January 28, 2015

Laydown liberalism

Cartoon by Martin Rowson
For Andrew Sullivan religion was at the heart of the Charlie Hebdo killing and that religion was Islam. He wrote:
"But Islam has nothing to do with this. There are just a few loonies who are suffering from false consciousness, and their real motivations are economic or personal or secular or just purely violent. You can believe that, if you want. Or you can pretend to believe it because it might be more pragmatic to do so. Or you can open your eyes. This is not to say that most Muslims support this kind of mass murder – and the global Muslim response was particularly encouraging. But it is to say that it is not a coincidence that so much terror and violence all over the world is currently being committed in the name of Islam. Some core parts of it are, quite simply, incompatible with post-Enlightenment thought and practice. And those parts have all the energy right now.
And the core issue here is blasphemy. For almost all of human history, rooting out blasphemy has been the norm. Many Western countries still have moribund blasphemy laws and the Muslim world is crammed with them. The death penalty is common. Prison time is expected. Mob mass murder is another phenomenon."
And said further:
"You can get thrown in jail and have mobs calling for your execution by teaching kids about a teddy bear in Sudan, to give a simple 2007 case. In Pakistan, 50 people arrested for blasphemy over the last three decades have been murdered before they got to trial. In Saudi Arabia, an ally, blasphemy is on the same level as apostasy: it’s punishable by death."
And then:
"Again, it’s vital to point out that Islam is the norm for most religions on planet earth since the beginning of time – except for a brief period in the modern West. It is not so much that they have gone backward so much as we have gone forward so rapidly on the question of religious liberty and free speech that some core elements of Islam cannot tolerate it. It’s too great a cultural gulf. I have tentative hope that this vast gap on a fundamental question may take as long for Islam to arrive at as Christianity did. But that means a century at least of more bloodletting – and given the presence of so many disaffected young Muslims in Europe, a series of slaughters to come, and the possible erosion of support for free speech outside these rare moments of cherished unity. I see no other way of getting through this: surveillance, vigilance, an end to invasion, occupation and torture, and patience. And to give not an inch to any infringement on free speech."
Christopher Hitchens said it in blunter terms:
"I’m very sorry to say that the calls for jihad, for killing of apostates, for preachments against non-Muslims and so on actually are in the Koran. A book that all Muslims believe is the unalterable and final word of god. So the problem is with the religion itself."
Kenan Malik wrote about the pusillanimity problem of the liberal. The laydown liberal. Writing that if the right has embraced the grammar of diversity, liberals have adopted the idiom of racial identity:
""Every society, every nation is unique," claimed Enoch Powell, the most vocal opponent of black immigration in postwar Britain. "It has its own past, its own story, its own memories, its own languages or ways of speaking, its own – dare I use the word – culture." This is why, he argued, immigrants, who belong to different cultures and different traditions, could never be fully British. In France the far right has astutely exploited the idea of cultural differences to promote its anti-Muslim message. "It is a tragic mistake to want to have communities representing different civilisations live together in the same country," argued former Gaullist minister Michel Poniatowski. "I love North Africans," Jean-Marie Le Pen has declared, "but their place is in the Maghreb". Through the language of diversity, racism has been transformed into just another cultural identity. 
If the right has embraced the grammar of diversity, liberals have adopted the idiom of racial identity. Will Kymlicka is anything but a xenophobe. Yet his pluralism leads him to adopt the language of exclusion. “It is right and proper,” Kymlicka believes, “that the character of a culture changes as a result of the choices of its members.” But, he goes on, “while it is one thing to learn from the larger world,” it is quite another “to be swamped by it”. What could this mean? That a culture has the right to keep out members of another culture? That a culture has the right to prevent its members from speaking another language, singing non-native songs or reading non-native books?"
He also said:
"Historically, anti-racists challenged both the practice of racism and the process of racialisation; that is, both the practice of discriminating against people by virtue of their race and the insistence that an individual can be defined by the group to which he or she belongs. Today’s multiculturalists argue that to fight racism one must celebrate group identity. The consequence has been the resurrection of racial ideas and imprisonment of people within their cultural identities. Racial theorists and multiculturalists, the French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut observes, have “conflicting credos but the same vision of the world”. Both fetishise difference. Both seek to “confine individuals to their group of origin”. Both undermine “any possibility of natural or cultural community among peoples”. Challenging such a politics of difference has become as important today as challenging racism."
He also wrote about the hypocrisy of France allowing anti-Islam cartoons but prohibiting anti-Jewish cartoons. Dieudonne was arrested because he was perceived as being a terrorist sympathizer and antisemite.

Mick Hume railed against this new cultural tick, what he calls the new "You can't say that culture."

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