One of the cleverest tricks of the cultural Left is demonizing perfectly reasonable actions and opinions by giving them sinister names. It is the logical go-to technique for those whose ideas have failed in every practical application but who nonetheless still dominate the media by which ideas are spread.
A favorite example of mine is the old feminist declaration that men “objectify” women when they respond to female beauty as nature decrees. This particular reframing was not successful over the long term for the same reason that health scares involving coffee have never caught on: no one was willing to give up the stimulant. A more tenacious variation of the same approach is the accusation that law enforcement officers practice “racial profiling,” which sounds as though police center their suspicions on one race over another out of simple bigotry or meanness. In fact, if criminals of a certain type or in a certain neighborhood tend to be of a specific race, then the proper term for “racial profiling” would be “good police work.” And though, fortunately for liberals and conservatives alike, police continue to do that good work, the evil-sounding sobriquet has forced them to waste a lot of time, effort, and money pretending they don’t.
Recently, in defending an imam’s proposal to build a triumphalist “Muslim Cultural Center” near Manhattan’s Ground Zero—where, we may remember, so many innocents were slaughtered in the name of Allah—the Left has outdone itself. Rather than engage in serious debate with the vast majority of New Yorkers and Americans who oppose the project, the mosque’s defenders have simply dubbed the opposing viewpoint “Islamophobia.” As ever when this naming device is used, the left-wing media seem to rally as one. Within the space of a single week, Time put the word on its cover, Maureen Dowd accused the entire nation of it in her column, and CBS News trotted out the charge in reporting on mosque opposition.
For anyone born with the gift of laughter, the term is absurd to the point of hilarity. A phobia, after all, is an irrational fear. Given that Islam is cancerous with violence in virtually every corner of the globe, given the oppressive and exclusionary nature of many Islamic governments, given the insidious Islamist inroads against long-held freedoms in western Europe, and given those aspects of sharia that seem, to an outsider at least, to prohibit democracy, free speech, and the fair treatment of the female half of our species, those who love peace and liberty would, in fact, be irrational not to harbor at least a measure of concern.
A religion is only a system of beliefs, and to say that all beliefs deserve equal respect or acceptance is to say that ideas have no moral weight, a patent absurdity. Because the human soul thirsts so for God, the sacred principle of individual liberty demands that religion be given wide latitude when it comes to internal mind-states, modes of worship, and the description of the metaphysical. But when it comes to the practical affairs of humankind, humankind may judge—and Islam, as the world stands now, has a lot to answer for…