Radical Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was killed for making the film Submission I, a critical view of Islam's treatment of women. If you have 11 minutes to spare you can go view Submission I in 4 parts. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somalian-born member of the Dutch parliament who made the film with van Gogh, lives under constant extensive police protection due to death threats against her by angry Muslims. Hirsi Ali intends to finish making the next 3 parts of the Submission short movie series. Timothy Garton Ash recently met with Hirsi Ali and says Hirsi Ali is a big advocate of the value of the Enlightenment.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is much more than just a voice for the voiceless oppressed. In person, she is a thoughtful, calm, clear, almost pedantic spokeswoman for the fundamental liberal values of the Enlightenment: individual rights, free speech, equality before the law. At dinner afterwards, she told me how these liberal individualist ideals were first quickened in her by reading English literature as a schoolgirl in Kenya, where her family had fled from Somalia. She loved the work of Charles Dickens and George Orwell. (As a young Muslim girl, she briefly thought the horrible behaviour of the pigs in Orwell's Animal Farm helped explain why Muslims don't eat pork.) Then, studying political science in the Netherlands, she discovered the classics of western liberalism. Two authors she particularly admires are John Stuart Mill and Karl Popper.
I find her critique of multiculturalism, in the name of Enlightenment liberalism, too sweeping. In my view, her support for the French ban on the hijab in schools and public offices amounts to advocating an unnecessary restriction of individual liberty in the name of individual liberty. But her central claim seems to me vital and irrefutable: if being a free country means anything at all, it must mean that people have the chance to criticise freely, and without fear of reprisal, Islam, Hinduism or Sikhism, as they now in practice have the chance to excoriate Christianity (despite Britain's ridiculous blasphemy laws), Judaism or, for that matter, Darwinism.
I do not find Hirsi Ali's critique of multiculturalism too sweeping. Multicullturalism is a retarded idea promoted by white Western intellectuals intent on demonstrating their moral superiority to other white people at the expense of the West itself.
I think the obvious lesson to learn from van Gogh's death and the fact that many Dutch political figures live under constant police protection is simple enough: Muslim immigration to the West is bad. We shouldn't allow it. It is harmful to our societies. Why inflict damage on ourselves?
Garton Ash points out that Sikhs also threaten critics with death.
This right to free speech, which is to an open society what oxygen is to human life, is under direct threat from people whose position is very simple: if you say that, we will kill you. And not just in the case of Islam. Remember that violent protests and death threats from extremists in Britain's Sikh community forced the playwright Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti into hiding, and her play Behzti off the stage in Birmingham.
Garton Ash points out that the Labour government in Britain is trying to appease British Muslim voters by outlawing harsh criticism of Islam.
How does our government react? By extending police protection to threatened individuals, to be sure, as it did for Salman Rushdie. By making the right noises about tolerance, peaceful protest and free speech. But also - shamefully, stupidly, cravenly - by itself proposing to restrict that right, in an ill-considered, ill-drafted bill to bar "incitement to religious hatred". Among the motives behind the reintroduction of this already once rejected bill in Labour's last election manifesto were appeasement of some self-appointed spokespersons of the Muslim community in Britain and transparent political opportunism - as the distinguished human-rights lawyer and Liberal Democrat peer Anthony Lester observes in an excellent book prepared by English PEN (Free Expression is No Offence, edited by Lisa Appignanesi); he says that the bill was introduced as "a targeted bid to woo British Muslim support for New Labour in marginal constituencies where hostility to the illegal invasion of Iraq had alienated many Muslim and other potential voters from Labour to the Liberal Democrats".
Islam is fundamentallly illiberal and hostile to a free society. Islam's core beliefs are not compatible with a free society. Why disarm ourselves by pretending otherwise? How dare a Western government threaten to jail anyone who speaks their mind about Islam.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2005 December 04 05:13 PM Immigration Culture Clash|