Islamophobia is bad but it is a good step

A national ban on an architectural element seems silly but the vote to stop the construction of minarets in Switzerland is a real accomplishment. The people of a mature country have peacefully expressed a strong collective feeling against what they perceive as a grave threat. The tragedy is that they identified the threat as the Islamic religion.

The real threat is more general, more widespread, and more dangerous than Islam. It took something as extreme as Islamic extremism to trigger a cultural awareness of it. Unfortunately, like the ringing of an alarm clock, the first thing to awaken consciousness is for a time the only piece of reality about which we are aware. Islamic extremism is the alarm clock.

The supporters of the minaret ban see the growth of the Muslim population as an aggressive cultural invasion. They don’t see an immigrant minority that deserves state protection. They see settlers from a destructive culture claiming their country. They feel vilified within their homeland by outsiders and they are afraid that their politicians will continue to insist on irrational “religious tolerance” despite the intolerant attitudes spread through Islam.

National Islamophobia is a phase whose time has come. It is extreme, prejudiced, and wrong, but it is the natural reaction against the wrong actions of extremists trying to universalize Islam. Two wrongs do make a right when everyone learns a lesson. The lesson here is that no protection for status, be it religion, race, sex, or what have you, is deserved when it is used for harm.

Religions have been invoked to excuse atrocious behavior since ages before the life of Muhammad. So have other statuses such as race, color, nationality, and sex. The world tends to absolve these harmful trends after a reform and some generations. And the human race eventually learns a lesson.

I see the minaret ban as a sign that the world is just beginning to reject religion as an excuse for bad behavior. Peaceful Muslims will work with non-Muslims to prevail over the radical perversion of Islam. This time will pass into history and be replaced by a time of rational discrimination and careful tolerance. I hope I’m right, the sooner the better.

4 thoughts on “Islamophobia is bad but it is a good step

  1. You compare Islamic extremism with an alarm clock. If you want to wake up on time, it is important not to snooze the alarm clock too often!

    1. I hadn’t considered the setting of the alarm clock in the analogy. It might have been better as a fire alarm or a bomb siren. To hear it scares and angers you and to ignore it would be folly.

  2. Regrettably, I see the minaret ban as a sign that the world is rediscovering nationalism as an excuse for bad behaviour. The wars of the twentieth century should serve as sufficient warning about nationalism’s destructive nature. We have just lived through a century during which 250 million people were needlessly killed — a number far exceeding the death-toll in any other period of human history. I commend your optimism, but I rather fear there are dark days ahead.

    Anyway, for your WordPress plugin MediaRSS, thank you.

    1. Yes, nationalism is a force equally capable of great good or evil. Ultimately the action of a group is to amplify its leader’s intentions. Even democracies are subject to majority lunacy.

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