Monday, January 29, 2007

Islamism and multiculture

Christopher Hitchens on Mark Steyn, Martin Amis, Jack Straw, and the Islamist threat (via Jogo)
This is good stuff. It shows how the right's fears of the Islamist danger is partly right, but it also shows where they are wrong.

Steyn makes the same mistake as did the late Oriana Fallaci: considering European Muslim populations as one. Islam is as fissile as any other religion (as Iraq reminds us). Little binds a Somali to a Turk or an Iranian or an Algerian, and considerable friction exists among immigrant Muslim groups in many European countries. Moreover, many Muslims actually have come to Europe for the advertised purposes—seeking asylum and to build a better life. A young Afghan man, murdered in the assault on the London subway system in July 2005, had fled to England from the Taliban, which had murdered most of his family. Muslim women often demand the protection of the authorities against forced marriage and other cruelties. These are all points of difference, and also of possible resistance to Euro-sharia.

The main problem in Europe in this context is that many deracinated young Muslim men, inflamed by Internet propaganda from Chechnya or Iraq and aware of their own distance from “the struggle,” now regard the jihadist version of their religion as the “authentic” one. Compounding the problem, Europe’s multicultural authorities, many of its welfare agencies, and many of its churches treat the most militant Muslims as the minority’s “real” spokesmen. As Kenan Malik and others have pointed out in the case of Britain, this mind-set cuts the ground from under the feet of secular Muslims, encouraging the sensation that many in the non-Muslim Establishment have a kind of death wish.

Little Richardjohn: British Identity Lessons...
This is also good stuff.
British identity is like the ever growing family quilt, where each generation makes their contribution, no matter how tedious or brilliant or immoral or saintly... [Britain] has never benefited from attempts to pickle its identity. And the attempts to do so are generally forgotten or ridiculed.

Added Tuesday:
Here's a few links on the Ken Livingstone/Daniel Pipes clash of civilisations debate: Jonathan Hoffman at Adloyada, David T at Harry's, Oliver Kamm, Ami at Harry's


Jogo said...

I think, with the words you used to frame it, and with
the particular quote you took from it, you spun
Hitchen's review of Mark Steyn's book a bit leftward.

Hitchens actually liked Steyns book very much. He
criticized a certain self-aggrandizing strain in
Steyn's self-presentation -- and yes, he knocks
Falacci down a peg -- but basically he LIKED the book,
and thought it a bracing tonic and a brave piece of

Bit of wishful thinking on your part, sounds like to

bob said...

Yes, certainly Hitchens likes Steyn's book. And I broadly agree with the thesis too.

But there is, I think, a crucial difference between where Steyn is coming from and where Hitchens is coming from. And Hitchens makes this difference very clear in the review.

The difference is in the way that Steyn and his ilk see Islam as monolithic, not noticing the clinks that let in light. This is connected to the slightly paranoid obsession with demography, which Hitchens is quite good on: the demography argument is strong, but shouldn't be overblown.

Just had a quick re-skim of Hitch's article, to check I'm not spinning too much, and was relieved to see that Hitchens uses plenty of adjectives like "slapdash" and "reductionist" for Steyn's book.

By the way, there's another interesting faultlines. Between Hitchens and Steyn there is a difference over secularism. Steyn sees Christianity as part of our armoury against Islamism; Hitch sees Christianity as one of his enemies. (I think they're both wrong.)

Jogo said...

guess i'm more Steynish on the Christianity-as-armoury
thesis (although I think of it as something more like
"Christianity as Bulwark").

Hitchens simply cannot be trusted to say ANYTHING
intelligent about religion, or religious culture,
because is so implacably, dare I say irrationally
against all of it. A person can get hung up on Reason
as much as on non-Reason, you know.