Tuesday, 23 August 2011

David Miller: Scotland's Leading Islamic Apologist

The Guardian features an article today by David Miller, "professor of Sociology in the Department of Geography and Sociology at the University of Strathclyde". The first paragraph gives a good flavour of it:
Conservative thinktanks are in a bit of a bind when it comes to responding to the rise of Islamophobia. On the one hand they want to condemn the BNP and the English Defence League for their racism and violence, but on the other they want to downplay the extent and existence of anti-Muslim racism because it might deflect attention from "Islamism" – the catch-all term for politically active Muslims, which they see as the main problem facing the UK. The difficulty with their position is that they end up condemning the peaceful political activism of Muslim groups, while downplaying and even excusing the violent modus operandi of racist and Islamophobic groups such as the EDL.

It is a poorly written and constructed piece that summarises the key elements of the report he has just issued, titled "The Cold War on British Muslims". The report attacks two think tanks, the Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange, for, in essence, daring to be a bit critical of Muslims. Although the two organisations in question limit themselves to coded dhimmi-style critiques of "Islamism", even that is going too far for the good Dr. Miller. He argues that it is illegitimate to criticise Muslim political involvement even when it involves ideas that are incompatible with democracy, free speech and other western norms. Pursuing this approach, he claims risks a "narrowing of political debate"; although this "narrowing of political debate" does not seem to concern him when he launches drive-by attacks on the EDL and BNP.

The report generally consists of McCarthyite smears by association, including long lists of alleged "Zionist" and "neoconservative" funders of the two think tanks discussed. At no point is there a robust engagement with the ideas critiqued or any acknowledgement that there can be any moral, rational or legitimate concern about the ideology of Islam that is not "Islamophobic". Indeed, in a sign of the poor academic quality of the report, the much-used term "Islamophobia" is not even defined.

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