Saturday, April 2, 2011

What is "Islamophobia"?

Note to Jeff Poirier, Senior Policy Analyst, Ontario Human Rights Commission. Unanswered.

Thank you for your reply to my request for the OHRC's definition of Islamophobia. This definition sorely needs editing. I would prefer to see the Commission define precisely, not describe vaguely, the words by which it operates. The OHRC's definition is followed by my suggestions for improvement:

"A contemporary and emerging form of racism in Canada has been termed 'Islamophobia'. Islamophobia can be described as stereotypes, bias or acts of hostility towards individual Muslims or followers of Islam in general. In addition to individual acts of intolerance and racial profiling, Islamophobia leads to viewing Muslims as a greater security threat on an institutional and societal level."
Correction: “contemporary and emerging If something is emerging, it is contemporary. The writer likely meant contemporary and growing.

"form of racism" 

Correction: Islam is not a race. If a Caucasian Muslim were discriminated against by other Caucasians, would you call that racism? The description assumes that all Muslims are of one race. That is stereotyping.

"has been termed" 

Correction: Termed, by whom? The passive voice is inappropriate in serious matters. It indicates hesitancy and doubt.

"Islamophobia can be described" 
Cirrection: The passive voice again. This should state: "Islamophobia is"

"stereotypes ... towards." 

Correction: One does not stereotype towards something. And again the passive voice.

"bias or acts of hostility" 

Question: Is refusal to accept a copy of the Koran when handed out on the street an act of hostility? It certainly is bias. Bias is not necessarily bad.

"individual acts of intolerance" 
Question: As defined by whom? Had I commented unkindly as I returned the book, or accepted it and threw it away, would that have been intolerance? No, it would have been rudeness.

"racial profiling" 

Correction: It required racial profiling for the Toronto School Board to open a school for black students. It is racial profiling to question why there is a disproportionate number of aboriginals in our jails. It is racial profiling to inquire why Asian students on average score better marks than Caucasian students, who score better than black students. Or to ask why 40 per cent of black students drop out of school. Of course it is, but for worthy objectives. Racial profiling is not necessarily bad..

"viewing Muslims as a greater security threat" 
Question: Greater than what? Is viewing them as a great or normal security threat permissible? And bad only when it becomes greater?

"on an institutional and societal level" 
Question:  What does this mean? If it's bad, it's bad on any level.

No comments: