Cohen on Islamophobia

Nick Cohen writes:

If you want a working definition of Islamophobia that rises above the special pleading of religious reactionaries my suggestion would be: “Islamophobia is a prejudice that dominates western political and media elites and the confused and faintly sinister mind of the Chairwoman of the British Conservative Party. It holds that Muslim women want to be oppressed, that Muslim gays want to be murdered, that Muslims want to have their rights to speak and vote denied, and that Muslim dominated countries want to be ruled by sleazy, life-denying and vicious dictators.”

Update: Also read Cohen’s latest piece in The Jewish Chronicle:

Antisemitism’s first victims are not always Jews either. In the Middle East, dictators use antisemitic discourse to tell their wretched populations that Jewish conspiracies cause their countries’ ills, and insist that on no account should they demand democracy and human rights because these are Jewish frauds: facades behind which the secret rulers of the world jerk the strings of power.

A liberal-left that hollers its commitment to anti-racism until it is hoarse is failing to confront one of the barbarous varieties of racism the human race has invented because it regards the Israel-Palestine conflict as the Spanish Civil War of our age; the foreign cause that trumps all others. And just as the left of the 1930s allowed its obsession to blind it to the crimes of Stalin so the left of the 2010s is allowing its idée fixe to blind it to the crimes of the Middle Eastern dictators and the Islamists. Even mild criticism of the suffering Israel’s enemies inflict is bad form; a treacherous diversion from the struggle against the hated Zionist entity.
If readers enjoy attacks on liberal hypocrisy, then they should not enjoy them too much. The worst that I can say about the prevailing liberal view that Israel is a perfect source of evil is that it mirrors the settled view of the friends of Israel who see it as a perfect victim and blot out all thought for the Palestinian in the process. It should be possible to combine the ideas that Israel has a right to exist, that the Palestinian demand for a state is a just one and that the liberal enemies of religious and secular tyranny in the Arab world need our help.

The fact that so many have a nervous breakdown when they try to keep more than one notion at a time in their minds is a sign of deeply and shamefully Manichean thinking has taken over our minds.