Last week, Brendan O’Neill over at the racist National Review argued, Islamophobia Is a Myth. It is charmingly subtitled, “Why do liberals fear the working class and ignore anti-Semitic murder? Because they are bigots.” It’s a curious argument. But it is also entirely typical of the magazine that Buckley built; it has a long history of claiming that other people are elitists; they, of course, are the friends of the working man!
Regardless, this twisted logic is exactly the same as the “black on black” crime canard, “We can’t even discuss the police killing black men until there is no black crime!” And speaking of which, I did a little back of the envelope calculation based upon the data I found in a really vile article. According to the data, which look legit, Jews were 40 times as likely to be the target of hate crimes as white people — weighted for their population. But Muslims were 10 times as likely. And notably, African Americans are 20 times as likely to be targeted for a hate crime. The writer of the article, of course, never took into account the populations of the groups.
But O’Neill’s argument doesn’t make any sense regardless of how much violence is directed toward Muslims and Jews. Since when do liberals ignore antisemitic violence, much less murder? What’s more, hate crimes against Jews was down very slightly since 9/11. They are up substantially against Muslims since 9/11 — and they were even higher for Muslims than they were for Jews in 2001. I know that I’m concerned about hate crimes against everyone. And I am particularly concerned about hate crimes against Jews. I also think that many of the people committing hate crimes against Jews are the same people who are committing them against Muslims.
O’Neill’s argument seems to be that concern is a limited resource. If we are concerned about a racist backlash against Muslims after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, that must mean we have reduced our concern about racism committed against Jews. That kind of limited supply of empathy and concern may be a defining characteristic of conservatives generally, and National Review writers specifically, but it isn’t the way liberls’ minds work.
O’Neill’s ultimate argument comes down to this, “[T]he idea that there is a climate of Islamophobia, a culture of hot-headed, violent-minded hatred for Muslims that could be awoken and unleashed by the next terror attack, is an invention.” It seems to be O’Neill who is the one who thinks the worst of working people, because I don’t imagine them as the ones going out attacking Muslims or Jews or anyone else. I imagine angry bigots who normally keep their hatred in check. But the idea that this does not get inflamed is refuted by this graph:
What the article comes down to is a bizarre kind of apologetic. There apparently aren’t enough hate crimes committed against Muslims for O’Neill to care. The fact that there is a six-fold increase in the number of these hate crimes and actual data indicating that terrorist attacks can make them spike, doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t matter, because Muslims don’t matter to National Review. Similarly, Jews don’t matter to National Review. And the working classes absolutely doesn’t matter to National Review. They are all just props to be used to beat up on liberals. Their real beef is that liberals care about a minority group that conservatives want to marginalize. The William F Buckley of 1957 would understand completely.