"Islamophobia" is a word about which we have heard plenty over the last decade. It can include saying anything about Muslim behavior, Muslim scripture or Muslim history of which any Muslim anywhere disapproves. If you say that you do not think that massacring your enemies is a good thing, for example, you can easily be accused of "Islamophobia." So far, I have defined "Islamophobia" as absolutely anything that any Muslim anywhere at any time may find offensive.
Amid all this routine nonsense, almost nobody has contemplated the far more common and easily identifiable condition: not "Islamophobia," but its potential opposite, "Islamophilia." That is the title of my new e-book, just published through Melanie Phillips's new online publishing venture, em-Books: "Islamophobia: a very metropolitan malady." Written immediately before and after the massacre of Drummer Lee Rigby on the streets of South London at the hands of two men of unidentifiable religious affiliation, crying "Allahu Akhbar," the book is not about Muslims or Islam. Rather it is about those extraordinary figures -- from politicians and pop stars to authors and actors -- who normally have only critical things to say about religious people and would not be caught dead praising Christianity, let alone Catholicism or Judaism, but who, when they come to one religion in particular, have only good things to say.
Although much of the Muslim world may well think George W. Bush was akin to some sort of anti-Islamic devil, his pronouncements about Islam have always -- and only -- been uniformly praising. He may have been shy about talking of his own religion, but he was not shy at all about pronouncing on Islam. And not once, during all his time in office, did a single negative comment on the religion pass his lips. No, it was all "Islam is a religion of peace," and so on.
George W. Bush may be one of the most surprising people for inclusion on a list of Islamophiles; elsewhere, countless British and European politicians, prominent heads of the U.S. armed forces, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, find themselves in this hall of shame. Further down the list there are Hollywood actors – Liam Neeson saying how keen he would be to convert, Ridley Scott transferring the problems of Islam onto Christianity: in the movies of Ridley Scott, for instance, it is the Christians, not the Muslims who are shown to be the beheaders; and the Christians, not the Muslims, who seek to "kill the infidels."
There are prominent artists and atheists who pronounce critically on all the main religions but who, if they ever do pronounce critically about Islam, almost immediately back off and do an instant reversal of their apparent opinions.
Two titans of contemporary literature, Martin Amis and Sebastian Faulks, both slipped up: on one occasion each was caught giving a robust view of Islam to an interviewer. In both instances, the robustness lasted less than 24 hours. Both men were swiftly reduced to churning out articles and giving interviews in which they explained that they had not really meant what they had just said, and that, far from being a somewhat dubious historical figure, Mohammed was, in fact, possibly the greatest person who had ever lived.
Why do so many people who speak freely and fearlessly on so many subjects display such irrational love, and bring out only the fawning hyperbole, when it comes to Islam? Well, there are several reasons. Among them is the prominent desire of our age to appear cuddly and kind and tolerant and nice, and to be so open-minded that your brain cannot bear to criticize anyone about anything anymore. This is certainly a pervasive problem among pop icons, singers and film stars included in any list of Islamophile shame.
But the bigger reason -- indeed the greatest overriding reason -- comes as the antithesis of that "fearlessness" on which so many writers and artists of our day seem to like to pride themselves. We live with an intellectual class so used to poking at empty hornets' nests while awarding prizes for bravery to each other that they have no idea at all of what to do when an actual hornet's nest comes along. In Islam, our age finds an actual hornet's nest, filled with difficult and painful but not necessarily insoluble problems. Instead of doing their self-appointed task and prodding such a nest in as productive a manner as possible, they have, it seems, decided either to pretend the hornet's nest is not there or pretend that it is actually the most charming, lovable, sweetest curiosity in the garden of our time.
Islamophilia, not "Islamophobia" is the psychosis of our age. But the good news is that there are remedies and cures. I have tried to suggest some of them. And I hope that if Gatestone readers would like to know more, they will purchase the e-book itself.
"Islamophilia" is currently outpacing the Qur'an in sales, even though Mohammed had a head start. But this fact alone suggests that possibly the long-overdue fight-back against the prostration of our age might have begun.