What do “Islamophobia” and “Battered Women’s Syndrome” have in common? One could be forgiven for thinking, “Not much.” After all, “Islamophobia,” as defined by the most prodigious user of the term – the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – defines it as “an excessive fear against Islam and anything associable with Islam.” Battered Women’s syndrome (BWS), on the other hand, is defined as a “fearfulness and a feeling of helplessness, seen in some women who are physically, verbally, or emotionally abused over an extended period by a husband or partner.” It would seem that one deals with an unfounded fear of the ideology of Islam and anything associable with its related doctrines while the other deals with a fear of a person in the form of a spouse or partner. That being said, both are remarkably similar in the way that they invert the victim-oppressor relationship to place guilt on the abused rather than the abuser.
In both “Islamophobia” and “BWS,” the guilty party is not the one imposing the hardship, pain and even violence. The “Islamophobe,” for example, is told that he or she is wrong for identifying aspects of Islam, such as tenets of Sharia Law, that are antithetical to a traditional, Canadian view of how the world should work. Indeed, so wrong are these “Islamophobes” that they deserve to be described as racists and bigots even as they are blamed for the violence that follows their critical observations – even if everything they said or wrote falls well within the free speech rights afforded by any modern Western democracy. They are the “deplorables.” A case in point might be the publishers of the 2005 “Danish Cartoons,” who were blamed for the worldwide “days of rage” that resulted in riots, injury and death. Likewise, the battered woman in the BWS scenario comes to believe that she is to blame for triggering the abuse of her thin-skinned, morally deficient partner. His violence is justified by her actions, even though they be innocent and well-intended. In both cases we see the actions of the true victim, whether they be critical or perceived as such, being used by a faux-victim to justify their own bad behaviour.
In the Western world, the inverted victim-oppressor relationship of BWS was eventually recognized as irrational. Accordingly, the battered woman now has a plethora of remedies available to her including restraining orders, shelters and counselling. The phenomenon of “Islamophobia” has so far evaded being similarly identified as an inversion of the victim-aggressor relationship, with so-called “Islamophobes” still being roundly condemned of racism and bigotry for calling aspects of Islam into question. Seen in this light, the term “Islamophobia” appears ridiculous and falls short of describing the actual behavioral dynamics at play. Indeed, in most cases where the term “Islamophobia” is used, the reality of the situation would be more accurately reflected with the expression “Islamophobia? GET REAL!”
To illustrate our new term “Islamophobia? GET REAL!”, here’s a little-known case in point. Djemila Benhabib, a feminist secular author, was accused of slandering a Muslim private school in Montreal. She expressed the opinion on a radio program that the school “resembles the kind of indoctrination similar to what goes on in a military camp in Afghanistan or Pakistan.” Her criticism was met by legal action, with the school suing her for some $95,000 for defamation. At the end of the ordeal, the judge found Benhabib innocent of slander as there was “no intent to harm.” Meanwhile, she spent much time and money clearing herself of the charge. There are other Canadian cases of concerned citizens being taken to task for expressing their opinions on Islam. Ezra Levant of “Danish Cartoon” fame and Mark Steyn/Maclean’s magazine spring to mind. Taken together, these cases illustrate the stratagem of making accusations of “Islamophobia” – claim the moral high ground of victimhood while pillorying and suing your critics. What better way to secure your aims while shutting down the efforts of competing interests?
Perhaps you, dear reader, have a personal story to convey within these pages. Do you have an example of an accusation of “Islamophobia” or fear thereof inhibiting free speech? It could be your own story or someone else’s. Do you see the term “Islamophobia” as a threat to Canadian Law? Who is most affected when free speech critical of Islam is chilled? In 600 words or less, send us your “Islamophobia? GET REAL!” story and let us know how the spectre of “Islamophobia” is truly impacting the lives of everyday Canadians. We will number each“Islamophobia? GET REAL!”story that we receive and send them to all Members of Parliament so that they might see a magnitude of letters piling up in their “IN” baskets. There will be awards for what we judge to be the best letter and the one that receives the most responses from these same Members. Remember to use civil and respectful language in describing your “Islamophobia? GET REAL!” experience, to sign your submission with your first and last names, and to provide your postal code. Let the contest begin!
Major (Ret’d) Russ Cooper