Free speech is absolutely essential, and it is one of a number of vital freedoms which we dare not trample under foot. Indeed, freedom is a whole, and when we unduly suppress one freedom, we tend to harm all of them. And even more problematic, when we are denied the freedom to criticise an ideology which has vowed to destroy us, then we really are asking for trouble.
We see all this being played out right now in the West, where sensible and rationale debate about a destructive political ideology is being curtailed and silenced due to political correctness, cowardice, and accusations of “Islamophobia”.
Every time another Islamic terror attack takes place, the West goes into overdrive in denial and repression. It denies that Islam has anything to do with Islamic attacks, and it represses voices of sanity who seek to wake up a comatose West which is unaware or unconcerned about its own imminent demise and subjugation.
As long as the West censors itself and takes away its own freedoms, then Islamic ideology has already won. And when we take away from ourselves the very ability to offer warnings of this war on the West, we are guilty of embracing national suicide.
Thankfully a few brave voices are still speaking out. Let me highlight two of those – both are former military men who are willing to think straight on this issue and speak truth boldly. The first is Andrew Hastie who appeared on the front page of yesterday’s Herald Sun, as well as in its editorial pages. The front page story opened as follows:
War hero turned MP Andrew Hastie is leading a call for an “honest debate’’ on the links between Islamic teaching and terrorism. Mr Hastie, a former SAS commander who did three tours of duty in Afghanistan, has been joined by several Coalition colleagues in calling for a reform or modernisation of Islam.
“Modern Islam needs to cohere with the Australian way of life, our values and institutions. In so far as it doesn’t, it needs reform,’’ Mr Hastie told the Herald Sun. Victorian MP Michael Sukkar identified a lack of a reformation within Islam — similar to the one undergone in Christianity — as contributing to “medieval teachings and practices’’.
The comments from the MPs come amid growing concern within Government ranks that the public debate about Islamic State terrorists is whitewashing links between Islamic teachings and extremist ideology. The views contrast with those of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has described Islamic State as godless terrorists who “defame and blaspheme Islam’’.
Victorian-based Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg was the first to break ranks yesterday by saying: “I would say there is a problem within Islam.’’ Andrew Hastie did three tours of duty in Afghanistan. Mr Hastie, who fought against Islamist extremists in Afghanistan, then said he believed the time had come for an “honest debate about the ideas driving Islamic extremism’’.
He praised Mr Frydenberg, who is Jewish, and agreed: “There is a problem with Islam.’’ Mr Hastie said the debate about what was driving Islamist extremism was “clouded by political correctness’’. “We don’t have a problem with Muslim Australians but we do have a problem with a small part of the community which subscribes to radical extremism,’’ he said.
And in his opinion piece he said this:
We are living in troubled times. The murderous attacks in Paris by Islamic State on innocent civilians have again prompted public discussion — in Europe and Australia — about Islamic terrorism and its origins.
The failure of the Grand Mufti of Australia to unequivocally condemn the attacks in his initial statement to the media has drawn fire from the media, politicians and everyday Australians.
Over the weekend, minister Josh Frydenberg called out the Grand Mufti for his “graphic failure of leadership”. Along with other Liberal colleagues, I support Josh’s comments. To cite “causative factors such as racism, Islamophobia, curtailing freedoms through securitisation, duplicitous foreign policies and military intervention”, while failing to unequivocally condemn the attacks as cold-blooded murder, was indeed a failure of leadership.
Now, more than ever, is the time for the Australian Muslim leadership to systematically and clearly make the case that Islam is a religion of peace. IS is controlling the narrative by its violent actions and Australians want reassurance from those who have an intimate knowledge of the Koran. I do not claim to be an expert on Islam or the Islamic faith. But I am not ignorant of some of the realities of Islamic terrorism. And I know that ideas have consequences.
I have read the Koran in its entirety.
In my previous job with the Australian Defence Force, I studied IS propaganda, including many of its violent videos and images, in an effort to understand its objectives, aims and rationale. A consistent thread throughout the IS narrative is reference to the Koran and historical Islam. It is fair to say that IS draws inspiration from its own version of Islamic theology. The point is clear: ideas matter. The IS strategic blueprint is nested within its interpretation of Islam.
I’m calling on the Muslim community to lead the public in a discussion about the theological roots of Islamic extremism. It should not be off-limits. Christianity has been under the academic blowtorch for 200 years with the Bible subject to critical scholarship. Deconstruction — pulling apart texts and their meaning — has permeated Western universities for the past 40 years.
Our Western cultural heritage has endured the same academic criticism. Why then do we refrain from asking the hard questions of extremist Islamic theology and ideology? If we are serious about understanding IS, let’s apply the same standard of criticism to the ideas that inform its vision and that inspire its followers.
Let’s ask the hard questions and find the answers. Until we do, we’ll fail to understand the nature of the threat posed by IS and its affiliates. As the Chinese Sun Tzu famously wrote: “Know thy enemy, know thyself and you will never lose 100 battles.”
Another former military man who is fearlessly leading the way in unashamedly pointing out the trouble with Islam is Bernard Gaynor. He is now running as a Senate Candidate for the Australian Liberty Alliance and gave a speech in Queensland a few days ago, outlining his concerns. He said:
Australia is facing a crisis. It is a crisis that threatens all of us right now. And it is a crisis that threatens our children most of all because they will have to live with the decisions we make today. This crisis comes from Islamic ideology. For far too long, our government has pretended that Islamic ideology is peaceful. Our political leaders have pretended that this ideology can be integrated safely into our society. But they have been wrong.
Any student of history knows that this belief is wrong. Islam was founded by a man who brilliantly merged politics with religion and created an empire where the church was the state. In the process, an army was raised, wars were fought, and populations were enslaved, forcibly converted or executed. This man was Mohammad and the Islamic religion teaches that he was perfect and that his example is to be followed. There should be no surprises, therefore, that the Islamic religion leads to violence. It idolises a warlord.
It should also come as no surprise that this religion advocates immigration into non-Islamic lands as a means of conquering them. The Islamic calendar itself is based on the first successful conquest undertaken by Islamic immigration: the conquest of Medina. For much of the last three centuries, all of this has been forgotten.
He laid out some of the policies the ALA would implement to deal with this threat:
The Australian Liberty Alliance will axe the halal certification tax. It will do this by scrapping all halal certification fees and forcing the Islamic community to pay for its own religious offices. That will kill the profit taking. And it will force producers to clearly label their products and explain to Australians that the food they buy – especially meat – has been produced as part of an Islamic animal sacrifice. This will kill demand and halal certification will simply disappear.
The Australian Liberty Alliance will reject any government support for Sharia law, in law and in practice. That means there will be no more welfare for polygamous Islamic families, no segregation of women, no female genital mutilation and none of the other Islamic practices that are incompatible with Australian culture and society.
The Australian Liberty Alliance will put an end to the construction of dangerous new mosques and Islamic schools. It will force Islamic organisations to sign up to a Charter of Muslim Understanding, which will require these organisations to reform Islam so that it no longer acts as a violent political ideology, if they wish to be classified as religious organisations. And the party will work with local governments to introduce proper and stringent risk assessments into the development planning process. This means that without reform of Islam, and I doubt that will ever happen, there will be no new mosques and existing mosques will face the prospect of being shut down.
The Australian Liberty Alliance will also address the threat of terrorism by addressing the problem: Islam.
Our intelligence and security agencies will be directed to gain a true understanding of Islam, rather than the politically-correct version that they pretend into existence today. These organisations will no longer be allowed to promote this religion or its ideas. And the Australian Liberty Alliance will start using treachery laws against those who support the Islamic State and other Islamic terrorist groups against our own Defence Force.
Many thanks Andrew and Bernard. While the aims and intents of their remarks are of course something I fully affirm, a question remains: is this talk of reform realistic? That is, can Muslims in good faith “reform” Islam? Can they simply renounce and reject all the violent suras, etc., without rejecting Islam itself? A non-violent, non-coercive Koran and Islam would be wonderful, but is it possible?
According to Islam itself, both the faith and the book are perfect as is, and not capable of being reformed or altered. It is considered blasphemous to even try. But I have written elsewhere on how Islam as it stands is not meant to be reformed, but affirmed and promoted: billmuehlenberg.com/2011/11/30/on-reforming-islam/
As I wrote there:
To remove all the violent, anti-women, anti-Semitic, anti-freedom, anti-democracy and anti-pluralistic elements of Islam would be to destroy Islam itself. It would no longer exist. So genuine reform of Islam to make it compatible with Western freedoms, pluralism and democracy seems to be simply impossible.
Indeed, Islam is considered to be a “perfect” religion. How can you reform that which is perfect? To argue for reform means you consider it to be less than perfect, something the Koran clearly warns against. So it is really difficult for a true Muslim to even consider reform. Reforming Islam is a contradiction in terms according to devout Muslims.
But I am certainly thankful that Hastie and Gaynor have the courage and the concern to at least raise these issues. We sure need more champions like them. If more such voices do not come forth soon, we are likely finished in the West.