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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A phony Islamophobia panic is ruining Canadian politics

...There is something unmistakably perverse about the bizarre appetite many Canadians, particularly those on the left or in elite positions, seem to have for tales of outlandish Islamophobia, an appetite that causes otherwise sensible people to turn off their faculties for caution and skepticism and adopt the credulity of a supermarket tabloid reader. At best, they gobble up such anecdotes as a variant of so-called “decay porn,” in which weird cravings for tales of a hellish world can be satisfied only by increasingly outlandish stories cooked up by fabulists. At worst, these are mini-Gulf of Tonkins of the mind, emotional pretexts that rationalize backing politicians or legislation that erode free speech, due process or national security in the name of fighting some unprecedented enemy.

As the Toronto Sun’s Anthony Furey observed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a long track record of erring on the side of radical Islam, a pattern seemingly born from a larger tendency to frame Muslims as creatures without agency and deserving reverence for all claims of persecution, no matter how dubious or ambiguous. This, in turn, animates many of the man’s marquee political promises, from a generous intake of Syrian refugees to eliminating judgmental language from the Canadian citizenship guide to ending bombing raids against the Islamic State, all of which have, at their core, an implied need to redeem the Islam-skeptical character of Canadian society.

Phony or exaggerated charges of Islamophobia, in other words, are not merely victimless non-crimes. They inflate the resolve of a certain flavor of progressive whose political agenda aims to sacrifice much of traditional liberalism in the name of a bigotry course correction, as well as the denialist ignorance of the reactionary right, like those who peddled conspiracy theories about last year’s mosque shooting in Quebec City. The end result is a society whose politics have been agitated to polarize around the Muslim issue in a deeply inaccurate, unserious way...

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