Cults & Sects
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Cults & Sects

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Reflecting on Race + Religion (2)

Zooming out on Rana

Slooooooowly making my way through all your smart responses, y’all. I want to highlight a specific part of my feedback that I copied for several of you.

Lots of you honed in on the ways Rana helps us think about the role race & religion play in dehumanizing — monstrifying — religio-racial outsiders. And you were all absolutely right! Good job, nerds.

side note: I tweeted a bit about our conversation in chat, ICYMI:

I also cited Prof. Zareena Grewal, who responded to my tweet:

Rana’s piece is effective and affecting because he focuses on the individual, personal cost of US drone strikes in/on Muslim majority countries. At the same time: it’s not just a demonization of a non-Christian non-white-coded religion (Islam) Rana is concerned with. It’s the actions that follow the demonization — the violence seen as justifiable because those not-white not-Christians are seen as inhuman monsters. (We see something similar in Newton’s concept of Negrophobia, which I know is skipping ahead.)

Rana’s focusing on drone strikes not only because they’re motivated by dehumanizing Muslims — though they are. He’s focusing on drone strikes because they’re permissible, well-funded state violence justified by that dehumanization. It’s not just that the US can and does deploy drones against Muslim majority states — it’s that the US can and does do that, gets away with it, and faces no negative consequences for having done so.

Rana wants us to think not just about the co-construction of race and religion, but what violence becomes allowable and even celebrated when certain religio-racialized identities are seen as less than human.

Short version: individual discrimination and bias are important, but we want to zoom out and focus on the big picture. Rana’s analysis helps us remember that dehumanization of religio-racialized outsiders has structural ramifications: that seeing not-white not-Christians as not-human authorizes violence on local, state, national, and global scales.



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Megan Goodwin

Megan Goodwin


author of _Abusing Religion_, co-host of “Keeping It 101: A Killjoy’s Introduction to Religion Podcast,” and wikipedia-certified expert on (ugh) cults