It is a commonplace to brand acts of hatred visited on Jews as anti-Semitic, and more recently, those on Muslims as Islamophobic. Indeed, it is considered callous by some, even ignorant, not to employ the appropriate term, quickly and loudly, if a hateful act is perpetrated on one of the respective groups.
The first known usage of “anti-Semite” dates back to 1879, and “Islamophobe” to 1976, according to the the Oxford English Dictionary, whereas “Christophobe” is entirely absent. The word (and all derivations) simply doesn’t exist outside of a few blogs and crowd-sourced “slang dictionaries.” Even as I type, spell-check rejects it with a red underline.
And yet what it describes is all too real. Persecution of Christians is not only common and vicious, it is on the rise globally. One has to search for headlines on the topic–rare as unicorns in mass media–but they are there, from the expected sources such as ecclesiastical organizations and conservative media, but also, more recently, from sources such as PEW, Newsweek, and The Guardian. The difference? In the latter grouping, the stories appear, and are quickly swept under the digital rug, a new-age sleight of hand: “We totally covered that beheading! See, here it is in our archives!”
A glut of reports about Copts in Egypt, Catholics in France, and growing persecution of all denominations as far-flung as Nigeria, Nepal, North Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, India, the Maldives…where are the heart-wrenching stories, the viral photos that lead to large donations, outpourings of emotion, and defensive stratagems? Coverage from the left is typically short and to the point: percentage increases in killings, vague talk of trends, detached numbers representing humans slain–shot, sliced, burned, drowned, bombed, hanged–in the name of Allah. For it is Islamists who are killing Christians and Jews in far greater numbers than either inverse.
Occasional stories do make front-page network news, such as the July, 2016 murder of an elderly priest celebrating Mass, whose head was almost entirely severed from his neck in front of his screaming congregation by two Islamists. And of course there are the recent coordinated bombings in Sri Lanka…but these are deemed newsworthy only due to sheer vigor and gaudy tally.
Famously and fundamentally, a turn-the-other-cheek mentality suffuses Christian thought. Key in differentiating it from the other two Abrahamic faiths, Christianity is defined in large part by loving all others as ourselves. Yes, humility and kindness are hallmarks of the New Testament, but in no instance does God call upon humans to lay down or be passive in the face of the enemy. In no case does Jesus tell his followers to welcome persecution. He was often in the company of soldiers, yet never rebuked them. Fighting for the self, the family, the community–these are noble, necessary, and in some cases, holy pursuits. So why are modern Christians so apathetic about their own persecution? What might make them care?
More and better media coverage would be a start. The left’s affinity for all things Muslim in the very face of Islam’s inability to bring its war dogs to heel is preposterous, like a teacher giving gold stars to the class bully instead of the best students. Would coining one new term make any difference, with headlines such as, “Christophobes Kill 290 in Sri Lanka” and the like? Doubtful, but it would be a quantum leap beyond calling Christian victims “Easter worshippers.” Mass media’s refusal to call out Islam has little to do with Christian humility, and a lot to do with sheltered, PC journalists with “Coexist” bumper stickers on the laptops they use to do the bidding of a handful of corporate billionaires who don’t mind cheap labor shipped in from the most violent region in the world.
What of the politicians we have elected to represent our 70% Christian, 2% Jewish, 1% Muslim country? The 1% have shown their true colors again in the case of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) anti-Semitic tropes, followed by knee-jerk support from her caucus, and the Speaker of the House’s whimpering, multivalent “solution,” passive hatred veiled as equanimity.
Back to the point: what is a more accurate term, “Islamist,” or “Christophobe?” The universally relevant answer: the latter is but a subset of the former. All Islamists are Christophobes, just as all Islamists are anti-Semitic.
“But wait,” comes the inevitable objection, “not all Muslims are extremists!” True, the number of jihadis is relatively small compared to the entire nation of Islam, but compared to the number of Jews and Christians who war in the name of God, there is simply no contest. According to the exhaustive 2018 Global Terrorism Index produced by The Institute for Economics and Peace, the numbers are staggering. 2018 was a relatively slow year–“only” 11,777 killed, to 2017 (18,884), and 2016 (25,774), and back to the modern record of 2014, when the number was over 30,000. The good news? The trend is downward, thanks to the eradication of the physical caliphate of the Islamic State. The bad news? ISIS is an idea, therefore ineradicable.
The vast majority of these deaths are due to terror attacks, and yes, many are intra-Islam. News about Muslim-on-Muslim violence is too frequent to elicit more than a shake of the head from most, and yet, when Muslims are killed by anyone other than their own, the global media fly into a paroxysm of publishing and spastic hand-wringing, followed in lockstep by leftist politicians seeking to curtail the free speech and civil liberties of…the victims.
Several years ago, Andrew McCarthy of The National Review made a strong case for the outright rejection of the term “Islamophobia,” claiming that it was not an irrational fear of Islam that muddies the intellectual waters, but a justified fear of Islamists. Time has borne out his argument. The mantle of religious violence of the 21st century rests squarely on Islam. Even the term Islamophobia is, by some lights, a cloak: Philip Carl Salzman writes for PJ Media, “The term “phobia” indicates an irrational fear, which is how users of the term hope criticism of Islam will be understood. As is well-known, criticism of Islam, of Allah, of Mohammed, or of the Koran is forbidden by Sharia law; violators…are subject per Sharia law to summary execution.”
Mass media will never embrace a term that beggars sympathy for Christianity. They conflate countries that are nominally Christian, such as the US, with countries whose inhabitants would, and regularly do, kill in the name of God. It is an important distinction. No, neither mass media nor leftist politicians will ever define a terrorist as Christophobic, but for all the wrong reasons. The one good reason the word doesn’t exist, and what they refuse to contemplate: no rational human fears the teachings of Christ.
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