Friday, 28 January 2011

Not all critics of Islam are “right-wing extremists"

Contemplating his participation at a conference in Denmark last September of the Danish Free Press Society, headed by Lars Hedegaard – now on trial in Denmark for so-called “hate crimes” –  Mark Steyn commented:

I felt a bit sorry for the folks sharing the spotlight with me. Unlike most “right-wing extremists” who get slapped with the label, I am right-wing and extreme, very much so. But Lars Vilks, the Swedish artist who portrayed Mohammed as a “roundabout dog”, and Shabana Rehman, the Norwegian Muslim comedienne, and Gregorius Nekschot, a boundlessly profane Dutch cartoonist, and Farshad Kholghi, a Danish actor who has a stand-up routine as Mohammed al-Whatever, president of the Muslim organization of Very Very Moderate Extremists, none of these comrades would be considered in any sense “right-wing”. Mr Vilks is really an old Euroleftie secularist who doesn’t see why you can’t find Islam as big a non-stop laugh riot as Christianity; Minheer Nekschot is an equal-opportunity offender who figures if you can draw Queen Beatrix being sodomized you can surely mock some fellow who kicked the bucket the best part of a millennium-and-a-half ago.
Not anymore. In Lars Hedegaard's words:
Politically you may be a socialist, a liberal or a conservative. You may be a staunch supporter of the welfare state, socialized medicine, gay marriage, preferential treatment of women and 75 percent taxation of all private income. It won’t help you if you have distanced yourself from the teachings of the prophet.
Thus, in the Netherlands, Islam’s critics are also “extreme right-wing” racists” - if by “extreme”, “right-wing” and “racist” you mean gay hedonists (Pim Fortuyn), anti-monarchist coke-snorting nihilists (Theo van Gogh) and liberal black feminists (Ayaan Hirsi Ali). Whichever of these novel permutations of “right-wing” you fall into, you wind up either on trial (Nekschot, Wilders), forced into exile (Miss Ali) or pushing up tulips (Fortuyn, van Gogh). By comparison, my comrades in Copenhagen had suffered mildly, yet were on the same grim trajectory: for failing to understand the de facto and increasingly de jure protections afforded Islam, they had been variously arrested, subjected to death threats, had homes firebombed and a family restaurant shot up.
But for the most part, the Left ignores the threat of Islam and Islamism.
Or, as Steyn continues “…their leftie pals weren't there for them. All your liberal friends who went to the Amnesty and PEN fundraisers and bored the pants off you with that bit of apocryphal Voltaire - “I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it” - stayed utterly silent.”
Why should the Left – including its feminists – be in league with an ideology which is at odds with everything it allegedly stands for?  I won’t go into that here, save noting it.  There are books about the phenomenon, several in my library. 
Orwell noticed the same thing about western intellectuals’ fascination with Stalinism:
…in the world of 1935 it was hardly possible 
to remain politically indifferent. But why did these young men turn 
towards anything so alien as Russian Communism? Why should WRITERS be 
attracted by a form of socialism that makes mental honesty impossible? –  “Inside the Whale”.
As Orwell asks “why should WRITERS…”, we can ask: “why should the LEFT be attracted by an ideology that makes mental honesty impossible; that stands four-square against all that is supposed to be most dear to the Left: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and of the equal rights of women and minorities?
Orwell’s answer to his own question, back then, was: “middle class unemployment”.  Clearly that is not the case now, for the Left is securely, if not gainfully, employed in academe and the media.    
Whatever the answer to that question today – the alliance of the Left with a totalitarian ideology – the reality is that it’s there and potent, especially in its dealings with those who do not hew to their world-view.
One of the strategies of the Left in dealing with the critics of Islam is simple, and the same as those pro-Stalin writers in Orwell’s time: ridicule.
Orwell on the anti-anti-Communists:
There is the milder kind of ridicule that consists in pretending that reasoned opinion is indistinguishable from an absurd out-of-date prejudice. If you do not like Communism you are a Red-baiter.
Today if you do not like Islam(ism) you are a “racist” and “Islamophobe”.  And, of course, “prejudiced” – as Sayeeda Warsi, absurdly claims.  As if we critics have read nothing about Islam before making our judgments about the tenets of Islam.  Our judgements are post, not pre judgments: post the reading of Islam and its tenets, post the daily observations of a full-court press for the spread of Sharia.
But it’s no longer just ridicule, of course.  We now have “hate laws” so that you can be imprisoned for saying the truth, simply on the bogus claim that  you have “offended” someone.  That is why the outcome of the Lars Hedegaard trial is so important. 
Steyn again:
If Lars Hedegaard is convicted, another light in Europe will have been extinguished, and the remainder will follow, very fast. In their folly, the multiculti enforcers are setting the stage for great violence, and a descent into barbarism.
“The Danish witch hunt”, Melanie Phillips, Spectator, 26 January 2011.  Here.
“Lars man standing: again”, SteynOnline. 25 January 2011. Here.
“Will conservative media elites defend Lars Hedegaard?”, Andrew G. Bostom, Pajamas Media, January 19, 2011.  Here.  [Bostom is a scholar of historical Muslim-Jewish relations and has written several exhaustively researched books on the subject].
“See no Sharia”, Andrew G. Bostom, Pajamas Media, December 24, 2010. Here.
Full list of George Orwell’s essays. Here.