Islamic safe spaces are all the rage


A new proposal on how to combat radicalisation:

The Islamic Council of Victoria proposed that funding for the federal counter-terrorism and anti-extremism programs be diverted to create refuges where “emotionally overloaded” youths can voice inflammatory comments.

“Muslim young people are feeling more emotionally overloaded,” the submission to a parliamentary inquiry into freedom of religion states.

“A safe space is needed for them to meet and talk about a range of issues in emotional terms, where they can be frank and even use words which in a public space would sound inflammatory.

The really interesting question, of course, is why Muslim young people are feeling more emotionally overloaded than all the other young people of other religions and ethnicities? Why do only young Muslim men quite literally explode with rage?

Being a young male, puberty onward, is not as crash hot as the feminist rhetoric of “male privilege” would suggest. Young males tend to be over-represented in all the unenviable categories: perpetrators and victims of crime, binge drinkers and drug abusers, victims of accidents and suicides, the unemployed. Many males find it difficult to face the responsibilities of adulthood, but they are more likely to become self-destructive than a threat to others. The exception are those who engage in crime, whether solo or as part of gangs.

Some will say that young men of non-white ethnicities and/or migrant backgrounds face even greater challenges and obstacles, being victims of racism, bigotry and discrimination. In addition, they come from countries which experienced colonialism, war, and general strife, often recently. This is no doubt true, and perhaps one reason that directly and indirectly contributes to the widespread phenomenon of ethnic gangs. They provide physical and emotional strength in numbers and solidarity with one’s ethnic kin, and allow for venting frustrations and settling scores with individuals and “the society”, often in violent, destructive and criminal ways. But the violence of gangs is generally quite limited and very rarely political in nature. If ISIS is an ethnic gang of sorts, it’s quite exceptional in its motivations, aims and actions.

Rather than indulging the rage in own “safe spaces”, we should rather ask why only one small demographic group in our society would need it in the first place, what makes this group so exceptional, and why are we contemplating measures like this, which we would never do for any other demographic (imagine “safe spaces” for young white males to let off their “toxic masculinity” steam).

As my favourite Marxist, Brendan O’Neill, wrote a few days ago:

One of the major problems we face is not that our society is too mean about Islam, but that it flatters Islam too much. Islam now enjoys the same kind of moral protection from blasphemy and ridicule that Christianity once (wrongly) enjoyed. All last week I received furious emails and messages in response to two articles I wrote about the Manchester attack, telling me that using the word Islamist *is* Islamophobic, because it demeans Islam and its adherents by suggesting they have something to do with terrorism. This is why our political leaders so rarely use the terms Islamism, radical Islam and Islamic terrorism: because they want to avoid offending Islam and also because they don’t want to stir up what they view as the public’s bovine, hateful prejudices. This censorious privilege is not extended to any other religion. We do not avoid saying “Catholic paedophiles” about the priests who molested children for fear of tarring all Catholics with the same brush. We happily say “Christian fundamentalist”about people who are Christian and fundamentalist. We use “Buddhist extremists” to describe violent Buddhist groups in Myanmar. Only Islam is ringfenced from tough discussion; only terms that at some level include the word “Islam” are tightly policed; only criticism of Islam is deemed a mental illness — Islamophobia.

This is incredibly dangerous. This censorious flattery of Islam is, in my view, a key contributor to the violence we have seen in recent years. Because when you constantly tell people that any mockery of their religion is tantamount to a crime, is vile and racist and unacceptable, you actively invite them, encourage them in fact, to become intolerant. You license their intolerance; you inflame their violent contempt for anyone who questions their dogmas; you provide a moral justification for their desire to punish those who insult their religion.

I think all of this is true; the elites are terrified to give any offence to “The Other”, and they are equally terrified that any criticism of “The Other” will unleash the passions of the native mob – the voters – they hold in deep contempt. But it’s not the all truth.

O’Neill subsequently added: “The only openly racist sentiment I’ve seen since the London attack is the argument that Muslims need to be protected from offence; that British citizens of largely Pakistani, East African and Middle Eastern descent are so lacking in moral fortitude, so possessed of a child-like sensitivity, that their beliefs and books must be ringfenced from the normal to and fro and tussle of public debate. That this argument is mainly made by well-bred white commentators and Labour people adds to its neo-colonialist feel: the capable protecting the incapable; the strong defending the weak — from *ideas and words*. This, more than anything, treats Muslims as a group apart, as lacking the moral fibre the rest of us enjoy. What a horrible libel on our fellow citizens.”

I think that by tip-toeing around Islam, the elites tacitly acknowledge what they fear in their minds but would never acknowledge publicly, namely that Islam might actually be a special case; that the culture built around the concepts of honour, pride, supremacy and shame, when crashing head-on into modernity, as it has been for the past few centuries, can create a toxic and potent mix of resentment and rage, which finds violent and apocalyptic expressions among a minority of its members. It is really a case of “walk around gently, don’t make any noise, and please don’t prod the lion with your stick”. Or else.

Unless we actually start honestly discussing these issues, I don’t believe we will get anywhere, rage rooms or not.