One of the more pleasant aspects of living in London is the ability to enjoy a walk around the numerous parks. If the weather is fine and I have some time I enjoy taking a stroll in my lunch break through one of the parks. Yesterday I struck out for Hyde Park for one of my favourite walks around the Serpentine lake. I was not able to do all of my usual walk as part of the park has been closed off as they make preparations for the Winter Wonderland Christmas festivities.
My circuit around the park normally ends at Hyde Park Corner, here there is a long road designed for vehicle access and as I strolled I stopped to consider the view to the entrance to the Winter Wonderland for in front of me lay masses of concrete blocks and huge metallic gates. A sense of the incongruous overwhelmed me, behind the hoarding work was taking place to prepare Santa’s grotto and other Christmas activities for children and their families, yet before them lay fortifications probably not seen in this country since the Second World War. I took a picture of what I saw and later on I tweeted the picture and a semi humorous message.
I used humour because it is a better way to get a message across than anger. Yet I am angry, when I was a child Christmas was a magical time, there was no sense of fear or foreboding just excitement and wonder. Back then my parents could take me to see Santa with a reasonable expectation that we would all get home alive. Now fearful parents – if they dare risk it, are forced to take their children through a field of fortifications, security and body searches to enjoy what should be and used to be an innocent life affirming act of human theatre.
I mulled this over further and thought about the drum beat from our politicians and the elite media about the thought crime of “Islamophobia”. The term itself is a portmanteau of Islam and phobia, Islam is the name of a religion, phobia is a Greek word meaning fear or aversion. Wikipedia describes phobia as ‘a type of anxiety disorder, defined by a persistent fear of an object or situation’.
Now I have no doubt that some Muslims have experienced unkind remarks from people and there has been some violence directed against some of them because of their beliefs. Lets not discuss here the relative degrees of the violence on either side, that is not the subject of this post. The violence on all sides needs to be dealt with – we are all equal under the law (at least that’s the way it ought to be). My issue here is how the term “Islamophobia” is somehow being used to stop people from speaking out about what they can all see in plain sight.
The concrete blocks, the metallic gates, the security personnel – they have all been placed there by the authorities, they have been placed there because they fear an attack from Muslim terrorists. Logically this does make the defences placed there by the authorities a consequence of their Islamophobia. If politicians and the media do not wish to use the term Islamophobia to describe this then we must demand of them a term that we can all agree on to describe the dark shadow of hatred directed at us all from one religion.
We do live in an age where we are losing the battle for our language. If the meaning of words is appropriated by one side to mean what they want it to mean then it becomes harder and harder for people to express their views, when the meaning is twisted and corrupted it becomes harder and harder to speak the truth. However it is a battle and one we have to win, the term Islamophobia is not a description of hatred it is a rational response to the violence of Muslim terrorists. If our politicians and media think otherwise and believe there is nothing to fear from Muslims then can they please explain the concrete blocks outside of Winter Wonderland?
So the next time your hear this narrative stand your ground and state – Islamophobia is not a hate crime, it is a rational response to the hatred directed against me and my loved ones. If you do not like that term then please can you provide me and everyone else a term to express our fears? Otherwise please shut up.
This is a battle for language that we have to win and I am afraid we either fight this battle or we are doomed to see more and more concrete blocks, if we are afraid now wait to see how much more fear our silence will bring us.