Islamophobia, Islamistocriticism and Islamophilia
by Howard Rotberg
I do not think that the term “Islamophobia” is very helpful in any discussion of Islam or Islamism. Those who use it are very often loath to actually define it.
I use the term “Islamism” to describe the ideology of members of Radical Islam – and those who are complicit with them – who believe that the West must “submit” to Islam and who use violence and other illegal acts, and who define “Jihad” as an outer-directed struggle to create a restored Caliphate, rather than an inner-directed struggle for goodness., and who believe in Daar Al-Islam, meaning that once a territory is ruled by Islam it must never be ruled by anyone else, (and hence Israel and Spain, as two examples, must return to Islamic control), and who believe that wherever Muslims settle they should be governed by Sharia Law rather than the secular law of the land.
Islam is a religion with various problems in its Holy books that must be reformed or interpreted so that illiberal and hateful aspects be removed. It would help discussions of “Islamophobia” to understand that there are many types of Islam, not just Sunni versus Shi’ite, but types that have more or less fidelity to certain practices found objectionable by the liberal West. Islamism is the powerful movement that seeks to use those very illiberal aspects to control their own people and wage an asymmetrical war against the West and implement Sharia Law in a worldwide Caliphate, enforcing submission to its dictates. Like so much of what passes for politics, it is a game all about power. It is time to stop the denial that the situation is otherwise.
We must overcome our denial and our psychological fantasies that cause us to think we can control Islamism. The only way to do it, is to overcome our reluctance to tell people of religion that certain matters will not be tolerated in the West; from honour killings to female genital mutilation, to strict Sharia Law enforcement for crimes, it is time to declare, courageously and unapologetically that we welcome as immigrants only those willing to be part of a reformed Islam – without the barbaric cultural practices that should have been left in the Middle Ages. It is not our fault that Islam has developed in such a way that it is threatening our freedoms, but it is our duty to plainly distinguish Islamism from Islam and act to defeat Islamism. In this way we shall help people to have the power to make Islam more compatible with a culture of liberty and human rights. After the Obama administration’s abject failure in this regard, we have no time to waste.
But to be clear, it is up to Muslims to reform themselves if they wish to participate in Western political culture; people like me cannot do it for them. We can reasonably expect Muslim immigrants to the West to pledge allegiance to our Constitutions and confirm that taking up residence in the West means that where Sharia law and our Constitutions conflict, they will be loyal to our Constitutions. I understand the many bloggers and commentators who argue that Islam itself contains the seeds of Islamism, but we cannot wage war against more than a billion people practicing Islam who are not a direct threat to us. In my opinion, we must acknowledge the way that the Islamist enemy feeds off of Islam, but while in theory we could starve the Islamists by attacking their food source, and attack all Muslims, in practice that is very wrong.
Paul Jackson, writing back in 2001, The EDL: Britain’s ‘New Far Right’ Social Movement (PDF). RMN Publications, University of Northampton. pp. 10–11), argued that both jihadi Islamists and far right activists use the term “to deflect attention away from more nuanced discussions on the make-up of Muslim communities”, feeding “a language of polarised polemics”… it can be used “to close down discussion on genuine areas of criticism” regarding jihadi ideologies, which in turn has resulted in all accusations of Islamophobia to be dismissed as “spurious” by far right activists. Consequently, the term is “losing much [of its] analytical value.” Certainly, its widespread usage since 2001 leaves us with no alternative but to study the term and hope that a better understanding of the relationship of Islam to Islamism will lead to more sophisticated discourse, both on Left and Right, Muslims and non-Muslims.
The term Islamophobia entered discussions of public policy with the report by the Runnymede Trust‘s Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia (CBMI) entitled Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All (1997). The introduction of the term was justified by the report’s assessment that “anti-Muslim prejudice has grown so considerably and so rapidly in recent years that a new item in the vocabulary is needed”.
But using the suffix, “phobia” contained the inherent problem that a “phobia” is often seen as an irrational fear. Thus it was not a neutral term between those who felt Islam, or at least Islamism, included certain ideas and behaviours that were in fact fearful, with good reason, to proponents of women’s rights, gays rights, non-Muslims living alongside Muslims, especially as minorities, and liberal political theory. Islamists themselves could browbeat any critics of their ideology with a term that implied an irrational fear.
And so, a better term would be Islamistocritic.
That would conduce to a better understanding of what criticism is in liberal traditions valid and fair, and what criticism is irrational. And so we note, the term Islamophobia, has become used as much as a sword by Islamists as a shield by Muslims in general to unfair or racist hatred or prejudice. An Islamistocritic, could be anyone, Muslim or not, who feels that homophobic, misogynist, jihadist, honour-killing, or any illiberal parts of Islam need to be discussed and that Islam needs to be purged of its illiberal and Islamist notions to make it reconcilable with Western liberal traditions.
Once we accomplish this linguistic reform, we could go on to discuss Islamophilia or Arabophilia, because it is clear to me that there are many in the West who have embraced the ideologies of “love thy enemy” or tolerism with respect to groups of Muslims who themselves are intolerant and often hateful. But a divorce between Islamism and Islam, would give better credibility to those who find some aspects of Islam tolerable or even praiseworthy, but need the distinction in their love between Islam and Islamism, as the latter should hardly be tolerated let alone loved.
Professor Mohammad H. Tamdgidi of the University of Massachusetts, Boston in his critique of the methodology used by the above-mentioned Runnymeade Trust study warns against the linguistic “trap of regarding Islam monolithically, in turn as being characterized by one or another trait, and … not adequately express(ing) the complex heterogeneity of a historical phenomenon whose contradictory interpretations, traditions, and sociopolitical trends have been shaped and has in turn been shaped, as in the case of any world tradition, by other world-historical forces.” (2012). “Beyond Islamophobia and Islamophilia as Western Epistemic Racisms: Revisiting Runnymede Trust’s Definition in a World-History Context” (PDF). Islamophobia Studies Journal.
There is no doubt in my mind that Islamophilia or Arabophilia exists in a substantial way. It is found most often among the groups that, promptly after any Jihadist terrorist attack, seek to show that such terror is not a part of the mainstream religion that should be loved on the basis of the ideological “inclusive diversity” that we discuss in more detail later, or tolerism; or that such terrorism is found is a small percentage of all Muslims or even all Arabs. Those who express such love, compassion, empathy, tolerance and respect for ALL Muslims must be engaged in discussion by critics who profess that the critics’ criticisms are actually more helpful to the welfare of the average Muslim, compared to the appeasement of Islamism shown by the Islamophiles.
On the other hand, we might have to be careful with prescriptions for moderation from the classically Liberal crowd, including myself. What results in the religion and culture of a reformed Islam might be attractive to our intellectuals who are tired and searching in a secularist era for slightly more authoritarian religious guidance? Later in this book, we shall discuss some recent writings about submission by French intellectuals.
Islamists induce and love words or behaviour that they can term, with the support of Leftists in the West, “Islamophobia”. And so, President Trump is routinely called an Islamophobe for his temporary restriction on certain Muslim immigration, while other American presidents did something similar. Jimmy Carter (the most Arabophile of any American President) in reaction to the Iranian abduction of American diplomats, following the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, during which the US embassy in Tehran was stormed and 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days, cut diplomatic relations with and imposed sanctions on Iran. He also banned Iranians from entering the country.
“The provision gives presidents broad authority to ban individual immigrants or groups of immigrants. Presidents haven’t hesitated to use it.
Obama, they point out, turned to the provision more than any other recent president, using it to bar people who conducted certain transactions with North Korea, engaged in cyberattacks aimed at undermining democracy or contributed to the destabilization of Libya, Burundi, Central African Republic or Ukraine.
According to these reporters from the LA Times, Obama’s broadest application of the law came in 2011, when he suspended entry of foreigners “who participate in serious human rights and humanitarian law violations and other abuses,” including “widespread or systemic violence against any civilian population” based on, among other factors, race, color, disability, language, religion, ethnicity, political opinion, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Obama also used the law to block anybody involved in “grave human rights abuses by the governments of Iran and Syria” through the use of communications technology to disrupt computer networks or provide monitoring or tracking.
So, it is telling that only Donald Trump was called an Islamophobe for using the provision.
Simmons and Zarembo report that the bipartisan Congressional Research Service pointed out in a report that the law does not place “any firm legal limits” on how it can be used. It doesn’t say what factors should be considered in deciding who would be “detrimental” to U.S. interests or what constitutes “appropriate” restrictions.
Thank you to the Los Angeles Times for reporting these facts, because in the media manipulation of facts against President Trump, there has been a dearth of reporting of these kind of facts. That is why President Trump, surely against the wishes of many of his media advisors, kept poking the mainstream media for reporting “false facts” and being biased. To understand the extent of the media hostility to this President, we need only consider:
As of October 25, 2016, Politico reported “Clinton received more than 200 endorsements from daily and weekly newspapers in the United States. A dozen or so papers have endorsed not-Trump, and one endorsed not-Clinton, but a striking 38 papers have chosen to endorse no one in this presidential election. So far the number of papers that have endorsed Donald Trump stands at six. ((http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/10/donald-trump-newspaper-endorsements-214390)
By November 7, 2016, Rebecca Harrington of Business Insider reported that while Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton garnered the support of more than 240 editorial boards, her Republican rival Donald Trump only received 19. Most were newspapers from mid-size cities concentrated in the mid-West and South.
Since we know that the media in general did not explain that Trump’s policy about an immigration ban (or, more properly, a pause) was not radically different from previous presidents, one would have to conclude that there is an ideology that unites almost all American mainstream media in order for it to be so uniform in their support of a flawed candidate like Clinton. That support, we think, is ideological in nature. We wish it could be discussed as such, rather than using terms like “fake news” to critique ideological opposition based on ideologies that need full discussion for the benefit of the American people.
And so, I allege that the mainstream media in the West is Trumpophobic. Its failure to report in depth on Hillary Clinton’s close friend and advisor from Saudi Arabia, Huma Abedin, could be seen as evidence of Islamophilia or even Islamistphilia. Can we imagine what would have happened to President Kennedy should it have been discovered that his closest friend and advisor was a Communist? Saudi Arabia, although Americans are happy to do business with it, is the originator and funder of Wahabist Islamism. The Saudis are not a good love match for Americans.
In my Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed, I explained my view that much Islamophilia (and Arabophilia) is based on ideological phenomena, such as a Cultural Stockholm Syndrome, a Masochism, or a self-hatred inculcated by leftist educational institutions in the West, and, sadly, a resurgence of anti-Semitism where a hatred of the individual Jew or the Jewish community as minorities in host nations has been replaced by a hatred of the Jewish State, Israel. Like the great Natan Sharansky, I hold that criticism of Israel passes from fair comment to anti-Semitism, if it is based on delegitimization, demonization or the use of double standards, the so-called 3D test. And so love of those who promise genocide for the Jews is in fact anti-Semitism, not true love. Perhaps we need the term Islamistphilia in addition to the term Islamophilia.
It is clear that our media and our politicians are more loving of Islam than phobic of it. In Ontario, the most populous province in Canada, at any rate, October is now officially recognized as Islamic Heritage Month, starting in 2016. It began as a New Democratic Party (the most left-wing party) private members’ bill, and party leader Andrea Horwath said it was an opportunity to celebrate and learn about the history of Islamic culture. The resolution on this was supported unanimously and no one questioned why only Islamic heritage had to be celebrated and not Hindu, Buddhist or Jewish heritage, or for that matter, atheism.
Horwath says she also hopes it’s also a step toward eliminating Islamophobia, noting that in her city of Hamilton, a fire was set at a mosque recently.
Canadian Islamic History Month has been officially recognized federally since 2007.
Raymond Ibrahim of the David Horowitz Freedom Center has a new essay in Frontpage Magazine entilted “The UN Suppresses Reality by Calling it a ‘Phobia’: In reality, ‘Islamophobia’ is as old as Islam itself.”
He writes at (https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2022/04/un-suppresses-reality-calling-it-phobia-raymond-ibrahim/ that “The United Nations recently named March 15—also rather ominously known as the Ides of March—as “the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.” In doing so, they have accepted and seek to mandate the idea that whatever fear (literally, phobia) non-Muslims have of Islam is unfounded and irrational, and therefore must be “combatted.”
Ibrahim points out that “(i)n reality, aversion to Islam is not new or something that “just happened”; nor is it a byproduct of temporal circumstances (say, resentment towards Muslims due to the terror strikes of 9/11, etc.). Instead, it is something that all rational non-Muslims have felt from the very inception of Islam in the seventh century.
“Western peoples, for instance, including many of their luminaries, have always portrayed Islam as a hostile and violent force—often in terms that would make today’s “Islamophobe” blush. And that wasn’t because Europeans were “recasting the other” to “validate their imperial aspirations” (to use the tired terminology of Edward Said that has long dominated academia’s treatment of Western-Muslim interactions). Rather, it was because Islam has always treated the “infidel,” the non-Muslim, the same way ISIS treats the infidel: atrociously.” Perhaps it is high time to demand reciprocity in friendly relations.
If you want to see Islamophilia in action, see: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/03/08/daughters-of-the-vote-islamophobia_n_15247066.html . A young Muslim student stood in a Conservative MP’s seat in the Canadian House of Commons in March, 2017, to deliver a harsh statement about “Islamophobia”.
Srosh Hassana represented her home riding of Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, a federal seat held by Garnet Genuis, for a “Daughters of the Vote” takeover of the House to mark International Women’s Day.
The University of Alberta student spoke about being a Muslim woman of colour caught facing “overwhelming stigma” and a “growing culture of ignorance” from those who justify xenophobia and prejudice “under the veil of free speech.” She was met with rousing applause and tears. But here is where the problem lies:
Her hyperbolic speech during this love-in actually stated “I fear being othered, profiled and killed in a country I call my own. My identity is challenged and my actions are heavily scrutinized,” she said. “I am simultaneously silenced into shame while being expected to apologize for the actions of a small group of people that do not represent me or anything I am.”
This is bizarre, as she is not in danger of being profiled or killed. As a Jew, who has been attacked by Islamists at a lecture, I am in far greater danger than she is. As a Jew standing up for fundamental freedoms, no one has invited me to speak to parliament. This young woman gives a speech during a love-in at Parliament and then tells us she is stigmatized. She is using the so-called Islamophobia as a sword to beat down naive Canadian politicians who have decided to meet Islamism with love and then will wonder what happened later on to fundamental freedoms. Notice this university student has been given the special privilege of being her riding’s spokesperson for the day – hardly Islamophobic ( it is in fact, Islamophilia) and she disingenuously takes this opportunity to deny that the Islamist leadership in Canada “represent” her; because that is the meaning when Muslims refer to the “small group of people” who are radicals. In fact that small group of people controls most Muslim organizations, and has she ever made a speech in support of a more moderate leadership for Muslim groups in Canada?
Query whether she has ever gone to a meeting of the Muslim Students Association which is affiliated with the Isamist Muslim Brotherhood? Or has she attended a speech by any one of the dozens of Islamist radicals making speeches in Canada? Our Members of Parliament were too busy loving her with constant nods of approval and applause to actually think about what is going on. The Islamophiles should check out her background thoroughly so as to understand whether they are Islamophiles or in fact Islamistphiles, where the latter is very dangerous.
Her words came weeks after the Official Opposition challenged a Liberal MP’s non-binding motion — referred to as M-103 — to condemn “all forms” Islamophobia. The challenge was based on the special mention of Islamophobia made in the motion when no other ethnic group, religion or race was similarly mentioned. Members, especially in the official Opposition Conservatives have been condemned as Islamophobes for suggesting that specific use of the term Islamophobia as a concern for racist statements should have in addition an opposition to other specified religions being hated. Most Conservatives argue the use of the term without a definition of what it means is problematic because it could suppress debates on issues such as the niqab.
In a Canada based on tolerance and inclusive diversity, we tend to look at what we need to do to help new immigrants smooth their transition into being Canadians. However, it is fair, when a significant number of Muslims, while not Islamists themselves, tolerate and support, to some degree, Islamists in their own countries and in Canada, that we ask our immigrants to repudiate the Islamists, in return for all the help.
For example, Hamilton Ontario, reports The Hamilton Spectator on April 20, 2017, that pursuant to a federal program, a local body has devised a plan to make Hamilton more “welcoming” to immigrants and refugees. It reports that the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council hopes to implement by 2020:
– A campaign to counter negative immigrant stereotypes;
– A yearly Newcomer Day;
– A mobile settlement information hub;
– An annual conference;
– An updated immigration profile of the city;
– University research on Syrian integration into the labour market.
We are told that Hamilton received 1400 government or privately sponsored refugees last year, when it normally gets about 250. A recent chair of the group says, “Many (Syrian refugees) came with large families and had low language skills or were illiterate in their own language.” I am all for helping newcomers integrate. There is just one glaring omission in the plan: where is the training to make the refugees good Canadian citizens, to learn that Canada, while being very tolerant, does not tolerate the kind of racism and genocide against minorities that exists in the countries they have left, and to realize that they must repudiate Islamism and the Islamist leaders, both abroad and within Canada. We need to impress upon them that Islam in Canada is respected but only to the extent it repudiates the Jihad, the supremacist notion of the Caliphate, and the separate Sharia law.
Is that too much to ask in return for all the help we are prepared to give? Or does our Islamophilia know no bounds?
And so we must always remember that true love is evidenced by reciprocity; too much of Islamophilia without understanding that it may be Islamistphilia is not requited love but submission. That is why an ideological approach to this topic is necessary.
This essay is excerpted from The Ideological Path to Submission … and what we can do about it. (Mantua Books)
Howard Rotberg is a retired lawyer and author of four books including Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed.