Fear of Islam (Islamophobia)

“I met a Brit one day at an international social, and the first question he asked me seeing I wore the Nigeria tag was ‘do you want to make a dupe of me.’ And he said it three times! In an interestingly serious tone and with a straightened face. The attempt at conversation was over.”

By definition, all phobias have a negative connotation. It is therefore unjust to tag something that could be neutral or rational as permanently negative. Great PR, an erosion of values, and a confusion of meaning could do this.

When one considers the jihads of Muhammed’s era, and subsequent eras, returning in the so-called modern world, people reasonably develop and evolve fears that Islam is a keg of gunpowder. (“When will it not be an era of the so-called violent jihad?” She asked.)

Beyond the connotation, the sense of the use of word Islamophobia is mostly negative—as gleaned from the news and the ‘net. People have been accused of islamophobia as if their fears are all irrational, as if it were a disease to be cured. This is wrong because the use many times assumes inordinate reaction, and ignores that some of those accused of it give well-reasoned and rational motives for their reactions.

When Arab Muslims get ‘extended’ treatment at some airports? It’s nothing personal, and certainly islamophobia—perhaps crossed with the fear of Muslims. It’s a simple principle at work; there is a cause.

The same principle occurs with countries (and peoples) stereotyping Nigerians and checking with extra care their travel documents and luggage at some airports (putting it nicely, some would say). For Nigerians, this is unfair to say the least. And we express displeasure with that country’s policy, and anger against the Nigerians that made something that should be fast and straightforward, hard for the rest of us. Then we trod on saying they’re racist and nigeriaphobic.

Is the principle universally wise?

Would it be right to call islamophobia racism or persecution? Would calling this racism trivialise racism and the experience of blacks in the then apartheid Americas and South Africa. Religious sentiments, funny thinking, and pride calls Islamophobia racism and a persecution of muslims when it fundamentally can’t be.

“People did not just read the book, they read his life. Believing him to have lived the ideal way, to have lived the doctrine, led many to want to follow the same path. With the motivating quotes, regardless of explanations and any counter-quotes, there’s that example of action and life that some prefer to follow.”

What we’ve said generally is that Islamophobia is reasonably a human response to ‘experience,’ and should not just be waived off as unfair to Islam and Muslims, or irrational. We’ve said that it isn’t really a phobia. Issues only potentially arise with people’s response to their fears: whether it leads to reasonably irrational behaviour given the context.

Fear of Islam and fear of muslims are not the same thing. But fear of Islam has led to the fear of, hatred, and prejudice against muslims for many people. We should all kick against this.

Footnote:
Phobia: An anxiety disorder characterised by extreme and irrational fear of simple things or social situations [Wordnet].

This Thing Called the Government

Words to put you on alert I’m told: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
No you’re not! Friends help, neighbours help, family helps, colleagues help, even strangers help, but the government never helps anyone but itself.

But she does render services.
It’s a means to an end; a camouflage even. Government isn’t about services. What it reduces to, on the one hand, is to create and collect, and to assign, distribute, or facilitate the distribution of resources. On the other hand, She counts order before law, looking to stability before peace.

Government is the formulation and utilization of public policy. Law is public policy; it is for control. An attempt to control the behaviour of self or other is an attempt at government.

While the idea is that the people make the government, the reality is that the government is not the people, and cannot be.

It’s a system with a life of its own. An 8000 lb gorilla (or hyena if you prefer) that must be reckoned with—or else. A king, to rule and to reign, with emotions as grey, to exercise dominion—democratic or not. It is a force that for its own good, fights. But it must be contained by practice and law. They must be on the leash—the constitution.

We the government hereby make this constitution, acceded and assented to by the majority of the majority of us (which in reality could be the minority). The people permit it.

A Professor Teitelbaum once said, (I recall vaguely), that in essence, the government has no brains because what it produces, public policy (hence government), comes out of the lobby wars between interest groups. The situation is thus always potentially fluid.

Would it be safe to assume no interest or friend of the government is permanent? They’d never say that to your face. We go by history, and governments change.

Because the government is a self-serving force, sometimes foolish and sometimes wise, it needs to be watched, and praised or corrected. Hence, the judiciary (the new first estate), and the freedom of an unbroken people (the third estate), and the fourth estate of the realm (the media).

We consider the legislature (the new second estate) part of the government. And the fifth estate, neighbourly countries who follow the golden rule, can only speak from their side of the fence. But they can speak. And we don’t mean asking other countries to legalize the contradiction and confusion called homosexual marriage. And does every country have to be a democracy ….

We can’t fully leave the government to check itself, or leave only the judiciary to check it, when it is the government that makes the laws. So the people try to make the government see that their interests align, or should align. We vote everyday.

Footnote:
Where is this government official capitalist, and where is he socialist?

Extracts from ‘The promise’ by C. Wright Mills—With Comments

“Many great public issues as well as many private troubles are described in terms of ‘the psychiatric’ – often, it seems, in a pathetic attempt to avoid the large issues and problems of modern society.”

“… ‘mans chief danger’ today lies in the unruly forces of contemporary society itself, with its alienating methods of production, its enveloping techniques of political domination, its international anarchy – in a word, its pervasive transformations of the very ‘nature’ of human beings and the conditions and aims of their life.”

“Suppose people are neither aware of any cherished values nor experience any threat? That is the experience of indifference, which, if it seems to involve all their values, becomes apathy. Suppose, finally, they are unaware of any cherished values, but still are very much aware of a threat? That is the experience of uneasiness, of anxiety, which, if it is total enough, becomes a deadly unspecified malaise.”

“It is now the social scientist’s foremost political and intellectual task—for here the two coincide—to make clear the elements of contemporary uneasiness and indifference.”

Comments
Written in 1959, the article remains contemporary. It makes 2014, and 2013, and 2012, and … look a lot like 1959. A testament to human nature, and a statement that the society created by man makes the man.

Paragraph 1: It’s more comfortable to not deal with root causes. I imagine a situation were few people are sure what it is and how to deal with it, and that most people agree to focus on symptoms—being the more politically correct or democratic route to take.

Paragraph 2: We hear of disruptive technologies, some of which we’ve tasted. We hear less, if at all, about disruptive social and political norms, and laws; evolving everyday, and morphing into new mindsets that may challenge our individual/group humanness and attempt to redefine it for better or worse. We build our houses and contain ourselves in them.

Paragraph 3: Fantastic descriptions of indifference and apathy; very real. I don’t unreservedly agree with his description of anxiety/uneasiness (maybe I haven’t sufficiently understood it), but it does make 95% sense—excellent. 

Paragraph 4: Amateur sociologists/anthropologists abound.