The fear of Islam has a name. One we all know and understand: Islamophobia.

The fear of Islamophobia is a phobia, too. But we refuse to glorify it with a name.

Names are a privilege, you see. They bestow recognition. And as long as this other phobia remains nameless we can deny its existence.

Fear Itself

We fear its existence and that is part of the phobia, for we fear Islamophobia more than we fear fear itself.

When a tragedy occurs, it is human to search for a culprit and a motive. But we do not do this in the case of the Toulouse Massacre. We must not. We dare not. We close our eyes and look away from the truth. We obfuscate.

We don’t give it a name. We call it nothing. We push it into the closet for some other generation to deal with. We differentiate. We call it “Islamic extremism.” We stick our fingers in our ears when Major Nidal Malik Hasan kills 12 soldiers and a civilian while shouting “Allahu Akbar.”

We don’t give it a name. We call it nothing. We push it into the closet for some other generation to deal with. We differentiate. We call it “Islamic extremism.” We stick our fingers in our ears when Major Nidal Malik Hasan kills 12 soldiers and a civilian while shouting “Allahu Akbar.”

Or we repaint a picture so that green is orange and the sky is not blue. America makes double sure there are no references to “Islam” and “Muslim” in the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review.

More Palatable

We are a tolerant society. We refuse to tar an entire religion with one brush.  So we will not confront our fears. We will look for a different explanation. One that is more palatable to our humanist outlook.

“Mohamed Merah stands before us like an overgrown adolescent, unemployed, at loose ends, soft-hearted but at the same time disturbed and incoherent,” Tariq Ramadan, professor of Islamic Studies at Oxford University, wrote on Friday.

Poverty!

We seize on it. Of course! We can all understand poverty.

Ah! Thank GOD, we cry. A way to understand what has occurred. A mode of understanding that feels good, feels comfortable, fits so well with our humanist sensibilities. The murderer is someone disenfranchised by society, someone soft at heart.

Now we can breathe again. We can even pity the poor misguided fellow. We can show our humanity by recognizing HIS humanity.  We can offer him a moment of silence in our schools. He is no different than any one of us. Our civilization is preserved by this recognition.

Tsk. Things must have been very bad indeed for this soft-hearted fellow to grab a little blonde girl by the hair and shoot her point blank in the head three times.

Bourgeoisie Birthright

The brother of the murderer announces, “I am very proud of my brother. I regret nothing for him and approve of what he did,” and we tell ourselves that the source of this story cannot be credible. Or perhaps we tell ourselves that he suffers from the same social ills as his poor dead brother: a victim of poverty, a refugee robbed of the wealth of choice and privilege that are the birthright of the bourgeoisie.

We ignore numbers that might tell us a different story: the real story, of how many people have been murdered for the sake of a certain ideology.

As long as we don’t give it breath we will sustain our equilibrium, we will be safe.

As long as it happens to someone else.

Title credit: Courtney Druz.

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