(Note: be sure to see M. Mason’s excellent summing up of the “Melanie problem,” followed by my reply.)
Attending a debate in London between Ed Husain, who calls for the transformation of Islam into a moderate Islam, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who, in her welcome new incarnation as a critic of Islam as such, argues that no such Islamic reform is possible, Melanie Philips comes down … (drum roll) … on the side of Husain. Phillips has been writing about Islam for how many years now, and still is as stubbornly clueless as ever. Phillips probably also believed in the possibility of a black-ruled middle-class democracy in Rhodesia. Though we can’t be sure on that point, since she’s said nothing at her blog at the Spectator (her Diary no longer exists) about the death of Ian Smith. Perhaps the fate of civilized, white-ruled societies that come under black rule is one of the subjects she chooses not to write about, just as she chooses never to say a single word about reducing Islamic immigration into Britain.
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Karen writes from England:
She has really lost the plot hasn’t she? She’s making a fool of herself now and some of the commentators on her blog (see below) are making that clear to her. One says she is deluded.
There is something about her that is definitely a bit thick, just like Condoleeza.
She’s very biased towards Ed Hussein who is obviously a Muslim on the make. He has seen there is money to be made from the gullible West by writing about the pipe dream of Islamic reform. And he’s obviously right because he’s got the naïve Melanie falling all over him helping to sell his book.
One of the comments on her article is good. I think it is from a Lebanese; and some of the other comments raise good points.
November 21st, 2007 10:04pm
“the logic of her position is surely that there can be no space for Muslims like Ed Husain” That is correct in virtually every Muslim majority country. Only in the West can Mr Husain practice his moderate Islam. Islam’s patriarchal and misogynistic family dynamics lead to a high birthrate, just when the world needs it least. Demographics, given time, do the rest, as Lebanon has found. Lebanon’s enlightened and pluralistic cafe society and affluence of the 1960s and 1970s has given way, under Muslim attack, to the brutal chaos of today. Malaysia has some serious issues, such as having religion defined at birth and laws (if not punishments) against apostasy. Turkey is held together by Ataturk’s secularism enforced by the Army: Indonesia is similar. Just about every other Muslim country is intolerant, with rabid anti-Kuffar prejudice, laws and pogroms. It is important that the debate continues, but it cannot even get started in a Muslim country, so while Husain may persuade in the West, Hirsi Ali’s position far better describes the Muslim world.
November 22nd, 2007 8:07am
Melanie, I think it is wishful thinking on your part to see hope in Ed Husain’s idea of Islam. The obvious step for him to take is Apostasy and his failure to recognise the utter redundancy of Islam, as Hirsi Ali has, only shows that he is still deluding himself. And, unfortunately, you as well.
November 22nd, 2007 12:35pm
And which doctrine among the pluralist religious tradition, on which the Islamic world could draw, actually rejected jihad?
November 21st, 2007 6:06pm
Suppose the Islamists drop the idea of violent struggle (as they did in Egypt) and decide to go with a bottom-up, nonviolent imposition of their form of Islam—complete with decreased rights for women, special privileges for Muslims and for Islam, etc. It could all be done in the name of civil rights, religious freedom, multiculturalism, and so on. No jihad, just sharia. Would that make Melanie happy? If not, then why are we focusing on “violent jihad”? Does not the focus on “violent jihad” as the one and only problem leave us with no arguments against other problems?
As you can see, many people don’t buy her views.
“Laocoon” understands the real problem. Because Phillips (along with lots of other supposed Islam critics) is focussed obsessively on pro-terrorist and openly anti-Western forms of Islam, she gives a pass to plain old sharia Islam, which thus continues to grow in the West, while the great warners against Islamic extremism and Islamo-fascism have not a word to say against it.
Which brings me to a prayer for this Thanksgiving Day:
Lord, when a great danger faces our country, let not the defenders of our country be liberals!
M. Mason writes:
When last we heard from Phillips on her own website about this subject some weeks ago, she was expressing her increasing alarm about the attitude of mainstream British Muslims in the wake of what she herself called the “appalling” and “diabolical” attitudes in the document delivered by the Conservative Muslim Forum to the government. But now she has heard the soothing words of a Muslim who has repudiated “Islamic extremism” (whatever that means), and she has taken his side in the recent debate referred to in her column. Well, of course she has. I imagine Phillips was quite relieved indeed to have had such a balm applied to the itchy, painful cognitive dissonance she’s been suffering from since last month when she was brought up short by actual reality intruding upon her still-credulous views about “moderate Islam.”
Ultimately, of course, for people like Phillips this isn’t primarily about Islam; it’s about their own desperate search for the slightest pretext to be able to validate to themselves—somehow, some way—the conceits of their own liberalism, even in the face of massive and overwhelming evidence that contradicts it. So, here she seizes upon the dubious testimony of a figure like Mr. Husain and a few others like him because it serves to confirm and fortify in her mind a continued belief in the ongoing liberal project in Britain which (despite her political differences with the government about appeasing “the Muslim lobby”) has clearly been her overriding concern all along. Thus, even at this late hour she clings to the pathetic, delusional hope that a “Muslim reformation” will save her country, along with the idea of fostering endless religious dialog with people like Mr. Husain. And she does it despite the fact that this supposed moderate “also said a few troubling things” at the debate and supported on its face value the recent threatening ultimatum from 138 Muslim scholars to the Christian churches.
In light of the impending civilizational crisis that Britain faces, one becomes very impatient reading the thin gruel of such opinion journalism, especially coming from Phillips. Week after week we see her still dithering, still confused and conflicted about the subject of Islam. I regret having to say this again (because I very much appreciated the reporting work she did in Londonistan), but it has become quite clear that Phillips’ continued underlying belief in and commitment to both liberalism and religious pluralism have unfortunately rendered this intelligent and gifted woman incapable of truly understanding the immutable, theocratic, totalitarian claim of Islam upon the West. As a result, she simply cannot formulate an appropriate political—let alone spiritual—response to it.
Mr. Mason has eloquently summed up Phillips’s absurd and unsustainable position. I just want to expand on one point. Here is the full text of Phillips’s remark about Husain’s “troubling” statements:
He also said a few troubling things, claiming that the Muslim world had been anti-Nazi—thus obscuring the alliance between the Nazis and the Arabs of Palestine—and supporting on its face value the recent ‘peace’ letter from 138 Muslim scholars to the Christian churches, about which I have written here as a threatening ultimatum demanding ‘peace on our terms’.Given Husain’s support for this extreme and threatening ultimatum from Muslim leaders, how can Phillips continue regarding him as a moderate? Simple:
Recovering Islamists have much baggage to jettison, and it can take time to throw it all overboard. So it turns out that Husain is not an anti-Islamist after all, but only a recovering Islamist who hasn’t yet completed the transition to anti-Islamism! That transition, Phillips assures us blandly (and how often is this passionate writer bland and assuring about anything?), will “take time.” How much time? Five years? Twenty years? And if a single outspoken supposed anti-Islamist like Ed Husain has not yet become a real anti-Islamist, how long will it take for the UK Islamic community as a whole to become real anti-Islamists? Thirty years? Sixty years? But how much time does Melanie Phillips think Britain has? She herself is constantly warning us in terrified terms that the Islamization of Britain is rapidly advancing. How then can she gamble the survival of Britain on a hoped-for Muslim transition to moderation that she herself admits has not yet happened, even as the actual Muslims continue to Islamize Britain? Isn’t it evident from Phillips’s own statements that Britain cannot afford to wait for the Muslims to become moderate, but must take action now to protect itself from them?
I just realized that the expression, “a recovering Islamist,” does not mean someone who is in the process of ceasing to be an Islamist, but someone who is refraining from acting on his Islamism. Isn’t that what “recovering” means when we speak of a recovering alcoholic? As we all know from AA, an alcoholic is always an alcoholic, someone addicted to alcohol, and the best he can do is remain free from drinking alcohol, one day at time. So, while it was not Phillips’s intent, she was unwittingly suggesting that Ed Husain will always be an Islamist, and that the best he can do is refrain, one day at a time, from saying and doing Islamist things. Further, given the fact that the authoritative Islamic doctrines require all Muslims to practice jihad, i.e., Islamism, the only way Husain can definitely cease being a “recovering Islamist” and become an actual non-Islamist is by becoming an actual non-Muslim.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 22, 2007 08:06 AM | Send