I’m just after reading an article which tries to downplay yesterday’s terrorist attack as if it was something that we brought up ourselves. You can read it here, though I’ll be quoting and responding to relevant pieces of it here.
The attack on Charlie Hebdo will further entrench the terms of a confused European debate about Muslim immigrants—one in which both the “accusers” and the “defenders” of Islam are painting in dangerously broad brushstrokes. While the European far right points to Islamic terrorism to exclude and malign all Muslims, the European left responds by refusing to recognize how fundamental a challenge Islamic terrorism represents (or that it is inspired by Islam at all).
I actually have to give credit here. Unlike most of these articles which usually only side with the defenders and automatically treat anyone who dares to criticise Islam as an intolerant Nazi, it seems that the author here at least recognises that there are extreme loons on both sides of the argument.
Both sides fail to realize that two seemingly opposite sentiments can stand side by side: the conviction that Muslims should become full and equal members of European democracies
Absolutely not. The only people who should be full and equal members of our countries are our own citizens. I’m perfectly willing to give outsiders a chance to come in and earn that right, but only after years of living within our societies and proving themselves to be loyal and respectful of our laws, cultures and traditions. Without earning that privilege, how can we ever expect them to appreciate it? This ridiculous nonsense of “Oh, they’re lashing out because they aren’t equal, so we should just hand them citizenship to make them feel better” is fucking insane. Plenty of other countries have stricter immigration procedures than we do (Japan for example) and the immigrants don’t go in and cause trouble because they know it won’t help. The outsiders who cause trouble here do so because they despise our cultures and they know that we’re too weak willed to do anything of consequence about it. These people need the stick approach, not the carrot, if we want to keep them in line.
and the unabashed determination to defend those democracies against Islamic fundamentalism.
I agree. We can start by rounding up in the middle of the night, anyone within our borders who so much as expresses sympathy for Islamic fundamentalism, beating the fuck out of them, flying over the nearest fundamentalist Islamic country and dropping them out of a plane (maybe with a parachute if we’re feeling generous).
Even before Wednesday’s attacks, tensions between “natives” and “Muslim immigrants”—a telling juxtaposition, since a majority of Europe’s Muslims were in fact born on the continent—were at a boiling point.
Of course tensions are high. Because of all the previous Islamic terrorist attacks that have occurred in our countries. Because of their constant threats of enforcing Sharia Law if they ever got the numbers to do so. Because of all the rapes of native European women and children by Muslims. It’s not as if tensions are high over nothing. There are very real reasons for it. As for those born in Europe, that’s an irrelevant argument because ultimately, their cultural values are still those of their home countries, rather than their European homes, values which are incompatible with our own.
In France, fears about Islam have been at the center of political debate for the past year, helping far-right political parties attract unprecedented support. If French presidential elections were held today, Marine Le Pen, leader of the xenophobic National Front, would likely beat her rivals to the top spot in the first round of voting.
How terrible. We certainly can’t allow people to vote for people who represent their views. Why would we have democratic values in a democracy? What a crazy concept. Did it ever occur to you to ask why people are likely to vote that way? I doubt it’s simply a case of “we hate those brown people for absolutely no reason”.
Leading French intellectuals have begun to join the anti-Islamic bandwagon. For the past several weeks, French papers have been consumed with a protracted debate about Submission, a new novel by Michel Houellebecq—one of France’s most celebrated writers—which landed in French bookstores on Wednesday. Set in 2022, its protagonist is François, a literature professor who converts to Islam to practice polygamy, rises to the French presidency, and rules the republic according to the dictates of Sharia.
The scary thing is, I can actually see something like that happening. Maybe not as early as 2022, but much like how a lot of the stuff in 1984 is gradually becoming reality, I can see something like that occurring sometime by the mid 21st century if present trends continue.
That is just the kind of scenario that adherents of Pegida, a self-styled alliance of “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West,” claim to be resisting in neighboring Germany. For months they have been taking to the streets of Dresden to protest immigration in general and the growing influence of Muslims in particular.
It’s happening all over Europe for a reason. The fact of the matter is, we Europeans are fond of our cultures the way they are and we don’t want outsiders coming in and changing it to suit themselves. Any outsiders need to accept our cultures or leave. Those are their choices. Changing things to suit themselves at our expense is not a choice.
Though they say that they defend universal values, their chants of “We are the People” betray how exclusionary their conception of nationhood really is. Appropriating the most famous slogan of the 1989 protests that helped to bring down the Berlin Wall for their own purposes, they are signaling that they will never consider Muslims as true Germans.
To be blunt, they won’t be, no more than a white guy living in China will never be a true Chinese man. European culture has been evolving for thousands of years. Islam originated around the Middle East and so, has ties to Middle Eastern cultures. The two are simply incompatible. I’ve already explained why multiculturalism is destined to failure here.
That’s sadly typical of the “liberal Islamophobia” that has taken hold in much of Europe. To court mainstream support, the far right has cleverly repackaged its disdain for immigrants and religious minorities as a defense of liberal values like gender equality and freedom of speech. This allows the far right across Europe to claim that its real problem with “those Turks” (or “those Algerians” or “those Bangladeshis”) is not that they look different or worship another God; it is that they are enemies of the universal values that a much wider portion of Europe holds dear.
The old racism argument. The author provides absolutely zero evidence that the only reason people have a fear of Islam is due to the skin colour of the people who practice it, but automatically assumes it must be the reason, even though the reason that (s)he dismisses make more sense.
This tack is doubly disingenuous. It is disingenuous because it invokes violent extremists to tar the vast majority of peaceful Muslims with the same calumnious brush. And it is disingenuous because its supposed love of liberal values is but a fig leaf.
I don’t condone attacks on peaceful Muslims either, especially seeing as I have many Muslim friends who I have a great deal of respect for. That’s why I’d prefer for us all to work together to get rid of the extremists who are a curse on us all.
Also I wouldn’t call freedom of speech a liberal value seeing as “liberal” types are at the forefront of censoring free speech that might offend people.
What ultimately drives movements like Pegida or the National Front is not a defense of universal norms but rather a monocultural and monoethnic conception of who is a true German or a true Frenchman.
And what’s wrong with that? Why is that every other country in the world is allowed to remain monocultural and monoethnic, but what were once predominately white countries (Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand) are expected to put aside their own cultures in favour of those of outsiders? Outsiders who might I add will still have their countries of origin and culture preserved perfectly? It doesn’t seem fair that it’s only us who aren’t allowed to preserve our cultures or our distinct ethnicity.
After all, most of the same people who attack Muslims on the grounds that they are unwilling to accept liberal values are themselves unwilling to accept that most basic of liberal credos—that somebody should be able to become a full member of the nation irrespective of his skin color or his creed.
Nothing to do with skin colour. It’s about their values. Most reasonable people (myself included) don’t care what race a person is as long as that person is as respectful and loyal to our countries as anyone else.
Those who advocate for a more diverse Europe tend to have a lot of fun pointing out the sheer hypocrisy of liberal Islamophobia. But, all too often, these tolerant souls are guilty of an equally dangerous hypocrisy of their own. They rightly lament that there’s a lot of prejudice against Muslims, but they wrongly infer that we should refrain from criticizing any manifestation of Islam—and consequently deny that there is anything Islamic about the kind of terrorism that has just left a Paris magazine’s offices riddled with bullets.
Another good point that I have to give credit to.
The terrorism of ISIS and al-Qaida no more defines Islam than the Crusades or the Inquisition define Christianity. But just as no historian can make sense of the nature of the Crusades without grappling seriously with the religious beliefs of their protagonists, so too it is impossible to make sense of Islamic terrorism without taking seriously the religious motivations of those who perpetrate it.
Comparing stuff that happened centuries ago in Christianity to stuff happening today in Islam. The stupidity speaks for itself.
In denying that Islamic terrorism has anything to do with Islam—or that a small fringe of fundamentalist Muslims poses a real threat to values we deeply cherish—self-styled defenders of Muslim immigrants are making the same mistake as their adversaries. For political reasons, they blind themselves to the vast differences among various forms of Islam.
True. This ridiculous need to appear tolerant is suicidal It’s perfectly acceptable to criticise things that deserve criticising.
The slogan #JeSuisCharlie, “I am Charlie,” is making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook at the moment. It’s the right sentiment, for the attack on Charlie Hebdosurely was an attack on everyone who values a free society. But in rallying to the defense of our values, we must, as ever, remember what those values actually are: a set of rules and institutions that allows everyone who subscribes to them to live together peacefully—whether they be a devout Muslim or a blasphemous cartoonist.
Living together peacefully requires cooperation on both sides. The way I see it, simply by allowing them to come to our countries at all, giving them a chance to work and live with us, and by bringing in laws to protect them from discrimination, native Europeans have already done their part. The ball is in their court now. They need to show us that they want to live peacefully with us. Otherwise, they need to leave.