Monday, December 10, 2007


Norm has dealt with one aspect of Gary Younge's muddled piece in the Guardian, in which he develops a familiar theme of Western hypocrisy around criticism of the refusal of an Iranian-German footballer to play for the German under-21 team in Israel. Norm points out that the German experience is precisely why the present generation might just have pertinent comments to make about anti-Semitism.

Younge segues from his original arguments that there is "a far less murderous recent history of antisemitism in his Iranian heritage" and that (conveniently overlooking the past sixty-two years) "if any nation exemplifies the limits of integration without a vigorous culture of anti-racism it is Germany - the European nation where Jews were most assimilated and almost found themselves wiped out", to yet another tiresome discussion of Islamophobia. He writes,

It has become a Europe-wide habit to refer to Muslims in particular and migrants in general as though they are barbarians who must either be civilised or banished, before they pollute the egalitarian societies in which they were either born or now live. Lacking all sense of humility, self-awareness and historical literacy, Europe's political class acts as though these communities not only manifest homophobia, sexism, antisemitism, political violence and social unrest, but also as though they invented them and introduced them to an otherwise utopian continent.

Please Gary, if you want to criticise, get it right. Not only is this the creation of a straw man through vague generalisations, it does scant justice to the anti-totalitarian left, which does not conflate Islam the religion with Islamism the political ideology. Instead it makes the specific point that Islamism has imported into its world view precisely those aspects of European irrationalist thought - nihilism, death cults, anti-Semitsm, etc. - that caused carnage in the 20th Century. Our European experience shows that these ideas are not only repugnant but also unbelievably dangerous and that they have to be confronted.

This misrepresentation is compounded by a strange false analogy with the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.

Even as these scandals have run parallel with the war on terror, no one is claiming that Catholicism represents a threat to our civilisation.

Eh? Well there is a reason for that. It isn't. The clergy in the Catholic Church are actually supposed to be celibate. Therefore there was no way in which anyone could claim "the abuse was essentially religious" as it took place against the express commands of the religion. Despite the appointment of sex offenders to the priesthood, there also doesn't appear to be any Catholic militias decapitating Protestants, wishing to bring back the Inquisition, stoning to death adulterers, hanging gay men, or suicide bombing Anglican jumble sales and coffee mornings. Perverts ruining the lives of choir boys to satisfy their repressed sexuality isn't quite the same thing. The reason why Jihadi movements can be seen as a threat to our civilisation is that they have declared themselves to be just that and have set about a campaign of random murder in an attempt to bring it down.

To pretend that the dead of New York, London, Madrid, Bali and the far more numerous Muslim victims in Muslim countries are not witness to the existence of a murderous political movement is to abandon all sense. To claim that Europeans are unable to act in solidarity with the victims of those movements is equally ridiculous.

I am an atheist and do not like religion of any type, but I can certainly spot the difference between Islam and Islamism, in the same way that I can distinguish between European Enlightenment values and European Fascism. I would hope that Gary Younge could be similarly discriminating.

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