Thursday, June 07, 2007

Liberalism v Islamism in Britain

Melanie Phillips: Liberalism v Islamism [Excerpt]:

Liberalism is the creed of modernity. The driving force behind the Islamic jihad is the fight against liberalism and modernity. All the iconic conflicts — Iraq, Israel, Kashmir, Chechnya, Sudan —are secondary to the fundamental aim of the jihad to prevent liberalism and modernity from destroying Islam.

In Britain in 1980, a book called 'The Islamic Movement in the West' by Khuram Murad advocated an 'organised struggle to change the existing society into an Islamic society…and make Islam…supreme and dominant especially in the socio-political spheres…' A Muslim Brotherhood document seized in Switzerland in 2001, known as 'The Project', outlined a twelve-point strategy to 'establish an Islamic government on earth'. And the Brotherhood has now set up an intricate network of bodies across Europe to put all this into action.

Many Muslims in Britain and around the world are deeply opposed to this; indeed Muslims are the most numerous victims of the jihad. That's why I use the term Islamism, to distinguish those who believe in Islamic conquest from those who merely draw upon Islam for spiritual sustenance. But at the same time, it is false to deny that Islamism is the dominant force in the Muslim and Arab world, false to deny that it is radicalising millions of Muslims in the west, and false to deny the huge inroads it has made into western society through this pincer movement of terrorism and cultural pressure.

But many in the west do deny it. They ignore the clear evidence of the goal of Islamising the west. They choose to believe instead that the reason for Islamist terror lies in the wrongs the west has done to the Islamic world —Iraq or Palestine, discrimination or Islamophobia. Indeed, even to speak in this way is to invite the deadly label of Islamophobia — a term invented to shut down legitimate and vital debate about Islamism. Far from defending core liberal values that are thus singled out for destruction, such people thus side with or appease those who attack them. So Europe — bastion of free speech — attacked those newspapers which published and re-published the Mohammed cartoons. And liberals committed to human rights march on the streets of London, behind banners saying Free Iraq and Free Palestine, shoulder to shoulder with Islamists who believe in death to gays.

Why is a liberal society so reluctant to defend its own most cherished values of freedom and tolerance? The answer, I suggest, lies both in the intrinsic nature of liberalism — and also in what I would call our dominant culture of corrupted liberalism, in which true liberal values have actually been turned on their heads.

She continues, examining 'multiculturalism,' the 'limits of tolerance,' and 'what should be done' and the 'problem:'
The problem is that we seem to suffer from the innate weakness of liberalism while failing to benefit from its strengths. Those strengths lie in its claim to universalism, its governing belief that liberty and equality are the inalienable rights of human beings everywhere. But we don't uphold this because multiculturalism tells us it's wrong to impose our standards on those who don't share them.

At the same time, we have the innate weakness of liberalism in spades. We see everything through the prism of the profound liberal delusion that the world is governed by reason and that all people have goodwill. This means that liberals cannot grasp that some of the things that divide people are insuperable barriers and are not susceptible to reason. They cannot acknowledge the transcendent and irreducible nature of religious fanaticism. They think instead that everything is subject to negotiation and compromise. So their instinct is to reach out to Islamists to reason with them, to draw the poison of this extremism by giving it rewards and inducements that will play to the fanatic's self-interest and turn him into a pillar of western society. That is why liberals do appeasement; and Britain, the cradle of liberalism, does it better than anyone else.

The struggle continues on our shores as well.

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