Wednesday, 24 February 2016

"Islamophobic" claims carry no water

Four years ago I was called an "Islamaphobe" for arguing for free speech on Hay Hill. even though the crazed cleric concerned was insulting me as a secularist as well as insulting numerous other religions besides Islam. 

Hay Hill, Norwich Photo B. Suzuki
My argument for tolerating a certain amount of insults in the name of Free Speech (and Care in the Community) was seen by Islamophobia Watch as defending a "democratic right to incite hatred against Muslims".  

It's true Clifford was handing out leaflets that contained some vile insults.  For example Clifford wrote in "Season's Greetings" in December 2008:
The West especially is threatened by all that denies the unique wonder of the authentic biblical revelation of God in Christ - atheistic secularism, self-indulgent & debt-driven hedonism, ethical relativism, Islamic jihadism, pseudo-Christian Roman Catholicism and anaemic, effeminate charismanic evangelicalism. 
So Clifford insulted secularists, atheists, people in debt, hedonists, Roman Catholics, Islamic "jihadism", and indeed many other religions but his own. 

No, wait a moment, he also insulted those within his own religion for their "anaemic, effeminate charismanic evangelicalism"!  

Clifford also insulted thLGBT community, the local council, and the government, and was probably going right off Spot, the neighbour's terrier.

Islamophobia Watch called me an Islamophobe for supporting Clifford's right to peaceful free expression that did insult Islam, but dishonestly failed to mention that the Reverend Clifford was a serial insulter, a generous insulter, an indiscriminate insulter, a cornucopia of insults.  Who can deny his capacity to insult?

I wrote in my Hay Hill article: 
There is literally no limit to the number of things that give offence to someone or other, and are we then to complain to the council about each and every one of them? Is this the way grown-ups in a secular democracy behave?
Islamophobia Watch concluded:
The explanation for this disgraceful position can be found on Suzuki’s Facebook page, which shows that she is an active supporter of the National Secular Society, an organisation that staunchly defends the right of racists to attack Islam – not least because a number of prominent NSS members share their views.
This is an outrageous insult to the NSS, but as far as I know the NSS did not respond and certainly did not form a "Secularphobia Watch" website to whine about it in retaliation.  

And now I read Nick Lowles of Hope not Hate, the anti-racist organisation that prompted the start of this blog, has himself been called an Islamophobe! 

Nick Lowles of HnH in 2010 Photo B. Suzuki
Nick writes:

My crime, it seems, has been to repeatedly call on the anti-racist movement to do more to condemn on-street grooming by gangs and campaigning against Islamist extremist groups in the UK and abroad.

I make no apology for either position. We need to be consistent in our opposition to extremism - from whatever quarter it comes - just as we need to be more vocal in our condemnation of child sex grooming.

These accusations of "Islamophobia" are becoming so common and indiscriminate they are losing all meaning.  However, there is no doubting the intent to hurt and damage the person being so singled out. 

There is an irony in all this.  Isn't calling someone an Islamophobe also a vile insult designed to invoke hatred?

My unexpected consolation prize for being insulted was a mention in Rational Wiki.  Now that was a real honour!  You deserve as much and more, Nick Lowles, for your years of work combating fascism from the far right, from the far left, and from religious fanatics alike.   

Norfolk group of anti-fascists at HnH HQ in 2010 (photo B.Suzuki)

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