On Islamophobia

...So Islamophobia really has passed the dinner-table test after all. Otherwise liberal, open-minded people universally denounce Islam as evil, out to corrupt Europe, inferior to the West, a terrorist organisation, paedophilic...you name it, they probably have an accusation out there. Even a recent campaign designed to get people to think "hey, maybe Islam isn't uniformly evil" instead met with accusations of Islamophilia and indignant comments about how morally wrong and hypocritical it is that Muslims should dare to ask for the respect we accord to other cultures.

The thing is, the Muslims they're denouncing - the ones who beat women and fly planes into buildings - are the extreme ones, not the moderates or the mild ones. This is not news. As anyone with even an iota of religious education knows, not all Muslims are sexist or uneducated. A great majority are not trying to take over Europe. How do I infer this? Because it's pretty idiotic, logically speaking, to settle in a developed country - which, by the way, you hate - and try to convert or destroy its people, especially in the modern ages.

The other thing is that, as people have known for years, Islamophobia doesn't do anything constructive. If anything, it actually increases extremism, because what's the point of trying to have reasonable and open channels of dialogue with a society that treats you like scum? Wouldn't you start thinking "hm, those radicals who hate my country have a point"?

Just as with every religion, there will be extremists, moderates, liberals and every kind of what-have-you. Equally, there will also be scrapping over the precise meanings of what's written, which bits are relevant and which aren't, etc. There'll be working out which bits of what are and aren't acceptable. Islam shouldn't be shielded from criticism or unduly attacked - instead, it should be treated as an equal to other religions. It springs from the same source as Judaism and Christianity, but the Muslim world has been quite different from what was once the Christian world, then the European world and what is now the West, and they have different values.

That's not an excuse to defend paedophilia, sexism, racism or extremism, all of which are morally wrong regardless of who commits them and what religion they belong to. It is, however, a reason to let up on the persecution of a religion which, unfortunately, has a very vocal minority which has influenced the rest of the world's perception.

And finally, let's take a look at what's alleged. Extremism? Found in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, atheism...actually, pretty much every religion and belief system. Sexism? Found in Christianity, Judaism and also in a secular context - it survives without religion (I may have missed out a lot of other religions as well). Racism and prejudice? Again, found everywhere. Paedophilia? In Europe, it used to be quite common among the nobility to marry brides just in their teens, and more recently, there's also the Catholic priest sex scandal...but that's another story. Conquest of another country or culture, violently or otherwise? Every empire in history, some European countries, and Christianity (not in any order).

Well, Christianity does seem to pop up quite a lot in the results...(I'm a former strong atheist/Dawkinstard, so I may be biased.) The point, though, was to show that these things aren't unique to or exclusively concentrated in Islam, and it's foolish to think that they are.

What I've said here is just what others have said before and better. It didn't work before, obviously, judging by the ever-increasing numbers of Islamophobes, but I'd like to think that my sheer persistence can make a difference in the world. At times I think I'm fighting a losing battle and I think there's something wrong with me for having tried to take on what I was taught about not judging people by race and religion. Then I think "Fuck that" and I keep fighting. It's the only way to cope.

To stop me from becoming any more of a prejudiced pig than I already am, I hereby introduce a new rule for myself:
  • I will not be Islamophobic. Ever. No exceptions.
    • I will not classify a group of people as unworthy, inferior, undesirable or evil because of any of the following: physical characteristics, fashion preferences, ethnicity, political stance, religion, drug habits, socio-economic class, age, job, or taste in music.