Christianity is considered fair game for attack ... so why is criticism of Muslims always 'Islamophobic'?
It is time to put the Catholic Church "in the dustbin, where it belongs", Left-wing TD Brid Smith announced in the Dail last week. There are strong echoes here of former US President Ronald Reagan, who once memorably said communism belonged in "the dustbin of history".
There was barely a murmur of protest in response to Ms Smith's statement. Approached by The Irish Catholic newspaper, Micheal Martin said it was an example of "intolerant populism". It was at least that.
If Ms Smith had said it was time to put Islam "in the dustbin, where it belongs", the denunciation of her fellow politicians and the commentariat generally would be ringing in her ears. She would be asked on to radio shows to defend herself against her accusers.
But she would never say such a thing about Islam - and it would not be out of fear of retaliation by a jihadist. It would be out of concern for the Muslim community as a minority.
Catholicism is not considered a minority - even in Britain, where Catholics are in a minority. It is considered fair game (as is Christianity) for every kind of attack, no matter how extreme, whereas almost any criticism of Islam is condemned "Islamophobic".
This is how political correctness works. Its defensible wish to defend anything it considers to be a minority spills over very quickly into a wish to defend minorities even from justifiable criticism, as well as the silencing of critics as "bigots" of one kind or another.
Worse than this, it has led to cover-ups of the most appalling crimes and abuses by minorities. Voter fraud in Tower Hamlets in London was covered up by the authorities, because those responsible belonged to an ethnic minority.
On a much worse level, the systematic sexual abuse and rape of hundreds of young teenager girls in towns like Rotherham and Rochdale, dramatised recently in the BBC series Three Girls, was also covered up because the guilty parties were mainly of Pakistani origin.
This is reminiscent of the cover-ups by the Catholic Church. We cover things up when we don't want our reputations damaged, or the reputations of whatever it is we respect or revere.
Racial and religious minorities, especially Muslims, are currently placed above almost all criticism and anything that might subject these minorities to criticism is covered up and those who would throw a light on abuses are silenced and demonised.
But the terrorist atrocities carried out in London, Manchester, Paris, Brussels, Berlin etc are linked to a particular religion, namely Islam. All of the terrorists in these cases say that they were acting on behalf of Islam. Are Buddhists or Christians or Hindus terrorising our cities like this?
"Islamophobia" is now considered an even greater sin than anti-Semitism. This is why the targeting of synagogues and Jewish graveyards, and Jews themselves, by Islamist fanatics does not draw the ire it should, nor does the routine and revolting depiction of Jews in the Middle East.
Jews are a vastly smaller minority than Muslims, but despite the Holocaust, and despite the growing number of attacks on Jews in Europe, they are considered to be a less vulnerable minority than Muslims.
This, I think, is because of the existence of the state of Israel, which is a far bigger bogeyman for the Left than Isis, never mind Hamas, or Hezbollah.
Islam will never be vilified the way Catholicism and Christianity are. The misdeeds of Christians are held against all Christians, and many people are angrier by far at wrongs committed by the Church decades, or even centuries ago than at what is being done today in the name of Islam.
Anything bad that happens in the name of Islam is an "aberration", a "perversion" of the faith, not "true Islam". The more terrorist attacks are carried out in the name of Islam, the more we are told Islam is a "religion of peace" and the very name Islam means "peace", when in fact it means "submission", as in submission to the will of God.
In any event, even though it is true that Isis is a perversion of Islam, can the same be said of Saudi Arabia, or Iran? These are the leading Sunni and Shia countries respectively and both enforce very harsh versions of Sharia law.
Both export radical, violent versions of their respective versions of Islam, as the Soviet Union once exported violent, socialist revolution.
Are Saudi Arabia and Iran "aberrations", because if they are, then a very great deal of Islam in the present age is an "aberration".
The truth is that Islam is in need of reform. Muslims need to tell us whether Sharia law can be reformed in such a way that apostates from Islam, or blasphemers, or adulterers, are not subject to the death penalty, as they are in some countries. They must tell us whether Saudi Arabia's attitude to women is an aberration, or a true expression of Islam.
Above all, ordinary Muslims must take the lead in stamping out Muslim radicalism. This means not simply stamping out the violence, it also means ensuring that in the Muslim communities of the West, only moderate versions of Islam, compatible with broad Western values, take root and nothing else.
Radical Islam is what must be defeated.