The Associated Press has made some long needed changes to its online style bookrecently.
The online style book now says that “-phobia,” “an irrational, uncontrollable fear, often a form of mental illness” should not be used “in political or social contexts,” including “homophobia” and “Islamophobia.” It also calls “ethnic cleansing” a “euphemism,” and says the AP “does not use ‘ethnic cleansing’ on its own. It must be enclosed in quotes, attributed and explained.”
The “-phobia” label has been used extensively by media and advocate groups during the last two decades for the sole purpose of silencing opposing points of view. This approach, commonly known as “jamming”, can play a big part in a successful public relations campaign.
While the term “Homophobia” was coined by the psychologist George Weinberg in his 1972 book “Society and the Healthy Homosexual”, it wasn’t until the late 80′s that two gay rights activists developed what can arguably be called the most successful public relations campaign in U.S. history with the release of their book “After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the ’90s“. This book provided the gay community with a long-term marketing campaign to sell gay rights to the American public via “a program of unabashed propaganda, firmly grounded in long-established principles of psychology and advertising”.
Paul E Rondeau, a marketing expert with Regent University, described the strategy in the following terms in his published study “Selling Homosexuality to America“:
“The extensive three-stage strategy to Desensitize, Jam and Convert the American public is reminiscent of George Orwell’s premise of goodthink and badthink in “1984″. As Kirk and Madsen put it, “To one extent or another, the seperability–and manipulability–of the verbal label is the basis for all the abstract principles underlying our proposed campaign”.
Rondeau went on to describe :jamming as “psychological terrorism meant to silence expression of or even support for dissenting opinion”. Which of course leads us to the end game of conversion which was explained explicitly as:
“We mean conversion of the average American’s emotions, mind and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media. We mean “subverting” the mechanism of prejudice to our own ends–using the very processes that made America hate us to turn their hatred into warm regard–whether they like it or not”. - After the Ball authors Kirk and Madsen
Since the events of 9-11, we have all seen and heard opponents of radical Islam labeled with the “-phobia” tag as the brilliant strategy used to promote gay rights in our country is now adopted by muslim advocacy groups and individuals around the country. Anyone who even suggests that a war is being waged by muslims both in their own lands and abroad against Jews, Christians and, yes, even gays, run the risk of being branded as “islamophobes” whose opinions are based on irrational fears with no basis in reality.
An article by Martin Perez at the New Republic discusses the origins of the word Islamophobia in which he references the French essayist Bruckner who wrote:
“The term “Islamophobia” serves a number of functions: it denies the reality of an Islamic offensive in Europe all the better to justify it; it attacks secularism by equating it with fundamentalism. Above all, however, it wants to silence all those Muslims who question the Koran, who demand equality of the sexes, who claim the right to renounce religion, and who want to practice their faith freely and without submitting to the dictates of the bearded and doctrinaire. It follows that young girls are stigmatised for not wearing the veil, as are French, German or English citizens of Maghribi, Turkish, African or Algerian origin who demand the right to religious indifference, the right not to believe in God, the right not to fast during Ramadan. Fingers are pointed at these renegades, they are delivered up to the wrath of their religions communities in order to quash all hope of change among the followers of the Prophet.”
The decision by the Associated Press to remove both Homophobia and Islamophobia from its stylebook has of course met with predictable outrage bordering on panic from advocacy groups whose propaganda efforts heavily rely on the use of such terms in their jamming efforts. While these terms might sometimes be used in a legitimate way to describe people who actually have a psychological fear of gays or muslims to the point that professional treatment is needed, the common use by the media today of branding those with dissenting points of view as being mentally disturbed needs to stop.
LGBT media watchdog group GLAAD told the gay magazine, The Advocate, that they are currently reviewing the changes to the AP guide. I think GLAAD would be well advised to give long and careful thought to this issue. While it has served their community extremely well in the past, supporting the continued use of the “-phobia” branding does a grave disservice to their own international LGBT community in muslim dominated nations who are in a fight for their very survival and any thought about acceptance or equality lives in a distant future.