Ourselves and Islam    
    John Tyndall analyses the origins of enmity between Islam and the West    

At a time when almost the entire national focus is on terrorism by Islamic fundamentalists and the Western response to it, we make no apologies for devoting a large part of Spearhead this month to that topic. In a way, this issue has much broader ramifications than just those involving national security; it informs our attitude to a whole range of political, social and moral questions.

The killing of thousands of innocent people in the attacks in the United States using hijacked aircraft was an outrage of monstrous proportions - in our eyes. That is to say, it was monstrous by all ethical standards known to Western, Christian peoples.

But in the eyes of Islamic fundamentalists it was seen as a necessary and justified act. We say this, not to excuse or mitigate such an attitude, only to state it as a fact. It is a fact with which we have to live in this very complex world, however much we may deplore it. Liberals have great difficulty in coming to terms with this; believers in realpolitik, on the other hand, recognise it while not liking it any the more.

There is of course a certain underlying hypocrisy in the liberal attitude. Liberals will repeatedly condemn the slaughter of innocent people in the attacks in New York and Washington, but they are ready to look the other way when it comes to the innocents now being killed in the raids on Afghanistan, just as they did when innocents were wiped out in the raids on Yugoslavia a short time ago - and as their predecessors did when German cities were fire-bombed in World War II and hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, were fried to death. Liberals are just as prepared as anyone to embrace realpolitik - when it suits them and when it does not go against "fashionable" opinion. Then liberals will protest that such killing is necessary and justified - a principle they would abhor when Islamic fundamentalists invoke it.

Why they hate and despise us

It is held in the mainstream media that Islamic fundamentalists hate the West, resent its prosperity and despise its values of "democracy", "freedom" and "human rights". All this is to a great extent true, but we should be careful about doing battle over these things. Resentment over other people's wealth and high living standards is an ignoble sentiment in itself; but when those who enjoy such wealth and standards are seen to be obsessed with them to the extent that most modern Westerners - particularly Americans - now are, and when there is evidence that such people are woefully lacking in any moral or spiritual dimension to their lives, it is easy to despise them for that. And so they should be thus despised.

As for "democracy", "freedom" and "human rights", we have to understand, again, that the vast majority of Muslims belong to cultures that see things very differently, just as they see differently questions of life and death which determine attitudes to terrorism. To most Muslims, not just the most "extreme" or "fanatical", the Western Christian obsession with such things as the "right to life" is a strange and alien concept - just as the obsession with the "rights" of the individual as against the needs of the community. Muslims practise comparatively little birth control because they regard it as an obligation to posterity to breed children and continue the race, though of course "race" is not a concept they would accept in terms we understand - perhaps an indication that hypocrisy is not a Western liberal monopoly. To Muslims, at least, there are greater things than the right of the individual to do as he or she likes. Is their attitude to these things superior or is ours? There is no moral yardstick by which such matters can be judged because they and we live in wholly different moral worlds. Ultimately, human evolution will decide these questions by the verdict of who survives and who does not. At the moment, Westerners' prospects in the survival stakes do not look too rosy - not that most Westerners care; to them, survival is a purely personal thing - an individual thing, devoid of any national, racial or evolutionary obligation.

Kipling knew

Kipling understood these things, as best expressed in his lines saying that "East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet." But today's liberals think they know better than Kipling. To them, the world is a gigantic parish and they its parish priests. People not benefiting from the glories of "democracy" must be force fed such things until they understand what is good for them. Women who believe it necessary to posterity that they give birth to children must be liberated from such out-of-date superstitions. This is the mission that the United States has taken upon itself, with Britain, as ever in the post-war world, scuttling along like an obedient poodle in its wake and at its bidding.

We are constantly told by our lords and masters that, now that the menace of global communism is no more, it is militant Islam that threatens us, and that is why we must be ready to wage war against it.

But does militant Islam threaten us because the Islamic militants seriously imagine that they can invade and occupy the whole West and impose their way of life on its peoples? Their leaders (if not all their multitudes)are much too intelligent for that. Men who can organise operations like the recent attacks on the targets in the US are not likely to suffer from such delusions.

Or is current Islamic hostility towards us essentially a defensive response, that is to say a response based on a strategy that is defensive even if it employs tactics that are offensive, as often happens in war?

We touched a moment ago just fleetingly on race, but it is at our peril that we leave the racial factor out of the equation. Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi caused a furore recently when he said that the world of Islam was "inferior" to the West. What Signor Berlusconi did not say - perhaps because he preferred for diplomatic reasons not to say it - was that it is primarily racial differences between the Islamic and Western worlds that account for those contrasts in standards that prompt such arguments about superiority and inferiority. In other words, if Western standards are superior it is not because liberalism, democracy and Christianity are superior, but because the peoples comprising the West have the greater racial aptitudes in the way of achieving the standards that they - that is to say we - deem important.

Which leads us to the bottom line of this message: that the twain should not meet, that we should keep out of their world and keep them out of ours.

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