“Islamophobia” is a deeply misleading term. The phenomenon it pretends to evoke has never existed. The word is deceptive in at least two ways.
The “-phobia” part is supposed to make us think of irrational fears like arachnophobia and agoraphobia. But fear of Islam is not irrational. Islam is a genuine threat to millions of individuals and to society as a whole. It has already done incalculable harm, and its representatives regularly promise to continue their harmful programs, and to increase the scope and scale of these programs if possible.
The “Islamo-” part is supposed to evoke racism: an irrational fear of a certain race. But Islam is not a race, it is a totalitarian political system. And Muslims are not a race — they are people who have been caught in the sphere of influence of the totalitarian political system that calls itself Islam.
I have nothing against Muslims — the people who have been caught in that sphere of influence.
I repeat. I have nothing against those people. They are human beings like me. I want only the best for them. I want them to be happy, and that’s why I am opposed to their oppression and abuse by the totalitarian political system that calls itself Islam.
If I were to remark that it is wise to be inoculated against polio, would you ask me why I despise people with polio? To call me “Islamophobic” when I talk about the dangers of Islam would be a similar mistake. No one is Islamophobic in that way. Just as I do not fear or hate people with polio, I do not fear or hate people who happen to live within the sphere of influence of Islam. I love people and want them to be happy. Therefore, I hate the harm that polio causes, and for the same reason, I hate the harm that Islam causes.
But Islam is itself a misleading word. There are two kinds of people in Islam (as there are in every other religion): the ones who make the rules, and the ones who have to follow the rules or be mercilessly punished. The ones who get paid, and the ones who pay. The powerful, comfortable, self-appointed “community leaders” — and the poor, suffering, permanently disenfranchised community. The former I call Islam, and recognize as a danger, a poison, a disease. The latter I call Muslims, and recognize as human beings in need of help.
Sensible people all over the world fear Islam. None of us have “Islamophobia”.
Update 14 May 2014: Sam Harris and Ayaan Hirsi Ali on this topic.