Monday, October 12, 2015


Phobia Noun 

A persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.

Islamophobia is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? Traditionally in the English language, the phobia suffix literally means fear. Thus, when we combine it with the Latin prefix of, say, Claustro (a door bolt), we get Claustrophobia, which is a fear of enclosed spaces.

Phobias are a fairly common trait that most people have. In fact, there is a web site,, that has made the attempt to list them all. Go ahead, have a look. Chances are you'll discover one or more of your own phobias on that list. What's not on that list is Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is a made-up word, with a made-up meaning. If we accept it at face value and use it like other words that end in phobia, the reasonable expectation is that it means a fear of Islam. Such a fear is not necessarily an irrational one; many people in the world today are afraid of Islam, as we have witnessed and continue to witness atrocities committed in the name of Islam. Fear is what keeps many people in the world in the Islamic faith. As such, a fear of Islam may be a very rational fear to have, and thus does not merit the use of the suffix -phobia.

The true origins of this word came from the popular use of homophobia, which is a real word with a real meaning. Originally, it was a fear of sameness or monotony derived from homogeneous, but then the LGBT movement took this word and assigned a new meaning to it, deriving homo from homosexual. This is actually quite clever, because both homosexual and homogeneous are Latin in origin, constructed the same way, and would translate exactly the same to derive a word that means a fear of homosexuals or sameness.

Some people didn't just fear homosexuals; there are those even today who outright and without rationale hate them. Hate isn't fear, and some of those people who hated homosexuals didn't feel compelled to avoid them. In fact, many of those who hated homosexuals would go out of their way to confront and attack them. However, people loved using the word, so the meaning became altered to be used to describe people who hate and become confrontational towards homosexual men and women. I don't consider this a great choice, as it dilutes the meaning of what a phobia is supposed to be, but they are fighting the good fight for equal rights and that matters to me. At least the definition of this word is very specific and makes sense.

Capitalizing on the LGBT struggle for equality, Islamophobia was coined with a made-up definition. This definition is: "Dislike or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force." However, the problem with this definition is immediately apparent to me: There are Muslims in this world who have a legitimate dislike or prejudice against Islam. This made-up meaning for this made-up word ends up stereotyping people of a specific nationality, allowing those who might question their religious beliefs to be ostracized or worse. We already have perfectly good words to describe non-Muslim people who hate Muslims. My word of choice to describe this sort of individual is is misotramontanism.

Now consider someone who dislikes or is prejudiced against Islam as a political force. Would we then consider someone who doesn't like Liberals as a political force Liberalphobics? At this point, the very definition of the word Islamophobia continues to become further diluted, fragmented, and nonsensical. Once again there exists words in our language already that better describe this; for example, try misarchist. Or, to be more accurate in this case, perhaps misotyrannist is more apt.

So we have this made-up word that, when taken to its Latin root, doesn't make sense. Its made-up definition doesn't make sense. We already have words in our language to describe people who don't like people of other races or nationalities that are far more suitable. The only reason I see for the existence of this word is to silence those who would criticize Islam, to demonize those who would question this religion, including the very people who are trying to escape it, and to give the religious an unwarranted position of unquestionable authority. That makes this a very ugly word.

I'm going to join French prime minister Manuel Valls in purging this ugly word from my vocabulary when describing anti-Muslim prejudice, and ask that you do the same.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. You are absolutely right. A great way to close down criticism. I will share this very thought provoking article.