Saturday, February 14, 2015

On Phobias

Let’s talk about phobias. Not about phobias such as arachnophobia, and ophidiophobia, and acrophobia, or even gynophobia.

A phobia, after all, is an intense, terrifying, and often debilitating, but legitimate or unreasoning fear of something or of doing something. An object is perceived, sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly, as something that poses a threat to one’s life or values. A phobia freezes one’s rational faculties and capacity for action; however, the suspension of one’s mind or capacity to act itself can prove to be genuinely perilous.  A phobia is rooted in a fear or hatred of the thing.

A friend remarked when I let her know the subject of this column:

The hallmark of phobias is that they are impervious to rational examination. That's one reason it's used as a pejorative by manipulators, to convey the idea of an irrational hatred and aversion. For a Muslim to acknowledge that there might be reasons for such dislike opens the door to questions of what it is about Islam that might cause it. Even "bigotry" invites debate. But phobia -- there's nothing to be done but for the blameless victim to be protected from such inexplicable malice. The "phobe" must be silenced and immobilized like a raving maniac in a Victorian madhouse. 

To judge by the polls, I’m certain that not a few Americans have at least a touch of Obamaphobia and if not are in the grip of an obsessive one; if one hadn’t developed it during Obama’s first term in office, he surely must have during his second. If not, then there’s something terribly wrong with such a person. He must be a liberal. One could attach phobia as a suffix to the name of every person in the Obama administration or ever passed through it.  

I would say that both Obamaphobia and Islamophobia can be rationally examined by focusing on the causes of the phobias: In Obama’s case, his conscious, unchecked reign of destruction of America and of American lives; in Islam’s case, its fourteen-century record of destruction, murder, rape, mayhem, and slavery that continues to this day.

Of course, the liberal/left smear phobia term of the moment, in the White House and out of it, is Islamophobia.

The motto of Bare Naked Islam, after all, is, “It isn’t Islamophobia if they REALLY are trying to kill you.” I wonder if the twelve staff members of Charlie Hebdo felt “Islamophobic” before they were murdered by Muslim “fanatics,” who were actually just carrying out Mohammad’s diktats. And, of course, there is this latest incidence of Sharia enforcement in Copenhagen that has nothing to do with Islam. There are Australian cafés and Swedish ones, both jihad-rich.
The term has disputed origins. It may have been coined by the Muslim Brotherhood or by someone closely affiliated with the MB. Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch wrote an excellent article on the term’s beginnings, cluttered as those are with claimants to its invention. Discover the Networks has an authoritative article on the term’s origins:
The term “Islamophobia” was invented and promoted in the early 1990s by the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), a front group of the Muslim Brotherhood. Former IIIT member Abdur-Rahman Muhammad -- who was with that organization when the word was formally created, and who has since rejected IIIT's ideology -- now reveals the original intent behind the concept of Islamophobia: “This loathsome term is nothing more than a thought-terminating cliché conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks for the purpose of beating down critics.” In short, in its very origins, “Islamophobia” was a term designed as a weapon to advance a totalitarian cause by stigmatizing critics and silencing them.

“Muslim think tanks”? An oxymoron, to be sure. Islam has more to do with unreserved faith, rather than with thought. However, The American  Muslim website has much to say about the origins of the term, “Islamophobia.” The article is hostile to anyone who fears Islam and is contemptuous of anyone who dares question Islam and its sorry record of not observing individual or “human rights,” but does a credible albeit lop-sided job of tracing the etymologically confusing and ideological roots of the term, citing Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, Claire Berlinski, Discover the Networks, Pamela Geller, and others. The author dismisses as paranoid hokum any factual evidence that people have legitimate reasons to be fearful of Islam:

Islamophobes generalize specific incidents to reflect on all Muslims or all of Islam.    Islamophobes consistently push demonstrably false memes such as:  - we are in danger from creeping Sharia, - the Muslim population is increasing at an alarming rate, - 80% of American Mosques are radicalized,  -  There have been 270 million victims of “jihad”  -  There have been 17,000+ “Islamic terrorist” attacks since 9/11    - Muslims in government are accused of being Muslim Brotherhood plants, stealth jihadists, and creeping Sharia proponents and should be MARGINALIZED or excluded.  Muslim and Arab organizations and individuals are connected to the infamous Muslim Brotherhood document or the unindicted co-conspirator label, or accused of not condemning Hamas, telling American Muslims not to talk to the FBI, of being “Jew haters”, etc.

There have been over 20,000 “specific incidents” of fatal Islamic jihad since 9/11. Uncounted tens of thousands have died from Islamic terrorism since then. Government demographic studies show that Muslim populations are increasing in Europe and in the U.S.  Dozens of Muslims occupy sensitive positions in the government. And so on.

The author, Sheila Musaji, obviously has referred to the articles and records cited by the “Islamophobes,” but their reality means nothing to her. To her, reality is malleable, or it’s a lie. The evidence can be interpreted any way one wishes, except objectively. Reality is a Rubik’s Cube and reality can be twisted to any combination of colors and be right, as long as it’s “subjective” or “relative” and the matching color is Islamic Green. She blanks out the evidence of her senses in favor of what she wants to believe. Possibly she worked in an Islamic “think tank.” That would explain her voluntary blindness.

Read this long piece at your own risk. It is much like crawling through the development of Modern English from Medieval English, with many of Shakespeare’s loan words thrown in for good measure. And, the author of the piece reveals her true allegiance in her by-line:

Sheila Musaji is the founding editor of The American Muslim (TAM), published since 1989.  Sheila received the Council on American-Islamic Relations 2007 Islamic Community Service Award for Journalism,  and the Loonwatch Anti-Loons of 2011: Profiles in Courage Award for her work in fighting Islamophobia.  Sheila was selected for inclusion in the 2012 edition of The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims published since 2009 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan.    Biography  You can follow her on twitter @sheilamusaji ( )

Daniel Pipes discusses the phenomenon of Islamophobia in his February 13th article, “What Actually Causes American Fear of Islam and Muslims?” He reports:

An ambitious 81-page document, Fear, Inc. 2.0: The Islamophobia Network's Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America, just appeared from the Center for American Progress, a liberal Democratic organization. Unlike its first iteration, in which a group with a $40-million annual budget and deep ties to big business had the nerve to claim that seven much smaller institutions were overpowering the country through their financial clout, this one looks at what the alleged "Islamophobia network" actually does.

The report, written by Matthew Duss, Yasmine Taeb, Ken Gude, and Ken Sofer, makes for interesting reading. Its premise is that critics of Islamism (1) are really anti-Islamic and (2) have single-handedly distorted the fundamental American value, namely a "basic respect for the rights of minority groups throughout the country." According to the CAP study, "the views of anti-Muslim actors stand in stark contrast to the values of most Americans."

By dint of hard work, however, "a well-funded, well-organized fringe movement can push discriminatory policies against a segment of American society by intentionally spreading lies while taking advantage of moments of public anxiety and fear." This effort "takes many shapes and forms": a general climate, cynical political efforts, and institutional policies. Despite some setbacks, continues the CAP narrative, the network's efforts "continue to erode America's core values of religious pluralism, civil rights, and social inclusion."

Pipes reaches the logical explanation of why Americans fear Islam and Muslims:
Maybe it's Islamists who are prompting powerful and spontaneous responses through their threatening behavior. Maybe we critics are not "intentionally spreading lies" but honestly interpreting Islamist aggression and supremacism. Maybe CAP and its ilk should blame the fear of Islam less on us critics and more on the Islamists themselves.

Fear Inc. 2.0 begins by discussing a straw man, Anders Breivik, the rampaging Norwegian “Islamophobe” and his manifesto against Marxism and the Muslim colonization or settlement of Europe. In the manifesto Breivik cited the writings of Robert Spencer and other “Islamophobes” as evidence of the widespread “anti-Islam” meme about Islam. This is the launching pad for the rest of the  Fear Inc’s  screed against any and all critics of Islam.

Breivik’s manifesto contains numerous footnotes and in-text citations to American bloggers and pundits, quoting them as experts on Islam’s “war against the West.” This small group of anti-Muslim organizations and individuals in our nation is obscure to most Americans but wields great influence in shaping the national and international political debate. Their names are heralded within communities that are actively organizing against Islam and targeting Muslims in the United States.

Breivik, for example, cited Robert Spencer, one of the anti-Muslim misinformation scholars we profile in this report, and his blog, Jihad Watch, 162 times in his manifesto. Spencer’s website, which “tracks the attempts of radical Islam to subvert Western culture,” boasts another member of this Islamophobia network in America, David Horowitz, on his Freedom Center website. Pamela Geller, Spencer’s frequent collaborator, and her blog, Atlas Shrugs, was mentioned 12 times.

From there it’s downhill, through dozens of pages of factual errors, half-truths, and countless ad hominems. The report concludes:

Of course, the Islamophobia network was utterly contemptuous of Cain’s efforts to reach out to moderate Muslims. At the Western Conservative Conference in Denver this summer, Frank Gaffney alleged that [Herman] Cain had actually met with members of the “Muslim Brotherhood apparatus in Washington, D.C.” Gaffney added, “If, in fact, he’s now changed his position in ways that are being reported, that’s even more troubling than if he was spending time with Muslim Brothers.”

Such unchecked bullying by the misinformation experts should not be tolerated. Our nation needs more responsible conservatives to stand side by side with progressives to safeguard our national security and uphold America’s core values of religious freedom and respect for ethnic diversity. A required first step is to expose the influence of the organizations, individuals, and groups, who make up the Islamophobia network in America. {pp. 126-127}

Never mind Herman Cain, “once a favorite on the Islamophobia network for his outspoken views about Sharia law when he first launched his campaign for the Republican Party nomination for president” and his “walking back” his positions on Islam and Sharia. There’s President Barack Obama, who’s rarely “walked back” his pro-Islam positions in any circumstance. Just recently, he has met with key “low profile” members of the Muslim American leadership. The Blaze reported on February 6th:

The White House quietly released the names of the Muslim leaders who met privately with President Barack Obama earlier this week to discuss the Islamic State, anti-Muslim “discrimination” and even Obamacare.

After initially declining to reveal who attended the meeting, the administration attached the list of 14 people who attended the Wednesday meeting.

Among the fourteen people were (allow me some levity here): 

Bilqis “Qisi” Abdul-Qaadir, Director of Women’s Basketball Operations, Indiana State University, who gave Obama some dribbling pointers; Arshia Wajid, Founder, American Muslim Health Professionals, who gave Obama an impromptu check-up; Dean Obeidallah, Comedian, Dean of Comedy, who coached Obama on timing and suggested changes in Obama’s joke delivery in public speeches (“You gotta lay off of that ‘folks’ stuff, Bubba, it ain’t buyin’ you friends”; and Farhana Khera, President, Muslim Advocates, who offered her legal services should he need them in case Michelle beats him up again for flirting with a Danish prime minister or any other blondes (“Forgive me for saying so, Barack, but I think your wife could crush the Hulk in arm-wrestling and bend all your golf clubs with her bare hands”).

An unlisted guest was Huma Abedin, “confidante” of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Huma performed a fan dance with transparent feathers to the delectation of the male members of assembled conferees, and also to that of the Secret Service guards present. Arisha Wajid joined Huma in a lascivious belly-dance. Farhana Khera wasn’t amused, and complained to Obama that it was blatant “sexism” calculated to offend Muslim moral sensitivities.

So much about phobias. My next column will discuss the appeal of Islamic terrorism.

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