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Given how sensitive Freedland is to purported prejudice against Muslims, it is interesting to see how easily, and sneeringly, he dismissed concerns about Islamic prejudices as a question of “taste” and a matter of bigots cynically “dress[ing] up in progressive…garb,” as if there were no legitimate reason whatsoever for such concerns. Freedland admitted, to be sure, that he had “felt uneasy at some of the language [Hasan] used a few years back, when he appeared to describe non-Muslims as ‘people of no intelligence’ and as ‘cattle.’” But he went on to say that he found Hasan’s “explanation” for those incidents “pretty plausible” (it wasn’t) and to give Hasan credit for “conced[ing] that his ‘phraseology was ill-advised and inappropriate.’” Mind-boggling. What to make of a man who, after seeing Hasan’s “cattle” and “animal” videos, can still call readers racists for taking those videos seriously, characterizing them fairly, and responding with fully appropriate moral outrage to Hasan’s unambiguous – and explicitly faith-based – contempt for his non-Muslim fellowman?
Freedland’s piece wasn’t the end of this snow job. On July 11, the Guardian ran brief contributions by Inayat Bunglawala, Huma Qureshi, Simon Woolley, Nadiya Takolia, and Bim Adewunmi under the headline “Online racist abuse: we’ve all suffered it too.” (There’s no room here to go into all of these people’s backgrounds; suffice it to say that the first person on the list, Bunglawala, the public face of the Muslim Council of Britain, has praised Osama bin Laden as a “freedom fighter,” called Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman “courageous,” and savaged the British government – in the Guardian, naturally – for denying a visa to Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Apparently readers who were troubled by any of that are racists, pure and simple.) On July 12, Gary Younge, another Guardian columnist, offered a few hundred words of vapid hand-wringing about the ugliness of many reader comments online, with an emphasis – again – on “racism.”
The next day Gavan Titley and Alana Lentin served up a plateful of multicultural clichés (the “colorblind” ideal is flawed because “[b]eing blind to race often involves being blind to racism”; “racism has not been overcome because a black President was elected, but the legitimacy of analysing society in terms of race has been undermined”). And on July 16, Rob Berkeley lamented the “vitriolic abuse” Hasan allegedly “receives when he seeks to address issues of anti-Muslim discrimination on the basis that he is homophobic – well he must be, he is a Muslim after all and everyone ‘knows’ Muslims are homophobes. Presumed guilty, he is asked to prove his liberal credentials before his reasonable arguments are even given a hearing.” Disingenuous claptrap. Anyone who has watched Hasan’s videos knows he’s not just hostile to gays – he thinks all infidels are, as they say, pigs and dogs.
Yes, as we all know, there are plenty of people out there who post comments online that are nothing more than ugly personal attacks or expressions of one variety or another of repellent prejudice. It’s not pleasant – but it’s not the end of the world, either. It’s simply the small price we all pay for the extraordinary freedom to exchange ideas in the (so far) uncensored international forum that is the Internet. What this flurry of Guardian pieces represents, quite plainly, is a nefarious contribution to the ongoing effort to discredit as sheer racism even the most straightforward truth-telling about Islam (which, of course, the Guardian‘s lexicon to the contrary, is not a race) and to foster a mindset on the web that is reflexively censorious toward any expression of disquietude about the ideology of Islam. In short, if there’s a campaign underway to silence anybody, it’s not targeted at Muslims but at those of us who dare to speak the truth about their religion – and one of its headquarters, as has now yet again been amply demonstrated, is the Guardian.
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