Monday, September 18, 2017

What Is Islamophobia?

As Pascal Bruckner explains, after the fall of Communism the radical European left was lost and bereft. It's god had not failed us. We had failed its god.

Good leftists needed to find a replacement proletarian to continue the struggle against capitalist hegemony. For this purpose it chose Muslims. To advance its agenda and to render Muslims a privileged oppressed class it invented Islamophobia and granted it the same status as racism and anti-Semitism.

Bruckner, like all of us, admires the raw hypocrisy of the left. Beyond the inability to admit that the reigning Marxist narrative has failed abysmally, leftist radicals have happily embraced a faith that murders apostates, practices honor killings, oppresses women, executes gays… and so on. Even the noted gay activist Michel Foucault happily embraced the Iranian ayatollahs while they were executing young men for being homosexual.

Islamists no longer present their religion as one among many. They present it as special, as exempt from the rules that determine the place of religion in a secular democratic world. How better to undermine the liberties that found Western democracies?

First, Bruckner explains, Islamist groups insisted that the freedom to blaspheme religious faith did not apply to Islam. No one was allowed to speak ill of Islam or of its prophet. Those how did would be punished through the criminal law:

In Istanbul, in October 2013, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, financed by dozens of Muslim countries that themselves shamelessly persecute Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus, demanded that Western countries put an end to freedom of expression where Islam was concerned, charging that the religion had been represented too negatively as a faith that oppresses women and that proselytizes aggressively. The signatories’ intention was to make criticism of the religion of the Koran an international crime.

Bruckner explains that Muslims have now become the new proletariat, the vanguard of the Revolution:

And here is where the strangest factor in the whole Islamophobia controversy emerges: the enlistment of a part of the American and European Left in the defense of the most radical form of Islam—what one might call the neo-Bolshevik bigotry of the lost believers of Marxism. Having lost everything—the working class, the Third World—the Left clings to this illusion: Islam, rebaptized as the religion of the poor, becomes the last utopia, replacing those of Communism and decolonization for disenchanted militants. The Muslim takes the place of the proletarian.

Of course, true leftists are now required to abandon all of their most sacred liberal principles:

Now, it was the believer in the Koran who embodied the global hope for justice, who refused to conform to the order of things, who transcended borders and created a new international order, under the aegis of the Prophet: a green Comintern. Too bad for feminism, women’s equality, salvific doubt, the critical spirit; in short, too bad for everything traditionally associated with a progressive position.

Supposed progressives now thrill to the symbols of Islamist misogyny:

This political attitude is manifest in progressives’ scrupulous idolatry of Muslim practices and rites, especially the Islamic veil: “modest fashion” is praised to the skies, so much so that, for certain leftist commentators, an unveiled Muslim woman who claims this right can only be a traitor, a turncoat, a woman for sale. The irony of this neocolonial solicitude for bearded men and veiled women—and for everything that suggests an oriental bazaar—is that Morocco itself, whose king is the “Commander of the Faithful,” recently forbade the wearing, sale, and manufacture of the burka in his country. Shall we call the Cherifian monarchy “Islamophobic”? Shall we be more royalist than the king?

And also:

Generations of leftists saw the working class as the messianic leaven of a radiant humanity; now, willing to flirt with the most obscurantist bigotry and to betray their own principles, they transferred their hopes to the Islamists.

To advance the narrative, Muslims have now become the new Jews. By the terms of leftist ideology, the Jews in Israel are now capitalist oppressors. Their victims are the world’s Muslims.  As Islamists take over Hitler’s project, they promote themselves as victims:

It is well known how much of the Nazi legacy has passed, since the creation of Israel, to the Arab Middle East, where a classic of anti-Jewish propaganda like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, forged by the czarist regime at the end of the nineteenth century, has been a best-seller for years. Was it not the late king of Morocco, Hassan II, who said: “Hatred of Israel is the most powerful aphrodisiac of the Arab world”?

Muslims have been oppressed by Judeo-Christian civilization. When radicals on American campuses attack Western civilization they are attacking Judaism and Christianity, now fashioned as Zionists and Crusaders:

Once the equivalence between Judeophobia and Islamophobia is established, the next step is to put in place the principle of elimination—a subtle but effective process of symbolic expropriation. It is our turn, say the Islamic fundamentalists. In this way, Islam is able to present itself as the creditor of humanity as a whole: we are in its debt because of the wrongs inflicted since the Crusades, the wound of colonization, and the occupation of Palestine by the Zionists—and finally because of the bad image from which the religion of the Prophet suffers.

As Muslims arrive in larger and larger numbers in Europe, they demand a special status, a status that sets them apart from other religions. Being victims Muslims do not have to work for a living. They do not have to follow the rules that define civil society. Europeans owe them a living… and owe them exemption from criminal laws. Strangely enough, in yet another instance of cognitive dissonance, these refugees are acting like conquerors:

Islam is part of the contemporary French and European landscape, yes, and thus has the right to our sympathy, to freedom of worship, to police protection, to appropriate places for prayer, and to respect. But it must in turn respect republican and secular rules, not claim an extraterritorial status with special rights, such as exemption from swimming and gymnastics for girls, prayer places within businesses, separate instruction, and various favors and privileges in hospitals. Believers must be protected, but so must unbelievers, apostates, and skeptics. I proposed as early as 2006 the creation of a vast support system for dissidents from Islam, just as we helped Soviet dissidents. We must advocate freedom of doctrinal criticism, too, just as we do for Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism. The point is not to make Europe Islamic but to make Islam European, so that it is one religion among others and might, someday, help spread tolerance and a renewal of critical thought to the rest of the umma.

Apparently, Canada is leading the way in the fight against Islamphobia. It has enacted a law saying that no one is allowed to criticize Islam… while everyone can still criticize any other religion. Bruckner says that this is a poisoned gift, more likely to promote contempt for Islam:

The notion of Islamophobia is meant to give the religion of the Prophet a status of exemption denied to other spiritual systems. Thus, we have the reprehensible law enacted by the Canadian Parliament this March that prohibits criticism of Islam, while other confessions still can be denigrated without any problem. Such a law is a poisoned gift that risks producing the opposite of what it intends, since it can incite anger and resentment against the believers of the crescent. To regularize the presence of Islam in free societies means giving the faith exactly the same status as other confessions: neither moronic demonizing nor blind idealizing. Muslims in free societies must accept what Jews and Christians have accepted: that it is not a superior religion that should benefit from advantages refused to other confessions. We must beware when fanaticism borrows the language of human rights and dresses up as a victim in order better to impose its grip on power. There is an old saying: the devil also likes to quote scripture.

Obviously, this is not going to end well. Certainly not for the Western European nations who have happily embraced people who want to destroy their civilization.


Sam L. said...

The citizen-subjects of Europe may be getting restive as their governments are trying to replace them with Muslims.

Jack Fisher said...

While carefully skirting the anti-discrimination employment laws, there's no way on Earth I'd hire an islam.

Ares Olympus said...

Bruckner: The point is not to make Europe Islamic but to make Islam European, so that it is one religion among others and might, someday, help spread tolerance and a renewal of critical thought to the rest of the umma.

I can see Fundamentalistic intolerance can be fought with free speech like the exuberant satire of Charlie Hebdo does with brutal efficiency, even risking their own deaths. Provoke the intolerant into violent reaction, until they are exposed and all dead as well. It's a tough fight.

I'd prefer to differentiate senseless mockery from honest challenge since I'd prefer to not die on my own bad judgment. In the cases of Muslim sensitivity, this is one case where I think "toxic shame" is an accurate description to describe the will to violence, and I don't know how this can be healed. People will always prefer to hunker down with true believers than question what is really under threat. And "moderate" Muslims leaving the faith is probably the strongest threat to their identity.

Bruckner: France is attacked not because it oppresses Muslims but because it liberates them from the hold of religion. It offers them a perspective that terrifies the devout—that of spiritual indifference, the right to believe or not to believe, as Jews and Christians are able to do.

This seems a sensible interpretation, and I agree words like Islamophobia can make things worse - risking shutting down honest questioning and criticism and emboldening Islamic fundamentalists who can't handle freedom of religion.