Celebrated atheist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has denounced the use of “Islamophobia” as a perversion of language to escape rational argument.
“Islamophobia is a deeply silly and pernicious abuse of language, and is not the only fashionable word ending in -phobia that condemns itself as a last-resort substitute for rational discussion,” Dawkins posted on Twitter late Tuesday, in reference to “homophobia,” “transphobia,” and other phobias du jour.
“If your belief is indefensible, your ignominious last resort is to accuse your critics of ‘phobia,’” Dawkins says in a YouTube video posted earlier this week.
And yet, phobia “is defined as irrational fear, as in arachnophobia, agoraphobia etc.,” he states.
Dawkins notes that curiously, while most of his attacks on religion have been against Christianity, he has never been accused of “Christophobia,” and yet he is “regularly berated for Islamophobia.”
He even had a radio broadcast in California about a totally unrelated subject canceled “because of my reputation for Islamophobia,” but he was canceled “not by Muslims but by American so-called liberals.”
There is a difference between a true phobia and rational disapproval or even between phobia and rational fear, since not all fear is irrational, Dawkins observes.
“If Salman Rushdie fears Islam, it would not be an irrational fear; it would be eminently rational,” he states. “At the whim of a nasty, bigoted old man in Iran (in character strongly resembling the Abrahamic God), Rushdie has lived much of his life with a massive bounty on his head.”
“Rational fear is not phobia,” he insists. “In fact, Sir Salman has shown exemplary courage.”
“I am not Islamophobic,” Dawkins declares, and yet if we “temporarily redefine ‘phobic’ not as irrational fear but as rational detestation, then I am phobic about the following,” before going on to enumerate practices like stoning women accused of adultery, female genital mutilation, killing cartoonists, or the death penalty for apostasy.
“What is especially galling is those Western ‘liberals’ who think Islam is a race, and are so terrified of being thought racist that they refrain from criticising the above horrors,” he concludes.