Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Wake Up Call for David Aaronovitch

David Aaronovitch at Times Online is angry that his email box is full of email messages telling him to "Wake Up!". This 'opinion' is classic denial. Certainly should be included in any prospective psychological analysis about the denial phase that the West went through for four torturous years after 9/11. I'll be sure to link back to this as we follow David through his denial phase.

Opinion - David Aaronovitch

It's the latest disease: sensible people saying ridiculous things about Islam
David Aaronovitch

IT’S TIME, APPARENTLY, that I woke up and smelt the cardamom, or whatever scent it is one associates with Islam. I’m wasting my time, some people reckon, stuck in a cushioned ante-room off a corridor leading away from reality while asserting — as I did last week — that the French riots were not to be explained by the religion of many of the rioters. Last Tuesday my e-mail box declared itself full after a small deluge of readers wrote in, most declaring that, although they weren’t French and hadn’t been there for a while, they knew — absolutely knew — that Islam was behind it all. And that those who thought otherwise were in a state of denial.
I do try not to believe things for which there is no evidence, and there is no evidence for Muslim qua Muslim involvement in the ritual car-burnings françaises. We in Britain — 20 years ago — managed to have the same kinds of riots without a mullah anywhere in sight, and without anyone arguing that West Indian Baptists were to blame (though I do seem to remember some village Littlejohn having a pop at Rastafarians). Where were the tapes of incitement in the banlieu mosques, with the local imams calling for cleansing fire to sweep the Kaffirs and their Citroëns out of the new Muslim lands? Nowhere.

It’s a good idea for columnists to respect their readers, especially those who take the trouble to write. But last Tuesday’s e-mail box saw the unwelcome victory of assertion over argument: most of those rioting were likely to be Muslims, therefore the problem was unassimilated Islam — a religion that, in any case, is resistant to modernity and inimical to democracy and human rights. In other words, as the correspondents saw it, the young French Muslims were The Enemy Within. Wake up! Sound the alarm!

Just as I was wondering around a station newsagent’s, thinking about how dangerous this pattern of thought can be, my eye alighted on the latest edition of The Spectator. Now we know, of course, from our experiences with the New Statesman’s anonymous allegations against the BBC a few weeks back, that weekly magazines have to sell themselves on their front covers. Even so, this one was a gasper. The picture is like that map out of Dad’s Army, where the Union Jack pointy bit has to repel the Nazi pointy bits as they menace Blighty from across the Channel. Except this time the threat comes from a gigantic crescent (red on yellow) that catches the British Isles in a pincer. The sweep of the crescent encompasses a number of European cities — from Rennes in Normandy to Aarhus in Denmark — fetchingly picked out as red and yellow starbursts.

The headline reads EURABIAN NIGHTMARE. A good five pages are given over to three articles, whose tone can be represented in the title given to Rod Liddle’s contribution, The Crescent of Fear. “A crescent of fear has descended upon the continent . . .” he doesn’t quite write.

Pinch me. No, those really are headlines, presumably concocted with some involvement from the Conservative MP for Henley. But where’s the beef?

Mr Liddle, who I esteem as a companion, has got on the train or plane to Paris, then on another train to the suburb of Grigny, where — as far as I can tell, and using what he calls his “hopeless, stunted French” — he talks to a woman who asks him for rail directions, and to three “hooded and furtive” black youths, whom he finds in a stairwell. These youths mention “jihad” three times in a brief conversation, and that’s it. This is the hard evidence for “The Crescent of Fear”. It seems to me that there is only one state of ignorance more complete than total lack of knowledge, and that is the one engendered by sending Rod Liddle somewhere for a couple of hours.

Will London Burn Too? is the title given by the magazine to an essay by Patrick Sookhdeo, who tells readers that if an area has a Muslim majority it becomes, “a millet — a state within a state”. He goes on: “The concept of sacred space insists that any territory once held by Islam belongs to Islam forever. Any such space lost must be regained by whatever means necessary.”

So once Bradford becomes majority Muslim, say, then its inhabitants regard it as being as irreversibly Islamic as Riyadh. Pinch me again. [David, this is a fact. No pinch needed.]

Pinch me a third time while we get to grips with “Eurabia”. This is a concept created by a writer called Bat Ye’or who, according to the publicity for her most recent book, “chronicles Arab determination to subdue Europe as a cultural appendage to the Muslim world — and Europe’s willingness to be so subjugated”. This, as students of conspiracy theories will recognise, is the addition of the Sad Dupes thesis to the Enemy Within idea. “Eurabia,” writes Ye’or, “is the future of Europe. Its driving force, the Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Cooperation, was created in Paris in 1974.” [David has not read Eurabia. I have. It's sad really to denigrate a brilliant historian like Bat Ye'or.]


So why, Ye’or was asked, if the Muslims were behind the riots, were the most Islamic areas also the calmest. “Yes,” replied Bat, “the most radical Islamic areas are indeed the quietest. That is because these people are not fools. They are positioning themselves to play the role of honest brokers with the French Government.”

That’s where Eurabia comes from.

Constantly you can hear good, sensible people beginning to say stupid things about Muslims. You hear them, at the most basic level, confuse Islamism with Islam, which is like confusing crusaders with Christians. [This is what Muslims do, make comparisons that are illogical. "Islamism" is Islam today, Crusaders are from 500 years ago and cannot be compared to Christians today. If Islamism is different from Islam, he should write an article about the differences. Do they have different scriptures? Does one believe the Qur'an is wrong about killing the infidels? Which verses have they abrogated? When did they do that?]

The vast majority of Muslims are not Islamists. They aren’t militant and they aren’t zealots. They are not anything really, any more than the rest of us. And it is simply wrong to focus continually on the words of the Koran or of this or that preacher, in the expectation of finding something alien or alarming. There are people in the Jewish community who have argued that “marrying out” can be described as a “silent holocaust”. If we chose to understand world Judaism from such sentiments, we would find ourselves in the interesting company of today’s sophisticated anti-Semites. [Again, these ridiculous comparisons.]

I dislike the word Islamophobia, not least since some of the more intellectually challenged Muslim pressure groups insist upon describing me as an Islamophobe. But the word phobia suggests fear as much as hatred, and that part is beginning to ring true. There is every difference between coldly analysing threats and problems, and conjuring up bogeymen. Vigilance requires precision — jihadist terrorism may be real, but Eurabia is a bogeyman.
We need to resist the choice that seems to be offered to us at the moment. On the one hand we have the relativism of sections of the intelligentsia on the one hand, who cannot say the words “Western democracy” without a sneer. On the other there is the notion that we are in an unavoidable clash of cultures with almost everyone who calls themselves a Muslim. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Dialogue and debate can both exist alongside a muscular defence of certain values: freedom of speech, democracy, human rights — including equal rights for women. We should allow — with modesty — that it is precisely because some of these rights have been won comparatively recently, and not in the days of the Athenian Republic, that we defend them so resolutely

Well, you can try to help him through his denial phase, and email him at
david.aaronovitch@thetimes.co.uk , or you can say he is a lost cause.


American Crusader said...

"It's the latest disease: sensible people saying ridiculous things about Islam"
He actually said that?
Islamophope....hmmm are you clinically paranoid if people really are trying to kill you?

dag said...

The "self-fulfilling prophesy" is likely one reason for so much head burying. If we dopn't talk about islam being a fascsit poligion, then it won't become one because it won't occur to the stupid masses that it is one. If we keep bad thoughts and bad words from people, they won't speak or think bad things. And if we do toss out these concepts to the rabble and they pick them up for their own use, then it's our fault for not keeping them innocent.

Plato came up with this crap 2,400 years ago, and it still flies today among the population of fascist authoritarians who despise the people as incomptetent to think clearly for themselves in their own best interests. This columnist is a typical anti-democrat, a typical snob, a typical idiot who grabs someone else's ideas, from where and whom he knows not, and parades them as his own, unknowingly.

When I write about memes, that "most people believe what most people believe," and the mental climate, I mean much what is as above: that most people pick up on general ideas that seem good, regardless of the facts and meanings of the concepts, and they take them as personal. When those ideas settle in the middle layer of the intellegentsia, as in the case of the columnist, they become the fodder for the general mass to feed on too. Most people are not professional thinkers, don't have the time or the inclination to think professionally, and don't care to if they could. They rely, as I do, on the word of experts in various fields for the 'truth' about things beyond their knowledge, like the feild of physics.

I believe, not with any great confidence, that the Earth is sort of round. I believe this true opinion not because 've been around it a number of times, but because everyone believes it. If I truly put my mind to it I can convince any thinking person that it is not round or any such thing, that it is, in fact, an illusion of material. But how does one get that idea across to the general public in a day? It doesn't happen. And so it is with the concept of Eurabia. There is entrenched resistence to any idea that isn't common till it is in fact common.

there will come a day when we will find the columnist above in the morgue shredding old papers in the hope that no one will notice his past posts. He will, if he can, claim that he has alway beleived in the concept of Eurabia, that he was one of the first to see it clearly. but that won't come soon. It'll come when everyone sees it as so.

Meanwhile, on we blog.