In Joseph Anton – A memoir, Salman Rushdie’s account of the fatwa years following the 1989 publication of The Satanic Verses, he provides many reflections and ruminations on the political situation of the time. Some are in the form of letters written to public figures (many of whom behaved abominably in siding with Islamic theocrats and mistaken apologists for the dead-hand moral relativist ‘multiculturalism’ project infecting western countries in recent decades) but never sent. This one, addressed to the then well-known radical black British MP Bernie Grant encapsulates perfectly what was wrong then, and what is wrong today in the public discourse of terrorism, religious fundamentalism and freedom of thought.
Dear Bernie Grant, MP,
“Burning books,” you said in the House of Commons exactly one day after the fatwa, “is not a big issue for blacks.” The objections to such practices, you claimed, were proof that “the whites wanted to impose their values on the world.” I recall that many black leaders – Dr Martin Luther King for example – were murdered for their ideas. To call for the murder of a man for his ideas would therefore appear to the bewildered outsider to be a thing which a black member of Parliament might find horrifying. Yet you do not object. You represent, sir, the unacceptable face of multiculturalism, its deformation into an ideology of cultural relativism. Cultural relativism is the death of ethical thought, supporting the right of tyrannical priests to tyrannize, of despotic parents to mutilate their daughters, of bigoted individuals to hate homosexuals and Jews, because it is a part of their “culture” to do so. Bigotry, prejudice and violence or the threat of violence are not human “values.” They are proof of the absence of such values. They are not the manifestations of a person’s “culture”. They are indications of a person’s lack of culture. In such crucial matters, sir, to quote the great monochrome philosopher Michael Jackson, it don’t matter if you’re black or white.
The Middle East refugee crisis has become multi-dimensional. We still have the immediate problem of trying to save people from drowning between Turkey and Greece, not to mention others entering through all variety of land routes in the freezing cold. The latter have put the border protection of EU countries to the test, with the result that since the Union can’t manage anything collectively, countries like Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia had to start fencing their lands unilaterally. Norway is arguing with Russia about returning thousands of illegal entrants on their bicycles some 400km north of the arctic circle in -20oC temperatures.
Then the problem of the inevitable social friction became apparent over recent months, although suppressed by the press and certain governments and police forces notably in Germany and Sweden. This culminated with the ‘Cologne scandal’.
Syrians search for survivors amidst the rubble following an airstrike in the Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo (Picture: Getty)
I’ve just listened to a couple of hours of debate. David Davis (unsurprisingly) came up with what was needed – some actual facts:
The British Muslim 5pillarsuk.com site published the following article by Harith Armstrong (12 Oct 2015):
Why Prevent and the Quilliam Foundation are counter-productive
The UK government’s Prevent strategy is an anti-terrorist strategy, published in 2011. The Quilliam Foundation is an anti-extremism think tank, set up by Maajid Nawaz, himself a reformed radical Islamist.
In its essence the article calls into question the basis and acitivities of both Prevent and Quilliam Foundation, somewhat justifiably at least in the former case. But it also makes some errors of its own, which bring to light the underlying reasons for Islamic extremism – a clash of value systems.
When I was a child, the word ‘retard’ was used by some kids as a term of mild, somewhat humorous abuse of other kids, and by society at large to refer to people with intellectual disabilities. It’s not a useful word for the latter (if it were, we’d use it in clinical medicine), and no sensible person today would use it for that purpose, unless of course they were a ….
Yet another article on Muslim abuse that misuses the word ‘Islamophobia’…
Let’s get one thing straight. ‘Islamophobia’ as used in the media now is a nonsense term. Phobias are unreasoned fears about things, e.g. some people have them about spiders. Islamophobia, if it means anything it means: an irrational fear of Islam. That’s quite defensible given some of the many things the term ‘Islam’ can represent today. And yet it is used instead as a surrogate for the cry of ‘Racist!’ by ignorant cultural relativists and other unconscious post-modernists.
[edit Nov 01] Originally I avoided following the obvious line of argument that fear of Islam is for many quite rational, rather than irrational, making the word ‘Islamophobia’ doubly meaningless. However, I think that the hideousness of Islamic state’s atrocities (which are simply a public version of the same thing historically conducted in more carefully controlled places) explains ‘fear’ of all kinds to be found at any point on the continuum from the rational (reasoned, informed) to the irrational (emotional).
Anyone who follows the debate on fundamentalist Islamic terrorism will be familiar with Sam Harris and Reza Aslan. They usually come across as intellectually diametrically opposed, but are both clearly humanists and deep thinkers. The fact that two such intelligent students of world affairs, belief systems and geopolitics cannot find a common reference point from which to have more substantive debate is informative.