What the attempt to banish “Islamophobia” really means

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has issued a statement in the matter of the complaint of certain Muslims against Maclean’s magazine and Mark Steyn with regard to Maclean’s publication of an excerpt from Steyn’s supposedly anti-Islamic book America Alone. The Commission declares that it has no jurisdiction under the law to deal with the case, since Ontario law prohibits discrimination in the provision of goods and services, housing, employment, and so on, but not discrimination in the content of magazine articles. (Other jurisdictions in Canada do outlaw such discrimination.) The Commission nevertheless says it needs to state its opinion on the broader issues raised by the complaint. It then launches into a disquisition on racism and “Islamophobia” which inadvertently reveals the heart of the modern liberal order.

The Commission states:

The Commission is concerned that since the September 2001 attacks, Islamophobic attitudes are becoming more prevalent in society and Muslims are increasingly the target of intolerance, including an unwillingness to consider accommodating some of their religious beliefs and practices.

Unfortunately, the Maclean’s article, and others like it, are examples of this. By portraying Muslims as all sharing the same negative characteristics, including being a threat to ‘the West’, this explicit expression of Islamophobia further perpetuates and promotes prejudice towards Muslims and others.

The key to the Commission’s thinking is in its labeling, as wrongful “Islamophobia,” the view that Islam is a threat to the West. The assumption underlying such a judgment, whether about Islamophobia or bigotry generally, is that all people are good (except for people who don’t believe that all people are good), and that no people can be a threat (except for those people who believe that some people can be a threat). Since all people (that is, all people who don’t hate nothing except hatred) are good, and since no people are enemies (except for the people who believe that there are enemies), any negative statement about a group (except for negative statements about the society’s own majority group) is by definition a false, vicious, dehumanizing attack on that group.

The core error of this liberal view is that it never considers the possibility that some people and groups (other than the majority peoples of the West) may indeed be enemies. Specifically, it never entertains the possibility that Islam is in fact a threat to the West. If Islam is a threat to the West, then saying that Islam is a threat to the West is not an act of bigotry but a statement of truth and part of a legitimate effort to protect the West from a real enemy. By condemning truthful negative statements about Islam as bigotry, and even outlawing such statements, modern liberalism forbids the West from defending itself.

In short, liberalism has taken group conflict, a normal and recurrent feature of human history, and turned it into an immoral act, adding the further twist that only the West is capable of exhibiting such immorality against other groups, while other groups are incapable of exhibiting the same immorality against the West.

How does liberalism get away with seeing only Westerners’ negative statements about Islam as wrongful, but not Muslims’ negative and threatening statements about the West? Very simple. Under liberalism, there is no society “here” to be attacked. Under liberalism, Canada is not a substantive entity—not a nation, not a culture, not a people, not a group. Canada is, instead, a system for the promotion of human rights. Not being a concrete group or culture, Canada cannot be an object of bigotry. But Muslims and other immigrants, who are concrete entities, can be objects of bigotry. Muslims are a group and therefore deserve to be protected from discrimination. Canadians are not a group and therefore do not require protection from discrimination.

In short, Western peoples do not need protection under the modern liberal order, because modern liberalism, in its very premises, has already defined the Western peoples out of existence. This is why it’s a waste of time looking for liberals and mainstream conservatives (who accept the premises of liberalism as much as the liberals do) to protect Western society from the intrusions of Islam and of Third-world cultures generally. Under modern liberalism, the Western peoples have already in principle ceased to exist, and all that’s left is the mopping up operation.

* * *

The Commission, by the way, makes an interesting Freudian slip. After pointing out that Ontario’s anti-discrimination laws do not infringe on publications and books, it mentions the more sweeping anti-discrimination laws in other Canadian jurisdictions, with the obvious intent that Ontario emulate them:

Limits to freedom of expression under some other human rights legislation in Canada are broader, stating that no person shall publish, issue or display before the public any statement, publication, notice, sign, symbol or other representation.

Of course the Commission left out a phrase. It meant to say something along the lines that no person shall publish any statement, symbol, etc. “that discriminates against anyone.” By leaving out the words, “that discriminates against anyone,” the Commission makes it sound as though the law prohibits all statements, publications, and symbols, period. Meaning, the total cessation of public writing and speaking. I call this a Freudian slip because, as argued here, the prohibition of all discourse is the logical end toward which liberalism is really heading.

- end of initial entry -

Laurium writes:

Ontario says:

“Muslims are increasingly the target of intolerance, including an unwillingness to consider accommodating some of their religious beliefs and practices.”

But isn’t this the chink in the armor? At this point one should ask the Commission, “now that you grant there are SOME things we may safely reject (and some we may not) what ‘religious practices’ must we ‘consider accomodating’ to remain good liberals and which one’s may we safely reject out of hand as against the values of the Canadian nation—or simply as too nasty? The cutting of genitalia? The dressing of women in gunny sacks? The teaching of Muslim world domination? Stopping all work five times a day and throwing mats across the sidewalk and blocking all foot traffic as they do in France? What may we reject simply because it reflects values different from ours that we do not want ot get established on our continent?”

It seems to me that they get fuzzy at their weakest point. Let them say exactly what we are or are not permitted to discuss. They would either have to find something that is not immoral to consider intolerable, or they would have to admit that “some” really means “everything”.

If there is even one thing that is nasty enough to want to stop or prevent, (i.e. not to have to tolerate or accommodate) then there is at least one legitimate liberal ground for keeping Muslims out entirely. They glided away from that issue oh so deftly in their statement.

William M. writes (posted 6-10-07):

The Ontario HRC’s insertion of the term the West in scare quotes (“the West”) is significant. What can it mean? According to liberalism, as you say, there is nothing here to defend. The West does not exist. Our society does not exist. Westerners (whites) do not exist. In order to banish “Islamophobia,” liberalism must banish the West.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 15, 2008 02:07 AM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):