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Are you now or have you ever been an Islamophobe

The UCL Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society put out a statement today. They’re tired of the whole thing and don’t want to talk about it any more.

What makes a student society is the ability to be open, foster community and – most importantly – encourage critical debate. The principal objective of our Society is to maintain a sceptical view on everything, be it astrology, numerology or theism. I am personally a strong believer of freedom of speech and I believe that it is a vitally important freedom to maintain. Freedom of speech guarantees the space for intellectual discourse, and in that space, people should be able to say what they want, without being afraid of censorship on the grounds of offence.

In other words – thank you so much for your valuable input, Ahmadiyya Male Muslim Youth Association UK, but we’ll take it from here. We would actually like to run our organization in a way that fits with our reasons for belonging to it in the first place rather than according to your reasons for wanting to kick up a fuss. We’re terrifically grateful for your energetic – indeed, truth be told, rather insistent – offers to help, but we think we know better how to run our own organization than you do. We would draw your attention to that lack of input from us on how you should run your organization; there’s a reason for that.

By our publication of this image there was no intention to offend and i am sorry to hear that people took personal offence when viewing it. However, ‘offence’ was certainly inadequate grounds for the removal of the image to be requested by the UCL Union. Their policies need clarification to prevent this same situation from arising in the future.

Yes they do.

Meanwhile, in case anyone’s blood pressure should fall dangerously low, the LSE Students Union has leapt into the breach created by the UCL ASH’s retirement. The LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society has also put out a statement.

Today we were contacted by the LSE Students Union to “discuss some of the issues around recent postings on facebook etc.”

We think this might have to do with the accusations of “Islamophobia” that were levelled against us during Thursday 19th Union General Meeting after some “Jesus and Mo” cartoons were posted on our facebook group and Marshall Palmer posted an article on his blog about the cartoon controversy at UCL.

Any accusation of “Islamophobia” against the LSE SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society are baseless. We will be meeting SU officials tomorrow 20th to discuss this issue.

And so the secret police continue their vital work.

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    What is going on with these spineless student unions?

    And I’m very angry about the UCL one trying to present it like “The atheist group has learned their lesson and has indicated that they’ll be more sensitive in the future” when they’ve done nothing wrong, they are sticking by their principles, and it’s the SU that should be taking a critical look at its own response.

  2. says

    I would cheerfully plead guilty to a charge of “Islamophobia” if I could understand the term and its implications. But as it means “irrational fear of Islam” I suppose a court would probably find me not guilty on the grounds of sanity.

    “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” — Bukhari 9.84.57 ‘baddala deenahu, faqtuhulu’

    ( http://sheikyermami.com/apostasy-whoever-changes-his-islamic-religion-kill-him/ )

    Given the track record of Islam to date, it is hard to separate rational fear of it from irrational.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostasy_in_Islam

  3. michaeld says

    I think the atheist group has learned its lesson. If it wants to engage in freedom of speech and input into religious conversations they’re on their own. They know this now. The student union is spineless and would sacrifice freedom of speech and discourse in the name of pacifying anyone that might be offended by it.

    As to islamophobia I wouldn’t use the term no. There were riots and murders over cartoons. Threats of violence and death over people disagreeing with you. Muslims in Canada seem far less dangerous but there are muslims that work hard to make their religion seem intolerant and immoral.

  4. platyhelminthe says

    Surely those who cave into Muslim bigots at the first opportunity must be the ones who are “islamophobic”? Otherwise, what is it that they are so afraid of?

  5. says

    What a bunch of spineless morons…the students union really are operating as a waste of atmospheric oxygen right now. Thanks for throwing freedom of speech under the train, idiots.

  6. DLC says

    See now, it’s only free speech when you are spewing religious-based hate. If you’re shouting in someone’s face and demanding they respect your holy figure or else, you’re protected.

  7. StevoR says

    Although “phobia” is hardly the right word.

    If you have agroup of people who idolise sucide-homicide bomber terrorists and who think Osama bin Laden was a good guy is it really “irrational” to be concerned about them and to oppose their belief system?

  8. F says

    StevoR

    That would exactly not be Islamophobia.

    Don’t people know what Islamophobia is? I don’t think so, from some of the comments.

  9. mirax says

    Oh I think it was on B&W that I came out as an islamophobe 4 or 5 years back. Not a muslm hater mind you, not that at all.

    UK universities do have a serious problem on their hands. I used to think that it was the extremist islamic societies that they allowed to run riot but now realise that it is the university authorities and the students’ unions themselves who have lost the plot.

  10. dirigible says

    “What is going on with these spineless student unions?”

    These brave defenders of the downtrodden underdog, these proponents of tolerance, these opponents of religious persecution, as they will regard themselves. They are utterly delusional.

  11. says

    Is antisemitism real? Of course. Can charges of antisemitism be used to unfairly stifle legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies? Also of course.

    If Islamophobia real? Of course it is, there are millions of people with irrational fears about Islam and Muslims, and plenty of bigots willing to exploit that irrationality for personal gain. It can also be used as a way to silence opposing viewpoints, as in this instance.

  12. says

    Urgh what?

    It’s rather hard to have a spine when the people that threaten you are prone to going through with it.

    They aren’t being spineless. They are worried about repercussions. Some arsehole has photos of people attending such events. All it takes is one death and sadly… many muslims seem to think that it’s okay to kill someone because some guy with a beard and a functioning knowledge of Arabic says so. Damn the laws and all that.

    That and the EDL also put up garbage like this and the EDL are goddamn nazis. It’s actually become really hard to criticise Islam in the UK because you automatically get dropped in the EDL’s camp.

  13. Irene Delse says

    @StevoR:

    Although “phobia” is hardly the right word.

    If you have agroup of people who idolise sucide-homicide bomber terrorists and who think Osama bin Laden was a good guy is it really “irrational” to be concerned about them and to oppose their belief system?

    Being afraid of violent Islamists is not irrational. But if someone hated all Muslims because of that radical subgroup, it would be irrational. BTW, the word “Islamophobia” is constructed on the same lines as “homophobia”: the suffix -phobia is not used in its etymological sense of “fear”, here, its function is closer to the miso- in “misogyny”, and signifies hate and/or disgust of someone for what they are, not what they do.

    Of course, intolerant Islamists have become very adept at using and abusing the accusation of Islamophobia to smear their adversaries… Let’s not confuse the issue further.

    You can find real Islamophobes however among some fundamentalist Christians who pretend that to avoid the evils of Islamism, Muslims should convert to Christianity. (Sadly, some deluded freethinkers are pretty much on the same page and act as objective allies to an intolerant group while trying to counteract another intolerant group.)

  14. KG says

    But as it means “irrational fear of Islam” I suppose a court would probably find me not guilty on the grounds of sanity.

    A phobia in the medical sense is a fear that is irrational in its intensity. One can have a phobia of dogs, fire, crowds, heights, snakes – all of which can be dangerous. Since this is an elementary point, it is simply dishonest to pretend that because there are real reasons to fear Islam and some Muslims, islamophobia cannot exist. It quite clearly does, in the rantings of such as Bat Ye Or and Mark Steyn with their “Eurabia” fantasies, and in the Christian fundamnetalists who frothed at the mouth over an Islamic cultural centre a few blocks from the site of the 9-11 atrocity, and currently pressing for completely unnecessary legislation against sharia in the USA. Nice company you’re keeping, SteveoR, IanMacDougall et al.

    In the wider sense, “phobia” has acquired a wider meaning, as in “homophobia” and “transphobia”. A favourite line of bigots against LGBT people is that they are not scared of such people, so there cannot be any such things as homophobia and transphobia. Again, nice company you’re keeping, SteveoR, IanMacDougall et al.

    Islamophobe: A person who will not allow fear of Muslims to stop their criticism of Islam. – Bruce Gorton

    You can’t really get much more fuckwitted than that. I am quite ready to criticise Islam, which is both absurd and harmful, fundamentally misogynist and homophobic. I have criticised both Islam and Muhammed, using my real name, in the BHA thread on the UCL cartoon furore. But I recognise the reality of the irrational fear and hatred of Muslims – Islamophobia – evinced by many in Britain, and shamelessly used by the far right as a convenient proxy for hating on non-whites. Improbable Joe’s point about antisemitism is completely apposite: yes, like antisemitism, Islamophobia, is real; yes, false accusations of both are used to stifle legitimate criticism and debate. Rationalists should, in both cases, avoid both bigotry and false accusations of bigotry.

  15. Bruce Gorton says

    KG

    You can’t really get much more fuckwitted than that.

    You obviously haven’t read YouTube comments ;-p

    Islamophobia is no longer a useful term. It has been so over-applied as a means of silencing criticism that it no longer works in its original meaning.

    We now need something more accurate to cover the xenophobic fuckwits who think someone being a Muslim disqualifies them from having human rights, or that all of Islam is the same.

  16. says

    I’ve been a non-believer most of my life (I’m 61) and have many Muslim friends. They all know about my beliefs and, to the best of my knowledge, none have ever been offended by my poking fun at their beliefs. Most seem rather baffled by the ‘anger’ and ‘outrage’ expressed about the UCL and Queen Mary’s AHS and Jesus & Mo. There’s Muslims and Muslims, I guess, and the great majority, here in the UK at least, seem just to want to get on with their lives along with everyone else.

  17. Fin says

    Perhaps the term should not be islamophobia, but islamistophobia, to distinguish between the irrational and rational concerns.

  18. KG says

    Islamophobia is no longer a useful term. It has been so over-applied as a means of silencing criticism that it no longer works in its original meaning. – Bruce Gorton

    Would you say the same about antisemitism? I’ve seen that used at least as much in the same way; that doesn’t mean it is not a real, and dangerous phenomenon, just like Islamophobia.

  19. KG says

    Bruce Gorton,

    No, I don’t think “cultural fascist” would do, both because it ignores the specifically anti-Muslim nature of the phenomenon; and because many of those demonstrating it are not by any stretch fascists, while I want to keep the term “fascist” to apply to, well, fascists.

  20. says

    “Islamophobia” has never been a useful word. More than that: it’s always been a sinister dangerous confusion-sowing bullying word. It’s deployed to mean hatred of Muslims but it literally means hatred of Islam; the result (fully intended by the coiners of the word) is that people come to think that hatred of Islam is the same thing as hatred of Muslims. It isn’t.

    LSE is using it in exactly that way, and it’s idiotic and an outrage.

  21. Tim Harris says

    Thank you, Peter Gaunt, for that. We were talking not so long ago about ‘identity’ and its malleability, at least in some cases, and the way ‘identities’can all of a sudden be discovered and assume a dangerous importance (Hindus/Muslims; Serbs/Croats; and perhaps more important because of the killing involved, Orthodox Serbs and Bosnian Muslims – the killers here being the Christians, for let it not be forgotten by those who go on about the threat posed by Muslims that it was only very recently that Muslim Europeans were being massacred in Central Europe). The game the thugs belonging to that Islamic group are playing, as are British nationalist groups, is to stir things up and polarise things so that such ‘identities’, which depend upon the existence of out-groups, can be made sharper and more divisive in their nature.

  22. Tim Harris says

    Incidentally, Ophelia, if you look at the BBC internet news, an atheist Indonesian has been arrested for publicly saying things: it seems that atheism is a crime in Indonesia…

  23. Tim Harris says

    And to the earlier comment of mine, which is ill-expressed, since the Hindu/Muslim cleavage involved huge bloodshed on the Indian sub-continent, please take ‘and because the event was so recent’ as appearing directly after the words ‘because of the killing involved’.

  24. Bruce Gorton says

    Would you say the same about antisemitism?

    No, because despite everything we do not quietly accept it when people use anti-semitism as being an synonomous with anti-Israel for one thing, and for another its general use is still anti-Jewish-people.

    and because many of those demonstrating it are not by any stretch fascists

    Fascism, is a philosophy founded on trying to unite the people on grounds of ancestry, culture and blood to support a totalitarian government aimed at instilling discipline in the public it rules.

    Which sounds to me like the BNP, UKIP, and a lot of other movements preaching what I am sure you think of first when you think “Islamaphobia”.

  25. eric says

    Their policies need clarification to prevent this same situation from arising in the future.

    IMO the old children’s ‘cut the cake’ exercise can be an excellent model for how to fashion such policies. (For reference: you get to cut the pieces, but I choose first.)

    Very simply, let the offended parties come up with speech rules. But tell them that the atheist society will then get to enforce those rules on them.* I suspect that under a “you get to make the rules, but they get to enforce them” scheme, you’d find that even the most religiously conservative group
    comes up with fairly liberal speech rules.

    *You could also do the reverse, have the atheist group come up with the rules and give enforcement power to the Islamic group, but that will be a much shorter and more boring exercise. “No rules;” game ends.

  26. KG says

    Ophelia Benson@24, 25,

    Who coined “Islamophobia”, and when? Obviously, you know, or you couldn’t have written #24, so why not tell us?

    “Antisemitism” no more means what its literal form would imply than does “Islamophobia”. “Semite”, when the word was in regular use in anthropology, included Arabs and many peoples of the ancient Near East, as well as Jews; but in practice antisemitism has always meant hatred of Jews. What term would you suggest for the ravings of Mark Steyn and Bet Ye Or, the people who froth at the mouth about an Islamic cultural centre, those who attack mosques, and those who claim Obama is a Muslim?

    Bruce Gorton,

    No, because despite everything we do not quietly accept it when people use anti-semitism as being an synonomous with anti-Israel for one thing, and for another its general use is still anti-Jewish-people.

    Eh? I can’t even make sense of this. Those who use claims of antisemitism in an attempt to silence criticism of Israel say precisely that such criticism is motivated by hatred of Jewish people, just as those who use “Islamophobia” in an attempt to silence criticism of Islam and Islamism claim that such criticism is motivated by hatred of Muslims.

    Which sounds to me like the BNP, UKIP, and a lot of other movements preaching what I am sure you think of first when you think “Islamaphobia”.

    The BNP are fascists; UKIP are not, nor is Mark Steyn. It’s precisely this sort of loose over-application of the word I wish to avoid.

  27. says

    Urgh what?

    It’s rather hard to have a spine when the people that threaten you are prone to going through with it.

    This Muslim organization has not issued any threats, and if they had a history of making threats or going through with them they would have been ejected from this student union long ago.

    By your, to be charitable, reasoning, every organization should cave to any complaint from members of religions or political parties of which other members have ever carried out violent threats anywhere. I’d hope you can see the problem with that.

  28. Bruce Gorton says

    KG

    The BNP are fascists; UKIP are not, nor is Mark Steyn. It’s precisely this sort of loose over-application of the word I wish to avoid.

    Oh really?

    http://www.ukip.org/content/ukip-policies/2553-what-we-stand-for

    Violent crime erupts in our cities. Jobs are lost and services failing under a tide of immigration, pensions have been crippled and cash savings yield almost nothing. Millions are now without adequate means of existence. Fear of old age darkens the future.

    Parliament is held in contempt. Our currency has collapsed by 30%. Chaos engulfs Europe’s very financial existence and, here at home, taxation now bears down on those least able to pay whilst Britain goes ever deeper into deficit.

    A gulf has opened between the ruling elite and the public. Each of the establishment main parties are now Social Democrats and offer voters no real choice.

    UKIP alone holds that the rescue of the British people depends on withdrawal from the EU to regain our self-governing democracy so allowing the relief of business from crushing regulation and the less well off from the burden of taxes, shutting off the flood of immigrants and freeing enterprise.

    This is just the intro to UKIP’s policies and I already see implicit claims that the citizenry need to be disciplined, a call for stronger government and a distinct sense of it being based upon a ancestral/cultural/blood based identity.

    I see further down, they want tougher policing, tougher sentences and to repeal the human rights act.

    Not only that, point 6 is entirely about defending “our way of life”. They’re classic fascists trying to hide behind a democratic front.

    Mark Steyn, what I know of him I just read on Wikipedia, and from that it strikes me that the way you use the term really does fit with my definition back in comment 12.

  29. says

    “Islamophobia” is not parallel to “anti-Semitism.”

    Sure, it is. What several people seem to want to do is to jump from the fact that some accusations of Islamophobia are false or exaggerated or politically motivated to the claim that the term doesn’t capture real attitudes or behavior. (I mean – Pamela Geller?) The LSE group appears to be implying this when they use scare quotes here:

    Any accusation of “Islamophobia” against the LSE SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society are [sic] baseless.

    Not just that this specific charge is baseless, but that all charges of Islamophobia are baseless because there’s no such phenomenon.

    This is equivalent to saying

    Any accusation of “anti-Semitism” against [legitimate critic of the Israeli government] are baseless.

    You can easily argue that a specific accusation is baseless and that many people and groups have used accusations of Islamophobia in a bullying manner without implying or claiming that Islamophobic people and groups don’t exist when they obviously do.

  30. says

    KG – for “Islamophobia” see chapter 7 of Does God Hate Women?

    It was coined by Islamists for all the obvious reasons.

    What term would you suggest for the ravings of Mark Steyn and Bet Ye Or, the people who froth at the mouth about an Islamic cultural centre, those who attack mosques, and those who claim Obama is a Muslim?

    I wouldn’t suggest any term; I also wouldn’t group all those items together.

    Your point is that a lot of people rave about Islam as a proxy for xenophobia, and that’s true, but that’s not a reason to pathologize criticism of Islam as such. It’s perfectly possible to detest Islam for reasons that have nothing to do with xenophobia.

  31. says

    SC – yes the term captures real attitudes and behavior, but it’s still the wrong term for them. And not just wrong in some trivial nitpicking sense but wrong and misleading and censorship-aiding.

  32. KG says

    Bruce Gorton,

    No, UKIP are not fascists, and nothing in what you quote shows that they are. Racists and xenophobes, certainly. Evidently, you know very little about fascism. I suggest taking out a subscription to Searchlight, the British anti-fascist magazine, which distin guishes clearly between fascists like the BNP, and right populists like UKIP.

  33. KG says

    ><blockquoteIt was coined by Islamists for all the obvious reasons. – Ophelia Benson

    Come on, you can surely be more specific than that, if you actually know. If you don’t, then be honest and admit that you don’t.

    I wouldn’t suggest any term; I also wouldn’t group all those items together.

    Why not? The only reason I can think of is because that would be to acknowledge a reality you wish to avoid acknowledging.

    It’s perfectly possible to detest Islam for reasons that have nothing to do with xenophobia.

    Of course it is, and no-one has said otherwise. Why do you feel the need to misrepresent what I’m saying?

  34. says

    What term would you suggest for the ravings of Mark Steyn and Bet Ye Or, the people who froth at the mouth about an Islamic cultural centre, those who attack mosques, and those who claim Obama is a Muslim?

    I wouldn’t suggest any term; I also wouldn’t group all those items together.

    If they dealt with attitudes and actions directed at Jewish people or women or gay people, would you reject the idea that they constitute a category? Because I think if this were the case you’d have no problem characterizing them as anti-Semitic, misogynistic, or homophobic. Why is it only in this case that you’re so resistant to the term?

  35. says

    SC – yes the term captures real attitudes and behavior, but it’s still the wrong term for them.

    What term do you think would better capture the attitudes and actions of people like Pamela Geller?

  36. says

    I don’t think there is any particular need for a one-word term for every kind of malice or idiocy there is.

    But even then, “Muslimophobia” would be far more to the point than “Islamophobia” is.

  37. Bruce Gorton says

    KG

    Yeah, they are. Go the read the BNP website, you will see the same claims, the same policy prescriptions, and the exact same scare-mongering.

    Some fascists wear hoodies, others wear suits. They’re still fascists.

  38. says

    KG – I repeat – chapter 7 of DGHW.

    I’ve already acknowledged the reality you say (on the basis of nothing) I want to avoid acknowledging. Yes there are xenophobes and racists who hate Muslims in general. That doesn’t make “Islamophobia” a useful word.

  39. says

    It’s perfectly possible to detest Islam for reasons that have nothing to do with xenophobia.

    Of course it is, and no-one has said otherwise. Why do you feel the need to misrepresent what I’m saying?

    I don’t, and I didn’t; I made that point to explain (what I think ought to be obvious) why the word “Islamophobia” is so misleading and troublemaking.

    It’s odd that you seem so convinced otherwise, given the way the word is being deployed right now, as mentioned in the post.

  40. says

    SC -

    If they dealt with attitudes and actions directed at Jewish people or women or gay people, would you reject the idea that they constitute a category? Because I think if this were the case you’d have no problem characterizing them as anti-Semitic, misogynistic, or homophobic. Why is it only in this case that you’re so resistant to the term?

    I’ve said why. Because “Islamophobia” picks out Islam, not Muslims, as the object of the phobia; also because being a woman or gay is not an ideology (and being Jewish can be indpendent of ideology and of course “Semitic” has nothing to do with ideology). I’m “so resistant” to the term because it’s a bad stupid inaccurate misleading manipulative term used to stifle dissent from Islam. I would be so resistant to the term “Christianityophobia” too, if it existed, but of course it doesn’t.

  41. says

    I don’t think there is any particular need for a one-word term for every kind of malice or idiocy there is.

    Of course there isn’t. This, though, is a large and powerful political phenomenon with enormous effects. There’s no reason to dismiss it if you’re not going to do so with regard to anti-Semitism, misogyny, or homophobia.

    But even then, “Muslimophobia” would be far more to the point than “Islamophobia” is.

    Perhaps, though a significant part of it is clearly the fear of the imposition or influence of the religion itself in places like the US, which is hugely exaggerated in comparison with Christianity. But this is fairly picayune. You’re acknowledging that the phenomenon exists (and therefore by implication that some charges of it are legitimate), and just suggesting that the word itself, to the extent that it’s read literally, maybe doesn’t capture it precisely enough. But as was pointed out above, that’s true of anti-Semitism and homophobia as well. And you know how tedious it is to argue with people who try to pick apart every use of “misogyny” in this way. It’s the term that exists, and it captures the phenomenon as well as anything, in my view, so it makes little sense to reject it or call it “useless.”

  42. says

    Sorry, I completely disagree. It was coined for a reason, and it’s being used for the same reason. It’s not picayune at all; it’s a terrible word and sensible people simply shouldn’t give it currency by using it as if it weren’t.

    I’m not dismissing it, by the way; I’m saying it stinks.

  43. says

    I’ve said why. Because “Islamophobia” picks out Islam, not Muslims, as the object of the phobia;

    Again, this is a specific literal reading. The term is obviously used in a way that means prejudice against and fear of Islamic people, for Pete’s sake.

    I’m “so resistant” to the term because it’s a bad stupid inaccurate misleading manipulative term

    Oh, good grief.

    used to stifle dissent from Islam.

    Again, that it’s used illegitimately by some does not make the phenomenon unreal or the term itself useless. If you say it does, you’re giving all of the power to the fanatics and those who want to preserve religious privilege to define words. (Just as you’d do if you agreed with those who claim virtually every criticism of the Israeli government as anti-Semitism.) We can and should be able to say “Islamophobia is a real problem, there are legitimate examples of Islamophobia, and this isn’t one of them.” Instead, you’re playing into the hands of the Islamophobes by rejecting this term in favor of not acknowledging the existence of the problem or, if pressed, suggesting another term that isn’t used. (Though if you wanted to start using “Muslimophobia” instead, that might not be a bad idea and I’d possibly join you.)

  44. says

    The right comparison isn’t with misogyny; the right comparison would be “misogynyophobia.”

    You keep making these assertions but failing to support them. This is strange given that you seem to have acknowledged that there is such a phenomenon as what you’d refer to as “Muslimophobia.” There’s no meaningful distinction to be made between raving Islamophobes (or Muslimophobes) like Geller and raving anti-Semites, misogynists, or homophobes. The term “Islamophobia” is used to mean solely “critical of religious beliefs and political ideology” by Islamic religious-political fanatics and right-wing ravers who want to deny that hatred and fear of Muslims is at the root of their statements and actions. It makes no sense for people who are not in either of these groups, and who want to fight against bigotry, to go along with this. Denying the existence of or dismissing the phenomenon does nothing to counter illegitimate claims of bigotry and nothing to counter bigotry or religion.

  45. bspiken says

    Isnt there already a word for said “Islamophobes”(I also dislike the word, and it seems pretty straight forward to me that it deals with a phobia/dislike/hatred of an idea and not a group of people) and the word is “xenophobes”?

  46. says

    I know it’s “used in a way that means prejudice against and fear of” Muslims (“Islamic people” is not what they’re called) but that is precisely the point: it shouldn’t be, because it equates dissent from Islam to being mean to Muslims.

    Do you know of any equivalent word that translates dissent from an idea into hatred of the people who hold the idea? I don’t.

    I just don’t see how we can take the word at face value without conveying the impression that we think it’s pathological to dissent from Islam.

    And if you agree with me about “Muslimophobia” I don’t see why you’re being so adamant.

  47. says

    I know it’s “used in a way that means prejudice against and fear of” Muslims (“Islamic people” is not what they’re called) but that is precisely the point: it shouldn’t be, because it equates dissent from Islam to being mean to Muslims.

    Only to people motivated to read it in that literal fashion.

    I just don’t see how we can take the word at face value without conveying the impression that we think it’s pathological to dissent from Islam.

    Because we don’t take the word at face value. That isn’t how it’s used except by the two groups I’ve mentioned.

    And if you agree with me about “Muslimophobia” I don’t see why you’re being so adamant.

    I think it would be fine, though it would lose some aspects, as I stated above, and there’s no real reason for it. No particular term is going to capture perfectly every aspect of a phenomenon when read literally. It’s dangerous to suggest that if an existing term isn’t perfect and has been used illegitimately, despite the fact that it captures a real and serious problem, that it should be scrapped or dismissed.

    You’ve also been going back and forth about the existence of the real phenomenon the term, however imperfectly, captures. This is really disturbing. It’s one thing to make clear that you’re not denying the existence of this prejudice and discrimination but find the term used to describe it misleading in some ways and some charges of it false; it’s another entirely to suggest that you don’t recognize the existence of the category of prejudice and discrimination itself, don’t consider it a sufficient problem to be named at all, and believe any specific charges of it to be a priori illegitimate and bullying. That’s what you seem to be doing when you say you wouldn’t group those items together or reject parallels with anti-Semitism.

  48. Bruce Gorton says

    January 20, 2012 at 9:41 am

    And that is my problem with the attempt to equate it to antisemitism. We do not call someone an antisemite for disagreeing with the Torah or opposing the imposition of Jewish law.

    Whereas with Islam, things like for example Maryam Namazie’s day of activism against religious censorship includes elements of fear of Islamic ideology becoming accepted in the West.

    Strictly speaking Everybody Draw Mohammed Day was Islamaphobic, but it was about legitimate concerns regarding Shariah being enforced in the West. The same goes for protests against clerics creating Shariah zones in England.

    The term Islamaphobia shuts this dissent down.

    We can accept that anti-Muslim prejudice and violence exists, however the term Islamaphobia is not essentially about that. It is about using those Muslims as human shields to protect the ideas Islam represents.

    A different word really is needed.

  49. says

    A somewhat analogous situation, I suppose, would be Big Pharma. It exists. It’s the second most profitable industry. Pharmaceutical companies wield immense power. They manipulate people and science and intimidate critics, and have one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington. This has led to harm to many people. Now, quacks often illegitimately attribute criticisms and scientific failures to the machinations of Big Pharma. Often, science bloggers and commenters have taken this on and repeatedly make jokes about “Big Pharma”‘s machinations, not only in cases when it makes sense to do so, but in general, and even in areas where the machinations of Big Pharma are amply documented. This doesn’t do any good. In fact, it helps the sCAM artists, because any aware person knows about the existence and doings of these corporations, and those jokingly dismissing the problem in general – rather than in specific instances – seem ignorant or politically/economically motivated. It also, of course, helps the corporations by minimizing and deflecting from the reality and scale of their actions and lumping legitimate critics with kooks and quacks in people’s minds. It doesn’t help the people trying to reduce the power of the corporations or trying to fight quackery.

  50. says

    Part of the problem here is taking all claims to victimhood seriously. Gays who use the (also imprecise) word ‘homophobia’ may be using a sloppy and unclear term, but they also have a genuine claim on victimhood. Muslims who use the term ‘islamophobia’ do not. If they experience discrimination, it is on the basis of race, not religion. And race is separable from religion: indeed, it must be, lest we claim that religion is immutable in the same way that race is immutable.

    We may not wish to conceive of the possibility that phobia of a particular religion is legitimate and fair, whereas phobia of a given race or sexual orientation is never legitimate. That, however, is the upshot: religion is chosen, race or sexuality is not.

  51. says

    We do not call someone an antisemite for disagreeing with the Torah or opposing the imposition of Jewish law.

    We wouldn’t if they called for the secularization of some towns in upstate New York. I would if their fear of the imposition of Jewish law were so singular, exaggerated, and irrational that they thought this was a real threat in the US and virulently opposed the building of, or attacked, Jewish community centers or synagogues. Especially if this opposition were laced with thinly veiled racial allusions. I would if they dedicated significant amounts of energy to disagreeing with the Torah and none to disagreeing with other religious works despite having little or no connection to Jewish communities.

    By the way,

    Anti-Catholic animus in the United States reached a peak in the nineteenth century when the Protestant population became alarmed by the influx of Catholic immigrants. Some American Protestants, having an increased interest in prophecies regarding the end of time, claimed that the Catholic Church was the Whore of Babylon in the Book of Revelation.[29] The resulting “nativist” movement, which achieved prominence in the 1840s, was whipped into a frenzy of anti-Catholicism that led to mob violence, the burning of Catholic property, and the killing of Catholics.[30] For example, the Philadelphia Nativist Riot, Bloody Monday, the Orange Riots in New York City in 1871 and 1872,[31] and the Ku Klux Klan-ridden South discriminated against Catholics.[32] This violence was fed by claims that Catholics were destroying the culture of the United States. The nativist movement found expression in a national political movement called the Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s, which (unsuccessfully) ran former president Millard Fillmore as its presidential candidate in 1856.

    There’s no need to come up with a new name for this history or deny it because Bill Donohue, for example, is a loon who makes ridiculous claims.

  52. Katkinkate says

    I’m islamophobic, if it means I’m afraid of getting on the bad side of moslems. And as a female it is disgustingly easy to insult a male moslem. I just have to exist and show my face in public.

  53. says

    Before I go, I’ll note that it appears Catholic organizations have shaped that Wikipedia page, as they have many others related to Catholicism, including several related to Galileo. I think there might be a group at the Vatican dedicated to using Wikipedia as a means of propaganda….

    That doesn’t change the history of nativism or the fact that waves of anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism did not separate race from culture (or, specifically, religious practice) in the way that people are implying happens.

    OK, now I’m out.

  54. KG says

    Bruce Gorton@42,

    I’ll take the opinion of those who have spent years, in some case decades, in fighting fascism and other forms of racism and xenophobia, over yours. UKIP have, in fact, expelled known fascists – people with a history of holocaust denial, ties with far-right terrorists, etc.; the BNP is lead by such people. UKIP are thoroughly unpleasant racists and xenophobes, but has no obvious ties to street thugs; the BNP membership is full of them.

    Ophelia Benson,

    KG – I repeat – chapter 7 of DGHW.

    It’s a book I don’t happen to have. If it simply asserts that the term derives from Islamists, why would I take its word for it? If it gives a specific origin for it, why can’t you?

    I’ve already acknowledged the reality you say (on the basis of nothing) I want to avoid acknowledging.

    It was, quite clearly and explicitly, on the basis of the following exchange:

    What term would you suggest for the ravings of Mark Steyn and Bet Ye Or, the people who froth at the mouth about an Islamic cultural centre, those who attack mosques, and those who claim Obama is a Muslim? – Me

    I wouldn’t suggest any term; I also wouldn’t group all those items together. – You

    However, now that you have gone at least partway towards acknowledging this blindingly obvious social reality, I think your suggestion of “Muslimophobia” is a good one.

    @53 – Yes, I’m a secret racist and xenophobe. Well spotted.

    Attempts to shut down criticism and argument with nonsense like this do not command respect. You know very well that people who are not racists or sexists can say or do things which reflect the deep-seated racism and sexism of our society. No-one is calling you are racist or xenophobe: what SC and I are doing is asking you to acknowledge that there is a specific, and dangerous, movement to demonise Muslims as such; and that in our criticism of Islam and Islamists, we need to be very careful not to encourage it.

    bspiken,

    Isnt there already a word for said “Islamophobes”(I also dislike the word, and it seems pretty straight forward to me that it deals with a phobia/dislike/hatred of an idea and not a group of people) and the word is “xenophobes”?

    No, because “xenophobes” does not capture the specificity of the hatred and fear of Muslims. Muslimophobic organisations such as the EDL in the UK include (small numbers of) black, Jewish, Hindu and Sikh members.

  55. says

    Yes, I’m islamophobic as well, by that reasoning, partly because we are dealing (a) with a bunch of cockamamie piffle with the potential to change the way we live (especially as women), and (b) partly because we are also dealing with a situation where the people who wish to impose their cockamamie piffle on the rest of us are insulated from criticism by cloaking themselves in ‘victimhood’.

  56. says

    KG@42:

    No-one is calling you are racist or xenophobe: what SC and I are doing is asking you to acknowledge that there is a specific, and dangerous, movement to demonise Muslims as such; and that in our criticism of Islam and Islamists, we need to be very careful not to encourage it.

    And we need look no further than Ed Brayton and Maryam Namazie who consistently point out the dangers of “Islamophobia”(or whatever term we can use without getting in trouble) and how serious the problem is.

  57. says

    KG – “No-one is calling you are racist or xenophobe”

    Coming very close to it though, which, given what I’ve been writing here (including ur-B&W) for years, is exceptionally annoying. Saying I wouldn’t talk about disparate items as all one thing is not the same thing as dismissing all (or any) of them; it’s just refusing to lump. I don’t really need a primer on racism from you. You, on the other hand, do seem to be clueless about the way the word “Islamophobia” is deployed by Islamists and their hangers-on. Never heard of Bob Pitt, have you?

  58. bspiken says

    Ok, so what about antimuslim? Anticatholic and antisemitic, refer to cultural hatred, homophobic and racism refer to fear and hatred of a certain gender or “race”, islamophobia is problematic because it seems tailored to do two things:

    1.- Muddle the difference between Islam as an idea and muslim as a cultural identity.
    2.- Make it so that the enemy of islam “fears” it. This is the very thing that the koran demands from infidels and faithful alike, it empowers the idea over the person.

    Mix this two and you have a word that simultaneously enables “otherness” from its weak critics and enpowers the “victimised” over them.

    Homosexuals, in case anyone misses the difference, dont believe in a special book that tells them that any nonhomosexual must be afraid of them and their deity. They rightly claim irrational hatred and fear from a certain group of people.

  59. KG says

    You, on the other hand, do seem to be clueless about the way the word “Islamophobia” is deployed by Islamists and their hangers-on. – Ophelia Benson

    That is, quite simply, crap. As I said @17 (my first comment on this post:

    Improbable Joe’s point about antisemitism is completely apposite: yes, like antisemitism, Islamophobia, is real; yes, false accusations of both are used to stifle legitimate criticism and debate.

    bspiken@68,
    No, antisemitism does not refer to cultural hatred. It refers to hatred of people of Jewish origin, whatever their culture. Moreover, it has very specific content: the belief that “the Jews” conspire, and that even Jews with diametrically opposed views and interests (e.g. Troskyists and financiers) are really “all in it together”. Interestingly, Muslimophobics similarly tend to ignore differences and conflicts between Muslims, e.g. Islamists and democrats, Sunni, Shia and Ahmadiyah.

  60. Bruce Gorton says

    SC (Salty Current), OM

    I didn’t say impose, I said enforce and I used that word for a reason.

    Today Salman Rushdie cancelled his trip to India due to death threats over his book, The Satanic Verses. India is not an Islamic country. The law was not imposed, but it is being enforced.

    Due to individuals wanting to enforce their religious law, he can’t go to India. Due to individuals wanting to enforce their religious law, Ali Hirsi needs a constant bodyguard. Due to individuals wanting to enforce their religious law, Habdo got burnt down.

    Now criticism of Islam for all of this, the actual teachings that are being enfoced, is deemed Islamaphobic. Even if we recognise that most Muslims disagree with these actions, and that essentially every religion has its ultra-orthodox nuts who behave in similar ways, so Islam isn’t all that special.

    And calling these criticisms Islamaphobic right, it is. When we criticise this we are worried about the idea that us breaking somebody else’s religious laws may cause harm to ourselves or others because of nutters who want to enforce those laws. If it technically covers it, it covers it.

    Legitimate concerns, the concerns which are not overblown, which are not exaggerated, still qualify as Islamaphobia as it is defined. And the term ends up throwing people with these concerns, who spend a lot of time criticising other religions too, in the same boat as those who are using it as a fig leaf for being racist xenophobes with an eye to power.

    And that really is the problem with the term. That is why I say we need a different word for it, and why in the alternate universe where Judaism is in the same boat as Islam, I for one would oppose your use of antisemitism.

  61. says

    I didn’t say impose, I said enforce and I used that word for a reason.

    You said:

    We do not call someone an antisemite for disagreeing with the Torah or opposing the imposition of Jewish law.

    I quoted you in my response. You don’t have an argument, but you could at least try not to be so patently dumb.

  62. says

    Imposition and enforcement of the law (whatever its substantive content) may both be legitimate. Both may not be. It’s the nature of law, I’m afraid. The argument is a prior one, about the characteristics of the law in question, that is salient. None of the Christian arguments about the Biblical origins of law have any salience. None of them. They are junk arguments. Before the influence of Roman law, with its presumption of innocence, no Jewish sage had anything interesting to say about law. Islamic sharia borrowed its (greatly weakened) presumption of innocence from the Byzantines, heirs to the law of pagan Rome.

    Greeks and Jews alike were ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire’ cultures – ie, a premption of guilt was operative. (Except of course, when it came to rape, where the woman was either not believed or forced to marry her rapist, a position anathema to every pagan Roman jurist)

    My point is a very basic one: these traditions have nothing to teach us of any value. People who believe hem are fools, blinded by their religious beliefs. If we can’t say that, through fear of being labelled as Islamophobic, then we are nowhere.

    Being poor, or brown, or religious … or whatever … does not buy one a free pass from the effects of idiocy.

  63. Gingerbaker says

    …But I recognise the reality of the irrational fear and hatred of Muslims – Islamophobia – evinced by many in Britain…”

    …Even if we recognise that most Muslims disagree with these actions, and that essentially every religion has its ultra-orthodox nuts who behave in similar ways, so Islam isn’t all that special…”

    Depending on where you go, and who you ask, Islam can be awfully damned special. The suffix ‘phobia’, when associated with Islam, can quite rightly designate fear, and to a much higher degree than when the suffix is used in conjunction with gays or Jews. And, understandably and justly, people hate what they fear.

    An interesting question is: When is that fear irrational? Perhaps it depends on where you are, who you are dealing with, and just how bad is the violence that threatens you. Pew data shows that in many places of the world there is a shockingly high percentage of Muslims who answered ‘yes’ to the question : “Do you feel that suicide bombing is justified in order “in defense of your religion”.

    Perhaps we are not shocked to learn that in the Palestinian Territories, the answer to that is question is in the affirmative by 77% of respondents. Yet, 30% of British Muslims believe that the answer to that that question *can* be “Yes”. And the percentage among young Muslim men is much higher. That’s for suicide bombing – Allah only knows what the data is for a good old ass-kicking. But it seems to take it out of the category of “ultra-orthodox nuts”.

    At some point, we may come to the conclusion that fear of Muslim violence may actually be as rational as, I don’t know, fear of the phrase “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you absolutely fascinating…”

  64. KG says

    My point is a very basic one: these traditions have nothing to teach us of any value. People who believe hem are fools, blinded by their religious beliefs. If we can’t say that, through fear of being labelled as Islamophobic, then we are nowhere. – scepticlawyer

    They are indeed blinded by their religious beliefs, but having some foolish beliefs does not make one a fool; dismissing over a billion people as fools on the basis of what are largely culturally inculcated beliefs, on the other hand, does.

  65. KG says

    I see gingerbaker@76 thinks hating all Muslims is justified. Thanks for making my case so clearly, gingerbaker.

  66. says

    Imposition and enforcement of the law (whatever its substantive content) may both be legitimate. Both may not be.

    My head can’t take this anymore. I don’t know why people saying such stupid, irrelevant things, but it’s a waste of time to try to have a reasoned discussion, clearly.

    My point is a very basic one:

    Your point is a very stupid one. You’re not arguing with anyone here.

    Jesus, this is sad. I’m out again.

    Ophelia, if you won’t consistently recognize the point that KG and I are making – that it’s dangerous and counterproductive to ignore or dismiss the very real phenomenon that’s captured, however imperfectly, by the term Islamophobia because some have made false and bullying accusations of it – that’s disappointing. It appears that you won’t, and I’m not sure why. I did not say, imply, or think that you’re a racist or a xenophobe, and I don’t like your suggestion that I have.

  67. says

    SC, I’m not ignoring the phenomenon, nor am I arguing for ignoring it. I’m arguing for not using that word for it. I’ve explained why: it equates dissent from Islam with hatred of Muslims, and thus convinces a lot of people that the two are the same thing. I’m not sure why you’re not sure why I’m saying that. I didn’t like your “This is really disturbing” @ 53 – it did look to me like implying that I might be at least veering toward xenophobia.

  68. F says

    Michael Fugate

    Do you want to have a conversation – say, challenge my understanding of what Islamophobia is supposed to mean, and according to whom, or is it your intent to just be an ass about it?

    Now, following the thread, I see that Islamophobia is supposedly a lie from day one, that it was never meant to convey an irrational fear or hatred of things Islamic or the ethnic groups predominantly associated with practicing Islam, but is supposedly a loaded word that means questioning anything having to do with Islam.

    Well, that isn’t how most people I’ve seen writing use the word, so whatever. If it is so loaded a term, then keep it in scare quotes, because that readily identifies the term as a lie. Otherwise, I’d say I mostly agree with Salty Current, OM, in this case. But I’ll bear in mind that Ophelia Benson uses the term in a specific manner at her blog, and parse her statements accordingly.

  69. says

    I also, as a matter of fact, don’t like the repeated claims that I’m not recognizing that it’s dangerous and counterproductive to ignore or dismiss the very real phenomenon that’s captured, however imperfectly, by the term Islamophobia. I don’t know what the hell I have to say to make it clear that I do recognize it and don’t ignore or dismiss the phenomenon. The only item anyone has cited as a reason to think otherwise is that I said I wouldn’t talk about a collection of four or five separate things as if they were one thing. Der. That doesn’t cash out as saying some of them are benign ffs!

  70. says

    Well, that isn’t how most people I’ve seen writing use the word, so whatever.

    Oh right: whatever. Because there’s no such thing as loaded language, no such thing as “framing,” no such thing as stealth persuasion via tricky words. However most people use the word, that just is what it means; no need to ask probing questions or call on any suspicion or agenda-sniffing apparatus. Just take everything at face value because hey, why not. Whatever.

  71. says

    The greatest poet then alive (and according to his translator) said:

    Myself when young did eagerly frequent
    Doctor and saint, and heard great argument,
    About it and about, but evermore
    Came out by the same door as in I went.

    Salty has been in and out so many times I’ve lost count. But I wish to leave by the same door as in I came (@ #2, and no points taken, KG)

    I repeat:

    I would cheerfully plead guilty to a charge of “Islamophobia” if I could understand the term and its implications. But as it means “irrational fear of Islam” I suppose a court would probably find me not guilty on the grounds of sanity.

    “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” — Bukhari 9.84.57 ‘baddala deenahu, faqtuhulu’

    ( http://sheikyermami.com/apostasy-whoever-changes-his-islamic-religion-kill-him/ )

    Given the track record of Islam to date, it is hard to separate rational fear of it from irrational.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostasy_in_Islam

    ****************

    Nor does hostility to an idea, or series of them as embodied in Islam, equate to automatic hostility to those raised in Islam: ie Muslims.

    Unfortunately, that needs spelling out to those who throw the charge of ‘Islamophobia’ round.

  72. says

    SC, I’m not ignoring the phenomenon, nor am I arguing for ignoring it.

    You have been, and KG and I have both pointed to where.

    I’m arguing for not using that word for it.

    I’ve explained why: it equates dissent from Islam with hatred of Muslims, and thus convinces a lot of people that the two are the same thing.

    It doesn’t unless you’re motivated to read it in that narrow way. That’s not the way it’s defined on Wikipedia or generally anywhere else except amongst the two groups I mentioned. The word does not do that; some people try to do that, and they would regardless of the word used.

    I’m not sure why you’re not sure why I’m saying that. I didn’t like your “This is really disturbing” @ 53 – it did look to me like implying that I might be at least veering toward xenophobia.

    I was saying that you haven’t consistently acknowledged the existence or seriousness of the phenomenon you, after some discussion and reluctantly, suggested you would refer to as “Muslimophobia.” This was shown in your rejection of obvious parallels with anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, in the fact that you don’t recognize a common thread in the items KG listed, in the fact that you don’t think that this form of bigotry really warrants a name, and in the fact that you seem to equate every reference to it with merely a legitimate criticism of Islam. This is disturbing in that it sounds politically just extraordinarily and dangerously naïve, which is totally uncharacteristic for you.

    I just don’t get it. Why can’t you just say that you find the term Muslimophobic more useful and precise to describe a real and serious problem, that there are many acts that are called it and aren’t, often for political motives, and that we should oppose these and support free expression without losing sight of the realities of anti-Muslim bigotry in our countries?

  73. says

    The only item anyone has cited as a reason to think otherwise is that I said I wouldn’t talk about a collection of four or five separate things as if they were one thing. [Not true.] Der. That doesn’t cash out as saying some of them are benign ffs!

    If you were asked

    What term would you suggest for the ravings of David Duke and David Irving, the people who froth at the mouth about Jewish cultural influence, those who attack synagogues, and those who claim Obama is controlled by a Jewish cabal?

    and responded that you wouldn’t group those together and “don’t think there is any particular need for a one-word term for every kind of malice or idiocy there is,” it would be reasonable to read this as ignoring or dismissing the phenomenon of anti-Semitism. If, shortly after, you described the battle against “anti-Semitism” as “the battle against any and all criticism or mockery of Judaism or Israel,” especially in a context in which you’ve already strongly implied that all claims of anti-Semitism form part of a witch hunt, that reading would appear to receive further confirmation.

  74. says

    And I didn’t say I “don’t recognize a common thread in the items KG listed.” That’s not what I said or what I meant.

    You think I’m being naive; I think you’re being naive. My view of the word is not as eccentric as you think, and even if it were, that wouldn’t make it wrong. “Partial-birth abortion” and “death tax” are very widely used now; that doesn’t make them innocent straightforward phrases that we should all accept without looking behind them.

  75. says

    And I didn’t say I “don’t recognize a common thread in the items KG listed.” That’s not what I said or what I meant.

    You said: “I wouldn’t suggest any term; I also wouldn’t group all those items together,” with no further explanation.

    You think I’m being naive; I think you’re being naive.

    You haven’t argued that case anywhere, and you have no argument for it without misrepresenting mine.

    My view of the word is not as eccentric as you think,

    I don’t think it’s eccentric at all. As I said, there are groups that are politically motivated to promote that reading, and you’re playing right into their hands.

    I’m done here for today. Your #87 was pretty sad. I’ll try to stick the flounce this time.

  76. says

    …totally uncharacteristic for you.

    Seconded.

    Ophelia, I’ve seen you disagree vehemently with dozens of different things over the last year(?) or so. I’ve never seen you take this sort of stance on any of them. Maybe I’m just some asshole, and easily dismissed. Fair enough, I’m consistently argumentative and annoying so maybe my comparison between anti-Muslim and anti-Jew bigots can be ignored without explanation.

    Is Salty an asshole too? Is Salty just an argumentative jerk too? Do you think ANY of us are particularly sympathetic towards Islam in general let alone Islamist extremists in particular? I’m know you’re not a bigot, I’m not trying to even mildly hint in that general direction. I DO wonder if this isn’t an understandable but not-useful push-back against Islamist silencing tactics by refusing to use any terminology in common with them?

  77. says

    I know what I said, and it was not that I “don’t recognize a common thread in the items KG listed.” It was different from that. It was something else. It was not the same.

    You haven’t argued that case anywhere, and you have no argument for it without misrepresenting mine.

    Yes I have and yes I do.

  78. says

    Joe, sorry, I don’t know what you mean by “this sort of stance.”

    I don’t know why this is so difficult. I’m not saying “hooray for demonization of all Muslims!!!” I’m saying “Islamophobia” is a word that confuses two issues and many of the people who try to think about it. That’s all. I don’t know why that’s being taken as “I’m a huge fan of the group-hatred that ‘Islamophobia’ is supposed to name but actually doesn’t.”

  79. says

    I’m still waiting to hear where Maryam Namazie points out the dangers of Islamophobia.

    I frankly think this was a somewhat willful misreading by KG (whom I don’t know, as far as I remember), maybe for purposes of self-righteous posturing. I don’t think I’ve said anything that merits all this shock-horror about my refusal to say “Islamophobia” is a perfectly unproblematic word. Now that we’ve gotten into heavier and heavier breathing about my possible potential maybe sort of kind of almost racism…..I say bullshit.

  80. bspiken says

    Ok, this two sentences may be worth the heavy breathing:

    “…this shock-horror about my refusal to say “Islamophobia” is a perfectly unproblematic word.”

    “Now that we’ve gotten into heavier and heavier breathing about my possible potential maybe sort of kind of almost racism…”

    That made me chuckle. And it’s, as far as I can tell, the only two items being discussed here.

  81. Michael Fugate says

    F
    You asked the question “Don’t people know what Islamophobia is? ”
    I think from your standpoint the answer would be no, but you didn’t offer a definition. I thought you should – saying “nope, that’s not it” doesn’t help too much. Given that accusations of Islamophobia were leveled against those posting a Jesus and Mo cartoon, the levelers apparently don’t know what it is either. It seems that many are confused about the proper definition, but you indicate that you know what it is and yet you didn’t offer it up.

  82. F says

    Ophelia Benson @ 83

    I’m not making the argument you seem to think I’m making. I’m explaining my understanding of the term with respect to pretty much all my previous experience with it. As I said, I recognize your usage and definition. I don’t think it is the only usage, but I’ll certainly be aware in the future that some usages are not incorrect, but in fact the intended original usage of the term. (I’m taking your word on this, as I don’t have a reason not to do so, and I am otherwise not running off to the library.)

    Whatever, as I said, when reading the further posts in the thread, this usage of Islamophobia became apparent to me. I’ve always used it to mean an irrational fear and hatred of things Islamic or Islam-associated (bigotry). I see now that it is a dangerous term to use because it was poisoned, and I’ll continue to take this into account. I’ll also continue to take into account it’s usage in writings where it is not used that way.

  83. F says

    Michael Fugate

    Accusations of Islamophobia do not Islamophobia make. You see, I would call that an inaccurate accusation. Like the accusation that Obama is a racist who hates white people doesn’t make the word racist mean something else, it’s just a bullshit accusation. I would say that, excepting this whole prior-baggage argument puts the term in a different light for me.

    Whatever, as you may have read already, I see that Ophelia Benson makes certain claims as to the origins and intent of the term Islamophobic which I’ll have to take into account. It is apparent that many commenters have the same consideration of the term, so I’ll have to revise my understanding in a minor way in the future.

  84. says

    According to Wikipedia, ‘Islamophobia’ describes prejudice against, hatred or irrational fear of Islam or Muslims [ref] The term dates back to the late 1980s or early 1990s,[ref] but came into common usage after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.[ref]

    “In 1997, the British Runnymede Trust defined Islamophobia as the “dread or hatred of Islam and therefore, to the fear and dislike of all Muslims,” stating that it also refers to the practice of discriminating against Muslims by excluding them from the economic, social, and public life of the nation. It includes the perception that Islam has no values in common with other cultures, is inferior to the West and is a violent political ideology rather than a religion.[ref]

    “Professor in History of Religion, Anne Sophie Roald, states that Islamophobia was recognized as a form of intolerance alongside Xenophobia and Antisemitism at the “Stockholm International Forum on Combating Intolerance”.[ref] The conference, attended by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, the OSCE Secretary General Ján Kubis and representatives of the European Union and Council of Europe, adopted a declaration to combat “genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia, and to combat all forms of racial discrimination and intolerance related to it.” [ref]

    So there you have it. Numerous scholars and officials have conflated Islam and Muslims, opposition to Islam with opposition to Muslims, and “hatred or irrational fear of Islam” with “hatred or irrational fear of Muslims.”

    So it looks like we are stuck witha pernicious ambiguity. The only way out that I can see is to require any user of the ambiguous word ‘Islamophobia’ to define it precisely, and to point out the established ambiguity before any further discussion happens. It should mean just ‘irrational fear of Islam’. Use of the term “Muslimophobia’ would help make that distinction in the public mind, and should be encouraged. Other possibilities: anti-Islamic, anti-Koranic.

  85. Bruce Gorton says

    Oh and SC

    Yeah, I’ll accept I used the the wrong word then.

    But here is the thing: How are you dealing with any very real concerns with the use of the word “Islamophobia”? Or with Islam motivated violence?

    How would you suggest dealing with it?

  86. says

    Bruce – well from my pov that’s not a funny thing at all; it’s exactly what I would have predicted. Bob Pitt types call Maryam herself “Islamophobic.”

  87. KG says

    And I didn’t say I “don’t recognize a common thread in the items KG listed.” That’s not what I said or what I meant. – Ophelia Benson

    It’s just bizarre that you keep on making this claim, when anyone can see for themselves that it’s not true. Your exact words were:

    I wouldn’t suggest any term; I also wouldn’t group all those items together.

    Without, as SC says, any further explanation. WTF is supposed to be the difference?

  88. says

    Don’t accuse me of lying, please.

    I wouldn’t group all those items together under one word. Of course that’s not the same as saying they have no common thread!

    I also don’t, for instance, talk about “the Muslim world” or “the Muslim community” – unlike the BBC, for instance, which appears to think that’s the only right-on way to talk about such things. Obviously Muslims have “a common thread” – but that’s not a reason to treat them all as a lump.

    All this rude incredulity about “no further explanation” – that’s because I don’t explain everything from the beginning every time I post, let alone every time I comment. I sort of expect long-time readers to have some idea of what I think and why (and I sort of expect new readers to be tentative with their accusations in case they’ve misunderstood).

  89. says

    While I agree that the term “Islamophobic” can be misused to stifle legitimate criticism of Islam, I do think that Islamophobia is a real and serious phenomenon, and I use the word deliberately and advisedly. The exaggerated fear of Western countries being “swamped by Muslims”, and the desire of xenophobic groups like UKIP and the Tea Party to restrict Muslim immigration or to deprive Muslims of civil rights (as with the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy), is something I find very dangerous. I would call the likes of Geert Wilders, Mark Steyn and Pat Condell Islamophobes, for instance. The xenophobic right don’t give a damn about the human rights of people oppressed in Muslim communities; they just want to keep Muslims out of Western countries.

    I think the analogy KG and SC drew with anti-Semitism is an appropriate one. Are false accusations of anti-Semitism sometimes used to suppress legitimate criticism of the Israeli government, for instance? Absolutely, yes. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t actual anti-Semitism out there too. I agree with Ophelia that the term “Islamophobia” is overused and misused, but I’d have to disagree that it isn’t a meaningful or useful term at all. We need a word to label the likes of Condell, Steyn or Wilders, and to separate ourselves from them; to ensure that those with racist and xenophobic sympathies are not treated as though they had anything useful to say on this topic.

    That said, I think it’s also important to work on behalf of people who are marginalized within Muslim communities, such as Muslim LGBT people, or women who are victims of domestic abuse; such people are often marginalized twice over, both by bigotry within their own communities, and by anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bigotry in Western society as a whole. I understand entirely that Ophelia’s own criticisms of Islam are grounded on the need to stand up for the human rights of those people, as well as for freedom of speech and conscience (a subject on which I almost always agree with her posts), so this post is certainly not intended to be an attack.

  90. says

    (I should add, for the sake of clarity, that I completely support Ophelia’s stand in defence of the UCL atheist society. Freedom of expression is extremely important, and I don’t think that students’ unions should be in the business of suppressing speech merely because it is unpopular or controversial.)

  91. says

    But the word “Islamophobia” doesn’t name the exaggerated fear of Western countries being “swamped by Muslims” and the desire of xenophobic groups like UKIP and the Tea Party to restrict Muslim immigration or to deprive Muslims of civil rights. It names an attitude to Islam, not an attitude to Muslims.

    Please, no more cries of “only to the literal-minded.” It’s absurd to rule the literal meaning of a word like this out of bounds.

  92. says

    If we need a word to label the likes of Condell, Steyn or Wilders, why isn’t “xenophobic” a perfectly good word to do that? A much better word, in fact? It gets at exactly what you say, which is that they’re really just anti-immigrant. It also doesn’t lay the trap that “Islamophobic” does. Its meaning is well established and has roots far in the past, as indicated by its Greek root. It also doesn’t single out Islam when in fact immigrants come in many religions and no religions.

  93. says

    Walton @ #107:

    Yours is an interesting post. It has (albeit unintentionally) reinforced in my mind the the view that ‘Islamophobia’ is worse than useless as a term for use in normal conversation.

    You say: “I would call the likes of Geert Wilders, Mark Steyn and Pat Condell Islamophobes, for instance. The xenophobic right don’t give a damn about the human rights of people oppressed in Muslim communities; they just want to keep Muslims out of Western countries.” From what I know of the three luminaries you mention, this is probably a fair assessment.

    But further down, you switch to the more accurate descriptor ‘anti-Muslim’, as in the need for support of “women who are victims of domestic abuse; such people are often marginalized twice over, both by bigotry within their own communities, and by anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bigotry in Western society as a whole.”

    Your post fits well with a piece I found yesterday on Muslim immigrants in France. Written by Michel Gurfinkiel, editor in chief of Valeurs Actuelles, billed as “France’s leading conservative weekly newsmagazine”. (NB: The article is far more temperate in tone than its title suggests.)

    Gurfinkel makes the interesting observation that: “… as many sociologists — including Muslim ones — acknowledge, an almost symbiotic relationship exists in the [Muslim] ghettoes between the underclass way of life and ethnic/religious separatism. Conservative Muslims see the ghettoes as a way to benefit from immigrating to France without having to assimilate into French society. Some level of violence has the advantage of ensuring separation from the outside world and can be used as a bargaining tool with the authorities to get more de facto autonomy — meaning that Muslim enclaves are ruled only by Muslims according to Islamic law and mores — as well as to obtain more funding. It also serves as a social control tool against liberal-minded Muslim individuals, for conservative Muslim leaders can easier exert pressure on liberal-minded Muslims — for instance to compel females to don the veil — within the context of the ghettos’ violence.”

    Gurfinkiel adds:

    “Every community has the right to uphold and protect its way of life, so long as minorities’ rights are protected as well. Not so long ago, this consideration applied primarily to colonial areas threatened by the industrial West. Arguably, it applies to Western industrial nations as well, should they be threatened by mass immigration. In the case at hand, the main point is not whether mosques may be built or if hallal food may be distributed; but whether polygamy is to be tolerated and the police to operate in Muslim neighborhoods. In other words, Islam ought to adapt to the traditional French way of life, with its emphasis on individual freedom and secularism, rather than the reverse.

    “The current debate about immigration in America is much more about ethnicity and language than about religion. Still, many lessons may be drawn from the case of France.”

    I would characterise myself as pro-liberal. I see liberalism as the foundation upon which everything else of value rests. Unfortunately, there is a constant need to reaffirm and defend it.

    Thus in one sense of that ambiguous word, I am ‘Islamophobic’. I am anti-Islam, because Islam is anti-liberal. But that does not make me anti-Muslim. Muslims have a right to hold and to preach their views, same as everyone else.

    http://www.meforum.org/337/islam-in-france-the-french-way-of-life-is-in

  94. lm says

    If we need a word to label the likes of Condell, Steyn or Wilders, why isn’t “xenophobic” a perfectly good word to do that?

    Because xenophobia isn’t accurate either, not with the level of precision that you’re demanding from Islamophobic.

    Wilders is bigoted about Muslims, not just about immigrants. He said “Islam is not a religion” and “the right to religious freedom should not apply”.

    He said that in the USA, where 25-35% of Muslims are native-born African Americans. So xenophobia doesn’t cover everything that’s wrong with his statement. But Islamophobia does.

    Please, no more cries of “only to the literal-minded.” It’s absurd to rule the literal meaning of a word like this out of bounds.

    You can demand that the literal meaning should be in play, and maybe in thirty years you will eventually win that battle, but the truth now is that it only has your meaning to the literal-minded, and the rest of us are justified in insisting that words should be used according to their widely understood meanings.

  95. lm says

    “Islamophobia” doesn’t pathologize dissent. We are capable of making clear that disagreeing with Islam’s claims is not Islamophobia, as every atheist who applies the term does.

    Organized proponents of the term can be clear about this too: “mere criticism of Islam and Muslims is not at issue, what crosses the line into Islamophobia is irrational and unreasonable beliefs, statements or actions directed at Islam and Muslims. For instance stopping the construction of a Mosque may or may not be Islamophobic. In some cases it may really be a zoning issue”. (I removed the link, since your blog ate it, but you can google that quote from Loonwatch.)

    So back to your question:

    If we need a word to label the likes of Condell, Steyn or Wilders, why isn’t “xenophobic” a perfectly good word to do that? A much better word, in fact? It gets at exactly what you say, which is that they’re really just anti-immigrant.

    It’s not a perfectly good word for them because they are also bigoted against Muslims per se, and not just against immigrants. The term you offer is therefore inaccurate in an important way.

    (It sure looks like you were asking why isn’t xenophobia more accurate than Islamophobia, and now you’re objecting that I answered by comparing the relative accuracy of these two terms.)

  96. says

    Of course we’re capable of making clear that disagreeing with Islam’s claims is not Islamophobia, but what the hell is the use of a word that requires that kind of clarification? Why use a word that demands an immediate “by which I mean phobia about Muslims, not Islam, of course, despite the ‘Islam’ at the beginning, I do hope that’s clear”? And what do you mean “as every atheist who applies the term does”? Every time an atheist uses the word “Islamophobia”, that atheist makes clear that disagreeing with Islam’s claims is not Islamophobia? Really? How would you even know that? Are you privy to every atheist conversation on earth?

    This is ridiculous. It’s like saying it’s perfectly reasonable to call apples “cherries” because we’re capable of making clear that cherries are not apples. More to the point, it’s like saying it’s perfectly reasonable to call hatred of Germans “Nazismophobia” because we’re capable of making clear that disagreement with Nazism’s claims is not Nazismophobia.

    It’s not a perfectly good word for them because they are also bigoted against Muslims per se, and not just against immigrants.

    No that wasn’t the claim. The claim was that they are really just bigoted against immigrants per se, not that they were bigoted against immigrants in addition.

  97. lm says

    Of course we’re capable of making clear that disagreeing with Islam’s claims is not Islamophobia, but what the hell is the use of a word that requires that kind of clarification?

    In the wild, in conversations between people who are not ideologically motivated to tear down existing conventions of language, it does not require that kind of clarification.

    Or would you claim that prior to this discussion, you were actually unaware of the the common meaning of Islamophobia? Did you need this clarification made for you all of a sudden, in this thread for the first time in your life?

    This issue of alleged ambiguity only comes up when people like Ian MacDougall deliberately obfuscate the issue, by feigning that there’s no such thing as an irrational fear about Islam, and all fears about Islam are rational.

    What I mean is that while we’re all capable of making this distinction, we do so implicitly. It doesn’t really need to be done explicitly until the opponents of natural language show up.

    And what do you mean “as every atheist who applies the term does”?

    I mean that every atheist who applies the term Islamophobia also disagrees with the claims of Islam. This is true because every atheist disagrees with the claims of Islam.

    This is all so obvious that it doesn’t need to be said, when an out-of-the-closet atheist calls someone Islamophobic, the atheist doesn’t also need to explicitly say “of course it’s possible to disagree that there is no god but God, and Muhammad is his prophet, without being Islamophobic.” It’s implicit that the atheist making a charge of Islamophobia against another probably does not believe herself to be Islamophobic.

    More to the point, it’s like saying it’s perfectly reasonable to call hatred of Germans “Nazismophobia” because we’re capable of making clear that disagreement with Nazism’s claims is not Nazismophobia.

    Bad comparison. Not all Germans are Nazis, therefore not all hatred of Germans as Germans could be called Nazismphobia. But all hatred of Muslims as Muslims is Islamophobia.

    No that wasn’t the claim. The claim was that they are really just bigoted against immigrants per se, not that they were bigoted against immigrants in addition.

    Well, if that claim was made, it was inaccurate. If that’s your focus, then you’re arguing that xenophobia is a better term for an erroneous claim.

    Wilders, for example, is bigoted against not only immigrants, but against Muslims per se, and against some of their cultural practices, including Islam itself. That’s Islamophobia when he says Islam is not a religion; it’s not just Muslim-phobia, let alone xenophobia.

  98. says

    Im: “This issue of alleged ambiguity only comes up when people like Ian MacDougall deliberately obfuscate the issue, by feigning that there’s no such thing as an irrational fear about Islam, and all fears about Islam are rational.”

    Would you mind supplying a reference for that ‘deliberate obfuscation’ on my part? (# in this thread or for any other will do.)

    What I said at #2 was “Given the track record of Islam to date, it is hard to separate rational fear of it from irrational.”

    First: be so good as to inform us given the track record of Islam to date, how one separates rational fear of it from irrational fear of it. ‘Hard to separate from’ does not mean ‘equal to’. (Hint: some chemical compounds, such as the chlorides of sodium and potassium, are distinctly different substances, but are likewise a bit tricky to tell apart, or to separate when mixed – either as solutions or when dry.)

    The problem, I remind you, is that ‘Islamophobia’ is defined as prejudice against, hatred or irrational fear of Islam or Muslims. (That’s Islam OR Muslims.) The people who cooked up that term and its definition in the first place were the ones who obfuscated and ambiguised.

    Unless you want to maintain that there can in principle be no such fears as RATIONAL fear of Islam or RATIONAL fear of Muslims (go for it if wish), then I’d say you’d be better off searching for the Elixir of Youth or the Philosopher’s Stone.

    Second: Unless YOU can make that elusive distinction, I think you should withdraw that remark.

    Third: You owe me an apology in any case, for twisting my words and misrepresenting what I said.

    I hope you are not a lawyer. (Then again, perhaps you are.)

  99. lm says

    Would you mind supplying a reference for that ‘deliberate obfuscation’ on my part? (# in this thread or for any other will do.)

    #2, #117. You go on to do it again immediately after asking me where you did it.

    First: be so good as to inform us given the track record of Islam to date, how one separates rational fear of it from irrational fear of it.

    The same way a person can judge whether anything else is rational or irrational. By thinking.

    Wilders’ claim in Florida that “the right to religious freedom should not apply” to Islam assumes that the United States cannot deal with Muslim extremists except by carving out an exception to the First Amendment. That is an irrational fear. The USA certainly must take Muslim extremists seriously, and so Bush and Obama have, but this will not necessitate ending religious freedom for Muslims generally.

    So there’s an example of an irrational fear of Islam.

    The problem, I remind you, is that ‘Islamophobia’ is defined as prejudice against, hatred or irrational fear of Islam or Muslims. (That’s Islam OR Muslims.) The people who cooked up that term and its definition in the first place were the ones who obfuscated and ambiguised.

    Wow. It takes a remarkable level of paranoia to believe that behind the evolution of natural language there must be a cabal bent on world obfuscation.

    There are many words and phrases I find unsatisfying. “Could care less” is one I hate and fear. But I don’t imagine that there must have been conspirators who cooked it up in the beginning with the intention of destroying my way of life.

    Unless you want to maintain that there can in principle be no such fears as RATIONAL fear of Islam or RATIONAL fear of Muslims (go for it if wish),

    Nope, I can also point to rational fears of this type. A gay Muslim man of my acquaintance, a few years ago when last I was in touch with him, was afraid to come out to his family because his father was quite conservative, and figured coming out would cause enough friction that he’d have to move out on his own, which he was not yet financially prepared to do. This, like many similar fears by gay children of Christian parents, was almost certainly a rational fear, which was in part about his father’s religiosity.

    Thus, I have now identified an irrational fear of Islam, and a rational fear of Islam. I have found the philosopher’s stone, as you put it. How did I do it? In part, by not wasting my time reading Daniel Pipes. (It’s truly remarkable that you think you can link to him approvingly and not be recognized as a bigot.)

    Third: You owe me an apology in any case, for twisting my words and misrepresenting what I said.

    You owe the reader an apology for your duplicity. You weasel that oh it might be possible hypothetically to differentiate between rational and irrational fears of this type, but you insist that doing so is prohibitively impossible on the level of alchemy.

    And yet, here I’ve done it, without even the aid of a particle accelerator.

  100. Gingerbaker says

    KG

    “I see gingerbaker@76 thinks hating all Muslims is justified. Thanks for making my case so clearly, gingerbaker.”

    If that is your interpretation of what I said, then the only case that you have made is that you are an idiot.

  101. KG says

    Ophelia Benson,

    Not every claim that someone is saying something obviously false is a claim that they are lying. In the current case, I’m accusing you of egregious obtuseness, which you continue to show.

    I frankly think this was a somewhat willful misreading by KG (whom I don’t know, as far as I remember)

    If you are going to make accusations of wilful misreading, you should take care to make them against the right person. I have not mentioned Maryam Nazamie at all until now.

    I wouldn’t group all those items together under one word. Of course that’s not the same as saying they have no common thread!

    It is simply bizarre to deny that such a word is useful, to identify that common thread – unless one wishes to deny the significance of the common thread. SC and I have agreed that “Islamophobia” has drawbacks, and that “Muslimophobia” would be better; I shall probably be using it in future, while explaining why I prefer it.

    we need a word to label the likes of Condell, Steyn or Wilders, why isn’t “xenophobic” a perfectly good word to do that?

    Evidently you don’t read your own threads that carefully. As has already been explained, “xenophobic” does not capture the specifically anti-Muslim nature of the propaganda and organisations involved. As I have already noted, the primary organisation of this type in the UK, the EDL (English Defence League) has immigrant members. Hatred directed specifically at Muslims has become a real and dangerous social phenomenon, and as such requires a name.

    The claim was that they are really just bigoted against immigrants per se, not that they were bigoted against immigrants in addition.

    A claim that is quite clearly false in many cases, if only because some of those involved are immigrants.

    Incidentally, I’ve tried and failed to come up with a definitive origin for “Islamophobia”. As Ian MacDougall says, wikipedia’s earliest source is a 1997 report by the Runnymede Trust – who are certainly not Islamists – although the wikipedia article also says it was in use in the 1980s. A recent scholarly article, Bleich (2011) “What is Islamophobia and how much is there?”, American Behavioral Scientist 55, 1581-1600, also gives the Runnymede Trust report as the earliest specific source, but traces the concept back to Edward Said’s 1978 book Orientalism. The ABS article suggests a definition of “indiscriminate negative attitudes or emotions directed at Islam or Muslims” (emphasis added). I do in fact see such an indiscriminate attitude to Islam in, for example, the denial that early Arabic science (i.e., science conducted in the medium of Arabic, in Muslim-ruled states) had any original content, which is simply false. While not harmful in the way that attacks on Muslims’ physical security or civil rights are, such an attitude is foolish and irrational.

    gingerbaker,
    You said, @76:

    understandably and justly, people hate what they fear.

    You also argued that fear of Muslims was rational.
    You were thus arguing that hatred of Muslims is just.

  102. says

    Im:

    “Wilders’ claim in Florida that “the right to religious freedom should not apply” to Islam assumes that the United States cannot deal with Muslim extremists except by carving out an exception to the First Amendment. That is an irrational fear. The USA certainly must take Muslim extremists seriously, and so Bush and Obama have, but this will not necessitate ending religious freedom for Muslims generally.

    “So there’s an example of an irrational fear of Islam.”

    I disagree. Wilders, being a politician, is playing there to public wariness of Islam, however based. In its own way, and given Wilders’ priorities and agenda, it is a rational pitch to both rational and irrational fears out there in the public arena. You however, choose to present it as an example of what you argue and classify as an irrational fear. Wilders I am sure would reason from his own premises that the First Amendment does not go far enough. Or whatever. Wilders is irrational IN YOUR OPINION, which is not quite the same thing as irrational per se.

    That is why I said that it is difficult to differentiate between rational fear and irrational (‘phobic’, as in ‘Islamophobia’) fear of Islam. Some people’s thinking leads them to fear Islam where others do not. There is no simple and understandable rule or yardstick to go by. And it is made worse by conflation of fear of Islam with fear of Muslims, and lack of distinction between fear that is perceived as rationally based and that which is perceived as irrational. I suspect also that the both the users and originators of the term would argue that most fear of Islam is ‘phobia’.

    What about Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s desire for a round-the-clock bodyguard? Is that rational or irrational?

    Re your gay Muslim friend: “…This, like many similar fears by gay children of Christian parents, was almost certainly a rational fear, which was in part about his father’s religiosity….”

    Given the doctrines, track record (particularly in Islamic countries) and polling results of Muslim men in the West (see Gingerbaker’s comment #76 above) your friend’s fear I agree is reasoned.

    But I remind you that you accused me of “feigning that there’s no such thing as an irrational fear about Islam, and all fears about Islam are rational.” I never said anything like that. It was indefensible garbage, perhaps the result of hasty reading or writing on your part. But I reason from your conspicuous lack of withdrawal on that, or any attempt on your part to defend it, that you know it was garbage. You just don’t want to admit it.

    And on what infernal basis do you accuse me of arguing by link to Daniel Pipes?

    For the record: the references Wikipedia cites (see below) appear to me to nail down the likely source/s of the dodgy double-barreled definition.

    # “Teaching the Global Dimension” David Hick, Cathie Holden (2007). P.140.
    * Sandra Fredman, Discrimination and Human Rights, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-924603-3, p.121.
    * Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Muslims in the West: From Sojourners to Citizens, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-514806-1, p.19
    * Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, Runnymede Trust, 1997, p. 1, cited in Quraishi, Muzammil. Muslims and Crime: A Comparative Study, Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2005, p. 60. ISBN 0-7546-4233-X. Early in 1997, the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, at that time part of the Runnymede Trust, issued a consultative document on Islamophobia under the chairmanship of Professor Gordon Conway, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex. The final report, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, was launched in November 1997 by Home Secretary Jack Straw

  103. KG says

    Early in 1997, the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, at that time part of the Runnymede Trust, issued a consultative document on Islamophobia under the chairmanship of Professor Gordon Conway, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex. The final report, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, was launched in November 1997 by Home Secretary Jack Straw

    Ah, yes, Professor Gordon Conway and Jack Straw: notorious Islamist extremists, both.

  104. says

    Of course not; that was never the claim. Useful idiots is more like it.

    Meanwhile, KG, I would like you to make more of an effort to be civil. You have to try harder because you’re just a “KG” while Ian and I are using our names.

  105. KG says

    Ian MacDougall@125,

    It was coined by Islamists for all the obvious reasons. – Ophelia Benson@35

    I’ve asked more than once for evidence of this; the only response is a reference to a chapter of a book I don’t have. If that chapter contains the evidence, I fail to understand why Ophelia has not specified which Islamist(s) coined it and when.

    Drive-by trolls of all countries, unite!

    If you’re referring to me, you’re being stupid. I’m neither trolling, nor “drive-by” – a drive-by troll makes a single comment and leaves. I have seldom posted here before, but you’ll find numerous comments from me at Pharyngula, and smaller numbers on other FTB blogs.

    Ophelia, or for that matter Ian,
    If you care to email me at kg17291729 at gmail dot com, I’ll tell you my name. PZ and many at Pharyngula know it, having met me, so you can even check that I’m telling the truth.

    Look up what Jack Straw said about the Motoons. – Ophelia Benson

    I don’t have to agree with everything Jack Straw says to know he is neither an Islamist, nor an idiot; and knows a great deal more about the situation in the UK than you do.

  106. says

    But did you in fact look up what he said about the Motoons? It’s hardly irrelevant to this subject. Of course I know he’s not literally an idiot, but (as you probably know) that’s not the point of the phrase “useful idiot.” What he said about the Motoons was classic useful idiocy. Of course he knows more about the situation in the UK than I do, but then so do people who think what he said about the Motoons was classic useful idiocy.

  107. says

    KG:

    You were quoting sources cited in a post of mine: which came in turn from the Wikipedia article on ‘Islamophobia’. The article gave those sources as the origins of the term. So that addressed it to me. Also what you said under the quote from me: “Drive-by trolls of all countries, unite!”

    That you post on Pharyngula etc, using your real name or otherwise, is about as relevant here as comments you might spray-paint on the side of some bus. For my part, I don’t go to Phayngula or to most other FTB sites. I just don’t have the time. (Though Hank Fox runs a beauty: might go there more often.)

    It’s what you post here that counts, and the moniker you choose to use. And I don’t doubt that people have valid reasons for preferring anonymity. I do it myself occasionally on some other sites. In fact it is only here at N&C and on my own blogs that I use my real name. But in my experience, trolls always do it. Goes with the territory.

  108. KG says

    But did you in fact look up what he said about the Motoons? – Ophelia Benson

    I tried to, but the first four links led me to pages where I couldn’t find any occurrence of “Motoons”. On a second attempt I have now found it. As I expected, I profoundly disagree with what he said. But as Foreign Secretary at the time, he was very unlikely to feel he could say “Suck it up, Muslims”, if that was what he really thought – or even simply keep his mouth shut; so it does not show that he is an idiot, useful or useless – just that he’s a politician.

    Ian MacDougall,
    You asked:

    KG, who said the originators of that woeful term ‘Islamophobia’ must have been Islamists?

    I told you. What are you complaining about? I cited the wikipedia article, and its reference to the Runnymede Trust report, in the comment immediately preceding yours (#120), although I admit I did not name Straw and Conway.

    And I don’t doubt that people have valid reasons for preferring anonymity. I do it myself occasionally on some other sites. In fact it is only here at N&C and on my own blogs that I use my real name. But in my experience, trolls always do it. Goes with the territory.

    I see: All X do Y, you do Y, therefore you are an X.
    I do hope you’re not employed to teach logic.

    Ophelia, since you are obviously going to go on pestering me about my name, it’s Nick Gotts. Unlike “Ian MacDougall”, which must belong to several hundred people at least (192.com says there are more than 50 in the UK), it identifies me pretty well. Last time I checked, I was the only person with that name in the first several pages turned up by a Google search.

  109. KG says

    BTW, if you go here and search, you will find that I am neither afraid nor reluctant to criticise either Muslims or Muhammed, using my real name. You’ll need to go to the bottom and click to get more comments for at least one of them.

  110. says

    “I see: All X do Y, you do Y, therefore you are an X.
    I do hope you’re not employed to teach logic.”

    Let me work that out for myself, Nick.

    In my experience all trolls use anonymity.
    In my experience I sometimes use anonymity.
    Therefore in my experience I am a troll.

    No. Let me try that again:

    Some users of anonymity are trolls,
    I sometimes use anonymity,
    Therefore sometimes I am a troll.

    Now you’ve got me so confused I can’t work out whether that was what I said at #129 or not. I’ll keep working on it, but can’t promise a result before the end of 2012.

    So if I don’t get back to you in the mean time, merry Christmas.

  111. KG says

    Ian MacDougall,

    I was merely citing your own stupidities back to you. In your #125 you implied I was a “drive-by troll”, despite the fact that I have been engaged in a sustained and connected argument, in the course of which I have conceded that “Islamophobia” is a problematic term, while arguing that it refers to a real and dangerous phenomenon, citing specific examples and a peer-reviewed paper, and showing that “xenophobia” is not an adequate description because of the specifically anti-Muslim nature of both propaganda and organisations – arguments that have not been challenged other than by blank denial. In #129 you attempted to justify the claim that I was a troll, on the grounds that I was anonymous, and troll are always anonymous.

    I leave it to others to decide who is behaving in a more troll-like fashion.

  112. Jurjen S. says

    KG wrote in post #31:

    “Antisemitism” no more means what its literal form would imply than does “Islamophobia”. “Semite”, when the word was in regular use in anthropology, included Arabs and many peoples of the ancient Near East, as well as Jews; but in practice antisemitism has always meant hatred of Jews.

    The reason “antisemitism” has (as you correctly note) in practice always meant hatred of Jews was because it was specifically coined as a more socially acceptable substitute for Judenhaß, “Jew-hatred.” The literal meaning of “Semite” is irrelevant to the meaning of “antisemitism” because “Semite” in this context was always a euphemism for Jew.

  113. KG says

    Jurjen S.,

    Actually, the history of the term seems to be more complicated with that, at least according to wikipedia. I quote:

    Although Wilhelm Marr is generally credited with coining the word anti-Semitism (see below), Alex Bein writes that the word was first used in 1860 by the Austrian Jewish scholar Moritz Steinschneider in the phrase “anti-Semitic prejudices”. Steinschneider used this phrase to characterize Ernest Renan’s ideas about how “Semitic races” were inferior to “Aryan races.” These pseudo-scientific theories concerning race, civilization, and “progress” had become quite widespread in Europe in the second half of the 19th century, especially as Prussian nationalistic historian Heinrich von Treitschke did much to promote this form of racism. He coined the term “the Jews are our misfortune” which would later be widely used by Nazis. In Treitschke’s writings Semitic was synonymous with Jewish, in contrast to its use by Renan and others.

    In 1873 German journalist Wilhelm Marr published a pamphlet “The Victory of the Jewish Spirit over the Germanic Spirit. Observed from a non-religious perspective.” (“Der Sieg des Judenthums über das Germanenthum. Vom nicht confessionellen Standpunkt aus betrachtet.”) in which he used the word “Semitismus” interchangeably with the word “Judentum” to denote both “Jewry” (the Jews as a collective) and “jewishness” (the quality of being Jewish, or the Jewish spirit). Although he did not use the word “Antisemitismus” in the pamphlet, the coining of the latter word followed naturally from the word “Semitismus”, and indicated either opposition to the Jews as a people, or else opposition to Jewishness or the Jewish spirit, which he saw as infiltrating German culture. In his next pamphlet, “The Way to Victory of the Germanic Spirit over the Jewish Spirit”, published in 1880, Marr developed his ideas further and coined the related German word Antisemitismus – antisemitism, derived from the word “Semitismus” that he had earlier used.

    Whoever first coined the word, there’s certainly no doubt that it was widely used by antisemites, and that it was closely connected with pseudo-scientific racism. Steve Cohen, in his history of British left-wing* antisemitism That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Anti-Semitic, makes the additional point that it has a much more specific content than mere anti-Jewish prejudice: that its key feature is the concept of the “Jewish conspiracy”, which is still found in some leftist circles, as well as among Islamists, more broadly among Muslims#, and on the Euro-American far right.

    *Cohen himself was of the left, specifically a Trotskyist.
    #I once worked with a Malaysian Muslim, a very decent person who worked amicably with my Jewish then-partner, but who was completely unaware that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a forgery.

  114. says

    Just spent an entertaining 2 hours reading through this thread.

    I think Ophelia was caught out a bit, by misremembering the supposed coining of the term as having been down to some kind of a Tariq Ramadan/Edward Said type/Islamist, rather than more likely dreamt up in a sociology department somewhere, run by exactly the sort of future Jack Straws we are training up in these S.U.’s to go out and run the raj with duplicity & doublethink.

    But however much I so want to vote for Ophelia, and loathe the overuse of the McCarthyite term, I have to find myself partway persuaded by the KG/Salty current axis, however trollishly rude they got.

    I agree, neither Xenophobia, nor Muslimophobia are good enough for me – they simply do not cover well enough those who DO Hate the sight of a Mosque on PURE Swiss soil, just as much as some viscerally cannot stand the sight of a menorah, or the colour Green, or Orange, or the other Green, or the juxtaposition of J&M depicted on equal standing.

    We deffo need a new word, but there’s no way it would ever break through the vested interests of the opinion-formers, press, soundbiters and people getting gov money to peacekeep & put out fires.

    I can tell you this, I’ve tried going up against Tariq Modood, in a liberal audience, in a Q & A, arguing specifically this case – his use of the term Islamophobia – I could feel, even as I was saying the words “…does not make someone a Muslimophobe…” every set of eyes in the room leaning around wondering how this obvious EDL sympathiser had the gall to challenge this smart professor.

  115. says

    I guess my closing point was that battling peoples ignorant use of the language is futile in the end.

    We’re just gonna have to suck it up, argue every time on a case-by-case basis, and recognise that some people will always see every GNU branded as someone who expediently votes UKIP in accordance with the Condell doctrine.

  116. says

    steve, no, not a “Tariq Ramadan/Edward Said type/Islamist” but the CAIR type. Not academics.

    I don’t see how battling misleading language is futile. Of course no one is going to reverse anything in an instant, but I don’t see why the battling itself is not educational, for instance.

    Mind you, I’m not sure I’d want to attempt it at a real-life talk. I do know that that’s a lot more difficult. Cowardly, aren’t I…

  117. says

    Seriously though, I really commend your spirit but don’t think you have adequately justified how to challenge the specifically Anti-Islamic xenophobes, such as the collective populists who pushed for banning Swiss minarets – a horrifying echo of something that seems to keep rearing its ugly head in that region of the world, and frankly seems to have directly led to France leaning that way too – banning Burqas & Armenian genocide denial. (Though that is seen as anti-ottomanic or anti-Turkic if anything, rather than , um Islamophobia!

    There does seem to be only one unique term carrying the weight (beyond the construct anti-Islam) that fits – [true] Islamophobia.

    :(

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