M. (2011, 09 11). In U.K., Peter King defends Muslim hearings Retrieved 02 13, 2013, from Politico: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0911/63360.html Zenko, M. (2012, 06 6). Americans Are As Likely to Be Killed by Their Own furniture as by Terrorism Retrieved 10 21, 2013, from The Atlantic:

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88 http://www.theatlantic.com/internat ional/archive/2012/06/americans are as likely to be killed by their own furniture as by terrorism/258156/