The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


In an insightful essay, Melanie Phillips discusses the contest between liberalism and Islamism:
First of all, let me define my terms and say what I mean by Islamism and liberalism. Islamism is the politicised version of Islam which mandates jihad, or holy war against the infidel and conquest of the non-Islamic world for Islam. I’m well aware of the argument that there’s no difference between Islamism and Islam: that’s a theological argument for others to have.

By liberalism I mean the commitment to a free society, founded above all on the separation of secular government from religious worship — from which follow the concepts of equal respect for all people, freedom of conscience, tolerance and the rule of law.

These two concepts, Islamism and liberalism, are currently engaged in a fight to the death. My argument is that liberalism is in danger of losing this fight because it has so badly undermined itself and departed from its own core concepts that it is now paralysed by moral and intellectual muddle.

I have, on many occasions, wondered how the American and European Left can react sympathetically to Islamism and condemn the West’s attempts to fight it. It is America who is “the world’s worst terrorist.” It is the UK that is “acting like a fascist state.” Every precept that Islamism teaches is antithetical to the Left, but somehow, Islamofascist ideology has been inverted into one of victimization – and oh, how the Left loves a perceived victim.

The Liberal elites (academics, writers, “intellectuals”) have adopted a multiculturalist mindset that is very dangerous at this time in history. Phillips comments:
Many people think multiculturalism just means showing respect and tolerance to other cultures and faiths. If that were so, it should be unarguable. We should all support respect and tolerance. But that’s not what multiculturalism is at all. It holds that all minority values must have equal status to those of the majority. Any attempt to uphold majority values over minorities is a form of prejudice. That turns minorities into a cultural battering ram to destroy the very idea of being a majority culture at all. And so, since no culture can assert itself over any other, liberalism cannot assert itself as a dominant cultural force. Instead society must fragment into a kaleidoscope of equal — and opposing —values, and liberal values must give way to their opposite.

That is what happened over the Mohammed cartoons. Freedom of expression is a key liberal precept. But under multiculturalism, that cannot trump a minority faith which holds that to publish these images is to give offence. So the minority wins over the liberal majority value, and Europeans decry not the violence and intimidation, the kidnappings, riots and murder which followed the publication of the cartoons but the offence to minority religious feelings that was given in publishing them.

And so in the US, The New York Times, rather than defending the publication of the cartoons, condemned those that did publish. Incredible – particularly when espoused by a champion of Liberal values that include freedom of the press.

What I see happening is a distortion of reality. A through-the-looking glass world in which any criticism of Islamist thought is labeled “Islamophobia” and any overt attempt to fight it is termed “oppression” or “racism.” Again from Phillips:
As for our values, far from reasserting them they are going down like ninepins. While our universities refuse to act against Islamists on campus on the grounds of freedom of expression, Leeds university cancelled a proposed lecture on the links between the Nazis and Islamic antisemitism after protests by two Muslim students. And after students at Cambridge university published a magazine satirising religion and which published one of the images from the Mohammed cartoons, they were disciplined by the university, threatened with prosecution by the police and forced to apologise to Muslims, Christians —and Jews, who hadn’t even been mentioned.

Above all, Britain must not allow the encroachment of sharia. Yet it is paving the way for sharia. There are now areas of the country under the informal parallel jurisdiction of sharia law. A blind eye has been turned to honour killings, forced marriage and polygamy – now polygamous men settling in Britain are even receiving welfare benefits for their multiple wives. We have sharia-compliant mortgages; our tax authorities are considering recognising polygamy for inheritance tax purposes; and the government is encouraging London to become the global hub of Islamic banking, despite the fact that such arrangements will force those who make use of them to conform to sharia law.

Could this happen in the USA? It already has, but you probably haven’t heard much about it because the MSM has decided that it’s impolitic (or should I say, “Islamophobic”) to emphasize such instances. In each instance, the incident is minor (taxi drivers refusing to transport people with guide dogs [subsequently overturned after public outcry] or Moslem hate speech against Jews on University campuses that would expel anyone who delivered such diatribes against Moslems. But each slowly chips away at our freedoms and represents a small victory for Islamist thought.

I fear that the Liberalism that each of us holds dear—individual freedom of worship, expression, education, entertainment, human rights (in the true sense, not the perverted interpretation foisted on us by some Left-leaning groups)—may disappear, not because of anything that the Islamists do, but what we are doing to ourselves. The first battle in the war against Islamic fundamentalism isn’t with the fascists, it’s with ourselves. And right now, we’re losing.