Islamophobia – Unfair or Understandable?

by Sydney Williams In a dozen incidents, four hundred and […]

by Sydney Williams

In a dozen incidents, four hundred and sixty-eight people died at the hands of Islamic terrorists in the month of December. The list does not include the discovery of a mass grave found in eastern Syria that contained the bodies of 230 tribesmen killed by ISIS. The attacks ranged from 140 killed at the Peshawar school attack in Pakistan, to the two who died in the Sydney, Australia hostage crisis. The scope of Islamic terrorism is global. The attacks in December occurred on every continent except South America and Antarctica. Like it or not, the civilized world is at war with militant Islamist extremists.

While Mr. Obama began his Presidency using euphemisms common to appeasers, he recently has been more circumspect. It has been several months since he has said that Al Qaeda was decimated. He still does not speak about a “war on terror” or even linked the words “terror” and “Islamic.” But there has been nothing recently about “overseas contingency operations.” His refusal to admit that the Fort Hood shooting – the worst Islamic-motivated attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 – was anything more than “workplace violence” remains an outrage to the men and women who were killed that day, to the military as a whole, and as an insult to the intelligence of Americans. It is an outrage because the families of the victims would be eligible for additional benefits if their husbands and fathers had been killed in an attack classified as “terrorist.” On the other hand, Major Malik Hasan remained on the Army’s taxpayer-funded payroll for three and a half years, collecting nearly $300,000, until his conviction in mid 2013. Mr. Obama’s silence on this issue is an insult, as all Americans know the meaning of “Allahu Akbar,” which Major Hasan shouted as he shot his victims.

A phobia is described as an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object or belief. By that definition no phobia should be welcome in civil societies. Even though Islamic extremists have been attacking western targets for decades, it wasn’t until 9/11 that Islamophobia became a concern. And even then, President Bush continuously reminded the American people that the war on terror was not a war on Muslims. He did so immediately after 9/11 when emotions were running high. Profiling was not allowed by airport screeners. President Obama went further. He traveled to Cairo in late spring 2009 to show solidarity with Muslims. He refused to intercede in Iran’s “Green” revolution in the summer of 2009; thereby condemning to death hundreds of dissidents who demonstrated for freedom. There are those on the Left who keep telling us that Islam is “a religion of peace and tolerance.”  It may be for many if not most Muslims, but the Islamic terrorists who kill invoke their God and shout: Allahu Akbar!

Fanaticism is difficult to combat. Fanatics succeed by having mindless followers. Islamic extremists are fanatics. It is something those of us in the West find difficult to comprehend. Years ago, most Americans when asked willingly – perhaps not enthusiastically – served in the armed forces; but only a few nut jobs would put on a suicide vest. Japanese kamikaze pilots were either drugged or imbued with an extreme sense of patriotism. Nazis, who paraded German streets in the 1930s and early ‘40s, shouting “Heil Hitler,” were intoxicated with the hateful words of their leader. Such attitudes are not normal, but appear too often when emotion overrides reason. Horace famously wrote of the blind willingness to die for God or one’s country: “Dolce et decorum est pro patria mori.” British officers in World War I, emphasizing patriotism, sent hundreds of thousands of young men to their deaths in mad dashes from trenches across no-man’s-land in places like the Somme. The poet Wilfred Owen justifiably disparaged Horace’s word, as: “the old lie.” However, that is our enemy, even when it appears in militant form.

Islamophobia may not meet the standard of traditional civil behavior. In fact, it does not. We should judge people by the individual they are. But, skepticism is healthy and common sense suggests discretion. Unfortunately multiculturalism and political correctness, with their fear of offending, have made us more vulnerable. With Islamists having been responsible for 90% of recent terrorist attacks, is profiling a bad idea? We want the police to be alert. Should we at least not be wary? It is not just “white middle aged men” who have a phobia about Islamists; it is those who witnessed Islamic terrorist attacks in New York, London, Madrid, Sydney, Paris and elsewhere. It is those who understand the determination of militant Islamists. It is school girls in Nigeria, and school children in Pakistan. It is those who saw the Muslim Brotherhood retreat in Egypt when General Sisi ascended to power. So, while Islamophobia may not be fair, it is understandable. Its negative repercussions should not concern us. As a society, we have come a long ways in the past seventy-five years. Imprisoning a few hundred radicalized, battlefield-captured Islamists at Guantanamo, which has been a good thing, is not the same as sending thousands of innocent Japanese-Americans to internment camps, which was a mistake.

There is, among those on the left, a tendency to look upon all acts or terror as a manifestation of mental illness, or the consequence of a dysfunctional family. They superciliously accuse those who are overtly Islamophobic as being racist. The New York Times, in an editorial yesterday on “The Marches in Dresden,” captured that thinking when they wrote about the populist movement PEGIDA, an acronym for a group in Germany, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West. They wrote of a “vaguely defined sense among many Europeans that their identities, destinies and livelihoods are being somehow threatened by people of different cultures, religions and color.” Really? Ask the people who work at the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” if there was anything vague or “somehow” threatening about the Islamists who yesterday shot dead twelve of their staff, while shouting that they were avenging the Prophet Mohammed.

Some 40% of British Muslims recently polled declared they would like to see their country be an Islamic state under Sharia law. That is a frightening revelation. The West cannot want a religion that substitutes theocratic control for political power. The rule of law and the rights of individuals are integral to our way of life. Political leaders, in the U.S. and in Europe, have bent over backwards to accommodate Muslims and have gone to great pains to explain that our fight is not with the religion of Islam. They have little to show for their niceties.

Who, then, is the realist? She who remains alert to potential danger; so therefore is considered Islamophobic, or he who is politically correct, so blithely turns the other cheek? All phobias may be wrong. But when we consider the reign of terror militant Islamic extremists have unleashed on the civilized world, Islamophobia is rational and understandable.


The views expressed on austriancenter.com are not necessarily those of the Austrian Economics Center.

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