Let’s talk about “Islamophobia,” starting with one of the fundamental question about it: “Is Islamophobia rational?” Well, some of the most rational people ever to walk the planet, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins would say that yes, you can make a good case for fearing a specific doctrine that is by definition designed be feared.
Bill Maher would say the same thing. As you’ve already noticed, all of these men famously belong to a second group apart from “rational Islamophobes” — that is, atheists.
So, there is some rational basis for fearing Islam apart from religious sectarianism; try arguing Christopher Hitchens out of that point, if you can raise him from the dead. Many have tried…the former, and probably the latter. You don’t have to be a zealous Christian, Jew, hypernationalist, fascist or conservative to find a logical basis for Islamophobia.
It can be done otherwise. But that leaves you with a question: now that you’ve found a rational basis for fear, what do you do with it? And that is where reason departs from yet more reactionary, sectarian violence — enter FOX’s Andrea Tantaros.
On Wednesday, during an edition of the appropriately fear-mongering “Outnumbered,” one of FOX’s many deliberate “looks beat logic for male demographics” eye candies gave her take on ISIS’ beheading of journalist James Foley.
“They’ve been doing this for hundreds and hundreds of years. If you study the history of Islam, our ship captains were getting murdered. The French had to tip us off. I mean these were the days of Thomas Jefferson. They’ve been doing the same thing. This isn’t a surprise. You can’t solve it with a dialogue. You can’t solve it with a summit. You solve it with a bullet to the head. It’s the only thing these people understand. And all we’ve heard from this president is a case to heap praise on this religion, as if to appease them.”
Now, the appropriately liberal response here would be to say “You’re conflating the activities of a small group of militants to an entire group of people, and you’re ignoring all the great things Islam did 400 years ago!” Fine points for debate, and duly noted. Also, completely irrelevant.
Fear can be rational — it can be reasonable. People fear car accidents, and for good reason. But it’s what you do with that fear that defines who you are. Chris Hitchens might say that when we let fear drive us to hate, and hate to more violence, we’re only perpetuating the cycle of sectarianism and death. Violence understands violence, and begets it. It yearns for the company.
And the people, the religious conservatives, at FOX “News” are clearly comfortable giving sectarian violence all the company it will ever need.
Watch the video, courtesy of Media Matters: