We’ve been looking at Daniel Tutt, who when he’s not teaching at Marymount University and publishing dense, pretentious academic papers celebrating postmodern Marxist philosophy is working hard trying to sell general audiences on Islam – sometimes via films or lectures or interviews, sometimes via pieces for popular media, such as the Huffington Post and something called the Islamic Monthly.
In these pieces, one of his signature moves is to start out by briefly mentioning a recent act of terrorism, and then to pivot quickly to the supposed anti-Muslim backlash thereto. One 2013 essay, for example, began as follows: “While the dust has yet to settle on the horrific Boston Marathon bombings by the Tsarnaev brothers, Muslims have already felt the impact of their association with Islam. We have witnessed a rise in Islamophobic discourse in the popular media and blogosphere….” (And the rest of the article, of course, was entirely about “Islamophobia.”) Two years later, he published a piece that began as follows: “In the wake of the tragic attacks in Paris and Beirut, Islamophobic rhetoric and hate crimes have already begun to surge. Across the country, we have politicians making calls to suspend refugee resettlement, hate crimes and mosque arsons have already begun to intensify…..”
Islamophobia! Throughout his general-audience oeuvre, that’s Tutt’s favorite topic. In one essay, published shortly after the 2016 elections and entitled “Islamophobia and the Coming Trump Era,” Tutt charged that “incidents of bullying, discrimination, and hate crimes directed toward Muslims, and those perceived to be [Muslims],” had risen since Trump’s election. He provided no evidence to support this claim, and made no mention of the recent rise in acts of jihadist terror. On the contrary, instead of recognizing that there are legitimate reasons for concern about Islamic ideology, Tutt disparaged what he described as a “far right” and “highly conspiratorial and radically racist” view that “Islam is an exceptionally intolerant and violent religion.”
He also offered up a bizarre theory – namely, that the presidency of Barack Obama, a black man, caused “white America” to experience “a climate of paranoia where Islamophobia functioned as the tip of the iceberg to a much wider fear over the ‘browning of America.’” This theory, of course, ignores the fact that Obama would never have been elected (and re-elected) president if millions of white Americans hadn’t voted for him. Nor does Tutt’s theory explain why a nationwide fear of the “browning of America” should manifest itself as Islamophobia rather than, say, as a fear of, or prejudice against, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’i, Jainists, or, for that matter, members of predominantly black Protestant denominations.
In a January 2016 academic essay, “Elements of Islamophobia: The State, Class and Capital,” Tutt served up some more original thought, arguing that American voters’ concerns about unlimited and unvetted Muslim immigration was “reminiscent of the infamous ‘Jewish problem’ that stoked rampant anti-Semitism during the first half of the twentieth century.” Of course, anti-Semitism is an ancient and irrational phenomenon; “Islamophobia” is a term invented in modern times by the Muslim Brotherhood to dismiss legitimate fears about explicit threats to Western freedom and security.
None of this, however, kept Tutt from maintaining, absurdly, that “today’s intensification of Islamophobia must be understood and diagnosed primarily, but not exclusively, as the outcome of capitalist exploitation” – or from applying theories about the roots of anti-Semitism posited by Marxist philosophers Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer to current Western attitudes about Islam. In Tutt’s essay, jihadist terror all but disappears from the picture – as, unsurprisingly, do the sundry horrors of life under sharia law.