“Islamophobia” – the blasphemy accusation of Western liberals

Dec 19, 2016

by Kacem El Ghazzali

It has become crystal clear that Islam needs an Enlightenment. However, initiating the Enlightenment process is a near impossible task – so what can be done? First, it’s important to agree on some basic concepts. For example, it is not “Islamophobic” for someone to criticize everyday conservative Islam generally and Islamism in particular. On the contrary, criticism is a prerequisite for any lasting reformation within Islam.

We know from history that the European Enlightenment did not happen overnight. It’s not as if Europe woke up one fine morning and delightfully jumped into the formation of a secular and pluralistic society. To construct this new world, Europe went through a dialectic process of reformation, characterized by destructive historical conflicts.

A similar process, though at a more modest level, can be observed in various parts of the Muslim world. Unfortunately, though, it looks like this process will encounter a most stubborn resistance. This is not only a result of efforts from fundamentalist Muslims, but also on the part of Western intellectuals, regressive Leftists, and the political far right.

It’s astonishing that these Western liberals, who claim to possess the legacy of the Enlightenment, say so frequently that Islamists and jihadists abuse Islam. What makes them so certain? Why do they constantly claim to have evidence that fundamentalists are not Islamic and have nothing to do with Islam? Apparently, the Prophet Muhammad also misused Islam: why else would it read in the Quran and Hadith that he conducted religious wars against the Jews and unbelievers, and approved the killing of apostates?

Despite this betrayal of the Enlightenment, scholars and intellectuals can now be found throughout the Islamic world who are not afraid of calling things by their names, and who openly express concerns about the contemporary problems within Islam. For example, Dr. Elham Manea, a Yemeni-Swiss lecturer of political science at the University of Zürich, argues that the Prophet Muhammad has two faces: a peaceful one, but also a violent one. Dr. Manea further contends that sticking one’s head in the sand and suggesting that Islamism is a corruption of Islam is an exercise in futility. To find an antidote for this problem of rampant fundamentalism, it’s much more important to recognize that Islamism isn’t something alien, but is an important part of mainstream and traditional interpretations of Islam.

Of course, criticism of Islamism and Islam is a very complex issue in this new era of Western populism. As expected, there are people who try to exploit our work and efforts, people with whom we have little in common politically, intellectually, or historically. What we ought to do is admit when such people are correct, but still criticize them when they’re wrong. Avoiding and censoring criticism of Islam solely because populists and demagogues make similar critiques is the greatest failure of today’s liberals and freethinkers.

Europe, Islam, and “Islamophobia”

Is the West today confronted with the return of religious fundamentalism in a new disguise? Yes – but today, it is the mosque instead of the Church that is requesting far-reaching powers. Islamic fundamentalism not only affects Muslim countries, but is also a global problem. Tragic testaments to this fact include, of course, global terror attacks in the name of Islam, such as the recent attack in Nice. Yet also in Europe, we see demands for religiously-justified special wishes of some Muslims, especially in public schools.
In this context, it’s totally absurd that those who are critical of these demands are accused of “Islamophobia”. A reliable method of censorship, Islamists frequently apply this phrase to quickly dispose of any logical or reasoned arguments, while simultaneously making their opponents appear dishonorable.

What’s perplexing is that many Western liberals fall repeatedly into this trap. When it comes to Islam, under the banner of multiculturalism and misplaced tolerance, they’ve come to represent a regressive and even reactionary position.
Would these regressive Leftists take the same position if Christian fundamentalists, for religious reasons, were to demand the segregation of boys and girls in public swimming pools, or a ban on the teaching of boys by female teachers? Islamist ideology is ultimately directed against all that we liberals once loved and held dear: the values of liberty, equality, and fraternity produced by the Enlightenment.

Instead of listening to those regressive Leftists who have played down or even legitimized the Paris terror attacks, Charlie Hebdo, and other incidents, the West should support freethinkers and intellectuals like Elham Manea, Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Hamed Abdel Samad, and other liberal, secular Muslims and ex-Muslims. These figures are not only better acquainted with Islam, but have lived under religious laws and have had to confront the issue intimately for decades.
These Muslim and ex-Muslim reformers are of the opinion that, in order to initiate a major Enlightenment within Islam, we must recognize the undeniable fact that Islam itself, including the Prophet and Koran, is not infallible and must be subject to criticism.

Translated from German with the help of Thomas Maigret.


120 comments on ““Islamophobia” – the blasphemy accusation of Western liberals

  • So what does my Canadian ‘Liberal’ government do? It forces that stupid word into the parliamentary lexicon;

    Which predictably gets picked up by the real bigots, who then make their own political advances by exploiting the lack of permissible discussion and dissent;

    However, initiating the Enlightenment process is a near impossible


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  • There is of course a well-known and very apt definition of the term from Andrew Cummins.

    Islamophobia : “a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.

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  • Powerful as Andrew Cummings aphorism is it is untrue to say it was formulated by fascists. It was formulated first by moderate Muslims to illustrate a blanket response to Muslim folk. Quoting a piece from a researcher at Birmingham University

    “the word had first been coined by Dr Zaki Badawi, at that time principal
    of the Muslim College in London, or else by Fuad Nahdi, founding
    director of the magazine Q News. [4] The date of the coining by either
    of these would have been the late 1980s.

    Myself, I had come to believe this constituted the term’s Islamist roots. Dr Badawi, who died before my interest in these things seems upon further research rather more one the the good guys-

    He campaigned vigorously in favour of women’s rights and, most
    particularly, against forced marriage and female circumcision: he
    considered the latter to be an African custom erroneously inserted into
    religious tradition in some parts of the Islamic world.

    Rushdie [threatened] with death for his novel The Satanic Verses, Badawi called on
    Muslims to spurn the book but spare the man, and declared that he would
    not hesitate to offer the novelist sanctuary in his home.”

    The word gained popularity after it was thought to have been coined a second time by Trevor Philips when he was at the head of the Commission for Racial Equality and used for a similar purpose. Interestingly Philips clashed with the Left (Ken Livingstone) on the folly of the UK’s multicultural stance at the time as separatist. Further in a regretful BBC (?) documentary on the failure of the UK’s version of multi-culturalism in 2015 (its excellent and a must see) he regretted also the use of that word.

    Alas after its 2004/5 recoining it was then taken up by Islamists as the perfect STFU insult for anything approaching their interests of uncritical acceptance.

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  • Instead of listening to those regressive Leftists who have played down or even legitimized the Paris terror attacks…

    No quotes to back up his vile accusation. No actual quotes from “Regressive Leftists” to back up his general argument. I am so sick of this. I know tons of leftists, and not one of them is unwilling or unable to criticize human rights abuses perpetrated by “conservative Islam”. Not one.

    Avoiding and censoring criticism of Islam solely because populists and demagogues make similar critiques is the greatest failure of today’s liberals and freethinkers.

    The greatest failure! Who is avoiding and censoring? Show me the evidence. Quotes.

    Islamist ideology is ultimately directed against all that we liberals once loved and held dear: the values of liberty, equality, and fraternity produced by the Enlightenment.

    Once loved! Could be a translation issue; but apparently, according to this sentence, the author no longer holds these values dear.

    Unfair. Liberals come in different stripes. This new administration, complete with an ambassador to Israel who loves the settlements, will cause more terrorism, and then people like this guy will blame the liberals. Not one article on this site that I can recall, from sharp-dressing Nawaz or anyone at Quilliam, or one acknowledgement (except one passing one) from Ghazzali, about the Right!

    You don’t like Regressive Leftist political correctness?—Fine. I think you’re a fraud and a closet conservative, Kacem. Being an atheist and an activist and a secularist is great; but it doesn’t make you a non-conservative at heart. I think you are basically anti-liberal. It’s in your DNA, or ingrained in you some other way. How’s that?

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  • Cont.

    It’s astonishing that these Western liberals, who claim to possess the legacy of the Enlightenment, say so frequently that Islamists and jihadists abuse Islam.

    I think they exploit Islam. And the religious right and the Republicans in general exploit Christianity.

    Ghazzalli’s article – and it was hard to respond to or understand what it is that is being suggested, as it is very poorly written – reminds me of Animal Farm. I could be wrong, but it sounds to me like he is basically condemning an entire religion, would like to ban it if he could.

    Breaking News: Security Council voted to condemn the settlements. US abstained. A disgrace. The Us has shamed itself.

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  • Dan #7
    Dec 23, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    It’s astonishing that these Western liberals, who claim to possess the legacy of the Enlightenment, say so frequently that Islamists and jihadists abuse Islam.

    I think they exploit Islam.

    They certainly abuse and exploit members of rival sects of Islam (and anyone else within reach in their theocracies)! –
    They are fighting wars and terror campaigns along those demarcation lines at present!

    Breaking News: Security Council voted to condemn the settlements. US abstained. A disgrace. The Us has shamed itself.

    At least the US withheld the veto, in spite of Trump being even bigger disgrace!

    The Palestinian leadership welcomed the resolution, which was passed by 14 votes to zero, with one (US) abstention.

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  • Alan

    Do you share my view that this continuous drum beat about the regressive left causing all this harm is pretty much a crock, or am I just not getting it?

    (Israel is a rogue nation. The settlements have no legal validity.)

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  • Don’t get me wrong; I don’t like religion very much, and agree with the goals of this foundation, beautifully articulated by Ms. Blumner as she introduces the film of Dawkins and Harris which I just received. And if that First Amendment Defense Act (“religious freedom” bill) gets passed I will be out there protesting my ass off. And if any leftists defend it – which isn’t likely – I will call them regressive. And if I hear any leftists defending horrible things done in the name of Islam – and I haven’t yet – I will call them regressive, and stupid.

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  • Phil—

    Islamophobia is a perfectly fine word, as is antisemitic. (Anti-Jewish doesn’t sound good.) Sure.—Not all semites are Jews, and not all words are perfect. Atheist is a fine word too; we don’t need any other – like non-theist. Or at least I don’t.

    It does behoove people, however, to ask others what they mean, as many words (which are fine in themselves) can be used unfairly.


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  • (Yawn)

    Phobia of an ideology is incoherent.

    Anti-zionist was a perfect response to a thoughtless accusation of anti-semitic.

    The epithet Anti Muslim Bigot is the perfect response to Islamophobia. (Do you mean I am an anti Muslim bigot?)

    Why have the same argument endlessly when we can invent clearer terms and have the debate up front and in public. For too many people vocabulary is thought rather than speech. Giving people more and more coherent terms gives them more and more nuanced thoughts to think.

    Language evolves to better serve its users. The left is often hopeless at this. Time and again the right out-neologise us. Pro-life. Genius, dammit.

    And no more from me on this either. We’ve done it to death. Disagree and move on.

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  • Dan #9
    Dec 23, 2016 at 8:21 pm


    Do you share my view that this continuous drum beat about the regressive left causing all this harm is pretty much a crock, or am I just not getting it?

    I think the terms “left” and “right” are used very differently in Europe and the USA.

    However the propagandist media and ideologists, when targeting the brainless, inculcates the use of a “badge word dismissal” as an irrational alternative to a reasoned answer. (anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, regressive left, scientism, etc.) This encourages closed-mind thinking.

    The irrational drum-beat is very much a crock!
    However in Europe where left-wing politics is more openly debated in public (and I don’t mean what Americans call “Liberal”), there are certainly some very regressive left wing organisations and factions within political parties.
    (such as “Monentum” within the Labour Party)

    I would cite the Corbyites attack on ex London Mayor Ken Livingstone (himself well to the left) accusing him of anti-Semitism, for quoting textbook episodes from Israeli history.
    They actually had an inquiry into to this – which anyone with the ability to read and a couple of active brain cells, could have settled in 5 minutes using Wikipedia! –


    Jeremy Corbyn has condemned Ken Livingstone and expressed regret for describing Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”, as he faced questions at the Home Affairs Select Committee on anti-Semitism.

    Corbyn was questioned on a series of remarks made by his long-time political ally Livingstone about Hitler and Zionism in April. Livingstone was suspended from Labour for the comments and his membership is now under investigation.
    While Corbyn would not comment on the future of the ex-London Mayor’s membership, he said: “I think we have to condemn the way in which he made the remarks and the remarks themselves.”

    Corbyn also confirmed that Shami Chakrabarti, who was an observer at the hearing, had taken evidence from Livingstone for her inquiry into anti-Semitism and other forms of racism in the Labour Party.

    Corbyn defended the Labour decision inquiry as proof the party is taking seriously allegations of anti-Semitism, saying: “We’re the only political party in Britain that has ever done this”. He said he had taken the decision after being “alarmed by reports” of anti-Semitism within Labour.

    The gutter press had a field-day as a result of spurious allegations being taken seriously!!

    Perhaps it is not surprising that his cabinet had resigned saying they could not work with him, citing Corbyn’s incompetence (on brexit etc.) as the reason.
    Like Trump – he just makes stuff up without making any attempt to research or comprehend the issues!

    This twit who has split his party and refused to stand down despite a vote of no confidence by his MPs, has aspirations to be UK Prime Minister!

    The BBC report is somewhat different to the ignoramus hysteria of the previous link! Laughably, their “Inquiry” accuses other people of “ignorant attitudes” in its findings! –
    Another own-goal for the loony left, in their ideological quest to make themselves unelectable!


    The Labour Party is not overrun by anti-Semitism or other forms of racism but there is an “occasionally toxic atmosphere”, an inquiry has found.

    Shami Chakrabarti, the chairwoman of Labour’s inquiry into anti-Semitism, said there was “too much clear evidence… of ignorant attitudes”.

    The inquiry followed the suspension of MP Naz Shah and ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone amid anti-Semitism claims.

    Leader Jeremy Corbyn said there was no acceptable form of racism.

    Meanwhile, former shadow cabinet minister Angela Eagle looks set to launch a bid for the Labour leadership after Mr Corbyn rejected pleas to stand down having lost the confidence of many in his front-bench team.

    Corbyn was re-elected leader mainly by votes from the rent-a-crowd of new members, he had recruited on special cheap £3 membership offers others had been foolish enough to approve. He has patched together a new shadow cabinet from the few MPs who are still prepared to work with him: – while his ideological supporters are busy attacking the other Labour MPs who require competent leadership!

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  • Phil, Alan

    Hey, how ya doin’?

    I already said that Islamophobia can be used unfairly, as can antisemitic. One can be antiZionist and certainly not antisemitic. People who call those who are antiZionist antiSemites are twisted little worms. But some antiZionists can be antisemitic, although most aren’t. That is why we need to say what we mean and defend ourselves against unfair uses of these words. AntiMuslim bigot? Fine.—But it’s too subtle a distinction and most people wouldn’t get it. African-American. Now that term is objectionable to me. Why would a black person who has never been to Africa, has no desire to visit Africa, and has lived here longer than most other Americans, want to be called African-American? I use the term, but only because it is what I am expected to say. And “people of color”! Another one I don’t like. We are all people of color. Unless some of us are transparent, have skin like glass.

    I don’t know too much about politics in Britain or antisemitism over there, Alan. But I think Ghazzali and all the others know how the word “liberal” and the word “left” is used in this country. They are used as terms of abuse for the most part by people who don’t know what they mean or are themselves conservative, or who don’t want to be associated with something so unfashionable and watery. Even Sanders calls himself progressive now. But apart from that, how do you know that some of these guys who keep coming out with these articles about the Regressive Left aren’t crypto Islamist fascists trying to get us all to turn us against each other? I hardly trust anyone anymore, especially those who peddle labels and judgments around. Maybe they’re agents of the very people they claim to be opposed to. Who knows? Probably not; but they never have anything else to say. Same melody over and over again. No nuance.

    Always the “liberals” now. I have liberal friends that are doing this. Pretty soon I’ll be turning on myself! Of course I am critical of the Left, but I try not to fulminate about the Left, as so many do.

    Yeah.—”Pro-life” is good; I’ll give them that, but the phrase has become odious. Why try to beat these bastards at their own game? Truth and knowledge, justice and reason, are what matter. Let them have their phrases.

    Agreed. Time to move on.

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  • Dan #14
    Dec 24, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    I don’t know too much about politics in Britain or antisemitism over there. But I think Ghazzali and all the others know how the word “liberal” and the word “left” is used in this country.

    The UK difference is significant.

    Of the UK parties who have recently participated in Westminster (National – London based) government, the “left” is the Labour Party – with Blair and Brown as recent prime Ministers, the Liberals/ Liberal Democrats, are the middle ground – recently in coalition with David Cameron’s Tories, and the Conservatives/Tories are the right wing, but probably quite near to the US Democrats in their policies.

    In addition to these, are the smaller but locally numerous national parties! The Scottish Nationalists (a majority in Scotland) , the Welsh Nationalists (who want power devolved from Westminster to Scotland or Wales), in Northern Ireland politics is divided along Protestant-Catholic religious lines, – and UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) who are busy fighting among themselves most of the time, but can be united in rebelling against co-operation with Europe.

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  • Alan4discussion #15

    The UK difference is significant.

    If I ever visit or revisit the places you mentioned, and I’d like to, I will have to brush up on all that; I wouldn’t want to be mistaken for being something other than I am.

    So what do you call the equivalent of the real right wing over here (as opposed to the Democrats who agree with many of the Republicans on foreign policy and who collude with the corporations to some extent themselves)? Clearly there is a difference between the Obama/Cameron type and, say, Paul Ryan.—Who would be the equivalent of people like Mitch McConnell or Lindsay Graham and what are they called over there? (I left out Trump; he’s in a class by himself.)

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  • Dan #16
    Dec 24, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    So what do you call the equivalent of the real right wing over here

    The extremes in UK politics usually hide themselves as sub-groups within the Labour Party (Miltant tendency – Momentum) or the Tories, and (as with the brexiteers) play at the tail trying to wag the dog!
    UKIP and the (now very small minority) British National Party are the neo-fascists.

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  • When the real bigots are challenged they promptly play the martyr, indulge in psychological projection, and plot to threaten critics!


    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will re-assess its ties with the United Nations.
    The move comes after the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied land.

    The resolution was passed after the US refused to veto it, breaking with long-standing American practice.

    Washington has traditionally sheltered Israel from condemnatory resolutions.

    Blame and bitterness keeping peace at bay

    Mr Netanyahu insists that Israel will not abide by Friday’s vote at the 15-member UN Security Council, which was welcomed by Palestinian leaders.

    “I instructed the Foreign Ministry to complete within a month a re-evaluation of all our contacts with the United Nations, including the Israeli funding of UN institutions and the presence of UN representatives in Israel,” he said.

    He described the Security Council decision as “biased and shameful”, adding: “It will take time, but this decision will be annulled.”

    The Egyptian-drafted resolution had been withdrawn after Israel asked US President-elect Donald Trump to intervene, but it was proposed again by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela.

    The resolution, approved by 14 votes to zero, with only the US abstaining, demands that Israel immediately “cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”.

    It says Jewish settlements are a “flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”.

    Israel earlier announced that its ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal had been ordered to return for consultations and that it was cutting all aid programmes to Senegal.

    So the fundamentalist pariah state, continues to act as a pariah state, but with a bit more exposure to public view, when the US occasionally stops covering up for them!

    I noticed on a video news clip, that the Israeli representative at the UN was waving a Bible in support of his claim to the right of Zionist settlers to steal Palestinian land!

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  • aldous—

    I think the point being made is that the word “Islamophobic” is used by certain leftists to describe those who are critical of the abuses perpetrated by Muslims against others – particularly, against people within their own communities – out of fear, or an unwillingness to be being perceived as intolerant of other people’s culture(s). They have been called “regressive leftists”.

    My point was that while there might be a few people who are hesitant to express condemnation of such abuses for this reason, I don’t think it is a significant issue, is not that widespread.

    No one in their right mind denies that there is genuine bigotry toward Muslims. The debate on this thread, one that I think is somewhat silly, is about what word to call these bigots.

    Islamophobia does exist and it is, in my opinion, okay to use the word, even if there are some inhibited and misguided people who use this word to silence criticism of Islam.

    Alan 19

    Good post.

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  • Dan #20
    Dec 24, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Alan 19 – Good post.

    You will notice that I often quote from the UK state broadcaster – the BBC.

    Unlike Faux News etc. their editors have a charter with detailed ethical guidelines on reporting!

    Here are a few key sections!


    ~ 3. ACCURACY




    ~ 7. PRIVACY




    ~ 18. THE LAW



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  • I don’t think it is a significant issue, is not that widespread.

    Corrected sentence: I don’t think it is a significant issue, is that widespread.

    Alan, how does the BBC, which is far superior to anything we have here, avoid the constraints of being corporate owned? or is it public? Over here the major cable news networks CNN and MSNBC are corporate owned, have advertisers. A lot of energy and drug commercials. That is why there is very little discussion of climate change or the drug companies. And there was an inordinate amount of coverage of Trump. ($) I assume that many issues, including Israel-Palestine, are taboo as well, due to financial constraints. We need an alternative, badly.

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  • The main reason the USA has such partisan news channels is simply because the electorate is almost entirely partisan. We have nothing similar in the UK. There’s vanishingly little to choose between the parties on most issues and a person’s political affiliation doesn’t really define them in any way. I’ve voted Tory at times and also Labour. Politics is not really a topic of conversation and I wouldn’t care about someone’s political views if I were dating them for instance. But I couldn’t date a Republican and yes I have been out with Americans in my time including one I met online who flew over to stay with me. We’re still friends 19 years later.

    40 years ago both parties in the USA behaved somewhat civilly to each other but since religion got into Republicanism via Falwell et al it is now essentially a Jihad over there. I think if you strip the religious aspects out of it then people are not so different. As ever, religion poisons everything it touches.

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  • alf1200 #26
    Dec 25, 2016 at 2:38 am

    Dan, at least Trump won’t launch a nuclear ICBM attack against the USA?

    Possibly true, but he might launch one against someone who will retaliate in kind – after starting an arms race and boosting warhead numbers!

    Furthermore nuclear fallout circulates in global winds so can land (mainly) all over a particular hemisphere regardless of where the bombs land! – It can also get into ocean food-chains and concentrate in carnivores.

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  • Dan

    So….you wouldn’t let it lie…

    The regressive left ferociously oppose debate that in defending the rights of individuals even appears to disfavour a community however non-consensually it may be constituted. The appearance of disfavour is their point of lying leverage and in the near instant world of tweets has Dawkins branded by the term for comments on an ideology. A few years back my utterly reasonable and savvy kids were convinced by this slur. It is astonishingly effective in fritzing debate.

    Your failure to find evidence for this happening I can only put down to your narrowness of experience in debate. I am frequently branded Islamophobe, despite championing the Golden Age, having Muslim heroes and believing in the decency of ordinary Muslims.

    That all four horse men revile (d) the word and its mayhem is not too surprising except for Dan Dennett. Here is a man of the most refined of sentiments, showing much compassion for religious feeling, despises the word. Herman Mehta, Friendly Atheist came through to reason. Trevor Philips, reviled for his re-coining of the word and viewed by many as of the regressive left, came catharticly to reason over its use.

    The atheists in its support constitute the likes of PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson.

    I view Majid Nawaz and Maryam Namazie and their efforts as the single best hope for slowly nudging our troubled UK Muslim communities to a wider tolerance of the individuals within their midsts. This wretched word is frequently and effectively used to shut them up and pre-poison their message. An accusation of anti Muslim bigot, by contrast would be laughable and utterly ineffective of course.

    Dan, for long enough you had no knowledge of these folk and and even now care less for them, but I truly see this position of yours as fucking up our prospects over here of stabilising debate on freeing the moderates from the bullies and denying the bullies spurious evidence of support.

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  • Aldous,

    Substitute Anti-Muslim Bigot for Islamophobe and see instantly an uptick in effectiveness and support. It is entirely about being bigoted (phobic) about the woman in front of you without the least idea of what she actually thinks, just guessing from some label, some non causally binding attribute.

    The intention is not at all to wipe away or ignore a crime, but to better identify it and better nail the real criminals.

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  • Arkrid #25

    but since religion got into Republicanism via Falwell et al it is now essentially a Jihad over there. I think if you strip the religious aspects out of it then people are not so different. As ever, religion poisons everything it touches.

    This can’t be overstated.

    I think that religion is perfectly built for such parasitism. Its narratives of deferred rewards for obedience now, for ideas of loved in-groups and reviled out groups, of just desserts and just punishments beyond question, of a world and a culture pre-designed to be like thus and so, and that there should indeed be elders and betters and heirarchies, was originally crafted for (mind) control and (tithing) profit.

    The hooks have gone in very deep.

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  • There was a UK petition with over 540,000 signatures, calling for a parliamentary debate on banning the Islamophobic Trump from the UK!

    12th Dec 2015

    Prime Minister David Cameron said Mr. Trump’s comments were “divisive, unhelpful and wrong”, while London Mayor Boris Johnson said they rendered him “unfit to hold the office of president of the United States”.

    “Divisive, unhelpful and wrong”, it seems, is a normal Trump response to most issues and questions!

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  • Alan. #33


    Trump did not direct his remarks against Islam but specifically against Muslims. People were Poisonous. This is the perfect example of an anti Muslim bigot.

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  • phil rimmer #34
    Dec 26, 2016 at 7:19 am

    This is the perfect example of an anti Muslim bigot.


    .. and Republican media debating a pseudo-controversy, panders to bigots who could be persuaded to vote for Trump on the basis of their bigotry!


    Do 59 percent of Americans believe Barack Obama is Muslim?

    We should note at the outset that Obama is not a Muslim; he is a Christian.
    A nondenominational Protestant, Obama has worshipped at various churches in the Washington area, including the Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, and St. John’s Episcopal Church.

    We should also note that segments of the public have long told pollsters that they think Obama is a Muslim.
    In 2010, a Pew Research Center survey found that 18 percent of Americans said that Obama is a Muslim.

    CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, Sept. 4-8, 2015.

    Among all respondents, 29 percent said Obama is “Muslim.” While that’s 11 percentage points higher than Pew had found five years earlier, it’s still not as high as the 59 percent figure Iftikhar cited on Meet the Press.

    The percentage was higher for Republicans alone — 43 percent thought Obama is Muslim, compared with 15 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents.
    CNN/ORC surveyed 1,012 adult Americans by landline and cell phones, for a sampling margin of error of 3 percentage points.

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  • Phil, Arkrid, others


    This can’t be overstated.

    Yes it can. Religion, as bad as it is, is not the primary cause of the so-called Republican party’s current state of unprecedented degradation. It’s greed.

    Greed. That and corruption. AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) owns Congress, and has for years. Why do you think all these politicians are supporting sending billions a year in military aid to Israel and supports them unconditionally? Bribery. You can’t get elected without the support of AIPAC. Why do you think Trump and his fellow fascists want to scrap the Iran deal? They are owned. All of them.

    Campaign finance reform is what we need, and a great many other things. Religion and politics is a poisonous mix, but that is not the only issue.

    In fact, like the GOP, the new AIPAC is the same AIPAC, dominated by hard-rightists who are paying for Israel’s settlement project, debating whether the Jewish state really needs to remain a democracy, and supporting Israeli Jewish nationalists’ wave of anti-democratic laws, such as cracking down on NGOs and requiring loyalty oaths.” —J. Michealson, Daily Beast

    The late Edward Said called AIPAC “the most powerful single lobby in Washington. ”

    AIPAC loves Trump, and all of the republicans (and a few Democrats I am sure) are up in arms about the UN thing. I wonder why. It certainly isn’t religion, or love of Israel. It’s about money and power.

    Sanders refused AIPAC’s invitation to speak via satellite due to “scheduling issues.” Remember that?

    (No issue is black and white. Nor am I an expert on this issue; but I have read many articles from good, progressive sources and have discussed this with people that I respect.)

    The Democrats are also colluding. It’s a question of degree. Obama’s recent gesture is long overdue and is something new. I see an unraveling and chaos in the near future.

    As for the phrase Regressive Leftists, I will speak out when I hear something specific that I particularly disagree with – and at the same time continue to express my disdain for this label, which is itself becoming a term of abuse to silence those who may or may not wish to silence others. I think labels are as potentially destructive as (some) ideologies.

    The word ‘antisemitic’ is used the same way as ‘Islamophobic’; but I wouldn’t want either word to disappear; there’s too much real antisemitism and real Islamophobia out there.

    AntiMuslim bigot versus Islamophobe. What would you do if the regressive leftists started using your preferred term (the former), Phil, to silence criticism of human rights abuses? You’d have to come up yet another phrase! A merry-go-round.

    Now tell me again where I have erred, Phil. perhaps I’ll consider letting this issue die. But I hear this phrase now all the time! Regressive Leftist! The right is eating it up too. It’s very annoying.

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  • P.S. Liberalism and leftism are under siege right now. Under different circumstances I might have been more inclined to join the band wagon and rail against the “regressive leftists”; but right now the situation is such that I am not inclined to do so. We must speak out and take a stand against neo fascism and its bedmate: Plutocratic oligarchy. That is my priority.

    Here’s a pretty good article. Not great, but pretty good – about American conservatism today and the war on liberalism. This is, by the way, the sickest the conservatives have ever been, and they have never enjoyed so much support and power.


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  • Dan

    I’ve never been a fan of the term “antisemitic”. It feels to vague. Why not call the thugs Jew haters instead? It’s direct and to the point. Jew haters and Muslim haters. Antisemitic – but wait – which semites in particular do you hate? Oh yes, those ones, but why them? Why not the other ones? Oh, right, all of them, got it.

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  • Phil, if it means that much to you I might try to discourage people from using the word Islamophobe, but I just don’t get it. My heart isn’t in it. However, I don’t like the term regressive left, for the same reason (I think) that you don’t like Islamophobe. It says too much and too little.

    I, like Alan, have some facts for you. Confusing and I think pointless when you start analyzing these terms too much.

    From Wikipedia:


    There are a number of other possible terms to refer to negative feelings and attitudes towards Islam and Muslims, such as anti-Muslimism, intolerance against Muslims, anti-Muslim prejudice, anti-Muslim bigotry, hatred of Muslims, anti-Islamism, Muslimophobia, demonisation of Islam, or demonisation of Muslims. In German, Islamophobie (fear) and Islamfeindlichkeit (hostility) are used. The Scandinavian term Muslimhat literally means ‘hatred of Muslims’.

    When discrimination towards Muslims placed an emphasis on their religious affiliation and adherence, it has been termed as Muslimphobia, its alternative form of Muslimophobia, Islamophobism,antimuslimness and antimuslimism. Individuals who discriminate against Muslims in general have been termed Islamophobes, Islamophobists, anti-Muslimists, antimuslimists, islamophobiacs, anti-Muhammadan,Muslimphobes or its alternative spelling of Muslimophobes, while individuals motivated by a specific anti-Muslim agenda or bigotry have been described as being anti-mosque, anti-Shiites. (or Shiaphobes), anti-Sufism (or Sufi-phobia) and anti-Sunni (or Sunniphobes).

    Etymology and definitions

    The word Islamophobia is a neologism formed from Islam and -phobia, a suffix used in English to form “nouns with the sense ‘fear of ——’, ‘aversion to ——’.” The compound form Islamo- contains the thematic vowel -o-, and is found in earlier coinages such as Islamo-Christian from the 19th century.

    According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word means “Intense dislike or fear of Islam, esp. as a political force; hostility or prejudice towards Muslims” and is attested in English as early as 1923.The Berkeley University Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project suggested the working definition: “Islamophobia is a contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure. It is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalizing the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve ‘civilizational rehab’ of the target communities (Muslim or otherwise). Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.

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  • Hello Dan

    Just saw your catalogue of phobias there. Think I, along with many others, must suffer from

    Islam has no monopoly on fanatical stupidity, it just seems to be in the lead at this point in time. Otherwise it would be special and unique, which it isn’t.

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  • Hi, Tim

    Good point.

    Phil, two final remarks (for now):

    Let’s say that the word Islamopohobia suddenly disappeared and no one ever used it again. They’d use some other word. They would call Dawkins and others bigots or racists (when criticizing the abuses perpetrated in the name of Islam). (That’s what harris was called on Bill Maher. ) So you get rid of one word, and it’s replaced with another. So I say: forget about it. What do you think?

    I have thought about it and have decided that there is a regressive left. it defines an inability to listen to uncomfortable and contrary viewpoints without dishing out accusations of bigotry, racism, white supremacy, imperialism, islamophobia, etc. I think we should be very careful not to overuse this term lest we become “regressive” ourselves.

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  • Aaaaargh!

    Let’s say that the word Islamopohobia suddenly disappeared and no one ever used it again. They’d use some other word.

    That is the whole effing point. Don’t you read this stuff? If we start to use the phrase anti Muslim Bigotry and correct people to it, we offer them a coherent moral crime for debate. I wouldn’t mind in the least being accused of this, because it is easy to demonstrate I am not.

    Being bigoted about people on the strength of their apparent identity without knowing the content of their hearts and minds is the moral crime not debating or condemning the interpretations of an antique ideology.

    Having the words in common currency allows one to abstract anti Muslim bigotry from “Islamophobia”. A condemnation of Islamophobia then becomes, ” I’m glad you recognise I am not an anti Muslim bigot, otherwise you would have used the term surely?”

    We need more words not less. I’m not going to make Islamists stop using that very handy, duplicitous word “Islamophobia” so they can additionally imply anti Muslim bigotry when only an ideology interpretation is questioned. But equally our side (of Islamism) need to identify folk like Trump and his supporters as bigots plain and simple. It is the appearance or label that brings down a universal judgement on each and every Muslim, whatever relationship they have with their faith. These folk maddeningly try to escape the charge Islamophobia just as I do by saying its OK to criticise religion. This smears me with their obnoxious behaviour. No they are bigots judging individuals from appearance and labels.

    It is to stop decent folk getting so fucking muddled in their thinking. To stop them becoming complicit in the muddle that advantages Islamists and right wingers alike.

    The Toxic Werdz Brigade on the left, do dog whistle thinking just like on the right. They don’t fucking think. The werdz do it for them.

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  • The regressive left and alt-right homogenise communities. All good, all bad. On the left all true Muslims have nothing but love for the world in their hearts. On the right every last one is under the supernatural and automated control of text in a book.

    Both these positions are poison, because they fritz the dynamic of folk drifting slowly but surely into greater autonomy and personal moral authorship. Until we accept that communities (all communities) are mixed because they consist of human individuals with individual needs and identities and reward progress however modest into greater personal moral authorship, the need for change (and there is always a need for Better) is discouraged.

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  • Phil

    Well, as you said in your first comment: “It takes some a while to realize the truth of this position.” I guess I’m one of them. We Western Liberals and Intellectuals should catch on more quickly; after all, the Enlightenment already happened, as this distinguished scholar points out.

    Seriously, I for one have never even had the desire to call anyone an Islamophobe (since I hardly know what this appellation signifies); but I have heard others called by this name.—I have heard Dawkins called it a few times. I always try my best to defend Dawkins, and others who have spoken out on this issue.

    As for real bigots, that’s the word I think best fits. (Bigot.) Right?

    So I actually agreed with you all along. I just have an aversion to labels. Even you are generalizing about certain aspects of the Left and Right; and it’s pretty accurate – but it may not leave enough room for variety, may be too neat. So you might try to take each case as it comes and suspend judgment till you’ve heard these folks through….

    And I will make sure I don’t perpetuate anything pernicious on my end.

    Have we met again? I think we have.

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  • So you might try to take each case as it comes and suspend judgment till you’ve heard these folks through….

    My whole point is about the travesty of simple-minded labelling applied to individuals. There are a myriad subdivisions on the political spectrum as I have repeatedly pointed out. I make no snap judgements about individuals. Individuals are never to be judged by any label with many such labels often being potentially applicable. But the reverse, that revealing labels may be generated from the arrays of individuals, is powerfully true.

    Otherwise, we meet.

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  • 48
    Pinball1970 says:

    I fear Islam Dan I and also hate it. I also think its wrongas texts are false and the claims aburd.

    In this sense I am an Islamophobe BUT there is a difference I am simply putting two words together, Islamophobia is code by the PC guys for racist. Some one calls you this to shut down the conversation, usually when you are making agood point against it.

    There a few things I would like you to see but last time I put them on they were taken off.

    I am waiting to see if there was an issue with the links with the mods

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  • @48

    I kind of think the word Islamophobia isn’t that bad either, in and of itself; but Phil wants us all to be on the same page with this; so I decided that I would try not to say Islamophobe. At the very least we should call people out when they use it to silence criticism of that which we find objectionable. I wouldn’t call you an Islamophobe ’cause that word implies prejudice, whereas your aversion is based on experience and reason. Right?

    (I get a headache when I spend too much time thinking about what words to use or not use.)

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  • Dan

    I accused Melvin of islamaphobia (correctly I think) on another thread. I think it would be harsh to call him a bigot in that case.

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  • Olgun (Phil)

    I was unaware of that; but in generally, what precisely can the difference be? a phobia implies a prejudice, and prejudice implies bigotry.

    I suppose “Islamophobic” is less harsh. “Bigot” is quite harsh.

    Confusing. Phil, what do you think?—In some cases it seems like a good word to use when you don’t want to call someone a bigot, but suspect that someone’s views are based on prejudice.

    (I am listening to Netanyahu right now and feel profound irritation and contempt.. But it isn’t based on fear or prejudice.)

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  • Dan

    I also accused him of predudice separately (which he denied and can possibly be right). His phobia, as I see it, comes from constantly quoting the quaran and showing fear of words and not the actions of its adherents.

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  • Dan #51
    Dec 28, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    a phobia implies a prejudice, and prejudice implies bigotry.


    phobia – An extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something:

    The essence of the misuse of the word, is in the ambiguity of the definition.

    “An extreme or irrational fear”, is bigotry!

    “An aversion to a real threat”, is not!

    Wilful attempts to conflate the two as a pseudo-reply to criticism, is the bigotry of the responder – projected on to the critic, self-deception, or simply dishonest evasion of the issue with an ad-hom false assertion of bigotry.

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  • “The essence of the misuse of the word, is in the ambiguity of the definition.”

    It’s not ambiguous. But you haven’t made the necessary distinction between a phobia, which is an anxiety disorder, requiring medical treatment, and the suffix -phobia, when it refers to an indiscriminate intellectual or moral aversion or hostility.

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  • I’ve never been too clear about the use of the suffix: “phobia” in relation to aversions. The relatively new word “homophobe” is used to describe a person who is prejudiced against gays. It contains an assumption that bigotry is based essentially on an element of fear. I think it is; but why do we use the word “racist” instead of “_____ophobe” when describing someone who is prejudiced against blacks? (Fill in the blank part yourself; I can’t.) The problem is inconsistency, which causes confusion, and a degree of ambiguity and imprecision in so far as not all prejudice, along with the hate associated with it, is reducible to fear alone.

    That is why it behooves us all to be willing to explain what we mean, and to demand that others explain what they mean. Words are by their very nature imperfect and lend themselves to misuse and misapprehension.

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  • As a medical condition, symptoms of a phobia may include;
    unsteadiness, dizziness and lightheadedness
    increased heart rate or palpitations
    shortness of breath
    trembling or shaking
    an upset stomach

    We’re not talking about phobia in this sense, when we refer to homophobia, Europhobia xenophobia and the like. Here, it’s a matter of labelling persons or abstractions with a preconceived hostile stereotype, without applying the standards of fairness that we’d expect for ourselves.

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  • But phobia means fear of something.

    So while hydrophobia and xenophobia are very different things, the similarity of these two disparate uses of the same suffix: phobia, can be confusing. And it misses the point. Homophobes don’t just fear; they hate. Moreover, I might have a fear of gays and no hostile feelings: what would that be called?

    (Just asking. I like to analyze words – sometimes.)

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  • Dan #58 Dec 29, 2016 at 3:50 pm But phobia means fear of something.

    Over time, with use, words extend and change their meaning. They are not precision instruments in ordinary, everyday use. With words, derived from other languages, you can’t depend on them being used, strictly in their original meaning. ‘Phobia’ as a medical condition, is an anxiety disorder and is a fear of whatever causes it. When the suffix is extended to hostility towards other cultures, ways of life, ideologies and religions, disgust, repugnance and anger may be more in evidence than fear.

    Homosexuality takes the Greek root ‘homo’ , meaning ‘same’. So homosexualty refers to a same sex relationship and hetero ‘other’ refers to a relationship between different sexes. But the Greek word ‘homo’ looks like the Latin word for man, so homosexuality is often thought of as a relationship between men, although it’s etymologically confused. Homophobia is not about ‘fear of men’. It’s loathing and disgust for same sex relationships, especially between men. The repugnance is not just towards persons of this orientation but towards the very idea and any rationale that seeks to justify it.

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  • Doh!

    My excuse is I shouldn’t drink and think. Thought I might get a better and longer description from you.

    I understand and agree with Phil on the anti muslim bigot thing but still think there is a niche for islamaphobia.

    I accused Melvin of it because I don’t think he is a bad muslim hating bigot but he did, as far as I am concerned display a touch of islamaphobia. A bigot I would hate but an Islamaphobe is no where near as bad.

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  • aldous #62
    Dec 31, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    I’m surprised you didn’t think of looking up a dictionary.

    The problem I find with some dictionaries, is that they are written by linguists, who do not necessarily understand specialist terminology, and often give meanings which are common usage rather than competent usage!

    Consequently, some give long lists of conflicting or ambiguous definitions, where woolly use of the words is common!

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  • Alan4discussion common usage rather than competent usage!

    Dictionaries are descriptive not prescriptive.

    There’s no problem of specialist terminology. There are specialist dictionaries for such terms. Anyone compiling a general dictionary can consult a specialist or a specialist dictionary to ensure that they have an accurate definition of such terms.

    As for words having a list of meanings, this is normal. For example, a common word, like ‘house’, has seven different meanings in the Concise Oxford Dictionary I have in front of me.

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  • The problem I find with some dictionaries, is that they are written by linguists, who do not necessarily understand specialist terminology, and often give meanings which are common usage rather than competent
    usage! Alan4discussion

    Obviously, the compilers of general dictionaries (or anybody else) can’t possibly be an expert in all the arts, sciences, professions and activities of human life. Fortunately, they can consult specialist dictionaries, call on specialist advice and take on board the comments they receive on their dictionaries so that they can make improvements. I don’t see why you imagine this is a great problem.

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  • aldous.

    I cannot let this go on.

    Find me an example of Islamophobia that is not better called anti-Muslim bigotry. People who think they are merely criticising a religion and who believe that in all its possible forms and interpretations Islam must always condemn its adherents are not criticising a real thing. They are simply anti Muslim bigots condemning people for a label without knowing their hearts and minds. Don’t let these people off the hook so easily and don’t besmirch the reasonable critiquing of religious interpretation.

    If we don’t talk more carefully we’ll never think more carefully. The obligation of clarity is on all of us.

    Sorry folks. Have another day off.

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  • I cannot let this go on. phil rimmer

    As King Canute said. You cannot deny linguistic fact. Dictionaries record the facts. You, as a user of the language, can exclude a word from your personal lexicon, but you have don’t have the power of Orwell’s Stalinesque Big Brother to exercise control over the English language.

    Why the focus on one particular word? Political rhetoric and propaganda are full of the misuse and abuse of words.

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  • Aldous

    Political rhetoric and propaganda are full of the misuse and abuse of words.

    So fight back, at every turn! Word use defines what goes in dictionaries not the other way around. Let Orwell’s nightmare happen or fight it tooth and nail. Stamp out the imposition of the polysemous. Insist on clarity.


    You should use the accusation anti Muslim bigot, because that is how it appears.

    This is a clear litmus test of someone’s thinking. Maybe it will teach them a lesson to think and speak more carefully in future. “Islamophobia” is an obscuring muddle, howled at by all the blogging Atheists you and I admire. Don’t give potential bigots that comfort and cover of being just like Dan Dennett or the Friendly Atheist. The whole intention is to create a clarifying debate not a dull-witted would-be, shaming knockout blow.

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  • aldous #65
    Jan 2, 2017 at 5:13 am

    Fortunately, they can consult specialist dictionaries, call on specialist advice and take on board the comments they receive on their dictionaries so that they can make improvements.

    They can, but poor versions still exist in some dictionaries.

    I don’t see why you imagine this is a great problem.

    It’s not a great problem, but on occasions I have had to carefully select a dictionary quote which is competent and relevant to the context of a discussion – only to have some poorly informed contrarian quote a low-grade ambiguous fumbled version, and say:-
    “See it’s not as clear as you make out!”
    Creationists love quoting poor quality dictionary definitions of scientific terms, in the interests of obfuscation!

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  • Phil

    What I am struggling with is what you correctly identify and the claim that islamaphobia is somehow a show stopper when uttered. I see bigot as the full blown disease and islamaphobia as showing symptoms of so, to me, the conversation stopper is the bigot accusation and not the latter. Of course if either is used wrongly the rules change again.

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  • phil rimmer #69 So fight back, at every turn! Word use defines what goes in dictionaries not the other way around.

    Agreed. So use the word correctly (or not at all) and protest at its inaccurate use. It’s a waste of effort to attack the word itself. It’s not only a waste of effort but it’s an attack based on false grounds. There’s a clear distinction between -phobia attached to medical conditions and -phobia attached to emotional reactions to religion, culture, way of life and the people who practise them.

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  • Creationists love quoting poor quality dictionary definitions of scientific terms, in the interests of obfuscation! Alan4discussion

    The problem there is not the dictionary, particularly, but anybody who would be fool enough to quote a dictionary, especially a general dictionary, as a scientific source book. I’m afraid you’re right, though, that we are often faced with the genuinely foolish and the malignantly dishonest.

    Dictionary compilation is an ongoing process and flagrant errors in reputable and up-to-date dictionaries are worth pointing out, via an e-mail to the editor.

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  • Recently a dear friend’s mother passed and I was standing in front of him at the wake. I am 49 years old. I’ve known him and his mother (and father and 5 siblings) since first grade and this family has never been out of my life. i simply said, “you know I am a man of words. If there were words for this, I’d use them.”

    I bring this up to remind everyone of something, words are MODELS. They are clumsy substitutes for things in our reality and when they are spoken, each brain that receives the model has a slightly (or drastically) different construction of the word, it’s meaning, it’s interpretation, context, and “shape”.

    Just like the plum pudding model of Thomson was refined by Rutherford’s experiment, discussion is the tool that “hones” meaning and sharpens the “dull” properties of words.

    When we encounter an idiot crafting beautiful nonsense, we can’t believe someone would “fall for it”; but they do. When we hear something explicitly and lucidly wondrous, we can’t believe people can walk right by it and not notice; but they do.

    Semantics is typically the last bastion of the defeated when it comes to debate and argument. I always know that I’ve driven a point home when someone picks out a grammatical error or semantic nuance in my statements. Using the dictionary to explain a word is clarifying. Using it to clarify a sentence or concept is rather like thinking that I can list 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 and now I know MATH.

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  • Aldous

    So use the word correctly

    Islamophobia? I have never seen a coherent use that couldn’t better be called anti Muslim bigotry. I’ve also seen it used many incoherent ways. In arguments I test what people intend by this polysemous term, because it can have no clear singular meaning. It turns out differently quite often.


    “Sorry, X, but what you are saying comes across as anti Muslim bigotry. You surely don’t intend to automatically include all Muslims here, do you?” Then off you go.

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  • I have never seen a coherent use that couldn’t better be called anti Muslim bigotry. phil rimmer

    Why better? What makes a person a Muslim is their adherence to Islam, to its beliefs, practices and customs. Uncontextualized attacks on the Koran, cruel punishments, wearing the niqab and other aspects of Islamic belief and culture, are open to condemnation, even if they do not lead on to verbal abuse or physical attacks on persons.

    Perhaps you are unaware of the long list of American websites whose whole purpose is to incite revulsion, contempt and hostility towards Islam and those who practise it, as propaganda support for Israel and American policy in the Middle East, as a rule.

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  • aldous

    What makes a person a Muslim is their adherence to Islam,

    No!!! It is their family, their traditions and culture, their history and their religion that go to make up the Muslim identity. Was Omar Khayyam not a Muslim? I have a number of cultural Muslim friends. Non pork eaters and bearded and more than a little hazy about religion. (I help out there when I can.)

    You have no idea what a Muslim’s relationship to his or her religion is. THIS is what lies at the heart of Majid Nawaz’s Quilliam foundation, cultivating an identity that persists in families and allows individuals to remain bonded to each other but make peace with the moral requirements of a text through more intelligent interpretation. THIS is why challenging religious interpretation MUST be dis-engaged from appearing to attack culture and identity. This is why those aspects of cultural identity need to be built up, the Golden Age, the conduit for Hitchens’ treasured self identity with Greek culture and, yes, root of the Renaissance. My good friend Arif Hussein worked tirelessly bringing together Muslim narratives of identity to re-ignite a richer pride in Muslim culture. Many have and still do.

    Of course we are all aware of hate sites. Anti Muslim Bigots the lot. All insisting the Qu’ran has absolute mind control like it were actually supernatural or some such! I’ve been in this game long enough. The farce is that its often atheists who claim this spooky inevitability.

    The regressives and SJWs are the absolute bane of this process of creating more secular cultural Muslims and opening debate on more modern interpretation of scripture. By insisting a similar absolute bonding of faith to family and individual and that no criticism of interpretation is possible without the call out of Islamophobe, progress is often fritzed.

    That word simply fucks it up for Nawaz, (for me!), for Namazie, for every admired atheist horseman/philosopher and footsoldier. It gallops around the globe tweeted to call disgrace down on all Islam directed religious commentary, a shaming not meted out to other religions.

    Islam will slowly but surely reform in any number of pockets and a richer historical Muslim culture will flourish, proud to point out to Trump supporters as Obamacare is trashed, that they had magnificent hospitals a thousand years ago and all free.

    Now I have truly used up my last minutes….Ta ta.

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  • Over time, with use, words extend and change their meaning. –aldous

    Yes, I understand that and agree. (Your comment #60 was very well put, by the way.)

    But Phil is right too; and one is still free to question and criticize or reject these new usages – and the old ones as well. And it is not Orwellian to refuse to use a word and to encourage others to boycott words, not Orwellian to “attack the word itself”. This is done all the time – rightly and wrongly.

    Words are not sacrosanct. They are not living things; to desire the annihilation of a word is not like desiring the annihilation of a species.

    (My beef with dictionaries is that their definitions are often tautological: “red is a specific color that is characterized by redness”, etc.)

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  • Dan #80
    Jan 3, 2017 at 12:43 am

    And it is not Orwellian to refuse to use a word and to encourage others to boycott words, not Orwellian to “attack the word itself”. This is done all the time – rightly and wrongly.

    Very much so!
    Deluded preachers constantly feed perverted versions of scientific terms to their sheeples to spread widespread misunderstanding and misuse!
    Terms such as “theory” and “evolution” come to mind as obvious examples!

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  • Speaking of words, and I never thought about this until recently, the “word” plays an important role in the Bible.

    God has created all things by his spoken word. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth” ( 33:6 ); “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.”

    Complete nonsense, of course; but it’s of some psychological interest to note that God is depicted as being compelled to use words, as opposed to gestures or thought, or instead of just willing all that stuff to happen.

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  • Dan #83 Jan 3, 2017 at 2:36 pm Speaking of words, and I never thought about this until recently, the “word” plays an important role in the Bible.

    Don’t you know it’s all metaphorical, as ‘sophisticated’ Christians will say, with a wry smile at the simple-mindedness of non-believers? God cannot be understood by mere humans so we are compelled to express the ineffable through analogies that bring the divine mysteries within the scope of our limited intellectual capacities. You may see a flaw in that argument but it’s a common one.

    Prejudice against Islam, in distinction to prejudice against adherents of it, is the implicit contention that the words of the Koran have a compelling magic power which forces Muslims to accept it literally and act, or be prepared to act, accordingly.

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  • Sorry, off ill today! Man flu. I can cope with most of the symptoms except for the unremitting self pity.


    Prejudice against Islam, in distinction to prejudice against adherents of it, is the implicit contention that the words of the Koran have a compelling magic power which forces Muslims to accept it literally and act, or be prepared to act, accordingly.

    But this incoherence of a spooky text with supernatural powers, in the real world where we wish people to live, is better and more clearly understood as an insult to Muslims behaving with no effective autonomy. “Islamophobia” used against atheists is incoherent as atheists don’t actually believe the text spooky and without realising it are effectively calling Muslims brainless. Atheists here who excessively fear Islam have failed to think through their own understanding of what they are effectively saying. The insult is to Muslims and should be indicated as such at every turn.

    Islam’s real problem is the exploiting bullies at the gate. These are the folk who want to silence discussion of the interpretation of the faith. It behooves us for the benefit of all its different hues to not allow a silencing of debate on principle. We can do our bit by policing our own bigots and not allow them the cover of seeming only to wish to debate an ideology and thereby call debate into disgrace. Discussion of ideologies and its interpretations is decent and necessary. Judging people from a mere label is bigotry. Fight for clarity.

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  • Laurie #86

    I’m jealous! (Hee-hee) What am I, chopped liver?

    Hi, aldous,

    Of course it’s metaphor!— Just remarking on the use of the word “Word” here. “God’s Word”.—What would Witttgenstein have said about that?—The Word existed before there were things to even name?

    He’d like that, I think.


    I wouldn’t like the term Judeophobia. Bad term. Very regressive.

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  • Is “asshole-ophobia” permissible? Can I be wary of assholes of whatever stripe they may be? Does self preservation come into the narrative? Am I allowed to be wary of someone I sense is dangerous?

    See, if i were in Italy and was walking out of a building and I saw someone that made me take a step back into the safety of the building (make them a stereotype of some sort) is that the same exact thing as being in Bagdad and walking out of a building and seeing someone who makes me take a step back into the safety of the building (make them a stereotype of some sort)??????????

    If I saw a person who, in every way was like me (demographically) and was creeped out by them and receded into my safety building, I have disrespected them? Should a woman walk past a construction sight uncomfortable because of the men’s potential attention…. should she be shamed into walking past so as not to offend the men??? Or, are we only talking here about one specific demographic aimed” at another specific demographic?

    Would we demand the discomfort of a female to minimize the “hurt feelings” of a male?

    If you are uncomfortable or feel threatened by a certain individual, regardless of their demographic that is a vastly different thing than “_________________0phobia”. We are walking the tightrope here regarding the potential conflation of terms.

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  • Asshole-ophobia. No, that would be a justified fear. If someone is an asshole, then one would fear that person and that would be sensible and rational.

    Phobia implies an irrational fear. In the case of words like Islamophobia, where the suffix phobia is added, it doesn’t mean fear, as aldous said; “disgust, repugnance and anger may be more in evidence than fear”. But this is not enough either. These feelings of aversion must be irrational and of a prejudicial nature.

    I am against the use of the suffix phobia to imply bigotry, but only because it is presumptuous and indirect. Too confusing all around. Hate (often) implies fear; but not all irrational fear of people, religions, etc., is a mask for hate.

    A person who has no hate in him could have a phobia about, say, entering a mosque and a fear of Muslims in general. That would make him an Islamophobe. (What else?) But not because he hates; it is a phobia – like fear of the dark, or of high places. A person might walk into a mosque and put everyone down, curse the people out. That person is a bigot, and probably fears what he hates as well.

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  • Dan,
    Exactly. Great post. Here’s the thing. The inarticulate, hurried, imprecise use of language of a whole lot of people coupled with the internet/news tendency to edit everything down to a sound byte can easily be seen as feeding this Islamophobia. It does this by truncating paragraphs into sentences and summarily proclaiming the person who uttered such a statement as phobic, when, in fact they either are simply using language with no precision or they had an entire explanation that was whittled down to one seemingly hateful sentence.

    There are definitely hateful, angry dangerous assholes on ALL sides and from ALL demographics, but the news etc… is making it progressively hard to distinguish. I hope that the instance of all hate is grossly exaggerated.

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  • Phobia implies an irrational fear. Dan

    As an anxiety disorder, yes. When it is part of a compound word, describing psychiatric conditions. In other registers, not so much or not at all. Why the resistance to the facts of language meaning and use?

    The English suffixes -phobia, -phobic, -phobe (from Greek φόβος phobos, “fear”) occur in technical usage in psychiatry to construct words that describe irrational, abnormal, unwarranted, persistent, or disabling fear as a mental disorder (e.g. agoraphobia), in chemistry to describe chemical aversions (e.g. hydrophobic), in biology to describe organisms that dislike certain conditions (e.g. acidophobia), and in medicine to describe hypersensitivity to a stimulus, usually sensory (e.g. photophobia). In common usage, they also form words that describe dislike or hatred of a particular thing or subject. (Wikipedia)

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  • The word Phobia implies an irrational fear. —Dan

    Actually, I have mixed feelings on this issue, aldoux. Earlier on I had no problem with the phobia part of Islamophobia.—As wiki says:

    “In common usage, they also form words that describe dislike or hatred of a particular thing or subject.”

    I am not sure if I think it’s that great a word, that’s all. But I completely understand how concepts, words, change over time, and have no problem with that per se. Of course not. Just not sure phobia (as a suffix) should be used (although it’s not up to me) to convey dislike or hatred. What for? It muddies everything up, conflates two distinct and disparate concepts.

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  • 93
    Cairsley says:

    Dan #92
    Just not sure phobia (as a suffix) should be used (although it’s not up to me) to convey dislike or hatred. What for? It muddies everything up, conflates two distinct and disparate concepts.

    I share you dislike of the word ‘Islamophobia’. As Aldous spells out, the suffix ‘-phobia’ is used in several different contexts, as an item of technical terminology in some and as a item of word-formation in everyday language. It is not in fact a technical term in any science or intellectual discipline but a product of everyday language, where it has become a byword for intellectual dishonesty and polemical opportunism. What it means (fear of, aversion from, hatred of, incompatibility with, hostility towards, disrespect of, unsubmissiveness to, etc. Islam) seems to be determined by whoever uses it, so it can be found being used with any number of such meanings. Crookedshoes’ examples at #88 are apposite. It is a silly word best avoided by all who at least try to think clearly and honestly.

    Those who claim that ‘Islamophobia’ refers to a psychological disorder forget that it is not a technical term in psychology and that the people using it are doing so only because they do not want Islam to be subjected to any critique. They might as well argue that one may not criticize Islam because to do so is wrong. When pressed on why it is wrong, they let it be known that it is wrong inasmuch as it is offensive — well, diddums!

    Anyway, I agree with you that the word causes confusion and, despite its classical Greek suffix, serves no honest, coherent purpose.

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  • 94
    Cairsley says:

    Sorry, the first three sentences of my comment at #93 are the result of a hurried rewrite and do not read very clearly. I should at least make clear that the ‘It’ of the third sentence refers to ‘Islamophobia’ of the first sentence and not to ‘-phobia’ of the second.

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  • My wife’s nan, when she was alive, was one of the sweetest people I have known. The furthest she had travelled was to the Isle of White. Her favourite expression was ‘I speak as I find’. When her husband died, her neighbours would bring her cooked food. There was a Nigerian, Indian and Mexican family either directly next door or a couple of doors away. She never ate any of it. She would not touch anything Turkish at my house. When she talked about it she talked about her own failings and never a bad word about the people or the food. She had a phobia, whether recognised as one or not. That was fine by me. She could never be a bigot and I would never think of her that way. Phobic yes, if I wanted to describe her as anything. It was not as simple as her not liking the food because she never tried any.

    When it is being shouted in your face in a ‘discussion’ I can understand the hate of the word and that ‘ technically’ it is not a recognised illness but if it quacks like a duck……

    Maybe owning the word in its less aggressive form is a better way rather than trying to get rid of it as we can give two states of play rather more accurately. Of course words are bastardised every day but I think that would be the war of the pedantic if persued.

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  • One more thing from me,
    There needs to be a clear delineation of the circumstance of the uttering (or screaming) of the _________________phobic sentence. In my sphere of things, most Islamophobic statements are said when a person is watching the news coverage of an atrocity. They shake their head and try to wrap it around the magnitude of the hate displayed and they (many times with tears in their eyes) say something that could have been said better.

    So, let’s examine.

    We’ve seen that the Islamic person’s response to the world’s actions can be to murder 50 people in a nightclub. In response (to the world’s actions (50 dead in a nightclub)), the “phobic” person says “those Islamists suck”. So, the world does ____________ and the Islamist MURDERS. The world murders and the phobist says something. Seems to me that we could give a pass to one of the two.

    Notice, I do not think, nor do I proffer that ALL ____________ are shit. Or ALL ______________ murder….. I am being thoughtful and careful in my speech. However, knee-jerk reactionaries do not often take these considerations and simply blurt crap out. But, aren’t the two reactions so so so far removed from one another?

    If we could convince the violent people to simply denounce the outside world and be “phobic”, it would be a step in the right direction and preserve innocent lives. Which transgression is worse (rhetorical)? So, is it crappy to be ______________ophobic? Yep, most definitely. It is generally agreed upon that denouncing the many for the actions of the few is wrong.

    But, if the worst thing you do today is make the sloppy error of forgetting to amend your sentence with ……”of course ALL ___________ don’t act like that”…… OR, the worst thing that you do today is blow up a bus full of children because you are mad over a cartoon, well….. it’s not really apples to apples, now is it?

    Again, are there real hateful assholes? YEP. Many of them murder people.

    The person or persons who escalate any disagreement to violence are immediately wrong with me. Remember sticks and stones? SO, if your plans include bombing a planned parenthood, kidnapping schoolchildren, hurting, maiming, shooting, whatever, you’ve immediately denigrated your cause and put yourself into the wrong, no matter what your affiliation. And, if I garner a label for pointing out your violence by using words you don’t like? In the words of a friend of mine on the site, “BOO-HOO”.

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  • Over the Christmas period, FB was full of muslims sharing a couple of articles about two people being escorted off a plane for Spooking the other passengers by speaking Arabic to one another. The other was a pop star who suffered the same fate. They were shared by extremists and secularists alike. We at least, can be more precise and not feed those at the edge of the sliding scale I am trying to promote. Those that people like Farrage and Trump have exploited.

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  • Dan #22
    Dec 24, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Alan, how does the BBC, which is far superior to anything we have here, avoid the constraints of being corporate owned? or is it public? ) I assume that many issues, including Israel-Palestine, are taboo as well, due to financial constraints. We need an alternative, badly.

    The BBC is dealing here with the phobic hatred of Palestinians and the Zionist lawless bigotry which has been effectively obstructing peace for years!

    Police in Israel have arrested two people accused of inciting violence against judges who convicted a young soldier of manslaughter for shooting dead a wounded Palestinian attacker.

    The military court’s decision to convict Sgt Elor Azaria on Wednesday has sharply divided opinion, with some threatening the judges online.

    The three judges who ruled on the case have been given a security detail.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has backed calls for a pardon for Azaria.

    ‘Let the dogs eat her’

    Police arrested a man in Jerusalem and a woman in the southern town of Kiryat Gat whose social media posts amounted to “incitement to violence” against the judges, Reuters news agency quoted police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld as saying.

    “Take a grenade and blow up the judge and scatter all of her parts in different places, let the dogs eat her,” the 22-year-old woman allegedly wrote on Facebook, Israeli media reports say.

    The post refers to the head of the judges’ panel, Col Maya Heller, who has borne the brunt of the online backlash.

    The second suspect, a 54-year-old man from Jerusalem, is alleged to have written “Col. Maya Heller will not finisher her year” in a post condemning the verdict.

    The female suspect was released after questioning and banned from posting on Facebook for 30 days, the Jerusalem Post reports.

    Other posts on social media depict the judges with Hitler moustaches. Several images in support of Azaria have been posted online alongside guns and military uniforms, with one sign reading: “Elor goes to prison – we all go to prison.”

    Elor Azaria was 19 when he shot Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, in the head while he was lying immobile on a road in Hebron in the occupied West Bank on 24 March.

    Sharif and another 21-year-old Palestinian, Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier before troops opened fire on them, wounding Sharif and killing Qasrawi.

    Footage of the scene several minutes later, filmed by a Palestinian and released by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, shows Sharif alive, wounded and now unarmed.

    A soldier, identified as Azaria, is then seen cocking his rifle and fatally shooting Sharif in the head from several metres away.

    The military court dismissed the soldier’s argument that the Palestinian still posed a danger because there might have been a suicide belt under his jacket.

    “One cannot use this type of force, even if we’re talking about an enemy’s life,” the court said in its verdict.

    The conviction has polarised Israel and sparked a fierce campaign in support of Azaria.

    A poll by Israel’s Channel 2 on Wednesday found that 67% of respondents favoured a pardon for the soldier.

    On the West Bank, these soldiers are essentially an army of occupation protecting the illegal settlers from the natives!

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  • Olgun,
    I agree with your general principal and would support the Arabic speaking folks every day of the week. We need to treat one another like human beings and certainly hate should not enter the picture.

    The people who were scared were acting out of self preservation (even if they were wrong in both their fear and their action). I’ll relate this to the human brain’s “need” to see faces. Evolutionarily, it is much much better to think you see a bear’s face coming into your cave and being wrong (a thousand times) than it is to miss the bear’s face coming into your cave (just once). This is why so many optical illusions involve faces.

    So, again, in today’s climate and news feed, if I am afraid ON A PLANE of ____________________ (who cares who), I should always voice my concern. BUT, and here’s the big deal I SHOULD GET OFF THE PLANE not, most certainly NOT force the others off the plane for the “crime” of being different. And, further, if the folks who are scary are just that, scary…. but not dangerous, I should apologize and buy them a snack and hopefully have a laugh about it. It is ok to be wrong when the stakes are your life. It is not ok to perpetuate your wrongness out of pride and ignorance.

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  • Also,
    The arabic speaking folks who posted their “outrage” over the atrocity of these folks being escorted off the plane (and I DO think it is an atrocity of sorts), did they all go to FB to rationally discuss? Or was some “westerner-ophobia” on display??? If there were people there shitting all over western culture due to this egregious transgression of TWO PEOPLE MISSING THEIR FLIGHT, are we condemning them for directing their hate at the west because of the actions of a few? Aren’t the folks on FB bad mouthing the west (and i do not know that this occurred — it is a guess) Aren’t they doing the exact thing that the people accused of Islamophobia are doing? Isn’t it part of the human condition to bitch about shit that has gone wrong?

    See, this shit works both ways and both ways are wrong. But, if the world’s transgressions make you distrust people who speak arabic on a plane and you use your voice to complain (or cause you to bash the west because people were removed from a plane), can that be honestly weighed against the world’s transgressions making you distrust the west so you go to a gay nightclub and slaughter everyone in it? Both are wrong. Both feed a lesser humanity. Both cheapen all who are involved. But, maybe, just maybe if one stopped happening, so would the other. These fears have their foundations in reality and if we are honest, brutally honest, words are what this should draw out of us, not violence.

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  • Crooked

    You are right in all cases, even the westernophobia, and I feel trapped in the middle trying to talk sense to both. Islamaphobia is very real in Muslim minds and is a phobia in it self. There is always the question of the flight operators decision. If someone is drunk or ill before the flight, they take that person off. Not the rest of the passengers. If it were a recognised phobia, then, as you say, the effected should leave 😉

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  • It’s rather significant that those trying to shut down discussion, by saying that Islamophobia is a silly word, are in the anti-Islam camp. By all means argue about the meaning of words, but not in ignorance of normal language usage. Anti-Semitism, homophobia and a lot of words may be dismissed as ‘silly’ but they are actually accepted as part of the vocabulary of English. It’s an attempt to ‘silence discussion’ to claim that organizations, such as CAIR, are forbidden to use the word.

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  • 104
    Olgun says:


    I can’t help but think those articles, in your link, would sound ultra right (or ultra left) had ‘anti-muslim bigot’ been used instead of islamaphobia?

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  • Olgun,
    I get it and see your position. It is a tough spot to try to communicate from. You are doing admirably and both sides should pay heed to what you are saying. But, one of the difficulties is the shoe horn that is being applied to categorize this as a dichotomy…. ie. Islamophobe or non-Islamophobe. I’m not sure that these two categories cover it all.

    There are certainly provisional Islamophobes and circumstantial Islamophobes and wrongly labelled people and people (like me) that don’t care to fit any of the categories because i think it is demeaning to all involved to reduce a person to a label based on a limited observation and sample size.

    If i were in Compton, California at 3 am and my car broke down, I’d be scared of EVERYBODY. BUT, I’d also be scared if it was the Bayou, Louisiana…. or Chicago, or Topeka, or the middle of the country or even in Philly (where i live)… Or Bagdad, Cairo, etc…. Damn, it’d be scary to be stuck in Amish country…

    If I was backstage at a Frank Zappa show waiting to hang out with Frank, Pol Pot could sit down next to me and I’d start talking to him about the set we just heard.

    What is NOT provisional or circumstantial is murdering another human being. Unacceptable.

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  • Hi, Cairsley,

    You write very well, and coming from me thats….

    I also dislike the word homophobia. As I said, one can have a neurotic or irrational fear of homosexuals and not feel any dislike towards them. And, one can hate gays and have no fear of them – although that would be rare.

    These changes in meaning through use are inevitable; but they are changes that we must always remain indifferent to; the use of the suffix phobia in this context is not much more than a watered down euphemism. And to assume that all bigotry is essentially fear-based is a generalization, a presumptuous, pseudo-psychoanalytic judgment.

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  • had ‘anti-muslim bigot’ been used instead of islamaphobia?

    Maybe, but that’s not the term that Muslims use. You can’t impose your views on them, under democratic secular rules. You can argue your case, but those saying ‘silly word’, in ignorance of normal English usage, are not best placed to do so.

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  • And to assume that all bigotry is essentially fear-based is a generalization, a presumptuous, pseudo-psychoanalytic judgment.

    That is not the assumption at all. There is absolutely no rule that says that a word derived from a foreign language has to remain fixed to the original meaning of that word.

    ‘Homophobia’ is a good example. It’s derived from the Greek ‘homo’, meaning the same. So ‘homosexual’ means same sex love, either male or female. This is confused with the Latin ‘homo’ meaning man. All very confused but not untypical of the way in which language develops.

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  • Everything I have said about words on this thread is perfectly reasonable.

    Is there any word that you don’t like, aldous?

    Homo and homo:

    Homo is a Latin word that means man, or human. When it is used as a prefix, as in “homosexual,” it comes from the Greek word homos, meaning the same.

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  • Is there any word that you don’t like,

    The factual existence of a word and the meanings attributed to it are not a matter of emotional reactions. Those who don’t ‘like’ a word are under no obligation to use it. Telling others that they can’t use a word that is common currency is an attempt to ‘silence debate’. The list of words in political, religious and societal controversy that might be objected to is endless, and to focus on one particular word, with arguments that show a lack of understanding of word formation and use, is not conducive to reasoned discussion.

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  • Hi, aldous

    Emotional reactions

    No, my dislike of some words is based on my sense of intellectual pollution.

    Not trying to silence anyone. Okay; here’s a new word. I just made it up. It now has a factual existence. Maybe it’ll catch on. “Misanislamism.” That means fear of Muslims. New word. Like it?

    (I am not being antagonistic, and I like most words. I agree with you about how words are never a hundred percent precise, and that they morph and change through use. I get that. But I have a slightly different view of all this, and I also enjoy a lively exchange of ideas.)

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  • Aldous, my esteemed interlocutor,

    I think the word Islamophobia is okay. I’ve gone full circle. Okay?

    Anti muslim bigot≠Islamophobe and=Islamophobe.

    It’s all about context.

    Completely bored by this. More concerned about other things.

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  • Phil (others)

    My latest word on all this. It may disappoint you. I hope it doesn’t, as I believe that I am right, and have been all along. Please read, if you can – and try not to be defensive.

    What bothers me about his article and others like it is that liberalism is under attack now, by Trump and Bannon and that whole movement. It is the liberals who believe in secularism and in not persecuting and vilifying and marginalizing all Moslems. Why not join forces with liberals, seek common ground? These eternal articles about the regressive left seem suspicious. Why attack liberalism at all? (Yes, I know it’s regressive leftism, and not liberals: but it’s all the same to the enemies of liberalism!) Why not take on the real enemy? Don’t you see how this is fodder for the conservatives, these monsters who will soon be running the country? Trump/Bannon/Flynn see Islam – not radical Islam – as a threat to the “Judeo-Christian West.” And liberalism is also a threat to them and those who support them. But instead of writing about that this author and others keep slandering and fulminating about the liberals. Why?

    It’s these conservatives that are waging a war against liberalism and secular humanism. They are the ones that should be called out. But it’s easier to attack liberals than to go after the real enemy. I see very little to be gained by blaming the left and blaming liberalism. Secularism is under siege. Islam in the US may soon be under siege, if it isn’t already.

    The regressive left is one small part of a big umbrella which is mostly good and seeks and demands justice and dignity and human rights, and is is nothing compared to the harm that can and may be done to both liberal values, secularism, and to Muslims. So I part ways with you a little on this issue, Phil, although we are both on the side of wanting much needed reform and I support, wholeheartedly, any effort to slowly “nudge our troubled UK Muslim communities to a wider tolerance of the individuals within their midsts.”

    I see your point. I really do. Regressive leftists are silencing debate and thwart progress of moderate Muslims and social justice advocates like yourself seeking reform. But “Regressive Left” is as odious a term to me as “Islamophobia” is to you.—But only now – in this fearful context.

    Now is the time to find common ground, as I said. Liberals, leftists, minorities, progressives, Jews, Muslims, gays, women, and secularists, must try to find common ground right now and unite! No more disparaging labels.

    Here.—Read this. I can’t say that this article is beyond reproach, but you might gain a better perspective. No more of this “regressive left” crap. And “Islamophobia” is just a frigging word. Muslim-hating bigotry. Fine! (Yawn.) Leftists are, generally speaking, not the problem. And this word that you hate, like one might hate death itself, is not the huge problem you think it is.—Exclusive nationalism, the erosion of church and state, and intolerance, are the problem. (Very few people on the Left support this!) These are real problems. There are others.


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  • The regressive left does indeed exist, it has a great deal of influence and it is doing great damage. There are indeed people who, for example, take the attitude that the Charlie Hebdo journalists deserved what they got.

    Accusations of “Islamophobia” are unacceptable. The suffix “phobia” means an irrational fear. There is nothing irrational about fearing Islam — or Christianity or any religion, because they are all dangerous on some level. Accusations of “Islamophobia” are a form of straw-man argument, in that the target is being accused of something that does not exist. No-one has a “phobia” of Islam but lots of people are legitimately concerned about the ideology of Islam.

    Bigotry against Muslims (i.e. people) is a different phenomenon, and it is neither reasonable nor acceptable to confuse criticism of ideas with demonization of people.

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  • Hello, Dave,

    This topic is awfully complicated.

    Allow me to reiterate and (attempt to) clarify my own position. This is what I think: the term Islamophobia is used correctly and is also misused. I have concluded that there is nothing inherently wrong with the word. One can have an irrational fear (a prejudice) against Muslims; and it is also true that fear of Islam is often – but not always! – justified. It is not either-or! —If I see a Muslim or a Catholic priest or someone that looks gay (to me) and have to cross the street, then that makes me phobic. That is an example of really existing Islamophobia as you are defining it.

    I also agree that the suffix phobia, if it used in the limited and clinical sense that you are using it (to connote an irrational fear), makes “Islamophobia” a straw-man accusation in so far as the fear is often justified, entirely rational.

    But there are many that do have an irrational fear of Islam and of muslims; but what is more relevant is that there are many who have an irrational (excessive, prejudicial) hatred of Muslims and even Islam itself.

    I have a fear and a hatred of fascism. But that is different. All fascists are fearsome and fascism itself is, to me, something that warrants fear and hatred. Do you feel the same way about Islam? Fascism is one thing only: despotism, an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization. Islam is just like Christianity, only worse. But it is not to be despised in itself; there are cultural Muslims and there are many Muslims who are moderate and hopefully there will be more, as time goes by. There is, however, no such thing as a moderate fascist.

    What has added to all this the confusion (and I was confused myself) is a misunderstanding about language, and a rigid notion that the suffix phobia, and other words, have one meaning only. The suffix phobia has, over time, come to mean something other than just irrational fear, as aldous has pointed out. (See his comment # 60.) And Islamophobia means hatred of Muslims.

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  • Dan, the example you give illustrates perfectly why the word “Islamophobia” should never be used by any honest person. You write,

    “If I see a Muslim or a Catholic priest or someone that looks gay (to me) and have to cross the street, then that makes me phobic. That is an example of really existing Islamophobia as you are defining it.”

    You are talking about PEOPLE. (And by the way, how can you tell a person is a Muslim just by looking at them? Are you psychic?) The word “Islam” in Islamophobia means the ideology of Islam, NOT the people. Confusing ideas with people means you have do not even begun to understand this issue.

    Islam, when practiced seriously, is a totalitarian ideology which can be much worse than mere fascism. Only a fool would not fear it.

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  • David Rand 117

    Jew haters are not necessarily anti-semitic. Many of them may not even know what a semite is. Words are often imprecise.

    David, the word “Islamophobia” means the dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims. It can mean both.

    I personally do not use the word, don’t like it much, but was making a point about language, that it can mean dislike of Muslims – and was making a point about portraying Islam as something that has a life of its own!

    I rather detest religion, but Islam, when NOT practiced seriously, is benign. Same with Christianity; Islam is no more or less vile and sick than people make it; and for those people who choose to wear it like a loose garment it is benign. Fundamentalists are people who should be feared and held in contempt. If all Muslims were necessarily fundamentalists than I wouldn’t be writing this.

    How do I spot a Muslim, you ask? Doesn’t matter; the point, in my illustration, is that the guy on the street is believed to be a Muslim.

    Perhaps I am still missing the point, but I think your view may be less coherent than mine: Muslims are not the problem; it’s Islam? For me, it’s just the opposite; Islam is not the problem; it’s the people mostly. (Despotism throughout the history of islam is, presumably, not insignificant, although I am no historian.) I would say that the problem is, at the very least, a combination of both (the “Holy Book” and the people).

    To conclude, Islamophobia, as I understand the word, means a dislike, based on bigotry, of Muslims and/or Islam. An example of this would be my guy on the street, or someone who refused to hire someone just because he was a Muslim, etc.

    Fascism is not open to interpretation; Islam can be. I wouldn’t befriend (or hire) a fascist, but would befriend, and have befriended, Muslims.

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  • Well I think I have good experience of this – having been sacked form my last position for Quoting (from this site) “The Burka – Masochistic Fetish Clothing” – It seems that such a statement can lose you your job! Seeming a statement so offensive. I appealed, etc but to no avail – I decided I didn’t want to work for any organisation with such fascism towards free speech. Ho hum…. Onwards and upwards!

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  • It is interesting the way Christian apologists try to sing the, “We are all faith-believers together”, – united against secularism song, but as soon tiny detailed differences of dogma emerge, they are straight into “offended confrontation”!


    Mr Ashenden said he wanted to be free to criticise Anglican attempts to reach out to Islam

    One of the Queen’s chaplains has resigned after a row about reading from the Koran in a Glasgow church.

    The Reverend Gavin Ashenden, a senior clergyman in the Church of England, left his position as chaplain in order to be free to criticise the move.

    A passage from the Koran was read during an Epiphany service at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow earlier this month.

    Mr Ashenden said the reading had caused “serious offence”.

    The cathedral has said it is standing by its decision.

    St Mary’s invited local Muslims, who also revere Jesus as a prophet, to join the service.

    A student, Madinah Javed, read from the lectern in Arabic from the chapter of Maryam, or Mary.

    The chapter tells the story of the birth of Christ to the virgin Mary, and includes the Islamic teaching that Jesus is not the son of God and should not be worshipped.

    Mr Ashenden told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme: “The problem with what happened in Glasgow was that, although it was presented as a way of building bridges and a way of educating people, it was done badly, in the wrong way, in the wrong place, in the wrong context.

    “There are a number of members of the congregation who have written open letters complaining of the profound upset they experienced as people who are part of the Eucharistic community who had come to worship Christ.”

    The cathedral’s provost, the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, has said readings of the Koran in the cathedral were part of efforts to build relationships between Christians and Muslims in Glasgow.

    He said: “Such readings have happened a number of times in the past in this and in other churches and have led to deepening friendships locally, to greater awareness of the things we hold in common and to dialogue about the ways in which we differ.”

    On church’s/mosque’s doctrine, is another church’s/mosque’s offensive blasphemy!
    Closed minds just can’t cope with even small differences of view!

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