Recently there has been a steep rise in accusations of so-called 'Islamophobia' against almost anyone who criticises Islam. Yet, as with accusations of 'racism', the motive appears little beyond disrupting genuine debate and silencing any hint of criticism. It is argued here that 'Islamophobia' does not, in any meaningful sense, exist...
So, what's wrong with 'Islamophobia'?
(Or, the utter stupidity of being phobic about a religion)
For some time now allegations of 'racism' have been the stock response from the liberal left to any criticism levelled at particular protected groups and (oddly) religions, no matter how reprehensible their beliefs or (more importantly) actions might be. It is now common knowledge that there are many politically motivated reasons for this response. Typically, however, one core function of the racist allegation is to shut down opposing debate or discussion altogether. So effective has this become that fear of the charge of racism was cited as instrumental in silencing the relevant authorities in the Rotherham scandal. Rotherham was, as many will recall, an utterly disgraceful state of affairs that saw more than 1400 young girls abused, raped, and prostituted by gangs of mainly Muslim men of Pakistani origin.
The charge of 'Islamophobia' seems to issue from a very similar mindset intent upon effectively shutting down anyone who should simply have an opinion contrary to self-righteous liberal apologists for Islam, Islamist's, Islamic radicals, and even Islamic terrorists. Importantly, however, it should be noted that in the example of Islamophobia an often more fundamental aim is to specificallly censure criticism of Islam itself, whether this be as a religion, a culture, or a political ideology. In this respect what makes 'Islamophobia' unique is, then, that it is implimented in a much wider program of social and cultural manipulation that is intent on introducing what appears to be archaic blasphemy laws for a select religion.
Of course, that such terms and accusations surface anew from time to time should these days surprise no one. As the political landscape shifts uncomfortably to the political right (from the point of view of the hard-line left) the need to evolve and expand party rhetoric grows in step. Hence, we see the emergence of terms like 'populist', 'alt-right', 'gender fluidity' and 'trans-gender' bandied about as if they were always part of common parlance and transparent in meaning, a fact that couldn't be further from the truth. And so it is with 'Islamophobia', 'Islamophobic', and 'Islamophobe'. It will, however, be shown here that the notion, basis, and roots of 'Islamophobia' are an invention without substance. 'Islamophobia' does not therefore, in any meaningful sense, exist and anyone using it is simply demonstrating their misunderstanding - at best. Consequently, 'Islamophobia' should be rejected and thrown out along with the rest of the politically-correct garbage.
Mentioning the Unmentionables
In addition to the older chesnut that is 'racism' terms like 'Islamophobia', along with accusations of so-called 'hate speech' and 'hate crime', have become increasingly popular whenever someone dares mentions (negatively) the unmentionables (e.g. immigration, asylum seekers, multiculturalism, economic migrants, patriotism, Islamists, Islamic terrorism, and even just 'Muslim' or 'Islam' in many instances). Moreover, what is actually meant by calling someone 'Islamophobic', is simple enough - that the individual accused is labelled a prejudicial and bigoted hater; a hater that is, of the 'religion of peace', Islam, and of Muslims generally. The further upshot of this, which is entirely intended by the now deeply 'offended' Liberal far-left, is that we are all then perfectly justified in ignoring, dismissing, or persecuting the Islamophobe as a beastly hater, akin to the worst of humanity that history can muster (and, yes, there is irony if you think it through).
And if you are wondering why the above reference to Islam as a religion is emphasised in italics it is this: It remains a matter of some debate as to whether Islam can be counted as just a religion, like other deity based belief systems. But this is a discussion for another day. For present purposes let's just assume it is a religion and that being Islamophobic is (apparently) concerned precisely with Islam on that basis.
And herein lies the crux of the problem for liberal apologists, and it's a pretty big one. For, accusing someone of Islamophobia simply does not carry the implications of prejudice and bigotry that it's intended to, at least on the same terms as accusations of 'racism' does. Put simply, it just doesn't mean what those pointing their sanctimonious little fingers think it means. Indeed in a very real sense it really doesn't mean anything at all. To see the difficulty more clearly consider the following observations.
A Phobia about Islam
When we talk of phobias what we almost invariably mean by the term is something like this; "a phobia is an irrational and disproportionate, aversion and fear of....x (where x is whatever the phobia is about, e.g. spiders, open spaces, foreigners, etc). So, clearly phobias like this are usually 'about' something, which is to say, about some object in the world rather than some other object. In this case the phobia in question is specific about Islam and it refers to a particular attitude or stance, a phobic attitude, towards Islam - i.e. that one fears, disproportionately, and irrationally Islam (just as in, for example, arachnophobia one fears spiders).
In fact the American Psychiatric Association's DSM IV Text Revision (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) puts it almost precisely like this stating the criteria for a specific form phobia (like arachnophobia, and so it must be for 'Islamophobia') includes;
A. Marked and persistent fear that is excessive or unreasonable...
B.Exposure to the phobic stimulus [Muslims, Islam] almost invariably provokes an immediate anxiety response which may take the form of a... predisposed panic attack...
C.The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable...
D. The phobic situation(s) is avoided or else endured with intense anxiety or distress.
So, what wrong with this it might be asked? After all this perhaps points to the very nature of the issue, that people have an irrational and disproportionate fear of Islam? They are, then, suffering a phobic reaction when confronted with representations or members of this particular faith. And they are therefore, suffering from a form of mental disorder, are they not?
The answer is, yes, or at least this would be a reasonable conclusion, given the individuals accused of Islamophobia fit the bill by harboring a disproportionate and irrational fear of Islam and generally meeting the criteria above. The trouble is, they aren't (irrational fears) and don't (meet these criteria), and most people accused of Islamophobia are not reacting in this way to Muslims and Islam. Moreover, we are now shifting from the idea that 'Islamophobia' appropriately describes someone that is intentionally and unreasonably discriminatory and bigoted regarding Islam and Muslims toward an understanding of Islamophobia as a clinical disorder of the mind. And, importantly this account of Islamophobia, as with other cases of phobia, implies no (or at least very little) moral responsibility and blame. This is a real dilemma for liberal fanatics because the very essence of their charge of 'Islamophobia!', and a significant reason for bringing it, is to point the finger of blame and responsibility.
The distinction being drawn in the above, although perhaps not immediately obvious, is nonetheless very important. The claim that Islamophobia is about harbouring a disproportionate and irrational fear of Islam (and Muslims) is consistent with our understanding of phobias generally and with a more precise clinical understanding of phobias about Islam and Muslims. On the other hand, the notion of Islamophobia as just being a case of intentional prejudice and bigoted discrimination toward Islam and Muslims is not at all consistent with a clinical understanding of any other phobias. Consequently, the liberal left's charge is only sustainable if they also accept the reasonable conclusion that those that fear and avoid Muslims and Islam, the Islamophobes, aren't, after all, bad they're just mentally ill.
It should of course be fairly obvious that when liberal apologists try to close down a conversation or debate critical of Islam by employing accusations of Islamophobia they aren't looking to provide a genuine clinical diagnosis. They certainly don't chant 'Islamophobia', mantra like, because they want to draw attention to the plight of the accused - which is to say the individual concerned is suffering from a debilitating and life-disrupting disorder that should elicit sympathy and therapeutic assistance - perhaps along with a prescription treatment. This is just not what Liberal left-wingnuts have in mind at all. Quite the contrary, all the sympathy is meant to go to the alleged victim of Islamophobia (Muslims and their faith), it's all about them not the person accused of expressing, and suffering from, the Islamophobia.
The idea is that the objects of the phobia, in this case Muslims, are the victims and it's their anxiety that we are supposed to be concerned with. How utterly ironic, then, that the charge they level, of a 'phobia', carries with it the implication that it's actually the accused that is the victim of deep-rooted and uncontrolled anxiety. It is the accused that is, by implication, morally and practically blameless. And it is consequently the accused that, at least as much as Muslims, warrants our sympathy and support. And if it should be otherwise? Then in cases of arachnophobia we must save sympathy for the spider as the true victim and we should shun, despise, and expose the arachnophobe for the low rent hate fiend that she is.
The confusion and nonsense that is 'Islamophobia'
There is a real difficulty here, however, because when Ben Affleck (see YouTube clip above) claims Sam Harris is guilty of Islamophobia he implies it's about Harris and his irrational and disproportionate fear of Islam. Moreover, what Ben Affleck is unwittingly and naively claiming is that Sam Harris is suffering from irrational and excessive reactions to Islam. According to this account Harris may be experiencing intense anxiety and even panic attacks quite beyond his control, even though he recognises the irrationality of his condition. Harris is therefore a victim of a disruptive affliction and, importantly, in the grip of a quite distressing mental disorder over which he has little control.
Affleck should at this point feel sorry for poor Sam and indeed, if asked, would likely say he does. But this would only add sarcasm to his many mistakes because Affleck would not really feel sorry for Harris at all. As we know, Afflick doesn't really think for a moment that Harris has a mental disorder. What we can reasonably assume Afflick really thinks (wrongly) is that Sam Harris is being intentionally discriminatory and bigoted towards Islam and Muslims - he (Harris) could be otherwise, but chooses not to be. For Affleck it's about Harris's measured attitude toward Islam, not an internal struggle with a deep-seated irrational fear (of Islam or Muslims).
We now need to take pause for a moment and ask, does any of this make even the slightest sense? Taking this approach to Islamophobia highlights the fact it just doesn't work in the way accusations of racism work because, with racism (which Affleck and many others continue to confuse with phobia), it's about how you treat others, how you view others, not because of a mental disorder but because you are (and choose to be) a prejudicial bigot. In the case of Islamophobia, on the other hand, it just doesn't work this way because, as show previously, if it's a genuine phobia one simply doesn't have the same degree of choice and responsibility. The obvious response might now be to claim that the use of 'phobia' in this case is not clinical, but then what is it?
Someone with arachnophobia isn't 'discriminating' against spiders, isn't a bigot regarding spiders, doesn't hate spiders because they are spiders - they are not racist in respect to spiders (or, properly, 'speciest'). What they are is irrationally and disproportionately fearful of spiders and it's a problem in living, not for spiders, but for themselves. Moreover, someone with this kind of phobic reaction (to spiders) is not in control of the ensuring fear and anxiety, they cannot (straightforwardly at least) turn it off, so to speak. This is true of most phobia sufferers too, even though they often have clear insight into their mental dianosis in this respect. This means they can't simply wake up one morning and decide they were wrong about spiders, that the little creatures aren't so bad after all, and that they will try and make an effort from now on to get along with them.
Likewise, someone suffering with Islamophobia as a clinical condition would not typically be discriminatory or biased against Islam and Muslims. They would simply not hate Islam or Muslims on this account, and nor would they be 'racist' about Islam (quite apart from the fact Islam is not a race to begin with). What the Islamophobic individual would be is unreasonably and/or excessively fearful of Islam and Muslims. The consequences for him or her are numerous including severe anxiety, panic attacks, disruptive avoidance behaviour, etc. Such an individual could, therefore, be suffering with a serious problem in living that should illicit sympathy, understanding, and where possible accommodation and even treatment. Being in the grip of a mental disorder is not their fault, they are victims of a condition and we should respect that (and accommodate their Islamo-'phobia' until it can be treated?).
So far so good you might think but by now I'm guessing the reader already knows this won't work either. Looney liberal apologists for Islamic extremism don't want sympathy for a mental condition labelled 'Islamophobia' and they certainly don't want sympathy for this particular 'sufferer', they want a usable (and abusable) term for shutting down the very prospect of any dissenting opinion or argument. They want a term that works like 'racism' that pretty much instantly stacks the odds in their favour (at least until recently) and nullifies the merest hint of resistance to their doctirne.
Islamophobia is not, and cannot be, racist.
Many of the smarter liberal apologists for Islamist's know that the 'racism' card isn't a viable option in debates on Islam for the patently obvious reason that Islam is not a race, rather, it's religion (and political ideology). Unfortunately, some of the slow-thinking Liberals, like actor Ben Affleck, miss this very obvious distinction altogether. In a desperate and self-serving bid to be seen as a noble defender of the down-trodden followers of Mohammed such individuals clamber to be a shining advocate of diversity and multiculturalism. It has become increasingly essential to these people to be seen to be on the 'right side' of the political fence rather than to acquaint themselves with the boring old facts, even simple ones, like what a 'race' actually amounts to. What's important here is identifying the mistakes and flaws in this kind of (weak) reasoning and the consequence of hinging your argument on, 1) conflation of racism with Islamophobia (or any type of phobia) and/or, 2) misunderstanding what is meant by 'phobia' and, 3) a confusion about what counts as a race.
What this means, then, in real terms is that the onus must fall to those that want to make the claim that there is even such a mental illness as 'Islamophobia'. Or to explain why, in this circumstance, the 'phobia' should not be understood as a typical phobia (such as claustrophobia, agoraphobia, or xenophobia, etc) but as an atypical case? This must be explained because, otherwise, there is no good reason, apart from political one-upmanship (and silencing those that reject the liberal left's position), that we should understand this phobia differently. For in doing so what we must surely end up with is a phobia that is not a phobia at all, but something else. The consequence of this, what's more, is that in describing someone as Islamophobic, or guilty of Islamophobia, is simply to say nothing at all about them at best, or at worst to give vent to utter nonsense.
Is this just semantic wrangling, playing with words? In one sense, yes, it is, but these are very important words, or at least they can be. Much of the political correctness we have seen in our media and press over recent years has been expressed in words, and this has led to the dark days of censorship that has, until recently, been our lot. The unrelenting abuse of terms, that are simply words, like 'racism' has been at the very heart of a good deal of oppression – of ideas, opinion, thoughts, and indeed actions of anyone not sticking to a far-left liberal party line.
These words can exercise great influence when abused, as they are by radical socialists, in debate and discussion. One way to stop the rot is to stop words like this being used and abused as weapons of mass destruction against all and any left-wing dissenters. 'Racism' may be gradually losing some ground now but still it has much impact. This may be one reason why some Islamic apologists are keen to import it into their campaigns to defend corrosive and inherently violent ideologies such as Islam. The smarter ones know that if Islam is a religion of peace, and they argue it is, then one cannot be racist about it, because it is a religion not a race. One can join or leave a religion, not a race. If you still doubt this then consider how you might decide that, tomorrow, you will be a native born American Indian (assuming you are not already of course)?
The political left's craving for new word weapons that might be used to block debate and denegrate the opposition gave birth to the nonsensical idea of 'Islamophobia'. But it was and is a very flawed idea. It doesn't inherit the force or meaning of the racist chant because Islamophobia is not a synonym for racism - they are not similar in meaning or intention. Islamophobia is not Islamoracism. Worse still, a drive toward any kind of semantics drawing on a charge of Islamo-racism is even more disasterous simply because one cannot be racist about religion (or ideology for that matter). On this account it lacks not just racism itself but the very spirit of that term in picking out those described as being discriminatory, prejudicial, and bigoted. Moreover, the nature of phobias are such that they don't carry with them the malice and ill-will that racism so typically identifies: The arachnophobic does not hold unjustified malice toward spiders, nor does she harbour a feeling of entrenched ill-will and prejudice simply because these creatures sport eight hairy legs