Sunday, August 12, 2007

Secular fundamentalists are the new totalitarians

The article reproduced below says that militant secularists like Richard Dawkins are taking their revenge on believers for refusing to stay in the closet. It seems to me that atheists who attack Christianity are shaky in their own convictions. They attack Christianity to make themselves feel good. I am myself the most thorough atheist you will find. I do not even think that the word "God" is meaningful. But I greatly respect Christians and will always defend them

There's an aspiring totalitarianism in Britain which is brilliantly disguised. It's disguised because the would-be dictators - and there are many of them - all pretend to be more tolerant than thou. They hide alongside the anti-racists, the anti-homophobes and anti-sexists. But what they are really against is something very different. They - call them secular fundamentalists - are anti-God, and what they really want is the eradication of religion, and all believers, from the face of the earth.

In recent years these unpleasant people have had a strategy of exploiting Britain's innate politeness. They realised that for a decade overly sensitive souls (normally called the PC brigade) had bent over backwards to avoid giving offence. Trying not to give offence was, despite the excesses, a noble courtesy.

But the fundamentalists saw an opening. Because we live in a multiconfessional society, they fostered the falsehood that wearing a crucifix or a veil or a turban was deeply offensive to other faiths. They pretended to be protecting religious sensibilities as a pretext to strip us of all religious expressions. In 2006 Jack Straw and BA fell into the fundamentalists' trap.

But Britons are actually laissez-faire about such things. And so the fundamentalists deployed an opposite tactic. Instead of pretending to protect religious sensibilities, they went on the offensive and sought to give offence. The subsequent reactions to the play Behzti in Birmingham, to Jerry Springer the Opera and to the Danish cartoons were wheeled out as examples of why religious groups are unable to live with our cherished freedom and tolerance.

In recent years the nastier side of this totalitarianism has become blatantly apparent. It emerged with the hijab issue in France. With the hijab ban in French schools, a state was banishing religion not only from its corridors, but also from its citizens. It was an assertion that after centuries of the naked public square (denuded of religion referents) the public now too had to go naked. The former had been true tolerance, something exceptional and laudable. It allowed everyone to bring their own cosmic testimony to the square. But this new form of "tolerance" changed things. From everyone being welcome, it had become everyone but.

There's a background to all this. Since 2001, lazy intellectuals have been allowed to get away with repeating the nonsense that terrorism and war are the consequences of belief in God. Believers are ridiculed for being, in contrast to the stupendously brainy atheists, very dim. Listen to Richard Dawkins' comment on Nadia Eweida (the BA employee who refused to take off her cross): "she had one of the most stupid faces I've ever seen." Nice.

There's also the fact that we live in a cultural milieu dominated by postmodernism. Broadly speaking, it attempts to deconstruct power and its narratives. It tries to rescue the marginalised. A noble intent, but because it doesn't believe in truth, anything goes. The tyranny of orthodoxy has been replaced by the tyranny of relativism. You're supposed to believe in nothing, and hence nihilists and atheists are suddenly rather chic. Postmodernism has taken tolerance to the extremes, where extremists thrive. It's a dangerous form of appeasement.

The greatest appeasers, however, have been the believers. Until recently many hid their religion in the closet. They conceded that it was something private. Until a few years ago religion was similar to soft drugs: a blind eye was turned to private use but woe betide you if you were caught dealing. Only recently have believers realised that religion is certainly personal, but it can never be private.

The reasons for that "outing" of believers are complex. But what is certain is that wise agnostics pleaded with believers to take a public lead again, because the point about believers is that they are obeying (and disobeying) all sorts of commandments that the state doesn't see or understand. Because they are able to differentiate sin from crime, they have a moral register more nuanced than most. Even a wise atheist (and I've met a few of them in church, as they desperately try to get their kids into the local C of E school) knows that believers can deal with social anarchy much better than the state ever can.

That is why these fundamentalists are so in evidence. They're not only needled by their own hypocrisy; they are also furious that believers have broken the old pact to stay out of public debate. Witness, for example, Mary Riddell's astonishing sentence in the Observer last month (try replacing "religion" with "homosexuality" to get the point): "secularists do not wish to harm religion or deny its great cultural influence. They simply want it to know its place." In other words: get back in the closet.

Christians feel particularly aggrieved because we believe that Jesus invented secularism. Jesus's teachings desacralised the state: no authority, not even Caesar's, was comparable to God's. As Nick Spencer writes in Doing God, "the secular was Christianity's gift to the world, denoting a public space in which authorities should be respected, but could be legitimately challenged and could never accord to themselves absolute or ultimate significance". Christianity, far from creating an absolutist state, initiated dissent from state absolutism.

And so for centuries a combination of British agnosticism and pragmatism meant that believers were judged not by the causes of their belief, but by its consequences. Everyone could taste the fruits, even those who couldn't believe in a sustaining, invisible root. These new militants, however, believe themselves to be the only arbiters of taste; they want to eradicate the root and cause. They will dictate what you can wear and what you can say. That, after all, is what totalitarians do.


CAIR, desperate to defame Robert Spencer, grasps at straws

Post lifted from Robert Spencer. See the original for links

Several people have notified me of an item entitled "Anti-Hate Blogger Slams Robert Spencer's 'Spin'" at CAIR's website. CAIR has had its hounds out lately, with Ibrahim Hooper slandering me on Paula Zahn's show, strongly implying that I wrote words that I did not write and do not believe.

Hot on the heels of that came the now-infamous bullying letter from CAIR's lawyers, threatening Young America's Foundation with legal action if they allowed me to speak last week (which I did). That letter contained false and defamatory charges against me, charges that the lawyers did not -- and cannot -- substantiate.

And now comes this, which shows that CAIR is really getting desperate. The entry on CAIR's site contains a link to a lengthy pdf that purports to be an expos‚ of all my nefarious deeds. There's just one problem: as Mary McCarthy famously said about Lillian Hellman, "Every word she writes is a lie, including and and the." This windy hit piece even gets my name wrong, and if there is even one true statement in it, I haven't found it yet.

By posting this ludicrous piece, CAIR has signed on to the contention that Hugh Fitzgerald and I are one and the same -- which will come as quite a surprise to all the people who met us both at the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Restoration Weekend last year. CAIR has likewise signed on to the pdf's most glaring leap of logic: it contends both that I secretly support Osama bin Laden and the global jihad, and at the same time that I think all Muslims are terrorists who want to kill Americans. Can't have your cake and eat it too, Ibrahim.

CAIR may be interested in knowing more about their new friend the "Rev." Jim Sutter, the author of this pdf. He is a somewhat pathetic character who, according to this website, was ordained by mail-order, is a convicted felon, claims to have degrees he doesn't have and honors (including the Navy Cross) that he has not received, and who traffics in libel with relish. A strange bedfellow for CAIR? Maybe. Maybe not.

Cultural revolution

By Paul Gottfried

An English classicist, broadcaster, and man of letters, Sean Gabb, has just sent me a copy of a booklet he had written "Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England and How To Get It Back" (Hampden Press, 2007). Sean's tract has aroused my interest because of its unconventional revelations about English society and government. He tells us about the seamy side of English attempts to enforce multiculturalism which the American media hardly ever cover. I am also struck by the declaration in a long footnote on page 72 about the overlap between Sean's critical perceptions and mine. He states (and I fully believe his assertion) that since he had only read my relevant books on multiculturalism after having worked on his study, "I cannot say that they influenced me in my own analysis."

What Sean is noting is the self-evident character of much of what a detached observer from a pre-multicultural era would gather about contemporary life in the US and Western Europe. It is not only that morals and social concerns have changed with the inroads of cultural Marxists, to use the accepted term for this group, but an even more alarming phenomenon is the role played by "democratic" governments in promoting the destruction of bourgeois Christian civilization. This is in fact the main focus of Sean's plea to those who are still identifiable as his countrymen to take back England before it is too late.

Anglican clergy being hectored by state agents for expressing insensitive views about gays, museums being cleansed of the symbols of England's "imperialist" past, hate speech laws being invoked against Christians while Islamicists are protected in their right to rail against the Christian West, Sean documents all of these grotesque aspects of "liberal democracy" in practice. Organizers of the English Libertarian Alliance, Sean and his Slovakian wife, who are clearly people of the Right, present themselves as libertarians because they properly understand that "democratic administration" is the problem. The administrative state, acting by virtue of the votes collected to justify its power by increasingly indistinguishable party blocs, are attacking traditional English liberties, English national consciousness, and English social morals. Contrary to the established position of left-libertarians and the Wall Street Journal- global democratic crowd, Sean calls for tight controls on the immigration of Third World refugees. Since the present policy contributes to the further cultural and demographic destruction of what had once been an English nation, Sean warns: "we must stop accepting refugees from other parts of the world, and deport those refugees whose home countries are no longer exceptionally dangerous."

One might note that a country well ahead of England on the road to national extinction, Germany, accepted annually between 1984 and 1993 something on the order of one-half to three-quarters of all Third World refugees seeking asylum in a European country. In the same period England accepted on average about 17%. Such facts illustrate not so much that the English government had or has a sane immigration policy but that the German government is even more eager to wipe out its country's national identity.

What comes to mind, as I read Sean's jeremiad is how silly American movement conservatives are when they glorify the "Anglosphere" and celebrate "our two countries" as paradigmatic "capitalist democracies." Today's England is a moral-social basket case, full of violent crime, outrageous state-enforcement of political correctness, and protected Muslim extremists. Whether or not its prime minister supports our ill-conceived crusade for democracy in Iraq, the land of Anglo-Saxon freedom, as Sean convincingly demonstrates, has ceased to be that. As an American, I can fully share his agony in trying to chart a useful course for dealing with the major party blocs in England. Faced by a choice on what we are made to believe is the English right between a Conservative Party led by a torpid equivalent of Giuliani, David Cameron, and a rightwing populist party, the British National Party, which the government has begun to harass, Sean clearly sympathizes with the latter. The leader of this party in the face of government intimidation has openly denounced the Islamic threat to England and calls for a halt to further Third World immigration to England.

Sean also suggests that voting for Labour may be more useful than supporting a degraded, former Center-Right party. By accelerating the excesses of a multicultural public administration under a party that is explicitly for such government, it may be possible to generate a backlash. This, he intimates, may be better than allowing the slide toward anarcho-tyranny to go on in a more gradual manner. On one point, I must respectfully disagree with Sean. On the basis of his description of British party politics, I do not think he is being fair when he opines: "We have yet to sink entirely to the level of America, where elections seem to be decided wholly by money and competing armies of drum majorettes." Both of the party systems being compared are so despicable that I would not want to have to judge between them.


A very interesting 1999 screed from one of Britain's most influential political journalists -- David Marr of the BBC

He recognizes that tribalism and prejudice is normal and natural but believes that the power of the State should be used to crush it -- very Soviet. He basically makes himself the enemy of every normal person

Thanks to the luck of history and a certain accrued political wisdom from immigration, Britain is less racist than most countries. Yet the thugs, listening to the complaints of Mum and Gran about how things used to be better, are deploying an ignorant but natural threatened-tribe instinct the same thought-patterns as the young men in the Serbian defence force or the Hutu militias.

It's nasty and it's natural which is why I am, on the whole, against too much nature. 'Natural harmony', accurately investigated, means a bloody and unstable cycle of massacre and extermination. Though human experience happens inside nature, human progress also depends on surmounting it. The tools by which we do so include politics and taxation, as well as science and art. But it needs a whole nation to move, not simply pious exasperation directed at the lower orders. I think the silent, sullen 'complete ignoral' which greets establishment outrage about the Lawrence case is caused by too much 'natural instinct' on the part of impoverished, retreating communities, and too little political and economic sacrifice by the middle classes and the establishment itself.

Some people may feel it is downright offensive to focus at all on whites in the aftermath of the Lawrence inquiry. I can't see how things will ever improve unless we face the fact that, although life is worst in Britain for young blacks, it is pretty hellish for certain cut-off and economically abandoned white tribes too. Their self-pity may be smaller in scale than the grievance of black people, but it is, as it were, similarly shaped.

What then can be done? (Apart, of course, from widespread and vigorous miscegenation, which is the best answer, but perhaps tricky to arrange as public policy.) First, we need to raise still more taxes to help regenerate inner-city ghettos and to employ more young people, white and black. Tony Blair spoke very well on Wednesday, and Jack Straw has driven this process through with grim vigour. But this is a Gordon Brown issue too.

The next answer was given by Doreen Lawrence, welcoming the report's emphasis on education: 'I truly believe in education our history, our background, is what separates us.' But, though teachers are the most effective anti-racist campaigners in the country, this means more than education in other religions it means a form of political education. Only people who understand the economic forces changing their world, threatening them but also creating new opportunities, have a chance of being immune to the old tribal chants.

And the final answer, frankly, is the vigorous use of state power to coerce and repress. It may be my Presbyterian background, but I firmly believe that repression can be a great, civilising instrument for good. Stamp hard on certain 'natural' beliefs for long enough and you can almost kill them off. The police are first in line to be burdened further, but a new Race Relations Act will impose the will of the state on millions of other lives too.

So it should - but not merely on the police, or the boys with spray-paint cans. Perhaps the big difference between working-class racism and middle-class racism is not that the former is more violent, but that the latter is more effective. The middle classes have sacrificed almost nothing to multi-racial pieties - often no more than smiling at the shopkeeper, inviting a black colleague for a drink or being pleased when your child knows as much about Diwali as Easter. That's the beam in our eyes -hypocritical abuse of the poor by people unwilling to pay higher taxes or review their own organisations and lives. We need a rethink in all big British institutions - venerable, liberal, conservative, commercial, public and educational - as they seriously ask themselves how eagerly porous they are to black people. Yes: employment quotas, publicly published numbers of ethnic-minority employees in annual reports. All that. They do it in America and South Africa. Until we start doing it here, why should anyone on the streets listen to a word, a single word, that the comfortable people have to say?

More here


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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