Tuesday, September 08, 2009

On Oriana Fallaci, Melanie Phillips et al

Note of 3 September 2010: This entry has been modified

The anti-jihad barrel consists basically of fresh and good apples. But there are a few worms at the bottom of the barrel. For example, I agree with Robert Spencer that Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs is an “execrable libel-blogger”. To a much lesser extent, elsewhere I have mentioned in passing that:

• I disagree with Pat Condell’s views on the British National Party;

• I disagree with Bat Ye’or’s and Fjordman’s motivational thesis that borders on a conspiracy theory (a little more about Fjordman here);

• I disagree with Bruce Bawer’s homosexual activism and his repudiation of the right-wing European parties that oppose Islamization;

• I have quoted criticism by Conservative Swede on Larry Auster’s stance against properly defeating Islam—Carthaginian Peace. And at the same time I have exposed Swede’s hypocrisy at the bottom of the same post;

• In a previous incarnation of this blog I quoted Auster’s perfect rebuttal of Daniel Pipes and also of Melanie Philips (see below);

• I absolutely reject Robert Spencer’s views on the British National Party (BNP) published in his Jihad Watch blogsite: “It’s no wonder that British citizens are turning to noxious racist parties like the BNP: the elites have abandoned them.” I would go further and say: Mr. Spencer: “racism” is a word that should never, ever be used by those in the counter-jihad movement: it is the enemy’s main semantic weapon. Only doubleplusgood duckspeakers babble that word.

In this entry I would like to point out to a critical view on another anti-Islamist: Oriana Fallaci. The following is an abridged version of the critique that appeared in Auster’s site under the title “A Wrong Basis on which to Defend the West: Sexual Liberation”.

In his blogsite Auster wrote:

Here is a passage from Oriana Fallaci’s The Rage and the Pride:
Wake up, people, wake up! Intimidated as you are by the fear of going against the mainstream, that is to appear racist (a word inappropriate here because we are not discussing race, but religion), you do not understand or don’t want to understand that what is underway here is a Reverse Crusade.

You don’t understand or don’t want to understand that what is in motion here is a religious war. A war that they call Jihad. Holy War. A war that is not after the conquest of our territory, perhaps, but certainly aims to conquer our souls. To the disappearance of our freedom and our civilization. To the annihilation of our way of living and of dying, our way of praying or not praying, of our way of eating and drinking and dressing and enjoying ourselves, and informing ourselves. You don’t understand or don’t want to understand that if it is not opposed now, if we don’t defend ourselves, if we don’t fight, the Jihad will win. It will destroy the world that good or bad we have managed to create, change, make better and render it a little more intelligent, that is less bigoted or not bigoted at all. With that it will destroy our culture, our art, our science, our morality, values, pleasures.

Christ! Don’t you realize that [all these] Osama Bin Ladens consider themselves authorized to kill you and your children because you drink wine or beer, because you don’t wear a long beard or wear a chador, because you go to the theater and the cinema, because you listen to music and sing some songs, because you dance in the discotheques or in your house, because you watch TV, because you wear mini skirts or short pants, because at the beach or pool you’re naked or almost naked, because you make it with whom you want, when you want, where you want? [Emphasis added.] Don’t you care even about this, idiots?
While Fallaci’s passionate dread of Islam is exemplary, her description of the Western society she wants to defend from Islam is unfortunate. Virtually making soulless Playboy-style sexual promiscuity her definition of the West, she radically devalues our civilization even as she issues a call to arms for its protection.

Interestingly, the phrases used by Fallaci, “make it with whom you want, when you want, where you want” are identical to those used by Jamie Glazov in his recent debate with Dinesh D’Souza. What this kind of language plainly signifies is that any consensual act that people want to perform—wherever and whenever and with whomever they want to perform, it’s fine. If they want to commit adultery, or if they want to have group sex, or whatever, that’s fine, and of course homosexual conduct is fine too. That’s what we believe in, this is what we are, and this is the stand we take against tyrannical Islam.

It seems that Fallaci, even in her later years when illness and death were closing in and she was terrified for the future of our civilization, never went beyond the destructive mentality of the Sexual Revolution, never had any remorse about it, never had any Second Thoughts.

I like Fallaci for her fiery opposition to Islam. I wish thousands more of us, millions more, felt the way she did. But our civilization cannot be preserved on the basis of radical sexual liberation. To the contrary, the modern demand for absolute freedom in the sexual sphere is inseparable from the modern prohibition on any kind of moral or cultural discrimination—and, of course, the latter underlies the open immigration orthodoxy that has allowed into the West the Muslim hordes that so alarmed Fallaci. Sexual freedom and open borders are merely two sides of the same liberal coin. There is no indication that Fallaci understood this.

—end of initial entry in Auster’s site—

Tom S. said…

I believe that your comments about Oriana Fallaci highlight a deep divide in the leftist camp, one which is only now becoming obvious. On one side of the leftist divide stand those like Fallaci, Christopher Hitchens, Salman Rushdie, Joan Baez, and a few others, who really believed all the propaganda, who thought that leftism was all about freedom and human rights and sexual liberation and racial equality and feminism and joy, who were shocked by Islamic terror and thought it right to fight it. And then there are the Chomskys, the Moores, the Carters, the Myrmidons of the EU and International A.N.S.W.E.R., who know what the true meaning of leftism is.

Leftism was never about freedom—otherwise why were there so few protests when the Communists slaughtered one hundred million people? It was never about human rights—otherwise why were leftists almost silent when the Gulag and Laogai swallowed up their hecatombs? It was never about sexual freedom—else why would the left make de facto common cause with those who bury gays alive, and mutilate women? It was never about racial equality—otherwise the left would not be on the side of the slavers of the Janjaweed in the Sudan, and the murderers of the Kurds. And it was certainly never about joy—if it was, why would so many leftists ally themselves with those who ban music, ban kite flying, and forbid little girls to feel the sun on their faces?

No, leftism has but one purpose, and one purpose only: to destroy the West. Sexual liberation and free speech and feminism and “human rights” and “racial equality” were only battering rams, siege equipment, used to breach the West’s defenses. Having done their job, they can be discarded, leaving the Fallacis standing stunned, saying, in effect, “Why are we abandoning freedom and liberation? Why won’t you fight for them? Isn’t that what we were fighting for all these years?”

No, actually: you were fighting to destroy your civilization. You just didn’t realize it.

Oriana Fallaci had courage, and intelligence, and wit, and insight. It’s too bad that she spent so much of he life tearing down a civilization that she finally, almost too late, realized that she loved.

END OF AUSTERITE TEXTS (My own voice again:)
A perfect exposé of a rotten apple...

I am grateful for the work of Melanie Phillips. Her courage to speak out about the islamization of the United Kingdom contrasts dramatically with her coward countrymen. Nowadays there are no Richards the Lionheart in Britain’s political arena: only eunuchs.

However, as can be seen in the following exchange with Auster, Phillips has some limitations, too. The West’s Zeitgeist has been so polluted in the last few decades that all people in the mainstream media, including Phillips, breath in the toxic air of liberalism. As always, I won’t add ellipsis between the sentences, paragraphs and e-mails that I omit in the following excerpts:

Auster said...

Melanie Phillips replied to my article critiquing her approach to Islam and I wrote back to her. Here, with her permission, is her e-mail. Below it I repeat her entire e-mail, with my replies to her interspersed.

Auster writes:
Your basic position is that we cannot make any general statements about Islam, because such statements will perhaps not be fair to a small and insignificant number of genuinely moderate Muslims. Liberal anti-discrimination remains your highest value and guide.
For example, you think that if we present evidence to the Muslims that we are not attacking them, that will convince them that we are not attacking them, and so they will give up their hostility. That assumption is false. Their hostility is based on the fact that we are infidels. And nothing we do, other than converting to Islam, can change that. We should say very clearly that we recognize that Islam is a threat to us, and that we therefore have to defend ourselves. We must say this, not to get into a dialog with them, but to defend ourselves. We shouldn’t be concerned about saving the Muslims’ souls, since that is beyond our power.

Melanie Phillips writes:
There is a growing number of young Muslim professionals in Britain—not many, true, but once again they exist—who are impervious to the siren song of the Islamist recruiters. Brushing aside the lethal intersection of cultural alienation and predatory jihadism, as you do, on the grounds that the only analysis to be allowed is that “Islam is the problem” both ignores the actual routes to extremism and once again wrenches the evidence to fit a theory.

Auster replies:
I dismiss your alienation analysis (1) because it’s small potatoes compared to the Muslim phenomenon as a whole, and (2) because it’s typical of a certain Western approach I’ve discussed many times, the tendency to explain Islamic radicalism in terms of some discrete socio-economic phenomenon understandable in Western terms, rather than in terms of ISLAM ITSELF. Muslims have been waging jihad war against non-Muslims for 1,400 years. There are minor variations from time to time and place to place in the exact manner of this jihad war. But it all follows the same basic, Islamic-authorized pattern and comes down to the same thing. Yet Western intellectuals refuse to admit this and look for some cause, any cause, other than Islam, to explain it. Leftists explain it in terms of Muslims being upset about evil Israel oppressing the poor Palestinians. Sociologists explain it in terms of alienation attendant on immigration into the West. Bernard Lewis explains it in terms of an inferiority complex caused by the Muslims being “left behind.” I could go on and on. What all these fancy theories have in common is that they ignore Islam itself as the cause of Islamic radicalism.

Melanie Phillips writes:
You have a crude, black and white approach to this problem. I think it is much more complex than you allow.

Auster replies:
Miss Phillips, I understand that Islam is our adversary and that it is our mortal enemy. If that to you is a crude black and white approach that you disdain, then you are admitting that you will never see the truth about Islam and that, like a liberal, you will keep diddling while the West burns. The fact that you refuse to say that Muslim immigration into Britain should be stopped is proof of your ultimate lack of seriousness about the issue.
Best regards,
Lawrence Auster


Anthony D. writes:

I think this was one of your finest rebuttals. By failing to see the very simple black and white nature of Islam’s existential threat to the West, she is missing the very big and obvious picture. Liberalism demands the very notion that the savage can and may be anything other than noble. One observation is that despite all evidence that the ideology of Islam is awful, and stands against absolutely everything liberals stand for, liberals refuse to attribute collective responsibility to the millions standing in solidarity with its violence and global aspirations. Instead, the focus is placed on the minority of Moslems who may not demonstrate obvious hostilities.

Ben writes:
It’s amazing how your arguments were so clear but she just cannot grasp it. Very simply you were saying Islam is the problem. But for the liberal this issue must be complex and not black and white.

Jeff in England writes:
This is great stuff. Would Melanie have accused you of black and white thinking regarding opposition to the followers and teachings of Hitler or Stalin? She wants us all to live together in one happy world, and will in the most deceptive way pretend to be dealing with the threat of Islam in a “complex” way when she is really appeasing it. I say deceptive not to insult her but because she will never take an issue to its logical conclusions because of her liberal agenda, even if she seems to be “conservative.” It is so obvious that Islam needs to be stopped from growing in the West no matter how moderate it seems. Didn’t the recent Cartoon Affair and the Rushdie Affair before that prove that? But no, Melanie won’t confront that reality. She has to play at attacking Islamic fundamentalism while encouraging “moderate” Islam, a smokescreen for letting Islam and Muslims continue in their takeover of the West.
I asked her the simplest question: Would she support the banning of Islamic immigration?, and she wouldn’t answer me. Not to ban it means Muslims will become the majority by the end of the century. Melanie seems not to mind that, as long as there are professional, educated Muslims who may not listen to the “Islamist recruiters”.

Anthony J. writes from England:
You wrote: “Right, if Melanie represents the “conservative” side of this debate, then that means there is NO serious response to the Islam threat on the horizon.” You are quite correct; there is no serious response as of yet in current mainstream thought in the UK.

Karen writes from England:
I wonder if she will answer you and what she would think about stopping all Moslem immigration. She has never said this and I expect that if she did, her articles would not get published as she is already considered by many to be beyond the pale. She is brave in continuing to write as she does at least bringing this problem to public attention, and she had major problems getting her last book published. However, she is still in denial about the real problem, i.e., Islam itself.
The problem for liberals is that they have no religion themselves and because they believe others are like them, they cannot understand that others do believe in religions and follow them fanatically.

Matt H. writes from England:
I wondered when you and Ms. Phillips were going to “have a go” at each other. I have had a few brief email exchanges with her, poising the question of “Islamist” or Islam itself as the root problem with Britain. She doesn’t view any of this in “black and white” terms simply because to confront it publicly as such, would see a swift end to her journalistic career in this country. She is like the “black sheep” of the liberal flock of lambs that are lining up for the slaughter, and she is at least semi-conscious of this reality. If she were to take the VFR [Auster’s blog] position on Islam, she would be writing leaflets for BNP [British National Party]. (Some BNP members have publicly acknowledged her writings and criticisms.)
I do notice that when she speaks in America, she toughens up a bit more, and feels at liberty to be more frank about it. But here in Britain, there is an invisible plug that gets pulled. If I hear the word tolerance anymore in association with terrorism, I think I will get physically sick. Today, on the radio, I think I heard that word about ten times in a span of five minutes: “We are tolerant! Therefore, we will tolerate more terror!”

Charles G. writes:
I have found that when you expose the essential “liberalness” of a people’s ideas, they tend to escalate the dialog into a contentious framework. A person confronted with the truth will always be hostile initially before accepting the inevitable.

Jeff writes:
Melanie openly declares she is a liberal. There certainly are serious UK conservative (non-BNP) thinkers on the Muslim issue: Anthony Browne, Leo McKinstry, Minette Marin, Barbara Amiel, Michael Gove to name five.

Auster writes:
Suppose Melanie did come to agree with, say, the idea that all Muslim immigration should be stopped and that many Muslims in Britain should be deported or encouraged to leave, with the aim of reducing the Muslim population in Britain? Would saying that get her expelled from the mainstream? I suppose it would. After all, how many pundits in the (somewhat less politically correct) American mainstream press take that position? None. After all, even in the world of the Web, the number of by-lined writers who argue for such a position is minuscule. Can anyone give me a list of names? My sense is that it’s because people are still in a basically liberal mindset where they can’t even conceive of taking such a position.

Andrea writes:
Alas Melanie, the truth is unpleasant! She mistakes the awfulness of the truth for rudeness. Let us hope that she will really be able to see what you mean.

Scott B. writes from England:
Essentially, what Melanie Phillips seems to be saying with her comment about upstanding, professional Muslims is that we need to instill in immigrant Muslims a sense of Western identity sufficient to over-ride the jihad component of the religion, and that this is eminently possible because, well, the Sufis managed to discard jihad.
It is incoherent to believe that general criticism of fundamentally intolerant ideas is valid when directed at a subgroup (“Islamists”) but becomes invalid when directed against a more widely defined group (Muslims). Mrs Phillips however, being in a state of denial about the true nature of Islam, resorts to dismissing on these fallacious logical grounds the abundant empirical evidence that in the specific case of Islamism and Islam, the subgroup and the group are essentially and unalterably the same.

Miss Phillips wrote back:
Once again you misrepresent my views to a startling degree. I do NOT say mass immigration should continue: on the contrary, I say in terms it should be stopped. I’m afraid you clearly have not understood what I have written. I stated clearly that moderate Muslims DO exist. You have simply reversed what I said. People can judge for themselves how you have interpreted what I wrote. This discussion is now closed.

Auster to Melanie Phillips:
I’m sorry that you are closing the discussion. I have written extensively on the “moderate Islam” question, particularly on Daniel Pipes’s insistence that “moderate Islam is the answer.” However, if you do believe that moderate Islam exists, that obviously does not let you off the hook, since, as every serious student of Islam recognizes, there is no such thing.

Melanie Phillips to Auster:
For goodness sake, read the book [Phillips’ Londonistan].

Auster to Phillips:
Since I don’t have your book at hand, and many people are following this discussion at VFR right now, it would be very helpful to the debate if you would provide at least one passage from your book for me to post in which you argue that mass immigration should be stopped. It was certainly not the impression you gave at a discussion on Islam we both attended a couple of months back. You said, equally strongly, that Britain was a “liberal pluralist society”.

Jeremy G. writes:
I just read through her entire website and didn’t find any argument that mass Muslim immigration should be stopped. And why not make the argument right now? The publicity would be huge. It would sell her book by the hundred of thousands and make her a millionaire in a week. She doesn’t say it because she doesn’t believe in it...

Auster replies:
Miss Phillips writes:
Next, a properly motivated nation would set about the remoralisation and re-culturation of Britain by restating the primacy of British culture and citizenship. To do this, it would recognise that British nationhood has been eviscerated by the combination of three things: mass immigration, multiculturalism and the onslaught mounted by secular nihilists against the country’s Judeo-Christian values. It would institute a pause to immigration while Britain assimilates the people it has already got.
A “pause to immigration” means no immigration. I note again that, while I am very much heartened to learn that she has said this, if this is her position she has not exactly been consistent in stating it, and I don’t know why she has not been more clear about that.

It turned out, as I [Lawrence Auster] have explained in later entries, that the passage in the published version of Londonistan of which Miss Phillips had sent me her manuscript copy did not call for a “pause” of immigration, as the manuscript did, but only for unspecified “tough controls” on immigration. Thus, her angry claim that she had called for immigration to be “stopped” was blatantly untrue.


Read it all here.


Watching Eagle said...


You just wrote an excellent article. I must say that DeMause's work may be incomplete, because he never would have imagined secularists surrendering and helping institute Islamic Theocracy.

Hopefully, you can go further than he did and explain things more. While reading your article, I got two questions. 1)Why would Leftists (from privileged backgrounds, mainly) hate their countries so much? What went wrong in the parenting?-- if that is your explanation. I had a second question 2)What went wrong with the masses of the people that they allowed such destructive lies to run rampant (socialism, feminism, enlightenment [the bad side of it], etc.) rather than making them stop spreading? I agree that in former centuries, (such as with the Inquisition) there was not always enough freedom of thought, but the West has seemed to go to the other extreme, and tolerate ideologies which have the stated purpose of destroying our society.

In the parenting department, these two questions seem difficult to understand, because parenting was supposed to be getting better, according to DeMause's theory.

It was not always so. I agree with you that Truman would have nuked Mecca after something like 9/11. I recommend that you read "the West's Last Chance" by Tony Blankley (especially chapters 5 and 6) to get a perspective on what the West would have done before the Western Cultural Revolution. I am thinking to write a series of articles about how the geopolitical differences between 20th. Century- present Christianity and 21st. Century Islam are so large and relevant to understanding what it happening (which debunks the false notion that 'all religions are the same')-- "Progressives's" mantra to whitewash Islam. I hope you will be interested. I have a thesis of my own called the "Societal Self-Actualization Theory" that attempts to explain the situation of the West. It is good to listen to your critiques and questions.

Chechar said...

Hi Watching Eagle, nice to see you here!

I have answered to your questions in this GoV post.