It was the thugs running the Soviet Union who pioneered the use of psychiatry for totalitarian purposes. Vladimir Bukovsky was one of the most prominent victims of the practice. To Build a Castle: My Life as a Dissenter tells the story in painful detail. Dissent from the party line was treated as a form of mental illness.
The homosexual left picked up the theme, stigmatizing opposition to its political agenda as victims of homophobia, a sort of mental illness. Proponents of the Islamist line and their friends adopted the practice. Those who refuse to get in line are characterized as “Islamophobic,” a form of illness that has now struck an incredibly wide swath of the American people in connection with the planned Ground Zero Mosque.
In America Alone, Mark Steyn discusses the phenomenon in his inimitable style, with a different twist on the phenomenon of “Islamophobia.” Steyn writes:
As someone who’s called Islamophobic and homophobic every day of the week, I can’t help marveling at the speed and skill with which Muslim lobby groups have mastered the language of victimhood so adroitly used by the gay lobby. If I were the latter, I’d be a little miffed at these Ahmed-come-latelys. “Homophobia” was always absurd: people who are antipathetic to gays are not afraid of them in any real sense. The invention of a phoney-baloney “phobia” was a way of casting opposition to the gay political agenda as a kind of mental illness: don’t worry, you’re not really against same-sex marriage; with a bit of treatment and some medication, you’ll soon be feeling okay.
On the other hand, “Islamophobia” is not phony or even psychological but very literal – if you’re a Dutch member of parliament or British novelist or Danish cartoonist in hiding under threat of death or a French schoolgirl in certain suburbs getting jeered at as an infidel whore, your Islamophobia is highly justified. But Islam’s appropriation of the gay lobby’s framing of the debate is very artful. It’s the most explicit example of how Islam uses politically correct self-indulgent victimology as a cover. You’ll recall that most Western media outlets declined to publish those Danish cartoons showing the Prophet Mohammed. Thus, even as they were piously warning of a rise in bogus “Islamophobia” – i.e., entirely justified concerns over Islamic terrorism and related issues – they were themselves suffering from genuine Islamophobia – i.e., a very real fear that, if they published those cartoons, an angry mob would storm their offices. It was a fine example of how the progressive mind’s invented psychoses leave it without any words to describe real dangers.
Given his experience with the Canadian human rights tribunal, Steyn added this warning to the paperback edition of the book: “[I]f you’re browsing this in a Canadian bookstore, you may well be holding a bona fide ‘hate crime’ in your hand, and, if you’re worried that’s an undercover Mountie across the aisle, you’d be well advised to take extra precautions and slip it between two more innocuous volumes — say, The Playboy Book of Celebrity Nudes plus Suicide Bombing for Dummies.”
Via reader Regan Dickinson.