Is Islam Racism?
Daniel Pipes points out what should be obvious: Islam is not a race but a religion that is practiced by people of many races. Thus, it is not logically possible to consider someone a racist, no matter what he thinks of Islam or Muslims. Pipes points out, however, that there are those who want to use the word, racism, in a wider sense: to apply to any ethnic or religious group. If that’s the case, Islam may be the most racist doctrine and practice in history. I present the arguments here.
The concept racism has a specific meaning for important reasons. It is worthwhile to fight against the corruption of this word by those who want to extend the well-deserved condemnation of racism to other matters. The idea that words are mere names applicable to any vague (or arbitrary) grouping is called nominalism. Nominalism dispenses with the notion that there is some essential or central aspect that is key to considering, understanding, and classifying entities of a certain kind.
I have one point of contention with Mr. Pipes, however. In his debate with Lawrence Auster, Pipes takes the view that Islam is whatever the nominal group, Muslims, practice. This makes the nominal demographic group, Muslims, prior to the doctrine of Islam. Given this way of talking, criticism of Islam (and thus implicitly the demographic group Muslims) is seen as an unfair over-generalization. Thus, the label “racism” doesn’t seem so far fetched.
I hope Mr. Pipes reconsiders his definition of the religion from the trivial nominal-type to a more robust doctrinal-type based on texts and ideas rather than a nominal grouping of people. For intellectual clarity, precise definitions are an imperative. Only then will we consistently avoid the kind of nonsense he has exposed in his current article.