Friday, February 24, 2006

On "Islamophobia"...

Our fellow Americans in the White House were quick to brand us "sexists" and "elitists" when we raised questions about Harriet Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court.

Now they're branding bloggers as "racists" and "Islamophobes" for even raising questions about the Dubai Ports deal.

With friends like these, who needs Dhimmicrats?

I don't know if there's an official dictionary definition of the word "Islamophobe," but the suffix "-phobe" generally involves the idea of having a fear of something. I'm not a psychologist, but I understand that a "phobia" is, in fact, an irrational fear of something. In fact, the most common definition I've found for the word "phobia" is "a persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous." An arachnophobe, for example, has a phobia (an irrational fear) of arachnids (spiders) which is unconnected to the existence or knowledge of actual danger. In general, it's perfectly rational to avoid poisonous spiders. Suppose, however, you had a big, hairy spider with no fangs. Even if you could thoroughly convince an arachnophobe that there was no rationale whatsoever to be fearful of the spider, an arachnophobe would nevertheless attempt to avoid the spider, despite the rational knowledge that the spider presents no danger.

Now, let's change the hypothetical. Suppose you're hiking in South America, and you come across a cave teeming with hairy tarantulas. Suppose that you're aware that certain tarantulas in South America are very deadly. Suppose your friend encourages you to go into the cave, assuring you that while many tarantulas in South America are poisionous, most tarantulas, even in South America, are not poisonous. Suppose you have no aversion to contacting spiders, but you nevertheless decline to go into the cave because you're concerned about the chance that the tarantulas may be poisonous.

Is your concern about the tarantulas an expression of arachnophobia?

I submit to you that it's not. I submit to you that most normal people would decline to go into the cave, even though most normal people don't suffer from arachnophobia. Most people do have a perfectly rational fear of an unknown risk (in this case, the chance that the tarantulas my be dangerous). Most people won't voluntarily make contact with an unindentified animal of any type, owing to the very real risk that the unidentified animal may attack. If you hear a noise coming from under a step, are you the type of person who's likely to reach under the step without looking? If you are, should you be commended for conquering your irrational fear of unidentified noises? If you're not, does that mean you suffer from "strange-noise-under-the-step-a-phobia," or are you just sensible enough to know that what's under there (raccoon, squirrel, snake, etc.) may bite you?

I don't have any "irrational, abnormal fear" of the UAE, of Arabs, of Islam or of any its practitioners, individually or collectively. I do have some very real and very rational concerns about the dangers that certain of Islam's practitioners (some of which are known and some of which are not) pose to my personal well-being and that of my fellow human beings.


Blogger ~K said...

You should check out this blog. it is by a guy in egypt. His blog is reassuring in the fact that there are sane people in the middle east! Plus it is informative to say the least. This is the blogger that cracked the story that the dutch cartoons were also printed in egypt during ramadan without a single cry for jihad what have you (they were printed there in october). Here's the link http://egyptiansandmonkey.blogspot.com/

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