Arachnophobia, homophobia, and Islamophobia are the most famous fears of the past decade.
The word “phobia” has two principle definitions from the American Heritage Dictionary at Answers.com:
- A persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous.
- A strong fear, dislike, or aversion.
Phobias are most often considered irrational fears but not necessarily always. Take the fear of spiders, for example. Most spiders are capable of biting humans, though not all cause serious illness or death. But some can and do. If Cousin Hank has experienced the wrath of a Black Widow spider up front and personal, then his “phobia” is not irrational to him. Most people don’t allow themselves to get close enough to a spider to distinguish between a Black Widow and the friendly spider next door.
Black Widow Spider
The Black Widow Spider is the deadliest spider in North America. While the instant of the bite is not painful, the later symptoms of the Black Widows bite include localized pain in the back and abdomen, sever cramping of the abdominal muscles, nausea, labored breathing, tremors, profuse perspiration, high blood pressure, restlessness, fever and occasionally, death.
Those who have not experienced the bite of the Black Widow like Hank has may consider Hank to be “phobic.” But Hank knows better through experience. He is not being irrational at all.
Homophobia is interesting. It is not really an “irrational fear” as much as it is an aversion. From the perspective of those who do not have an aversion to gays or the gay lifestyle, they will label such aversion as “irrational” because they don’t have the point of reference to homosexual behavior that the alleged “homophobes” have. The point of reference of those who do have an aversion to homosexuality typically originates from religious beliefs, most notably from various passages of the Bible. Homosexuality as understood by those having an aversion to it is related to un-Godliness, immorality, lack of self-control, and a degenerate culture. As John McCain correctly noted in testimony before Congress, a significant proportion of those in the military are evangelical Christians who take their Christianity seriously. And serious orthodox Christians have believed through the centuries that homosexuality is wrong, thus the “aversion” to homosexuality. If and when the “don’t ask/don’t tell” policy is repealed, military leadership will be required to convince all their underlings that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, despite deeply held beliefs to the contrary held by both leadership and underlings. Cognitive dissonance results, followed by distraction, conflict, and many leaving the military during wartime – not a good result.
Those who legitimately warn of the Islamic threat are called “Islamophobes” either by Muslims or by those who don’t understand Islam. Islamophobia, like Arachnophobia and homophobia, is a derisive term intended to discredit the opinion, concern, or fear of the individual who has been negatively affected by or who has a legitimate concern – in this instance about Islam. I recognize that just as not all spiders are poisonous, not all Muslims are terrorist or desire to subvert our government and culture. However, Islam does teach and promote these things. Consequently we cannot, with certainty, know which Muslims believe and practice these historic, orthodox teachings of Islam. As it turns out, most so-called “moderate” Muslims are found to have quite a bite. Like the Arachnophobe, most alleged Islamophobes cannot get close enough to the object of his “phobia” to know for certain there is no threat.
And then there are the “Fedophobes”: The alleged irrational fear of the federal government. Those who believe the federal government should do everything to protect us from ourselves consider the federal government their friend. The bigger the better – even if we need to go into irreversible and suicidal debt – the bigger the better. The more the Feds can “protect” us from ourselves, the better. They consider anyone opposed to the federal government’s intrusive role into everyone’s life to be phobic toward the federal government.
From the perspective of the alleged Fedophobe, the engorged Federal government, like a bloated tick, is sucking the blood out of the formerly highly regarded human qualities of personal responsibility, initiative, hard work and sense of accomplishment. This problem is obvious to the Fedophobes. But apparently not so much to those who hold a “big-brother” Federal government in higher regard than these essential human qualities.
Use of the word “phobic” against others is a dual edged sword, much like using the word “bigot” or “racist” against someone. The name caller often lacks understanding of the problem and himself becomes the object of the name he is calling.