The tragedy in Norway which threatens to besmirch the conservative cause. The tragedy must not be used by the Left and its Islamist allies to silence conservative and Christian dissent about multiculturalism and Islamisation, writes Charles Brickdale.
Among elements of the left and of the self-appointed Muslim leadership throughout Europe and the US a clear trend is emerging in response to Anders Breivik’s massacre of the innocents in Norway.
That trend is not to see Breivik so much for what he is – a fantasising, posturing, psychopathic self-caricature of the knightly Crusader ideal – as to portray him more as the outcome of a climate of anxiety and fear surrounding immigration, Islam and multiculturalism and, thereby, to take further the project of the de facto leftist/Islamic alliance of delegitimising all critical thought and discourse concerning the Mohammedan faith and the rapid demographic changes in most of Western Europe.
The New York Times (naturally) leads the charge with a carefully constructed ‘report’ which features this comment from Marc Sageman, ‘a former C.I.A. officer and a consultant on terrorism’: it would be unfair to attribute Mr. Breivik’s violence to the writers who helped shape his world view. But at the same time, he said, the counterjihad writers do argue that the fundamentalist Salafi branch of Islam “is the infrastructure from which Al Qaeda emerged. Well, they and their writings are the infrastructure from which Breivik has emerged.”
“This rhetoric,” he added, “is not cost-free.”
Sageman is the only ‘expert’, identified as such and whose ‘neutrality’ is taken as given, cited by the NYT reporter. Paradoxically, the fact that he was a CIA operative will add to his credibility among the paper’s largely leftist readership. The implication is clear and as intellectually cock-eyed as you could imagine: there is a moral equivalence between the fundamentalist ideologues who inspire Islamic terrorism and those in the West who critically analyse Islam and expose the problems inherent within it.
Another example is religious affairs commentator Andrew Brown on the Guardian website’s Comment is Free strand. Brown sprinkles his piece with the names of the ‘anti-Muslim agitators’ (sic), blogwriters and other ‘Islamophobes’ (also sic) who unwittingly inspired Breivik. He has to concede, of course, that people such as Robert Spencer, Bat Ye’or and the online Brussels Journal do not condone terrorism but he uses the same tactic of snide insinuation as the New York Times to impute, nonetheless, responsibility for creating the atmosphere in which such atrocities could occur: … anyone tempted to take them seriously should consider what were almost Breivik’s last words on Document.no: “For the last three years I have been working full time on a cultural conservative work which will help to develop and market these political ideas.”
The NYT, the Guardian and many other leftist commentators are, then, using the events in Norway to discredit all those who raise awkward questions about Islam and policies promoting mass immigration essentially by implying that to do so is knowingly to create the conditions for mass murder.
Presumably, people are too stupid to work out for themselves that there is no necessary link between expressing concern over such questions and slaughtering teenagers. Then again, leftists generally do assume that the masses cannot be trusted to think for themselves, hence the hysterical rejoicing over Murdoch’s difficulties and the clamour for any views not in line with multicultural orthodoxy to be banned, curtailed or denounced as outside the pale of civilised discourse.
It will be interesting to see if those leftists, such as Maryam Namazie, an Iranian atheist and campaigner against shariah law, and the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee (declared Islamophobe of the Year 2004 by the Islamic Human Rights Commision – no joke intended – for her defence of women’s rights against reactionary Muslim men) will be similarly accused of paving the way for the horrors at Utoya and in Oslo. Unlike most of their comrades Toynbee and Namazie are at least alert to the contradictions between the fundamental concerns of the left and traditional Islamic values.
Does it need saying that Breivik is not a conservative? That he describes himself so indicates a failure to grasp the meaning of words let alone the nature of conservative thought.
Thoughtful, mature conservatives should no more seek to force the world into the straitjacket of an imaginary Golden Age than one created using an equally fantasy-driven blueprint of the future whether Marxist or any other kind. Breivik’s bizarre, in some ways quite childish, attempts to recreate mediaeval knightly orders owe more, at least in imagery and language, to Nazi dreams of ‘reviving’ the Teutonic Knights while, ironically, his belief that Europe would be better off if it ‘returned’ to an epoch when epically pure warriors fought for Christendom has much in common with the Salafi Muslim fundamentalists referred to by Marc Sageman.
The Salaf is that period in Islamic history covered by the first three generations of Muslims; Mohammed’s and the two after him. The Salafist movement argues that this was the time when Islam was at its best; doctrinally pure, untainted by corruption or factionalism and exclusively devoted to the task of extending Allah’s rule on Earth. It was also the time when Muhammed’s followers began seriously to follow his teaching and example by launching wave after wave of conquest across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and South Asia.
And it’s here that we come to the concerns about Islam that are central to most of the commentary that most of the left and many Church leaders – who ought to know better – find so objectionable. Let’s set them out and see if they can be attributed to the kind of irrational hatred and mental instability implied by terms such as ‘anti-Muslim prejudice’ (Muslim Council of Britain) and Islamophobia. They are:
- the codified and institutionalised inequality of women, non-Muslims and sexual minorities under shariah law;
- the insistence on the indivisibility of religion (ie Islam) and the state thus laying the foundations for theocracy;
- the failure to repudiate the legacy of war and conquest bequeathed by the founder, Muhammed, and the accompanying insistence that those who live under Islamic jurisdiction should either convert or live as second class citizens (or die);
- the refusal on the part of all the major schools of Islamic jurisprudence to accept the right of Muslims to leave the faith and embrace other faiths or unbelief without incurring the death penalty;
- the failure to seriously confront and deal with the persecution of religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries including minority Muslim denominations;
- the campaigns to prevent criticism of Islam, for example, by labelling it ‘Islamophobia’ or through the drive by the Organisation of Islamic Countries at the UN to have it proscribed under international human rights law (yes, really);
- widespread anti-Semitism which has its roots in the teachings of Muhammed and has taken new forms including Holocaust denial
My Muslim colleagues and friends are, for the most part, bright, intelligent, engaging young people who do not, in practice, embrace the obscurantist attitudes referred to above and who denounce those Muslims who do – whom I also encounter – in terms that might cause some members of the English Defence League to blush. They do not sympathise with, for example, that large proportion of European Muslims identified by the Pew global opinion poll organisation as being anti-Semites.
We are often told by politicians whose theological and spiritual qualifications are not always apparent that Islam is, at heart, a religion of peace and tolerance. Its history indicates clearly that this is not what its founder intended it to be and many of its most powerful followers today seem determined to maintain that tradition. Despite that, millions of Muslims are attempting to remake their faith as something that can co-exist with the modern world; awareness of that fact is what energises those, those called ‘islamists’ and others, such as the House of Saud, who seek to ensure that Islam returns to the supremacist, intolerant, oppressive dogma originally preached by Muhammed and his immediate successors.
Those in the West who refuse to confront the urgent need for the radical reformation of Islam betray both those in the Muslim world who yearn for change and their own heritage. This is why those who claim to discern a moral identity between the ideologists of Muslim terror and the critics of Islam are so utterly and dangerously wrong: on the one hand are the defenders of an unrelentingly brutal theocratic tyranny, on the other, the upholders of those traditions which sustain humane and law-governed liberal democracies.
To read Charles Brickdale’s other articles visit Charles Brickdale’s Politics On Toast blog. This article is (C) Politics on Toast and Charles Brickdale.