Allies Not Enemies

This is a guest post by Hugo Schmidt

Everyone remembers the scene in Life of Brian where the Campaign for a free Gallilee and the People’s front of Judea are locked in a fistfight.  One speaker stands up and appeals “We mustn’t fight each other.  Sureley we should be united against the common enemy!” and everyone replies “The Judean People’s Front!”.  In what might be called the islamocritical or islamorealist scene, I have been noticing something similar.   I have lost count of the number of conversations I have had that go like this: Rightist: “Oh the Left are just a bunch of cowardly milquetoast nihilists.  They don’t really believe in women’s rights/freedom of expression, they just use these as a way of attacking civilization and they’ll drop them at the first sign of a real struggle”.  Leftist:  “Oh the Right are just a bunch of racist, knuckledragging Neanderthalers.  They don’t really believe in women’s rights/freedom of expression, they just use these as a way to attack the left, and they’ll drop them the instant they’ve got what they want.”   There’s a certain element of truth in both stereotypes, as there is in all stereotypes, but there is also a great deal of falsity. And I am getting well and truly sick of it.

I could have written the following for a right-wing audience – reminding them, for example, when they discuss Islamic immigration, they have to make it clear that they put a great deal more distance between themselves and those who are simply anti-immigrant than they usually do.  However, I think that the readers of this site are more likely to be left-of-center.  Furthermore, my experiences at the One Law For All rally are the fuel for this.

To state the moral case first, the principle of solidarity demands that one take the side of those that are defending your values or principles, even if you disagree with them on a great deal else.  It is said of Voltaire that, after a few hours tirade about the mental inadequacy and wickedness of a given person, he was informed that the man in question had been driven from his homeland by religious persecution and wished to appeal to Voltaire for protection.  Voltaire responded “I will take him in, take him upstairs, say ‘Here is my room, the best room in the house, it’s yours, stay as long as you need’” – and then returned to tearing the man’s reputation asunder.

For myself, I can say that I do not particularly like or care for Maryam Namazie, and I could list many reasons why I dislike her.  However, on matters of freedom of expression and the emancipation of women, I will always take her side, and should anyone try to silence her, I will defend her to the utmost.  I would be disgraced should I take any other stance.

You don’t need to agree with everything a person says, nor do you need to even particularly like them in order to extend them your solidarity.  Yet at the OLFA, I heard one speaker stand up and proudly say that she was obviously not there to defend the freedom of expression of the Daily Mail or of anyone else of whom she disapproved.  Sorry, wrong.  You either defend freedom of speech for everyone, including those you despise, or you do not defend it at all.

So much for the moral case.  I am not such a damn fool, however, to think that the moral case is sufficient to convince people.  Let’s turn then to the darker and more practical case.  The Daily Mail outsells the Guardian, the Times, and the Telegraph combined.  Whether the gentle reader likes it or not, that means that the Mail readers will have serious clout, and they will need to be engaged if one wishes to seriously fight this cause.

The accusation of ‘hypocrisy’ is one that should have less sting than it does.  The word is derived from the Greek hypokrisis, meaning to play a part, or act.  Even if certain members of the political right have suddenly discovered a defense of gay rights for entirely opportunistic reasons, so what?  The cause needs to be fought, and we’re not in a position to be particularly picky about who fights on our side.  Moreover, there is a tendency for the masque to become the face.

It’s also worth remembering that the jihad has held up against some incredibly tough opponents.  A movement that has held out against the Russian and Israeli militaries is not going to be particularly worried by, casting my mind back to the first OLFA rally, the reciting of junk poetry at speaker’s corner on a rainy afternoon.  The serious defense of liberal civilization will need to draw on and engage with the conservative communitarian spirit that defines so much of working class life, both here and throughout Europe.  This isn’t a new observation; considering the state of Britain in 1941, Orwell asked “What has kept England on its feet during the past year?  In part, no doubt, some vague idea about a better future, but chiefly the atavistic emotion of patriotism, the ingrained feeling of the English-speaking peoples that they are superior to foreigners.  For the last twenty years the main object of English left-wing intellectuals has been to break this feeling down, and if they had succeeded we might be watching the S.S. men patrolling the London streets at this moment.”  He concluded mordantly “The energy that actually shapes the world springs from emotions – racial pride, leader-worship, religious belief, love of war – which liberal intellectuals mechanically write off as anachronisms, and which they have usually destroyed so completely in themselves as to have lost all power of action”.

To say that we – and by we I mean all those that believe in the principles of classical liberalism and the legacy of the Enlightenment – need to engage with this and to understand it, does not mean approving.  It simply means understanding the nature of the board on which we have to play.

It means accepting that there are very many people, say, who are fundamentally opposed to abortion, but will fight like tigers against genital mutilation and honor killing.  It means accepting that there are people who may be opposed to gay marriage and who do not approve of homosexuality, but who are not on board with seeing gays killed.  And, above all, it means understanding that such people are fully aware of the excellent hand the liberal default has dealt them (for example, the American conservative Dennis Prager has said to gays “Only those of us who are against you marrying are against you being killed”)

At OLFA, Richard Dawkins made a very principled point that he would only ever use words and reason and not violence.  That is a fine point of principle, but it has to be practiced for real.  Simply dismissing huge swathes of people as incorrigible racists or – gasp – “right wing extremists” is neither reason nor dialogue.  The truth is that there is a good case to engage even with genuine racists.  In Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela writes that the Apartheid government ensured that Robben Island was staffed only be fanatics and died-in-the-wool types.  Yet, because the ANC maintained a policy of being courteous and always talking reasonably to anyone and everyone, they were even able to convince some of the guards that their vision for a new South Africa made a great deal more sense than that of the National Party.

Of course, there are intransigent types whom reason cannot reach.  That makes engaging with those that reason can reach so much more important.  In the same way that it is Muslim apostates and especially former Jihadists who form the best defense against the Islamic far-right, it is those that have found their way out of other fascist milieus that will be able to offer the best defense against those.

The case of Breivik’s philosophical mentor, Fjordman, is instructive in this case.  He writes that he did not, initially, think much either of immigration or Islam.  Yet following 9/11, 7/7, and the cartoon riots, looking for answers and finding nothing from the defenders of liberal civilization, he turned to paleoconservatism, then to blood-and-soil conservatism, and finally to outright fascism.  It is of the highest importance that that process be understood and aborted wherever it is found, and that means offering a serious alternative.

I have stated the case at its most extreme to make the point.  Most cases require much less; there are very many respectable conservatives who may become, say, more sympathetic to the classical arguments of feminism if they are treated with reason and respect, and see feminists who do not conform to the mold of certain arch-humbugs.  Similarly, there are many who may have a vague antipathy towards homosexuality who may loose it after fighting alongside gay comrades in this struggle.  I think that would be a rather splendid thing to see.

Which brings me to the point of what such ‘engagement’ means.  Condescension is not engagement.  Grudging ‘tolerance, of the sort that says ‘We’re okay with rightists taking part as long as they keep their mouth shut’ is not engagement either.  Engagement like this means making some effort to understand where someone else is coming from, the arguments that have brought him to his position.  Those whose politics lie on the political left have to accept that for many people the “left” is synonymous with chronic betrayal and failure.  They will not put up with condescension or abuse.

I write the foregoing with some bitterness.  After the rally, having causally mentioned that I’m an Objectivist, I was promptly subjected to a Niagara of abuse about the worthlessness of my stance and person.  Well, it was the publication I used to write for, The New Individualist that had the guts to put the Muhammad cartoon on the cover during the riots, and it was the Ayn Rand institute that went from campus to campus in the US holding events to show the pictures in solidarity with the cartoonists, and in general we’ve had a good record on the subject, good enough not to be subjected to this sort of thing.

I have a thick skin and a broad back, and can just shrug this off.  But if my denouncer seriously thinks he will make any sort of alliances with this attitude, I respectfully submit that he’s mistaken.  And alliances are what we need.  That doesn’t mean compromising on principle or embracing despicable causes, but it does mean treating human beings as human beings – as beings of reason.

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58 Comments

  1. Posted February 19, 2012 at 8:58 PM | Permalink

    That’s very interesting. But – assuming Islamism is a major component of what is being opposed here – I think enagement with some sections of the (non-Islamist) right seems a step too far, rather as engaging with softer, non-violent Islamists seemed the wrong strategy too. I realize that these characteristics – to reference your quote from Orwell ‘racial pride, leader-worship, religious belief, love of war’ can be manifested to different degrees, and sometimes more or less benignly – but, taken together with your scepticism about dismissing people who seem to be racist or right wing extremist – this almost reads like saying one should team up with the EDL or something.

    However, if your real target is people who see mainstream Conservatives as racists or far right, then I don’t disagree with you.

  2. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 9:24 AM | Permalink

    Sarah AB, by “engage with” I mean “talk to”. I think we absolutely should talk to members of the EDL, and try to get them to quit that organisation before it’s too late for them. I’ve written repeatedly on the dangers of the EDL, that it’s way more dangerous than people give it credit for. However, the only tool we have is reason, and it’s time we used it. It’s very important that we engage on the widest possible scale, so that more people realize that, in resisting Islamic reactionaries, there is an alternative to neo-fascism.

  3. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

    To put it another way, there are people who may be on a course to end up in a very bad place, due to the default of a serious and sensible resistance to religious bullying. I would rather that we get them out of there before it’s too late. Moreover, such people will be invaluable; the best documentary on the neo-fascist movements in Europe I know of relied heavily on the testimony of an ex-NPD member.

    There’s also the problem that you quite rightly analyse of the fact that mainstream conservatives being dismissed as racists or nativists; that’s both grotesquely unjust and gives horrific cover to the real thing.

    On the other hand, there are many decent conservatives and general ‘rightists’, if I may use that term, who have paid their dues and with whom cooperation is essential.

  4. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    And, just so that I make it 100% clear, because it is very easy for the wrong end of the stick to be grasped on this, nothing I write should, ever, be construed as any sort of endorsement of the EDL or the neo-fascists, let alone the likes of the BNP. And I fully accept that everyone has a limit that they cannot tolerate, and will not engage with. I’m no one’s idea of a furry and tolerant type.

    Yet – we’ve all heard something like “what are the moderate Muslims doing to deal with the ‘radicals’?” right? We’ve all heard that. Well, we’re in a similar position; we’ve only got our brains and our voices, so it’s very important that we use them effectively.

    But that requires, at a minimum, not simply dismissing people like honourable conservatives etc.

  5. Posted February 20, 2012 at 7:09 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Hugo. Fair enough. I may not agree with Conservatives (or the libertarian right) on many issues but am happy to find common ground in an anti-extremist context.

  6. Anaximander's Sandal
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 7:42 PM | Permalink

    “Those whose politics lie on the political left have to accept that for many people the “left” is synonymous with chronic betrayal and failure.  They will not put up with condescension or abuse.”

    Yes, it is and we, the conservative right, are sick and tired of all the condescension and abuse.

    Myself and lots of other conservatives are sick and tired of being called racists and bigots and “islamophobes” simply for pointing out that Islam, yes that’s ISLAM, is not only a religion but is also a violent, intollerant, imperialistic form of political ideology, this position, this “belief”of ours, isn’t a casual “far right” slur governed by hatred of the other, it’s based on a very real and firm footing of something that seems not to matter too much these days, namely “reality”.

    Islamic scripture is intolerant and violent and extremely illiberal, that’s not a slur or an insult to all Muslims, it’s simply a fact, one that is easily confirmed by just reading said scripture, it really is that simple. However the “left” refuse to look through the telescope and as in the case of Galileo simply condemn those who point out the reality, they are doing exactly what Galileo’s detractors did, when Galileo was accused of heresy and spreading discord when he revealed that he could see objects orbiting jupitor through his new telescope the powers that be dragged him before the court, Galileo asked those who were sitting in judgement over him to simply look through the telescope and see for themselves, they refused point blank to do so.

    Was it fear of being confronted with a truth that overturned their world view?

    Well yes actually, I would say that seems to be the only conclusion any rational person could possibly arrive at, however if someone else has an alternate, rational theory as to the reason those sitting in judgement refused to “look” I would love to hear it.

    Large swathes of the “progressive” movement always try to mitigate the violence and intolerance of Islam by pointing out the fact that the majority of Muslims are not violent and intolerant, well yes, I agree, but then all Germans weren’t rabid national socialists, all Russians weren’t communist butchers and all Chinese weren’t inhuman communist automatons.

    It was the highly committed “minority” of ideologues that forced these societies to follow their inhuman and barbaric ideologies, it was the few (through a combination of violent intimidation and in some cases the democratic process) that forced the many to “tow the line” and follow their savage ideology.

    We conservatives have been slandered by non conservatives for at least a century, we have been called racists and bigots and fascists yet when one looks closely at the doctrines and beliefs of communists and national socialists and fascists and Islamists it becomes clear that theere is nothing remotely conservative about these vile ideologies, in fact they all share the same “statist” “we know best” “we rule you because we know better” characteristics.

    Frankly I admit I could, after all the abuse over the years, derive a certain satisfaction from letting the denialists of “progressivism” get a taste of what these barbaric ideologies would bring about if they achieve their stated goals, however vindictiveness isn’t part of my makeup, as distasteful as it is we conservatives are going to need the help of the “progressives” if we are to defeat this Islamist fascism.

    A global War is upon us, I know you “progressives” won’t believe it until you actually smell the cordite but it’s true, soon, very soon, even “progressives” will no longer be able to deny it because no matter how hard the powers that be try to hide it, a world war isn’t something that’s easily hidden.

    It’s time to choose where you stand, not looking through the telescope is no longer an option.

  7. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 9:13 AM | Permalink

    Anaximander, I know where you’re coming from here; heck, I went through a great deal of the same thing, and I do hope that you will stick around so that we can talk. I think you might find a great deal to profit from such a conversation.

  8. jane a
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 12:59 PM | Permalink

    Sarah

    I admire your calm and rationalism, and I find it difficult to like the EDL, but sadly the ‘alternative’ strategies for fighting Islamism seem conspicuous by their absence. We see regular reports about freedom of speech being severely limited in universities and wider society by fear of Islamist retaliation,. Sharia law is creeping into our cities, homophobia and anti-semitism are increasing all the time and yet appeasement seems to be the order of the day. We see blatant election fraud and political corruption in places like Tower Hamlets and yet nothing much seems to be done about it.

    At the moment the dangers of the EDL appear minimal compared with the evident threat to the character of our society that is coming from Islam.

  9. Posted February 24, 2012 at 4:45 PM | Permalink

    I think appeasement is less the order of the day than it used to be Jane – but I think it’s best when it’s precision targeted. I like the way Hope not Hate covers both EDL type extremism *and* (increasingly) Islamist problems – as well as supporting campaigns against anti-Muslim bigtory.

  10. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 10:00 PM | Permalink

    As regards the EDL, I’ve written about them on this site, and why I think they’re very dangerous.

    Islamic reactionaries threaten civilisation in two ways. Firstly, they’re a bunch of violent nutcases who want to destroy civilisation. Secondly, they’re providing a huge power-up for other nutcases who’d achieve the same ends.

    And people wonder why I drink.

  11. jane a
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

    Sarah – I take your point about Hope not Hate seeming to be slightly less abject in their attitude to Islamists of late, but the people who are tempted by the EDL have probably never heard of Hope not Hate.

    Hugo, I have witnessed a lot of very intelligent debate about the dangers of Islam in the UK, but identification of the dangers does not seem to lead to any response to them. The EDL appears to be the only group that pushes back in a very visible way – perhaps they constitute a necessary wake-up call. And what other outlet is there at the moment for ordinary people who are worried by the increasing stridency of Islam in the UK?

    It has taken centuries for us in the west to reach a point where we had freedom from religion as well as freedom of religion, where the rights of women and of gay people were respected. It was not perfect, but things were going in the right direction. These hard won achievements are being eroded before our eyes. It would be ironic if Western Europe escaped from the bigotry of Christianity only to fall prey due to a combination of carelessness, cowardice and political expediency, to the bigotry of Islam.

  12. Amin
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 8:58 PM | Permalink

    “Islamic scripture is intolerant and violent and extremely illiberal, that’s not a slur or an insult to all Muslims, it’s simply a fact, one that is easily confirmed by just reading said scripture, it really is that simple.”

    Even the word “fact” has interpretations… one is often left ponder what the word means. Or does his dictionary differ from mine?

    —-

    However the “left” refuse to look through the telescope and as in the case of Galileo simply condemn those who point out the reality, they are doing exactly what Galileo’s detractors did, when Galileo was accused of heresy and spreading discord when he revealed that he could see objects orbiting jupitor through his new telescope the powers that be dragged him before the court, Galileo asked those who were sitting in judgement over him to simply look through the telescope and see for themselves, they refused point blank to do so.

    This high and mighty analogy doesn’t work… “left” has some brilliant academics that simply out weight “right” when it comes to Islam.

    With “right” you mostly get either complete loonies or those who walk the tight rope like Daniel Pipes. Never out there them-self but always supporting those who are.

    —-
    Well yes actually, I would say that seems to be the only conclusion any rational person could possibly arrive at, however if someone else has an alternate, rational theory as to the reason those sitting in judgement refused to “look” I would love to hear it.

    Ah….. but everyone else claims this position. Their position is the only right position. I have yet to meet 2 humans that agree on everything…

    —-

    The EDL appears to be the only group that pushes back in a very visible way – perhaps they constitute a necessary wake-up call. And what other outlet is there at the moment for ordinary people who are worried by the increasing stridency of Islam in the UK?

    I am really curious about this kind of thinking. See on one hand there is a racist group that is against many principles of liberalism of West. Yet how can someone claiming to be opposite to that thinking still consider a compromise?

    The two simply do not go together. Isn’t the whole point of having a “belief set” or “values” that you stand by them… else forge ahead with a third way – without blurring the lines.

    —-

    A global War is upon us, I know you “progressives” won’t believe it until you actually smell the cordite but it’s true, soon, very soon, even “progressives” will no longer be able to deny it because no matter how hard the powers that be try to hide it, a world war isn’t something that’s easily hidden.

    Meaningless scaremongering.

  13. Amin
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 9:09 PM | Permalink

    At the moment the dangers of the EDL appear minimal compared with the evident threat to the character of our society that is coming from Islam.

    What threat … exactly? That I’d really love to know.

  14. Anaximander's Sandal
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    “Even the word “fact” has interpretations… one is often left ponder what the word means. Or does his dictionary differ from mine?”

    I use the Oxford English Dictionary, what do you use dopey? The Mickey Mouse bumper book of bullshit?

    Pronunciation: /fakt/
    noun
    a thing that is known or proved to be true:
    the most commonly known fact about hedgehogs is that they have fleas
    [mass noun]:
    a body of fact
    (facts) information used as evidence or as part of a report or news article:
    even the most inventive journalism peters out without facts, and in this case there were no facts
    (the fact that) used to refer to a particular situation under discussion:
    despite the fact that I’m so tired, sleep is elusive
    [mass noun] chiefly Law the truth about events as opposed to interpretation:
    there was a question of fact as to whether they had received the letter.

    “This high and mighty analogy doesn’t work… “left” has some brilliant academics”

    Really? Name one.

    “ I have yet to meet 2 humans that agree on everything…”

    Really? So pray tell (5 times if you wish) what did Osama fish food Bin Laden and Ayman soon to be fish food  Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri disagree about?

    Ayman: “hey Osama old buddy old pal, shall we slaughter more infidels tomorrow before we shit in our holes or shall we just get right down to it and slaughter before we shit?”

    Osama: “who gives a shit as long as we slaughter”

    “Meaningless scaremongering.”

    You wish.

    “What threat … exactly? That I’d really love to know.”

    Do try to keep up dopey.

    The threat from Islamist maniacs!

    You didn’t really believe we were all going to put up with Islamist barbarity forever did you? 

    Tell me honestly now, you didn’t really believe we were just going to roll over and let Islamist savages turn the West back 1400 years so it resembles the absolute intellectual deserts such as Yemen and Saudi and Libya and Egypt and Morocco and Jordan and Syria and Iran and Sudan and Somalia and every other Islamic country, did you?

    You didn’t honestly believe that, did you?

    Then again you probably believe all that religious bullshit so I guess you probably do, don’t you.

    Boy some people are in for a very severe shock, I suspect an awful lot of jihadi maniacs will be hiding behind their women and children in the near future, just like Osama fish food and the cowards of Hezbollah and Hamas.

    ““left” has some brilliant academics that simply out weight “right” when it comes to Islam”

    “out weight”??? Surely you mean “outweigh”

    Oh, sorry, I guess that must be how they spell it in the Mickey Mouse bumper book of bullshit “dictionary”.

    If it was simply a unforeseen grammatical error then please do forgive me, I am no bard myself, however if I was claiming the higher ground re “dictionary” definitions I would try and make sure I presented my argument a little more cogently written.

  15. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    Anaximander,

    I get that you’re ticked off. Believe me, I know what it’s like being falsely called “racist” by a collection of morons (principally online) who refuse to do even the basic homework, who refuse to read a half-dozen necessary authors on the subject. I know that feeling of despair.

    However.

    Knock it off with the troll tactics. I get you’re ticked, but it isn’t clever to start throwing accusations or assuming the worst of your interlocutors. And stop stuff like this:

    “This high and mighty analogy doesn’t work… “left” has some brilliant academics”

    Really? Name one.

    Francis Wheen. Sam Harris. Richard Dawkins. The late great Christopher Hitchens. Want me to go back further?

    I’d love to communicate with you on neutral ground. I’m not happy giving out my email here, but if you have a proxy, I’d gladly continue this conversation.

  16. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 10:45 AM | Permalink

    Hugo, I have witnessed a lot of very intelligent debate about the dangers of Islam in the UK, but identification of the dangers does not seem to lead to any response to them. The EDL appears to be the only group that pushes back in a very visible way – perhaps they constitute a necessary wake-up call.

    jane a, the trouble is that they have no safeguards at all in place against infiltration by Blood & Honour types, nor do they seem to have any real ideas of what they stand for, long run. That’s a prescription for disaster. I can think of several ways in which, if someone suitably ruthless and ingenious were to show up, they could become a terrifying force. I guess we’re all lucky that I have so much to do.

    I don’t discount the possibility of talking with its members, for reasons I have already outlined. However – and you will find this out in the comments section on my article on the EDL – I’ve found them uncomunicative, and unwilling to face the issues I have raised here. I also think it is of the highest importance that people such as myself, when asked, “What’s your alternative?”, have a good, strong answer. And are willing to welcome people who come in from the cold. It’s why I wrote this article in the first place.

  17. Amin
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

    Hugo Schmidt

    “This high and mighty analogy doesn’t work… “left” has some brilliant academics”

    Really? Name one.

    This was my comment which you seem to have attributed it to Anaximander.

    As for one leftie – who is a brilliant academic is Noam Chomsky. Despite whatever you think of his politics. Although not in the field of Arabic, Middle East or Islam.

    From a Muslim’s perspective there are many non Muslim Western academics I admire greatly. For various reasons…. From Edward Lane to MG Carter.

  18. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

    Chomsky? Really? The man who defends Mao? And the Soviet Union? And the Khmer Rouge? And Castro’s Cuba? And Slobodan Milosevic?

    “As a Muslim” you might want to think on that last one. If it had been up to the disgusting likes of Chomsky, in Europe right now we’d have a National Socialist state that had kickstarted its reign by killing every Muslim in its borders, and, gee, wouldn’t that just have been fun?

  19. Amin
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 12:31 PM | Permalink

    Anaximander’s Sandal

    This is one problem with getting right down dirty and personal. You know you have lost it…

    Abode of the intellectually deficient… resorting to petty insults.

    Then you worry people don’t think highly of you… oh well another one bites.

  20. Amin
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 12:50 PM | Permalink

    Yes Chomsky… I did say despite his politics. But he is known as the “Father of Modern Linguistics”. I wish I was half as good… or quarter. We need such expertise in many Muslim dominated languages… Arabic, Urdu and etc.

    If it had been up to the disgusting likes of Chomsky, in Europe right now we’d have a National Socialist state that had kickstarted its reign by killing every Muslim in its borders, and, gee, wouldn’t that just have been fun?

    Oh, that is harsh to the man….

  21. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 1:32 PM | Permalink

    I do think that we might be able to find linguists who are not crawlers before every psychotic killer imaginable. And if you want language experts who knows all the languages to an astonishing degree, may I please introduce you to Ibn Warraq and Christoph Luxembourg?

    And my comment may have been harsh, but it was accurate. Chomsky took a “hands off Milosevic” attitude every bit as fanatical as his later “hands off Saddam” attitude, and went so far as to deny the Bosnian genocide. I repeat: if that man had been listened to, we’d have had National Socialist state right in Europe – and do you care to imagine how that would have played out?

  22. jane a
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    Amin

    You ask what threat Islam poses to our society.

    OK, let’s assume you have been living in a cave for many years with no TV, newspapers or internet. How about the repeated threats to free speech, the moronic outrage over books or cartoons that are perceived as offensive and the angry demands that people stop giving offence? How about the death threats made to Muslims who say things that other Muslims don’t like? How about the intimidation and abuse of gay people and the increase in anti-semitism? Oh, yeah, how about the terrorism – the killing of innocent people?

    I can see that you could easily have overlooked all of these.

    I won’t even begin on the forced marriages and honour killings with which Muslim immigrants have ‘enriched’ our society as I suppose you will play the culture/religion game with that one. I imagine it is just unfortunate that so many Muslims enjoy a culture that is violent and oppressive to women.

  23. Amin
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 2:13 PM | Permalink

    And if you want language experts who knows all the languages to an astonishing degree, may I please introduce you to Ibn Warraq and Christoph Luxembourg?

    No offense … but I am not too sure you’re acquainted with science of linguists. What do you mean by ” language experts who knows all the languages to an astonishing degree”. Chomsky as far as I know speaks English, Hebrew/Yiddish and some Spanish.

    Ibn warraq – a language expert… really? First time I have heard anyone calling him that. I don’t even rate him as an academic. Never mind the lofty heights of Chomsky. Hi main weapons – Theodore Noldeke. Now there is proper class of Academic. [Even if I don't agree with him]

    Ibn Warraq is a polemic and nothing more. He relies heavily on points of views that match his bias. That is not academia…. fair assessment has to be given.

    Look at those who rate him… like of Daniel Pipes and Douglas Murray. Neither a brilliant scholar any any stretch of the imagination.

    Pipes has the higher profile – he teeters with all anti-Islams going. Never out there himself. But come all that may… from Geller, Wilders, Sultan and etc.

    —- —- —-

    I think you meant Christoph Luxenberg… I am not aware of any “Christoph Luxembourg”. A hyped up pseudonym “destroyer of Myths”. Claiming that Quran is Syriac.

    Again an unknown “Internet legend”. I am aware of him. But how do you completely assess unknowns?

    Many of his claims simply are simply lacking in truth…
    —–

    Were you purposefully going for particularly provocative angle here? Surely these are not best you could come up with…. these are not really what you call Academics. Also how familiar are you with their works….

    — — —

    And my comment may have been harsh, but it was accurate. Chomsky took a “hands off Milosevic” attitude every bit as fanatical as his later “hands off Saddam” attitude, and went so far as to deny the Bosnian genocide. I repeat: if that man had been listened to, we’d have had National Socialist state right in Europe – and do you care to imagine how that would have played out?

    I wasn’t after defending Chomsky’s politics. Or much care for them. But he is a brilliant academic of his field.

  24. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    Amin,

    Ibn warraq – a language expert… really? First time I have heard anyone calling him that. I don’t even rate him as an academic.

    Read:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_Warraq#Works

    Warraq is a scholar any university should be proud to have as a professor. If they weren’t too afraid of the people trying to kill him, they would be fighting for him.

    I’ve read his works. Have you?

    Look at those who rate him… like of Daniel Pipes and Douglas Murray. Neither a brilliant scholar any any stretch of the imagination.

    Well, all in all, and taking one thing with another, I think that I’ll be the judge of that.

    Thanks for the typo correction. I wrote my response on the fly.

  25. Amin
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 3:31 PM | Permalink

    Warraq is a scholar any university should be proud to have as a professor. If they weren’t too afraid of the people trying to kill him, they would be fighting for him.

    Sorry but that is simply your opinion and not even based on much. You called him a language expert – but of which language? A professor of what…. and what are his expertise?

    Of course I have read his works. Look at them… take out the one about his apostasy. His works aimed at Quran: They are not original works. They do not amount much in the way of being academic.

    The Origins of The Koran: Classic Essays on Islam’s Holy Book – a collection of essays. Those that added to his biased views. Take Noldeke – he has long been criticized by other scholars – but they never even get a mention.

    What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text and Commentary – again hardly breaking the bank. Contributed by some distinguished scholars. Yet you mention someone like him?

    His best work:

    The Quest for the Historical Muhammad (Ibn Warraq) – again in the same style as above.

    So what a brilliant academic record?

    If you are that interested… why not look into the works of his contributors?

    — — —

    Take Rushdie…. he is is still honoured for his fiction. And the million who have heard his name wouldn’t even have heard of Ibn Warraq. If he was that attractive a proposition top universities would go for him no matter what.

    But you do need more than a degree for that.

    — — —

    Again no offense – but you do not come across as someone well read into this area. If you have only read such sensationalist material.

    Then again I might be mistaken as I don’t know much about you.

  26. Anaximander's Sandal
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 6:41 PM | Permalink

    With all due respect Hugo, it appears you don’t seem to know who the dreaded virtual ‘Me’ is, ask SarahAB, she will bring you up to speed.

    As for your Leftie intellectuals, yes indeed I agree, I would however question the “lefty” tag for the late great Christopher Hitchins, they are however all true intellectuals, no doubt about it.

    This is the way it is (with me) Hugo, I have been debating and arguing (in various guises) with the likes of Amin and assorted lefties for years, about 30 years actually, roughly 5 years ago it finally dawned on me that the effort is futile, it’s a complete waste of time, these people can’t be debated out of their ideology, it’s not possible, only time and, i would say, a certain ideological maturity can change their views, no atrocity, no evidence, no “fact” will make them question their belief, it will simply make them excuse it with ever increasing complexity.

    I knew, for a fact, that Amin would offer up some American or Jew hating communist butcher loving type as his “intellectual” and he didn’t disappoint, it was a simple but always effective experiment.

    Another thing, I find condescension and conceit really really really irritating even in the virtual world, Amin is, in my view, your typical conceited Islamist/Leftie and as such deserving of ridicule, it’s the one thing thing that fires their neurons.

    Does that make me a “troll” ?

    I really don’t know or care.

    I am all out of “debate” my friend, I am not here or at the numerous other blogs I visit in my various guises to debate anyone, I am here to make statements and to ridicule those whom deserve it.

    Does that make me a “troll”?

    I have no wish to derail your thread or impune yourself and the rest of the good lefties and good Muslims, frankly I don’t give a flying ‘you know what’ what you believe, each to their own and all that jazz, I do however find the Jew hating Islamists and their Leftist lapdogs utterly repulsive.

    And I will, whenever I have the chance, ridicule them.

    Actually, I was rather restrained in my earlier comment, I can be an awful lot worse as many in the virtual realm will confirm.

    I am an Conservative, an Atheist, a former Leftie and a person who has had enough of all this bullshit.

    Take umbridge if you wish, but I will no longer be dictated to as to how to confront those who disgust me.

    I like your site, I like what your write, you are the good guys in my view, the likes of Amin however are not the good guys, they are the bad guys, sadly however “debating them” ain’t cut to cut the mustard.

    I will return in the future, I will try to be civil.

    I will give it one last try.

  27. Amin
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 7:11 PM | Permalink

    This is the way it is (with me) Hugo, I have been debating and arguing (in various guises) with the likes of Amin and assorted lefties for years, about 30 years actually, roughly 5 years ago it finally dawned on me that the effort is futile, it’s a complete waste of time, these people can’t be debated out of their ideology, it’s not possible, only time and, i would say, a certain ideological maturity can change their views, no atrocity, no evidence, no “fact” will make them question their belief, it will simply make them excuse it with ever increasing complexity.

    yet you don’t know 2 things about me…. but the hate is all from you. And what is my supposed “ideology”? What you claimed as a fact … and the way claimed it – constituted a logical fallacy.

    I knew, for a fact, that Amin would offer up some American or Jew hating communist butcher loving type as his “intellectual” and he didn’t disappoint, it was a simple but always effective experiment.

    Why claim this afterwards…. Noam Chomsky is a brilliant Academic regardless of his politics. I offered him up as an academic … you cannot deny that he isn’t a brilliant academic of Linguistics. Isn’t that what you call a fact!?

    Another thing, I find condescension and conceit really really really irritating even in the virtual world, Amin is, in my view, your typical conceited Islamist/Leftie and as such deserving of ridicule, it’s the one thing thing that fires their neurons.

    See … you don’t know 2 things about me… so you chose to call me a Leftie and an Islamist at the same time. Wow! 2 extreme positions at the same time :-) I like that.

    Yet I was neither condescending nor conceited. Else evidence?

    —- —- —-

    I am here to make statements and to ridicule those whom deserve it.

    REALLY!

    I have no wish to derail your thread or impune yourself and the rest of the good lefties and good Muslims, frankly I don’t give a flying ‘you know what’ what you believe, each to their own and all that jazz, I do however find the Jew hating Islamists and their Leftist lapdogs utterly repulsive.

    Yet without know 2 things about me – you chose to attack – just based on challenging some of your views. And it was pretty soft challenge. For example what you termed as a FACT – constitutes a logical fallacy.

    —- —- —-

  28. Amin
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 7:15 PM | Permalink

    Chritopher Hitchen is not an Academic – Neither is Wheen – else I am thing of someone else.

  29. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 7:19 PM | Permalink

    I have no wish to derail your thread or impune yourself and the rest of the good lefties

    Did you read my piece? Or this the first time that an Objectivist is a leftie?

  30. jane a
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 8:12 PM | Permalink

    Anaximander’s Sandal, I take your point about the endless debating that never seems to lead to anything (and I haven’t been at it for long).

    Amin, what is this tiresome obsession with who is or is not an academic? Who gives a toss?

  31. Amin
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 10:56 PM | Permalink

    Amin, what is this tiresome obsession with who is or is not an academic? Who gives a toss?

    Accuracy…. else words get mangled – and people start withdrawing conclusions that are not there.

    My mentioning of Chomsky as a brilliant academic – had rather a violent effect on A Sandal.

  32. Anaximander' Sandal.
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 6:17 AM | Permalink

    “Did you read my piece?”

    Yes indeed. Very interesting.

    I like this bit

    “You either defend freedom of speech for everyone, including those you despise, or you do not defend it at all.”

    Absolutely, very noble.

    However how a free speech society reacts to the free speech of hatred and incitement is, in my view, infinitely more important to the well being and longevity of that society.

    Freedom of speech, great, fantastic, freedom to incite hatred through speech and suffer no consequences, no, sorry, I for one cannot buy a ticket to that show.

    I am sure you will remember the “you can’t shout Fire in a cinema” statement? Well you can if there’s a fire.

    “My mentioning of Chomsky as a brilliant academic”

    Is that a “fact” or is that an example of “a logical fallacy.”?

    Purely rhetorical by the way, I already know what the answer is.

    One Law For All, Justice, Yes indeed, just as long as the Laws are just and they are not just “laws” some ideologues “just” thought up.

    My apologies for calling you a lefty by the way, it’s just that I have spent the last few years in the virtual company of Leftist bloggers (much more stimulating that hanging around the echo chambers of my conservative brethren) and as a consequence I automatically assume every blogger on a leftist site is a lefty.

    I do find your post very interesting, honestly.

  33. Gary
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 6:37 AM | Permalink

    jane a,

    don’t be discouraged by amin. Nothing he says makes any sense: it’s all partisan blathering.

    You made a very good point, when you said:

    “OK, let’s assume you have been living in a cave for many years with no TV, newspapers or internet. How about the repeated threats to free speech, the moronic outrage over books or cartoons that are perceived as offensive and the angry demands that people stop giving offence? How about the death threats made to Muslims who say things that other Muslims don’t like? How about the intimidation and abuse of gay people and the increase in anti-semitism? Oh, yeah, how about the terrorism – the killing of innocent people?

    I won’t even begin on the forced marriages and honour killings with which Muslim immigrants have ‘enriched’ our society as I suppose you will play the culture/religion game with that one. I imagine it is just unfortunate that so many Muslims enjoy a culture that is violent and oppressive to women.”

    But amin, predictably, just ignored it. He does that. When someone says something he can’t refute, i.e. when he knows he’s on shaky ground, he either obscures it with doublespeak (refuses to speak to the issue) or ignores it. It is a form of cowardice.

    In his defense, one has to remember that he’s been indoctrinated from an early age not-to-question: the Koran is absolutely true, no matter what. Counter evidence, or any intimation that Islam isn’t ‘perfect’, can never be considered with an open mind. If you do allow yourself to do so, you are, in many places, subject to the death penalty.

    Such a lovely religion, isn’t it?

    No doubt you in particular have been doubly offensive: not only did you say something insightful, which he can’t refute, but you’re also a woman.

    Just ignore him. One must suffer fools.

  34. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:41 AM | Permalink

    A h AS, now here’s where we have our first serious disagreement. I can point you, without too much embarassment I hope, to an article I’ve written on the subject over at TCS:

    http://www.tcs.cam.ac.uk/issue/comment/for-full-absolute-uncompromising-free-speech/

    That stupid stupid “fire in a crowded theater” cliche is wrong on many different levels. First of all, the quote is “falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater. Furthermore, what people forget is that it was used by Oliver Wendell Holmes to sentence to life imprisonment a group of yiddish speaking socialists who were passing out pamphlets protesting America’s involvement in the horrors of the first world war, when there really was a fire. So it’s b.s. twice over.

    I reserve the right to incite hatred. I do it all the time, from people whose views I find evil to the moron beaurocracy that I have to deal with from time to time. What I do not, however, do is incite violence. I will not tell anyone to go and kill someone I disapprove of.

    I’ll also give a recently minted webmail address, hspolcom at mail dot com. If you’d care to contact me there, I would like to outline a few things. I trust people will not abuse this here.

  35. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

    I’m not to proud to say “I told you so”

    http://henryjacksonsociety.org/2012/02/28/proud-prejudiced/

    Quote: “A particularly disturbing part occurred when a drunken Tommy Robinson started doing impressions of Anders Breivik, the far-right Norwegian gunman who massacred 77 people last summer. “

  36. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 11:22 AM | Permalink

    Amin,

    It may be that my readings are more “sensational”. I’m am convinced of the necessity of the dialectic and the confrontational. So, provide me with some good criticism of the man, and some alternative authors. I’m always looking to sharpen my knowledge and up my game.

    Now I don’t want to get into a religious argument with you here, for one simple reason: I’m not going to convince you. So let’s talk about something else. Say, the religion of the Aztecs that saw thousands and hundreds of thousands of hearts wrenched from their living bodies to feed the Hummingbird of the South, Huitzilopochtli. I think we both agree that this was done precisely because of the tenets of their religion. I’d just like to sell you on the idea that this is exactly what the atrocities of your religion look like to the outsider. So that’s why the “sensational” stuff I read seems to hold true

    I should say that you have been a very good internet debater, not descending to ad hominem, cheap insults or the usual nonsense I have to put up with. I just want you to know where I’m coming from.

  37. Amin
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

    Gary …

    You asked me a question – I simply asked you to either clarify your question – because I detect an agenda [your subsequent actions prove me right] – re-phrase and finally I said I cannot answer your question. I have met “Gotcha” type questions before. They are meant as leading question… I openly said as much.

    Our comments are there for anyone to read…

    All response you had was to accuse me of all sorts – lying one of them. And petty insults. Despite asking for any evidence… you haven’t managed it yet. But you follow me around still posting hate. Why?

    Your recent comments show that you already had your mind made up anyway – no matter what. That is called prejudice and stereotyping someone.

    Again you do not know and knew 2 things about me. Yet if you wish to waste time – hardly the skin off my back.

    — — —

    But amin, predictably, just ignored it. He does that. When someone says something he can’t refute, i.e. when he knows he’s on shaky ground, he either obscures it with doublespeak (refuses to speak to the issue) or ignores it. It is a form of cowardice.

    Care for evidence….

    Cowardice is when you have outsmarted and out-thought – then resorting to petty insults.

    Ad hominem – my dear?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

  38. jane a
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 1:16 PM | Permalink

    Amin
    You asked what threat Islam poses to our society and I replied.

    Are you going to respond at all?

  39. Gary
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:03 PM | Permalink

    jane a,

    like I said, he doesn’t respond when you make an incisive point; or, if he does, he doesn’t speak to the point. Basically a coward (and, like I said, you’re a woman).

    Just ignore him.

  40. jane a
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 4:00 PM | Permalink

    Hugo, I have read your article about freedom of speech etc and like you, I worry when people start to talk about ‘necessary limits’. To be honest, the Holocaust denial laws bother me for this reason, as they can be seen as a step on the slippery slope. As you say, the point made by someone else about false accusations is obviously a red herring as this can be covered by libel laws.

    I do wonder what you have against utilitarianism though. John Stuart Mill was a great defender of free speech and surely the values of the open society can be supported using utilitarian arguments?

    Gary, thanks, I think you may be right.

  41. jane a
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 4:21 PM | Permalink

    By the way, I am aware we don’t have Holocaust denial laws here (yet), but I think the EU is keen on them. and has in the past proposed that Holocaust denial be made a criminal offence throughout Europe.

  42. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 6:02 PM | Permalink

    jane a,

    The reason I am opposed to utilitarianism is that it’s a worthless defence. What exactly is “the public good”? It can always be argued that it’s “in the public interest” to do, x, y or z. I do not accept that “the public” has a right to tell me how to live my life, nor will I ever seek the sanction of “the public” to bully my fellow creatures.

    To quote one of my great teachers:

    If it were true that men could achieve their good by means of turning some men into sacrificial animals, and I were asked to immolate myself for the sake of creatures who wanted to survive at the price of my blood, if I were asked to serve the interests of society apart from, above and against my own – I would refuse. I would reject it as the most contemptible evil, I would fight it with every power I possess, I would fight the whole of mankind, if one minute were all I could last before I were murdered, I would fight in the full confidence of the justice of my battle and of a living being’s right to exist

  43. Anaximander's Sandal
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:47 AM | Permalink

    Hugo, thank you for your gracious offer of communication but I must at the present time decline said offer, I wish to remain anonymous to all and sundry for the time being.

    It’s a personal decision I have taken for my own self interest, I am certain you will understand, in the real world I tend to watch my P&Qs, it may seem I am being rather cowardly, however what the virtual world thinks of the virtual “me” is irrellevent at the moment, when I was a nipper I had no such inhibitions re expressing my ideological leanings however circumstances change, in my real world words such as:

    “Everyone has the right to make his own decisions, but none has the right to force his decision on others.”

    Simply don’t compute to my colleagues, on the contrary, they truly believe ‘only they have the right to make decisions and that they are morally obliged to force their decisions on everyone else because they are smarter then everyone else and they know what’s best for everyone’

    Anonymity suits, for me, for now.

    You seem to be a man of principle with a deep commitment to your beliefs, I wish you well and look forward to reading your posts here and elsewhere, in the future.

  44. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

    AS, there are such things as web-based mail servers. You can always make an account and send me stuff anonymously.

  45. Amin
    Posted March 1, 2012 at 5:27 PM | Permalink

    Jane A

    You asked what threat Islam poses to our society and I replied.
    Are you going to respond at all?

    I asked a question – you answered? Great. Was there something you asked that necessarily implied a response?

    I hope this response wasn’t as a result of being egged on by a “troll”. Especially given that you had already responded to something else.

    I asked a question at 26th – You answered by 27th – And you were already prompting for a response by the 28th!

    I am under no obligation to respond. Since you seek a response…

    Keeping in mind what you originally said:

    …evident threat to the character of our society that is coming from Islam

    Overall it was an expected reply. However I was somewhat surprised at few choice omission.

    OK, let’s assume you have been living in a cave for many years with no TV, newspapers or internet. How about the repeated threats to free speech, the moronic outrage over books or cartoons that are perceived as offensive and the angry demands that people stop giving offence? How about the death threats made to Muslims who say things that other Muslims don’t like? How about the intimidation and abuse of gay people and the increase in anti-semitism? Oh, yeah, how about the terrorism – the killing of innocent people?

    “How about the repeated threats to free speech” – such as? This is a too broad a statement.

    ” the moronic outrage over books or cartoons that are perceived as offensive and the angry demands that people stop giving offence?”

    I take your point to mean only violent protests and they are wrong. But how does that affect the the character of the British society? It is hardly
    Neither is there any pressure from Muslim states in anyway or threats.

    ” How about the death threats made to Muslims who say things that other Muslims don’t like? ”

    This is a strange comment to make – I am not aware of many death threats
    between factions of Muslims. Again – how does this affect overall British society?

    “How about the intimidation and abuse of gay people and the increase in anti-semitism?”

    Set Muslim attitude towards homosexuality is one thing. But you referred to increased attack? Evidence?

    Antisemitism I am aware of… again evidence of increased violence towards Jews coming from Muslims.

    ” Oh, yeah, how about the terrorism – the killing of innocent people?”

    Yes that is a threat – but even majority of Muslims are against this. Also how many attacks? Many work to help eradicate this.

    I can see that you could easily have overlooked all of these.

    It is not the alleged threats… but their evidence and impact of their evidence that I was after. Why did you assume I wanted a simple list…?

    I won’t even begin on the forced marriages and honour killings with which Muslim immigrants have ‘enriched’ our society as I suppose you will play the culture/religion game with that one. I imagine it is just unfortunate that so many Muslims enjoy a culture that is violent and oppressive to women.

    Neither forced marriages or honour killings are exclusive to women. As your comment seems to imply. Both are horrific crimes.

    Issues such as these that are particular to one group remain as such. How do these alter British society at large? And here I am not asking about the extra policing.

    I suppose you will play the culture/religion game with that one.

    So you are already aware of the debate?

    ” …so many Muslims enjoy a culture that is violent and oppressive to women.”

    Really? Yet majority of Muslims are still Women. That is simply your opinion – and you haven’t even backed it up by much. For example – the level of domestic violence in UK that is committed by Muslim men for etc? Or women leaving Islam en mass….. something.

    —————

    What exactly is it about Islam that threatens the British society…?

    Terrorism is one thing. Although even here – majority of Muslims seek to help eradicate it. Yes Muslim terrorists justify their activities using the religion. But the causes they hijack are often legitimate concerns.

    But things like “forced marriages” don’t appear to be a threat to the British society at large. Unless you can shed some new light – that I have missed.

  46. Amin
    Posted March 1, 2012 at 5:32 PM | Permalink

    Anaximander’s Sandal

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noam_Chomsky

    “Avram Noam Chomsky (/ˈnoʊm ˈtʃɒmski/; born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, and activist”

    Despite his politics and even philosophy….

    —–

    Do you deny that he isn’t a renowned linguist and academic?

    —–

    I have already made my feelings clear. Try not to “twist” my words to suit you own meanings…

  47. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted March 1, 2012 at 5:49 PM | Permalink

    Amin,

    If you want my answer of why I think that, to use the terms strictly, Islam is a threat to the West, it is because of its relentless attack on freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is the dividing line between freedom and tyranny, and we have to fight and fight hard on that line.

    I entirely agree that terrorism is a total red herring (I exempt the possibility of nuclear terrorism and the nutcase rulers of Iran). I’m with Peter Hitchens on this – I’m more likely to have an eagle drop a tortoise on my head than that I will die in a terrorist outrage.

    And as though this weren’t bad enough, the presence of the Islamic far-right is turning into a massive force multiplier for other far-right groups. It really is enough to make one curl into a ball.

  48. Posted March 2, 2012 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

    Amin – one example of death threats are those levelled against Usama Hasan

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/06/usama-hasan-london-imam-death-threats-evolution

  49. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted March 2, 2012 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

    Sarah AB,

    My invitation to talk online is, of course, extended to yourself as well.

  50. Amin
    Posted March 2, 2012 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

    Sarah AB

    Horrific and unfortunate as that incident is – lone incident doesn’t really say much. What you really need to present are statistics of how wide this problem is.

    Also – what effects does it have on the larger society. A crime that is specific to one community is problematic – but shouldn’t the attitude be to help eradicate it?

    “Death threats” are not just a Muslim issue either… they do tend to happen in all sections of society.

    ——–

    The biggest threat from such incident is to the Muslim society itself. However, as they say… it only takes one individual to do serious damage.

  51. Amin
    Posted March 2, 2012 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

    Hugo Schmidt

    If you want my answer of why I think that, to use the terms strictly, Islam is a threat to the West, it is because of its relentless attack on freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is the dividing line between freedom and tyranny, and we have to fight and fight hard on that line.

    ” it is because of its relentless attack on freedom of speech. ” Such as… again this is too wide a statement. What is this threat… I’d like to hear more…

    “and we have to fight and fight hard on that line.” Really? What does this fighting involve? Drone attacks? Indefinite arrests? Another Gitmo? … what?

    —–

    I entirely agree that terrorism is a total red herring (I exempt the possibility of nuclear terrorism and the nutcase rulers of Iran). I’m with Peter Hitchens on this – I’m more likely to have an eagle drop a tortoise on my head than that I will die in a terrorist outrage.

    I don’t think terrorism is total red herring – unfortunately terrorist do use Islam. Its the extent of measures and attitudes that can be more problematic. Rather than solving the issue – we could end up with WW3.

    But when I look at the way Iraq – in all its entirety has been handled. I do understand nations wanting to go after Nuclear Weapons. One reason Saddam was so propped up was to fight Iran. I don’t think that was a good idea. Neither was arming Saddam to the teeth. Hopefully USA has learned that a Bastard is Bastard. I don’t know what solution to Iran is. But I don’t think attacking Iran is going to solve anything. Especially by Israel.

    ——

    And as though this weren’t bad enough, the presence of the Islamic far-right is turning into a massive force multiplier for other far-right groups. It really is enough to make one curl into a ball.

    People like BNP have hijacked legitimate fears and causes. Same thing many Muslims terrorists end up doing. Then blurring the distinction causes problems. This ends up as people not speaking up.

    One far right group isn’t responsible for actions of others.

  52. Posted March 2, 2012 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/8298715/Muslim-councillor-receives-death-threats-over-blasphemy-case.html

    is another example. But I agree that this isn’t just a Muslim problem – a relevant counterexample is the judge in the Zombie Mohammed case (*not* a Muslim, despite early reports) who has apparently also received death threats.

    Hugo – I’ll link to my personal blog now which has my full name – contact details easily available.

  53. Amin
    Posted March 2, 2012 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    Sarah AB

    Then why bring this up? Singular examples don’t really say much.

  54. Posted March 2, 2012 at 4:21 PM | Permalink

    Only because you said you weren’t aware of any such factional threats between Muslims/Muslim communities. I’m not sure that I have any particular quarrel with you – I have rather lost track! I originally joined the thread to express concerns about what I mistakenly percieved to be Hugo’s tolerance for the EDL.

  55. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted March 2, 2012 at 5:16 PM | Permalink

    Amin,

    Don’t fuck around. You know perfectly well that everyone is scared to death of criticising Islam and that those who do go around with security details. So skip that.

    What do we do? Anytime someone is threatened, everyone stands up alongside him, and says “You’ll have to kill us all”. And we demand that those who incite violence – mark this distinction well – be prosecuted with the full force of the law.

  56. Brian Goldfarb
    Posted March 2, 2012 at 6:44 PM | Permalink

    I apologise if this has already been said above.

    Hugo says early in his article that “You either defend freedom of speech for everyone, including those you despise, or you do not defend it at all.” Absolutely, and this is exactly the case Nick Cohen makes in his latest book “You Can’t Read This Book: Censorship in n age of Freedom”. Among much else, he draws our attention to John Stuart Mill’s seminal essay “On Liberty”, who says that the only time to restrict the right to free speech is if it will actually cause harm to others – and he means physical harm, not just to someone’s reputation.

    Similarly, I have noted often that an attack on academic freedom anywhere is an attack on it everywhere. Thus, the case for boycotts against Israeli universities (and only Israeli universities) is such an attack and cannot be defended. No-one suggested that, in the darkest days of the Cold War, that Russian or Chinese academics and their institutions should be boycotted. And it was only when (and if) South African academics requested boycotts of their own institutions that it happened.

    So far, I haven’t noticed any but the occasional Israeli academic urging boycotts on themselves. That should give pause enough.

  57. Amin
    Posted March 2, 2012 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

    Don’t fuck around. You know perfectly well that everyone is scared to death of criticising Islam and that those who do go around with security details. So skip that.

    Try not to swear… it puts a different shade on things. Really? Yet Islam is openly being criticized – academic, News, Media, Net and etc. The question originally was about threat of Islam to the British society. You said it is attack on freedom of speech…

    ” it is because of its relentless attack on freedom of speech. ” Such as… again this is too wide a statement. What is this threat… I’d like to hear more…

    “and we have to fight and fight hard on that line.” Really? What does this fighting involve? Drone attacks? Indefinite arrests? Another Gitmo? … what?

    You were answering to this… That is hardly a mature answer… and why skip it.

    Muslim OTT reactions have mostly been over trivia. Rushdie affair or the cartoons etc. Yet look at

    I have genuinely asked you a question… if this all that you meant – then leave at clarifying your position. Not getting hysterical.

    ———————

    What do we do? Anytime someone is threatened, everyone stands up alongside him, and says “You’ll have to kill us all”. And we demand that those who incite violence – mark this distinction well – be prosecuted with the full force of the law.

    Sure – inciting violence jail…. no conflict there. But that was understood before. Only question is does that simply work one way…

    A small point – but an important one…

    The editor who published cartoons over Prophet Muhammad had no problems over refusing to print cartoons of Jesus….

    ————–

    What frightens someone is always different….

    “Freedom of speech is the dividing line between freedom and tyranny, and we have to fight and fight hard on that line. ”

    This could mean so many different things… Likes of BNP and EDL to say they stand for Freedom….

    … causalities of drone attacks killing innocent civilians – that is under protecting Freedom.

    .. Iraq was about protecting Freedom.

    So where is the distinction?

  58. Hugo Schmidt
    Posted March 5, 2012 at 9:36 AM | Permalink

    Amin,

    Openly criticised, huh? You can ask Salman Rushdie, Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Theo van Gogh, Geert Wilders, Oriana Fallaci, Ibn Warraq etc. how well that goes. You may also look at the following:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXF-rJAOHGQ

    And if you haven’t seen “Undercover Mosque” yet, you should.

    Please stop being disingenuous about this.

    The editor who published cartoons over Prophet Muhammad had no problems over refusing to print cartoons of Jesus….

    That’s really your reading of this? How about the fact that the people who publish cartoons of Jesus do not get death threats, serious and believable ones, whereas those who publish cartoon of Mo’ DO. That is not a distinction without a difference.

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