Amazingly, John Derbyshire, who believes
Would it be wise of Western countries, in the present state of affairs, to “fence off” Islam — that is, to deny entry to foreign Muslims, to expel — regretfully, politely, and humanely, but firmly — resident foreign Muslims, and to restrict the activities of Muslim citizens (preventing them, for example, from proselytizing in our jails, or working in defense establishments)?
is not Islamophobic enough= for some.
Now, I can see why we’d want to limit the activities of religious extremists in the prisons, but the idea that Muslim friends and acquaintances of mine who’ve served in government should be “prevented” from serving in government strikes me as embarrassingly stupid, particularly since these are often individuals with spectacularly rare language skills, not to mention considerable brainpower. And of course many of these foreign Muslims we’d be denying entry to are entrepreneurs who contribute mightily to America’s economic edge.
But Derbyshire’s core point about the phenomenon is nevertheless well-taken.
A part of it is my dislike of narrow-minded ideological boosterism, of which there is a lot in the Islamophobe business. Many of the noisiest Islamophobes are committed Christians of one kind or another, usually of the angry kind — the same people, I suspect, who e-mail in to tell me that I am a “nihilist” with no morals.
Islamophobia is rooted in a cultural panic that reflects a strange contempt for the strongest, most vital, most prosperous civilization ever known, namely our own. The idea that the United States and the West writ large can’t decisively defeat lunatic Islamists is, in my view, flatly absurd. Yes, much of the Islamic world is culturally arid, and intellectually arid too. Consider the number of books published in Hebrew versus Arabic every year. The difference represents a stunning indictment of the modern Arab world, to make a grossly overbroad statement.
So why are so many literate people (I use the term loosely) so susceptible to this kind of thinking? A lot of it is confirmation bias, and a lot of this is the same kind of end-times alarmism that’s long been a feature of US culture.