chapter  19
Islamophobia and the US ideological infrastructure of white supremacy
WithLouise Cainkar
Pages 13

Islamophobia is increasingly treated as a form of racism in scholarship on its ideological and structural patterns in the West. Scholars argue that a range of markers of Islam, such as clothing, beards, and names, act as signifiers that bring on negative treatment in the same way that phenotype and skin colour do in traditional white supremacist racism (Rana 2011; Selod and Garner 2015; Selod and Embrick 2013; Bayoumi 2015; Cainkar and Selod 2018). Islamophobia similarly works within the same ideological infrastructure as white supremacy, constructing and deploying “us and them” binaries, applying different standards of accountability to each group, endorsing essentialized notions of innate superiority and inferiority, and marshaling degrading representations to make these distinctions appear as common sense. Islamophobia is far from a new phenomenon; rather, it stretches back to the “two 1492s” when Muslims and Jews were expelled from Iberia and Columbus “discovered” the Americas, transporting dominant anti-Muslim views across the Atlantic with him (Shohat 2012). Ideas promoted in the US today, such as that Muslims are barbaric and uncivilized, can be traced to these Old World and New World encounters. Views of Islam and Muslims as threats to Christendom stretch back even further. According to Orientalist scholar Bernard Lewis (1993, p. 13):

For almost a thousand years, from the first Moorish landing in Spain to the second Turkish siege of Vienna, Europe was under constant threat from Islam. In the early centuries it was a double threat – not only of invasion and conquest, but also of conversion and assimilation.