12th January 2013
Yet if the author Nathan Lean is to be believed, Americans today are caught in the grip of an irrational fear of Islam and its adherents. In his short book on the subject, Mr. Lean, a journalist and editor at the website Aslan Media, identifies this condition using the vaguely medical sounding term “Islamophobia.” It is by now a familiar diagnosis, and an ever widening range of symptoms—from daring to criticize theocratic tyrannies in the Middle East to drawing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad—are attributed to it.
In reality, Islamophobia is simply a pejorative neologism designed to warn people away from criticizing any aspect of Islam. Those who deploy it see no difference between Islamism—political Islam and its extremist offshoots—and the religion encompassing some 1.6 billion believers world-wide. Thanks to this feat of conflation, Islamophobia transforms religious doctrines and political ideologies into something akin to race; to be an “Islamophobe” is in some circles today tantamount to being a racist.
Think of some of the other tendentious terms that partisans have enlisted in pursuit of what are essentially political programs: ‘software piracy’ (sorry, if you’re not armed and boarding a ship, it’s not piracy), ‘gay marriage’ (sorry, marriage has never in the history of the planet referred to relationships between people of the same sex), ‘black market’ (black in this case being a pejorative substitution for free, is if free were a bad thing), ‘price gouging’ (as if people were forced to buy something they didn’t want; oddly enough, never applied to prices set by the government, which actually has that power), and so on.
‘Islamophobia’ is another such, an intellectual bait-and-switch that assumes that any hostility to Islam is irrational and therefore ridiculous, as if Islam didn’t have a historical record as black as that of communism or fascism and twenty times as long.
Individual Muslims can be perfectly decent and reasonable people, just as individual Communists and Nazis can be perfectly decent and reasonable people. But the problem is that the ideology (and Islam is an ideology, make no mistake about its Clever Plastic Disguise of being a religion) to which they subscribe is inherently oppressive and totalitarian, and completely contrary to the fundamental principles of Western Civilization. That’s the bottom line.
The problem with the term ‘Islamophobia’ is that fear of Islam is perfectly rational, justified by both history and current affairs, just like fear of fire or flood or high wind. That’s the bottom line.