Secularists who oppose religion instead of Islam

Twelve European writers, most of them former Muslims such as Salman Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, and Ibn Warraq, and a couple of them French intellectuals such as Bernard-Henri Levy, have published a manifesto protesting “Islamism” in the name of “secular” values. Thus they write:

After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism. We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all….

It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

Without any explanations from me, readers of VFR will understand why I am less than enthusiastic about this statement. The twelve signatories are not defending traditional and modern Western culture against the uniquely dangerous religion of Islam, they are defending secularism against religion—against all religions, Christianity as much as Islam. This is shown by their use of the word “theocrats.” If they didn’t intend to attack Christianity along with Islamism, they would have said “Islamic theocrats.” By their use of “theocrats,” they make it clear that they feel themselves threatened by Christianity as much as by Islamism. In fact, most of the statement reads like a standard leftist attack on “oppression” in the name of “equality,” with a generic “religious totalitarianism” merely being the most recent type of oppression.

I’m glad to see that Paul Belien at The Brussels Journal sees through this statement by people who are not speaking as Western patriots, but as leftist secularists with an agenda. (I should add that the notion of Salman Rushdie as a Western patriot would be risible under any circumstances.) Belien understands that more than any other single factor (except, in my view, the delegitimization of the white race), it was rampant secularism that, by emptying Europe of Christianity and traditional morality, opened it to the Islamic invasion.

What is most surprising, yet also most revealing, about the supposedly smart people who penned this statement is their naïveté. They are supposedly concerned about protecting the West from Islamic totalitarianism, right? Then presumably they would want all Westerners, believers and non-believers, to work together against this threat, right? But instead, they campaign against religion as such, blind or indifferent to the fact that they are alienating Christians and believing Jews.

Someone ought to grab these people by the lapel and tell them that they need to defend Western civilization and Western liberty against Islam, not defend some generic secular democracy against religion.

- end of initial entry -

A reader writes:

You wrote:

“Someone ought to grab these people by the lapel and tell them that they need to defend Western civilization and Western liberty against Islam, not defend some generic secular democracy against religion.”

No, someone should just encourage the Muslims to strike the heads of these people right off their shoulders. With “friends” like these, the West does not need enemies.

My reply:

Obviously I don’t approve of this comment, even as rhetoric. Remember, I strongly sided with the newspapers that published the cartoons, even though their motives and justifications were secular and liberal. I believe that we can and must work with secular liberals to protect the West from Islam. I tolerate secularists who tolerate religion and Christianity. What I will not do is tolerate secular liberals who are attacking religion and Christianity, and trying to use the confrontation with Islam to advance their own agenda of a totally secularized West.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 02, 2006 08:26 AM | Send

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