A Televisual Feast

If you listen to the most recent Start the Week – well you have to listen to a good bit of Ann Widdicombe, which I think is fairly unpleasant – but you could always fast forward. The last ten minutes or so you get Kenan Malik talking about Islamophobia and the religious hatred law. It’s good stuff. He thinks the idea of ‘Islamophobia’ is badly overblown and works to silence criticism of Islam and that that’s a bad thing. As you will have surmised, he also thinks the religious hatred law is a bad thing for the same sort of reason. He asks exactly the question I’ve been bleating and whining and braying for several months – why is it okay to say hard things about other ideas but not about religion?

And those of you in the UK will get to see his documentary on the subject on channel 4 at the end of the week. Wish I could.

“Everyone from anti-racist activists to government ministers wants to convince us that Britain is in the grip of Islamophobia.” But is this the reality or is hatred and abuse of Muslims being exaggerated to suit politicians’ ends and to silence critics of Islam, he asks. Malik, who grew up in the 80s – an era of real racist violence – shows how today there is very little statistical evidence to support the claims that Muslims are subject to either more physical assaults or to being targeted by the police.

See, silencing critics of immensely powerful institutions like religions is just not a very good idea. On Start the Week Malik talks about self-censorship, and he’s too right. There’s a lot of that around, along with a lot of other-censorship and attempted other-censorship. All of it unfortunate.

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