Fifteen years ago, when the fatwa against Salman Rushdie was declared and both his defenders and detractors managed to miss what the business was really about, the Times’s Clifford Longley nailed it very well. Surveying the threats from British Muslim groups, he wrote that certain Muslim beliefs “are not compatible with a plural society: Islam does not know how to exist as a minority culture. For it is not just a set of private individual principles and beliefs. Islam is a social creed above all, a radically different way of organising society as a whole.”
Since then, societal organisation-wise, things seem to be going Islam’s way swimmingly – literally in the case of the French municipal pool which bowed to Muslim requests to institute single-sex bathing, but also in more important ways. Thus, I see the French interior minister flew to Egypt to seek the blessing for his new religious legislation of the big-time imam at the al-Azhar theological institute. Rather odd, don’t you think? After all, Egypt isn’t in the French interior. But, if Egypt doesn’t fall within the interior minister’s jurisdiction, France apparently falls within the imam’s.
And so, when free speech, artistic expression, feminism and other totems of western pluralism clash directly with the Islamic lobby, Islam more often than not wins – and all the noisy types who run around crying “Censorship!” if a Texas radio station refuses to play the Bush-bashing Dixie Chicks suddenly fall silent. I don’t know about you, but this “multicultural Britain” business is beginning to feel like an interim phase.
8 thoughts on “Mark Steyn on the West’s Muslim Problem”
What really galls me is the BBC reporters use of the term “Jewish question” when excusing Tom Paulin. See here:
However, what Robert Kilroy-Silk said was beyond the pale apparently.
French ‘humorist’ Dieudonne who yesterday boasted of wiping his ass with the Israeli flag. Of course, saying the same thing about the Moroccan or Iranian flag would be beyond the pale, if it did not land him in jail.
The fact is, nobody ever got beaten up or shot in the street for insulting Jews. In fact, this activity is obviously rewarded with praise in quite a few locales. Unless you take up arms against Israel itself, there is no physical risk involved. But say one ambiguous thing about Islam on TV and you’ll get the s***t kicked out of you when you come out of the grocery store.
So given the choice, the morally weak and the spineless cowards will beat on civilized targets. Nothing new here.
And for a good critique of the Kilroy-Silk article, see Samizdata.
This business with “…’multicultural Britai’ business is beginning to feel like an interim phase.” Brings to mind the manner in which Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” was recieved on its issuance. Virginia Postrel’s article on Freidrich Hayek (http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2004/01/11/friedrich_the_great) mentions the reception in passing.
All in all, I don’t see how one can argue that this is different than any other stripe of totalitarianism.
The Islamic strategy in France and elsewhere of wrapping itself in the cloak of victimhood is yet another example of the political correctness juggernaut careening out of control. What the left would like is to abolish plain language so nobody’s feelings get hurt. Ever.
Jerry, I think the phenomenon goes beyond the recent vogue of political correctness, and is somewhat unavoidable, as if it was a built-in feature of the Left. Historically, the Left’s clientele has been victims, or people it perceived as such. And it did help some people, back when class warfare, if not a raw daily reality, was not a quaint notion either. Back then, one can argue a majority of its beneficiaries could use the help.
But just like your friendly local environmental NGO, it won’t go away when the job is done. The goal posts simply shift to create a new, and if possible larger category of victims. Take today’s American poors, according to government definitions; three quarters own a car, and one of the major health problems for a majority of them is not malnutrition, as it was in the 19th century or in third world countries today, but obesity. Victims, nonetheless. Just like the ozone layer was not such a nasty life-and-death problem after all, the Amazon will not disappear by 2007 as planned, and acid rains didn’t wipe out all our northern forrests, but Greenpeace has grown bigger in the meantime because most people accept the idea that the state of the environment is worsening.
And so the story goes on. And because it literally is its business model, if not its raison d’etre, the Left goes on naming “victims” and talking up their “rights”. Being a victim makes everything you do right, and gives you rights others don’t have nor, apparently, deserve. And anyone who disagrees is made to look like a heartless bastard and labelled with the appropriate code words that mark him or her as ‘toxic’ or ‘100% fat’.
A lot of political correctness rests on this culture of victimization. Things can no longer be said because someone has become a victim. It is distateful for a football team to call itself the ‘Crusaders’, but OK for Arab Muslims to call their team ‘Jihad’ or ‘Intifada’. And so on.
So I think political correctness is only a superficial symptom of the disease. Insert freedom and individual responsibility in the picture and the intellectual house of cards and all its arbitrary barriers crumble. At least, that’s my $.02.
Whilst agreeing with what Sylvain Galineau says,I think that there is another dimension.The hard left has given up on the proletariat,too drugged with the opium of consumerism,and have found a new army of the revolution.Whatever brings down western capitalism will do.
Peter, I think that your point is a corollary of what Wretchard at Belmont Club argued about the convergence of radical leftism and Islam.
France is rapidly entering into dhimmitud (sp?) Islam is already considering the old Franken reign as part of Islam’s territory, and Christian, Jewish Frenchs are second-class citizens (we all currently know this concept, unfortunately). This situation is really spooky for the French. France is in such decadence that although I’m no big fan of hers, I feel really sorry for the lot of good people that must be living in that land. Nevertheless, I still have hopes that they will awaken in time to stop their social dismisal as a free entity. Liberté, j’ecri ton nom!
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