The Daily Show comes out with a skit about choosing one member from Hamas, Al Nusra, ISIS, Al Qaeda and One Direction and creating a new terrorist group and rightfully, there has been an onslaught of backlash at the racist implications, given that Zayn Malik (clearly the person they’re targeting, there is absolutely no way to get around that) is not only a Pakistani Muslim, but he’s also been vocal about the heinous Islamophobia he’s been subjected to.
First and foremost, even with One Direction taken out of the element, its immensely harmful and racist to list the four groups alongside one another by the virtue of them being Muslim and employing physical action, particularly Hamas. Hamas can never be comparable with the likes of ISIS and Al Qaeda. Hamas is a chosen parliament who has actually rallied for the Palestinian cause. Hamas isn’t perfect, there’s no getting around their flaws, but to suggest that they wreak havoc on Palestinians (or even Israeli settlers) in any realm that ISIS do in Syria or Iraq and to erase the component of Israel’s prolonged occupation and apartheid policies against Palestine is disingenuous and a dismissal of resistance as a concept.
Its interesting to see how big name liberal publications have phrased and presented this story; irrational teeny boppers who have let their unyielding love for Malik clout their perspective, and even worse, their ability to laugh and make light of legitimate forms of prejudice.
Aside from the pervading misogyny and infantilization of young women (who apparently can’t make decisions that aren’t spurred by kneejerk emotional reactions), the insinuation does not present the political perils of being Muslim (or perceived as such) post 9/11, particularly in light of the hysteria surrounding ISIS. I suppose for clarity, it should be made known that I’m no particular fan of One Direction, but I am a Muslim, so I empathize with Zayn Malik on his experiences, this being one of them.
To suggest that Zayn Malik, due to his Pakistani heritage and faith as a Muslim, is a terrorist is not a laughing matter or comedic gesture to shrug off. These presumptions have escalated social exclusion, hardships in the job market and even physical violence against Muslims. Its allowed imperial powers to instill fear prompted propaganda and wage illegitimate wars, resulting in mass deaths and economical damage against Muslim majority regions. Its paved the way for government profiling, tapping of phones and installation of informants and spies in religious spaces (all of which are violations of human rights) against Muslims.
Liberals, such as Jon Stewart, his cohorts and fanbase want to get away with this sort of humor. In fact, that’s what satirizing means to them, to be able to take the role of racist and contort it in a way that it no longer proves damaging. But with Islamophobia, we don’t live in a society in which that doesn’t come with grave impacts, so racism of any kind is nullified as progress and serves only as a normalization and preservation of the status quo in which Muslim identity is maligned and degraded.