By Nick Cohen
20 November 2013
Whenever a heresy-hunting left-winger fixes me with an accusatory glare and demands to know how can I talk to ‘someone like that’ (the ‘someone’ in question being a right-wing object of righteous denunciation) I reply, ‘I’m a journalist and will talk to anyone – even you.’
Still, I like to have a choice. I did not have one when I was sitting on a platform discussing Silent Conquest – a film about the ‘Muslim’ destruction of free speech in Europe and North America. I was uneasy about what I had seen, and became more irritable when the organisers announced a surprise guest, Tommy Robinson, formerly of the English Defence League.
It is not that I doubt the sincerity of his conversion from extremist politics. Even if I did, I think the moderate Muslim Quilliam Foundation did a superb job when it spirited him away and left the EDL leaderless. As I stared at him, I noticed another reason to stop worrying. Robinson is now a shrunken figure. You take notice of men like him when they lead violent or potentially violent movements. Once the threat of violence has gone, there is not much left to them. The gangster in the dock, the fallen dictator, or the one time extremist leader plodding round the lecture circuit looks feeble and ridiculous. ‘How could we have wasted so much time on them?’ we say to ourselves.
Nevertheless Robinson’s appearance after a film that had made Muslims seem both an homogenous bloc and a conquering army summed up everything that was going wrong with the Right’s reaction to militant Islam.
If you haven’t seen it, Silent Conquest is a documentary for everyone who goes along with the ‘Islamisation of the West crowd’. The producers say that it ‘offers a frightening insight into the extent to which Europe, Canada and the United Nations have already succumbed to the restrictions of Shariah blasphemy laws.’
The standard liberal dismissal of such statements as ‘racist’ is hopeless, in my view, and illiberal in itself. As I have written many times before, history will judge my generation of liberal-leftists harshly for their failure to stand by their principles and fight movements, which are sexist and homophobic and, indeed racist.
The film details how writers and politicians have been persecuted by the courts as much as by jihadis. Just because liberals don’t like them, does not make the denial of their liberty any greater. Hardly anyone says this, but it is obvious now that the politically-correct state and the terrorists feed off each other. When presented with men who will murder to protect the supposed honour of their religion, the state in Europe, Canada and Australia notes the intensity of Islamist feeling and instead of fighting it, appeases it. ‘If they feel so strongly that they are willing to murder,’ the state says, ‘we must step in, blame those who “provoke” violence, and silence them’. As it does, it endorses the prejudices of Islamists and makes them bolder still.
I’ve had eminent writers and historians talk to me in private about what they can and can’t publish for fear of attacks by jihadis or condemnations from hypocritical liberals. Douglas Murray, Number 1 in my ‘how can you possibly talk to that man’ list, quotes a superb line from Edward Pusey’s autobiography to illustrate the consequences.
Pusey recalled his shock at meeting the German scholars who were beginning to tear the Bible to pieces in the 1820s. They used textual criticism to reveal how the supposed word of God was a mess of competing stories, and began the effort that was to culminate in the hunt for the historical Jesus. As much as Darwinism, the genuine rather than mystical revelation that Christ did not appear in the historical record destroyed established religion. Liberal Christians and Jews say today that it does not matter if a holy book is true or not. But it matters enormously to believers. If scholars show the word of God is the invention of men, why listen?
Pusey Sensed The Danger:
I can remember, my room in Gùttingen in which I was sitting when the real condition of religions thought in Germany flashed upon me, I said to myself, ‘This will all come open us in England; and how utterly unprepared for it we are’.
And in the end there was nothing he or anyone else could do to protect his religion. But, as Murray points out, Islamists are prepared. ‘Use textual criticism, scholarship, satire and mockery against Islam,’ they say in effect, ‘and we will kill you. How about that?’
The racism in these circumstances does not lie in what the Right says but what it leaves out. If you watch Silent Conquest you see dozens of white westerners. We have Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician, who on the one hand upholds freedom of speech and on the other attacks religious freedom by supporting a ban on the construction of new mosques. We have Mark Steyn, the Canadian journalist, who believes that ‘every Continental under the age of 40—make that 60, if not 75—is all but guaranteed to end his days living in an Islamified Europe.’ And many more like them. Despite a token appearance by the liberal Danish politician Naser Khader, the film, like the dismal ideology it represents, cannot acknowledge that the main target of radical Muslims are liberal Muslims and ex-Muslims – not just in Iran but in the West too.
Consider the title. Muslims and by extension ex-Muslims are not a part of the West. They are outsiders, ‘silent conquerors’, who have sneaked in and torn up our rights. Nowhere can the filmmakers acknowledge that many Muslims, who have come to the West or indeed been born in the West, hope to enjoy the same rights as everyone else. More seriously, they display an ignorance of totalitarian movements, which would embarrass a first-year history student. They ought to know that, just as the first victims of communism were the Russian working class, which the Bolsheviks regimented and all but destroyed, and the first victims of Nazism were Hitler’s German opponents, so the first victims of radical Islam are the Muslims it claims to ‘own’. If they were to acknowledge that elementary truth, however, they would have to abandon their gratifyingly horrific story of a white West under attacks from dark barbarians, and that they will never do.
The right, or at least the most vocal part of it, is as willing as the most vocal elements on the liberal-left to ignore liberal Muslims and ex-Muslims. Like the left it is leaving them to fight unequal battles without help from mainstream society. As I said earlier, their behaviour is one of most glaring and depressing treacheries of our age.