“Package Deals” and Islamophobia
I have just finished listening to a lecture by Ayn Rand Institute scholar Peter Schwartz entitled: Clarity in Conceptualization: The Art of Identifying “Package Deals”. Concepts (i.e. ideas) are formed in a variety of ways. Visually, concepts are the result of our observations, aurally sound data is absorbed through our ears, and overall reason enables us to form and grasp concepts utilizing all of our senses. According to Mr. Schwartz, a package-deal is an integration of non-essential points used in an effort to refute essential ones. It is an attempt to unify non-essential ideas while treating them as conceptually similar when they are, in fact, completely different.
For example, Peter Schwartz used the concept of environment and demonstrated how environmentalists have perverted or twisted the idea to mean all forms of nature. The result of such synthesizing leads people to conclude that nature must be preserved as pristine over the needs of mankind. Earlier in his lecture he made a succinct point about how the term McCarthyism was used to demonize efforts to identify and halt the efforts of Communists in the United States government and in the U.S. itself. As a result of the term, violent efforts of groups like the Weathermen and even the activities of people like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who gave information to the U.S.S.R. about the United States nuclear weapons program are marginalized. The package-deal conceptually leeches off of the moral aspects of a concept in order to justify or give a greater amount of validity to the immoral.
The logic behind the package-deal of McCarthyism carries through to this day. Believe it or not, there is a fund named after the Rosenbergs set up to give assistance to children whose parents or youths themselves are targeted, progressive activists. The couple’s younger son calls the effort constructive revenge.
Though I do not recall it being brought up, but the term Islamophobia is a package-deal too. This term is used by people who cannot or will understand let alone completely know the ramifications of criticism of Islam. Many also make it synonymous with fear of Muslims. By leveling this term at someone (like myself) it delegitimizes any and all criticisms of Islam including attempting to understand the violence committed by Muslims against non-Muslims which usually encompasses acts of terrorism.
Some who level this charge even go so far as to falsely accuse critics of the religion as racists. While I myself have been accused of hatred of Muslims, however, the actions of one Muslim who commits acts of terrorism or violence says nothing at all how other individual Muslims think or act. I admit there are some people who are irrationally inclined toward any religion who will make outlandish and even unsubstantiated claims against people who dare to challenge the convention wisdom of some group or culture. I see it very often on the part of atheists when they openly criticize Christianity.
I attended a meeting of atheists sometime ago in which one attendee was harshly scolded publicly by another for the act of reading the Bible. The critic considered the Bible evil and fallaciously concluded that the act of even reading the book was evil too. A few years ago at a Secular Humanist a meeting I was accused by one group member of being part of a cult because I am an Objectivist. I replied to the gentleman making this charge to prove his assertion (he could not) and ridiculed his accusation because Objectivism is a philosophy of individualism that empowers its subscribers with the ability to study reality (i.e. metaphysics) and acquire knowledge (epistemology) along with unique perspectives on a variety of subjects. Consequently, each follower of Ayn Rand’s philosophy is encouraged to make up their own minds about things they do in life (i.e. free will). Objectivism is a philosophy for living on earth, a road map to empower people to help them live their lives and not a religion by any means.
The term pro-life is another example of the substance of Peter Schwartz’s lecture. Like environmentalists wish to sacrifice mankind to nature, when it comes to abortion anti-abortionists seek to control a woman’s personal choice sacrificing her life to the needs of religion using mankind overall as a means to an end of pro-creation. The term pro-life is only to assert the rights of living human beings to exist over potential ones (such as a developing fetus), non-humans (like animals), and non-living beings (like plants and trees). Ayn Rand had it exactly right when she said:
Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives.
Such twisting of terms (if not outright context dropping) of assertions of issues or criticisms of religion, culture, etc. goes to show the moral bankruptcy of the person making the allegation. They refuse to consider or think about the issue critically while contributing to not only the dissemination of false accusations and undermining true concept formation but also set the stage for undermining the free discourse of ideas.
The way to halt the slaughter of conceptualization as well as attempts to intimidate people who choose to speak their minds on certain topics is not to buy into the package-dealer’s logic. It is only by standing up to and openly confronting such notions of twisted terms that package-dealer’s intellectual demise is assured. However, such anti-conceptualization speaks volumes of the continued degeneration of Western civilization. Nihilists who slaughter legitimate terms or win arguments by slandering legitimate criticisms of their political views or cultural habits ultimately bring with their victories contempt for respect for the rights of others.
As Friedrich Hayek eloquently reminds us: Freedom can be preserved only if it is treated as a supreme principle which must not be sacrificed for particular advantages …. If the choice between freedom and coercion is . . .treated as matter of expediency, freedom is bound to be sacrificed in almost every instance.