The Shotgun Blog
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I am Islamophobic: The untold story of a Queen's University student's acute fear of religious radicals
In October, Gareth Chantler wrote an article entitled “I am Islamophobic” for the Queen’s University campus publication, Diatribe magazine.
Chantler was told by editor-in-chief Jeff Fraser that the article would be published in the November issue of the magazine.
Growing tension on campus between Muslim and non-Muslim students, however, has put the article on hold indefinitely, despite Diatribe’s editorial promise to be “provocative.”
The tension has been caused by a handful of incidences, ranging from serious to silly.
In late September, the Queen’s University Muslim Student Association (QUMSA) had their offices broken into, property stolen and posters vandalized. It was a serious incident.
In October, Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) President Jacob Mantle issued an apology for a comment he made about a photo on a friend’s Facebook wall. The comment, “I like your Taliban picture,” was made about a picture of two girls wearing headscarves. Insensitive? Sure, but the reaction to it has been described as “hysteria.”
Shortly after this Facebook incident, graffiti was found throughout the Queen’s campus that was thought to be an expression of the growing tension.
It was all too much for Diatribe editor Fraser. In an email to Chantler, he explained his decision to spike the article:
“I have no right to jeopardize the safety of the executives” [referring to the executives of Diatribe] and that “frankly, I don’t see the position you’ve taken on Islam as something worth defending at the expense of people whose necks are not mine.”
Having read Chantler's article here, I can say it is, in fact, worth defending. Chantler makes a reasonable argument against radical Islam that is, by his own admission, just as applicable to Christian fundamentalists. Chantler argues that there are parts of the Koran, like parts of the Bible, that advocate violence. And if you believe the Koran is the literal word of Allah, then you also believe in the parts of the Koran that advocate violence. If you are one of these people, then Chantler is afraid of you, hence the title of his article: “I am Islamophobic.”
Chantler is Islamophobic because he is afraid of radical religious dogma. Is this really a controversial statement? Perhaps. But bigoted? Of course not.
Fraser believes Chantler has a right to be heard and that his work is important – he’s just not willing to do the heavy lifting himself:
“I believe you have a right to be heard, and what you have to say is important, but I have put other priorities first; namely, the safety of my staff, sympathy for campus Muslims, and the dismissal of the Jacob Mantle hysteria before it permanently damages this university's reputation.”
My favourite part of Fraser’s email is his suggestion that Chantler go after Christians instead of Muslims, as they are a soft target for critics of religious fundamentalism:
"If you really do believe that attacking religious ideology is progress, make a concerted attack on Christianity. That is a well established religion, whose many followers feel safe and comfortable in the society in which they live."
Fraser also wrote that:
"If you are truly interested in opening discussion, you will make your argument in less controversial terms at a less controversial time."
The latter is a sad comment coming from the editor of a magazine Chantler describes as a “bastion of free speech and free publication on campus, publishing both right-wing and left-wing views [which] has provided a counterbalance to the newsy and politically correct views expressed in the Queen’s Journal. This is to say that articles such as mine, which may be offensive to certain people, have always found a home in Diatribe’s pages. There is now no place for the publication of my article at Queen’s University.”
There may be no place for Chantler’s article at Queen’s, but there is a place for it on the Western Standard.
Read “I am Islamophobic” on the Western Standard here. But if you’re expecting hyperbolic language and angry anti-Islamic rhetoric, you’ll be disappointed. Chantler offers a thoughtful, liberal critique of Muslim radicalism that applies equally to Christians who believe seriously that the Bible is the literal word of God.
Chantler has no fear of the vast majority of what he calls “secular Muslims” (or secular Christians for that matter) and, in fact, argues that the Osgoode Law students who sought to convict Mark Steyn of human rights violations, while wrong to try to censor Steyn and Maclean’s magazine, are people “no one needs to be especially worried about.”
I don’t know how this article will be received. It’s free of gratuitous language and reveals no bias except toward non-violence.
It wasn’t long ago that the Western Standard's publisher, Matthew Johnston, offended some readers by removing ugly comments on this blog after they were brought to his attention by Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy. The anonymous comments were repugnant and not typical of the kinds of comments that appear everyday on the Shotgun Blog. Still, some readers felt this move would invite further demands from the Muslim community and lead to self-censorship. He issued a public apology to Soharwardy for the comments and we agreed to keep an open channel for communication between us and Soharwardy, which we’ve done.
Since this incident, but not because of it, the Western Standard has added legal scholar Moin Yahya and paleo-conservative blogger Omar Abu Hatem to our editorial team -- both Muslims, both friends of liberty.
There is no room at the Western Standard for anti-Muslim bigotry, but there is room for serious discussions about the threat to peace of radical religious beliefs of every variety. I trust this distinction will be made by readers with respect to "I am Islamophobic."
UPDATE: Rob Breakenridge had Gareth Chantler on his radio program to talk about his article. Listen to the interview, it's interesting.
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Frankly, I find the article offensive.
Posted by: Janet Neilson | 10-Dec-08 6:54:15 AM
Click on the muslim matrimonial site on the left, then go live in Saudi Arabia, then tell us if you find it "offensive"
Posted by: The Stig | 2008-12-11 11:30:31 AM
I mourn the fact that once again, religion is being used as a divisive tool which breeds antagonism. Does history teach us nothing?? All of you, give your heads a shake and realize that we are one people, all living on one planet which is groaning under the weight of the burden which we place upon it.
Could all of your energy and intelligence not be directed to something more useful?? Humanity needs to find more ways to unite and cooperate and it is your generation and those to follow in particular who should be embracing this philosophy and championing the cause of global cooperation in whatever way you can. Stop focusing on our differences and start looking at what binds us, look at our commonalities as human beings and perhaps then, humanity will have fighting chance at survival.
Posted by: blueseabluesky | 2008-12-11 12:31:28 PM
Sounds nice, but it's rather like saying to both the mugger and his victim: can't we just get along?
News flash to all those good people with the multi-faith "Coexist" bumper stickers: we're all coexisting pretty well except for a few (hundred-?)thousand murderous Islamic extremists.
How about we start "championing the cause of global cooperation" by insisting that bad Muslims stop killing people in the name of their faith, and that good Muslims, who really have the most to lose, start condemning it when it happens?
This isn't about all people of faith, or all fundamentalists, or all religions. It's about Islamists and their unwillingness to tolerate other faiths, and their intimidation of everyone else.
Posted by: Hank Racette | 2008-12-11 12:56:38 PM
It's tough to see "what binds us" when arbitrary violence is literally blowing us apart.
Posted by: quentind | 2008-12-11 1:10:44 PM
Mr. Watson, we had intended to postpone the publishing of Mr. Chantler's article to either the January or February issues of Diatribe; however, he made it clear that he would be seeking other means to publish his work. We respected this. I believe he will confirm that we offered to publish it in January if he did not find another publication to carry it.
I think I may have just realized how far out of context this has been taken. Mr. Racette, thank you for forming an opinion based on your own assumptions. Perhaps next time you should consider asking for actual information before allowing your biases to colour the situation.
I'm not sure how anyone was given the impression that it was Muslims who were on the verge of rioting in November, but apparently some of you have been. QUMSA, the Queen's University Muslim Students Association, was one of the most rational voices trying to avert the debacle. They were not an organization we expected backlash from. (I think Mr. Chantler refers to such individuals as "rational Muslims" rather than "real Muslims" in his article; the majority of Queen's Muslims fall into this category.)
The radicals who were defacing property in vehement protest of Mr. Mantle's comment were, for the most part, not interested in Islamophobia specifically, nor were the majority of them Muslim. They believed they were rebelling against nepotism, institutionalized racism, and "white privilege", which have historically been serious issues at Queen's. Note that none of these issues are mentioned in Mr. Chantler's article. Publishing his article at the time these events were occurring would have thrown fuel on a battle that has nothing to do with what Mr. Chantler intended to discuss. I would go so far as to say that as he was not a student of Queen's at the time, and he was rarely on campus, he did not recognize that these tensions had very little to do with Islam as an ideology. Rather the semester's events proved the final straw in a long chain of discriminatory incidents affecting various minorities at Queen's.
I repeat, publishing this article would not have achieved its supposedly intended purpose: opening dialogue. In the context of the specific events in November, it would have been seen not as a rational criticism, but as an unfair attack of the "kick'em when they're down" variety. It further would have given ammunition to a few radicals who were ready to cause serious problems for everyone at this campus. At no point should rational dialogue or free speech be stifled; however, Mr. Chantler, Mr. Kassam, and others who have criticized us fail to realize the significant real impact his words would have had on a situation that had very little to do with Islamophobia. We took what we saw as the necessary, prudent, steps to avoid further unproductive polarization of the student body, and to protect our publication from a conflict which had escalated past reasonable discourse. It was our view that had the article been published in a considerably more rational atmosphere, then dialogue could have been achieved.
Being "provocative" and promoting "free speech" doesn't mean saying everything one thinks whenever one has the urge regardless of the circumstance. If one really wants one's arguments to be heard, one had best not shout them at people who are already angry and will misinterpret whatever it is one has to say.
We had no interest in using the issue to sensationalize ourselves and exacerbate an inane conflict. If that is one's interpretation of provocative, then Diatribe isn't.
I would also urge all the proper Islamophobes out there to realize that it isn't always quite so simple as "when something goes wrong, the Muslims are behind it." In this case, they were certainly not.
Diatribe's staff is a little more intelligent than you give us credit for, Mr. Racette. If we were afraid of Muslims, we would know about it.
Posted by: Jeff Fraser | 2008-12-11 1:46:45 PM
Mr. Fraser is correct. He has no obligation to publish. However, regarding free speech and democracy, "The radicals who were defacing property in vehement protest of Mr. Mantle's comment were, for the most part, not interested in Islamophobia specifically," is an insight he should pursue, solely for his own edification. The Antifa are dogs of the state and care little for people's freedoms.
A former member describes his experiences;
" I was heavily involved in AFA, a forerunner of Antifa, during the early 1990’s. What we did at the time, when I was younger and more politically naive, shocks me now. We operated pretty much along similar lines as a football firm - driving around in a transit looking to ‘spot’ fascists when they had a rally organised. Every other person would be armed and our reasoning was that by terrorizing the BNP they’d be forced to meet in secret and lose contact with the voting public. I wouldn’t be to dismissive of the violence either, this was groups of experienced street fighters, linked to football clubs like Celtic and Man United, along with people from groups such as Red Action that had links with the IRA - not to mention the ties with animal rights groups and the ALF.
The violence was pretty disgraceful and led to numerous people being hospitalised, and after I left, to a number of anti-fascists being jailed. I met people who had used axes, iron bars, smoke bombs, cs gas etc. We also got into a number of spontaneous confrontations when people bumped into BNP members in pubs or even out shopping. It wasn’t uncommon at the time to see a skinhead wearing a bunch of nazi badges out in town with a bag full of groceries. On more than one occasion telephone calls were made and a couple of anti-fascists would come into town and catch the skinhead away from CCTV and assault them with iron bars, bottles etc. Members of AFA over the years were jailed for kidnapping fascists and in one famous incident for throwing a well-known fascist in front of a bus.
The reason I’ve went into detail about this violence is because I had never been one for fighting before joining the anti-fascist movement, and I haven’t since I left either. We had a strict authoritarian ideology that insisted that violence was required to win control of the streets to create a political vacuum that could then be filled by the left. Ideas about democracy and freedom didn’t even enter the equation, so sure were we that left wing politics were correct and everything else should be opposed.
Looking back, having matured both politically and intellectually, I’m appalled by what AFA were prepared to do. What is maybe worse is that after the BNP announced its decision to stop marching so as to avoid streetfights (which effectively killed AFA), another group has sprang up purely to try and draw them in to violence. Still nobody on the left has started a credible group to argue with them politically, and the real worry for me is that the left don’t and never will have an answer as in parts the BNP are asking the tough questions and in some policies supplying an answer that people are comfortable with. The left fear a debate with the far-right, and turn things into a physical confrontation exactly because they won’t win any arguments about immigration or crime - yet somehow manage to see themselves as defenders of freedom, and not the destroyers of it."
No doubt Mr. Fraser does not view himself as a fascist, however, it matters not for the Antifa. They are not interested in debate.
Posted by: DJ | 2008-12-11 3:05:47 PM
DJ, I know you're a regular poster here, but I'm not familiar with you or your ideas. Relating a story and then declaring it an apt analogy doesn't help anyone edify themselves. Please clarify what exactly you're trying to point out.
Posted by: Jeff Fraser | 2008-12-11 3:36:40 PM
You tell me Mr. Fraser. If the radicals mentioned were not particularly interested in Islamophobia, then what was their interest?
Posted by: DJ | 2008-12-11 3:52:21 PM
How right you are Hank Racette. It is the actions of people like Jeff Fraser that embolden the Islamists, as it signifies they have achieved their goal of placing Islam above all other religions.
Otherwise the same people would oppose criticism of all religions for the same reasons.
Posted by: Alain | 2008-12-11 3:56:39 PM
Thank you for your thoughtful reply.
Reading your letter, one would think that real violence was in the offing. To those of us on the outside, it sounds as if you have a campus full of over-sensitive, poorly self-controlled, juvenile delinquents, ready to riot at a moment’s notice. I hope that isn't the case.
But perhaps you’re right, and the best way to handle this is to lie low, avoid saying anything that might offend anybody*, and hope they’ll all calm down…and that they won’t remember how effective this technique is at suppressing the open debate you esteem so highly. Come to think of it, I guess that, in a nutshell, is the West’s approach to the Islamic problem.
* Well, if we really want to get edgy, I guess we could maybe get away with offending the Christians.
Posted by: Hank Racette | 2008-12-11 4:27:05 PM
How is this article “provocative” or “controversial”???
The WS is trying to make something out of nothing with this piece - and from reading these comments, it seems to be working. From reading Jeff Fraser’s comments and e-mail, and by looking at the lack of originality in Chantler’s article, it makes perfect sense not to publish this.
i. It would negatively affect an already negative atmosphere on the campus. Perhaps a worthwhile endeavour if the article was somehow breaking new ground, but it clearly isn’t. I just looked at the campus newspaper’s website and from seeing some of the ridiculous comments it looks like it has taken a little longer for the Queen’s community to bring in the Christmas cheer.
ii. Chantler’s article is simply repeating status quo anti-fundamentalist arguments. If I were a Muslim or Christian, I would start yawning midway through the first paragraph (which I did, although I am an avowed anti-fundamentalist and would willingly defend Chantler in a debate). If I was the editor of Diatribe, I would wisely realize that this article is not worth defending not because it is “controversial” but simply because it is a weak and obvious attempt at provocation.
iii. Beyond those points, this is a business decision – such decisions happen in every publication, including the oh so fearless and brave WS! Publications, especially those that are student-run, rely on group funding and advertisements (singlemuslim.com, for instance – my compliments to the ad manager for that lucrative and well-placed ad). Who would want to give money to a publication that prints an article which is unoriginal, ironically reactionary and poorly expressed, possibly creating a hostile environment on campus simply by its subject matter? A campus editor who mistakes political suicide for free speech “integrity”. Thankfully, for him and the school, Fraser has chosen not to do this.
I find how Kalim Kassam is trying to tout the Western Standard as the sweet abode of cruelly censored material quite strange. Is it just me, or does the fact that the WS has - on their home page, no less – an article which argues that Canada must recognize the Kosovo state make it seem like they were desperate for new online opinion pieces?
Posted by: Mackenzie | 2008-12-11 4:33:33 PM
DJ, I thought I made that quite clear. Their interest was in removing (what they perceive as) institutionally embedded racial and ethnic bias towards people of white complexion and upper social class. Indeed, Muslims are seen as one of the groups who are most affected by cultural prejudice, but latching on to the Islamophobia issue in order to promote these interests was an expedient move on the part of childish radicals who are looking for something to be active about.
You may read into that whatever you like, but I would suggest learning about the situation before likening it to anti-fascism in the UK, history PhD or no. I think, being present for the incidents and having heard many of these people speak, I can fairly say I have pursued this insight. If you believe there's still something I don't get, please, don't be so cryptic about it.
Mr. Racette, what we have at Queen's are a few oppressed, angry minorities, and a lot of rich white kids who don't care about much beyond their degrees. One way or another, that's a situation that needs changing. I happen to disagree with the way it's currently being handled. But whatever position one takes, I don't think calling Islam a fundamentally violent religion is going to solve what's going on at Queen's, or has anything to do with it, for that matter.
But thank you also for your thoughtful response.
Posted by: Jeff Fraser | 2008-12-11 5:22:02 PM
"But whatever position one takes, I don't think calling Islam a fundamentally violent religion is going to solve what's going on at Queen's, or has anything to do with it, for that matter." -- JF
Nor will it cure cancer or curb underage drinking. But it might illuminate a matter of pressing importance to the world, and set an example of journalistic boldness appropriate for a publication called the "Diatribe."
(And it might also be true, and important, and something worthy of discussing but rarely said, and probably more important than most of what fills your pages--more important, even, than the feelings you fear hurting. Opportunity missed. Maybe you'll have another chance to make a difference.)
But enough. Good life to you. -- Hank
Posted by: Hank Racette | 2008-12-11 5:41:45 PM
"You may read into that whatever you like, but I would suggest learning about the situation before likening it to anti-fascism in the UK..."
That's why the question. What race/ethnicity are these people who wish to remove the alleged white privilege, Mr. Fraser?
Posted by: DJ | 2008-12-11 6:52:00 PM
Jeff Fraser states: "what we have at Queen's are a few oppressed, angry minorities...."
I therefore suggest that Queen's find a way of implementing the rule of law and if necessary expel those who are unable to control themselves. A hint is that giving in to lawlessness thugs is not the way to go.
Posted by: Alain | 2008-12-11 6:52:06 PM
Mackenzie says “….bad and unoriginal article Chantler.” I agree that the argument put forward is not original, but it is relatively unique and original to see someone brave enough to publicly point out the FACTS as they relate to the violent and intolerant ideology of Islam.
"But whatever position one takes, I don't think calling Islam a fundamentally violent religion is going to solve what's going on at Queen's, or has anything to do with it, for that matter." – JF
Jeff Fraser: you have utterly betrayed yourself by making this statement!!! It begs the simple question: then why not publish the article??? Just admit it- yours is a case of plain and simple self-censorship based on FEAR- fear of the (violent) reaction of the very people who are the subject of the article. FEAR NOT: you are not alone- appeasers, cowards and apologists for Islam are everywhere- just read many of the entries above for proof of this. Don’t dress up your cowardly capitulation with elaborate explanations in an attempt to suggest that you’ve exercised great restraint and done the responsible thing- everyone can see through it. And in doing so, you are guilty of reinforcing the very same Muslim stereotype which you claim to reject. My dilemma- who to nominate for Dhimmi of the Year Award- Christopher Matei or Jeff Fraser.
Posted by: Kate Smith | 2008-12-11 7:13:14 PM
Perhaps we should nominate Jeff for the Dhimmi award of the year with Christopher as a second.
Posted by: Alain | 2008-12-11 7:32:11 PM
Ironically enough, DJ, they're about as diverse as Toronto is. If it really matters, many of those who have vocally protested are also members of the African and Caribbean Students Association, many of them are Asian, many of them are white, and I would be surprised if there weren't a few Muslims. I'm not sure what the percentages are exactly. As for the vandals, if we knew specifically who these people were we wouldn't be having this problem, we would be arresting them or enforcing nonacademic discipline. If you are further interested in what actually happened, my email is available.
Ms. Smith, the key in the phrase "I don't think calling Islam a fundamentally violent religion ... has anything to do with it" is the personal pronoun. I believe Gareth's article did not have anything to do with the conflict, and if I believed others, particularly those behind the conflict, would agree, I would have published it. Fortunately, I'm not someone who allows what I think of the matter to be the only opinion worth considering.
This is my last post. Honestly, folks, if we're going to start openly insulting each other, I'm happy to oblige. Here's one: Ms. Smith, your bigoted adherence to such a silly and unfounded prejudice is about as bad for this planet as any other form of irrational fundamentalism.
It's unfortunate that Mr. Chantler has chosen to share a title with some of you. I thought better of him, and I certainly hope this wasn't what he meant by 'rational dialogue'.
I thank Mackenzie, as well as the few posters who objected to or agreed with my decision eloquently, for their dignity.
I could now tell the rest of you to fuck right off, just to prove that I have the right to say it. But I'm not sure if I have the balls.
Cheers to free speech.
Posted by: Jeff Fraser | 2008-12-11 9:55:02 PM
those of you condemning jeff fraser are taking shots at someone who had a difficult decision to make and made it with conviction after careful thought. you may not agree with it, but do not be so immature as to rush to conclusions that the diatribe, jeff or anyone else on his staff, were cowards. erring on the side of prudence cannot and should not be seen as irresponsible or gutless journalism.
the role of journalists is not solely to incite controversy and argument through raw brashness. intelligent judgement trumps raw audacity when it comes to the responsible treatment of highly sensitive issues and a good journalist excercises that responsibility as much through what s/he choses to write about as through what s/he choses to remain silent on.
jeff and his colleagues chose not to fan the flames of pre-existing on-campus ethnic tensions. their decision was based on thoughtful consideration, and it was made with the best interests of the whole campus community in mind. good reason to nominate them for the dhimmis isn't it?
Posted by: blueseabluesky | 2008-12-11 10:48:25 PM
In my opinion, Jeff Fraser was correct to not print the article by Gareth Chandler. For if he had printed it, both he and Gareth could be held responsible for any possibly resultant riots, property damage, injuries, deaths and limited warfare. But since he didn't print it, he's probably safe. Maybe Gareth can somehow extricate himself from this sword that may be hanging over his head and thereby not possibly be held responsible for any unfortunate events. No one should try to rationalise or analyse anothers culture without their permission. To do so may create ill feelings and cause the rationlist/analyst to be held in contempt[re: Gareth Chandler's possible status] (I apologise for any ill feelings I have caused by writing this bit of philosophy)
Posted by: Agha Ali Arkahn | 2008-12-11 11:49:51 PM
“Ms Smith, your bigoted adherence to such a silly and unfounded prejudice is about as bad for this planet as any other form of irrational fundamentalism.“ Jeff Fraser, if your intention was to insult me, surely you can do better than produce this kind of defensive, knee-jerk statement? If everyone cited your reasons for declining to publish material (and many people do), then we wouldn’t have any discussion on the topic. I have much more respect for people who are honest about their reasons for avoiding the subject. To give an example: “Grayson Perry, the Turner Prize-winning artist …….has admitted that he censors himself when it comes to matters relating to Islam. Speaking at a meeting organised by the Art Fund, Perry said that it was simple fear which stopped him from addressing Islam in his work. 'I don't want my throat cut', he said.”
But someone else has just made my point far better than I could have. What I am interested to know is whether Jeff Fraser finds the post above even vaguely disturbing- not mine, which he clearly finds deeply disturbing, but the one that followed soon after. That’s assuming that it is in fact genuine. I don’t think much “analysis” is required…..
“No one should try to rationalise or analyse anothers culture without their permission.”
Wow! I think even Jeff Fraser would agree that a significant difference between the “culture” that he and I have in common, and the one in question might include, say, advocating violence towards those who “rationalise or analyse anothers culture without their permission.” Not sure if I’m being “too sensitive” or reading too much into it, but I think violence was alluded to in the preceding sentence… “Maybe Gareth can somehow extricate himself from this sword that may be hanging over his head and thereby not possibly be held responsible for any unfortunate events.” Is that one for the police to be made aware of, or am I being paranoid?
But what this person didn’t add is that, when all’s said and done, we’re told that a similar fate awaits all infidels and apostates- not just the honest and courageous ones. blueseabluesky makes the point that in their “responsible treatment of highly sensitive issues……jeff and his colleagues chose not to fan the flames”, and then asks “ …good reason to nominate them for the dhimmis isn’t it?” To which I would answer, “Yes- absolutely”.
Jeff Fraser would have us think that the campus politics of Queens are a unique context, when they simply represent the same “tensions” encountered everywhere. “I could now tell the rest of you to fuck right off, just to prove that I have the right to say it. But I'm not sure if I have the balls. ” If only he “had the balls” to come out and say what Grayson Perry did. (Ironically, he just happens to be a cross-dresser. Such types are not looked on favourably by certain “cultures". Maybe he figured he had nothing to lose.)
Thinking about it now, I’ve reconsidered my position: I think Jeff Fraser was right not to risk publishing the material, because “since he didn't print it, he's probably safe.” I’m kind of relieved by his promise that we won’t be hearing from him again.
Posted by: Kate Smith | 2008-12-12 4:44:52 AM
to quentind - look harder.
to kate - what a shame such energy is wasted in anger.
to the diatribe staff -- keep up the good work, and thank you for chosing not to be recklessly opportunistic sensationalists.
Posted by: blueseabluesky | 2008-12-12 10:17:06 AM
As another Queen's student, I agree with Diatribe's decision to not publish this article. I believe Gareth's article is reasonable, and he takes pains to specifically define who it is attacking.
However, on our campus, Diatribe does not need to fear a backlash from any actual people the article attacks, but rather the people who are offended on behalf of the attacked.
Diatribe is not a large publication, and although it is the sort of arts/opinion magazine one might assume is read by the scholarly university student, I'm not sure how many students here can be described as scholarly. Like Jeff said, most of us are indifferent, and the ones who are not are the ones who a) more likely read Diatribe, and b) are more likely to be offended on behalf of others.
Posted by: Duncan Koss | 2008-12-12 1:01:26 PM
Duncan and others confirm that Queen's like other universities long ago ceased to be a place where independent thought, analysis and debate are honoured. Had my university days been like that, I would have foregone any university degree. Yet we continue to subsidise big time these places of indoctrination.
Posted by: Alain | 2008-12-12 2:10:24 PM
Christians seem to have given tacit permission to have Christianity abused verbally and in various 'art' forms. Perhaps this might be attributable to turning the other cheek. Some of other persuasions may be signalling that this tacit permission is not as willingly apparent. In any event, the rationalists/analysts of others' cultures must be defended for helping humanity shed light on darkness and reduce ignorance.
Posted by: Agha Ali Arkahn | 2008-12-12 6:11:53 PM
It really is disgusting to have to be privy to kids well-off enough to go to a decent university whine about life. And why are these campus "minorities" so "angry", Fraser? Did their little feelings get hurt? Do they feel inferior to the majority? Do serious Muslims realize how unfavorably most thinking people(and "reading" people, ie actually having read the Koran and hadith)--people not brainwashed by the degenerate moral equivalence of university political correctness-- view their beloved "religion"? And what do univertsity-attending "minorities" have to legitimately whine about? They nlive in the West where they are given a chance, based on achievement, to better their lives and, MY GOD!, gasp, assimilate into a tolerant society, not oppose it merely because the majority isn't fooled like them into believing in a cult founded by a bitter desert bandit (who MARRIED A SIX YEAR OLD CHILD AND HAD SEX WITH HER!!!!).
Posted by: Sick of Cowards Like Fraser | 2008-12-12 7:18:51 PM
Sick of Cowards, I fail to see what your personal views of Islam have to do with anything. I also don't recall anyone whining about life.
Anyway, Queen's (and Kingston) is not the friendliest place in the world for certain minorities. Women wearing hijabs frequently have obscenities and insults shouted at them on the streets, and while it is their choice to wear the thing in the first place, I think it is reasonable for them to be upset about the situation. This happens during the day, so if I were in their position, I'd probably avoid the downtown core at night when everyone is drunk.
We don't, for the most part, yell obscenities at random fat people we see on the street, even though we probably make jokes about them with out friends.
Basically what I'm saying here is that I have nothing to complain about, but others do. I go to a university that will get me a respectable degree, and I don't have to deal with any harassment while I'm doing it. Others who attend the same institution don't have that luxury.
Posted by: Duncan Koss | 2008-12-13 12:14:21 AM
Janet Nielson: you find the article offensive. I think many people find your post not simply offensive, but deeply misguided.
Duncan Koss: a few quotes from recent articles in WSJ and The Spectator on this topic highlight the kind of confusion you display in failing to differentiate between the harassment of women in hijabs vs. concerns voiced about the grave threat that political Islam poses to free societies.
Regarding “Islamophobia”: “This term is misleading because it mixes two different phenomena -- unjust hatred against Muslims and necessary criticism of political Islam -- and condemns both equally.” (Matthias Kuntzel).
You seem to be incapable of making this important distinction, Duncan.
“Certainly, there are people who are prejudiced against Muslims, just as there are people prejudiced against all kinds of ‘others’. Such prejudice should of course be vigorously combated. But as Kuentzel writes, that is not the same as criticizing people who are waging holy war and the religious beliefs that fuel such murderous ambitions. A phobia is an irrational fear. There is nothing irrational about fearing the jihad.” (Melanie Phillips).
Posted by: Unapologetic | 2008-12-13 1:57:17 AM
Unapologetic, I agree with the majority of your statements, but you seem to be implying that shouting insults at Muslim women who are doing nothing but walking to class falls into the category of 'voicing concerns.' That is harassment, plain and simple; the intention is not to provoke change or thought, but to have a laugh at the expense of someone who is different.
Perhaps I should clarify something about my earlier posts: they were not directly related.
In my first post, I say that Gareth's article is reasonable (I actually agree with most of it), but I go on to say that I also agree with Diatribe's decision not to publish it. This has nothing to do with Islam, but rather with the current turmoil surrounding racism in general on the Queen's campus. No one cares about being reasonable or having critical discussions. It seems to me like people see something that they believe someone might find offensive, and immediately decide that they too should be offended by it. Boycotting seems to be a popular tactic for expressing outrage, and if Diatribe has no readership, it can't really continue to exist.
Anyway, my second post was in response to 'Sick of Cowards Like Fraser,' who claimed that there is no reason for minorities here to whine. My response used the example of Muslim women because it seemed like the most pertinent.
Posted by: Duncan Koss | 2008-12-13 4:03:41 AM
Duncan- if it needs to be explicitly pointed out to you that I consider the harassment of women in hijabs to be in the category of "unjust hatred against Muslims", as opposed to the attempts by people (such as Jeff Fraser) to retreat from debate about the dangerous fundamentals of Islam (I consider this to be suppression of discussion of "necessary criticism of political Islam"), then there is no point in entering into debate with you at all.
Posted by: Unapologetic | 2008-12-13 9:47:09 AM
Unapologetic, I misinterpreted this paragraph:
"Duncan Koss: a few quotes from recent articles in WSJ and The Spectator on this topic highlight the kind of confusion you display in failing to differentiate between the harassment of women in hijabs vs. concerns voiced about the grave threat that political Islam poses to free societies."
I never failed to make that distinction. In my two posts prior to yours, I was discussing separate issues, and I read your post as a response to my last one. Since I at no point mention Gareth's article or criticism of Islam in that post, I took your statement the wrong way. I apologize.
Like I said, I'm a fan of the article that sparked this debate, but I recognize that now is not the time to publish it at Queen's. The atmosphere here can be aptly described as political correctness gone mad. I'm sure you've heard of our new 'thought police' program.
Jeff said that he was willing to publish the article in January, which I agree would be a much better idea. Publishing it now would be analogous to lighting a match in a room with a gas leak; there is nothing wrong with lighting a match, but you'd be better off waiting for the gas to run out.
Posted by: Duncan Koss | 2008-12-13 11:08:30 AM
Syed said: Several laws in Muslim countries conflict with the Islamic laws but those secular laws are enforced and clergy do not oppose them.
Dhaka, Dec 12 : Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's largest Islamist party, has pledged the enactment of a blasphemy law and military training for students of Islamic seminaries (madrassas) in its manifesto for the Dec 29 general election, media reports said Friday.
The blasphemy law is meant to prevent the criticism of religion in books, newspapers or electronic media and punishment for those responsible.
Another fine example of Muslims using laws to force their sharia. Here they are changing secular laws to match their sharia, not the other way around, like Syed stated. These islamists are probably just taking their ideas of sharia "out of context".
Posted by: Markalta | 2008-12-13 11:57:20 AM
Let's talk turkey here instead of dancing around the Mulberry bush. There's plenty of talk here about the finer points of the lives we lead as who we all are within our individual cultures.
Suffice to say that:
Islam is not nor has ever been a "religion of peace". Surely to make such a claim one would need to see true evidence of this. When violence is meted out in the name of Islam by the hour all around the world, justified by the dictates of the Qur'an by the perpetrators themselves then I think we should all question the Islamic community in whole. If they are not fighting the Kufr, they then turn on themselves- often simultaneously as is witnessed every day throughout the world.
To ignore this fact is ignorance of the highest order. To rationalize this as "extremist" or "minority of Muslims" equates to burying one's head in the sand. It is a fact and the evidence is what is happening right in front of your eyes- constantly.
On the subject of sensitivities, I -as a WASP- deserve the same consideration as the Islamic community. I am offended that I am considered inferior, to be converted or pay Jizya, or worse beheaded or stoned because I am who I am and not who the Muslims insist I be as dictated in the Qur'an. How about some honest answers from the islamic community to my legitimate concerns? This requires honest open debate and discussion free from Political Correctness. It can be done, but almost all the Muslims and the same non-Muslim apologists refuse to allow this to occur.
It is pure semantics whether the majority of Muslims are peaceful and/or whether or not they understand or read their religious doctrines. The beef in the biscuit is that there are a LARGE NUMBER - 8% that are hard 'extremists and are taking to and ready to take to the impure both in their religion and outside of it JIHAD. Small potatos you say? Considering the estimate of the Ummah is over a billion, that translates into 80+ MILLION RABID ISLAMIC FANATICS poised to take action on the rest of the world. More in fact 20% are tacitly supporting their JIHAD covertly- just a mere 200+ MILLION more. That's the truly scary part that needs to be discussed openly, and immediately.
Shouting dismissing my (and plenty of others')concerns simply as a "phobia" is not providing any PROGRESS. It shall simply fester until the boil bursts as it did during the Crusades and Inquisition. As a people and culture we have the right to expect self-defense and removal of the obvious and evident threats.
That said the Ahmadiyyah sect (10%)is for all intents and purposes a very peaceful part of Islam, but they have reformed and taken the violence out of their practice. They consider themselves Muslim, but the rest of the Ummah shuns them as non-Muslim. So I suggest as a starter, we can esily discuss this with that segment, and expand the DIATRIBE to INCLUDE the remainder of the Ummah.
Posted by: Angry! | 2008-12-15 11:29:28 PM
Hmmmm. Interesting. Seems the comments section has been "edited".
Posted by: Not Jeff Fraser | 2008-12-17 7:51:56 PM
its amazing how scared white people get when their "free speech" is under attack. lets all remember: its free speech when we're supporting our traditions and defending our interests but its heresy when the oppressed try to right 500 years of abuse and exploitation.
if anything I'm a white-a-phobe. Always have and always will be more concerned about the well dressed , well spoken European than I will be the hijab wearning, Koran believing Muslim. And its within my free speech to say than Islam, Persian, Asian, African, Hispanic and so forth have alot farther to go in order to even out the scales of history than they have so far gone.
when you dominate the world expect a little resistance.
Well done Diatribe! This rehashed wolf in sheep's clothing article is neither original nor radically intellectual. Regardless of its level of provocativeness it would make for piss poor journalism.
Posted by: Josh | 2008-12-22 10:40:41 PM
Good to see you on WS. I am loving every page of The Libertarian Ideas.
Posted by: Jason | 2008-12-23 10:01:59 AM
Do Soharwardy and the AHRC now act together to compile some new and improved list of "Right Speech" for us all? Does the WS and the AHRC now condemn all manner of speech which might be offensive to Christians? (Brace yourself - there's a lot of it).
How does one express criticism of Islam or Islamic leaders or conduct without "offending" some Immam?
The WS looks cowed to me and it is a shame.
We hear often about this silent, phantom majority of Muslims who are anti-terrorism. Where are they? Why aren't they volunteering to help our troops in Afgahanistan? The Q'ran is anything but pacifist. Do none of them own TV's and are they thus unaware of what has been going on over the last several years? Why does NO ONE in their leadership advocate tolerance and denounce - with words and calls to action - what is done day after day after year after year in the name of Islam or Mohammed? Perhaps this great body of a billion or so are not really Muslims after all but are actually closet Amish?
I am not particularly interested in what Islamic 'priests' say nor in what Islamic apologists have to say. I am more interested in what Muslims DO and DO NOT DO. And that, my friend, is very instructive.
This action by WS is wrong. Free Speech exists or it does not. It is like being pregnant. Free Speech is the right from which all others find an anchor.
I will donate no more to the WS. If I wanted to donate to support a CBC clone, I'd send my money to Global or CTV. I thought the WS had the principles and the courage to stand against censorship in all its forms.
Posted by: Western Separatist | 2009-01-13 4:17:54 PM
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