Leftists versus liberals: Britain’s “debate” on Islam
Two years ago I wrote at FrontPage Magazine:
According to even the most hard-boiled thinkers among us, our domestic safety rests on two foundations: assimilation of U.S. Moslems, and security measures against terrorism. But the successful assimilation of all U.S. Moslems is a pipe dream, and our vaunted security measures only add up to managing the intolerable threat of domestic terrorism, not ending it.That sad description still holds true today. Consider Melanie Phillips’s article in the July 5 Daily Mail, in which she excoriates the British government’s delusional thinking about Islam. Before I go further, let me stipulate that Phillips is not someone you would think of as a hard-boiled anything. She is a self-described liberal, as well as a Jew, who constantly appeals to liberal British ideals of tolerance and pluralism. Yet, so soft and pathetic has the once-proud country of Great Britain become that a liberal Jewish woman is virtually the hardest-line person in the entire British mainstream—indeed, a courageous voice in the wilderness—when it comes to the subject of Islam.
Phillips starts off by speaking in direct and alarming terms about the significant numbers of Muslims in Britain who support extremism and terror. In the respectable precincts of British opinion, she points out,
… the air is currently thick with recriminations that Britain has failed to do more to win Muslim hearts and minds. Is this true? I’m afraid not.
In other words, the establishment leftist view is that many Muslims support terror because they have a justified grievance against Britain, and it’s up to Britain to show the Muslims that the grievance is not justified, by adopting pro-Muslim policies, and this will make the Muslim support for terror go away.
According to Phillips, that diagnosis is insane, suicidal, and wrong. What, then, does she think is the problem?
Just as crucial is to address the hatred and lies that are driving this violence. In particular, what must be combated with the utmost vigour is the Muslim culture of grievance, the belief that the West is engaged in a conspiracy to attack and destroy the Islamic world.
So, it turns out that Phillips, like the left, thinks that the key is to win Muslim hearts and minds, only she wants to do it by proving to the Muslims that it is not true that the West seeks to destroy the Muslim world. (As I discussed yesterday, this also seems to be the view of Tony Blair, who is slightly to the right of his leftist colleagues.)
Second, and more troublingly, Phillips completely fails to understand that the Muslim belief that the non-Muslim world “is engaged in a conspiracy to attack and destroy the Islamic world” is not some recent phenomenon. It is 1,400 years old. It comes from the Koran itself, which states over and over that people who don’t believe in Allah and his Prophet are evil, because they know the truth but have rejected it out of sheer perversity. Moreover, by spurning Islam, the infidels are dishonoring Allah and his Prophet. Such a horrible insult—an insult to God himself—must be avenged. It was the dark genius of Muhammad to take the Arab shame-honor syndrome and make it cosmic, by teaching his followers that all non-Muslims on earth, simply by the fact of being non-Muslims, were shaming Allah, a disgrace that Muslims could remove only by killing, converting, or otherwise subduing the non-believers.
Yet Phillips, whose entire writing career is currently devoted to warning Britain about the Muslim threat, and has recently published a book on the subject, Londonistan, does not seem to understand these basic facts about Islam. Instead, she imagines that the Muslims’ notion that the West is their enemy is a good-faith though mistaken belief from which the British can dissuade them by rational argument! Faced with a religiously motivated, mortal enemy, she calls for the deployment of the ultimate liberal weapon: humane discourse.
But Phillips’s liberal folly doesn’t stop there. She adopts the chic idea that Islamic radicalism grows out of the cultural alienation of young Muslims in the West, which makes them vulnerable to the siren call of the radical sheiks. She contrasts this explanation with that of Britain’s dhimmi government, which blames the Muslim radicalism “almost entirely on Islamophobia, poverty and foreign policy,” that is, on the West itself.
So there you have it. Britain’s leftist government blames Muslim radicalism on the West. Phillips, the “conservative” in this debate, blames Muslim radicalism on a combination of alienation and fanaticism, which, she avers, can be combated by rational persuasion aimed at demonstrating to the Muslims that the West is not seeking to harm them. The left thinks that the West really is harming Muslims, and therefore that the solution is for the West to do more to accommodate the Muslims. Phillips thinks that the Muslims have a mistaken belief that the West is harming Muslims, and that solution is to prove to the Muslims that this belief isn’t true.
The leftists of the British establishment, and the liberal columnist Melanie Phillips, equally subscribe to the fantastic delusions that Muslims are reasonable people and that there is something that the West can do that will convince Muslims to abandon their anti-Western hostility. There is still no one in the British and Western mainstream who understands that the source of the Muslims’ hatred of the West is Islam itself.
Good article but now superseded by the fact that the British leftist government led by Tony Blair is now saying it is not going to and nor should the West take the blame for Muslim extremism. This is exactly what Blair emphasised in his speech earlier in the week. He has turned the blame for extremism back on Muslims. Of course not everyone in the leftist government or in the non-governmental left agrees with Blair but on the whole his views seems to be getting a decent reception among various Labour supporters as well as Conservatives. So please add this to your article.LA writes:
I linked my blog entry of yesterday in which I discussed the Blair speech, and in this current article on Phillips I said that Blair is to the “right” of his leftist colleagues. But how successful has Blair been in dragging the leftist establishment along with him on his slightly less leftist views, for example, in the war on terror?See Melanie Phillips’s response to this article and our further exchange.