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The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims

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The Islamophobia Industry is a disturbing account of the rising tide of Islamophobia sweeping through the United States and Europe. Nathan Lean takes us through a world of conservative bloggers, right-wing talk show hosts, evangelical religious leaders and politicians, all united in their quest to exhume the ghosts of 9/11 and convince their compatriots that Islam is the en The Islamophobia Industry is a disturbing account of the rising tide of Islamophobia sweeping through the United States and Europe. Nathan Lean takes us through a world of conservative bloggers, right-wing talk show hosts, evangelical religious leaders and politicians, all united in their quest to exhume the ghosts of 9/11 and convince their compatriots that Islam is the enemy. Lean uncovers their scare tactics, reveals their motives and exposes the ideologies that drive their propaganda machine. Situating Islamophobia within a long history of national and international phobias, The Islamophobia Industry challenges the narrative of fear that has for too long dominated discussions about Muslims and Islam.


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The Islamophobia Industry is a disturbing account of the rising tide of Islamophobia sweeping through the United States and Europe. Nathan Lean takes us through a world of conservative bloggers, right-wing talk show hosts, evangelical religious leaders and politicians, all united in their quest to exhume the ghosts of 9/11 and convince their compatriots that Islam is the en The Islamophobia Industry is a disturbing account of the rising tide of Islamophobia sweeping through the United States and Europe. Nathan Lean takes us through a world of conservative bloggers, right-wing talk show hosts, evangelical religious leaders and politicians, all united in their quest to exhume the ghosts of 9/11 and convince their compatriots that Islam is the enemy. Lean uncovers their scare tactics, reveals their motives and exposes the ideologies that drive their propaganda machine. Situating Islamophobia within a long history of national and international phobias, The Islamophobia Industry challenges the narrative of fear that has for too long dominated discussions about Muslims and Islam.

30 review for The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mark Jacobsen

    This is an important addition to the cultural conversation about Islam in America. I follow this conversation with interest, because as a graduate student in Jordan, I wrote my master's thesis about different narratives about Islam in the United States. In particular, I focused on the relationship between language and power. I read dozens of books from across the spectrum, from Islam's most ardent defenders to its most vitriolic critics. My research confirmed by sense that so much of the debate This is an important addition to the cultural conversation about Islam in America. I follow this conversation with interest, because as a graduate student in Jordan, I wrote my master's thesis about different narratives about Islam in the United States. In particular, I focused on the relationship between language and power. I read dozens of books from across the spectrum, from Islam's most ardent defenders to its most vitriolic critics. My research confirmed by sense that so much of the debate about Islam isn't fully honest. It is less concerned with debating meaningful issues than with attempting to dominate the debate and squelch dissent. In general, I find this to be true of both "Islamophobes" and "apologists." This book fits within my overall sense of the debate. It is an apologetic work, dedicated to defending Muslims by destroying the credibility of Islam's fiercest opponents. The author offers a relentless exposé of the sheer ugliness of individuals like Pamella Gellar, who profit from and take a perverse delight in hatemongering. This critique is important and necessary. Although I believe many Americans have legitimate concerns about Islam, at some point I have to call a spade a spade: many of the individuals who get involved in this debate are hateful, ignorant bigots. Lean exposes some of them, as well as the financial incentives undergirding their little empire. That is the book's main strength. But the book suffers from the same deficiency that so many other apologetic works do; it doesn't engage at all with legitimate questions or concerns that non-Muslims have about Islam. To cite just one example, Lean tells us how terrible it is that Islamophobic organizations distribute material claiming that Muhammad slept with a nine year-old. However, he never engages with the fact that this tidbit is actually true, according to early Islamic sources. Nor does he engage with problematic aspects of shariah codified in classical Islamic jurisprudence. He writes off concerns about Islamic organizations in the US, despite extensive documentation that many of these groups grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood. The "Islamophobic industry" blows many of these things out of proportion, and I think honest analysis would dissipate many fears, but I don't find approaches like Lean's particularly helpful. Pamella Gellar and Robert Spencer may be hatemongers, but they are so successful because their work finds traction among average Americans who see things in Islam that legitimately concern them. Blowing off those concerns will not help things; what this debate needs is more patient, honest discussion about these critical issues. Perhaps Lean would argue that such discussion is beyond the scope of his book, but if he really wants to disarm the Islamophobes, this is where the conversation must go. Lean's book does a service in exposing the worst aspects of the Islamophobic industry, but I fear it will only speak to an audience that already agrees with him. Those who have sincere questions or concerns about Islam will find little to satisfy them, and will need to look elsewhere for answers.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Morteza

    Nathan Lean's The Islamophobia Industry is a must-read however he failed to see that Islamophobia is not only the result of the American right-wing Zionism, the New Atheists have also greatly contributed to that industry i.e. not only David Horowitz but also Sam Harris! Nathan Lean's The Islamophobia Industry is a must-read however he failed to see that Islamophobia is not only the result of the American right-wing Zionism, the New Atheists have also greatly contributed to that industry i.e. not only David Horowitz but also Sam Harris!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    This is a good introduction to this subject but I wish it did not limit itself to the right wing. There is certainly a lot of Islamophobia in the "New Atheist" movement. This is a good introduction to this subject but I wish it did not limit itself to the right wing. There is certainly a lot of Islamophobia in the "New Atheist" movement.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Peter Green

    Excellent overview of the key actors and organisations involved. Especially good sections on the Christian and Zionist right. However, the sections on liberal islamophobia and especially Islamophobia in Europe were a little sparse, which takes this book down from five to four stars. Liberal Islamophobia (spread by the likes of Sam Harris and Bill Maher) receives scant attention, so I was pleased to see a halter dedicated to it. However, this chapter was disappointingly short and light on names o Excellent overview of the key actors and organisations involved. Especially good sections on the Christian and Zionist right. However, the sections on liberal islamophobia and especially Islamophobia in Europe were a little sparse, which takes this book down from five to four stars. Liberal Islamophobia (spread by the likes of Sam Harris and Bill Maher) receives scant attention, so I was pleased to see a halter dedicated to it. However, this chapter was disappointingly short and light on names of groups, individuals and money trails compared to the previous chapters. While obviously this is a book about a phenomenon which is particularly American, it would have been interesting to see more about how these groups interact with the European far right, especially since the refugee crisis and in light of the current influence of American conservatives in the Tommy Robinson saga.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    A bit too rhetorical The book contains a lot of very good information about the history of bigotry and xenophobia and Islamophobia. It provides a good break down of contemporary currents in Islamophobia and the professional Islamophobes. Unfortunately, it often engages in some name-calling and other rhetorical flourishes that take away from its objective.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    This book just... doesn't seem very serious about presenting anything new or insightful about Islamophobia in the US. To be honest, the intended audience kinda seems like people who are already completely sold on the horrifying growth and effects of Islamophobia, and then it turns off people like me who are looking for some sort of new contribution, so I feel like what's left is... I guess Daily Show watcher types? This book just... doesn't seem very serious about presenting anything new or insightful about Islamophobia in the US. To be honest, the intended audience kinda seems like people who are already completely sold on the horrifying growth and effects of Islamophobia, and then it turns off people like me who are looking for some sort of new contribution, so I feel like what's left is... I guess Daily Show watcher types?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Samar Dahmash Jarrah

    This is a must read book if you want to know who is behind creating hate in USA against Islam and Muslims. I had the author on my live radio show. You must listen! And you must buy the book and give to American friends as a gift. We hate you? How Christian Right and Zionists spread lies about islam? http://www.arabvoicesspeak.com/blog/2... This is a must read book if you want to know who is behind creating hate in USA against Islam and Muslims. I had the author on my live radio show. You must listen! And you must buy the book and give to American friends as a gift. We hate you? How Christian Right and Zionists spread lies about islam? http://www.arabvoicesspeak.com/blog/2...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ayça Mutlucan

    Muhakkak okunması gereken bir kitap. Başta Amerika olmak üzere Batı'da yaygınlaşan ve sürekli körüklenen İslam karşıtlığını ve baş oyuncularını çok güzel bir şekilde gözler önüne sermiş. Tüm Batının okuması gerekir ki uyansınlar! Muhakkak okunması gereken bir kitap. Başta Amerika olmak üzere Batı'da yaygınlaşan ve sürekli körüklenen İslam karşıtlığını ve baş oyuncularını çok güzel bir şekilde gözler önüne sermiş. Tüm Batının okuması gerekir ki uyansınlar!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emiel

    Lean is at his best when tracing the web of islamophobic connections, ultimately pointing to the mass murderer Breivik. But he could have followed the money chain more thoroughly and explained what might motivate the money. This is perhaps my main gripe: the lack of explanatory value. There's enough links and correlations being made, but not much in the way of a theoretical approach. This comes to a head in the last chapter, which mainly features the relationships between European islamophobes li Lean is at his best when tracing the web of islamophobic connections, ultimately pointing to the mass murderer Breivik. But he could have followed the money chain more thoroughly and explained what might motivate the money. This is perhaps my main gripe: the lack of explanatory value. There's enough links and correlations being made, but not much in the way of a theoretical approach. This comes to a head in the last chapter, which mainly features the relationships between European islamophobes like Wilders and Breivik on the one hand, and their anglophone counterparts Geller and Spencer (arguably the central figures of the book). While there is certainly reason to make these connections, the book does no work to elucidate the long and complex history of islamophobia. In making the connection to the anglophone sphere, the suggestion is made that this is a new phenomenon and not endemic to Europe. There is enough historical work to show how the concept of Europe itself is constructed out of a history of colonialism/Orientalism, othering, and fear of Muslim invasions. Lean does not make use of any of this to explain the rise of an islamophobic industry.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

    True, aside from CSPAN and perhaps PBS and NPR, profit is a key driver of our media ecosphere. From Infowars to the NYT, people must make money from the news to survive, a fact that leaves the the discipline open to the ways of charlatans, profiteers, and big donors. After 9/11, a range of authors, bloggers, and commentators found that demonizing Muslims could sell books, attract viewers, and draw donations, helping them to live quite comfortably by appealing to our worst instincts.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lintha Saleem

    Very important read but the scope of this topic is so wide there’s a lot more that could have been included, such as how the extent of the War on Terror contributed to Islamophobia worldwide, and the subtle Islamophobia of liberals and new atheists; this work is restricted to the hate created and fuelled by the right-wing in the western world.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Msd

    really a good book with empirical data

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    very well planned and executed. clear and concise links all laid out in a way that would be easily understandable to anyone even if they are not well versed in how islamophobia is used to further political agendas. greatly enjoyed the care that this author took in developing his theories. would recommend to anyone with interest in the religious conflicts.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    Thanks to the author and goodreads for this First Reads giveaway! Although it's not news to me that some on the right have discovered encouraging fear and paranoia leads to fame and wealth, I still found this book to be a worthwhile read. Lean concisely presents a variety of stories as evidence that conservatives are manipulating the public into an irrational fear of Muslims. Thanks to the author and goodreads for this First Reads giveaway! Although it's not news to me that some on the right have discovered encouraging fear and paranoia leads to fame and wealth, I still found this book to be a worthwhile read. Lean concisely presents a variety of stories as evidence that conservatives are manipulating the public into an irrational fear of Muslims.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Erdoan A.

    Well researched and easy to read. Sometimes too much details and people-based stories, which took off the one star.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Arief Wicaksono

    Interesting and provoking angles

  17. 5 out of 5

    freedetainees.org

    Excellent book, presented very well, a real eye opener that I wish everyone would read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa MacDougall

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  20. 4 out of 5

    Louise

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nat

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nurah

  24. 4 out of 5

    Waleed1388

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joey

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sameer Taneja

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Jacobs

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bacem

  29. 4 out of 5

    Prometheus

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rubi Al-

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