Friday, September 22, 2006

Seb Takes off the Gloves

He's heard all he can hear, and he can't hear no more. Over at Seb's Blag, Seb brings some serious thunder aimed toward the Muslim community. Here is just a taste:
I am, quite frankly, sick and tired of Islamic extremism and increasingly, I am saddened to say, of Islam itself. For too long now, like a spoilt child stamping its feet, Islam has been demanding that the rest of the world succumb to its every whim. Islam dominates the news agenda like no other issue or ideology. Its adherents revel in the abhorrent brutality and bloodshed which it both propagates and feeds upon. Islam is now viewed the world over as a religion of violence, of intolerance, of extremism, and of hatred. At present, my contempt for Islam is almost inexpressible.

When rightly and reasonably accused, in measured tones and from many quarters, of crimes against humanity, Islam screams 'Death to the Infidels!' and promises, and then delivers, yet more bloodshed. While followers of other faiths take the indignity of satire in their stride, and laugh at their own oddness and idiosyncrasies, Islam demands, quite literally upon pain of death, to be respected and pussy-footed around, even beyond what is required by the law. Islam demands an extraordinary level of sensitivity on the part of the followers other faiths, while brutalizing them both verbally and physically in return. Islam, extreme and unreasonable at every opportunity, demands an unequal equality.

First, let me say that I don't embrace everything Seb has written here. I'd prefer, for one thing, that he not couch his objections to radical Islam in such generalized terms that they impugn all Muslims. But it is also telling that this tirade (I'm pretty sure he would not mind me calling his entry a tirade. I do not know Seb, but I know his self-deprecating approach to blogging, and I think he is fairly clear that he intended this entry to be a rant) comes from a denizen of the UK who is not a supporter of Tony Blair or of the Iraq War. Someone who abhors violence. Someone who is a strong advocate of human rights (and who holds contests at his blog, or "blag" as he prefers to term it, in which the winners have money donated in their names to charities, usually involving human rights in Africa). In other words, Seb would ordinarily be the sort who would bend over backward to be tolerant and understanding of the untolerated and the misunderstood. But he is beginning to question just how misunderstood too many Islamists are. His recent entries, and the sentiments of others like him on the left, are for Muslims the rough equivalent of when LBJ knew he was losing Middle America because he had lost Walter Cronkite.


montana urban legend said...

Well, the interesting thing is that while the reformations that were witnessed in Judaism and Christianity started within the faith before moving on to a religiously grounded articulation of political moderation through Locke, it seems that the demands for moderation within Islam are originating from self-understood liberals who tend toward secular if not atheistic tendencies. I think it's also interesting to note that while secular governments in the Arab world were part of a trend that has already been tried to a questionable degree of success, perhaps it was the lack of an accompanying trend toward political and intellectual liberalization that left sufficient discontent for unreformed Islamists to claim the mantle of opposition against both these and allied regimes within the Arab League, and cozy enablers abroad.

The $64,000 question is, why did more than a few Arab governments aim for secularization in the first place? There were ideological alliances with communist movements, and perhaps Arab nationalism as well, but conventional wisdom would have it that Islamism was not seen as the threat that it is today, and the unwieldly, reversed or confused order of pursuing political vs. religious reforms that occured and that we see today is likely an incredibly unfortunate result.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the plug Dcat. I knowingly allowed my rant to be interpreted as being directed against Islam.

What we are seeing in this country, rightly, is a shift away from the disrespectful attitudes held for decades towards British Asian people. However, this does not mean that the religion of these people, however sacred it may be to them, is above the law, as some seem to think.

The growing confidence among British Asians over recent years is of course a good and necessary thing, but it is wrong for this increased confidence and respect to be misused.

We cannot pretend any longer that all citizens are equal. This would mean that Tony Blair, the Queen and myself are (treated as) equals. Clearly that is not the case in reality, whatever philosophical arguments may be brought to bear. Similarly, newly immigrant populations cannot expect to enjoy the same rights and privileges as the indigenous population merely by dint of the fact that they now live in this country. New employees do not expect to enjoy immediately the same seniority, rights and privileges as long serving members of staff.

This is a painful truth that we need to wake up to. It is especially relevant at present with the influx of Eastern Europeans.

dcat said...

Seb --
I think that religion is the trickiest of all of the sacred categories (race, gender, national origin, etc.) because it is the least immutable (or the most mutable). It is great to say that we respect diversity of religions, but religion is a highly intellectual enterprise. People write and create religious "laws," and sometimes they create new religions.
People are free to worship as they would like, but that worship cannot impose itself on others. We cannot overlook fanaticism as simply a part of someone's culture -- that is a relativistic shell game that allows people to do whatever they would like in the name of their religion, and it seems to me also to show utter disrespect to those who honor that same religion without promoting violent dogma. It's a tricky situation, but one we need to figure a way around, because my guess is that we will see more religious radicalism, both from Islam but also in the name of other faiths.


Anonymous said...

Dcat, I'm starting a new religion called Seb is God. The rules of this religion are as follows: everyone in the world has to give all of their money to me, or else there will be trouble.

You're right to say this is a tricky situation and one that we've got to find a way round. I have a problem, increasingly, with the term 'sacred'. This can imply a special status even above the law. This causes problems because Islam is not just a religion but a way of life. Shariah is a system of law founded upon Islamic principles.

Many Muslims would like to see Shariah law introduced here. This is unacceptable. This is a Christian country both by majority and by heritage. Muslims are a recently-arrived immigrant group. Although their religion should be accepted and respected, it should be afforded no special privileges, especially not when these are demanded under threat of violence.

My view on this is quite straightforward. Muslims should be allowed to practise their religion in this country as long as in doing so they do not break the law. Forced marriages, denial of equal rights for women, threats of and conspiracy to cause death and violence all break the law.

Quite clearly and quite properly, wherever Shariah law and UK law clash, the latter should naturally take precedent over the former.

Muslims around the world should be aware that their untrammelled radicalism is causing serious resentment in the West.

dcat said...

Seb -
I tend to agree with most of what you say. I believe in the full freedom of religion up to but not including when it bumps up against our fundamental right to be free from religion. And it is because radical Islamists do not recognize the seperation of church and state and want to use force to have their way come to pass that we face the onslaught that we face.
Freedom to worship as one pleases does not overpower our freedom from being forced to worship or honor the religion of others. And I believe this not only vis a vis Islam, but any other denomination that tries to impose their will by way of their faith.