Friday, August 05, 2005

Using semantics to obfuscate

I have just added some considerable chunks to this post since yesterday, and a few new links, so I have replaced it to the top of the page.

Just in case anyone is in any doubt about my assertions on Iran, here's a little speech from the new Iranian president.

"Art reaches perfection when it portrays the best life and best death. After all, art tells you how to live. That is the essence of art. Is there art that is more beautiful, more divine, and more eternal than the art of martyrdom? A nation with martyrdom knows no captivity. Those who wish to undermine this principle undermine the foundations of our independence and national security. They undermine the foundation of our eternity.

"The message of the [Islamic] Revolution is global, and is not restricted to a specific place or time. It is a human message, and it will move forward.

"Have no doubt... Allah willing, Islam will conquer what? It will conquer all the mountain tops of the world."

And now, a chastisement from a, Saudi sheikh, of "those who shirk Jihad".

And, of course, some stirring word's from the man himself.

(Via Eric S)

BTW, does anyone else find the whole style of writing a bit weird? It's like, well, Biblical-type rhetoric mixed with the banal and mundane (even allowing for difficulties in idiomatic translation). Extraordinary.


Via Nosemonkey, these posts at Talk Politics and Newshog come my way. It relates to this Times opinion piece by Anthony Browne. You can also read my initial postings in the comments.

Let me explain what I'm going to do here: normally on this blog, I write (personal) opinion pieces, having gleaned opinions and news from (mainly) bloggers and the op.ed.s that they refer to. I do not usually get involved in particular pieces, since I know very little about the MSM: the only things that I read on a regular basis are The Spectator and Private Eye. However, while I should lay out that I do not necessarily agree with the Anthony Browne piece, nor think it is a particularly skilled piece of writing, the critiques by these two bloggers have got me piqued. I intend to show that these critiques are nothing more than semantic and philosophical hair-splitting (coupled with a bit of name-calling), reminiscent of A Level practical crtiticisms.

(Oh, and Scott Burgess also mentions this, on The Daily Ablution, and so does The Pedant-General in Ordinary.)

It's difficult to know where to start, really, but let's start with Newshog, since his is the shorter piece. Newshog starts off nice and early with the name calling:

Today, the London Times allowed a known racist to rewrite history in an attempt to justify some of it's readers' closet bigotry.

Unfortunately, being so ignorant of the MSM, I didn't know that Anthony Browne was a racist. However, I'm sure that a responsible blogger like Newshog would not just sling names at people without producing evidence for it, so I'm sure my ignorance won't matter. And, sure enough:

You wil no doubt find it as interesting as I did that Browne enters into friendly correspondence with V-Dare, an online journal of the Center For American Unity where you will find such gems as "black men have on average 3 to 19 percent more testosterone than white men" and:

it is true. Africans do tend to have low IQs.
The average IQ of sub-Saharan Africans in Africa has been studied many times over many decades. It keeps coming out almost two standard deviations below that of Europeans and nearly two and half standard deviations below that of Northeast Asians.

And this guy has the nerve to attack the guardian for employing an intern who was a member of an Islamic extremist group?

There are two points of note here: firstly, of course, this is not a blanket "we hate non-whites" racist comment on the grounds that, if you read the second paragraph closely, it actually says that Northeast Asians have a higher average IQ than Europeans. The second point to note is that this whole issue has been quite extensively researched and is—subject, like any other scientific theory, to Popper's theory of falsifiability—actually true. It doesn't really matter if, as many do, you think that IQ tests are flawed: all Browne is doing here is relaying the data. Scientific fact should not be subjected to the whim of fashionable political theories: we may as well start burning books. So, error number 1 for Mr Newshog.

The mere fact that Anthony Browne writing in today's London Times conveniently "forgets" that by far the biggest British cheerleader for the Nazis was the London Times itself says volumes about the rest of the particulars of this piece of idiocy. I don't want to be making strawman attacks here but when a writer will compromise his integrity so totally on a matter of historical record one must needs wonder what lengths he will go to when recording hysteria.

This is such an utterly irrelevant point that one needs to stand back for a second, and then point and laugh at it for a while. I mean, of all the ludicrous GCSE arguments, this old chestnut must be one of the most staggeringly stupid. What the stance of The Times was in the 1930s, under a different owner, is stunningly irrelevant.

As a matter of fact, still raw from WWI, the majority of the populace was pro-appeasement. This was not because people were Nazi-sympathisers, but because they were desperate not to get embroiled in yet another hugely destructive, expensive and bloody conflagration. This is why Churchill and the others who were pro-war were shouted down so vociferously; people would rather do almost anything than go to war again.

So another kick for Mr Hog, along with the warning that if you "don't want to be making strawman attacks" then I suggest that you don't, well, create a strawman argument.

I'm not even going to bother counterattacking Browne's assertion that "support of Islamic fascism spans Britain’s Left" as he then disproves himself nicely by not mentioning the mainstream Left such as the Labor [sic] Party, trade unions or even the Scottish Nationalists but instead only Ken Livingston, George Galloway and the Socialist Workers Party. The latter are a source of endless amusement to most UK lefties, being stuck in a 70's timewarp.

Lordy, are they really? Well, I'm willing to bet that it wasn't the Conservative voters who elected Red Ken to be Mayor. I'm also willing to bet that it also wasn't they who Galloway (whose Respect party is backed by the SWP. Oh, and the Muslim Association of Britain). Are starting to see a pattern here? Unless, of course, these gentlemen were elected by a minority core of fundamentalists somehow, erm...

It also seems to be slightly perverse not to "bother counterattacking Browne's assertion that "support of Islamic fascism spans Britain’s Left"" since that seems to be one of the central thrusts of the piece, i.e. that left-wing media, like The Guardian think that letting Islamist extremists like Dilpazier Aslam write pieces on the bombings, etc. shows, at best, an incredible lack of judgement and, at worst, a sympathy with his aims.

More importantly, he is attacking the Leftist mindset, a mindset is simply unable to comprehend the concept of personal responsibility. This is demonstrated in the original fisking post by Andrew Sullivan.

THE PATHOLOGY OF ROBERT FISK: His account of his ordeal at the hands of an Afghan mob – a mob that apparently cried “Infidel!” as they attacked and tried to rob him – is a classic piece of leftist pathology. You have to read it to believe it. Even when people are trying to murder Fisk, he adamantly refuses to see them as morally culpable or even responsible.

The central tenet of conservatism, which most people would place on the right of the political spectrum, is the concept of personal responsibility; the Left believe in the very opposite. They essentially believe in a world where "Individual notions of responsibility or morality are banished, as one group is labeled [sic] blameless and another irredeemably malign" [AS again] and in which people are solely the product of their environment, with no personal responsibility at all. Apart from the repugnance of the idea that we, as humans, have no personal moral choice, this idea is demonstrably wrong. There are many people who grow up in the most appalling conditions who go on to lead happy, blameless lives; there are also those who have grown up in a lush environment who are complete shits (I, personally, know many of both).

Thus, the Leftist media, of which the Guardian is the most notable banner-bearer, is simply totally incapable of condemning unreservedly the London bombings; they have to slip in that actually it's all our fault... blah... Afghanistan... blah... Iraq whilst ignoring the facts (that we were attacked many times before the Iraq war, that the majority of the Iraqi people walked miles to vote to show their support, that the Iranian Muslim cleric leading the Iraq "uprising" delared war on "the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it rather than the US invaders, etc.). In this way, they are apologists for the radical Islamists, as they were for Stalin, and as many were for the Nazis. However, the apologists for the Nazis were not only, to some extent, ignorant of the dark scenes going on behind the economic recovery, but also desperate not to find dark scenes in order to avoid war. In this case, the Leftist media is actively trying to find a justification for the appalling actions of the Islamists, in much the same way as they did for the Communists.

Nazism was a political movement that had control of an entire Great Power (on a par with hte modern G8 nations) while a large percentage of it's population sat back and let it happen for (mainly) economic reasons. Islamic extremism is as much the enemy of the vast bulk of Muslims as it is of anyone else - and moderate Muslims by-and-large already understood this. There was a complacency factor among UK Muslims which has now been very definitely overcome.

Yes, well, up to a point Lord Copper. This poll showed that a considerable number of Muslims had sympathy and understanding with the London bombers. And I wonder, how much more sympathy do you think that suicide bombers would get had the poll been asking the same questions about those who bomb innocent Israelis? Just thinking aloud there.

There is no likelihood of the extremists ever getting control of a major industrial and economic (think G8) power with the capacity for advanced armaments. They simply will not ever have the power base.

Yeah, well, this is, again, rather debatable. One could point at Iran for instance, or even Saudi Arabia; the laws in these countries, i.e. Sharia, are the kind of laws that we would assign to extremists. Alright, they may not be G8 countries and are unlikely to be so, since radical Islam, almost by its very nature, stifles innovation and, of course, personal freedom. Oh, and security of tenure, as Mr Worstall would put it. They may not be G8, but I'm willing to bet that Iran, at least, will very soon be a nuclear power (see also this post).

But saying Islamic extremists are like the Nazis is a great smokescreen when you are already a bigot making senseless generalisations and want to hide your bigotry under a smokescreen of faux concern.

I think that there is a bigot around here somewhere; however, I would like to propose that the bigot is, in fact, Newshog. He sees that Mr Browne subscribes to a scientific theory—backed by evidence—that disagrees with Mr Hog's worldview and suddenly the headline is "London Times Racist Rewrites History". Do you see?

Let us not forget that then Home Secretary David Blunkett once described Browne in the House of Commons as "bordering on fascism".

Apart from the fact that this is the pot calling the kettle black, was Blunkett really describing Browne, or was he describing something that Browne said or wrote? Do we think that, just possibly, he may have said that because he disagreed with Mr Browne and decided to start name-calling? Oh, hang on, that would never happen; would it, Newshog?

I found Mr Newshops post via Nosemonkey, who wrote

Note to idiots: Nazism was an ideology based on hatred, and the majority of true Nazis were nutters.

Browne wrote "They [the left-wing media] may not want a global theocracy, but they are like the West’s apologists for the Soviet Union — useful idiots". I found Nosemonkey's lack of denunciation of the Soviets somewhat worrying. In what way, exactly, was Nazism "an ideology based on hatred" and Communism not? And, in fact, one could posit that the Muslim creed, especially that of the so-called fundamentalists, is also based on hatred; most specifically hatred of the Jews, but also of infidels.

There is also the problem of integration, which is discussed in the comments at Harry's Place. The main problem here is that Muslims do tend to self-ghettoize themselves; after all, Muslims are forbidden to marry non-Muslims: yes, I know that this applies to the Catholic Church as well, but the Catholics do not carry out "honour" killings. Nor does the Christian faith advocate the killing of those who turn away from it. Right there, that is a slight problem in trying to integrate Muslims into secular communities such as ours. Anyway, enough; I must now tackle the piece over at Talk Politics.

On the subject of the Communists, Unity has this to say:

Wow, what an opener. Hitler, Islam and the Soviet Union all in the first sentence – three bogeymen for the price of one – and a reference to the myth that Lenin described supposedly 'liberal apologists' for Bolshevism as 'useful idiots', something he didn't actually say.

Browne is being rather sparing with historical detail here. Elements in the British establishment were initially sympathetic towards Hitler, but the so were elements in US establishment include Franklin D. Roosevelt who spoke admiringly of Nazi Germany on several occasions during the 1930's, long before the downside of Nazism became apparent to the world outside Germany.

Note how Unity says nothing about the Soviet apologists comparison (though he does correctly flag up that Lenin did not coin the phrase "useful idiots" (although, exactly how that is relevant, apart from being a bit of intellectual one-upmanship, I'm not sure).

Why should I care? Well, yes, it took a while for "the downside of Nazism" to become apparent; however, people supported the Communists (who killed many, many more people than Hitler), despite having a pretty good idea of what was going on in Russia. And, indeed, Communism has its supporters even now. However, let's move on.

Islamists, like Hitler, scapegoat Jews for their problems and want to destroy them.

So what are we saying here, that anti-Semitism and fascism are synonymous? Because if we are then amongst the list of famous historical fascists you'll find...

Richard the Lionheart - had a delegation of London Jews beaten and refused entry to his coronation ceremony – he kept the gifts, mind you!

Martin Luther – who when not nailing his thoughts on the Catholic church to cathedral doors found time to write the nattily entitled, 'On the Jews and their lies' – no doubt a bit of best-seller in its day.

Far too many Popes, Cardinals and other Catholic clergy to list them all, but with a special mention for Thomas Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition who favoured torture as a means on converting Jews to Christianity... and burning Jews at the stake if they found to have pretended to convert in order to avoid being tortured – bit of Catch 22 when you think about it.

Charles Dickens – creator of the character of Fagin in Oliver Twist who reflected accurately the stereotypical image of Jews which was widely held by Victorian Society.

The House of Romanov - the first pogroms against the Russian Jewry took place in Odessa in either 1821 or 1859, depending on which source you take as accurate, but really started in earnest in 1881 when, first, Russian Jews were blamed, unfairly, for the assassination of Alexander II – and then blamed, again, for the ensuing riots in 166 towns across Russia, by his successor, Alexander III. Hell, why waste a good scapegoat when you've got one.

All these examples pre-date the advent of fascism, which arose in Italy in the 1890's.

The simple, historical fact is that anti-Semitism has a long and undistinguished history going back well over a millennium before the advent of fascism – and for the most part the perpetrators were Christians, not Muslims. In fact, by and large, the Jews faired far better in Islamic societies such as the Ottoman Empire where the only real penalty for being a Jew was that you paid higher taxes so long as you generally behaved yourself, played by the Ottoman's rules and didn't challenge their authority.

Yes, you see? A classic strawman argument: I think that it is perfectly clear that Browne is not saying that anti-Semitism is the same as fascism. He merely points out that "like Hitler", Islamists scapegoat the Jews. The rest of this stuff is just, again, intellectual one-upmanship. Very interesting, but essentially irrelevant.

Islamists, like Hitler, decree that the punishment for homosexuality is death.

Let's not forget our own less than stellar track record on homosexuality, before we start condemning others.

Homosexuality was only legalised in the UK in the 1960's and homosexuals were only then given parity with heterosexuals in terms of the legal age of consent in 2001 – and then only after the use of the Parliament Act to force the legislation past the House of Lords.

Yes, but the law was not actively enforced for a long time before that. And the punishment was never being hanged from a crane with nylon rope. And does anyone actually obey the law on the age of consent? We don't even prosecute people who get 11 year old girls pregnant or, indeed, those who abet this criminal act. Perdonally, I think the age of consent for all sex should be raised to 18 myself, but that's another story.

During the 1950's, in Britain, homosexuality was widely regarded as a kind of psychiatric disorder which could be 'treated' using aversion therapy which frequently made use of ECT - electro-convulsion therapy. Less than 50 years ago, we were administering electric shocks to gay men on the entirely false premise that it could cure them of their 'deviant' behaviour.

Yes, but will you accept that we have actually moved on? Because, at least legally, we have developed/become more tolerant; however you want to put it. The problem with Islamists is that they cannot develop legally because the Koran is their law, and the Koran written by a man who has been dead for over a thousand years. He cannot revise those laws in the light of modern tolerances, and thus neither can those who believe the Koran to be the literal Word of Allah. And since Mohammed was the last prophet, Allah cannot "speak" through anyone else either.

As is the case with anti-Semitism, prejudice against homosexuality is not a characteristic that's exclusive to either fascism or radical Islam.

And I fail to see Unity's point. Browne is drawing a comparison; whether you think that that comparison is right or not is, on this point, irrelevant. The important thing to note is that at no point does Browne say the above. So yet another strawman has been thrown up.

Nazis aimed for their Thousand-Year Reich, while Islamists aim for their eternal Caliphate.

And the Jews aim for sovereignty over land they believe was given to them by God, Communists believe that one the workers gain control of the means of production the state will wither away to nothingness and Neo-liberals believe that the road to perpetual economic growth and prosperity will come via the creation of a universal free market.

Another strawman. He's drawing comparisons to the Nazis, not to any of the other systems mentioned. This criticism lark is really easy if you make up the questions that you want to answer, eh?

The sole defining characteristic of fascism – the one thing that sets is apart from the mainstream, although not from other revolutionary ideologies such as Bolshevism, is its use of violence, of the mob, to achieve its goals, but this is also the one area in which there is marked difference between fascism and radical Islam; radical Islam having adopted the methods of revolutionary anarchism and the use of 'spectacular' acts of terror rather than seek to forge a mass movement.

These are certainly two radical, extreme ideologies, but they are not the same.

There is a lot more in this vein, but I just can't be bothered to post it as it is pretty much rebutted by this very easily found article on Wikipedia:

Fascism was typified by attempts to impose state control over all aspects of life. Many scholars consider fascism to be part of, or in coalition with, extreme right politics. The definitional debates and arguments by academics over the nature of fascism, however, fill entire bookshelves. There are clearly elements of both left and right ideology in the development of Fascism.

Modern colloquial usage of the word has extended the definition of the terms fascism and neofascism to refer to any totalitarian worldview regardless of its political ideology, although scholars frown on this.


The term fascism has come to mean any system of government resembling Mussolini's, that in various combinations:

  • exalts the nation, (and in some cases the race, culture, or religion) above the individual, with the state apparatus being supreme.

  • stresses loyalty to a single leader.

  • uses violence and modern techniques of propaganda and censorship to forcibly suppress political opposition.

  • engages in severe economic and social regimentation.

  • engages in syndicalist corporatism.

  • implements totalitarian systems.

Browne is not, I would imagine, a scholar: I also doubt that more than a tiny percentage of his readers are either. The colloquial understanding of fascism is entirely fine here. Also, f you accept the perception of power politics as a ring—as I was taught—there is no difference between fascism and Communism or, in any meaningful sense, Sharia. All three are statist regimes that compel, though force if necessary, their citizens to live every aspect of their lives in the manner that the state decrees. The state will tolerate no dissenting views.

Now, if you can tell me why Iran (to pick an example of Sharia in action) cannot, by the definitions above, cannot be called a fascist state, I would be interested to know. But Unity's on a roll; after all, he wrote about this a little while ago and it's a chance to develop his ideas. However, he gets sidetracked by Al-Qaradawi, of the Muslim Association of Britain, who, whilst condemning the 9/11 attacks, apparently approves of suicide bombing in Israel.

Islamic law recognises two different types of Jihad, 'Offensive Jihad' – the purpose of which is to bring non-Muslim territory under Islamic control, and 'Defensive Jihad' – the purpose of which is to defend Islam and Islamic territory from invasion and occupation, in the sense of it being controlled, not merely by living there under Islamic rule, by non-Muslims.

At this time, 'Offensive Jihad', which would permit and sanction attacks on non-Muslim soil, is not an option – Islamic jurisprudence is such that an Offensive Jihad can only be declared and sanctioned by a legitimate Caliph, and since there has been no such Caliph since the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire on the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1924 by Mustapha Kemal Ataturk there is no possibility of Offensive Jihad – hence Bin Laden's repeated references to 'eighty years' in slating the US, the period – approximately – since the end of the last Caliphate. This proves that Bin Laden is no historian as the US played no role at all in either of the Treaties of Sevrés or Lausanne which broke up the Ottoman Empire, nor is Ataturk's decision to finish the job entirely by declaring a secular Turkish republic and also – by logical inference, that a global Caliphate is a non-starter at the present time as well, as well as explaining why Al-Qaradawi has condemned the attacks on New York.

Well, that was very generous of him. And, as it happens, this idea of the Offensive and Defensive jihad is an interesting tidbit. However, once again, it is largely irrelevant—from the point of view of our own security—as it may well be true that under Islamic law there is—due to the lack of Caliph—no possibility of "Offensive Jihad" it must be pretty obvious by now that Al-Qa'eda and their associates, disagree somewhat. Unless, of course, New York and London are considered to be part of the ancient Muslim world?

While we may see no difference between the different contexts in which such attacks have taken place and take the view that a suicide bombing is a suicide bombing and wrong no matter where it thappens, Islamic law and Islamic jurisprudence take a different view and make a distinction between the two.

Well, that's very nice for them. However, this makes them all the more dangerous and unpleasant; to have a law which allows the deliberate targeting of innocents is just wrong. To fail to see anything wrong with this is even more unpleasant, and simply not forgiveable (well, technically, under Islamic law, it is, of course).

Then on to good old Dilpazier:

That he made no secret of his association with Hizb ut-Tahrir during employment is neither here nor there either as its clear that whatever personal/political opinions he may have expressed while 'at the office' were not sufficient to raise concerns over his employment. This is no different to the situation in any other workplace – colleagues may well hold personal opinions with which you vehemently disagree but so long as they do not bring those views into the workplace itself this is of no consequence to their continued employment.

Mmmhmm. The trouble is that he did bring it into the workplace, didn't he? He was writing articles on Shabina Begum whilst the radical organisation of which he was a member was representing and advising her. The issue here is really one of disclosure. Did he reveal that his organisation was involved with Ms Begum? Did he declare it in any of the articles? No. This is a clear conflict of interest; the very least that he should have done is to declare his interest.

Browne use of the suggestion that this is in some way a move towards Shariah Law in the UK is palpable nonsense. It also, in the context of its use by Browne in this particular article and in support of his thesis that radicalism within Islam constitutes a threat to British society – in my personal opinion – clearly racist.

Surely its "religionist" if anything, isn't it? And I'm sorry, but if his main point is that "radicalism within Islam constitutes a threat to British society" then I'd agree with him. Let's assume that we had a radical Islamic government of the sort that Iran have; would this be a threat to our British way of life? Yes, it would, i.e. we wouldn't have a British way of life. Do the Iranian's have an Iranian way of life? No, they have an Islamic way of life. After all

The ultimate goal of radical Islam seeks is not the creation of a racially pure Islamic master race but the conversion of everyone to Islam – the 'perfect' Islamic society is one which everyone is a believer irrespective of their racial/ethnic origins.

The trouble is, in a country ruled by Sharia, it doesn't matter if you actually believe or not: you are required—compelled—to live as if you did. And all of this is all just thoelogical philosophy anyway. What I don't get about the Left is that are really willing to believe that the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan to build their evil empire, but that Muslims are in some way totally pure and concerned only with their spirituality.

This is simply untrue. The mullahs in Iran control almost the entirety of the economy, farming out separate bits amongst themselves, rather like the alien family farm different aspects of the town in Diana Wynne Jones' Archer's Goon. What drives them is money and power, not the love of Allah; the religion, in this case, is simply window-dressing (and a useful justification of the repression of their people). In this respect, of course, they are much more like the Communists (and the fact that Communism was an intellectual concept also makes it closer to Islam). I believe that it was Lord Acton, the British historian, who said: "All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." (BTW, a good essay on that here.)

Tell you what, I'm bored now. The zeal I had for this project a couple of days ago has waned somewhat, and I can keep on picking holes in Unity's arguments till the cows come home, but I have, in essence, said all that I need to say. Just one last set of points:

Socialist solutions are constructive, not destructive. Expelling the destructive influence of radical clerics is not enough, mere short-term expediency arising from a political need to placate the wider electorate. What's really needed here is the inculcation of constructive influences within the Britain's Muslim community, influences which would come with a new generation of religious leaders, Imams who have been brought up, educated and – probably – born in Britain and who have grown up understanding what is it to live in Britain and to bridge and mediate the conflicting demands of being both British and a Muslim.

What? Like the London bombers? Or Richard Reid?

We cannot force the Muslim community down the road of secularism, such actions breed resentment which, in turn, supports and sustain radicalism, nor can we rely on short-term fixes and political expediency of the kind Browne suggests. There are equally, if not more, counter-productive and work against us. British Muslims, and young Muslims in particular, need to find an accommodation which enables them to be both British and Muslim and comfortable with both identities, an accommodation which they can only find through Islam.

Do I need to point out the logical flaw in this argument? Look, Unity has spent much of his pointing out that

in the Islamic world statute law, being part of the Qu'ran, is the word of Allah as transcribed by Muhammed and therefore inviolate and not subject to change.

There are certain aspects of our culture—our tolerance of homosexuality, the equality of women, separation of Church and state, the freedom to believe or not in anything, our fondness for drinking, our absolute condemnation (with the notable exception of moonbats like Galloway, Livingstone and Michael Moore and this bunch of "moderates", amongst others) of the deliberate targeting of civilians by suicide bombers, sex outwith marriage and much more—that are simply incompatible with the writings of Mohammed, and thus the word of Allah himself.

That requires both tolerance and patience on our part – British Muslims have to find and define their own identity, we cannot do it for them, something which Browne seems not to understand.

And in the meantime, exactly how much patience do we have to have? How many bodies, oops, sorry, years are going to be enough? And, if Muslim law cannot be altered, are we always going to live under the threat of bombs until Islam has disappeared totally? Should we be asking how many centuries, rather than years, will be long enough? Where is the incentive for them to make that shift in attitude anyway? And how do you convince someone that the secular law of the country in which they live must dominate the law of Allah?

Furthermore, if British Muslims come to terms with being both British and Muslim over a few generations, how long will it then take immigrant Muslims? And, since travel is so cheap and easy, will we have to continually worry about radical Muslims from abroad coming here to organise terrorism? Or to radicalise the younger, disillusioned generations (as has happened already)?

Unity believes that the problems of reconciling the Iraq war have led the pro-war Left to declare radical Islam a "fascist ideaology" in order to square their Socialist consciences over the illegality of the war.

Where this leaves the Labour movement is, unfortunately, in the grip of an unstable element who propaganda is driving the policy agenda in directions which are detrimental to our own society and, in particular, to civil liberties – hence we get everything from ID cards to a range new and more authoritarian anti-terrorist legislation pushed through will little or no real debate – the desperate efforts of a few to sustain their own sense of [left-wing] identity ends up supporting and pushing ahead a distinctly illiberal, authoritarian and right-wing political agenda which would otherwise be stringently opposed.

I think that radical Islam is a dangerous ideology. Personally, I would put it closer to Communism than fascism myself, but the fact is that we must realise the problem and do everything that we can to minimise the spread of this deeply unpleasant aspect of The Religion Of Peace.

However, I do agree, up to a point, with the paragraph above, and I do think that the posited motive may be why the Left support these measures (although, I am not, in any way, a Socialist and I would not describe myself as being anywhere near the Left). I think that the government are seizing the terrorism threat as an opportunity to propose this "distinctly illiberal, authoritarian and right-wing [I disagree with this. Was Stalin right-wing? I think that totalitarian would be a rather better word-DK] political agenda" with the Left's support; however, the government's motives are much more simple. Control.

"All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely."

What my point is here, really, is that Unity has wilfully used semantic and philosophical hair-splitting in an attempt to discredit the article's author, whilst simultaneously completely missing the point of the article itself. Unity's definition of fascism is so absurdly simplistic that it is actually wrong, and thus discredits&mdashor renders redundant—vast swathes of his critique. The conclusions he drawson Islam are, even within his own commentary, entirely contradictory (besides being disproven by events); furthermore, he keeps insisting on talking about Islam as a general religion, rather than the extremist militant facet to which Browne was referring (the "Offensive Jihad" idea being a prime example. Islam says one thing, OBL and his associates do another).

And, since enormous swathes of his commentary are redundant or strawman arguments, Unity is left with flawed conclusions, contradicting points he has already made. Furthermore, whilst seeming to offer a solution—"British Muslims have to find and define their own identity"—Unity actually offers no idea of how, either theologically or practically, this might happen (as well as pointing out earlier in the text that, theologically, it cannot happen because the Koran is immutable). He offers no solution to the integration issue, and ignores the problem of radical Islamic treatment of apostasy in relation to these questions. In short, he comes over as being smug and rather self-satisfied whilst offering nothing new to the debate at all; more importantly, he entirely fails to do the required job of "fisking" the article.


Eric S said...

Thorough and well argued. Well done, DK. I'd add a witty insight, but you've covered everything...

Devil's Kitchen said...

Appreciated, Eric.

I think that my off-the-cuff comments at Nosemonkey's read rather better overall, and I really did just get bored of analysing the Talk Politics post; however, generally I think that it's all fairly sound.

I'm expecting detractors though!


jayann said...

Here's a pedantic "detraction" (of just one part, I can't read the whole piece right now)

it actually says that Northeast Asians have a higher average IQ than Europeans. The second point to note is that this whole issue has been quite extensively researched and is—subject, like any other scientific theory, to Popper's theory of falsifiability—actually true. It doesn't really matter if, as many do, you think that IQ tests are flawed: all Browne is doing here is relaying the data.

and the data (which are fairly well known) show that the mean IQ test score for NorthEast Asian groups is higher than the mean IQ test for Europeans (etc.). But why do some people quote results like this? Not to argue or demonstrate that the mean IQ test score for group A is higher than the mean score for group B, but to suggest that this has some kind of social significance; an illegitimate inference even if biases in the tests and buried normalization of results are set aside).

That's why some people I know on what's best called the liberal Left (i.e. not "the Left" as you understand it) won't even discuss the IQ issue.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Quite so, and I appreciate your point. However, Newshog felt that simply quoting the data made Browne a racist, and this is wrong.

Browne may be a racist for all I know, but that is entirely irrelevant to the thrust of my article.