Marquette University will pay for its faculty to attend an “Overcoming Islamophobia” workshop in August. The Catholic university will also offer a graduate credit for attendees who submit a written assignment.
Fighting “Islamophobia” seems to be all the rage at Catholic colleges these days and also among Catholic bishops. At Georgetown University’s Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, “Islamophobia” is the main focus. “Islamophobia” is also a top priority for the USCCB’s Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. Anthony Cirelli, the associate director of the secretariat, told Catholic News Service that U.S. bishops “are coming to stand with our Muslim colleagues…in trying to change the negative narrative surrounding Muslims in our popular media.” Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego put the matter more pointedly by saying that Catholics must fight “the scourge of anti-Islamic prejudice.”
Whether such a “scourge” actually exists is debatable. As I have pointed out elsewhere, a very high percentage of hate crimes against Muslims have been faked or falsely reported. Nevertheless, Muslim political action groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations still insist that “Islamophobia” is rampant in this country, and the Catholic bishops have been eager to enlist in the campaign against it.
The bishops, no doubt, hope to make America safer for minorities by signing on to the war against “Islamophobia,” but a case can be made that they are actually making it a more dangerous place for minorities and for everyone else.
How so? As Islam scholar Robert Spencer points out, the “Islamophobia industry” misleads “by deliberately conflating two quite distinct phenomena: vigilante attacks against innocent Muslims, which are rare but never justified…and honest examination of the motivating ideology of jihad terrorists.”