Have you ever heard of the word Judaismophobia? No? Nazismophobia? Fascismophobia? Imperialismophobia? Not even these? Imagine that your ideology is what you hold dear to your heart, and you want to forbid its criticism completely. In other words, imagine that you want to impose your ideological perspectives(and delusions) on the society, and you want no contrarian’s voice. None. If someone happens to criticize your ideology, you will silence that voice not in the traditional totalitarian way like what we have seen in Stalin’s USSR and Hitler’s Germany, but in a more sophisticated way that can be actively backed and patted on by a section of the Left. At the same time, without compromising your ideology, you want to act the victim and vilify anyone who attempts to criticize you. All you need to do is to identify the ignorance that already prevails and coin a new term (or, a non-term, actually) by adding a “phobia” just after the name of your preferred ideology. If the term gets approved by a particular section of the Left, it’s DONE. Popularize the ‘term’ you have just invented and your ideology will be immune to all criticism.
For example, do you want to silence everyone who speaks against Fascism? Shout “Fascismophobia”. There can be innumerable non-words, actually. Nazismophobia, Casteismophobia, Manuwadismophobia, Totalitarianismophobia, Authoritarianismophobia, Capitalismophobia, Imperialismophobia. Are you an admirer of Orwell? Shame on you for supporting such a Totalitarianismophobe. Sounds familiar? Of course, it does. In the evil nexus of Islamic fundamentalism and the regressive Left, any critique of Islam is labeled as “Islamophobia”.
A phobia is an irrational fear or irrational aversion. Is the fear of Islam “irrational”? There is a strong partition between Islam and individual Muslims, just like the partitions between other religious ideologies and their respective common religious people who do NOT take religion “seriously“. While the fear of Islam can be debated, keeping in mind the heinous crimes committed in the name of religion and justified by the religious doctrines mentioned in the ‘holy’ texts, is there any space to put forward this debate?
Remember McCarthyism? After the Second World War, US Senator Joseph McCarthy utilized the popular fear of Communism and silenced even the slightest critique of the American system. Any criticism of the imperialist foreign policy, or capitalism, was vicious enough to get you accused of treason. People who spoke against the order were instantly labeled as Communists and prosecuted. House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was founded to investigate the suspected acts of subversion and disloyalty. Personalities like Paul Robeson, Charlie Chaplin, Pete Seeger were the victims of this committee. Conservatives have shown this intolerance many times in the history. In fact, it is quite surprising to see the Conservatives adopting liberal values. Under the UK government led by the Conservative Party, same-sex marriage was legalized. This is why the Left’s silence over Islamic fundamentalism gets interesting and politically obscene.
There is a section of the Left that behaves in a way uncannily similar to the right-wing censorship and authoritarianism. There is absolutely no way to deny the harsh reality of anti-Muslim bigotry. In many countries, Muslims, along with other minorities, have been victims of irrational hatred, harsh behavior, and intolerance. Having empathy for the minorities is an essential value that every individual should at least consider to have. The Left do this quite well, and they should be applauded for this, no denying. But, lately, a section of the Left(a quite prominent one) has started suppressing the slightest critique of the Islamic doctrines by smearing the critics. According to the leftist narrative, only the imperialist forces are responsible for the religious terrorism. Oppression, poverty, and economic exploitation are the sole reasons for the emergence and the rapid growth of terrorism. However, they forget (intentionally?) that many of the perpetrators of these heinous acts, as reported in the media, are psychologically normal and educated in the mainstream society. This intellectual dishonesty of the leftist perspective is ludicrous, if not pernicious. Behind the curtain of “multiculturalism”, every rational debate about religion(Islam, in particular) is either suppressed or condemned as “racism” by this popular section of the left. Do they not know that Islam is not a race? The tactic is apparent – if you cannot suppress them, smear them. What’s wrong with calling such a discourse regressive?
No one calls you a Taoismophobic if you criticize Taoism. No one calls you an anti-Semitic for criticizing Judaism. However, in the case of a particular religion, the regressive Left act numb. The anti-Muslim bigotry should be termed as“Muslimophobia”, the hatred of people, the fear of people. Not “Islamophobia”. Islam is an ideology and like all other ideologies, the Left should try to encourage discussions about Islam. Instead, they choose to use the term ‘Islamophobia”. NEVER do they use the word “Muslimophobia”, which would be appropriate. The fear of ideology, or a legitimate critique, should never be stigmatized. As Gad Saad said in an interview,”Totalitarian ideologies always go after the intellectuals first. They wanna purge them because they don’t want anybody to counter their narrative.” Apparently, it is true. And this time, they are after the freethinkers.
The vilification of Sam Harris is a classic example of the left-wing hypocrisy on the question of Islamic fundamentalism. While Sam has clearly stated his concerns over the alarming propagation of fanaticism and how the religious ideologies play catalysts in the process, he has been misquoted, misrepresented multiple times. The intellectually dishonest section of the left has spread a stream of mindless misinformation about Sam’s political opinion. Astoundingly, while distorting Sam’s well-thought opinions, these regressive leftists have resorted to the classic Goebbelsian method – something that they seem to despise in all cases except the one concerning religion. While the new atheists criticize almost all religions, their critique of Islam appears to traumatize the regressive left.
Their regressive narrative has gone so far that they label Ayaan Hirsi Ali as an Islamophobe. Ayaan, an atheist and women-rights activists from Somalia, is one of the strongest voices of rationalism. Being a fierce advocate of free-speech, Ayaan has been the target of fatwas and death threats multiple times. She was a victim of female genital mutilation at the age of 5. Herself a victim of abuse against women, Ayaan has mercilessly(and, appropriately) criticized how women are treated under Islamic doctrines, under a society ruled by Sharia, how the apostates are killed, how the adulterers are stoned. However, the regressive left blames her for being an “Islamophobe”, for exposing the convenient leftist narrative of “how capitalism creates religious terrorism.” This kind of victim-blaming is not only condemnable but also destructive. Someone stones me for “adultery”, kills me for “apostasy”, and even then, I am the oppressor if I say any word against my killers? The leftists, who are so vocal to protect religious dogma, hardly mention the Gulags and Stalin’s Russia. Their narrative ignores the way Kurds were oppressed during Saddam’s regime. The leftist narrative says nothing about the religious atrocities that took place long before capitalism started. This selective blindness and the special pleading fallacy is as inimical to the society as is Fascism. Instead of fighting religious dogma and influencing legitimate discourses against racism, the regressive Left fights the victims of misogyny, feudal constructs, and the obsolete philosophies. The poverty of their philosophy has come down to such a brainless level that the ‘liberals’ have started using racist slurs like “porch monkey” to undermine the critique of religion put forward by Maajid Nawaz and Sam Harris. At the same time, this undermines the courageous battles fought by fellow leftists who do not subscribe to the regressive left school of thought.
No idea can have an unethical immunity to criticism. The sooner the regressive Left understands this, the better it is for the world. The Left should embrace open dialogue about religion and denounce religious fascism. Unless they steer clear of stigmatizing and demonizing free-speech advocates, the conscious usage of the word Islamophobia will remain a proof of how politically reactionary the regressive left has become. They compromise the most important liberal values for their skewed version of political correctness. Though he is a fervent critic of “new atheism”, let’s remember Chomsky’s words.
If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.
Enlightenment is needed indeed.