Tuesday, August 30, 2011

‘I’ve Got…Islamophobia!’

P. David Hornik

I tried poring over the new Think Progress report, but it didn’t help. The paranoid delusions kept recurring.

I tried exercise, listening to soft music before going to bed, thinking only pleasant thoughts. And still, late at night, the dreadful fantasies came back.

I went to a doctor in Beersheva. Though he’s known in southern Israel as one of the best in the field, I don’t normally seek out help of that kind; I was pretty desperate.

I was sure that, in his line of work, he’d heard about all sorts of appalling phenomena. Still, some things are almost too shocking and shameful….

Sitting in his office, I sunk my face in my hands, sighed deeply.

Finally I mustered up the courage to say, “I’ve got…Islamophobia.”

I waited for the shock of the word to dissipate. He seemed to be sitting patiently; he seemed able to take it.

I sighed again.

“I have…these fantasies. They wake me up in the middle of the night, and I can’t seem…” He waited patiently.

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I stared stoically forward. “I hear air raid sirens, and I think…they’re shooting at me. Rockets.”

I added, “I hear…booms.”

Finally he spoke, slow, patient, and kind: “Who is shooting at you?”

I sunk my face in my hands again; raked it with my fingers.

“Who? Well…Muslims.”

Again his slow, gentle voice: “From where are they shooting?”

I removed my hands from my face, gazed forward like a grade-school kid who’s been asked a tough question in front of the whole class.

“From Gaza.”

Now we both fell silent. I thought that—with all his experience—this might really be too much for him. We both knew that the people in Gaza were Zen Buddhists

But he said, in the kindest, most patient voice possible, “Islamophobia is a multifactorial phenomenon. We will have to talk about what stresses in your life, or possible unresolved issues from your earlier life, could be making you think that people are shooting rockets at you in the middle of the night. Meanwhile…”

I peered. He was typing diligently into his terminal.

“…I will want you to take these, twice a day. Once in the morning, once in the evening. Before meals.”

It printed out, and he handed me the page with an almost paternal smile.

I took it and—as if, in my emotional state, I had the slightest ability to make out what it said—gazed at it.

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“And if, for the time being, the delusions keep returning,” I heard him say, “I want you to feel free to call me. At any time. Even in the middle of the night.”

Now I looked up at him, genuinely impressed.

“Thank you.”

“Well,” he smiled dismissively, “I might be awake at those hours, too.”

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