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A contribution from George Albion
I’m no fan of the tweet. Trivial remarks are elevated to the status of World news and, at the same time, world events are trivialised. Casual conversations that used to be had in the pub (and stayed there) are now carried out in the glare of publicity and are analysed in forensic detail. An ill-considered remark made a decade ago can have life-changing consequences in the present day.
That said, like other modern innovations, it seems we’re stuck with Twitter, at least for now. Some, like me, are sceptical of its ‘benefits’, but many embrace it whole-heartedly. One of them is Donald Trump, a tweeter par excellence.
A recent utterance of his was to criticise Sadiq Khan in the wake of the latest tragic additions to an ever-spiralling death count in the capital. You may say it is no business of the U.S. President. However, Khan himself has not been slow to condemn Trump in the typically hyperbolic terms of the political left. If you dish it out, you have to be able to take it.
Sajid Javid has opposed Donald Trump’s remarks, whereas Jeremy Hunt has supported them (“150% agreement”). However, at no point has Trump nor either of these individuals referred to Islam or the obvious fact that Sadiq Khan is Muslim. The reason for this is that it has no relevance whatsoever. My italics in that last sentence are for purposes of emphasis – especially for the benefit of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).
The MCB have made the knee-jerk accusation that both Trump and Hunt are ‘Islamophobic’ in daring to criticise Sadiq Khan. Such a response has become all too predictable, but in any sensible country, the MCB’s illogical and irrelevant remark would have gone unreported. However, modern Britain has become an Alice-in-Wonderland where Humpty Dumpty says, “A word can mean anything I want it to”.
So, according to the MCB, if you simply criticise anyone about anything, if they are Muslim, it is Islamophobic. And this nonsense is reported by a media that ignores genuine news stories such as the Muslim mob that attacked a peaceful and legitimate political gathering in Oldham.
A cross-party group of Members of Parliament, in consultation with 80 academics and community leaders, including the MCB, have taken a year to arrive at a definition of Islamophobia. This is somewhat perplexing as it already has a very clear definition in English. A phobia (a term coined by Sigmund Freud) is an irrational fear. Islamophobia, therefore, is an irrational fear of the teachings and practices of the religion of Islam.
This mental disorder is typically diagnosed by its symptoms – extreme fear of anything connected to Islam (even just seeing the word itself). It always results in the person avoiding the stimulus at all costs, not challenging or attacking it.
Islamophobes may well exist, but, in 20 years of teaching Psychology, I have never met or heard of anyone with this disorder. Certainly, those usually branded Islamophobes never show the symptoms. This new ‘Islamophobia’, therefore, appears to be an attempt to apply this word to something else entirely.
The new definition states:- “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”. And these eminent people took a whole year to arrive at this poppycock?
Saying it is, ‘rooted in racism and is a type of racism’ is grammatical nonsense. In effect, this is saying ‘Islamophobia is rooted in Islamophobia’. Leaving this aside, however, the notion that ‘Islamophobia’ has anything to do with racism is obviously incorrect. Anyone can become a Muslim – religion and race are not synonymous.
The second part of the definition refers to ‘Muslimness’. This word is so vague it could be made to apply to almost anything, which is perfect for Humpty Dumpty’s purposes – and for the Muslim Council of Britain, of course, who wish to stifle any criticism, however slight.
This definition, already accepted by the labour and Liberal Democrat parties, must be opposed at all costs. Its eventual acceptance by the Conservatives may lead to its legal acceptance. Equating ‘race’ with ‘religion’ could lead to prosecutions under the Race Relations Act. We would then have an all-encompassing de facto blasphemy law protecting only Islam.
This would inhibit the free expression of ideas and would be a retrograde step in our modern, secular, democratic society. We need to retreat from Wonderland, emerge from the rabbit hole and re-establish good old British common sense before it’s too late.