Islamophobia is defined by the Council on American-Islamic Relations as “closed-minded prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims”.

The following are Knowdrones’ positions with respect to Islamophobia:

1. Knowdrones is committed to countering Islamophobia and the culture of hatred and violence that it engenders around the world.  We seek to uplift and amplify the Muslim voices of those victimized by U.S. drone attacks through cooperation with organizations such as Reprieve.

2. Efforts by U.S. politicians and military leaders to generate Islamophobia are intended solely for the purpose of creating a base of U.S. public opinion that will support drone attacks and other U.S. military action intended to achieve corporate goals, sometimes called “imperial” goals,  in resource rich Muslim countries, particularly in the Middle East, Northern Africa, Afghanistan and other areas.

3.  “Blowback”, violent politically motivated attacks against U.S. citizens and military allies of the U.S., is the inevitable consequence of U.S. drone attacks and other military action that is undertaken to achieve imperial goals. 

Discussion:

The primary selling point for drone war among the American public is that an enemy can be attacked at long range without “putting boots on the ground”.

As Romesh Ratnesar ( a U.S. State Department official in 2016) wrote for BloombergBusinessWeek in 2013 “neither the president nor the Pentagon have any desire to send U.S. troops into such seething, jihadist-infested hotspots as Yemen, Mali or Syria.  In badlands like these, drones will continue to be the least worst option.”

The quote is worth examining because, first, it reinforces official arguments that the U.S. has the right to determine guilt and innocence and conduct executions.  Ratnesar also endorses the fantasy that the U.S. can kill “enemies” without consequences.  And finally, perhaps most dangerously, Ratnesar buttresses notions that those under attack are religiously extreme vermin who “infest” “badlands” and hence merit extermination.

Ranese’s image of “jihadists” is fuel for Islamophobia generated by a mass press in Western nations whose political and business leaders have ambitions for natural resource control in huge parts of the world populated by Muslim people who are resisting U.S. military and corporate intrusion.  So one can better understand why a mass press tightly interlocked with the leadership of major corporations might paint Islam negatively.

Which is exactly what is happening.  For example, the Bridge Initiative, an anti-Islamophobia research group within Georgetown University, reported in April 2015:

“In the years after 9/11, MediaTenor examined 2.6 million Western news stories from 10 American, British and German outlets, and found that the media’s coverage of Islam has rarely, if ever, been positive.  The average tone of coverage, which has always been poor, continued to worsen in the decade after 9/11.  Most coverage depicted Islam, Muslims, and Muslim organizations as a source of violence and a security risk, but seldom dealt with the lives of ordinary Muslims.  In 2014, negative coverage of Islam reached an all-time high, as ISIS gained a foothold in Iraq and in American news headlines.”

Of course one might argue in response: “What can you expect if Muslims attack Americans and Europeans?”  One response would be that coverage of Islam should not be focused on the relatively tiny number of Muslims undertaking criminal activities.  Another response is that there is evidence that the criminal acts in question result from Western military penetration into Muslim countries and not the of an Islam-wide conspiracy against the U.S. and Europe.

So isolated is the U.S. public from the realities of poverty and war in the countries in which it is attacking, so persuaded is the U.S. public that drones will permit killing without consequence, that it has become necessary for those opposed to U.S. drone attacks to provide evidence of what should be self-evident, that U.S. drone attacks are generating hatred and violence toward Americans - this is what we call blowback.

For example, in November, 2015, four drone program whistleblowers spoke out criticizing the program, arguing in a letter to President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and CIA Director John Brennan that the drone killings of civilians was fueling hatred and leading to creation of “groups like ISIS”. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/18/obama-drone-war-isis-recruitment-tool-air-force-whistleblowers

Whistleblowers, from left, Cian Westmoreland, Michael Haas. Brandon Bryant and Stephen Lewis wrote a letter in November 2015 laying out their concerns about the U.S. killer drone program. Photo: Simon Leigh, The Guardian

Whistleblowers, from left, Cian Westmoreland, Michael Haas. Brandon Bryant and Stephen Lewis wrote a letter in November 2015 laying out their concerns about the U.S. killer drone program. Photo: Simon Leigh, The Guardian

This point is also made by Rooj Alwazir, a Yemeni anti-drone war organizer, as reported in Common Dreams. http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/03/05/us-drones-psychological-torture-above-and-resistance-below

Opponents of U.S. drone attacks even quote former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, retired Army General Stanley McChrystal who offered a damning critique of drone attacks in a BBC interview in 2014. http://www.reprieve.org.uk/press/2014_01_21_stanley_mcchrystal_drones/

“There’s a danger that something that feels easy to do and without risk to yourself, almost antiseptic to the person shooting, doesn’t feel that way at the point of impact.  And so if it lowers the threshold for taking operations because it feels easy, there’s a danger in that.

“And then the other part is there’s a perception of arrogance, there is a perception of helpless people in an area being shot at like thunderbolts from the sky by an entity that is acting as though they have omniscience and omnipotence, and you can create a tremendous amount of resentment inside populations, even not the people that are themselves being targeted, but around, because of the way it appears and feels.

“So I think that we need to be very, very cautious; what seems like a panacea to the messiness of war is not that at all.”

In spite of these warnings about the extremely powerful impact of the expanding U.S. killer drone campaign, which is a fundamental part of U.S. operations that are bringing intense suffering and anxiety to millions of Muslims, the U.S. press chooses to view “terror” attacks against Americans as the work of “self-radicalized” individuals who have become deranged by exposure to “radical” Islamic teachings. http://www.chron.com/news/crime/article/Campus-attack-could-be-latest-terror-case-in-10689117.php

Obviously it is easy to dismiss the motivations of these “home-grown” attackers and malign Islam in the absence of press coverage of the realities of drone war and other impacts of U.S. military action overseas.  Failings of drone war coverage were documented mostly recently in a report by Jeffery Bachman who studied New York Times and Washington Post coverage of drone attacks between 2009 and 2014.  Summarizing his findings in TheConversation.com Bachman says:

“My conclusion: both papers have substantially underrepresented the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, failed to correct the public record when evidence emerged that their reporting was wrong and ignored the importance of international law.”

His point about the failure of the press to examine “civilian” deaths is extremely important in light of a Pew Research Center public poll released in May 2015 that found 48% of respondents “are very concerned that U.S. drone attacks endanger the lives of innocent civilians”.  Only 31% were concerned that drone attacks “could lead to extremist retaliation.”  Setting aside concerns that the very questions in the poll implied may have been skewed against Muslims, it is clear that the political liability of drone attacks for the U.S. government among Americans is around the drone killing of non-suspects.

The Pew study found that 58% of respondents favored continuation of U.S. drone attacks.  But this finding must be viewed in the light of a Gallup poll that reported in 2013 that while 65% of respondents supported drone attacks on “suspected terrorists” in other countries:

“On a relative basis, Americans are not paying a particularly high level of attention to the controversy surrounding the government’s use of drones -- 49% are following news about the drones very or somewhat closely, while the same percentage is following  the news not too closely or not at all.  The 49% ‘closely following’ number is below the 61% average across more than 200 news events that Gallup has measured this way.”

Islamophobia flourishes in this journalistic void, and “blowback” is misunderstood by the public as unprovoked, insane acts and is used by politicians and military leaders to justify continuing military intrusions, intrusions that are the latest in a series of military campaigns to control natural resources.