Why So Serious

"Coulrophobia - Extreme or irrational fear of clowns" [1]

Irrational vs Rational Fears

We, as human beings, are often very fearful. Many of our fears which we consider irrational have a very rational base. Take the fear of heights for example. It is, in my opinion, completely rational to fear being at extreme heights because it poses a very real danger of death if one falls from such heights. This very real and rational fear however can manifest itself in irrational ways, like being afraid of even mild heights which pose no real imminent danger.

Now for me personally, I have a fear of clowns, which is known as coulrophobia. I will happily admit that my fear is somewhat irrational because in general clowns pose no real danger. But my fear is grounded in what I believe is very rational reasoning. You see, I thoroughly distrust a person who paints a smile on their face. I distrust masks in general because it says to me that a person has something to hide. It paints a picture that they want you to see and quite often is meant to distort reality, even if only for the purpose of supposed amusement. So for me this is a trust issue because I don't know who's behind the mask. It could be John Wayne Gacy behind all that make up or it could be Mr. Rogers. Because of this it is not the clown itself that I fear, but the potential of what is underneath that painted on smile.

The Misuse of the Term Phobia

So maybe my fear of clowns is irrational. I can accept that it is a phobia that is mostly unfounded seeings as clowns very rarely are a danger or menace to the populous in any way. But what about "Islamophobia?" When I hear that word I cringe a bit because when we label something as a phobia the general perception is that our fear of that thing is irrational and unfounded. Yet in this case, the fear is in no way unfounded or irrational. We have stark and overwhelming evidence that there is a direct link between Islamic fundamentalism and violence towards all outside or opposing ideas. So why is this fear of Islam labeled a phobia?

The problem comes from a misuse of the word phobia by those who use it and a misunderstanding of what should rationally be feared.

First of all, the use of the word phobia in relationship to the fear of Islam is an incorrect use of the term. Islam is a religion or ideology based on a given doctrine. The reason it is rational to fear this ideology is because within the doctrine are many verses which can be interpreted to justify violence and aggressive force against non-Muslims and the spreading of their ideology to the entire globe. This is a clear and present danger that is founded on verifiable facts. There is no phobia here. Only a rational fear of potentially very dangerous ideology.

The other problem comes from those who fear all Muslims rather than Islam itself. Like all other people, each Muslim is an individual and as such each must be judged accordingly. Not all Muslims are terrorists or extremists. But there is an inherent connection between terrorism and Islamic extremism and they most certainly do use their doctrine to justify their actions. We can argue back and forth about whether their interpretation is correct or not, but we must admit that there is an obvious flaw in any ideology built on a doctrine that can be so easily used to justify such atrocities.

Very Real Monsters

As children we often fear those strange noises at night. We fear what may be lurking under our bed or in our closet. As we get older we come to understand that those fears are unfounded. We also come to learn that there are very real monsters out here in the real world. There are plenty of goblins to be afraid of, and rightly so. These monsters don't use magic to do us harm, they use very real weapons to injure us both physically and emotionally. That's what terrorism really is. It's about becoming the boogeyman. It isn't just enough to do physical harm. The boogeyman must also make us afraid.

There are two acronyms often applied to the word fear which are:

Fuck Everything And Run


Face Everything And Remain

In the end we have a choice to make when addressing this very rational fear of religious extremism. We can run away and hide, hoping that the monster won't find us. Or we can face the monster and say, "Yes. I am afraid. But I will not let my fear stop me from fighting."

Which will you choose?

[1] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/english/coulrophobia

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