At the request of several Muslim institutions, the government intends to strengthen the definition of “Islamophobia” so that in future it will read: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness.”
No it isn’t, and it could never be that. Here we have a fine example of what Wittgenstein described in his book Philosophical Investigations as, “The bewitchment of our intelligence by the misuse of language.”
For “phobia” is derived from the Greek word phobos which is used by psychiatrists to mean “an irrational fear.” I have done a bit of research and discovered a list of more than a thousand such irrational fears. We’ve all heard of “agoraphobia” – from the Greek for “a field” – and claustrophobia. Rather more unusual are “alliumophobia” – fear of garlic – and “bibliophobia” – the all-too-common fear of books.
These fears are irrational because a field is never going to do you any harm – excepting the accidental indignity you suffer when you put your foot into some cow-clap. And garlic won’t hurt you, beyond ensuring you might never get kissed.
So what about “Islamophobia”? There can be no such thing. For there is nothing irrational about fearing those whose stated intention is to destroy you. Their intention is no idle threat. Think back to the murderous attacks on the twin towers and the Pentagon on 9/11 or to the Muslim thugs who perpetrated slaughter on the London Underground on 7/7. You don’t even need such a long-term memory: articles about the destruction of Notre Dame are still appearing in our newspapers.
And it’s not just a handful of what are evasively described as “extremists.” Every day on four continents people are murdered in the name of Islam in their declared attempt to destroy civilisation – particularly Christian civilisation.
Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) understands this – even if our government is in denial. To the government’s proposal to toughen its policy on so called “Islamophobia,” Mr Hewiit responded, “This will undermine many efforts of counter-terrorism.”
Of course it will!
Remember Humpty Dumpty’s saying in Alice Through the Looking Glass:
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
There is another saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”
This one can and does: “Islamophobia.”
I beg the government: Please don’t let us die at the hands of this suicidal definition.
“Islamophobia” among “Tories” is like “Antisemitism” (“a certain view” of Jews) among “Socialists”. Definitions lose all definition – Humpty Dumpty becomes Big Brother. Let’s have free speech for all and incitement to violence for none.
Except that anti-Semitism is a real irrational hatred and islamophobia is a propaganda word designed to make a violent depraved ideology appear a victim. But I agree with you that hate speech laws are a suppression of freedom and would let people say what they like. Would be interesting to hear from teachers whether Brave new World and 1984 can no longer be taught because they are no longer satires but are with us now.
It is difficult to understand how the argument that Islamophobia is rooted in racism stands, when at the slightest inspection it falls. One can only suppose Islam or its adherents don’t like inquiry. I mean, there are Bosnian Muslims. Bosnians are Slavs. So could a fear of Russian infiltration into the UK’s government systems and hopefully timely evasive action be taken as expressions of Islamophobia, given that Russians are Slavs, who could be Muslim as well – and there are Russian Muslims too. As for the Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Middle Eastern Muslims, don’t they do a lot of advertising themselves as to why they have come to be feared, if not at a nation-state level, at a civic level? They surely don’t mind betraying such aspirations. And going by the definition, surely the best way of “curing” Islamophobia would be to get rid of the cause of the phobia – Islam? Maybe the conservatives are on to something here, something not very pretty. What are they going on to next – ban anxiety? Without getting Muslims to have an obligation to renege on non-Islamophobia, it would be rather unwise to demand non-Muslims to give up on Islamophobia. The British usually are sticklers for fair bargains.
It is a nonsense argument of course. It is astonishing that the Labour party and the Lib Dems have fallen for it, and the Conservatives are very close to falling for it.
If the Conservative government were to make “Islamophobia” illegal, in a way this would be a good thing, because it might just wake up people to the full horror of what we are facing. The liberals are blissfully unaware, and are in denial. Something needs to wake them up, and this might just do it.
Time is rapidly running out:
The irony of accusing “Islamophobes” of racism, is that Mohammed had white skin.
Thanks for this. The Bukhari hadiths are of course the ones that are alleged to be reliable in that the stories were traceable back to eyewitnesses were they not? Who is this guy – does he have more?
It’s also a nonsense to talk of Islam in terms of race. It is not a race but a religion with adherents from different races.
The meaning of racism seems to have morphed into anything whitey says that is not liked. If a brown person complains about white Finnish nurses, that’s not racism. If a brexiteer wants to restrict immigration from Europe, that is. The leftist who has just encouraged an acid attack on Farage also called him racist. Beats me why he doesn’t sue for libel and put a stop to this abuse of language.
Better to sue for slander (or defamation), surely.
Libel would make a strong case only if the slur were in permanent form (podcast or Twitter perhaps?)
Isn’t everything permanent nowadays? Anyhow, no one is being arrested or sued, it being the case that lefties are above the law. Always wondered what it was like to live under authoritarian rule like Russia, Turkey or Alabama. Now I know.
Far worse than this definition are the examples provided in the original paper. These indicate that any criticism of Islam, any Muslim or any Islamic state is an example of Islamophobia, and hence should be made illegal.
That includes perfectly valid criticisms, for instance, of Saudi foreign policy, any negative statements about the Islamic religion, or any accusation of criminal activity if carried out by a Muslim. Essentially it sets Muslims and their culture above the law.
My experience has been that Muslims are barred by the Koran from discussing their religion at all, positively or otherwise. Infidels are not fit people to speak or write about Islam or even to ask questions. When a group of local leaders tried to get my company to fund a charity in Kashmir I asked the obvious question and they expressed disgust with my attitude and walked out. The local Labour council was more generous we heard – votes you see. When Warsi was asked about the never ending procession of Muslim rape gangs by a Radio Times interviewer, she also got up and left. This sort of deed says more than words could.
Goodness me…. One wakes up late on Sunday to find pedantry never sleeps. Since the poor dead Greeks have been dragged into this one wonders if pedantry has the same root as pederasty, and does one lead to the other.
Answers on a postcard to your neighbourhood psychiatrist.
No doubt the weevils will have the last laugh. Given sufficient time, their descendants might evolve to the point where they will hold protest rallies, bemoaning the extinction of the human species. Or perhaps they will not be too bothered by it.
One wonders what type of deities the highly evolved weevils would believe in. And whether their weevil paradise would entail endless supplies of weevil virgins, for the benefit of male weevils who martyred themselves.
The highly evolved descendants of hermaphrodite species such as snails may have a differing view of the rewards of paradise.
Wonderful. You jest but a representative of the Religion of Peace outside a Birmingham school is reported to have told a Sky News reporter that God created women for the pleasure of men and of no other reason. He was surrounded by women in mufti, but pleasure seemed far from anyone’s mind.
As to weevil gods – one of the pre-Socratics (whose name escapes) said that if cows and horses had gods they would look like cows and horses – so there’s your answer. Very sound on theology those pagans.
Michael, is this your article:
No, but that is the same as my full name with the J I never use. I’m also interested primarily in ethics – I’ve even written most of a book for teachers and teenagers but have given up the hopeless quest for a publisher. Spooky. Thanks.
Maybe parallel universes exist are not just an example of how modern physics has lost touch with reality!
Michael, replying to you here, due to the indentation limit.
Don’t give up. Publish it yourself. It is very easy to use a print on demand service, such as http://www.lulu.com
I also know an excellent proof-reader, who is not put off by difficult topics. And a graphic artist if you need help with the artwork for the cover.
Is there a way to contact you?
Thank you. I wondered if there was any point in self-publishing since without the big company marketing services it would vanish. There’s also the possibility that it’s not worth publishing and I’m deluding myself.
I’ll investigate lulu and think about it.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
It seems inevitable that anti-Blasphemy laws will be introduced at some point. The question is – whether it would be a Conservative or a Labour government which introduces them.
Not if we have leaders who have the courage to tell the truth.
If this is happening in Philadelphia, where else one wonders?
The UK has at most two decades to the point of no return:
Hugo, I wish I could find a fault with your calculations, but I can’t.
Greta Thunderbore, the Swedish juvenile described by Dalrymple as a “pigtailed prig”, says we only have 12 years left, after which she and her generation will be taking over. Which is it?
John, interesting point.
At a public meeting a few years ago I asked a prominent member of the Green party about their pro-immigration policy. Pointing out that those emigrating from countries with low per capita CO2 emissions to countries with high per capita CO2 emissions would likely themselves adopt a lifestyle with increased CO2 emissions. My point, to which she had no answer, was that permitting such immigration would increase global emissions.
As an aside, at another public meeting I asked a different prominent member of the Green party whether she was in favour of large areas of solar farms constructed on arable farmland. Yes she was. I pointed out that the loss of arable land means that we thereby have to import more food, increasing transportation costs and thereby increasing CO2. She had no real answer either, and waffled on about food waste.
The Greens of my acquaintance seem incapable of looking at the problems rationally. They are well meaning, however when I start talking about the C3 photosynthetic pathway they quickly change the subject.
They and I do agree that an ever-increasing population is a significant problem. However when I point out to them that the inherent fecundity within Islam is as a result of the teachings within the Koran, this instantly labels me as a racist. Some people refuse to look at the facts, and prefer virtue signalling based on zero evidence.
I have spoken, without benefit of scotch, to the weevils eating my plants and they are of the opinion that the asteroid will be here first and frankly my dears, they couldn’t give a damn.
The etymology of agoraphobia is wrong. The word is formed from agora, a noun which draws back to the verb ageiro. It is not formed from ager. It has nothing to do with fields. Again, ager and ageiro spring from different Indo-European roots, so the error is categorical. I’m sorry Peter.
Agoraphobia is literally Greek for fear of the market place surely and by extension irrational fear of open spaces.
The point being made still stands – that there is nothing irrational about fear of Islam – as the unlucky female citizens of Islamic countries know all too well.
My point too still stands: the etymology is false, and being false it’s an embarrassment.
Okay, but the key word here is phobia is it not? The imperfect illustration is peripheral. Given the infidelphobia and gynophobia that suffuses the koran and the hadith traditions, and while HMG is entertaining this Islamic insolence, I can’t summon up any embarrassment about etymological inexactitude.
I can summon up more embarrassment at a failure of learning than at the stupidity of cowards, or the savagery of savages. Why does Peter Mullen keep taking himself to the same view, just to get angry in the same way again? Can we get a programme rather than a periodic report of provocations?
Dear Gaurav, Your erudition is impressive, but your point is irrelevant, and your embarrassment misplaced. The meaning and use of words change over time; later acquired commonplace meanings can even be based on mistakes and misunderstandings about language – and new meanings can be derived. For instance, in Chinese, the word for “constitution” (as in the UK’s so-called unwritten “Constitution”)is derived from a word for a form of torture used to punish criminals in ancient times (by putting their eyes out), but few people make that connection nowadays (and there is no need to make that association).
The relevant point, as Peter points out, is surely that it is wrong to medicalize a rational fear by calling it a “phobia” (the accepted medical term for an irrational fear), and is clearly a political gambit designed to silence opponents by turning even mild critics into people deserving of medical treatment and institutionalization.
There is an interesting parallel with pre-Enlightenment Christianity, whose radicalism and intolerance were attenuated by the invention and rise of Science and The Age of Reason. It would have been inappropriate to accuse people during the Inquisition and Torquemada of “Christianophobia” because they would have had a rational fear of being branded as heretics and apostates and burned at the stake. But nowadays “Christrianophobia” might well be an appropriate term as the probability of the risk of being murdered for apostasy, or for criticizing or questioning Christianity, or for drawing irreverent cartoons, is immeasurably close to the asymptote to the curve.
My erudition is not on display here; it takes but an ounce of Greek to know that agoraphobia has nothing to do with fields. Semantic drift was not at issue here, but the anchor of etymology. And I understood the main point, and because I agree with it I regret that it was weakened by corrupt learning.
E R U D I T I O N
Which, for Peter Mullen’s reference, has nothing to do with the colour red.
“Can we get a programme rather than a periodic report of provocation?”
Well done, Gunga Din. I was thinking you made a mistake typing “programme” instead of *program*; but consulting Fowler, I’m instructed that *-am* was the accepted ending until the 19th Century, and has remained so since. Where I live, *programmes* are audience brochures summarizing theatrical and operatic productions. I and wifey got one such just a few days ago when we went to see a performance of “Billy Elliot”, a musical (score by Sir Elton John) about little boys wearing tutus who kiss each other.
As usual, Gaurav – due to Laphroaig – I mistook Fowler as supporting you instead of me in my earlier reply. He always supports me. *Programme* means things like bulletins, not things like political agendas, which is what you meant.
There’s a book on my Amazon Wish List about Indian English called “Hobson-Jobson”.
In Canada, John, we always take the older thing for the truer thing, but because we have no age ourselves, and therefore no feelers deep into the matter, we’re often shown up for the apes and imitators we are. Americans don’t care and don’t suffer in the same way.
Clear truth no man has ever seen nor ever will see. Our knowledge is but a woven web of guesses.
We ancient Greeks could not even make our minds up who was whose father or son. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
I take Xenophanes for some kind of chinaman that wandered far off the silk road. And they put him in the lineage of Pythagoras. I am more ancient Greek than he. That’s what I have to say about fathers and sons.
If Boris were to become PM, do not expect him to tell the truth about Islam. See:
It seems inevitable that anti-Blasphemy laws will be introduced at some point. The question is – whether it would be a Conservative or a Labour government which introduces them. And do not pin any hopes on the Brexit Party either. Farage is resolutely ignoring Islam. He has been told about it.
If the UK becomes Islamised while still retaining nuclear weapons, the consequences for our current friends and allies could be serious. See:
This is an attempt to get the protection of a blasphemy law for Islam. Gross impertinence given Islam’s horrific history and present practice, condoned so polls say by a good chunk of British Muslims. There are 57 Muslim ruled states, all of them hell holes, especially for women. Iran and Saud seem to make a speciality of arresting young females on spurious charges showing that Aquinas was correct in saying the spread of Islam was down to its appeal to violent and concupiscent men. Muslims should be demanding an open and critical debate of their religion – guided by philosophers not Imams – followed by radical reform and the withdrawal of hate speech in their scripture and what they teach they young.
Our cowardly unprincipled un-Conservative government, already indulgent to extremism as we’ve seen outside Birmingham schools will of course cave in – whatever they say at the moment.
What has ‘the destruction of Notre Dame’ got to do with Islamophobia and Muslims?
Possibly a misprint for St Anthony’s in Sri Lanka?
He didn’t relate it to Islamaphobia but to long-term memory of an event. I have no doubt there was much celebration of this though by the religion of peace.
some of the polls reported by Hugo Jenks below show that there is some sympathy and understanding (among young Muslims especially) for this sort of atrocity.