Rex Murphy: M-103 has passed. And what today has changed for the better?
...For the motion itself, and the politics that attended it, have not been without contention. The questions raised on its wording were legitimate. Why the particular focus on Islam? Why not a motion, as some have suggested, speaking out against prejudice against all religions?
There is also concern that the motion will, in some manner, chill valid criticism of Islamist terror, or will not make allowance for legitimate criticism or analysis of Islam. Such criticism would now be forced to wear the degrading mantle of Islamophobia. Given this welter of mixed impressions and varied understandings of the very point of the motion, how effective can it be?
There is the key term itself, Islamophobia. As I have suggested in an earlier piece, this recent coinage, Islamophobia, is itself a contested term. The minister piloting the motion sees Islamophobia as “the irrational hatred of Muslims that leads to discrimination.”
That’s not as clear as at first glance it might seem. If the fear is “irrational,” then the ambition to reduce it by means of a distant parliamentary motion is a curious if not a wild response. Irrational fears are by definition those not subject to reason. We eliminate those only by therapy or medicine. We do not argue them away. Hence, we have never had a motion deploring claustrophobia.
The cruel deeds, by a terrorist, at the British Parliament this week give sombre point to these concerns. Should we not have some moderate response of caution and concern after London? Is that irrational? There is nothing irrational in having a reasoned or limited fear towards a group publicly committed to terrorism, and self-declared perpetrators of it, in the name of Islam. Nor is there bigotry, Islamophobia, in seeing the declared connection with Islam in these kinds of terror acts. If there is an Islamic connection, and it is declared ,even insisted upon, by the actors themselves, it is surely not phobic both to see the connection, and heed the declaration.
Then too, there is the rhetorical or forensic deployment of the term. A person who criticizes Islam, or who reasonably makes a connection between current terrorism and certain groups within Islam will, in some circles, very quickly be labelled Islamophobic...
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