Londonistan

Saturday, June 17, 2006
On the Sunday after the London bombings, the parish priest of the church that stands a few yards away from where the number 30 bus was blown up in Russell Square delivered a sermon in which, having urged his congregation to rejoice in the capital’s rich diversity of cultures, traditions, ethnic groups and faiths, he added: “There is one small practical thing that we can all do. We can name the people who did these things as criminals or terrorists. We must not name them as Muslims.

- Melanie Phillips, Londonistan

Melanie Phillips has written a powerful short history of how Islamic radicals have become an important presence in British life. She describes the rise of modern Moslem antisemitism, the inability of the security services to see the coming threat, the loss of cultural identity in Britain, the results of the culture of victimhood becoming entrenched in the welfare state, and the continued appeasement of Muslim clerics in an increasingly fragmented society.

She is at her best when thoroughly demolishing the PC belief that Israeli actions or indeed the existence of Israel can explain the depth of Islamic hatred. From time to time Phillips stops to gives us little reminders - Koranic verses, of the formation of Egypt’s fundamentalist and violent Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, and the antisemitic and anti-Western doctrines of Sayed Qutb in the late 40's read by bin Laden.

Phillips details the longstanding British post-colonial effort to manage its imported and later homegrown Islamic radicals. She describes a kind of hoped for agreement; don’t attack Britain and you’ll be free to say and to plot pretty much whatever you like. She relentlessly shines light on the pandering of British politicians, especially Red Ken and George Galloway. I read it as a cautionary tale for Americans; if Hispanic separatists become a potent political force, we’ll have our own George Galloways, too.

Londonistan describes the gradual breakdown of shared and traditional national values in Britain and their replacement by multiculturalism. We see the distancing of the elites from the US, furthered by bitter disagreement over Iraq, the natural linkage between the old welfare state and the new culture of victimhood, and the usual British tendency to minimize the threat. Here is Jackie Ashley reviewing the book in the Guardian:

But perhaps the naive, decadent, muddling-along, apologetic old British establishment knows something Phillips has not understood. Perhaps the country has held together and survived exactly by not taking overexcited youths at face value; by assuming that rational argument and debate are the best way to fight extremism. There's a lot to worry about. There always is. But London is London, not Londonistan. The Pennines are not the Khyber Pass . . .

Maybe. But how amenable are British Moslems to a secularist’s “rational argument and debate” when today 40 percent of them may want to be governed by sharia law? (A 2004 Guardian/ICM poll found that 61 percent favored sharia law in civil cases.) Phillips writes “and so the public space abandoned by Christianity is filled”. By that she means not Christianity as a religion so much as Christianity having been the framework for a universally accepted morality. Londonistan is well-argued and persuasive in its account of elite Western failure to confront Islam, though by now - especially in the blogosphere - this has become a very well traveled road.

For me, the reverse is now much more interesting; when do cultures recognize and effectively challenge the Islamic threat? In fact, the thoughts of the parish priest were expressed by George Bush as well. The difference is - he didn’t mean them. For starters, it helps to be someplace other than in public life in a European state. So as Norway, Sweden, and France look away from the robberies, the gang rapes, and the burning cars, India matter of factly builds an anti-terrorist fence along its entire 2,500 mile border with Bangladesh. To hear the Anglican bishops of Africa, whose congregations grow even as their homes are attacked and churches burnt by Moslem terrorists, is to hear people living in a very different moral universe from that inhabited by the priest in Russell Square.

If there is a flaw, this is it. We aren’t told how (post-Christian? non-Islamic?) Britons who are not Guardian readers are reacting and what political forms their concerns might take - leading to further growth of the BNP or to something else. Phillips mentions several times in passing an America where multiculturalism is being fought with some success in contrast to a Britain where multiculturalism remains virtually unchallenged in public life. But resistance there is. In a post at her website describing the difficulties of publishing her book in Britain, she touches on popular reaction. A British woman of Nigerian origin wrote “you speak for a larger group of people than you probably know”. All the more reason then to learn about the currents moving under the ice.

16 comments:

terrye said...

I am not so sure it is unchallenged. There are nationalist movements springing up in Britain which are very much to the right and there is a growing number of people in the general population who have no desire to allow large numbers of people into Britain if the ones who are not there do not show signs of assimilating. At least that is what i saw on a Fox report a few weeks ago.

David Thomson said...

“But resistance there is. In a post at her website describing the difficulties of publishing her book in Britain...”

The EU nations are all likely doomed. They don’t even begin to realize the importance of First Amendment style rights. Censorship is at least unofficially adhered to. No society can survive in the long run when its citizens are forbidden to freely discuss threats to its very existence.

terrye said...

david:

I think maybe it is a little too soon to right off the entire continent.

Rick Ballard said...

Skook,

Thank you for taking time to write this. I believe that C S Lewis pegged this parish priest in '41-42 in The Screwtape Letters. If he has to believe in heaven then he would just as soon go to hell. The descent of the UK (and Europe) into paganism has been underway since the various states there so graciously extended state support for religion with only the minor proviso that they would have some small say in appointments to the clergy. The socialist interlude which began in the 1920's (and which appears to be coming to an end - in one way or another) marked a definite increase in the exercise of that say so and I am certain that Lewis would not be surprised at the outcome today.

While the past is not of necessity a prologue to the future, British pagans have had some success in absorbing invaders that they were unable to repel. And there is always the hope that African missionaries might make some headway in that currently Godforsaken land. They're pretty well trained in dealing with savages.

Of course, Nicky Gumbel will be waiting for them at Holy Trinity Brompton from which he has led one of the most successful evangelical ministrie in the world for the past 16 years.

I don't think that he was a government pick, though.

terrye said...

right =write= rite= ryte...oh to hell with it.

terrye said...

Rick:

I heard there were more Anglicans in Africa today than there are in England.

In fact Chrisitianity is the fastest growing religion in Africa. hence the war in the Sudan, the Islamics who run the place are not exactly tolerant.

truepeers said...

An excellent review, Skook. A letter in Toronto's liberal Globe and Mail neatly illustrated an attitude that I bet is common in London. The woman letter writer was responding to some comment about the offensiveness of Burkas, and she said that a woman in a burka is not as offensive as a pot-bellied man in a Speedo bathing suit - in other words, the way Moslems treat women is bad, but not as bad as being pc in denouncing them without criticizing middle-aged (white) men. This is all very shallow. It strikes me that the tolerance Muslims in the west enjoy, under the ethical norms of multiculturalism, is not as great as it may at times seem since it is all about face, and wanting to be righteous. But the underlying tension is surely unavoidable. Push will come to shove, and Londoners will have to choose between an increasingly totalitarian society or a rejection of Islamist claims. I wouldn't bet on the former and think Skook is right to ask what is going on behind the elite's self-denying games.

BTW, there was a particularly lucid article on the question of whether Islam is usually and reasonably interpreted by its followers as compelling violence in the name of Jihad in last week's National Post Melanie Phillips also had an article in the week-long series on Canuckistan.

Syl said...

I exposed myself at my favorite venue in my other online world. One of this week's 1.99 offerings is a beautiful Gypsy Wagon. But they can't call it a Gypsy Wagon.

It's offensive, you see. The two people who had used the word 'gypsy' when praising the wagon apologized profusely. They didn't know the word was considered offensive and have now learned their lesson and will never use it again. I'm not making this up.

Someone posted: "There was an international conferens where it was deemed that the correct, non-
offensive term is Romani. Unlike the British believed when dubbing these people 'gypsies', the Romani don't come from Egypt. They originated in Northern India and migrated to Europe. The word Romani comes from the Sanskrit 'roma' which simply means human."

I crossposted: "Oh, man, political correctness rears its ugly head again. It's not that gypsy's are
offended, it's that certain elements who pretend to speak for 'them' are. That's the way it goes. Another word stricken from the vocabulary of decent people everywhere."

That's it. No argument ensued because we're not allowed to and the conversation moved on.

And, stupid me, even though I read what the Scot had posted, it just hit me NOW what he said. That they're offended because they are not Egyptian. The word 'gypsy' I see now the derivation, but in my 62 years of using that word I NEVER associated gypsies with Egypt. NEVER.

I wonder what Egyptians feel about somebody being offended about this.

truepeers said...

should read: but not as bad as being UN-pc in denouncing them without criticizing middle-aged (white) men.

Syl said...

In other words, my point is that this business has little to do with muslims or denying terrorism and everything to do with being brainwashed about offending people.

truepeers said...

Syl, I'm waiting for the day the PC police confront the Iranians and demand they change the country's name (its that dirty old Aryan supremacism...)

Of course, the thing about Egypt is that everyone in that part of the world claims they are the true descendenats of the pyramid builders - who the hell knows what an Egyptian really is.

Rick Ballard said...

Terrye,

There are many more Anglicans in Africa than in the UK - perhaps twice as many. White missionaries that I know are there now only to provide help to black missionaries, either through teaching at seminaries or through medical missions. The Anglican Church in Africa is also very unhappy with church leadership in the UK and US and is at the point of division.

Justifiably.

Just as the Presbyterian Church of Korea is now larger than the PCUSA - and just as dissatisfied with American leadership.

Lack of salt is deadly.

Skookumchuk said...

Rick, Truepeers:

Thanks.

Truepeers:

This is all very shallow.

Shallow and defensive. So shrill at times it seems as if they may not believe it themselves.

Which makes one wonder how long it can be sustained.

quark2 said...

I read the article on Phillips book, and then read through some of the comments.
Truely frightening to see such blatant denial and blindness to what occurs round them.
They post with such smooth ambiguity,
as if the very building they are posting in were on fire they would yawn in boredom.
They are what I view as the walking dead, of which they are not aware.

Lagwolf said...

Yes, Melanie does get some schtick. The reason the BNP is getting an increased number of votes is because people believe that Muslims (and other minorities) are being given priority over the indigenous population of urban areas. The BNP (and other farther right groups) are naturally exploiting this; alas the main parties have no idea how to counter their fears.

rich said...

Melanie Phillips has a wonderful blog at:

http://www.melaniephillips.com/

She is an excellent writer. You should check the blog out.