There was a hilarious item on the GMBDR, though I am not sure anyone will find it as funny as I do. It turns out UC Berkeley hosted a conference entitled "Deconstructing Islamaphobia." While the intellectually curious rely on the Counterterrorism Blog and other open-source news sources for partial insight into counterterrorism developments around the world, a group of people was going to try to "deconstruct" the irrational fear of Muslims.
The reason why this gave me the giggles is because "deconstruction" is such an elusive notion that it seems to escape even its practioners, or at least the organizers of this conference. Throwing in Islamaphobia, CAIR, and the most self-consciously radical university in the country, and wild, madcapped zany antics were bound to ensue.
Deconstruction is a form of literary criticism originating in France that took off in the sixties, designed to render great works meaningless. You know its practitioners. They are the indeciherable professors at various multicultural "studies" departments who argue that there's no such thing as a true fact. They talk in terms of "discourse" and "narratives" to give support for their pet theories, irrespective of historical accuracy. Is Ward Churchill not really a Native American? Doesn't matter, because his narrative makes the plight of the American Indian part of his personal discourse. Too bad for him that academic rigor remains a demonstrable phenomenon in some circles. When his academic writings were finallly scrutinized by people capable of practicing professional standards, and he lost his university job. Still, he's free to man the barricades. My bet is that he was at Berkeley, deconstructing away.
What the conference organizers might not have realized is that the goal of deconstruction is to demolish texts and render them worthless. What if the texts are put forward as examples of Islamaphobia? Presumably, deconstruction would show that Islamaphobia does not really exist. This would leave some very disappointed Muslim-American activists.
Here's my attempt at deconstruction, to show how it is done. Remember the Brady Bunch? What did we know about them? It was a story about a man named Brady, who was busy with three boys of his own. They were four men, living altogether, yet they were all alone.
Let's look at the text. How can one be living with three other people, yet be all alone? That makes the Brady Bunch theme song internally inconsistent. There are two possibilities: either the Brady Bunch does not exist, since its theme song yields a philiosophical inconsistency, or, in the Brady men's narrative, they would never to considered whole unless there were females (woMen) in the house to clean up after them. If the latter, than the Brady Bunch creators believed that men must be entitled to enslave females (woMen). Thank Heavenly Mother we have moved well beyond the paternalistic, sexist construct in postmodern America.
Either possibility renders the Brady Bunch worthless as an art form. In fact, it might as well not exist as a phenomenon. Those reruns you still see? The television screen might as well be a test pattern.
I am sure that Islamaphobia does exist in some circles, and that it will remain irrespective of efforts to "deconstruct" it. I also bet that the Berkeley conference included people who argued that 9/11 was not committed by al Qaida, and that the Holocaust never occurred. Plenty of well-known American commentators and politicians were characterized as racist. There were plenty of references to Edward Said. It was undoubtedly good theatre. Had I known about it beforehand, I would have tried to attend. After all, that's what I do - masquerade as an academic. I would have come up with a good paper topic. Something like "Terrorism as Coping: A Rational Cry For Help from the Suffering Peoples of the World in the Age of the Amerikan Empire."
The views in this article are not those of the Department of Justice.