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Mediating Racism

The New McCarthyites and the Matrix of Islamophobia

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Author: Deepa Kumar1
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  • 1 Associate Professor, Journalism and Media Studies, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, dekumar@rutgers.edu
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The far right in the United States has ratcheted up anti-Muslim racism in the twenty-first century. However, they are not alone in creating and circulating the discourses of Islamophobia. In this paper, I set out to situate the far right, who I call the ‘new McCarthyites’, within the broader context in which they operate. I argue that they are part of a larger matrix of Islamophobia which includes the liberal establishment. I start with a concrete case study of the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ controversy, in order to demonstrate how various discourses of Islamophobia co-exist and fuel one another. I contend that even while the new McCarthyites were responsible for the hysteria generated, their arguments were enabled by liberals/realists. I then unpack the various agents who make up a coalition of the new McCarthyites and outline how they propagate their troglodyte racism. Finally, I offer a matrix that illustrates where Islamophobic ideologies are produced and how they are circulated in the mainstream. Such a structural analysis necessarily decenters the mainstream media since the media are one set of institutions, among others, that serve both as conduit and creator of anti-Muslim racism.

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