The weekend talkfest in Canberra designed to smooth over Muslim and non-Muslim differences is now history. The gathering was meant, in part, to help Muslims integrate better into Australian society, and help non-Muslims more readily welcome them, by getting to know them better.
Whether the get-together will achieve such purposes remains to be seen. But certainly in most cases jaw-jaw is better than war-war, and talk always has its place. Genuine discussion to sort out differences, clarify positions, and overcome improper stereotypes is usually a good thing. However I am not gullible enough to believe that a gathering such as this will solve all our problems, or reduce the risk of Islamic terrorism.
As I have said before, perhaps a majority of the 300,000 Muslims living in Australia are peace-loving folk who are opposed to suicide bombings and militant jihad. But a minority of them clearly are not, and that is the worry.
Pretending that this minority does not exist is not going to help the situation. Thus it was timely that English writer Melanie Phillips was on a speaking tour of Australia recently. I have already reviewed on this site her outstanding warning to the West, Londonistan.
In a March 2, 2007 column in the Australian she repeats some of the concerns she raised in her 2006 book. She too distinguishes between the peaceful majority of Muslims and those who want to overthrow the West and install sharia law.
These radicals are known as Islamists, and they are not to be ignored nor underestimated. While most Muslims practice Islam for its spiritual sustenance, the Islamists are a very serious threat: “it is false to deny that Islamism is the dominant force in the Muslim and Arab world, false to deny that it is radicalising millions of Muslims in the West, and false to deny the huge inroads it has made into Western society through this pincer movement of terrorism and cultural pressure.”
And unfortunately many Muslims living in the West seem sympathetic at least to the goals of the Islamists. “For instance, opinion polls suggest that 40 per cent to 60 per cent of British Muslims would like to live under sharia law in Britain; almost one-quarter say the 7/7 bombings in London can be justified because of the war on terror; and nearly half think 9/11 was a conspiracy between the US and Israel. Why is Britain getting all this so grievously wrong? Briefly, it’s because for decades its intelligentsia and political class have hollowed out British identity and values, creating a vacuum that is being exploited by radical Islamism. Britain has not only lost belief in itself as a nation but European liberals have turned against the very idea of the nation itself.”
The reasons for this are many, including a muddled understanding of multiculturalism. “Britain’s own culture has had to give way to multiculturalism. And this is the core of the muddle that is paralysing us. Because many people think multiculturalism is all about showing respect and tolerance to other cultures and faiths. Well, we should all support respect and tolerance. But that’s not what multiculturalism is at all. The doctrine of multiculturalism holds that all minority values must have equal status to those of the majority. Any attempt to uphold majority values over minorities is a form of prejudice. That turns minorities into a cultural battering ram to destroy the very idea of majority culture at all.”
She continues, “A liberal, tolerant society – which is what Britain once was – welcomes and respects minorities. But the deal since the Enlightenment invented tolerance has been that, while the state makes no demands on minorities practising their faith and culture in the private sphere, minorities make no demands that the state adopt their own practices. Minorities do their own thing, but where their values conflict with the bedrock values of majority culture – freedom of speech, monogamy, women’s rights – they must give way.”
“Many Muslims do not accept this. And multiculturalism gives them the muscle to insist that their practices must become mainstream. That’s why in Britain we have areas under the informal parallel jurisdiction of sharia law and growing pressure for it to become incorporated into mainstream British society. But precepts such as polygamy, the subordination of women or the death penalty for apostates or gays are totally inimical to Western society.”
Phillips concludes, “It is only if we act against the ideology that is spreading falsehood and hatred, and stop its advance under the umbrella of minority rights, that we have any chance of defending the free world. That means – while showing respect to Muslims who derive only spiritual sustenance from their faith – reasserting Western values and resisting any attempt to subvert them. It also means facing down in public the lies spread about the West. Only if we stop deluding ourselves and take such action necessary for our survival will we stop sleepwalking to defeat.”
Appeasing the Islamists is a recipe for disaster. They do not want a negotiated settlement. They want total victory. And victory for them is the overthrow of the West, the destruction of the state of Israel, and the imposition of a global caliphate administering sharia law. Their hatred of Israel and the US in particular will not be lessened by ignoring their existence or pretending they have legitimate grievances.
Terrorists will not be placated or bought off. They must be opposed. It is as simple as that.
I, along with many others, hope that the weekend summit will have achieved some good. But if it ignores the fact that a holy war has been declared against the West, then its usefulness will be very limited indeed.