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The Left, particularly the cultural relativist Left, object loudly to the spread of what they consider (derogatively) ‘Western cultural values’. They consider things like human rights, a free press, equality for the sexes and even industrialisation as luxurious vices, tolerable in the West, but which the rest of the world should be spared at all costs. In this spirit (with a Starbucks cup in hand and clothed in a Gucci winter coat) they protest all available cases of ‘cultural imperialism’ – the opening, for example, of a McDonalds in Marrakesh, or of a Gap in Kabul. They are willing – grudgingly they would have us believe – to put up with the benefits of modernity themselves, but insist that the ‘Neo-liberal’ project to extend such advantages to the third-world be shut down.
If someone asks them if they would hold the same view were they a woman in Saudi Arabia, or a starving child in Mali, their answers almost always rely on crazed speculation. What if Saudi women like wearing Veils? What if they like not leaving the house? Maybe they are the free ones, and we are the prisoners – what with all our shallow material riches, festive coffee cups and boundless freedom.
It is too easy to write off these demonic numbskulls as ‘stupid’. Easy and – I think – inaccurate. They are not stupid, not even ignorant. They are rather the purest kind of immoral bourgeoisie. They adore imperfection, variety, living history, strange customs and exotic religions – all provided they are someone else’s everyday reality. For them the world is a kind of nature reserve; a museum they may learn about at their leisure, keep books about on their glass coffee tables, and visit in the summer or as part of their gap years.
We neo-liberals are very different. We do not see the world as a nature reserve, but as the terrain of a single species, our own species – humanity. If we see a bad thing happening, we feel compelled to intervene. For us, Sunnis killing Shias isn’t the same as lions killing antelope. The veil obscuring the face of Arab women is not like the plume of a strange bird. None of it is an inevitable display of the ‘cruel beauty of the natural world’. Those Shias and those women could be carrying festive coffee cups and laughing with friends were it not for the injustices we lazily allow to continue.
It is important to remind oneself of this periodically. Though they claim contrariwise, the moral high ground belongs to the Islamophobes. Those who would insist on the perpetuation of a demonic condition merely out of ‘respect’ for ‘diversity’ have no moral grounding to speak of. If you tolerate Islam, you hate Arabs. You hate Pakistanis, Iranians, Indonesians and Southern Thai. You are racist, arrogant and killing the world with kindness. Wipe that smile off your face.
Very good, there is something peculiarly repellent about the kind of leftists of whom you speak in this article. As you rightly say, to ascribe their mentality simply to stupidity or ignorance is going too easy on them. There is a malice, an air of depravity, about such people that fully merits the term ‘demonic’. Although some reactionaries also think this way, the late Wilfred Thesiger for example, who spent most of his life in the Middle East and Africa. The ‘Spectator’ magazine, in a massively ill-judged editorial comment following his death, praised him for, as I recall, defying the spirit of the age. In reality he was a virulent misogynist who disliked even being in the same room as women, hence his admiration for Islam, and also a paedophile who liked having sex with young boys, ditto. On this latter point I wonder how many other of those who admire Islamic societies share this same sexual predilection, one that it is generally easier for a Westerner to practice in Islamic societies.
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Defend the Modern World said:
Peter Oborne is another pro-Islam ‘conservative’. I wonder what his reasons are…
People who are beginning to fall into this mindset need to be strongly encouraged to read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s books “Infidel”, “Nomad”, “The Caged Virgin” (a collection of essays) and watch her film “Submission”. Make them read the chapter in which she describes what it felt like to have one’s external genitalia removed – sans anaesthesia, sans antiseptics and antibiotics. Her sister was permanently psychologically damaged by the trauma; she describes how her sister’s personality totally changed after this ritualised assault that their own *grandmother* arranged to be perpetrated. Two other good books – Nonie Darwish “Cruel and Usual Punishment” which reflects on the influence of sharia and Islam upon family life and social life in supposedly-moderate-Muslim Egypt, and Phyllis Chesler’s “An American Bride in Kabul”.
Defend the Modern World said:
I’m sure they’d recoil at the prospect of learning about the defects of their human safaris.