On the “Consequences” of Free Speech

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Liberal extremists often make the argument that freedom of speech means that the government can’t jail you for what you say. If you are not in jail for something you said, they argue, then your free speech hasn’t been violated.

How simple this seems, how clear.

Yet, in making this facile argument, liberal extremists obfuscate the many actions they take against anyone who dares to articulate a perspective that differs from their ideology. Liberals are becoming extremely violent – though thankfully they haven’t killed anyone, yet. However, there are many ways – far less dramatic than violent demonstrations – in which extreme liberals, who dominate academia, prevent speech from even happening. Academics who have non-liberal perspectives are afraid of their academic careers being destroyed.

Liberal extremists make the argument that if someone is promoting what they consider to be “hate speech” – despite the fact that there is no universally agreed upon definition of hate speech – then action must be taken to shut down that person’s speech. The logic here is that hate speech can cause violence to others, and so speech that is hateful must be silenced. Some liberal extremists even defend violence as a means to support the end they seek: silencing what they call “hate speech.” For example, a recent flier found on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus threatened violence against supporters of President Donald Trump.

Liberal extremists don’t seem to care that using violence in the name of possibly preventing violence is a circular argument that violates common sense and, by the way, basic moral principles.

What I find perplexing is that liberal extremists are not considering an obvious response to speech they find hateful: more speech. Why are they not focusing on speaking in ways that counter speech they find to be hateful?

Liberal extremists love to talk about the fact that speech happens in a context, and that people are free to speak, but that there are consequences for speech. This argument sounds reasonable on the surface, but of course it depends on the type of consequences that liberal extremists allow, enable, and promote. Yes, there are indeed consequences for actions, yet that does not make those consequences wise, rational, proportionate, or just.

Since liberal extremists care so much about the fact that there are “consequences” for the action of free speech, let’s consider how liberal extremists consider the consequences for actions in another realm: actions that are against the law.

What do liberal extremists want to be the consequences for someone who has violated the immigration laws of our country? Amnesty for “undocumented immigrants!” “No human being is illegal!” Anyone who supports enforcing immigration laws is a “Racist!”

What do liberal extremists want to be the consequences for those who have committed crimes? They love to rue the unfairness of the criminal justice system. For example, many argue against mandatory minimum sentencing and advocate for more lenient punishments.

Laws exist in order to maintain order and to protect people’s rights. Punishments for breaking laws are a necessary consequence for actions that violate laws. Yet, liberal extremists only care about consequences that threaten their ideology. If the only response you can muster to speech you find problematic is to silence – sometimes violently – those who disagree with you, then there are serious problems with your ideology.

Is the Transgender Debate about Bathrooms?

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People have taken to the streets to protest the recent news that the Trump administration has revoked the Obama administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter demanding that public schools allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice. This issue is being framed by liberal extremists as a “hateful” – their favorite adjective – attack on the rights and dignity of transgender people. Is that really what it is? Or could there possibly be other ways of understanding why the Trump administration has decided to revoke this directive?

There are at least two ways of looking at this issue – from a non-liberal extremist perspective – neither of which involve the slightest shred of “hatred” for transgender people.

This Supreme Court case concerning transgender bathrooms, Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., is about bathrooms – but it has larger, far-reaching, implications. The plaintiff is a female high school student who identifies as a boy. Initially a federal district court in Virginia issued a preliminary injunction allowing “G.G.” to use the boys’ bathroom. On April 19, 2016, the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld that ruling, relying on the Department of Education’s interpretation of sex to include “gender identity.” On August 3rd, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily “stayed” the 4th Circuit’s ruling, thus allowing the school board to prohibit “G.G.” from using the boys’ bathroom. On August 29th, The Gloucester County School board filed a cert petition to take the case to the Supreme Court, and the Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on March 28, 2017.

Update, 3/6/2017: The Supreme Court decided instead to wipe out the initial ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and give it another chance to consider the case. However, in the future, the high court still can decide whether a 1972 prohibition against sex discrimination in education requires that students can use sex-separated facilities based on their gender identity.

This case turns on two issues: (1) Whether courts should extend deference to an unpublished agency letter that, among other things, does not carry the force of law and was adopted in the context of the very dispute in which deference is sought; and (2) whether, with or without deference to the agency, the Department of Education’s specific interpretation of Title IX and 34 C.F.R. § 106.33, which provides that a funding recipient providing sex-separated facilities must “generally treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity,” should be given effect.

Let’s take these issues one at a time.

The first issue to consider here is the relationship between the federal government and the states. The Obama directive on transgender bathroom usage was not a law, but a “Dear Colleague” letter. This letter, sent to every public school district in the country, stated that the word “sex” includes gender identity. The Obama administration made it clear to school districts that, if they did not follow the directives of the letter, they could be in violation of Title IX, and they could be at risk of losing federal money.

One issue is this: should the federal government determine how over 13,500 public school districts make policy concerning which bathrooms transgender students can access? Why shouldn’t local school boards be able to develop their own policies on this issue, in consultation with the students, parents, and teachers who are personally involved with the schools in their communities?

A second issue is the larger, long-term implications of equating “sex” with “gender identity.” The federal law Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 bans sex discrimination in education. But it remains unsettled whether Title IX protections extend to a person’s “gender identity.” The Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF)  – a radical feminist organization – argues that sex and gender identity are not the same thing, and that equating these are detrimental for women’s rights. The WoLF – along with the Family Policy Alliance, a conservative Christian organization – filed an amici curiae brief with the Supreme Court. Both organizations are suing the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Education (DOE) in order to challenge their recent redefinition of “sex” in Title IX to include “gender identity.”

Let me emphasize what has happened here: a radical feminist organization and a conservative Christian organization have come to an agreement on the issues of defining sex and gender identity. How is it possible that two organizations that appear to be totally ideologically divergent have found an area of agreement on sex and gender identity? Karla Dansky, of the Women’s Liberation Front, recently appeared on the Tucker Carlson show to explain how radical feminists and Christians have come together on this issue. There are further explanations available here.

To briefly summarize their arguments, the DOJ/DOE joint guidance defines “gender identity” as “an individual’s internal sense of gender,” stating that an individual’s “gender identity” may be “different or the same” as the individual’s sex. For example, a male person may declare that he has an “internal sense” of being feminine. According to the DOJ and DOE, he would then be said to have a “gender identity” that is the opposite of his sex. The guidance mandates that a student’s “gender identity” must be treated as the student’s sex “for purposes of Title IX and its implementing regulations.” Because there is no way for a school to objectively determine an individual’s internal sense of “gender identity,” schools must organize facilities and programs on the basis of whatever students declare their feelings to be. An individual’s “gender identity” has no limitations on changing over time, even as frequently as from hour to hour, depending on the individual’s “internal sense.” When sex-based legal protections do not necessarily refer to any material state of being male or female, but instead to an internal feeling of “gender identity,” the category of sex becomes meaningless.

The redefinition of “sex” to include “gender identity” effectively renders sex meaningless as a legally protected category in federally funded schools and universities (which is almost every school and university in the country). Moreover, this redefinition of “sex” to “gender identity” effectively strips women and girls of their legal protections, as it eliminates the ability to legally distinguish between males and females in federally funded schools. The law that applies to federally funded schools, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, protects women and girls from discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive federal funding. The category of “gender identity” totally supplants Title IX’s original meaning of prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. If “gender identity” is the same as “sex,” then males can access female-designated spaces, athletics, programs, scholarships, and awards.

Let’s think about the implications here. Title IX was premised on the ability to make a sexed distinction, as it was explicitly legislated with the aim of raising the level of educational opportunity for females. The guidance, however, mandates that schools must open up women’s and girls’ bathrooms, locker rooms, and dormitories to any male who “identifies” as requiring access to them. Girls’ rights to personal privacy and freedom from male sexual harassment, forced exposure to male nudity, and voyeurism have thus been eliminated. The guidance characterizes any girl’s objection to this as mere “discomfort” that has no justification for accommodation within school policy. Under the guidance, if girls object to a male in their spaces or programs, school staff and contractors are prohibited from even acknowledging the girl’s complaint, as to correctly identify the male in question as a male or a “he” would constitute a violation of Title IX, as it is now being interpreted.

But Title IX is being overturned not just in areas of bathrooms and locker rooms, but in all aspects of its implementation – unfairly disadvantaging girls through the very legislation that was meant to protect their rights. If “gender identity” is the same as “sex,” then males can state that their gender identity is “female” in order to apply for scholarships designed to help women. If “gender identity” is the same as “sex,” then women’s and girls’ sports teams appear to have no material basis for being separated from male competitors. Recently, a male student in Alaska took home all-state honors in girl’s track and field, a position which would have otherwise gone to a female athlete. Despite the male’s declaration of “gender identity” which grants him access to female sports teams, he still has all the male physical advantages of bone strength, ligament strength, muscle mass, etc. Female sports were created separate from males as a way to give females a fair chance at competition, yet this basic facet of material reality is now being disregarded.

The rights of women and girls are so erased by the joint guidance that it even includes new policy placing restrictions on the speech of school staff and contractors, preventing them from fully discussing the impact had on female students. At its heart, this legal battle is about considering the harmful consequences in redefining the category of “sex” in federal civil rights laws. When discrimination against women and girls can no longer be attached to the category of sex, females as a class lose the ability to contest their systemic mistreatment.

In light of the far-reaching consequences of redefining “sex” to include “gender identity,” one would think that academics would want to foster dialogue on this topic. Sadly – and predictably – extreme liberals attempt to silence any discussion about the implications of gender identity. In 2016, Daniel Harris published an essay in The Antioch Review titled “The Sacred Androgen: The Transgender Debate.” In this essay, Harris expresses complete support for trans people’s right to undergo sex-reassignment surgery, and to be free of violence. As he writes, “I fervently support TGs’ rights to transition and to do so without fear of reprisal.” The essay focuses on how, in his view, the transgender movement focuses on the wrong issues – like enforcing correct pronoun usage and promoting a culture of celebrity body modification.

Yet liberal extremists opposed any discussion – no matter how reasoned – about the concept of transgender, and its implications, because they have identified transgender people as a sacred minority group. Liberal extremists argued that Harris was promoting “hate speech” and violence against trans people. An online petition to the editors of The Antioch Review accuses Harris’ arguments of bearing close similarities to the “work of the International Eugenics movement and its parallel underpinnings to the propaganda of the Nazi Regime’s “Master Race.”

Additionally, over 4,000 writers, editors, and librarians signed a letter not just denouncing the opinions articulated in the essay, but the fact that The Antioch Review published the essay. The letter states, “As writers, editors, and librarians in the literary community we denounce the Antioch Review’s decisions not only to publish this piece, but subsequently to tout it on social media as ‘not-to-miss,’ ‘sure to entertain, intrigue, and provoke,’ and an opportunity ‘to take our debate to a new level on the topic of transgenders’ [sic], and we ask for accountability from the editors for this decision.”

These writers, editors, and librarians stand for the censorship of speech that they deem to be “hate speech.” As their letter claims, “Hate speech is not protected speech.” On the surface, hate speech sounds terrible and like something we would not want. But there are at least two major problems with this line of reasoning.

First, hate speech is protected speech.

The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized very few exceptions to the First Amendment,” says Robert Richards, founding director of the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment at Penn State, which was established in 1992 to promote awareness and understanding of the principles of free expression to the scholarly community, the media and the general public.”Many people are mistaken in their belief that offensive speech or hate speech is not protected,” says Richards. “The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed the notion that unpopular speech enjoys full First Amendment protection. As the late Justice William Brennan put it, in a case involving flag burning, ‘If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.'”

Source: http://news.psu.edu/story/341896/2015/01/27/research/probing-question-are-there-limits-freedom-speech

Second, there is no universally agreed upon definition of hate speech. Someone could easily say that the promotion of capitalism as an idea is “hate speech” because capitalism flourished, at least in part, until the late 19th century in America, through the institution of slavery – a despicable institution founded upon extreme hatred for Africans. Another person could make the argument that feminism is a form of “hate speech” because there are some feminist theorists who promote hatred for men. The “hate speech” argument is a dangerous slippery slope.

It is extremely troublesome that writers, editors, and librarians – the very people who are supposed to be proficient in engaging with ideas – are organizing to suppress ideas. A university literary journal is exactly the place where people should be able to grapple with difficult topics like the implications of gender identity, not the place where people should be silenced by those who make their living because of ideas. Liberal extremists claim to support free speech – but only if that speech affirms their political perspectives.

Critique of Islam Should Be Promoted in Academia

 

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Lest this be perceived as what my detractors might call “Islamophobic,” let me state at the outset that my mother is of Syrian ancestry, so I have an abiding interest in that predominately Muslim country. Let me also be clear that I have nothing against Muslim people – my Muslim colleagues are some of the best people I know. I don’t see Muslims as a monolith, nor do I think all Muslims support violence in the name of their religion.

My issue is that it has become dangerous in America – and career-suicide, if you are an academic – to say anything even remotely critical of Islam, even though Islamic terrorists have killed thousands of innocent Americans, and even though Islamist terror plots (thankfully foiled due to U.S. intelligence agencies) have sought to kill even more. Given this context, one might expect that Americans would welcome thoughtful discussions about why there are so many terrorist attacks in the name of Islam. Yet, in American universities, if you say anything critical of Islam, the dominant liberal extremists automatically label you “Islamophobic” or “racist” (strange, because Islam is not a race). The end goal is to completely shut down any critique – no matter how respectful, civil, or rational – of Islam.

Study after study has documented a decline of respect for freedom of speech in Western democracies. According to a study by Pew Research Forum, 4 in 10 millennials think that it is acceptable to limit free speech offensive to minorities. Because Muslims are a minority in America, does that mean that one is not allowed to say anything that is critical of their religion?

This is the road we are going down in America. And the silencing of speech is worse for our northern neighbors. In Canada, Federal Liberals support Motion 103, tabled by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, which calls on the government to condemn Islamophobia” and study the best ways to quell an “increasing public climate of hate and fear.” This motion has sparked divisions among Conservatives and raised the ire of those who argue its adoption could have a chilling effect on free speech. I strongly disagree with this motion, and I strongly oppose all efforts to prevent others from any critique of Islam because they find their speech “offensive.” This happens all the time on college campuses. Students frequently cancel speakers just because they don’t agree with their views.

One of the cornerstones of Western civilization is the right to freedom of expression, even – and especially – if it offends. Yet liberal extremists only accept free expression if it agrees with their ideology, and they are increasingly using violence to silence other viewpoints, as illustrated by the recent liberal extremists who used violence against Trump supporters at UC-Berkeley and at New York University. The liberal bias in academia has been well documented and has become so extreme that academics have begun considering strategies to increase viewpoint diversity on campuses nationwide.

While liberal extremists have thankfully not yet killed anyone, their tactics in silencing speech that they disagree with bear more than a passing resemblance to Islamic extremists who have protested – and killed people – for publishing cartoons in Denmark and Paris they felt were “insulting.” Yet, every single day, throughout the world, people write terrible things about Jesus, including that he was a “gay prostitute” – yet how many offended Christians attacked the offices of The Onion and killed the people who wrote that article?

Liberal extremists launch a common counter-argument against anyone who ventures concern about Islamic terrorism. They will tell you that all religions have terrorists, and that there are Christian terrorists. When asked what they mean by this, they will most likely tell you about how Christian anti-abortion activists have killed doctors who performed abortions. Of course, any violence against anyone should always be condemned. But how many people have been killed by Christian anti-abortion terrorists? According to the National Abortion Federation, there have been 11 murders due to anti-abortion violence, in history. In contrast 28,328 people were killed by Islamic terrorists, in 2015. Oh, but my detractors will say, there is a lot of terrorism by right-wing groups. Yet, the research indicates that right-wing extremists do not kill more than Islamic terrorists.

Of course, most Muslims are never going to hurt anyone because of their faith. But this does not negate the need for conversations about what will happen to Western civilization if the West allows mass migration from Islamic countries. Shockingly, even to state that there are differences between Islamic civilization and Western civilization – which Muslims themselves have discussed at length – often causes one to be viciously attacked by liberal extremists. Thinking critically about Islam and its relationship to the West has nothing to do with hating Muslims and everything to do with having an honest conversation about whether devout Muslims want to be ruled under Western legal structures. We must understand if Muslims want to assimilate into the West – or if they will change the West in ways that will make it not Western. Although liberal extremists often despise their own civilization, it cannot be denied that there is a body of values, codified in laws, that we live under, that can be called Western civilization, and there are certain aspects of this civilization that are different from those of Islamic civilization. Most of us who live in Western countries believe that our civilization – in spite of its flaws – is worth maintaining, protecting, and defending.

Our civilization will die if we do not defend it.

Here are some questions that need to asked and answered about Islam and Western countries – questions that deserve – and, in fact, necessitate – nuanced dialogue:

• If liberals care about minorities, then why aren’t they demanding that Muslim-majority countries allow Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and atheist immigration? Why aren’t they demanding that Muslim-majority countries reform their political systems to accommodate religious minorities?

• What percentage of Muslims prefer to live under Sharia law? Studies show that the overwhelming majority of Muslims throughout the world prefer to be governed under Sharia law: 84% of South Asian Muslims, 77% of Southeast Asian Muslims, 74% of Middle Eastern and North African Muslims, and 64% of Sub-Saharan African Muslims. The only exception is Muslims from two regions – 18% of Southern-Eastern European Muslims and 12% of Central Asian Muslims prefer Sharia law.

• Given that the majority of Muslims in the world prefer to be governed under Shaira law, what is entailed in Sharia law? This legal system is terrible for women, as Women Living Under Muslims Laws have documented. We could also consider the testimonies of many Muslims who have left the faith – at risk to their lives – and who have bravely come out with critiques of Islam. Ayaan Hirisi Ali is an excellent example, and there are many more.

• Is Sharia law compatible with Western legal systems? Issam Michael Saliba – the recognized expert on Islamic law and the laws of Middle Eastern and North African countries at the Law Library of Congress – observes that there are some elements of Sharia law that are incompatible with Western legal systems. For example, in Western legal systems, solemnized marital relationships with more than one partner at a time are prohibited and entail criminal liability, while non-solemnized sexual relations are not subject to any legal restrictions. Under Sharia law, the opposite is true. A husband is permitted to have solemnized sexual relationships with up to four wives at the same time, while any non-solemnized sexual relations would subject him to severe criminal punishment. Additional provisions of Sharia law are difficult to reconcile with Western concepts of personal freedom and equality between the sexes. A husband, for example, has the right to discipline his wife, prevent her from leaving the house without his permission, and divorce her at will.

• Since, as Saliba’s analysis shows, Sharia law is not compatible with the values of progressive liberals – specifically the liberal allowance of premarital sex, abortion, gay marriage, and transgender rights – then why are progressive liberals forming alliances with Muslims?

• Of the Muslims who wish to come to the United States, what percentage will accept the U.S. Constitution as the law of the land? Which percentage will advocate to be ruled under Sharia law? Muslims across the West have already successfully advocated for the implementation of Sharia courts. Is this a situation we would like to have in the United States? If people have a right to defend the values of their Islamic civilization, then so too do people have a right to defend the values of their Western civilization.

These critically important questions must be asked and answered, but honest conversations about Islam cannot be held when people who have nothing against Islam or Muslim people are being attacked, demonized, and silence by the charge of “Islamophobia.”

On Islamophobia

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A charge is leveled against anyone who dares to venture any concern about radical Islamic terrorism – a problem that is rampant throughout the world.

The charge? “Islamophobia.”

But what is Islamophobia?

According to the University of California-Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender,

Islamophobia is a contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure. It is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalizing the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve “civilizational rehab” of the target communities (Muslim or otherwise).  Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.”

Source: UC Berkeley Center for Race and Gender

Let’s consider this definition more closely.

First, what is a “contrived fear”? The definition of “contrived,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means “ingeniously or artfully devised or planned.” How – and by whom – would a fear of Islam be “artfully designed or planned”? For something to be designed or planned would mean that there is an agent behind the design and planning. UC-Berkeley identifies the agent that is fomenting the alleged fear of Islam: “the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure.” How a power structure might be defined as “Eurocentric” and “Orientalist” given the fact that many European countries have opened their borders to mass migration of Muslims into their countries is not entirely clear.

The UC-Berkeley definition also charges that the “Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure” – a power structure that is so toxic to Muslims that it, paradoxically, allows for the settlement of great numbers of Muslims and maintains a sociocultural taboo against any critique of their religion – maintains and extends “existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations” between Muslims and Western citizens.

So, according to this definition of Islamophobia, the Eurocentric global power structure “maintains and extends” economic, political, social, and cultural disparities. If this is the case, then how does Islamophobia account for the generous social welfare benefits given to Muslims by European countries?

In total, the EU has dedicated over €10 billion from the EU budget to dealing with the refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016. The EU also provides humanitarian aid to refugees and migrants in countries outside the EU, such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Turkey hosts by far the biggest number of refugees – about 3 million in total, of whom 2.5 million are Syrian. In order to support refugees in Turkey, the EU and its Member States are providing €6 billion through a dedicated facility between 2016 and 2018.

In Sweden, asylum seekers receive free housing and monetary support while their application is pending. Persons who live in asylum centers where food is not offered free of charge also receive an extra sum to cover food expenses. Money received as financial assistance is not reclaimed if a person’s asylum application is denied. Asylum seekers have the right to health and dental care; minors who are asylum seekers have the same right to health care as Swedish citizen children living in Sweden. Asylum seekers have a legal right to attend school (ages pre-kindergarten to completion of high school) while awaiting asylum. In the fall of 2015 Swedish Minister for Education Gustav Fridolin announced a legislative bill that would require schools with queue systems to receive asylum seekers by prioritizing them over ordinary citizens who were placed in the queue earlier.

The refugee crisis has put a strain on Swedish community/societal functions, with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency reporting in November 2016 that there was a risk to the health and life of people in Sweden because health providers, the police, and the like could not keep up.

Germany, famous for taking about 950,000 migrants, spent 5.3 billion Euros for migrant benefits in 2015 – 91 percent of migrants got basic benefits such as food, accommodation, clothing and health as well as durable and non-durable household items – mainly provided as benefits in kind, although they did get some cash for personal needs as well.

And it’s not just Germany and Sweden. Here is a comprehensive list of all the benefits given to refugees – most of whom are Muslim – by European countries

Of course, not all Muslims are refugees. What about Muslim populations that have been settled in Western countries for a bit longer? What about the conditions for Muslims in the United States? A Pew survey found:

Muslim Americans generally mirror the U.S. public in education and income levels, with immigrant Muslims slightly more affluent and better educated than native-born Muslims. Twenty-four percent of all Muslims and 29 percent of immigrant Muslims have college degrees, compared to 25 percent for the U.S. general population. Forty-one percent of all Muslim Americans and 45 percent of immigrant Muslims report annual household income levels of $50,000 or higher. This compares to the national average of 44 percent. Immigrant Muslims are well represented among higher-income earners, with 19 percent claiming annual household incomes of $100,000 or higher (compared to 16 percent for the Muslim population as a whole and 17 percent for the U.S. average).”

Source: Muslims in America: A Statistical Portrait 

How is this a portrait of a group that is, as the UC-Berkeley definition of Islamophobia asserts, affected by “disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations”?

Islamophobia, as the UC-Berkeley definition states, is directed at a “perceived or real Muslim threat.” It is interesting that this definition admits that the threat might be “real.” Liberals often argue that the threat from Islamic extremism is overblown because all religions have been violent, as well as other political ideologies, such as right-wing extremism. However, scholars who have looked at the evidence have found that 90% of the world’s terrorism related deaths are attributable to Islamic extremism, and only a fraction of 1% attributable to right wing extremism.

But let us leave the issue of whether the threat from Islam is “perceived or real” and continue considering UC-Berkeley’s definition of Islamophobia. The definition states that Islamophobia rationalizes the “necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve ‘civilizational rehab’ of the target communities (Muslim or otherwise).” What type of violence is deployed, and by whom? Is the UC-Berkeley definition referring to governmental and military action as a response to the violence wrought by Islamic terrorism? The definition is unclear in this regard. Moreover, the definition is unclear on what is entailed in “civilizational rehab” – does this mean the attempt to discourage the use of violence by Muslims? If so, how is this a bad or oppressive goal? Finally, if the “target communities” of this “civilizational rehab” are not strictly Muslims but are “Muslim or otherwise,” then how is the aim of “civilizational rehab” targeting only Muslims? If other communities are included, then how are only Muslims being singled out?

The UC-Berkeley definition concludes with this statement: “Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.” The word “reintroduces” is perplexing because “reintroduces” means that something existed, then went away, and then was brought back. According to this logic, the “global racial structure” of resource disparities existed at one time, then went away, and then was reintroduced – apparently through Islamophobia. How is the “reintroduction” of the “global racial structure” possible when, throughout the definition, the scholars consistently state that there is an “existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure” and that there are “existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations”?

How can something be “reintroduced” if it already exists and never went away?

This definition of Islamophobia does not make any sense. Apparently, logic doesn’t matter to liberals.

I will address more issues on the topic of Islam and the West in future posts.