Wrongheaded anti-Islamophobia

Post-9/11, I was on the side of the anti-Islamophobes.

My argument was, and still is, that peaceful and liberal Muslims should not be forced into the same category with violent, theocratic, totalitarian Islamists.

Islamophobes ignorantly and unfairly suspected all Muslims of being covert violent, theocratic, totalitarian Islamists. because the category “Muslim” was more immediately real to them than actual, living Muslims in all their variety.

Essentially, I was making a “not all Muslims” argument. I suppose some bigot could have invented a “not all Muslims” meme and ridiculed me for being a decent liberal who points out the inadequacies of stereotypes, but that kind of nonsense only works on fellow bigots.

But to condemn openly violent, theocratic, totalitarian Islamists is not Islamophobia. Far from it. When we condemn them, we do not condemn them as Muslims, but as violent, theocratic, totalitarians.

And to excuse or celebrate openly violent, theocratic, totalitarian Islamists is not anti-Islamophobia. It is betraying liberalism 1) by supporting its enemies, and 2) by indulging in eubigotry, which is every bit as dehumanizing as dysbigotry.

In bigotry — whether negative dysbigotry or positive eubigotry — we reduce a person to our own mental category and our beliefs about what categorization means, and allow our own understanding to eclipse who they are and how they understand themselves. We do not afford them the dignity of transcendent reality. We approach them in the attitude of I-It as objects, not in the attitude of I-Thou as fellow subjects capable of joining us in first-person plural.

Leave a Reply