Canadian minister gets all balled up about the meaning of “Islamophobia”

As I’ve written before, there’s a big fracas in Canadian politics about a motion (“M-103”, which is not a law but a recommendation) against religious discrimination, one that singles out “Islamophobia” as deserving special mention. The bill was introduced last December by the Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, a Pakistani-Canadian, and is being discussed now in the House of Commons. Here it is, and I’ve bolded the contentious part:

Systemic racism and religious discrimination

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear; (b) condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and take note of House of Commons’ petition e-411 and the issues raised by it; and (c) request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on how the government could (i) develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia, in Canada, while ensuring a community-centered focus with a holistic response through evidence-based policy-making, (ii) collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities, and that the Committee should present its findings and recommendations to the House no later than 240 calendar days from the adoption of this motion, provided that in its report, the Committee should make recommendations that the government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms in the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It’s been criticized for singling out Muslims among all religions, for the possibility that it could chill freedom of speech, and for not defining “Islamophobia,” a mistake that could, if the word were loosely construed, be used to deem criticism of Islam as “hate speech.” The Conservatives have objected to this bill on the grounds of the nebulous meaning of “Islamophobia,” and suggested that the term be removed. A liberal, Irwin Kotler (see below) agreed, saying it should be replaced by “anti-Muslim bigotry.”

Well, I agree about the term, but not that one religion should be singled out. That privileges Islam, and I understand that earlier motions have privileged Judaism. That, too, should be rejected, and the motion could simply call for freedom of religion and opposition to discrimination based on religion—much as the U.S.’s First Amendment does. (Well, it used to until the Hobby Lobby decision came along.)

I’m not sure where the term “Islamophobia” originated, but what it really means is “fear of Islam”, not, as most people use it, “bigotry against Muslims,” or “Muslimophobia”.  I myself reject any bigotry or discrimination against Muslims, but I have to say that of all religions, I’m most scared of Islam, which has the potential to do incredible damage to the planet—and in fact is doing so now. If that makes me an “Islamophobe,” so be it. But during the Inquisition (and even a bit now), I’d have been a “Catholicphobe” because of the bad effects Catholicism has on the world. I’ve always thought the word “Islamophobia” should be understood by everyone to mean “fear of Islam,” while bigotry against Muslims should be called simply “bigotry against Muslims.” It’s not “racism,” either, for Muslims aren’t a race: they adhere to a religion and come from many different ethnic groups.

All of these points are made by the CBC interviewer in this discussion with Mélanie Joly, Liberal member of the House of Commons and Minister of Canadian Heritage in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet. Joly has previously called the Canadian motion “cynical,” and noted that “Islamophobia is clear. It’s a discrimination against Muslims, people of Muslim faith, and it’s a term we can’t be afraid to use.” She’s clearly confused, and that shows in her interview below, where she dissembles and evades the interviewer’s very reasonable points, which include these (direct quotes):

“It’s not “Muslimophobia’. . . it’s ‘Islamophobia‘, which is a religion: Islam is not a race, it’s not a people—it’s a religion.”

“The argument is about the word ‘Islamophobia,’ which for some people means, literally, what it says: fear of Islam, which is a religion—which is subject to reasonable criticism.  Someone may say that I object, strongly, to Islamic ideas like the death to apostates, death to the infidels, death to gays. They may object to those things and those are reasonable objections; and that is fear of Islam. But it’s not discrimination against Muslims. Do you agree that there is a distinction?”

“But you have the power to make that conversation much, much easier with a very simple step suggested by a very distinguished liberal, Irwin Kotler. . . who makes the proposal, ‘Why don’t you just say anti-Muslim bigotry’; then we know we are talking about people, not ideas. Why don’t we do that?”

Joly doesn’t even try to respond to these points; she’s working above her pay grade and is sworn to defend the motion without even thinking about how to respond to counterarguments.

I’d much rather have the interviewer in Parliament than the dissimulating Joly. Reader Diana MacPherson identified him for me:

The interviewer is Terry Milewski and the show is CBC’s “Power and Politics“. Milewski was guest-hosting the show (he’s retired and does some guest stuff sometimes).

I hope the rest of Trudeau’s cabinet is savvier than Joly.

46 Comments

  1. Zach
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure where the term “Islamophobia” originated…

    According to Pascal Bruckner, it was invented in conjunction with the Iranian Revolution.

    But who really knows?

  2. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I can’t understand the doubling down on the word “Islamophobia” other than to distract Canadians from more important government issues. There is no talking to people about it either; you’re just a big bigot if you point out the problem with using this term because your argument is straw-manned into suggesting you condone bigotry against Muslims.

  3. Posted March 11, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure where the term “Islamophobia” originated, …

    The term originated as an attempt to prescribe how you “should” think about Islam and to try to disallow criticism of Islam. Yes, this isn’t just a side effect, this was the *intent* of those who originally promoted the term.

    In the UK at least, a 1997 report by the Runnymede Trust was influential in leading to widespread media use of the term “Islamophobia”. This report is *explicit* about telling you how you should (“open views of Islam”) and should not (“closed views of Islam”) think about Islam.

    Read their summary of the report here.

    It never was just about harassment or discrimination against Muslims, it always was about protecting Islam from criticism.

    For example, if you think that Islam is sexist, or inferior to Western values, or if you see Islam as a political ideology, then you are “Islamophobic”.

    The way to *not* be Islamophobic, according to Runnymede, is to see Islam as equally worthy of respect as Western values such as free speech and church-state separation.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted March 11, 2017 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      According to Wikipedia,

      “The term Islamophobia started being used in the early 20th century and emerged as a neologism in the 1970s, became increasingly salient during the 1980s and 1990s, and reached public policy prominence with the report by the Runnymede Trust’s Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia (CBMI) entitled Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All (1997).”

      And, good for them!!!

      At the very top of their article on Islamophobia is this

      “Not to be confused with Criticism of Islam.”

      with the last three words linking to an article of the same title.

      • somer
        Posted March 12, 2017 at 1:22 am | Permalink

        Very logical Not.

        At the very top of their article on
        Islamophobia is this

        “Not to be confused with Criticism of Islam.”

  4. Cindy
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I like Terry Milewski.

    I believe that Stephen Harper disliked him because Terry is not one to give softball questions, as we have witnessed.

    Good for Terry.

  5. Posted March 11, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    “I hope the rest of Trudeau’s cabinet is savvier than Joly.”

    Trudeau’s cabinet is a den of identity politics. For instance, there are FOUR (!) Sikh cabinet ministers (13.3% of the cabinet) even though Sikhs are only 1.4% of the Canadian population. Trudeau has bragged that he has more cabinet Sikhs than Modi.

    • BJ
      Posted March 11, 2017 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Trudeau’s entire administration and policy-making decisions is identity politics-based. It’s SJWs running a government.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 11, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        Evidence?

  6. Randy schenck
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Good grief. Is she dense or what?

    • nwalsh
      Posted March 11, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Dense is right. I couldn’t suffer through to the end. I guess this is what you get when you vote a party out and the other gets in by default.

  7. nicky
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    And, if history is something to go by, these Sikhs will surely be pretty ‘islamophobic’.

  8. Posted March 11, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    ‘Phobias’ are irrational fears so I’d reject even its restricted use as ‘fear of Islam’.

    • Posted March 11, 2017 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      There’s a reason why there’s a ‘phobia’ of cats in general (ailurophobia) but not of tigers or lions in particular – and that’s because there’s nothing irrational about fear of lions or tigers.

      Unless you think they are hiding in your wardrobe.

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted March 12, 2017 at 5:18 am | Permalink

        It’s the witch in my wardrobe that scares me.

    • nicky
      Posted March 11, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      Good point! There us indeed nothing irrational about fearing Islam.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 11, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      It’s certainly possible to have rational concerns regarding specific doctrines in Islam. But it’s also possible to have irrational fears regarding Islam. One finds it in the US in the efforts to purge all mention of Islam from school curricula and history books and in the efforts to enact unneeded anti-Sharia legislation.

  9. Posted March 11, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  10. Anthony
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    you forgot to bold the word quell.

    the definition of the word:

    put an end to (a rebellion or other disorder), typically by the use of force.

    synonyms: put an end to, put a stop to, end, crush, put down, check, crack down on, curb, nip in the bud, squash, quash, subdue, suppress, overcome; subdue or silence someone.

  11. Posted March 11, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    🐾

  12. Christopher Moss
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    “Joly doesn’t even try to respond to these points; she’s working above her pay grade and is sworn to defend the motion without even thinking about how to respond to counterarguments.”

    A perfect example, I’m sad to say, of the Peter Principle. There will be plenty of otherwise happy Liberal voters, like me, who will feel more in tune with the opposition on this matter.

  13. BJ
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Trudeau, his administration, and most of his party look more and more like what you get when you put SJWs in power. “Human Rights Courts” charging comedians with hate speech for making a joke. Using words they refuse to define but put into law so they can abuse them as a cudgel. Building a cabinet not through merit of the members, but through diversity quotas. And on and on it goes.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 11, 2017 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      When had he Liberal party under Trudeau created “Human Rights Courts charging comedians with hate speech for making a joke”?

      And for one the sikhs like our defence minister are immensely qualified for their positions!

      • Cindy
        Posted March 11, 2017 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        Here you go:

        http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/mike-ward-petit-jeremy-human-rights-tribunal-1.3461693

        The joke was really distasteful, but a 24k fine? A hate crime?

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 11, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

          But that has nothing to do with the current Liberal government. Those laws existed 25 years ago. Nor did a special court to try people for making jokes get set up by Trudeau’s group of Sikhs as was suggested in BJ’s post.

          • Cindy
            Posted March 11, 2017 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

            Just showing you what he was talking about in regards to the human rights tribunal.

          • BJ
            Posted March 11, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

            Except these types of cases are now being prosecuted. These types of charges are now being brought up as threats against people like Jordan Peterson, a professor on UoT campus speaking out against political correctness.

            I’m simply talking about the increasing political correctness and decreasing freedom of speech in the country. That court has existed for far longer. What’s happening in Canada now is a much more recent phenomenon.

            And, by the way, the court was not originally supposed to be used for “cases” like that. It was supposed to be for true abuses of human rights, but “human rights” has now also been warped by political correctness into a right not to be offended, a right to always feel safe and comfy, etc.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 11, 2017 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

              Yet this has nothing to do with Trudeau’s current cabinet or government, which is what your post suggested.

              Further, these cases are outliers. They aren’t enough to say SJWs are running Canada.

  14. BJ
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    And isn’t it funny that no matter where you go, no matter who is talking, nobody ever is this concerned about antisemitism? Considering that, at least in the US, Jews have the highest percentage of hate crimes committed against them (in proportion to their size of the population)? I imagine the same is true in Canada, as well.

  15. Kelly
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I wonder why MP Khalid who put forth this motion continues to avoid public scrutiny around this and has Joly speak to the issues. MP Khalid wants the motion passed to purportedly increase awareness and discussion but Khalid won’t defend the motion. How dare some Canadians even try to stop M103, we must all be Islamophobes!

    Interesting to watch as Joly is challenged on the term Islamophobia, she often shifts to using the word “discrimination” or talking about acts of violence such as the Quebec mosque shooting. Most Canadians condemn both discrimination and violence, but not Islamophobia. Joly refuses to acknowledge the difference here and continues to argue for equating Islamophobia with violence and discrimination. And of course, she supports free speech! The hypocrisy is unbelievable.

    • Cindy
      Posted March 11, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      as Joly is challenged on the term Islamophobia, she often shifts to using the word “discrimination” or talking about acts of violence such as the Quebec mosque shooting

      Appeal to emotion/morality.

      Never trust a politician when they try to impose authoritarian laws whilst citing morality.

      A few years go, Stephen Harper, Canada’s Bush-lite, tried to pass a spybill, and his argument was that anyone who opposed the bill was pro-pedo. ‘If you value your privacy, you *hate* children’

      • BJ
        Posted March 11, 2017 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

        Everybody is always saying how much better Canada is, but between your conservative and liberal parties, you’re looking more like us every day. Except that your liberal politicians go even farther.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 11, 2017 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

          I think you have a lot to learn about Canada, its culture, and its politics.

          • Zach
            Posted March 11, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

            Fortunately, there is a popular show in the US to help him:
            http://southpark.cc.com/clips/385746/the-royal-wedding

          • BJ
            Posted March 11, 2017 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

            A lot of Canadians disagree with you. And I lived there for a few years, so I know it pretty well.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 11, 2017 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

              More assertions. No evidence.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 11, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        One distinction here is that this isn’t a law. It’s just a weird nothing, though the methods are the same…I think it’s more a lack of wanting to listen. The word “Islamophobia” is a dog whistle of sorts.

  16. Filippo
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I look forward to a motion no less condemning Islamofascism, and supporting the right of anyone to leave any religion if s/he so chooses. And to decline to submit to Sharia if s/he so chooses.

  17. phoffman56
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps I’ll begin to refer to myself as being a ‘religionophobic’. And then I can have ding-dong arguments with ding-dong people who confuse that with being ‘religiousophobic’.

    The tendency of math people is to generalize, rather than to give a second example such as ‘Christianityophobic’ versus ‘Christianophobic’.

    However there is in human nature an unfortunate tendency to begin hating people who hold views which you hate, even people who haven’t acted on those views, e.g. haven’t yet murdered any apostates.

    Also, as earlier said, the “..phobic” is the wrong term because of its connection to mental illness.

  18. somer
    Posted March 12, 2017 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    I know Im being dense – but can someone enlightenment whats being referred to by the “hobby lobby” decision? as was referred to in
    “That, too, should be rejected, and the motion could simply call for freedom of religion and opposition to discrimination based on religion—much as the U.S.’s First Amendment does. (Well, it used to until the Hobby Lobby decision came along.)”

    • somer
      Posted March 12, 2017 at 12:14 am | Permalink

      Aaaaaaaaah autocorrect again. “but can someone *enlighten me* (NOT enlightnment) whats being referred to by the “hobby lobby” decision

  19. HaggisForBrains
    Posted March 12, 2017 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Let me Google that for you.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted March 12, 2017 at 5:31 am | Permalink

      Reply to Somer.

  20. Mike
    Posted March 12, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Just like all politicians ,keeps talking over him, hoping he’ll move off the point for which she has no answer.


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] via Canadian minister gets all balled up about the meaning of “Islamophobia” — Why Evolution Is Tr… […]

%d bloggers like this: