Monday, March 20, 2006
Posted by Daniel Greenfield 7 Comments
The accusation of Islamophobia is thrown around more and more often these days, most often at critics of terrorism. Recently the refusal to turn over American ports to an Arab nation with strong ties to Al-Queda was described as Islamophobia. The Danish cartoons which inspired Muslim death threats were also described as Islamophobic. The cartoons depicted, for the most part Mohammed, the supposed prophet of Islam, and his affinity for murder and it is this which inspired the vast resevoir of Muslim rage.
But let us consider the term 'Islamophobia' for a moment. We live in a very politically correct society nowadays which has words to describe many types of bigotries. There is Anti-Semitism for hatred aimed at Jews. There is racism for hatred aimed at various races. There is homophobia for hatred of homosexuals. There is Misogyny for hatred of women. Islamophobia is different than all of these in a very fundamental way. Where the words for all these forms of bigotry focus on the people being hated, Islamophobia is not about the people but about Islam. Islamophobia is not a hatred of any particular racial or ethnic group, it is not even as formulated really a hatred of Muslims, but a hatred of Islam.
Islam is the only religion to achieve this special status. There is no Christianaphobia or Judaismphobia. Words relating to hatred of Jews focuses on the Jews rather than on Judaism. Some Catholics have argued for the existance of an Anti-Catholicism, but no such word is recognized by the media or by the authorities as legitimate. While there has been controversy over laws in Europe that would criminalize the criticism of Islam, the use of a word that specifies Islam, rather than the individual group of people, to describe an unacceptable and occasional criminal form of bigotry is a short-cut to Islam gaining protected status. It is not Muslims or Arabs whom the term Islamophobia is meant to protect, but a belief system, and before this the United States has never given privileged status to a belief system that would immunize it from criticism.
Anyone using Islamophobia is subscribing to the belief that criticism of that particular religion is a form of bigotry, and no other. It is okay to criticise Judaism and Christianity and Buddhism but never Islam. And indeed in the wake of the cartoon riots, apologists for Islam have compared the cartoons to a form of bigotry and discrimination, though the cartoons portrayed Mohammed, rather than individual Muslims. Yet under Islamophobia it is Mohammed who is protected, rather than individual Muslims. As such we are moving to a stage where a figure who is long dead, if he ever existed and whose existance long predated the United States becomes sacrosant. When the BBC website describes Islam's myths as facts while treating every other religion as a myth, they are complying with the dictates of Islamophobia, to refrain from any criticism of Islam.
In Muslim lands Islam has always enjoyed that protection backed by a death penalty which now threatens the editor of a Yemeni newspaper who only published the Danish cartoons in order to criticise them. Under the banner of Islamophobia we are moving towards that same state of affairs. Few newspapers had the courage to publish the actual cartoons. The few student newspapers who did publish them have suffered consenquences. CNN even pixelated the cartoons when broadcasting them as if they were frightfully obscene. As the American media abases itself towards Mecca, the term Islamophobia will yet weave a noose for Western civilization to hang itself on.