The establishment media, who are responsible for legitimizing the liberal interventionist and neocon wars which are actually killing Muslims and many other people, try to compensate for this by disingenuously characterizing anti-Muslim hatred as crimes against Islam. But a crime against a religion is a victimless crime, if ever there was one!
Aside from that fairly substantial point, it seems deliberately calculated to be patronizing towards individual Muslims; or if not, it’s (at the very least!) a tone deaf way of talking down to people. The myth of Islamophobia singles out Muslims as being purportedly sober, superstitious and ‘serious.’ The notion that Muslims are the only people in the world who cannot distinguish between ideology and individuals, or between identity (self-understanding) and image (how others view oneself), is a politically correct tool of governance, cynically calculated to keep Muslims down and trapped in the myth of a homogenous ‘Muslim community.
So, whether it is the stereotypical ‘straight white guys’ of Westminster and the warmongering media, or the self-styled ‘community leaders’ and medicore ‘little vanguardists,’ the effect is the same: smearing from the outside or smearing from the inside remains smearing. Collectivism is collectivism, whatever way you slice it!
Thus it is that the populist far right, the Islamist far right and the Regressive Left agree on one crucial point: Muslims and Islamists are precisely the same people. See the great article by the progressive Muslim Maajid Nawaz (link?)
Of course, as the campaign of Donald Trump manifests well enough, Muslims are being singled out on the grounds of belonging to their religion. And I cannot deny that simplistic, one-sided and distorted perceptions of a religion always risk indirectly leading to physical violence and harassment (although politically incorrect as it may be to say so, these ideas do not cause such crimes against the individual). But the two distinct phenomena of one-sided criticisms of Islam and of actual anti-Muslims bigotry must not be conflated.
For after all: crimes against individuals, even on the grounds of an identity are (guess what!) crimes against individuals! They are not crimes against abstractions, but (I repeat) crimes against real individuals of, to borrow a phrase of the Spanish philospher Miguel Unamuno, ‘the man of flesh and bone,’ el hombre de carne y hueso. And crimes against the individual, which are the supreme and only crime, are crimes against rooted individuals, rather than against the mythical ‘social atoms’ that wilfully ignorant and consciously benighted Marxist intellectuals are ever lying awake at night worrying about. Let me be clear, for there is no compromise possible between truth and error on this point:
There are no crimes against a religion, any more than there are crimes against a gender, an ethnicity, a nation, a species or a planet.
And religions are certainly ideologies. Not necessarily ‘ideologies’ in the negative sense; when I say ‘ideology,’ I merely mean a ‘map of the world.’ And if, as Oscar Wilde said, a map of the world that does not include Utopia is a map that is simply not worth the trouble of unrolling and reading, it is just as well that the various competing and conflicting cartographies of Islam have this in common with the other great faiths: the sailors are always setting off for Utopia, even if they cannot quite get there. It is greatly to the credit of Muslims throughout the ages that, in contrast to the Wahhabis/Daeshis/ Khomei-ites (and their identical twins the ‘moderate Taliban’ and myriad other ‘moderate political Islamists!’), I say, yes: it is greatly to the credit of Muslims historically that so many of them have striven for sound reasoning, scientific inquiry and self-criticism.
And in this light, I would even go so far as to suggest that in Ibn Warraq’s Defending the West, his highlighting of the Western spirit of self-criticism is true enough; but also that, in fairness, this view is very one-sided, as not recognizing the same phenomenon in the history of Islam. Consider this well-beloved quote
And this spirit of self-criticism still exists among Maajid Nawaz and others of the Quilliam Foundation; as well as among brave individuals as Irshad Manji, and progressive organizations such as al-Fatihah. And there is no need to be ethnocentric here. The recent phenomenon of woman imams in China is much to be applauded!
But this spirit of inquiry, of scrupulous integrity, and of moral courage, is ever in peril of being stifled by the sanctimoniously highminded Regressive Left. For any achingly worthy little Grundy among the professional bien-pensants and career good guys of the ‘politics of decency,’ (to wit, of shameless virtue signalling!), any Muslim who is a feminist must be faking. And any Muslim who talks about secularism is a comprador intellectual. And any Muslim who identifies as LGBT should just shut their traps and stop being such a screaming queen about it.
(Although that said, they don’t necessarily need to go back in the closet… yet! The RegLeft can’t get away with saying that one yet. Although given the current tide of anti-democratic and authoritarian tendencies in the countries of ‘humanitarian intervention,’ anti-speech and Big Data, God only knows how the land will lie ten or twenty years from now!)
Of course, my arguments here might sound paternalistic; why am I taking the angle of what the Islamophobia canard does to Muslims? How can I speak for Muslims? Doesn’t everyone understand their own oppression best?
If that’s what you are thinking, you have already fallen into the trap I have cunningly prepared for the unwary. The fact is that what I have said above is only paternalistic if you accept the vulgar-pomo premises of the Regressive Left. My premises, however, are different. My premises are that the Islamophobia canard is something that affects non-Muslims too. So I am fully willing to acknowledge my own self-interest here, as a non-Muslim. The point, however, is that in some substantial sense, what benefits non-Muslims of character here is shared in common with Muslims of character.
For regardless of what John Stuart Mill’s proverbial ’99 who have only interests’ may say, the real conflict is not between Muslims and non-Muslims, but between people of principle and mere mediocre opportunists of all stripes. Those non-Muslims who hate and vilify Muslims have more in common with those non-Muslims who talk down to Muslims, than with those non-Muslims who take the middle path of critical acceptance. (‘Critical acceptance’ must be acceptance and openheartedness nonethless. One must always having a care to remember that many Muslims do have legitimate grievances, which Muslims and non-Muslims alike are always willing to exploit; if it so happens that people of character will ever be so foolish to let them get away with it!)
So the real task for me and my fellow non-Muslims is to avoid talking up and kicking down alike. Perpetuating the self-serving, paternalistic myths of ‘Islamophobia’ and the ‘real Muslim’ will aid the co-morbid and co-dependent Regressive Left, white supremacist Far Right and Islamist Far Right; but anyone who has ever opened a history book should know that infantilizing others always comes at an unbearable cost…
Both to the oppressor and to the oppressed.
Muslims and non-Muslims alike are better than that.
Let’s take back civilization from the hundred weeds!
The guiltless perpetration of victimless crimes is no vice.
And moderation in the war against weasel words is to the credit of no-one!