They say that English is a living language and therefore words can be subject to change of meaning. For example, once upon a time “gay” meant happy until those of a different orientation to the vast majority of others decided to misinterpret it to suit themselves.
Now it is happening again and a word in the English language is being twisted out of recognition and the change is having as great or even greater an impact on all our lives as did the change in the meaning of gay.
The word is phobia and it has exploded from a fear of something as in arachnophobia or fear of spiders, to a hatred of something as in ISLAMOPHOBIC or ISLAMOPHOBIA.
The first known use of the noun phobia goes all the way back to 1786 and it is derived both from Greek and also Latin. The Merrian-Webster dictionary defines it as “an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects or situation”.
Along with a great many people throughout the world, I fear Muslims and I do not consider this fear to be illogical. Indeed, my fear is based on logic. If for no other reason, extremists of this faith are more likely to carry out atrocities in my country than members of any other faith. Yes, I know, extremists. But how am I to know that the next Muslim I encounter is not an extremist?
BUT I DO NOT HATE MUSLIMS NOR DO I WISH THEM ANY HARM. I FEAR THEM.
So who the hell was it who changed the English word phobia to mean something that is now a criminal offence with the police slavishly jumping on anyone who they think is guilty of it, not for one second stopping to contemplate what offence is being committed by being frightened?
Well, for once, we actually know who it was. A moderate amount of research throws up the name Mattias Gardell a Swedish historian and scholar of comparative religion (whatever that is) and here is his definition of Islamophobia.
Quote – “Socially reproduced prejudices and aversion to Islam and Muslims, as well as actions and practices that attack, exclude or discriminate against persons on the basis that they are or perceived to be Muslim and be associated with Islam”.
So there you have it. A total foreigner changes our language without a by your leave and turns all of us who tremble at the very sight of a scuttling, hairy spider into raving racists.
Criticism of this corruption of the meaning of an ancient English word comes from other quarters. As recently as May 14 of this year – as recorded in Hansard – a Government spokesman said the word Islamophobia needed “careful consideration and had not been broadly accepted”
Mattias – go back to your sauna, thrash the living daylights out of yourself with a good stiff handful of birch twigs, and leave our language alone.