Monday, October 3, 2011

Are Republicans Islamophobic?

Waiting for a doctor’s appointment last week, I was looking for a magazine to read and came across an issue of TIME from last year. The cover hits us with the question, “Is America Islamophobic?” 

That might have been an interesting analysis to pursue, but the story in the magazine was even more direct. It didn’t investigate if America might be islamophobic, but that “Islamophobia has become the accepted form of racism in America.” It questions, “Why has Islamophobia suddenly intensified?”

TIME wants to know, “What is the matter with you guys?”

The article is worth reading as an example of how a major publication pivots from its role of reporting and shedding light on contemporary issues, to embarking on a mission of instilling guilt and shame.  It gives us an interesting focus on American culture.

You might want to keep in mind that the writers for TIME are anti-Republican in their viewpoint.  While not every TIME writer fits this generalization, studies over the last few years put the ratio at something greater than 90% within every American news organization.  You can rest assured that the writers of TIME do not see themselves as those within America who are stricken with Islamophobia.  They are above that type of emotion.

What is TIME trying to accomplish?  It’s a classic distraction.  They are asking us to confine our perceptions to a specific construct.  We are to become guilt-ridden and anxious because of our cautious feelings.  Those feelings are to be classified as religious hatred.

Culture, religion, and science are aspects of human endeavor.  We group ourselves by perception and outlook, and our ideologies often classify us.  The problem comes when our ideologies take on the mantle of a political movement.  That’s when things go awry.  A political movement might take root in a culture or in a religion or in an area of scientific inquiry.  Once in place, political movements create all sorts of havoc.

Let’s take Islam as an example.  It begins with a body of faith and philosophy and is rightly classified as a religion.  However, at some point, "the religion” becomes secondary to “the movement.”  Secular objectives become paramount:

--Make the power of the leaders the goal.

--Employ deception to advance the movement.

--Use censure and violence to force adherence.

The tools of deception and censure are clear signs of an ideology becoming a movement.  TIME references them within Islam but does not connect the dots.  Instead, it uses description from a Duke University associate professor: “Oh, my God, these people are totally against my religion.”

The problem is not that people are against the religion.  People are against the political movement and its consequences.  They are against suicide bombings.  They are against the execution of aid workers.  They are against the use of hospitals and mosques as military garrisons.  These activities are not signposts of a religion.  They are indicators of a religion that has been hijacked by a political movement.

Our culture has a perceptual set of “blinders” in this area.  In the science of climate change, we see the same circumstance.  A scientific inquiry is taken over by a political movement and people who challenge the direction of that movement are labeled as “anti-science.”

An anti-discrimination effort becomes a Black Power movement and concerned citizens are “racists.”  A pacifistic ideology becomes an anti-war movement and non-followers are “war mongers.”  In each case, we see the predictable concentration of power, the deception in principles, and then censure and violence.

The next time you see a “phobia” attached to an ideology or group of people, consider whether the emotions are directed at a people or at a political movement.

Keep in mind that you’ll have to do the analysis for yourself.  Our culture is not inclined to help your understanding.

UPDATE 9/27/2012:
Pat Condell has some thoughts on the religion of peace after the killing of our Libyan ambassador  (h/t Roger Kimball).

UPDATE 1/10/2013:
Jonathan Schanzer reviews the book "The Islamophobia Industry" in today's Wall Street Journal.  Mr. Schanzer understands that Islam is part of a political-religious movement, and makes this distinction:
In reality, Islamophobia is simply a pejorative neologism designed to warn people away from criticizing any aspect of Islam. Those who deploy it see no difference between Islamism—political Islam and its extremist offshoots—and the religion encompassing some 1.6 billion believers world-wide. Thanks to this feat of conflation, Islamophobia transforms religious doctrines and political ideologies into something akin to race; to be an "Islamophobe" is in some circles today tantamount to being a racist.
What's surprising is that Americans don't see anything extraordinary about the words "racist" and "islamophobe" only being used to characterize Republicans.  Our culture makes that possible.

1 comment:

  1. What a bunch of crap - Time has been a pro-Republican, rightwing rag ever since Henry Luce Booth founded it. Stop whining and know your media. Sloppy halfassed generalizations about the media don't help anybody.