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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Rex Murphy: M-103 is a political billboard. Pick a side and advertise your virtues

If the Liberals changed the wording from "Islamophobia" to "anti-Muslim bigotry" and made a mention about the right to criticize all religions and ideologies, they could win over lots of people currently opposed to Motion 103. But the Liberals' plan all along was to sow discord in the country for their political ends.

...labelling something a phobia or phobic in modern political discourse is at least as often a facile attempt to suppress arguments and shut down debates, as it is an apt and faithful description of one of the parties (that they are bigots and haters) to those arguments and debates. That is to say, it is as much, or as often, a term of artful and partisan rhetoric as it is a description of a real and prejudiced state of mind.

So with the controversy over the parliamentary motion that has wound up our political class towards week’s end, perhaps some of its energies come from the unstable nature of the term which is at the centre of the debate: Islamophobia. Simply put, the term does not have a fixed and commonly shared understanding, it is variously deployed and variously understood, and it is both a term of rhetoric and a term designating real and prejudicial animosity towards Muslims.

I would suggest that in the current dustup, most but not all of the most fervent advocates of either side are choosing the side of the coin, the shades of the term, which places them on the heroic side of the contention. The pro-Motion side quickly essentializes their opponents with the schoolyard taunt of “How can you not be against hate?” For its part, the anti-motion dervishes summon the spectre of the collapse of our free speech rights and creeping sharia. Neither side wishes to make too obvious what is in fact obvious to anyone detached from the theatrical fireworks — that it is posture politics and virtue-signalling on both sides...

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