One of the most misused terms in contemporary rhetoric is ‘phobia’. Phobia literally means fear, it does not mean hate or anything else. But listening to the mainstream media, one would be forgiving for conflating the term phobia with several other things.
Those who set and control the language of debate, ultimately win the debate. By manipulating rhetoric, one can effectively rig the overall trajectory of public opinion. This is why deceptive language is not only irritating, but deeply dangerous. Writers and contributors at The Duran have created something called ‘The Duran Lexicon’, a helpful guide to some of the more widely proliferated linguistic manipulations in western mainstream media. The entire phenomenon relates to what Orwell called newspeak in 1984.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary of English, fear is defined as: “an unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful, or bad that is happening or might happen”. Nowhere in this definition is there any implication of paranoia or irrationality.
Yet western mainstream media and politics have transformed the word fear to mean something quite remote vis-à-vis its authentic meaning. They use the word fear in order to intimidate the public into feeling shameful for having rational thoughts. It is part of a wider campaign of condescension towards the general population, and both left and right are equally guilty.
Here are some recent examples:
One of the most misused contexts of ‘phobia’ is when people are talking about ‘Islamophobia’. Most people do not fear Islam, Islam is a religion. What people do fear is the Islamic terrorism that has killed millions. The overwhelming majority victims of Islamic terrorism are Muslims. People living in Arab countries like Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya are correctly frightened by such people. Does that make them Islamophobic too?
When discussing Islamic dress in western societies, people forget that in Ba’athist Syria for instance, such dress is frowned upon and in certain circumstances, it is illegal. In Nasserist Egypt it was seen as regressive. Does this make the Arab Muslim President of Syria Islamophobic? No, it makes him a secular Muslim!
There is a wide Arab world beyond the regressive Gulf and the war zones in Iraq and Libya that the west has created. The Arab world is modern, there are many secular Arab countries. By western mainstream media painting all people of Islamic heritage as burka wearing women who are forced to walk behind their sex-crazed menfolk, it does a great disservice to the noble people of Islamic and Arab backgrounds, who are far more sensible than the west’s own dogmatic liberals.
Frankly, the idea that all Muslims ought to be painted with the Gulfi brush, is itself racist. It’s taking an isolated part of Arab culture, the worst part at that, and using it to distort the beauty of the wider Arab world and the dignity, intelligence and cultural contributions of the Arab individuals.
During the Brexit campaign the word ‘project fear’ was batted about endlessly. The Brexiteers accused the remain side of ‘fear mongering’. Whilst I have no great love for the pathetic David Cameron or the permanent reject George Osborn, one cannot say that there is anything irrational about their arguments that Brexit could potentially have negative impacts on the economy which would impact jobs, wages and investment opportunities.
The ‘leave’ campaign had no solid plan for what to do upon Brexit (they still don’t), it is totally appropriate to fear the perils of an economic question mark.
In America, many have accused Donald Trump of stoking fear. This isn’t true, he’s speaking to people about their pre-existing and totally rational fears. Many people in America, according to many surveys, are fearful of the following things, which one is perfectly rational in fearing: increased crime, terrorism, war, economic recession, loss of industry. Trump is merely saying that he shares those rational fears and seeks to correct them in his own way. Whether one agrees or disagrees with his proposed solutions is an entirely different matter.
If someone living in Aleppo felt that his or her life was in imminent danger due to terrorist attacks and continued war, and if an observer were to say that he believes this fears to be justified, would this make the observer a ‘fear monger’ or someone relating rationally to an unfortunate situation? The latter is of course the only meaningful and true answer.
Another example of the misuse of ‘phobia’ can be found in Germany. Many in Germany are fearful about the changes that the mass refugee influx has brought to their country. These fears are based on news reports and personal experiences that no one has questioned the veracity of.
Yet rather than say she has a plan to quell the dangers that inspire rational fear or even to mention that West Germany (not that Merkel would know a lot about West Germany) statistically suffered more terror attacks under the Badder-Meinhof gang in the 70s and 80s than it has suffered in recent years, she simply resorts to saying that those worried about violence are ‘spreading fear’. No, these fears are rational and she should offer either an explanation, a solution or both.
A politician’s job is to listen to the fears of their constituents, mass media ought to give a voice to those fears rather than insult those who harbour them, and both ought to work at ways of correcting the situations which have caused these fears rather than say ‘everything is ok’. The people know better, there is much to fear whether it be war, terrorism, economic meltdown, a crisis in employment, artificially low ages and a demographic crisis.
Those who ignore these fears by shutting up the collective voice of the public are neglecting their duty to serve and represent the public. It is anti-democratic to the core.
In effect, politicians have changed the word fear to mean paranoia or even hatred in order to shame and therefore discard their own citizens. This is unconscionable. By pretending a problem doesn’t exist and accusing others of ‘fear mongering’, it may well mean that the politicians share the same feelings and rather than do something about it, they instead challenge the logic of those with logical fears. The political class is sick, someone ought to call a doctor…or at the very least a few elections.
At the end of the day, I have only rational fears. Liberalism has in many ways already destroyed the west by making it pathologically hypocritical, stupid and brainwashed. This is why I am liberalphobic!
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.