Pascal Bruckner and the Reality Disconnect

Bruckner2 Alan Posener in signandsight:

The French writer Pascal Bruckner wants to forbid a word. Which sounds more like a typically German obsession. But for Bruckner, “Islamophobia” is one of “those expressions which we dearly need to banish from our vocabulary”. One asks oneself with some trepidation which other words we “dearly need” to get rid of: Right-wing populism? Racism? Relativism?But let that ride. Bruckner's essay has the advantage of stating the case against “Islamophobia” clearly and concisely and thus allowing those who – like myself – propose to hang on to the word until a better one comes along to answer in a similar clear and concise way.

Let me present Bruckner's arguments in his own words:

“Iranian fundamentalists invented the word Islamophobia, formed in analogy to 'xenophobia', in the late seventies. The aim of this word is to declare Islam inviolate. Whoever crosses this border is deemed a racist.”

The argument that Islamists coined the phrase in order to portray any and all criticism of Islam as a symptom of illness (a phobia being an irrational fear), may be right or wrong. It is, however, irrelevant. Remember that the word “Antisemitism” was also coined by reactionaries who wanted to give their hatred of the Jews, inspired by Christian Antijudaism, a “scientific” gloss. In point of fact, the “Antisemites” never had anything against any other Semites (for instance Arabs), and their hatred was reserved for a people which (pace Thilo Sarrazin) was and is one of the world's most ethnically diverse. And yet we still use the expression today, and not only to characterize the ideology developed by its European inventors. For instance, few people today would hesitate to call Martin Luther an Antisemite, just because he knew nothing about race and genetics and therefore didn't call on pseudoscience to justify his murderous hatred of the Jews.