I hold no brief for or against any particular religion; I think that many (most?) offer some good lessons in values and some wonderful insights about human nature that can help us to all be better people and to build better societies …
… and all, probably, have some “teachings” that most of us, in the 21st century, wish hadn’t been written down 2,500, 2,000 or 1,500 years ago.
That being said, it is wrong to discriminate against or to spread hatred about any religion: one’s religious beliefs ought to be both:
- Protected; and
So, I agree with Lorne Gunter, writing in the Toronto Sun, when he says that “There are two fundamental problems with Liberal MP Iqra Khalid’s Motion 103 calling on the federal government to battle Islamophobia that will likely come up for debate in the House of Commons this coming week … One concern is practical, the other stems from a dusty old philosophical belief that words can affect ideas and concepts. Used incorrectly for long enough, the wrong words give us bad ideas.“
“There are very real, practical problems with M-103,” Mr Gunter explains, including “For instance, who gets to define “Islamophobia?” Does that mean an irrational fear of all Muslims based on a very real fear of several thousand radicals who truly do want to harm Western democracy? Or does it mean the much broader, politically-correct concept of Islamophobia, namely that anyone questioning whether Islam is a religion of peace is guilty of Islamophobia? … [and that’s a problem because] … This latter, catchall definition also makes offenders of those who doubt the superiority of Sharia law, argue that compelling Muslim women to wear burkas or even niqabs is contrary to Western values or draw or publish cartoons about the Prophet Mohammed … [and] … While most Canadians might go for the former definition of Islamophobia, I guarantee you that once M-103 gets into the hands of the activists and human-rights extremists who populate the halls of the federal bureaucracy, it will be the latter, much broader definition that is enforced.“
But Lorne Gunter also notes that there is a longer term and deeper danger: “Philosophically, though, there is also the danger that the gobbledygook will actually change the way we think, at least at the upper levels in Canadian society. The great British philosopher A.J. Ayer postulated that just as ideas need words to describe them accurately, words used improperly can change the very concepts behind them … [thus] … if we start calling things Islamophobic long enough, even those that aren’t phobic will become phobic in our collective minds … [and] … If that happens, we will lose an understanding of who our society’s leading threats are.“
Islamophobia is real, and it is unhealthy to a civil society, but anti-semitism and anti-catholicism and anti-almost everything else are also real and are equally unhealthy.
I wish Ms Khalid had introduced a motion that condemned discrimination and the promotion of hatred against any group based upon its race or creed … but, of course, such a bill would only serve to highlight the fact that such discrimination and such promotion of hatred is already prohibited in Canada. If one, specific, creed needs to be singled out then it begs the questions: is there something wrong with it? or is this an attempt to advance or promote one creed at the expense of all the others?