Saturday, 16 July 2016

Fake phobias II

The most glaringly obvious fake phobia must be Islamophobia.

Dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force.

So islamophobia is not a phobia. Which we knew anyway. 

An extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something:she suffered from a phobia about birds

DiploMad has a good post on Islamophobia and I don’t have much to add apart from suggesting the possibility that Islam will eventually be hollowed out by consumer society and global political trends.

As for the present, accepting that Islam may be a problem for secular democracies appears to be the first hurdle for any worthwhile discussion. The term Islamophobia seems designed to raise that first hurdle as high as possible. It also seems designed to allow the establishment to use hate speech without appearing to do so - but that is another issue.

Yet viewing Islam with a strong dose of political caution is reasonable if one lives in a modern democracy. One could easily go further and suggest than in those circumstances, not adopting a frankly negative political view of Islam is unwise. The meek shall not inherit the earth.

In which case, opposition to Islam is no more a phobia than opposition to socialism, capitalism, communism, fascism or any other politically significant movement - and Islam is politically significant. Expressing opposition to political situations used to be called debate and used to be considered healthy - which of course it would be in a healthy democratic culture.

Sadly we are losing that healthy robustness, that freedom to say what we mean. We have become politically enfeebled and as far as Islam is concerned, afraid to use words such as ‘primitive’. Yet Islam seems politically primitive to those of us who value modern democratic freedoms, warts and all. Exercising the right to say so is not a phobia.


James Higham said...

Now we just have to say that each time someone accuses us of it.

Sam Vega said...

Not just politically primitive, either. I ought to get round to reading the Quran, but then again I keep saying that about the Bible. Here's Schopenhauer engaging in a brief course in comparative religions:

Temples and churches, pagodas and mosques, in all countries and ages, in their splendour and spaciousness, testify to man's need for metaphysics, a need strong and ineradicable, which follows close on the physical. The man of a satirical frame of mind could of course add that this need for metaphysics is a modest fellow content with meagre fare. Sometimes it lets itself be satisfied with clumsy fables and absurd fairy-tales. If only they are imprinted early enough, they are for man adequate explanations of his existence and supports for his morality.

Consider the Koran, for example; this wretched book was sufficient to start a world-religion, to satisfy the metaphysical need for countless millions for twelve hundred years, to become the basis of their morality and of a remarkable contempt for death, and also to inspire them to bloody wars and the most extensive conquests. In this book we find the saddest and poorest form of theism. Much may be lost in translation, but I have not been able to discover in it one single idea of value. Such things show that the capacity for metaphysics does not go hand in hand with the need for it . . . .

Demetrius said...

Once one might say, "I don't like..." or "I am not sure about...". Nowadays it is simpler and easier to say "I have a phobia.....".

A K Haart said...

James - a sneer is as much as they deserve.

Sam - I ought to get round to reading the Quran too. I downloaded a sample onto my Kindle but didn't pursue it. The trouble is I already know I'll agree with Schopenhauer and I've no wish to become a Quran critic. Life is too short.

Demetrius - and that is an important point, the term becomes so debased it ceases to mean anything worthwhile.