‘Islamophobia’, a pseudo medical term, designed to silence the arguments of opponents, by socially ostracising them? A ‘phobia’ is an irrational fear. Could it be that those who use the term, are really the ones who have the ‘phobia’, a phobia about not being able to handle the arguments of their opponents?
This will come as a shock to Western liberals, who hold that all the ‘great’ religions were sweet and nice.
This is grossly romantic. Depending on how a religion functions, and its core beliefs, it can motivate extreme violence, as well as altruism.
Conservative theologies (Christian, Jewish or Islamic) do not allow for pro-social development.
For conservatives, Biblical or Qu’ranic passages which emphasise (say) patriarchy and retributive justice, are to be strongly upheld, while any developments towards women’s rights and restorative justice are downplayed or ignored, or even seem as demonic, and definitely not sanctioned by the (present) will of God.
Liberals are fond of saying that Christians and Muslims believe in the same God, something that both committed Christians and Muslims would roundly disagree, and not without very good reason.
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity, which declares that Jesus is the very fullness of God the ‘Father’ (as well as the Holy Spirit, also said to be a Person), are notions that are anathema to a committed Muslim.
Then there are other issues, such as democracy (another anathema to committed Muslims, who believe in theocracy), and slavery (justified under a static theology).
What does this mean? To people involved in psychological deprogramming of highly committed Muslims (and other cult members) it means that such commitment is emotional, rather than rational, and that all rational discussion is impossible.
Indeed, an appeal to reason entrenches opposition. This is the path that leads to decapitation as a norm, and football games with these heads.
Dehumanisation becomes a psychological and social fact: these victims were not human, any more than Jewish people sent to the gas chambers, or African-Caribbean slaves flogged to death.
What answers are there? Democracy has, over hundreds of years (in spite of huge spikes in WWI and WWII, and the present various Islamist conflicts) led to ever-decreasing violence.
This is correlated to many other variables, such as women’s rights, education, and more, as Steven Pinker has shown. Such democracy counters the co-polarisation of society which Islamist magazines such as Dabiq so earnestly seek, with its reliance on the extremism of Donald Trump to stoke their fires for them.
Education needs to show convincingly, as Carol Dweck has argued, that the brain is highly malleable, and not naturally ‘fixed’, and thus works against static beliefs and their supporting cultures. “Growth mind-sets” are those that positively relish a challenge (and are not threatened by them, as in a fixed mindset).
So new problem-solving and creative solutions are made possible. This undermines authoritarian belief systems (but not genuine authority).
A radical teacher of 2,000 years ago taught that the ‘Least shall be the greatest’, and that the ‘Greatest must be the servant of all’.
His immediate follower adopted a model on which all status differences of class, race and gender are to be abolished, but by a process on consent and appeal, not coercion.
We need a quest for truth, not a liberal bed of Procrustes, in which truth is a nose of wax, moulded into whatever shape a social policy decrees.
What should be avoided is a process of co-radicalisation: we do not need either ISIS or Donald Trump upping the ante, towards ever-increasing extremes of rhetoric and abuse.
Liberals need to face uncomfortable intrapsychic battles as they seek for an adjudication of the truth. For truth is not so absolute that growth is impossible. Neither is there a need for the alcohol in bottle of perfume, to drive a people to genocide.
Conversely, what we do not need is an irrational language of ‘phobia’ as an arm of social policy or abuse.