Discussion continues, in many places. Jonathan Derbyshire suggests a new thesis:
There’s a view, call it the “Crooked Timber thesis”, according to which the truth of statements about a group or a set of beliefs ought to be weighed against the perlocutionary effect of uttering such statements on the group or the holders of the beliefs in question. In one recurrent variant of this view, true statements about what, for shorthand purposes, I’ll call “political Islamism” ought to be circumscribed, if not actually withheld, for fear of inciting “Islamophobia”…And it seems to me obvious that the point applies in contexts different to the one in which it’s usually applied over at Crooked Timber. So one wonders whether the Guardian might have been advised not to run today Madeleine Bunting’s characteristically egregious and sophomoric piece on “Islamophobia” (these aren’t scare quotes, by the way; they simply indicate that the term is the one used by the author). Bunting manages a passing nod to the “horrific barbarity of Beslan”, but she has other, more pressing business to attend to.
Richard at Philosophy, et cetera has a very interesting post on the related subject of multiplicity, apparently inspired by that Manifesto by people of Muslim culture (including atheists) a few days ago.
This is great stuff, and deserves more publicity. Some of my fellow lefties are fond of diversity, but they only see it at the macro level – they espouse “cultural diversity”, yet ignore the diversity within cultures. But excessive tolerance of the former can have grevious costs for the latter. This blinkered focus can also lead to negative consequences within our own society.
Just so. This ignoring of diversity may explain why we hear so much more about al-Qaradawi and Ziauddin Sardar and Tariq Ramadan than we do about Ibn Warraq or Azam Kamguian or Maryam Namazie or Kenan Malik. Is there an assumption that Muslims are more ‘authentic’ spokesmen for ‘Muslim’ societies than secularists and atheists are? Well let’s hope not. I certainly wouldn’t accept that Christians are more ‘authentic’ spokesmen for the US than atheists are, for example. More representative, possibly, but that’s another matter. That’s that difference between democracy or majoritarianism on the one hand, and truth on the other, that we’re always running into.