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This Week: Fear and Loathing of Islam. PLUS: A Conversation With Chris Hayes | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

This Week: Fear and Loathing of Islam. PLUS: A Conversation With Chris Hayes

FEAR AND LOATHING OF ISLAM. In this week’s special issue of The Nation, a diverse range of contributors take a critical look at the ways in which anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States more than a decade after 9/11 continues to fester. The familiar narrative—portraying Muslims as potential terrorists or sympathizers has evolved, explains CUNY professor Moustafa Bayoumi in “Fear and Loathing of Islam.” In the past few years, a more damaging narrative has emerged, where “simple acts of religious or cultural expression and the straightforward activities of Muslim daily life have become suspicious,” sowing a very different kind of paranoia. Also in the issue, award-winning author Jack Shaheen traces the long and powerful history of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim stereotypes in American pop-culture. Attorney and legal expert Abed Award examines how hysteria over the Islamic takeover of US courts is fueling anti-Sharia legislation across the states. And CUNY law professor Ramzi Kassem traces how the NYPD has created the largest spying program by local law enforcement on record—“a sprawling effort to map entire communities that emerged from the toxic convergence of the permanent state of emergency gripping our society since 9/11 with the NYPD’s historic tendencies.” Laila Al-Arian’s deeply personal testimony, “Who Stands with the Accused?” offers a window into what it’s like to have a family member accused and indicted of “supporting” terrorism and offers a gripping tale of support from unlikely allies. This week’s VideoNation features an interview with special issue guest-editor Moustafa Bayoumi on how manifestations of Islamophobia have changed over the last decade and why there may be reason for hope.

TWILIGHT OF THE ELITES. I was delighted to join Nation editor-at-large Chris Hayes last Thursday night at the New School for a discussion about Chris’s new book, Twilight of the Elites: American After Meritocracy. A compelling and provocative work of social criticism on the failings of America’s ruling class, Chris leads us through how over the last decade, our institutions—dominated by a “cult of smartness” in which destructive intelligence is valued over compassion and empathy—have buckled under the weight of corruption and incompetence. This “failed decade,” characterized by the meritocratic rise of an elite at time of rising inequality, has produced leaders eager to preserve the status quo at the expense of an increasingly frayed social contract with those who’ve entrusted them to govern. Chris and I spoke briefly about his book for VideoNation, and you can catch video of Thursday night’s discussion here.

As I mentioned in my opening remarks on Thursday night, I’m proud to have hired Chris when some thought it was a gamble, bringing on a 28-year-old to run the DC bureau. I knew then what so many have come to recognize—he was a star: an intellectual omnivore, a person of integrity, independent mind, with an unwavering commitment to journalistic excellence. He brings those qualities to every medium he touches, as a former Nation reporter and Washington editor and now as MSNBC host of UP with Chris Hayes and book author.

WHO GOT MONEY FROM JPMORGAN CHASE? Appearing before the Senate Banking Committee last Wednesday, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was supposed to explain how the country’s largest bank was complicit in a series of complex bets resulting in a $2 billion trading loss. Instead, what we got was a “instructive example of our perverse power structure,” reports George Zornick. Dimon was instead praised by the committee who, as this infographic clearly shows, lines its pockets with campaign contributions from the very same bank it’s supposed to be monitoring. In a clear display of preferential deference, Dimon was coddled by committee members as though he were one of their own. With over a half-million dollars in campaign contributions to committee members, Dimon clearly played the part. Appearing on Current TV’s Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer, Zornick explains the bare hypocrisy of Wednesday’s Senate hearing.

PROGRESSIVE CHAMPION AWARD. I’m delighted to be honored as a “Progressive Champion” at the annual Campaign for America’s Future Awards Gala Dinner on Monday night in Washington, DC. Nation columnist and MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry will be presenting the award. I’ll be joined by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who’ll receive a Lifetime Leadership award; and proud to be part of a ceremony in which the Occupy Wall Street movement will be recognized for the Paul Wellstone Citizen Leadership award. The Awards Gala Dinner marks the beginning of Campaign for America’s Future Take Back the American Dream Conference, June 18–20, 2012 in Washington DC.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: On Sunday I took part in a spirited roundtable discussion on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos. I was joined by Washington Post columnist George Will, ABC’s Matthew Dowd, former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Austan Goolsbee and former Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty to discuss all the week’s politics, including the latest developments on the campaign trail, the state of the economy, the European economic crisis, and much more. Video highlights are available here.

NEW BLOG: CAMPAIGNUSA 2012. TheNation.com last week launched “CampaignUSA 2012,” a new blog offering widespread and in-depth coverage of the 2012 election campaign season. Nation contributor Greg Mitchell, who gained widespread attention for his influential “live-blogging” on WikiLeaks and the Occupy movement, will provide frequently updated local, state and federal election campaign news, key ballot initiatives, voter suppression tactics, funding excesses in a post-Citizens United political environment, as well as commentary and analysis on emerging debates, controversies and hot button campaign issues. The blog will bring together each day’s must read news and views with around-the-clock campaign coverage, often with a sharp, edgy insight and humor. Topics include the key role played by the media; funding for and against liberal candidates; new challenges by, and for, activist groups; campaign ads and videos, and multimedia; a weekly “Better Know a District”; and political satire and celebrity shenanigans. Read that here.

As always, thanks for reading. I’m on Twitter—@KatrinaNation. Please leave your comments below.

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