Muslim Awareness Week at UC Irvine (2013) Sohail Daulatzai

Gary Fouse

This week, Sohail Daulatzai was one of the featured speakers at UC Irvine, hosted by the Muslim Student Union as part of their annual Muslim Awareness Week. The theme of the week's events was, "Meet the Muslim next door". Daulatzai, who teaches African-American Studies at UCI, spoke on "Return of the Mecca: Muslims, Multi-Culturalism and the Enduring Legacy of Malcolm X".

Due to family illness, I was unable to attend the event. However, I was able to learn a few details about Dr Daulatzai. He was born somewhere on the Pakistan, Afghanistan border (not further specified) came to the US with his parents and grew up somewhere on the US-Mexican border (not further specified).


Below is his UCI faculty page.


Below is an article Daulatzai wrote on Malcolm X, which appears on Al Jazeera. I have chosen certain excerpts.


"For to be black in America is enough to be deemed un-American, but to be black and Muslim is to be anti-American"

"In Cairo, Malcolm implored the heads of state not to be fooled by the "imperialist wolf" of the US or the State Department's attempts to use propaganda to convince African nations that the United States was making serious progress toward racial equality through Brown v Board and the passage of Civil Rights legislation." 

"In highlighting the use of propaganda and the managing of America's image abroad, Malcolm anticipated not only how after 9/11 the State Department would place Muslims in high profile positions in the arts and political realms to influence Muslim public opinion abroad, but also how the election of Obama and the rhetoric of "diversity" would be used to redefine America as inclusive, "post-racial" and progressive in order to mask the entrenchment of white power domestically and globally".  

"While Obama went to Egypt to co-opt this sacred city and put a benevolent face on American power, Malcolm had been there to strip away the veneer of benevolence and reveal the naked truth about US racial injustice and imperial ambition. This is why the legacy of Malcolm X is so important, as it sheds light on the racial dynamics that shape the global landscape today under US power."  

"Just as "anti-communism" was a proxy for race during the Cold War, "anti-terrorism" has become the new proxy for race and the re-entrenching of white supremacy by justifying US intervention abroad while also containing dissent domestically, as the logic of "terrorism" is used to determine who is a citizen and who is an enemy, who is human and who is not, and who is to be killed and who is allowed to live". 

"It's the recognition that the logic of mass incarceration in the US that has destroyed black political possibility and contained dissent through local policing and counter-insurgency is also what drives the US military and its imperial imprisonment in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram and other places. It's the recognition that the plight of migrants across the heavily militarised US-Mexico border resembles the conditions that contain and destroy Palestinian lives and livelihood. And it's the recognition that the neoliberal economic policies that have destroyed the social wage and witnessed the emergence of the warfare state in the US is deeply rooted in the exploitation of the third world through global finance capital and war." 

"To ignore this falls into the worst forms of liberal internationalism that presume the US to be a force for good in the world, and it replicates the very problem that Malcolm X heroically struggled against, and was ultimately killed for."  (emphasis mine)

I'll stop there. I think you get the point. It appears obvious that Dr Daulatzai doesn't have a very high opinion of his adopted country. He also seems to think that nothing has changed (racially) in America since the time of Malcolm X. Of course, I doubt seriously that Daulatzai was here at the time.

It is bad enough that Daulatzai is teaching college kids that America is such an evil nation, but when he suggests  that Malcolm X was killed because of his criticism of the US and its policies, that is a flat-out falsehood.

Sorry, Doctor. You have been watching too many Spike Lee movies and buying into too many conspiracy theories. Malcolm X was murdered by the Nation of Islam on the orders of Elijah Mohammed (never charged) because he become a Sunni Muslim, had broken with the organization, was publicly critical of it,  and was exposing Elijah's corruption and illicit sexual relations. Malcolm's widow, Betty Shabazz, spent the remainder of her life believing that the current leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, was involved in the conspiracy to kill Malcolm.

This is the problem, folks. This is what our children are being taught in American universities-that their country is inherently evil and has not changed racially since the 1950s and 1960s. Daulatzai refers to the fear of communism driving the US's international policies. Let's put it another way since I also grew up during the Cold War. After World War 2, we were locked in a struggle with the USSR for our freedoms and the freedom of the world. From Korea to Vietnam to Nicaragua, you can criticize the policies in retrospect, but  it has to done within the context of the Cold War. Had the USSR prevailed in that struggle, who would be living in freedom today? In fact, were it not for the US and our military, who would be living in freedom today?

Personally, it makes me sick that we have professors like Daulatzai in our universities. At the risk of sounding jingoistic, I will even say that if Daulatzai has so little regard for his adopted country, as reflected in the above article, why doesn't he go back to that place on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border from which he came? Surely, he would have little problem in finding like-minded friends.

And how ironic that the MSU's theme for the week was, "Meet the Muslim next door." I feel sorry for whomever is unfortunate to be living next door to Sohail Daulatzai.

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