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Who are the real Islamophobes?

Rand Simberg makes a subtly profound little point, in an email to Instapundit, as reported by Instapundit in an addendum to this posting, which links to a piece about newspapers that provide a spew of complicated reasons for not printing stuff that Muslims might be offended by, omitting only the real reason, which is that they’re scared.

“So who are the ‘Islamophobes’ again?”

The point being that the Islamophobes are clearly not those who publicly defy Islam’s threats and attacks and who just go ahead and publicly criticise it anyway and publicly mock it anyway. Where’s the “phobia” in that? No, the phobia – the fear – is being shown by those who refrain from such criticism and such mockery, because they are afraid, and are afraid even to admit that they are afraid (because that too might be interpreted as an implied criticism of the thuggishness of that which they are refraining from criticising or mocking).

Although I have long been irritated by the suggestion that to fear Islam is in any way irrational, I had truly never thought of this particular point. Next time you dare to criticise Islam for being, oh, I don’t know, evil, or something along those lines, and somebody says you are an Islamophobe, say: “Well, yes, I am a little bit scared of Islam because it is indeed scary. But you are even more scared of it, so scared that you dare not admit the truth of what I am saying. You are even more of an Islamophobe than I am.”

This is a meme that deserves to get around.

With apologies to all those who had worked this particular thing out years ago.

32 comments to Who are the real Islamophobes?

  • And to instantly derail the comments, I have the same argument against the use of the term “homophobia.” I’d wager that even the most bigoted people against gays aren’t actually afraid of them. Aside from the NAMBLA types, I don’t think that too many homosexuals are actually scary in any way (individuals vary, of course, but I wouldn’t expect it to be any different than scary straight people).

    I don’t know where people got the idea that you had to be scared of something to oppose it.

    To return to the Islamophobia thing, I think it’s not a phobia of dogs manifesting when one is somewhat anxious, even perhaps a little frightened, when a large Rottweiler is barking and snapping and snarling at you from three feet away – same thing with Islam.

  • Yeah, I hate the overuse of “phobia”. Seriously just because someone don’t like something doesn’t mean they’re afraid of it (and it certainly doesn’t mean they’re irrationally afraid of it). Homophobia is the worst offender*, but Islamophobia is pretty silly as well.

    * From the Greek for “same” and “fear”; it should mean something along the lines of being afraid of people that are the same as yourself, or being afraid of boredom. It really irritates me for some reason when people use it to mean hate (or even just minor dislike) of Homosexuals.

  • Just to be picky, or maybe not-

    the modern fashion for “phobias” began with homophobia, which used the term correctly as meaning not so much “scared of” as “repelled by”. In chemistry a compound can be hydrophobic, meaning it has a strong negative reaction to water; is literally repelled by it. Or it might be hydrophilic. Detergent molecules have a hydrophobic end and a homophilic end that allows one end to bind to fats etc and the other to water.

    So a homophobe was somebody who was strongly repelled by homosexuals. It doesn’t correctly have a “fear” connotation. A homophobe is thus repelled and disgusted by homosexuality, an islamophobe is repelled and disgusted by Islam, and most gender feminists for instance are androphobes or phallophobes who are repelled by men or male genitalia. That in turn leads perhaps to a consequent fear of contact with the repellent thing (gay, muslim, penis) but the word itself describes the repulsion, not the fear of contact.

  • Oh good grief, does the ‘bot just default to smiting everything I write of any length or substance?

  • I think there may be a use of the word “homophobic” that makes sense, and that’s when the particular motivation for hostility to gays and gayness is repressed homosexuality. Which definitely happens. In that case a man may truly fear homosexuals, especially very attractive ones, because he fears that they will bring out his beast within, which he does not want to acknowledge consciously to be there.

    As for Islamophobia, I personally know of nobody who hates and fears Muslims because of secretly fearing that he might be one himself. But the world is a big place, and who knows?

  • To believe in that argument for hom-thingy-obia you have to believe that there is such a thing as repressed hom-thingy-uals; that is people who are that way inclined but do not know they are. That would suggest that perhaps my personal loathing for tomatoes (horrid slimy things, pretending to be vegetables, they disgust me, why the hell can’t anyone in central London make a damned sandwich without sticking a slice of tomato in it?) is because I really love tomatoes, but am in denial. Is that plausible? Is it even possible that the brain is constructed such that feelings can exist contrarily in more than one place, with a “fake” feeling you actually feel and a “real” feeling you don’t feel at all?

    Shall we follow the argument to its logical end and conclude that those who despite peado-thingies are themselves repressed peado-thingies, or can we leave it at just a genuine sense of disgust at a particular act?

  • Also it’s a bit of a silly word since it ought to be something like homosexophobia or homoerotophobia; homoph0b14 ought to refer to either a repulsion to sameness (Greek) or to men (Latin). To continue being picky.

    The latest buzzword, “tr4nsph0b14″ presumably relates to a fear of things moving from one place to another; bicycles, trams, wireless messages, carrier pigeons, etc.

  • Ian, this rant, including the tomato thingy, sounds like a great topic for Cats.

    Really, especially the tomato thingy.

    Does my love of tomatos indicate a deep down loathing of the things?

    BTW Brian, apology accepted. Your conclusion leaps out whenever I hear someone refer, despite all evidence and blatantly expressed theology, to the endemic tolerance of the Religion of Peace.

    More to the point, islamophobia is impossible. The less people know the less they care. The more they learn of Islam the more loathing and contempt they feel. Nothing irrational there.

  • RAB

    Tomato’s are fruits Ian my old sport! Oh dear, I seem to be making this worse, arn’t I? ;-)

    More to the point, islamophobia is impossible. The less people know the less they care. The more they learn of Islam the more loathing and contempt they feel. Nothing irrational there.

    My position, often stated here and elsewhere, exactly.

  • RAB

    To re-iterate Ian B, Oh for heaven’s sake!

    Your Bot needs retuning lads and lasses.

  • Nuke Gray

    It wouldn’t surprise me if all your comments are automatically smote, Ian the B. Think of the time-savings!

  • TDK

    To believe in that argument for hom-thingy-obia you have to believe that there is such a thing as repressed hom-thingy-uals; that is people who are that way inclined but do not know they are. That would suggest that perhaps my personal loathing for tomatoes (horrid slimy things, pretending to be vegetables, they disgust me, why the hell can’t anyone in central London make a damned sandwich without sticking a slice of tomato in it?) is because I really love tomatoes, but am in denial. Is that plausible? Is it even possible that the brain is constructed such that feelings can exist contrarily in more than one place, with a “fake” feeling you actually feel and a “real” feeling you don’t feel at all?

    My first instinct is to assume you are in jest but just in case.

    The answer is peer approval.

    I want to be liked by my peers. My peers don’t like gays. I therefore repress my gay urges. Or like the tough in The Naked Civil Servant, I over compensate by punching Quentin Crisp harder than everyone else.

    I want to be liked by my peers. My peers don’t care either way about tomatoes. I freely declare my dislike of tomatoes.

    I want to be liked by my peers. My peers believe in AGW. I therefore repress the cynical voice in the back of my head telling me it’s all bollox and sort my rubbish. I tell myself all skeptics are bad people to avoid dealing with the issues.

  • TDK, a “repressed homothingy” isn’t somebody pretending to everybody else that he’s not gay. In this context, it’s somebody who doesn’t themself know he is gay, but fears that he may be. To quote Brian-

    “In that case a man may truly fear homosexuals, especially very attractive ones, because he fears that they will bring out his beast within, which he does not want to acknowledge consciously to be there.”

    That is, it is somebody who somehow inwardly loves tomatoes, but instead of just liking them, actually fervently dislikes them so far as he knows. It supposes the existence of an inner person whose tastes are diametrically opposed to the person’s own consciousness. Literally, it is saying, “you think you hate tomatoes because you really love them, and fear that if you eat one you may find out”.

    It’s crap, isn’t it?

  • TDK

    Distinction accepted.

    Wasn’t it Freud who “discovered” latent homosexuality. That kind of says it all really.

  • ‘Homophobia’ is not the root of this use of ‘phobia’. That would be the much older, and once much commoner, ‘xenophobia’. Which is, in my experience, almost always used in the sense of a morbid hostility towards strangers.

    I don’t think the idea that this stems from a bone-deep impulse to fear is exactly an unreasonable one. Consider, for example, the truly insane yelps of eleutheriophobia(?) that so often emerge when ‘moderate’ pundits are confronted with quite mild suggestions that all good might not, in every instance, flow from submission to their preferred authority. Do those yelps sound both fearful and angry? Most often.

    But it isn’t as simple as that. There isn’t only fear of the other. There is also fear of one’s own reaction to the other – which is not really the same as fear that one might be, or even want, the other. The word fascination applies both to slithering cobras and glittering beauties for a very good reason. It’s all about things you can’t turn away from. Freedom, for instance – the institutionalized man’s Gorgon!

    Ambivalence is normal and human, and as strong and ancient as love and hate. I really do think that love and hate are more akin to each other than either is to utter indifference. And while I don’t think that a ‘straight’ guy who spends much valuable time thinking about the unutterable squirmy vileness of buggers and buggery is necessarily in want of hot gay sex, I do note that as a way heterosexual guy myself, I find such fascination curious, kinky, and hard to comprehend. Why wouldn’t they rather follow my… excellently rectilinear… example, and think about Sandra Bullock or Zahra-Round-the-Corner instead? Pfui!

    Whatever floats their boat, and all. Still, even a guilty fascination – not, pace Ziggy Fraud and His Amazing Exploding Cigars, necessarily a remotely sexual one – so often suffices to call forth indignantly incredible denials in matters no weightier than whether a chappy likes hamburgers, or Kylie, or Harry Potter. One’s sexual persona is, perhaps, even more salient than these.

    As to Islamophobia itself , I just don’t buy Brian’s main contention. If I thought Islam – a religion to which I am most likely to convert when the skies fall down and Munkar and Nakir stick a zaqqum fruit up my arse – were as essentially and menacingly monstrous as he does, you bet your life I’d be scared of it! I do not and am not. It really is not, inasfar as it is a unity at all, as salient as almost anybody would have us think it.

    Certain currents and people within it surely are so salient, to the limits of their varying abilities; but obligingly following the AQ party line and writing off a quarter of the human race to their bloody drivel offhand, agrees neither with my personal experience nor my modest stock of strategic wisdom.

    I admire Islamophobia no more than romantic Islamophilia; and yet, though I make no claim to more than a minimal decent level of bravery, I don’t think I’m particularly afraid. And if somebody wishes to claim Islam as grounds for special treatment from me, over and above the civil courtesy I extend to every neighbour’s principles and foibles, then I note openly that here is a zaqqum fruit to which I would like to introduce them.

    Meantime, I keep my powder dry, and scan the horizon as I see it.

  • Laird

    Gray, I think you’ve been seduced by the sidebar discussion and missed the point of the original post. Said point being that the refusal of the mainstream press to publish anything remotely critical of Islam or Muslims, or even a cartoon ridiculing the refusal to publish anti-Islamic cartoons, is itself evidence of true Islamophobia (as that term is generally understood). It’s a fair point.

  • zombie

    The suffix “-phobia” has in recent decades been almost universally mistranslated as relating to “fear” or “being afraid of.” That’s not actually what it meant when the first neo-Greek -phobia words were coined over a century ago. “-Phobia” really means “hatred of” or “revulsion toward.”

    Or, as someone noted upthread, in chemistry, it means “repelled by,” which is fairly close to its non-chemistry meaning as well.

    This doesn’t entirely negate the import of your post, but its does dampen its meme-tastic impact a bit. In truth, as I have discovered in many conversations with liberal friends, they are in fact repulsed by Islam, and their fear is based on that hatred. They’ll admit it among themselves, in private, to people (like me) whom they assume are fellow liberals, but will never do so in public. Because (as you mentioned) they are cowards.

    In fact, I’d wager to say that 90% of Americans are Islamophobic, and rightfully so. The only thing that differentiates between a “liberal” and a “conservative” in modern America is that conservatives freely confess their opinion concerning Islam, and liberals lie and hide their true feelings. But under the surface, they both have the exact same reaction to Islam, accurately characterized as a “phobia.”

    I, for one, am not ashamed of the label. I’m also Naziphobic, Marxphobic, and so on.

    Liberals are supposedly, in their personal lives, all about “self-awareness” and “emotional honesty,” but what characterizes liberalism these day is the exact opposite: lack of self-awareness, and emotional dishonesty.

  • Laird, there are people out there who are specifically Islam-fearers, and many more who deploy bullying and/or cowardice with the most scientifically self-interested impartiality. But I was reacting to this, which I thought was a bit much:

    Next time you dare to criticise Islam for being, oh, I don’t know, evil, or something along those lines, and somebody says you are an Islamophobe, say: “Well, yes, I am a little bit scared of Islam because it is indeed scary. But you are even more scared of it, so scared that you dare not admit the truth of what I am saying. You are even more of an Islamophobe than I am.”

    Yes, the target may be a specific Islamophobe sensu stricto, or just an all-around coward who has noticed that some Muslims and some things about Islam are really scary – either to their bodies or their precious worldviews.

    But they may also think the speaker is striking out along a track that is genuinely rotten, and has been Gorgon-struck by Islam past all good sense – to the point where such counsel is bad preparation for any likely future, or even mischievous urging for the actual present.

    And that response may come as well of a serious refusal to be intimidated by batshit jihadis and their enablers, as of a craven willingness to be so.

    I think the conversational principle of charity requires that the honourable possibility be eliminated, before we fall back on the shameful. If the speaker is such that the second may be assumed – or, worse, that they are shamelessly babbling whatever bullshit seems to their present advantage – what was the point of the conversation anyway?

  • Islamophobe? Sounds funny doesn’t it. Look at all the words written trying to explain revulsion to a political religion that tolerates stoning homosexuals and womin (for apparently changes in the breeze!) and yet nobody has any idea how to fight this ideological battle IMHO. DEFINE freedom! No aid, grants, military support, visas to the UN-free. My measure: First Amendment, Second Amendment, Article 1, section 2 (determine the tax man every two years). There. Solved. Let them eat sand until they look freedom and democracy DIRECTLY in the eye!

  • rjschwarz

    The use of ‘phobe’ is the newspeak way of branding someone you disagree with with the insinuation of a psychosis. It should be mocked as a cowardly verbal game that avoids actual discussion rather than trying to reverse it.

    I also think the bulk of the folks that run around calling everyone Islamaphobes probably don’t really know enough about Islam to be afraid.

  • Laocoon

    (A) Freud coined the term ‘homophobia’ (rightly or wrongly) to describe the situation of someone who was terrified that own latent homosexuality would come out in response to someone else’ overt homosexuality. This being terrifying to them, they displace the fear of their own homosexuality into fear and rage directed at the other.

    Needless to say, most Muslims are quite aware that they are Muslims. And most people who fear and/or criticize Islam are pretty sure that they are not Muslims. So the metaphor is completely miscarried, except as a verbal association to suggest that fear of Muslims is just as neurotic, despicable, and misplaced as fear of gays in Freud’s theory.

    (B) “Nobody has any idea how to fight this ideological battle” — I think we’ve been fighting it for about 1400 years. So there are some pretty good lessons available as to how to do so, but they are best sought in the period before political correctness. Try 1800 or earlier.

  • “So who are the ‘Islam o phobes’ again?”
    Wisely answered on “phobes” by most commentors
    Then
    Gray Woodland
    “Meantime, I keep my powder dry, and scan the horizon as I see it”
    I am Pre-Scotting this:
    “I will not shoot until I see the black veil that cover the whites of their eyes”
    Call me a phobe, I am to paranoid for a taxi.
    Jeebus

  • Dave M. (now in S. Korea)

    Cliff May said it best. Those who are intimidated by Islam try to hide their fear by standing on principle. Thus, the constitutional arguments favoring the Ground Zero mosque as opposed to the moral argument against it. The “principled” people think that if the ingratiate themselves to the jihadis, they will be spared their thuggery.

  • Nuke Gray

    I think the correct term might be ‘Islamocratophobia’, a fear of an Islamic society. Perhaps the term should be Khalifatophobia, fear of an Islamic empire.

  • DachDerain

    Well, I cannot conceive of the fear of jihadi terror or of suffering under sharia law to be irrational fears, so in my opinion the terms jihadophobia and shariaphobia would strain to find legitimacy.

    This is akin to the old saying that it’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you. And the global Ummah is indeed out to Borgianly assimilate everyone on the planet, while relentlessly maintaining that resistance to the will of Allah as they interpret it (while simultaneously denying that they are interpreting at all) is futile, and deeming every refusal to embrace their faith to be an attack upon it deserving of a brutal ‘defensive’ response. And those infected with the jihadi mind virus fervently believe that they earn Paradise points by killing those who refuse to be converted or to become dhimmis and serfically submit to Caliphate hegemony, and murderously act on those beliefs.

  • As Yoda once said, “pain turns to fear, fear turns to hate, hate is where is found the dark side.”

    All these punctilius distinctions are really rather irrelevant. I always understood xenophobia to mean a fear of strangers, and, as Yoda said, fear can turn to hate, or in those not really inclined to the emotional investment of hating, to revulsion.

    I treat islamophobia, haplophobia and homophobia the same way, as well as lycopersicophobia (fear of tomatos).

  • Nuke Gray

    Mike, Santa Claus is not real, and nor is Yoda!
    These are big concepts, I know, but I think it’s time someone told you.
    If ‘phobia’ is taken to mean ‘irrational fear’, then none of us are islamophobiacs, or islamophobes. My fear of islam is based on the real evidence of the backwardness of many of the muslim countries, and the irrational statements put out by the Iranian President. My fear is rational, and therefore not a phobia.

  • Andrew Lale

    Two things. I have a blog, and I say things regularly on my blog about Islam which I would not say if my real name was attached to my blog. That is because of my awareness of Daniel Pearl, Theo Van Gogh and thousands of other real-world events. I fear because of my knowledge.
    Second point. Islam seems free of corporate responsibility for no reason I can fathom. If a group of Republicans decided to tour the world murdering people they disagree with spiritually and philosophically, would the London Times and the Washington Post repeat at every available opportunity, ‘of course, this has nothing to do with Real Republicans, these people represent nothing but their own perverted ideology, you can’t possibly hold your local neighborhood Republican in any way responsible’? I don’t think so. So why is Islam different?

  • Trofim

    I find it useful to wind up my opponents with the use of “Islamophilia” and in particular “Islamophiliac”, which has a nastier sound to. I explain it as “an irrational liking for Islam”, and as someone who is predisposed to suffer from it. They should be used widely and liberally in order to insinuate them into general consciousness. After all, that’s how “islamophobia” meme was created and promoted – by using, using and using them again, particularly on left-wing blogs, such as Liberal Conspiracy or Pickled Politics.

  • Tim McGraw

    Andrew, Islam is different because they have a hate manual known as the Koran, without it these close minded people couldn’t get out of their own way. It is the teachings of Mohammad that bind them together. There is no central authority in Islam, but still millions believe the same thing…world domination.

  • Paul Marks

    The Washington Post, L.A. Times and (New York Times owned) Boston Globe all run a common comic scrip (that is desturbing in its self – but it is not my point).

    One day there was a joke in the c.s. which used the word “Muhammed” – he was not shown, and the joke did not attack Muhammed.

    But the MSM newspapers pulled the thing – at once, and they did not even have the courage to admit that they did it out of fear.

    They were so fearful they could not even admit their own fear.

    These are the same newspapers who run editorials every other day (and whose every news story is slanted) with the Muslims-are-fluffy-anyone-who-implies-different-is-stupid-evil-and-mad line.

  • I have to agree with a number of the commentators here. The “phobia” has been added to make it sound irrational. By that I mean a close down of debate. In the UK (and elsewhere) we have seen an appalling attempt to conflate “Islamophobia” with racism despite the (genuinely worrying) repeated claims by Islam that it is the “One True Faith for All Humanity”. from my Personal experience (yes, I have read The Qu’ran and Hadith) the people who bandy terms like “Islamophobe” tend not to actually know anything about the religion. It is a classic inversion. Yes, “inversion”. Any ideology can claim to stand for peace if everyone plays the game slavishly. “Inversion” is off course an old term for homosexuality which I suspect goes back to Sigmund Fraud et al. Hmm…

    Moreover there is a mighty hint of Orientalism kicking about. This is not new. If you read John Buchan’s “Greenmantle” you will see it from nearly 100 years ago. Some lefty academics in the USA have started defending FGM. The same lefty academics who would howl if I came at their vulva with a rusty tin lid. That is Orientalism and it is fundamentally not enlightenment thinking.

    Furthermore, I think the conflation of “phobias” is… not academically helpful. Sexuality is not religion for example. Religion is not race. back to the sexuality. The way we view homosexual sex is not the way the ancient Greeks did and it is not the way many extant cultures do. But religion is – almost by definition – cast in stone.

    I guess what I’m saying is it’s too cutsey to lump all our hang-ups or distastes into the same pot. It is extremely lazy thinking.

    And there is another thing… Islam is fundamentally (I use that term word deliberately) a supremacist view. Very few examples of homosexuality I have come across are. Very few claim the moral high-ground. It’s a different thing. Cute and neat to conflate but not intellectually helpful.

    I mentioned old Siggy Fraud. He was big on “penis envy”. I think he just made that up. From my experience girls have some mighty fine orgasms so why envy? Because Fraud really meant “physics envy”. His own envy. You read his stuff about cathexis and whatnot and it’s screaming to be written in differential equations. He didn’t manage it for it is all best bollocks but that was his aim – to understand human nature in terms analogous to physics. A complete failure to comprehend culture and perhaps perversity. The same tinker-toy mentality to culture, religion, sex, life, death, tomatoes pervades the arts and humanities and social sciences to this day. Marx did the same with the idea of “scientific” history. The most corrosive thing that has happened is the idea, inspired by the enormous successes of science over the last few hundred years is that the arts have to emulate them in a real half-assed manner.

    Now lets look at somethings I do know about. Beethoven and compressible flow. Einstein himself (both a musician and a scientist) stated that there is no point in analysing a piece of Beethoven in terms of air-pressure waves. No, there isn’t. I can’t play the triangle but I do know about fluid dynamics. The later doesn’t help. I indeed know people who struggle with the Pythagorean Theorem but can bang-out a tune. Culture, society and all that are done a disservice when people attempt to understand them in what are frankly pseudo-scientific terms and make up big and “clever” words to that end.

    The attempt to scientificate every goddamn thing is (including God) is an appalling intellectual failure. And that applies to the “phobias”. Attempting to use the tools of science here is banging screws in with a hammer.