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Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Stop Smearing Critics of Islam as Islamophobes

The IHRC, a charity founded in 1997 to research, study, and bleat about anyone who is less than fawning about Islam, initiated the Annual Islamophobia Awards in 2003. The winners are, of course, not actually anti-Muslim bigots, but simply people who have had the temerity to criticize some aspect of Islamic faith or culture.

So Ayaan Hirsi Ali has won one for failing to show sufficient respect to the religion that ruined her childhood. How dare she! Tony Blair was awarded one as well, proving that even painfully PC politicians who go around quoting the Koran and saying what a wonderful religion Islam is can still find themselves labelled haters.

And now, eclipsing even those previous undeserving winners, Charlie Hebdo has been dishonored with an award. On March 7, exactly two months after the massacre—nice—the IHRC christened that mag the worst of the international Islamophobes. No one from the magazine was available to pick up the award, of course, since many of its writers are now dead.

The IHRC’s labelling of freshly-killed satirists is like a post-mortem justification for the massacre itself, a reminder of the “crimes” these people committed prior to being shot at their desks. In fact, it’s merely a less bloody version of the Islamic State’s habit of hanging a placard around the neck of some poor bloke about to be crucified or pushed off a building: a reminder of the wickedness done by these individuals who are being, or have been, executed.

It isn’t surprising that the IHRC’s giggling at the dead of Charlie Hebdo has been met with outrage. But now we need to go further. We need to reject, not only the grisly handing of an Islamophobia award to dead cartoonists, but also the very idea of Islamophobia—the word itself, the notion that to criticize or mock Islam is to be disordered and therefore in need of reprimanding or a cure.

We live in an era of phobias. They are apparently spreading like a ravenous blob, turning more and more human minds black with prejudice. Today, it isn’t only fear of spiders, clowns, or open spaces that is branded a phobia—so are certain ways of thinking, certain beliefs, moral viewpoints that fall outside the mainstream. ....

What we’re witnessing is the pathologizing of dissent, the treatment of edgy or just eccentric ideas as illnesses requiring silencing or even treatment. It’s a cynical attempt by certain groups and their media cheerleaders to opt-out of the battle of ideas by branding their opponents as irrational, and therefore not worthy of engagement.

As Glenn Reynolds put it:
To be fair, “stifling meaningful debate” is the whole point of branding things as phobias. It is, like most lefty tropes, just another way of saying shut up and submit.

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