Tonight at the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), we had the of talking with an author of over 50 books, cultural critic, and an established member of the Muslim Institute in the U.K, Dr. Ziauddin Sardar. We joined together with other IIIT staff and students from throughout the U.S and Canada. As we sat together in the lecture, Dr. Sardar introduced us to many of the current U.S societal trends that are occurring, as his analysis showed. I want to highlight his main idea, which was both new and impactful.
Dr. Sardar’s main point fell underneath the societal development referenced by the philosophy of “Post-Truth”, a term he described as “truth” deriving from events, emotion, and common beliefs used to influence the public opinion; in his words Post-Truth reveals that “we have chosen not to believe truth,” substituting it with a more pleasant version. This version “has enslaved us.”
Developed by Post-Truth, we live in Post-Normal Times, or PNT. For Dr. Sardar, this is defined as an in-between era where old orthodoxies are out, but new orthodoxies are still lacking; therefore, nothing makes sense. In addition, PNT is defined by a globalization. This globalization changes the world in three emphatic ways: scale, speed/spontaneity, and simultaneity.
These last three aspects of the PNT come into contact with our Islam in America studies through the effects of Islamophobia. One additional term that Dr. Sardar used was Fake News, which is exactly the misrepresentation it sounds like. When Islamophobia is applied to globalization, the scale to which the news gets propagated (AKA to most of the world), the speed at which it is broadcasted, and the simultaneity (one can see multiple events contributing to Islamophobia concurrently), are all aftereffects. The clear negative effects of this is that we now see misrepresentations of Muslims sent out to a wider audiences, faster, and alongside other mischaracterizations of Islam.
One of these misrepresentations disseminated not too long ago was the Park 51 “mosque” story, brought up by Dr. Sardar. People around the country were on fire about this issue, not knowing that this “mosque” was instead meant to be a cultural center (the irony here being that the previous cultural center in Lower Manhattan was destroyed by the 9/11 attacks). The Park 51 cultural center, then, was a relocation of the previous cultural center (https://theawl.com/the-sad-true-story-of-the-ground-zero-mosque-dc222bd2c02f#.6jzm1krgy). The misinformation of this place as a mosque infuriated many; possibly, even with the new information, Americans still would not have desired a cultural center that close to Ground Zero. However, I think the important part of this story is the destruction of the old cultural center via 9/11 attacks. As we have mentioned in class, many Americans are quick to overlook (or are not told) about the many Muslims killed in the Twin Tower collapses. In fact, as many as 1,500 Muslims were reportedly killed in these attacks (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/collateral-damage-5363427.html). Imagine 1,500 non-Muslim deaths; it wouldn’t be overlooked in any modern conversation. The narrative of Muslims in their Islamophobic-stereotyped appearances, and as directly contrary to U.S culture, is a product of the globalization of Fake News. It is important to understand this phenomenon to recognize our own victim status by globalized media.
In the modern world as we experience it, the Post-Truth experience of the PNT in which Dr. Sardar says we live, he also tells us that the best way to fight this Post-Truth ignorance is to educate both ourselves and the general pubic. Dr. Sardar directly invites and challenges us to make the world a better place through the expulsion of such false, mainstream propagation.