You are being used, and they will spit you out when they are done. You may gather at a school to make your feelings felt, and you may end a good man’s career this time, and believe that this means you now have power to force society to bend more to your preferred norms, but you are being used. You have no more power than an atheist mob permits to you.
It was a different world in 1989, before the Wall fell. As the year opened, protests burst out upon the streets of many countries against a Whitbread Prize-winning novel few then had heard of. In Bradford, Muslim elders hung from a stick a book they had never read and burned it in protest – they made at that time no threat against people or property, but all of respectable opinion in Britain was against them. When Persia’s spiritual chief issued an actual death sentence against the author, not just British opinion but that of the world was repelled. It was a turning point, but not in favour of the freedom proclaimed from all ends of social opinion: it was a turning point against free expression.
The shock at that fire in Bradford was not the act itself, burning a book – it is a very good book, but it is only paper. It was the sudden discovery of a new political identity within the population. Before Bradford there were Asians, undistinguished amongst their tribes and sects for most of us. Now there were Muslims.
It was a rollercoaster year, 1989: the Satanic Verses, the invention of the World Wide Web, Tiananmen Square, and the collapse of European Communism, ushering in a new order to the world. The Wall fell, old, oppressed nations began to rediscover themselves and the thrive anew in freedom: except in the first to turn, Algeria, which fell to Islamicists. In the West, socialism was openly disgraced but a backlash began in quiet corners, and the events of Bradford were too good an opportunity to miss.
There was no conspiracy – there did not have to be when men of ill-will were thinking the same thoughts and swapping fake outrage in the Grauniad.
The Communist regimes in the East were no longer there. Their failures and brutality had been exposed to the world. Those who had long hated their own society and culture, who had supported the Communists to destroy that culture, were still there though. They saw in the ash from those book pages a new way to attack the Judeo-Christian normality of society.
After Bradford it became a necessity not to offend Muslims, and that sounds benevolent enough – I really have no wish to annoy Muslims unnecessarily. It was a power game though, and the power game is not about benevolence. There were two groups now, in natural opposition normally but working the same way. There were some Muslims who saw an opportunity to push an agenda of their own; to persuade schools to treat Islam as unchallengeable, for example: there are always people like that in any group. However their games are all far less important than the ‘liberal’ offensive, led by others.
Driving Christian references from public life moved on apace after 1989. The tabloids’ favourite is ‘banning Christmas’, but it goes far beyond that. In 1988, Margaret Thatcher ensured that school assemblies be ‘broadly Christian in character’, but thirty-three years later that seems inconceivable. State and society have been secularised from top to bottom, and discrimination laws so interpreted as to keep it that way.
So it was in 2005 or 2006 that I attended a talk on Islam in British life, and was shocked by something I heard from the mouth of a learned judge. The subject of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons had come up and common commentary in that season seemed to be that they were grossly offensive and should be shunned, even banned. An audience member then asked why the cartoons should be banned when we champion the right to free speech by Salman Rushdie. The judge, a renowned liberal and certainly not a Muslim, said that he thought we had got it the wrong way round, and the cartoons were unimportant but the Satanic Verses should have been banned.
How the world had turned in that short time: as Eastern Europe cast off servitude and embraced freedom, Western Europe has cast away freedom.
The result is not what Muslims would have wanted. Would the average Muslim be happy with what was once a religious society becoming enforcedly atheist? Barely any Muslim is bothered by the public celebration of Christmas, but may be greatly offended by the suppression of religious expression.
Those at that school gate in Batley may think they are defending their religion, but it is a game played by the Guardianista liberal, which is the bitterest enemy of all religion.
- In fear of Jahannam
- Art in the word
- The Long March: conspiracy or accident?
- Five Questions for the new ochlocracy
- Quarrel of a dying empire poisoning modernity
- In The Shadow Of The Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World by Tom Holland
- Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy by Anthony Ngo
- By Thomas Hobbes:
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- The Confessions – St Augustine
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