Religion is not an ideology?
Photograph by Matt Rourke
Matt Apuzzo, reporting for the New York Times, writes "U.S. to Expand Rules Limiting Use of Profiling by Federal Agents," (January 15, 2014):
The Justice Department will significantly expand its definition of racial profiling to prohibit federal agents from considering religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation in their investigations . . . . The move addresses a decade of criticism from civil rights groups that say federal authorities have in particular singled out Muslims in counterterrorism investigations.To the rational mind, this sounds so weird that I have to at least wonder if the report has been inadvertently edited in a way that conflates "profiling" with "racial profiling" -- except that I've too often seen the term "racist" itself deployed as an epithet against those who subject Islam to critical questioning (which perhaps has its intellectual origin in Edward Said's abusive use of the term "Orientalist"). I therefore find regrettably all too plausible this report that the Justice Department will expand its definition of race to include religion. (Not to mention gender and sexual orientation.) Wouldn't this mean, for example, that a Christian who converts to Islam is suddenly a different race? Perhaps the Justice Department labors under the arguably racist notion that all Muslims are Arabs?
Whatever else it might entail, a religion is an ideology, and whether one thinks Islamism is Islam pure and simple or Islam tainted and distorted, Islamism itself is a religion. Will the Justice Department refuse to consider Islamism as a factor in its investigations of terrorism?
Is the expression "religious terrorism" to be an oxymoron?