Islamophobia-phobia and the Rotherham Rapes

“Prelate rues rising Islamophobia in wake of Islamic State atrocities.”

The headline caught my eye. It seems that Auxiliary Bishop Denis Madden, who chairs the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, has expressed concern that “Islamophobia in America is on the rise” in the wake of atrocities committed by ISIS in Iraq.

That seems to me to be an odd way to react to the atrocities. Islamists slaughter Christians and the first thought of a Catholic bishop is to protect Muslims from Islamophobia? It’s a good example of giving a lesser value precedence over a greater value. The lesser value in this case is protecting Muslims from the threat of Islamophobia, and the greater value is protecting Christians from being killed.

The bishop asserted that the rise of Islamophobia is “tragic.” There’s little evidence that Islamophobia—“an irrational fear of Islam”—is on the rise, but even if it were, “tragic” doesn’t seem quite the right word. Perhaps the bishop meant to say “disturbing” or “alarming.” The fate of the Christians and Yazidis in Iraq who were enslaved, slaughtered, and beheaded could justly be called a tragic fate, but it diminishes their ordeal to equate their sufferings with those of a Muslim in Dearborn who opens the morning paper and discovers that the incidence of Islamophobia has risen 5 percent since 2001.

 

Islamophobia a tragedy? It can be argued that the creation of the concept of Islamophobia in the 1990s has had far more tragic consequences than the thing itself. That is, fear of being thought Islamophobic has resulted in a kind of societal paralysis in the face of evil. An appalling example of this paralysis is the recent revelation that, in the course of the last fifteen years, 1,400 girls in the English city of Rotherham were drugged, raped, and traded by Pakistani gangs while police, city authorities, and child protection agencies looked the other way.

Why did they turn a blind eye? In a word, “Islamophobia-phobia.” They were afraid of being thought Islamophobic. They certainly knew what was happening. The gang members would drive up to the children’s homes run by the child protection agencies, select the ones they wanted, and drive off with them. However, according to the official inquiry report, police, council officers, and child protection officers feared they would be accused of “racism” and “Islamophobia” if they focused on crimes committed by Pakistanis.

Here again we have a case of the secondary value triumphing over the primary value. Isn’t the protection of children a more important value than the protection of an abstraction such as “diversity” or “multiculturalism”? Apparently not when your livelihood and reputation are on the line. The people who knew about the crimes were fully aware that in today’s Orwellian England an accusation of racism or Islamophobia could bring ostracism and an end to their careers. For example, a researcher who tried to blow the whistle on the scandal to the Rotherham Council in 2001 reveals that she was warned that she “must never refer to Asian men” and was sent to “a two-day ethnicity and diversity course to raise my awareness of ethnic issues.”

It wasn’t fear of Islam that ruined the lives of 1,400 children in Rotherham, it was fear of offending the guardians of political correctness and multicultural etiquette. As Robert Spencer points out, an alliance of British leftists and Islamic supremacists had created a true climate of fear in the UK:

The Muslim rape gangs went unreported, unprosecuted, and in general unstopped because of far-left organizations like Hope Not Hate, Faith Matters, and Tell Mama, which raged relentless war against anyone and everyone who spoke about these issues. They demonized as “Islamophobic,” “hateful,” and “bigoted” anyone who said that there were Muslim rape gangs at all, and that they had to be stopped.

Archbishop Madden ought to ponder the Rotherham tragedy because the climate of fear which made it possible also exists here. American law enforcement agents already know that they must tread lightly around the sensibilities of Muslims. The average citizen knows it as well. The people who do speak out about appeasement of Islamist demands soon find themselves the targets of well-organized smear campaigns. The Southern Poverty Law Center automatically labels all counter-jihad organizations as hate groups, and the leftist Center for American Progress, which is funded by George Soros, has “exposed” Islamist critics in a 130-page report entitled Fear Inc. The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America. Those who worry excessively about Islamophobia will be relieved to know that the well-funded Soros group is already on the case. Their booklet lists the individuals and organizations that are “amplifying fear and misinformation in this Islamophobic echo chamber.”

The leftist-Islamist campaign to silence critics of Islam has been a spectacular success. It can be compared to the gay activist campaign to stifle criticism of the gay lifestyle. Everyone from actors to politicians to corporate executives knows that if they criticize the gay agenda in any way, they will be accused of homophobia and will be lucky to hold on to their careers.

The Islamophobia campaign was, in fact, modeled on the homophobia campaign, and like that other campaign, it was designed to portray Muslims as victims of hatred and bigotry. Like the homophobia campaign, it was intended to put a muzzle on the critics of Islam. Although these “hateful” critics are supposed to have created a climate of fear, the irony is that it’s the “Islamophobes” on the Fear Inc. list who regularly receive hate mail and death threats and have been forced to hire bodyguards.

Meanwhile, our intelligence agencies have been hamstrung out of fear of offending Muslims, investigations into possible Muslim Brotherhood penetration of the government have been blocked for fear of offending Muslims, and the New York Police Department’s surveillance of radical mosques has been suspended for fear of offending Muslims.

After 9/11, the watchword was “If you see something, say something,” but fear of Islamophobia has created a climate in which people are tempted to look the other way if they see a Muslim acting suspiciously. Here’s a case in point. In 2008, five Muslims were convicted of a jihad plot to enter Fort Dix Army Base and kill as many as they could. How did the feds find out about the plot? A clerk in a Circuit City store told them that two men had asked him to convert a videotape to DVD. On the tape were images of men firing automatic weapons and shouting “Allahu akbar.” The clerk hesitated to do anything at first, but after mulling it over, he finally asked a coworker: “Dude, I just saw some really weird s—. I don’t know what to do. Should I call someone or is that being racist?”

Of course, a similar fear of being thought Islamophobic enabled Major Nidal Hasan to carry out the massacre of fourteen people at Fort Hood in 2009. Several of his fellow officers and superior officers were aware of his jihadist sympathies, but none of them spoke up for fear of being thought bigoted.

The word “phobia” refers to an irrational fear. The claustrophobic may feel that the walls of the elevator are closing in on him, but in reality, he is perfectly safe. The premise of the gay activist movement is that society has nothing to fear from the spread of the gay agenda. In reality, they say, it will create a more just and tolerant society. Thus, anyone who opposes it is the victim of an unreasonable delusion—a homophobe.

The Islamophobia campaign works in the same way. The people who promote it—leftists on the one hand and Muslim activist groups on the other—are intent on creating a radically different social order. Although the end result envisioned by Islamist groups such as CAIR, ISNA, and MPAC is quite different from that envisioned by the Center for American Progress, both are temporarily willing to work together. Their ostensible aim is to counter irrational fears about Islam, but it’s beginning to look as though their real purpose is to prevent ordinary people from entertaining rational and well-founded fears. At one time, training materials used by the FBI and the Defense Department drew a connection between jihad and Islamic doctrine. That was perfectly rational because such a connection does, in fact, exist. In compliance with the demands of Islamic groups, however, the materials—thousands of pages’ worth—were purged lest Muslims be offended. But, of course, the defense and intelligence agencies weren’t worried about offending the average Muslim in the street, they were worried about offending high-powered and well-connected pressure groups. Likewise, based on his bizarre behavior, it would have been perfectly rational for the Army to dismiss Major Nidal Hasan from service and deny him access to army bases. On the other hand, whatever justified fears they had about Hasan, his fellow officers also had entirely rational fears about being accused of “racism” and “Islamophobia” had they reported him.

And how about Rotherham? At the first sign of exploitation, the decent, rational, responsible reaction would have been swift action to expose the perpetrators and bring them to justice. But, thanks in large part to the relentless Islamophobia campaign, England today is not a sane, normal, or responsible society. And so the officials of Rotherham let the problem grow and fester for a decade and a half.

The USCCB—especially the Interreligious Affairs Committee—has closely allied itself with the very Islamist groups that play the Islamophobia card whenever it looks like the normal, rational response to Islamist cultural aggression might assert itself. Moreover, the Islamist contention that the only thing we have to fear is fear of Islam seems to have rubbed off on some of the bishops. On two occasions, bishops rescinded speaking invitations to Robert Spencer, who has been described by Fr. C.J. McCloskey as “perhaps the foremost Catholic expert on Islam in our country.” It’s probably no coincidence that Spencer figures prominently on the Fear Inc. list of fear-mongering Islamophobes. The irrational fear theme also figures in Archbishop Madden’s USCCB blog. He ends it with the reminder that “Fear destroys everything it touches.” Indeed it does. Fear of being thought Islamophobic destroyed the normal protective response in the people who ran the Rotherham child protective services. The archbishop and other bishops involved in dialogue need to ask themselves if they want to serve as an echo chamber for the groups who are creating a similar climate of fear here in the U.S.

William Kilpatrick

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William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong; and Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Saint Austin Review, Investor’s Business Daily, and First Things. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation. For more on his work and writings, visit his website, turningpointproject.com

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