The Sanity of ‘Islamophobia’
by EDWARD CLINE
December 5, 2012
November was "Islamophobia Awareness" Month. Pat Condell, the indomitable critic of all things mystical and murky, especially of that paragon of tolerance and peaceful coexistence, has recommended that the West designate December as "Hatred and Violence in the Koran" month.
In a Gatestone article on the ubiquity of blasphemy laws in Europe, Soeren Kern, in "Muslims Pressing for Blasphemy Laws in Europe" (November 30th), cites the continued campaign of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to enact stricter laws that would prohibit and punish any speech that "defamed" religion or religious beliefs -particularly, and most importantly to the OIC, anything Islamic.
The OIC, a bloc of 57 Muslim countries, is pressuring Western countries into making it an international crime to criticize Islam or Mohammed - all on [sic] the name of "religious tolerance."
Criticism, of course, can include all forms of speech that call into question the foundations, legitimacy, irrationality, or fraudulency of Islam, from cartoons that mock Mohammad to amateurish videos ("Innocence of Muslims") to scholarly disquisitions. The OIC's disingenuous promotion of "religious tolerance" makes as much sense as if Stalin and Hitler had promoted "political tolerance" in the nations they had overrun. "Tolerance" in this context implies that a tolerable thing is not life- or value-threatening.
But Islam has demonstrated repeatedly over fourteen centuries that it is not tolerant of other religions - because those other religions have threatened its political power. Other religions that compete for men's minds, time and money are, to Islam, intolerable. Islam, all the guff about "interfaith dialogue" to the contrary notwithstanding, is the "one, true" religion. Wherever it has gone, wherever it has planted settlers or immigrants or fifth columnists, Islam must, by its totalitarian nature, become supreme and all-encompassing. We see this happening in Europe. All other beliefs, all other creeds, must defer to it, by hook, crook, or scimitar. All must "submit," which is the literal meaning of the term Islam.
Whether or not the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic organization that promotes the goal of a global caliphate (with a little help from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton), introduced the term Islamophobia to describe any and all criticism of Islam, is moot here (see Robert Spencer's excellent column on this subject). Anyone branded by Islamic spokesmen or by the Mainstream Media as Islamophobicor an Islamophobe, is someone who genuinely fears Islam and sees it as a threat to his life or his values. This fear is claimed to emanate from madness or bigotry or racial prejudice. Islam, however, and regardless of the "race" of its followers, is a system of theocratic totalitarianism. One can be as "phobic" about it as one would be about Nazism or Communism, for the same reasons.
There is no reconciliation or "middle ground" possible between the two intolerants. One or the other must submit. Islam says so. But Western champions of freedom have yet to say it.
I'm sure that space limitations governed Kern's catalogue of blasphemy, defamation, and anti-freedom of speech laws, together with instances of their enforcement on hapless citizens of various countries. Aside from the Dutch Parliament's repeal of its blasphemy law, one very minor recanting of voluntary self-censorship was recently published by the Associated Press, which has excised the terms "Islamophobia," "Homophobia," and "Ethnic Cleansing" from its Style Guide, and gives one a very slight twinge of hope that the MSM is getting a clue. The first two terms it claimed (with justification) reflect a mental disorder and an "irrational fear," and suggest politically incorrect thought, punishable by law if some action is associated with it.
The Associated Press has nixed "homophobia," "ethnic cleansing," and a number of other terms from its Style Book in recent months.
The online Style Book now says that "-phobia," "an irrational, uncontrollable fear, often a form of mental illness" should not be used "in political or social contexts," including "homophobia" and "Islamophobia." It also calls "ethnic cleansing" a "euphemism," and says the AP "does not use 'ethnic cleansing' on its own. It must be enclosed in quotes, attributed and explained."
"Ethnic cleansing is a euphemism for pretty violent activities, a phobia is a psychiatric or medical term for a severe mental disorder. Those terms have been used quite a bit in the past, and we don't feel that's quite accurate," AP Deputy Standards Editor Dave Minthorn told POLITICO.
The third term is actually a legitimate one, for that is precisely what describes a number of campaigns in remote and recent history. (See the conflicts in Rwanda, Nigeria, and other African nations; the Armenian Holocaust, initiated by the Turks; and etc.). The question remains, however, of how to properly define "ethnic cleansing" or genocide. Does Judaism mean a "race" or a "religion"? Are those concepts inseparably linked, or not? Does the term "Islam" denote a race, or a religion? Does Christianity? I do not think there are enough "cross conversions" of individuals from one religion to another, by members of numerous "racial" groups, that would validate the AP's decision to remove "ethnic cleansing" from its style guide.
After all, if one is a Semite, one is not necessarily Jewish; one could just as well be a Muslim, or an atheist, or a Christian, or a Buddhist. "Semites" are men and so are imbued with the attribute of a volitional consciousness. But Hitler's concept of Judaism was founded on the faulty premise of determinism: if one is Jewish, one is necessarily, intrinsicallyof a particular "race." Jews can't help being what they are. "Race" is linked to the religion; it is in a Jew's genes (or his "blood") to be "Jewish" and adhere to a particular creed. Appended to this horrendous fallacy was the Nazi assertion that to be Jewish is also to be a corrupting and destructive influence and the bane of all moral men.
The obverse of this policy was that Aryans were intrinsically "superior" physically and mentally but polluted with the "blood" of inferior races. This was just as much a myth as Hitler's Jewish race one, because all during the abbreviated "Thousand Year Reich," it glossed over the historic fact that what is now modern Germany was a kind of Grand Central Station for several thousand years as waves of other races passed through it on tides of conquest and immigration from the four corners of Europe and even from Asia in the form of the Mongols and Huns.
This was Hitler's own irrational "phobia"; it justified in his own mind a campaign of "ethnic cleansing," which was the Holocaust. But even there, Hitler wasn't consistent. He sent to extermination camps Jews of various nationalities, from Germany, Poland, France, Norway, and so on. Which was the deciding factor in those expulsions to the death camps: the victims' nationality, their religion, or their race? So, the argument could be made that "ethnic cleansing" is not necessarily synonymous with "religious" or "ideological" or even "racial" cleansing, but that equivocation seems to be the rule of thumb today. Why should we or the AP accept Hitler's or Islam's (or Hamas's) murky, undefined notion of "ethnic cleansing" or "genocide"? The concept's definition needs to be refined.
The Oxford English Dictionaryhas this definition of definition:
No. 6. To state exactly what (a thing) is; to set forth or explain the essential nature of.
No. 6b. To set forth or explain what (a word or expression) means; to declare the signification of.
>From the Ayn Rand Lexicon:
A definition is a statement that identifies the nature of the units subsumed under a concept.
With the concept table, for example, the nature of a table is that it is flat, utilitarian furniture with legs and all entities that meet those criteria are identified as tables. It does not specify carved legs or inlaid marble surfaces or how many corners it has, only a table's essential attributes.
To return to the term "phobia" and its recent and indiscriminate employment as a suffix, is there a legitimate reason one may append the term to nouns? Is there such a thing as a "rational" phobia? As a metaphor, yes. But, first, let's examine the term phob or phobe, which is the Greek for "fear." The O.E.D. defines phobia:
Fear, horror, or aversion, especially of a morbid character.
Note the qualifier,morbid, which implies an unreasoning, irrational, or baseless character. The term may be used in the way of an analogy, such as "Anglophobe" or "Russophobe" to describe a person who causelessly fears Britons or Russians. These, too, and their many variants, are legitimate, definable terms. The question is: Are these "phobias" necessarily "morbid," or irrational? Should the term "phobia" be used exclusively in a clinical context, or is it legitimate to append it to any term one wishes?
It all depends on the context of its usage. All knowledge is contextual. If one has ophiophobia, does it include a fear of or revulsion for all snakes, including harmless Garter snakes, or just venomous snakes, such as cobras and rattlesnakes? If it includes all snakes, then one might say the phobia is a candidate for diagnosis. If it excludes all snakes but the venomous ones, then that is a saner phobia, whether or not one is trained in how to deal safely with them.
Is it sane to be "Islamophobic"? Resoundingly, yes, and most especially if one has at least a passing knowledge of Islam's nature and its history of murder, slavery, plunder, and empire building. It means that one is fearful of Islam in and of itself, and also contemptuous of Westerners in and out of government whose policies aim to "reconcile" the irreconcilable systems of Islam and freedom.
Is it sane to have Obamaphobia? Without a doubt. Obama has proven to be as much as nemesis to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness as Islam or any other totalitarian ideology.
Edward Cline is the author of the Sparrowhawk novels set in England and Virginia in the pre-Revolutionary period, of several detective and suspense novels, and three collections of his commentaries and columns, all available on Amazon Books. His essays, book reviews, and other articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Journal of Information Ethics and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to Rule of Reason, Family Security Matters, Capitalism Magazine and other Web publications.