About Me

My photo
Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ophelia's thread on Wilders

Nice thread, and I think that Ophelia's own comments as the thread goes on are especially apposite. We do have to distinguish ourselves from opportunistic racists or quasi-racists ... and it can indeed sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between those people and people who have legitimate criticisms of Islam or of cultural practices associated with it. None of this is straightforward. On the other hand, it cuts both ways. People who want to go around accusing others of racism or "Islamophobia" would do well to bear in mind that it's not so easy to be sure that they are dealing with opportunistic racists or quasi-racists, as opposed to people with legitimate and sincere criticisms, etc. In some cases, there will be independent evidence, as with BNP figures. But in other cases there won't be, and a certain reticence about smearing opponents as racists (a very damaging accusation in our society) is in order.

This is why I have no respect for someone like Jeff Sparrow who is reckless about who gets smeared, and seems to be too driven by ideology to understand any of this.

3 comments:

Svlad Cjelli said...

Distinction aside, there's nothing stopping a person from being both. That can also be hard to deal with.

Gaius Sempronius Gracchus said...

Don't opportunistic racists and quasi-racists have the right to speak?

Or is that only for our friends?

Just asking.

Russell Blackford said...

Of course they have the right to speak. But that doesn't mean that the credibiity of people who are not opportunistic racists, etc., should be attacked with allegations that they are. (And nor am I trying to ban making those allegations; libel law could come into play in extreme cases, no doubt, but all I'm saying is that making those sorts of false allegations is a bad thing, and a thing that will lose my respect for the person making them.)