We need to understand what ‘Islamophobia’ really means : Glavin

Good piece by Terry Glavin:

Getting it wrong can do great harm, because the slipperiness of language occurs in tandem with the slovenliness of ideas. The Southern Poverty Law Center, for instance, recently sustained a nasty self-inflicted wound to its reputation in this way. Long a turn-to organization for research on political extremism, the SPLC published a list of what it described as 15 “anti-Muslim extremists ” that included the unambiguously bigoted American hothead Pamela Geller and the notorious paranoid Frank Gaffney along with the impeccably credentialed Maajid Nawaz, a high-profile reformist Muslim. Nawaz works with the Quilliam Foundation, a British anti-extremism think tank named after the founder of Britain’s first mosque.

The imprecision of the term Islamophobia is almost invariably bound up in dead-end arguments that allow both “counter-jihad” activists and jihadists alike to conflate Islam, the religion as it is practiced by the overwhelming majority of Muslims, with Islamism, the totalitarian ideology that has produced several virulent strains, including the ghastly fanaticism of Daesh, otherwise known as Islamic State.

…The conflation of Islam with Islamism allows anti-Muslim bigotry to flourish. Bigots and lunatics routinely conflate passages from the Quran with the faith of innocently devout Muslims. It’s easy work to find all sorts of bloodcurdling passages in the Quran that can be lifted and rigged to slander Muslims of all kinds. Like these: “When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks. . . Oh believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends. . . Oh believers, fight the unbelievers who are near to you; and let them find in you a harshness.”

Taking that to mean that Muslims are just waiting for the chance to embark upon rampages of neck-smiting and wickedness is to surrender to racism and dementia. Even more unpleasant, this one’s about Jews: “I shall give you my sincere advice: First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. . . Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.”

That one’s from a lurid 16th Century tract composed by the prophet of Protestantism, Martin Luther. Shall we all start freaking out about Lutherans now?

The “left” has happily entertained its own hysterical conspiracy theories: the United Nations reconstruction of Afghanistan was really an American imperialist war for oil (Afghanistan, alas, is rich mainly in sand) is one. “Al Qaeda was created by the CIA” is another. Sometimes, the idiocies of the “left” and “the” right are indistinguishable or interchangeable, even in the arguments about President’s Trump’s vulgar excesses.

Who said this? “If they want to build a wall that’s up to them. If they want to throw out illegal immigrants or keep out Muslims that’s up to them. It’s their business.” It could have been the execrable Trump-admiring Brexit rabblerouser Nigel Farage. But it was the disgraced British MP and “anti-war” loudmouth George Galloway, who not long ago was a frequent celebrity guest on fashionable CBC chat shows and a darling of Toronto Star columnists.

During Tuesday’s emergency House of Commons debates on how Canada should respond to Trump’s anti-Muslim executive order, the wisest counsel came not from NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, who did a splendid job attempting to wrest something useful from the government benches, nor from rookie Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen, who had nothing to offer in response.

It came from Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel, who is not what you would call a popular person at the Conservative Party’s fringe, where shouting about Muslims is the loudest.

“It is facile for us to believe that there are not others on this planet who disagree with our way of life. There are those who hold views so extreme that they kill in the name of their God. They rape in the name of their God. They subjugate and bring terror in the name of their God. No religion and no nation is immune to this,” Rempel told the House.

“Yet there are those who seek to bring light and beauty to the world. They seek to bring peace, prosperity, and tolerance. Every religion and every nation has these people. They are Muslim and they are Christian. They are Sikh and they are Hindu.”

By closing our arms around the grieving widows and the children and the loved ones of those six martyrs in Sainte-Foy this week, we Canadians might just have allowed some light and beauty to emerge from this horrible thing. Yet there remains an unspeakable hatred of Muslims, and hysteria about Muslims, abroad in the land.

We need to get this right. We owe it to the dead, and we owe it to the living, to face this scourge with decency, with compassion and with honesty, to muster what is right and good about Canada to the cause of seeing to it that those six men did not die in vain.

Source: We need to understand what ‘Islamophobia’ really means – Macleans.ca

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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