Hate Speech, “Islamophobia”, and Undefined Terms

Next week the annual “Human Dimension” conference will be hosted in Warsaw by the ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) under the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe). Volunteers from the Counterjihad Collective will be there to do rhetorical battle with the Islamizers of Europe, as they have so many times in the past (see the OSCE Archives for a chronicle of previous close encounters with the OSCE).

Since Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and Henrik Clausen began attending OSCE conferences ten years ago, we’ve watched the organization gradually metamorphose from a (mostly) well-meaning outfit that really did respect free speech into a full-blown Politically Correct Multicultural trans-national advocacy group. It is basically a subsidiary of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and acts as a government-funded think tank for the UN (which is also a subdivision of the OIC).

Despite the odds against us, the Counterjihad Collective continues to fight the good fight, and some of us (not including myself) will be in Warsaw next week.

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The two videos below were prepared by Maj. (ret) Stephen Coughlin in collaboration with Vlad Tepes. They recapitulate material from two Human Dimension conferences, one in Warsaw in September of 2013, the other in Vienna in June of 2015.

I was present at the 2013 event, so I’ll provide a brief introduction to what happened at the notorious side event that featured the colorfully-attired Bashy Quraishy and the staid Robin Richardson of the Runnymede Trust.

On September 24, 2013 the ODIHR Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department convened a side event, “Educational initiatives and approaches for addressing anti-Semitism and intolerance against Muslims”. This sounded like a worthwhile opportunity, and a large contingent of people from the Counterjihad Collective decided to attend it.

It was a good thing we did. It turned out that the side event was convened to highlight “Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims: Addressing Islamophobia through Education”, which was published jointly [pdf] by OSCE/ODIHR, the Council of Europe, and UNESCO in 2011. This document — which contains 49 instances of the word “Islamophobia” — was discussed in the detailed ICLA paper The Problematic Definition of “Islamophobia” [pdf, to which I contributed], and was part of the focus of our research.

The first forty minutes or so featured presentations by the panelists, including some of the authors of the “Guidelines”. One of them was a British gentleman named Robin Richardson, who was associated with the Runnymede Trust.

Since the panelists had repeatedly mentioned “Islamophobia” — ICLA’s topic for the week — I decided to have my say, since I was fully briefed on the word “Islamophobia” and its use in the OSCE document. After comments by one other member of the audience, I spoke up, and a lengthy discussion ensued, capped by devastating remarks made by Maj. Stephen Coughlin.

Some excerpts:

Ned May: We need new terminology. On behalf of the International Civil Liberties Alliance, I formally object to the use of the word Islamophobia. Any official use, including this document. It is ill-defined and was undefined for four years. We requested a definition for four years. And it’s not even defined in here. And when we finally got one, it was from the Turkish delegation this year. And it was based on a definition by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. That is a clear conflict of interest, to use a definition by an Islamic body of something that is used against non-Muslims.

That’s the first problem. The second problem is the definition itself as our extensive, well-sourced paper showed, has at least thirteen major problems including six logical failures. It cannot be used. And the biggest failure is that the definition calls Islamophobia based on unfounded fear of Muslims or Islam. That itself is difficult to prove in any given circumstance.

And any researcher who attempts to prove that someone has a well-founded fear of Islam is branded an Islamophobe. That turns the word itself into a Catch-22. It is circular; it is recursive.

The word must be defined through the agreement of people who share different points of view: those who object to Islamic law, those who support Islamic law, those who have no opinion.

It must be defined by Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, agreeing together what Islamophobia is. Otherwise, it should be abandoned entirely. Stricken from existing publications including kept out of future publications. Thank you.

Later on, after Maj. Coughlin made his excellent presentation, there was this brief exchange:

Robin Richardson: Just could I come back, I don’t think the word Islamophobia appears in here. It appears on the title.

Ned May: It’s in there forty-nine times.

Robin Richardson: Is it really? I guess you’re right. I stand corrected. I’m surprised. But anyway, on definition. At Runnymede, we had a working definition. I don’t think the OIC existed —

Ned May: The Runnymede definition is in here.

Maj. Coughlin has revisited the material (including his most salient comments) from that side event and provided additional context for the first composite video. Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for editing and uploading both videos.

From September 2013:

The full audio of the final 48 minutes of the 2013 side event is available here. For a more detailed account of that night’s side events, including a complete transcript of the audio, see “Torpedoing Islamophobia”.

From June 2015:

More detailed information on this astonishing exchange, including a lengthy transcript, is posted in “When the Truth is Hate Speech

For links to previous articles about the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, see the OSCE Archives.

2 thoughts on “Hate Speech, “Islamophobia”, and Undefined Terms

  1. Dancing on the point of a pin.

    These panelists have bought to me a bit more understanding of the ‘human condition’ of being ‘born in original sin’, and just where “humanity” leads one.

    Brings to my mind, “Humpty Dumpty” and Alice in Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass” (1872) with some semantics and pragmatics.

    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”
    “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

    Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. “They’ve a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they’re the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”

    So whose dream was it?
    Being immersed into fantasy lands for what purpose?
    Filing this away, as many good points cut through and can be used.

    Thanks to Baron and all who persevere in this perverse battle of seeking and holding to the truth.

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