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Europe and its enemies: Paranoid elements of fear of Islam and the means of justifying it

The refugee crisis in Europe in 2015 and 2016 spontaneously produced a new stage in forming European rationality and identity, creating a style of arguing and thinking composed of elements such as hatred, exclusion, xenophobia and paranoia. Those components in public perception frequently include the attempts to justify and legitimise it. Islamophobia is not a new phenomenon in the US: since the 1970s, Muslims have repeatedly been stereotyped as dangerous terrorists, especially by the conservative mainstream. After the Paris attacks in November 2015, a new massive fear of Muslims has gradually entered into popular opinion: Muslims are said to be taking over Europe, imposing ’Sharia law’ and threatening our Judeo-Christian values. Hofstadter (1967), for example, used the expression ’paranoid style’ to depict the pathology of American culture during the Cold War, using the term in a non-medical way. This style of thinking is paranoid because ’no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy’. In Europe and also in Slovenia, some radical demands for relativising concepts in relation to refugees appeared, especially those concerning humanity, solidarity, tolerance or fear. Slavoj Žižek (2015, 2016) required that we should abandon the quasi-liberal humanistic approach to refugees, to stop treating the criticism of islamic laws as an example of islamophobia, or to accept the recognition of the fact that the refugee's lifestyle is often incompatible with the ideological foundations of the western welfare state. There is ’our way of life’ and ’their way of life’, he adds, and there is a complete gap between them. I will argue that Žižek's discourse on refugees, despite its theoretical core, contains improper justificatory elements of anti-immigrant xenophobia and thus cannot avoid criticism.


Article inside journal

Issue No. 266 - Social Psychopathology and Paranoia
Časopis za kritiko znanosti
2016 , volume volume 44 , issue issue 266
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