Friday, October 24, 2008

Islamophobia and the Power of Suggestion

By Joseph El-Khoury

In 1991, panic swept across educational institutions in Lebanon, following the suicide of a teenage student, who was reportedly a fan of the Heavy Metal brand of Rock Music. The frenzy reached the media leading the Government of the day, in an incredible bureaucratic cock-up, to even posthumously ban Jim Morrison (dead since 1971) from setting foot on Lebanese soil. Determined to grab the bull by its horns, the propaganda machine of the Catholic Church treated us to a ‘documentary’ which would expose the Satanic depravity of Bon Jovi and colleagues. They claimed that songs such as Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ contained subliminal messages set on corrupting the minds of the youth. These messages were apparently encrypted and only heard if the song was listened in reverse. We were told that Queen’s real message was ‘START TO SMOKE MARIJUANA’. Unsatisfied with the Priests explanations, we set up to find out the truth for ourselves. This was the pre-CD era and listening to a tape in reverse was still a technological challenge. We succeeded with archaic dexterity and surprise surprise we did ‘hear’ what we expected to hear ‘START TO SMOKE MARIJUANA’. Is there a need to mention that this only made Queen and the Black Sabbath brand of bands even more appealing.

In 2008, in a retail park somewhere in the United States A customer heard a Mattel doll babbling that ‘Islam is the Light’. A panic swept across American homes. The frenzy reached the media...

As seen on Fox News

Parents Outraged Over Baby Doll
They Say Mumbles Pro-Islam Message

A doll some are claiming utters pro-Islam and even satanic messages has outraged parents in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.
People insist they can hear Fisher-Price's "Little Mommy Real Loving Baby Cuddle and Coo" mumbling "Islam is the light" and "Satan is king," according to and
"There's no markings on the box to indicate there's anything Islamic about this doll," said Gary Rofkahr of Owasso, Okla., who was at work when another man brought the toy in to show his colleagues.
Rofkahr said he found various versions of the doll at local Target and Wal-Mart stores, which have since pulled the toys from their shelves, reported
Pennsylvania Targets have also reportedly stopped selling the doll, according to
Fisher-Price referred all calls to parent company Mattel, which didn't immediately respond to's requests for comment.
A Target representative told the company has no plans to recall the doll nationwide.


Anonymous said...

I don't get your point?
So the subliminal messages existed yet somehow the Catholic Church is still in the wrong for calling it out? Or is it because it interfered in government and public life? I’m not sure you’re arguing the latter specifically because on the other hand you suggest promoting Islam in a public setting is ok.

There is clearly a double standard here and I’ve seen it in most of your writing. I understand your views on religion from prior conversations and I believe we share some of those but I will point out that you are quick at attacking Catholicism at every occasion while defending Islam full heartedly. I think your argument on Islamophobia in the West and in the United States in particular might hold more water when the day comes when China allows free practice of religion and there is a synagogue or a church in Saudi Arabia, till then, the Libertarian Deist in me suggests that as long as you can practice freely, wear a headscarf, yarmulke, cross, etc., you’re in pretty good shape.

The United States draws a clear distinction between government and public policies on the one hand and religion on the other. Government is intended to be all inclusive and the promotion of one religion over another in public policies is problematic to say the least. The store you are referring to, given that it is privately owned, is entitled to display all type of goods, so long as its policies are consistent with Federal, State, and local laws, which they are. On the other hand, citizens are free to complain, and private news outlets are free to broadcast it with whatever spin they want. I prefer this version over what is going on in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and China, to name a few.

Marwan -

Arab Democracy said...

Dear Marwan

My point is simple

That when you expect to hear or see something you often end up hearing or seeing it. The babbling of a doll became a fully formed sentence in the mind of those average American citizen. This is undoubtedly linked to the paranoia cultivated by Fox and friends.

I am not defending Islam. This is not my business. And I have been accused of being anti-islamic on more than one occasion. I am just standing up against the new acceptable face of racism in the US, which has become clear to everyone throughout the presidential campaign.(Just watch the McCain clip).

And Marwan...there were no subliminal messages on these tapes. There is no real science behind this concept anyway.



Anonymous said...

Somehow when you start your argument with DEAR, I don't feel the love. It might be imbedded somewhere, deep, deep, deep, inside, but I don't feel it. :).

On the subliminal messages, forgive my ignorance but you said they existed. So I'm confused or perhaps I didn't get the cynicsm on paper. Slow me, slow me.

There is a difference between McCain's selling tactics and what actually is government regulations and policies. He is playing the crowd and so far isn't as successful as he would like to be.

At the end of the day, if you want to judge a nation that claims to have fair and balanced policies, look at how communities are fairing from an economic standpoint. Muslims in general are in the mainstream and Arabs are above it. Blacks, as a community, continue to tag behind. The places where muslims are lagging behind seem to be the UK, France, and Germany.

Standing up for any form of racism in the US is an honorable gesture. I just wish more people would do the same on issues that effect their immediate envrionment.

Somehow, of all the nations around the globe, the US is among the very few nations that gets hit on racism. I know many wish only the best for America, but is it really going this well everywhere else?

Marwan, time and again, keeper of the obvious.

Arab Democracy said...

Walla the love is there.

Bass I always get defensive when I am asked why I didnt mention 'the others' in an article.

I try to write every article with a specific topic in mind. They are never all encompassing.(I mean come on. we've tackled everything from Islamism to Zionism to women's rights)

And because we have debated endlessly on arabdemocracy, I didnt expect to be accused of being gratuitously anti-American by you.

The subliminal messages (at least the one I heard when we tampered with that tape) were the fruit of our schoolboy imagination. We looked for the meaning and we found it.

Yes I agree the US is not more racist than the Arab countries, India or Nigeria for that matter. But then none of these countries claim the moral high ground and work actively towards world domination.

America aint a Great country (as claimed by most Americans)it might be bordering on decent.

Anonymous said...

Dude - I am not accusing you of being anti-american, at least not gratuitously. Laano nothing is for free (Is this a translation from French or the phrase exist : gratuitously anti-american).

However, I do feel at times we apply different standards to Americans and we demand more from them than ourselves.

I will stand corrected however and say, your points are well taken if you are looking at the Issue of Islamophobia on Fox News and in McCain's campaign.

I'm going to be in Edinburgh in late November/early December? Have you been? Anything in particular I should see? Hot Spot recommendations both in terms of location and people? If you have thoughts, let me know, if you have time, and through hotmail.

Oh, and I love you too :)

Arab Democracy said...

Gratuitously is a bona fide English word. I recommend its use.

Edinburgh is a beautiful city. Easily walkable. I suggest you loose yourself in it. Buy an Ian Rankin book for to immerse yourself in the atmosphere and sip single malt.

Classic :)

Anonymous said...

Oh how well you know me :)