Doing the Islamophobia Rag
‘Islamophobia’ in the news today. There is Nick Cohen’s piece on Maryam, and comments on that at Normblog and Harry’s Place. And there is a Times article that says Hizb ut-Tahrir is recruiting students ‘using an anti-racist front organisation’ called ‘Stop Islamophobia.’
Well there’s part of the problem right there – ‘Stop Islamophobia’ shouldn’t even be seen as the name of an anti-racist organization. It’s too late now, of course, the name is well dug in, but it never should have been allowed to get so well dug in – it performs exactly the deceptive maneuver its proponents want it to do: it conflates criticism of Islam with criticism of Muslims, opposition to Islam with opposition to Muslims. The word ought to be ‘Muslimophobia’ – in which case it still wouldn’t be anti-racist, since ‘Muslim’ is not a race, but it would at least be about group prejudice. But as it is it isn’t even that – it’s about dissent from and criticism of a particular religion – which ought not to be treated as in the same category as blanket criticisms of large groups of people. A religion is one thing, the people who adhere to it constitute another thing. The word ‘Islamophobia’ is just a trick to make Islam beyond criticism.
Nick and Maryam sum up the problem well:
After years of hearing this postmodern twaddle, Namazie flipped. Why was it, she asked, that supposed liberals always give ‘precedence to cultural and religious norms, however reactionary, over the human being and her rights’? Why was it that they always pretended that other cultures were sealed boxes without conflicts of their own and took ‘the most reactionary segment of that community’ as representative of the belief and culture of the whole. In a ringing passage, which should be pinned to the noticeboards of every cultural studies faculty and Whitehall ministry, she declared that the problem with cultural relativism was that it endorsed the racism of low expectations. ‘It promotes tolerance and respect for so-called minority opinions and beliefs, rather than respect for human beings. Human beings are worthy of the highest respect, but not all opinions and beliefs are worthy of respect and tolerance. There are some who believe in fascism, white supremacy, the inferiority of women. Must they be respected?’
I suppose you’ve seen the ridiculous Islamophobiawatch. It’s so classic, so typically typical, it’s tempting to think it’s a joke. But it probably isn’t.
At least it sometimes has useful links or extracts. This from on offline article in Tribune by Joan Smith, for example:
I haven’t opposed religious reactionaries all my life to suddenly go soft on people who argue that calling for a ban on ‘adulteresses’ being stoned to death is a bit too radical for Islam at the moment (yes, I do mean Tariq Ramadan). It’s time they took an honest look at where they may be heading and I don’t just mean the restoration of the Caliphate.
Dear me – she seems to be a religious reactionaryphobe. How very shocking.