A lot of the time, the word “Islamophobia” has been gratuitously thrown around to smear any critic of militant/radical Islam, or anyone who discusses the dangerous strands in contemporary Islamic culture. I don’t think that either religion or political ideology based on religion are beyond criticism. However, I do think that in some quarters, hostility to radical Islam translates into — or becomes a smokescreen for — out-and-out bigotry directed at all Muslims, including secularized but traditionally Muslim populations (such as the Albanians in Kosovo).
Here’s a rather striking example.
Last night, I followed a link from an Andrew Sullivan post to a post on a site called Infidel Bloggers Alliance about the firing of a Daily Telegraph editor who had published an article about extremism among British Muslims. (In a subsequent update, Andrew noted that it was unclear whether her firing was related to the article.)
When I glanced at the previous posts on the Infidel Bloggers Alliance blog, a post titled “A Memorable Moment in the Milosevic trial” caught my attention. Both the post and especially the comments treat Milosevic as a misunderstood hero who was actually fighting back against the jihadist peril in Europe. Typical comment:
Yeah. . . Ever since 9/11, one question after another about whether we were on the wrong side in the Bosnian conflict has come up.
The only thing you can trust a Muslim to be is a Muslim.
Of course, prior to his death, Milosevic had repeatedly tried to capitalize on 9/11, and the War on Terror, to present himself as an early crusader, so to speak, against Muslim terrorism. For a dose of reality, go to this article by Christopher Hitchens, whom no one can accuse of being soft on militant Islam.
Just to set the record straight, I am not for a moment implying that Andrew Sullivan shares the repugnant views of the author of the Milosevic post (though I personally think it’s a good idea to look around a site before you link to it). However, I do think that critics of radical Islam should be very careful to avoid the trap of anti-Muslim bigotry — which, in some cases, can evidently lead to excuses for genocide.
More: Those inclined to generalize about Muslim intolerance would do well to read this fascinating post by neo-neocon about Muslim-Jewish relations and, specifically, Muslim rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.