***Update 11/10/14***: The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain says that, after contacting moderators of the Guardian website, the comment has been reinstated without explanation.
On Thursday, I came across a Guardian column by Andrew Brown, titled “Why I don’t believe people who say they loathe Islam but not Muslims.” I thought it an interesting piece of sophistry, easily dispensed with, as we presumably all love or like certain people whose religious or political convictions are far from our own.
Many of the Guardian‘s readers made the same point, but none did it better than the members of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, a collective that penned a single comment that rationally and politely took on Brown’s simple-minded premise. Yesterday, with the CEMB’s permission, we published that comment on this blog, verbatim, without further editorializing. Someone at the Guardian must’ve liked the CEMB’s response, too, because the comment briefly became a Guardian Pick, a little editorial attaboy to a particularly clever or insightful reader.
And then the paper deep-sixed it:
A violation of “community standards”? I’ve read those standards, and I don’t see how a single word in the CEMB’s opinion was over the line.
Truthfully, I quite like the Guardian and support its staff’s absolute right to moderate the comments as it sees fit. But this deletion reeks. Time after time, on the matter of “Islamophobia,” the paper shows itself to be incapable of sending anything but one narrowly-scripted message, and the editors seem to have a bizarrely hard time tolerating serious-minded dissent.
If you’re going to argue what Andrew Brown wrote (it boils down to “criticism of Islam = hating Muslims”), the first group that deserves a rebuttal to that unfair and untrue charge is the men and women who’ve left Islam but not Muslim culture; who no longer live under Allah’s thumb, but who love parents, siblings, friends, and neighbors who’ve remained in the Islamic faith.
Was the comment removed because it was ultimately too close for comfort, considering the paper’s peculiarly rigid sensibilities? What was the community standard that the CEMB failed so badly to live up to? I sent the Guardian editors an inquiring e-mail and will update this post if I hear back.