As a millennial I often here many member of my generation using these two words very often as a means to shut down an argument ‘islamophobia’ and ‘homophobia’ (I won’t go into any of the others because they keep adding to them and we’d be here all day!). I want to have a look at their meanings.
Let’s look first at the dictionary definition of phobia- The word phobia comes from the Greek: φόβος (phóbos), meaning “aversion”, “fear”, or “morbid fear”. In popular culture, it is common for specific phobias to be given a name based on a Greek word for the object of the fear, plus the suffix -phobia. (taken from google.). If we delve a little deeper we can see that Phobos a Greek god.He was the Greek personification of fear, flight and panic.
So let’s look at these words ‘homo’ which comes from the Greek meaning ‘same’ which has developed to mean ‘same sex attraction’ and ‘Islam’ describes the religion and ideology of Islam. It is important to note that nowhere here are these two words referencing ‘Muslims’ or ‘gay people themselves’ but rather ‘a feeling of attraction between certain people’ and a ‘specific ideology’.
So after breaking this down in this way we can see that ‘homophobia’ is ‘a morbid fear and panic of two people having same sex attraction’ and ‘Islamophobia’ is a morbid fear and panic of ‘Islam’. These two terms are very widespread these days and are often used by people who have little or no knowledge of the meanings, of historical concept, or just don’t like to be challenged. As a linguist it is always my duty to question and break down different ideas that we have about language to show the truth. In my mind there is no word to describe someone who ‘doesn’t want same sex attraction to be promoted due to biblical principles’. Everyone whom I know who has this view has never had a morbid fear, panic or hatred of gay people. In fact these people have open arms towards everyone regardless. Likewise everyone I know who disagrees with Islam would never have a fear or a hatred of Muslims (I am not denying it, that there are people who hate Muslims and gay people although I have never met a single one of them myself. My job is only to question how our language is used.).
Therefore, maybe from a linguistic point of view we need a new word because perhaps to a certain extent English has lost a lot of descriptive language or a lot has fallen out of use. However, I think it’s really important that we don’t go around liberally throwing around words that we don’t really know the meanings of. It’s important to tackle hatred aimed at a particular individual but hatred is never going to be tackled by calling people names or hurling insults anyway. The hatred I see is the hatred coming from those people who seek to use these words liberally as an insult to anyone that questions their way of thinking and who seek to close down anything that challenges their viewpoint.
It just makes Jesus words so relevant when he said ‘Take the plank out of your own eye before you take the needle out of someone else’s’ (Matthew 7:5). While many are concerned with doing just that there is a distinctive, rising, spiritual movement, popular among young people today that seeks to do the exact opposite.
Nevertheless the good news is that although they may continue to do this their power is weakening. They have had their time and now it’s time for the power of God to shake the planet like never before, to break down misconceptions, to shake off hatred, to rock the world until political correctness is but a thing of the past. His glory will come but we need to make sure we are right with God first so let’s first take the plant out of our eyes’ and then we may see from a different perspective.