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10 01 2020
Andy J

While I agree with the thrust of Professor Cathcart’s article, I strongly disagree with his assertion “That is racism”. Both legally and semantically it is not. Like most world religions, adherents to Islam are not a homogeneous racial group. Majority Islamic states can be found from sub-Saharan Africa, throughout the Middle East, the Gulf, the Balkans, Asia Minor, the Indian sub-continent and the Malaysian peninsula.
And of course some adherents are converts of ‘white’ ethnicity.
The problem is that ‘religious hatred’ or ‘religious intolerance’ do not have the same ear-appeal as ‘racism’. Nonetheless we should be wary of abusing useful English words to the extent that they become mere dog-whistles. This is not pedantry; this is a call for clarity and accuracy, something which I suspect Professor Cathcart would applaud.
We have seen the misuse of the term anti-semitic over many years until it now means anti-Jewish in most contexts. However the loss of its former meaning (ie with reference to the people descended from Shem who include both Jews and Arabs) is tolerable since there is rarely a need to refer to the latter grouping, especially is there is unlikely to be significant opposition to these descendants per se.
It may be that the newspaper coverage which Professor Cathcart deprecates is in fact a thinly disguised attack on a specific racial group or groups – I defer to his greater knowledge on that – but that is not what the article asserts. While the behaviour of the newspapers and journalists concerned may be as serious and as in need of being controlled as racism, we should not descend to the level of inuendo and inaccuracy of those we criticise when we draw attention to the failings of the so-called regulator.

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