In the News: Islamophobia, What is Wrong About It

Islamophobia – What Is Really Wrong With It,
Accepting the notion of ‘Islamophobia’ means the end of legitimate criticism of Islam. We cannot allow de facto blasphemy to destroy our liberal values.
Benjamin David, Conatus News, 2017-08-26

An important opinion piece discussing the origins and meanings of (and the consequences of using) the highly tendentious term “Islamophobia.”

The problems associated with using the term Islamophobia are profound.[…]:

  1. As many would likely discern, to label someone as ‘Islamophobic’- that is, as somehow having a phobia about Islam and for Muslims, is clearly preposterous. Of course, medically, ‘phobia’ implies an acute mental illness of a kind that affects only a small number of people. […]
  2. Etymological points of contention aside, to label someone ‘Islamophobic’ essentially absolves oneself of the responsibility, both intellectually and with empathy, why someone thinks and acts as they do towards Islam and Muslims, and attempt to modify their perceptions and understandings through engagement and argument. It has the rather scowling repercussion of shutting down debate and failing to address – let alone redress – an interlocutor’s views towards Muslims and/or Islam.
  3. ‘Islamophobia’ suggests that hostility towards Muslims is no different than other forms of hostility such as racism and xenophobia. […] Islam, however, is not a race, ethnicity, or nationality; it is a set of ideas. Critiquing those ideas – such as some of the regnant positions held by the majority of scholars concerning women, LGBT people, apostates, etc., – should never be confused nor conflated with an animus towards a people.
  4. The term implies little difference between an animus for Muslim people within one country and an animus for groups (e.g. ISIS) and regimes elsewhere in the world […]

Many people who identify as Muslim are attacked, harassed and persecuted simply because of their religion. Not only that, given that the majority of Muslims happen to be Middle Eastern looking, many have been subjected to unpalatable degrees of racism. We must call these two things for what they are – anti-Muslim bigotry and racism. The continued acceptance of ‘Islamophobia’ as an inclusive, voguish neologism to capture both manifestations is having grave implications concerning a particular ideology – Islam. The notion of ‘Islamophobia’ is constructed out of a desire to perpetuate a siege mentality and sense of victimhood amongst Muslims, or to put an end to legitimate criticism, or to engage in lazy abuse. The important liberal principles of free speech and open enquiry are being threatened by a wily – and let’s face it, ingenious – new form of censorship. I say ‘censorship’ but many would be inclined to call it by another name: ‘blasphemy’. There are people in Muslim majority countries who face threats from Islamists for daring to leave the religion or thumping for reform. This doesn’t just happen there, of course, because we know only too well what happened to Theo van Gogh and Charlie Hebdo here in Europe. There are many apologists of Islam who, such as the post-Modernist Left, will excuse such atrocities for the most perverse of reasons – social equality. “Muslims and Islam are under attack” they will lament. The time is now for the Left to restitute its defining, quondam principles, lest blasphemy make a bloodcurdling return.

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