“We lack Macron’s courage to call the savagery what it is: Islamist terrorism,” writes Rod Liddle, and he’s supposed to be the good sort.
For those unfamiliar with Liddle’s oeuvre, his stock in trade is trespassing on the territory signposted by Richard Littlejohn: gor-blimey, don’t-give-a-monkey’s style of journalism, a sort of vox populi on wheels.
This isn’t my favourite genre, but at least Littlejohn almost always says sensible things. He doesn’t seem to claim implicitly that his folksy style gives him a licence to say anything that pops into his mind.
Liddle’s prose, on the other hand, often makes me wonder if he or anyone else edits what he writes. He’s one of those ex-lefties who reinforce my conviction that no leftie is ever really ex. Liddle tends to sound generally right-wing (no one who routinely uses words like ‘fuck’ in writing can sound conservative), but one senses neither real conviction nor serious thought behind the façade.
Thus he is one of those ‘useful idiots’ on the right who adore Putin and wish we had a strong leader like him.
That’s tantamount to desiring to have in Her Majesty’s realm a leader who siphons purloined billions into his own offshore accounts and those of his flunkeys, suppresses free speech, despises the rule of law, conducts active global subversion, routinely threatens nuclear annihilation, pounces on his neighbours like a rabid dog, imprisons or murders his opponents at home and abroad, claims his undying loyalty to the most diabolical organisation in history and acts in its spirit, mixed with the ethos of organised crime.
Does Liddle dispute any of this? If he does, he’s ignorant. If he doesn’t and still worships the KGB colonel, his moral compass has gone haywire. In either case, he isn’t fit to enlarge on important issues.
Just look at the headline I cited in the first paragraph above. What Liddle is saying there is false: every PM in recent memory has had enough courage to decry Islamist terrorism. None, however, has had “the courage to call the savagery what it really is”: Islamic terrorism. Neither does Liddle.
Or perhaps he just doesn’t realise that the two terms aren’t exactly synonymous. If so, I’m happy to help – we none of us want a hack to refute himself so blatantly.
‘Islamist’ evokes the popular, and false, image of a crazed loner inflamed by his woeful misreading of the ‘religion of peace’ (so termed by numerous politicians who don’t mind railing against each individual atrocity). ‘Islamic’, on the other hand, describes in this context faithfulness to the tenets and history of Islam, whose scripture does, after all, contain more than 300 verses explicitly prescribing violence towards infidels.
Or perhaps I’m being unfair, and the problem isn’t so much individual as collective or, if you will, civilisational. As such, it goes deeper than a simple deficit of either courage or intelligence.
I believe that within the framework of liberal, which is to say modern, Weltanschauung it’s simply impossible to call a Muslim terrorist a Muslim terrorist. Anyone daring to suggest that Muslims commit their atrocities because of Islam, not despite it, will face accusations – and possibly even charges – of racism, white supremacism, fascism and other such indictable offences.
At least, people like Liddle only exert influence on their readers, or not, as the case may be. People like Macron, on the other hand, have the power to formulate policy, or not, as the case may be.
For they labour under the yoke of the same civilisational folly that forces Liddle to confuse Islamist with Islamic. Hence Macron has added another duty to his already onerous load, that of reformer of Islam, a composite of Martin Luther and Denis Diderot with a shaggy beard attached.
Manny has the commendable self-confidence to believe he can facilitate the creation of what he called an “Enlightenment Islam”. Even uttering such words, never mind trying to act on them, betrays either total ignorance or, more likely, a tacit acknowledgment of the constraints I mentioned earlier.
Unlike Christianity, Islam aggressively discourages freedom of thought. That’s why, in the 1,400 years of its existence, it has precluded even the remotest possibility of real reform or, on the plus side, anything that in the West goes by the name of the Enlightenment (‘Crepuscularism’ is the term I’d prefer).
The essential Christian doctrine of free will presupposes the freedom of apostasy, with the erosion of the church it may entail. However, if the Christian church were to abandon that doctrine, it would stop being a Christian church.
The church has historically believed that erosion at the periphery, lamentable as it is, wouldn’t weaken its doctrinal and ecclesiastical centre. That self-confidence has been vindicated: for all the attrition the church has suffered, it has still survived for 2,000 years.
On the other hand, if Islam allowed the same freedom of thought, it wouldn’t last a decade. In acknowledgement, it enforces on pain of death unquestioning obedience and unwavering practice. That’s understandable: Islam doesn’t have the theological strength to withstand sustained critical analysis.
The cult of Mohammed is vital to it, and Islam is the only Abrahamic religion in which a non-divine personage is worshipped with such fervour. Any parallels between Christ and Mohammed in this regard are spurious.
According to Christian doctrine, Jesus Christ wasn’t only fully man but also fully God, the creative hypostasis of the Holy Trinity. Muslims, on the other hand, believe that Mohammed was only a prophet of God, not God himself.
Thus their hysterical worship of Mohammed strikes me as more of a cult than a religion. And it’s with cultish zeal that Muslims jealously protect Mohammed’s image and follow his every word – including the words that incite terrorism.
I’m sure Macron knows as well as I do that the role of the Imam of All Imams he has claimed for himself is unplayable. He just said those words because the entire logic of the modern liberal mindset would allow no other, and he had to say something.
And it’s for the same reason, I suspect, that Rod Liddle pretends to be ignorant of the semantic difference between Islamist and Islamic. Of course it’s also possible that, as an alumnus of the Fabian LSE, he’s indeed ignorant of it.