For the past five years, I’ve been traveling the world in an effort to inform people about the threat of radical Islam. I have often been accused of “hate speech” and “Islamophobia.” The latest was in an article in the New York Times, where I was described not just as an “Islamophobe,” but a “radical Islamophobe.” This made me question what those terms really mean. What is the difference between “hate speech” and “free speech”? What is “Islamophobia” and who are the true “Islamophobes?”
“Hate speech” verses “free speech” is easy to define. All over the United States, so-called “progressive” individuals and groups berate the USA and Israel and in the process tell outrageous lies about both countries. That’s called “free speech.” When others, including me, tell the truth about the threat of radical Islam, that’s labeled “hate speech” by many of these “progressives.”
But what is “hate speech” and what is “Islamophobia”? When I describe the threat presented by radical Islam, I quote chapter and verse from the Koran and authoritative classical Islamic sources. When I describe the worldwide campaign of Islamist hate indoctrination against the West, and the mind-numbing mass violence committed and glorified by radical Islamists, I am relaying facts that have been published by print and electronic media outlets all over the world. Do some of the facts about Islamist supremism manifest “hatefulness?” Certainly.
However, it’s not my fault that the truth about Islamist supremacist teachings and edicts is that they promote hate. I wish they didn’t. But wishing doesn’t make it so (contrary to the belief of the New York Times). The Koran explicitly tells Muslims to hate (terrorize, subdue, oppress, and slaughter) the unbeliever until Islam is supreme in the world: "Your Lord inspired the angels with the message: ‘I am with you. Give firmness to the Believers. I will terrorize the unbelievers. Therefore smite them on their necks and every joint and incapacitate them. Strike off their heads and cut off each of their fingers and toes.’" (Koran 8:12)
The Koran explicitly preaches that Christians and Jews are descended from monkeys and apes. In the more than 13 centuries since the emergence of Islam, this strict Islamic dogma has never been abrogated, amended or ameliorated. It is the Koran that is guilty of “hate speech.” I merely am the messenger exposing this hate.
Which brings us to “Islamophobia” and “radical Islamophobes.” According to the dictionary, the suffix “-phobe” comes from the Latin phobos, which means “fearing.” Do I fear radical Islam? You bet. Do any of these locales ring a bell? London subways. Madrid train stations. Bali night clubs. Beslan elementary school. They are all locations of horrendous terrorist atrocities committed by radical Islamists, with scores of civilian fatalities and hundreds maimed. I can name hundreds of other locales, from all over the world. If fearing radical Islamist terror makes me an “Islamophobe,” then I am an “Islamophobe” in its healthiest manifestation. In light of recent history, I submit that it would be (at best) foolhardy to be otherwise.
Things get a little more complicated when we get to “Islamophobia.” The dictionary defines a “phobia” as “an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.” Anyone who thinks that my fear of radical Islam is “exaggerated,” “inexplicable” and/or “illogical” is invited to take the world terrorism tour referred to in the preceding paragraph, or read my two books, which I submit as evidence from a personal and factual level. If exaggeration or illogic are required elements in the definition, then my fear of radical Islam is NOT “Islamophobia.”
If that was not sufficiently complicated, when used as a suffix “-phobia” can include “intolerance or aversion for” the object of the phobia. Am I intolerant of mass murder, justified and glorified in the name of Allah? Yes, I am. Do I have an aversion to subway and train bombings? Yes, I do. According to that definition, my fear of radical Islam would be “Islamophobia.” However, if my intolerance of mass murder and my aversion to nightclub bombings makes me a “Islamophobe,” then I submit that my so-called “Islamophobia” is fully justified and logical and therefore not a phobia in the usual sense of the word.
The next question must be: what distinguishes a “radical” Islamophobe from a run-of-the-mill Islamophobe? Perhaps they should be distinguished by how their Islamphobia affects their behavior. My “Islamophobia” motivates me to stand up and speak out about the threat of radical Islam. My “Islamophobia” motivates me to tell-the-truth. This definitely makes me a “radical.” Examples of conventional Islamophobes abound. Their fear of Islam motivates them to censor themselves in the face of Muslim threats and intimidation.
The best-known example is the craven failure of the major American media to stand up for freedom of the press during the Muhammad cartoon controversy. Anyone who will read this will be familiar with the details. There was much hand wringing in the media about freedom of speech, but only three newspapers in the United States had the journalistic integrity to print the cartoons in solidarity with the Danish newspaper which originally printed them. Only one newspaper in the United States actually had the integrity to admit that they were not printing the cartoons because of “fear of retaliation from . . . bloodthirsty Islamists who seek to impose their will on those who do not believe as they do….” The rest declined to do so, usually offering as their rationale that the cartoons were “offensive,” and they were being “respectful” of Muslim “sensitivity.” Approximately two dozen periodicals in 13 European countries ran the Muhammad cartoons, “insisting that they will not allow thugs to decide what a free press can publish.”
The New York Times itself dutifully reported on various European newspapers printing the Muhammad cartoons in solidarity with and support of the Danish newspaper. The Times could have taken the hint and printed the cartoons, but was apparently oblivious to the irony of being taught a lesson in freedom of the press by a bunch of Europeans. Instead, the Times’ fear of Islam, its Islamophobia, caused the great Grey Lady of the Fourth Estate, the most respected voice in American print media, to roll over and play dead. This is dangerous, craven Islamophobia.
And the Times is still playing dead. It has failed to report adequately on an even more egregious and harmful example of Islamophobia afflicting the American publishing industry. Random House has just cancelled the publication of a book about one of Muhammad’s wives explicitly because of fear of a violent Muslim reaction. The major American media outlets, both print and electronic, have absorbed the lessons of the Muhammad cartoon riots, and the Salman Rushdie affair, and the slaughter of Theo Van Gogh, etc., etc. They are intimidated into silence by their Islamophobia. They’ve become like slaves, so accustomed to the feel of the lash that they flinch at the mere thought of their master raising his hand. No one rings the alarm at the Times when a major American publishing house cancels publication of a book because they fear Muslim rioting.
Am I afraid of those Muslims who do not use the Koran as justification for murder and terrorism? No. Do I fear radical Islam? I already admitted that I did. Maybe that makes me a “radical Islamophobe.” But am I cowed by my fear of radical Islamists? Absolutely not. I will continue to stand up and tell the truth. Will anyone on the staff of the New York Times admit that they fear radical Islam, and they are cowed by their fear? Almost certainly not. On the contrary, they would probably protest loudly that the opposite is true. But their actions, and their editorial policy, speak louder than their protestations. They are also Islamophobes, but of a different stripe.
If I were a New York Times Islamophobe instead of a Brigitte Gabriel Islamophobe, I could no longer say I come from the land of the free and the home of the brave.
1 These newspapers are the New York Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Austin American-Statesman. William J. Bennett and Alan M. Dershowitz, “A Failure of the Press”, Washington Post, Thursday, February 23, 2006, page A19, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/22/AR2006022202010.html
2 The Boston Phoenix, as reported by Jeff Jacoby, “When fear cows the media”, Boston Globe, February 19, 2006, http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/02/19/when_fear_cows_the_media/
3 Jacoby, Id.
4 Alan Cowell, “More European Papers Print Cartoons of Muhammad, Fueling Dispute With Muslims”, New York Times, February 2, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/02/international/europe/02danish.html?_r=1&oref=slogin