An Imaginary Racism: Islamophobia and Guilt

Pascal Bruckner. Polity, $19.95 trade paper (204p) ISBN 978-1-5095-3066-3
French philosopher Bruckner (The Tyranny of Guilt) argues that Islamophobia is being weaponized to muzzle legitimate critique of Islam in this dubious study. Building on his critique of “Western white guilt” (which he laid out in his previous book), Bruckner claims that Islamophobia is more “postulated than demonstrated” and that it is a fabricated form of racism. Despite making some good points—he argues for religious freedom and acceptance of Muslims—Bruckner’s work falls short on several counts. His writing smacks of cultural superiority as he assumes that Muslims cannot naturally adopt democracy and free thinking without the careful tutelage of their European hosts and benefactors, and he advocates that countries attempt to “Europeanize Islam.” Furthermore, while he attacks the idea of Islamophobia as a fabrication from a philosophical position, he never addresses the notion of ignorant fear, anxiety, and animosity toward Islam and Muslims. Finally, his image of Islam as a sickened, once-great religion, left susceptible to fundamentalism at every turn, does not match reality. Rather than providing a legitimate critique of a debated term, Bruckner’s work regrettably comes off as an impotent broadside. Although Bruckner presents this book as a meticulous deconstruction of the idea of Islamophobia, it is, in fact, an overwrought diatribe against inclusivity. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 204 pages - 978-1-5095-3064-9
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