In the wake of the slaughter in Paris many were quick to deploy a quote from Voltaire apropos the right to free expression.
“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
Your humble correspondent thought immediately of another quote from François-Marie Arouet:
“Superstition sets the whole world in flames”
So let’s be Candide about this.
If you value living in a democracy then you must value free expression.
However, I am not optimistic about what is currently going on in the Ummah.
An infidel like me is merely a helpless onlooker at the civil war going on in the Islamic world.
Moreover, the most influential, most well-funded strain of Islam today punishes free expression with flogging prison and, sometimes, execution.
Of course, the right to free expression is essential for a functioning media and without an unhindered press any democratic discourse is stillborn.
Here in Ireland, unfortunately, we have a blasphemy law.
I would like to have, as a citizen of this republic, an opportunity to vote on that.
The blood was still fresh in Paris when Dr Ali Selim, a Trinity College Academic, stated that legal action would be considered if any media organisation reproduced the Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed snogging some bloke.
Dr Selim then said he was “… a great advocate of freedom of expression”.
Well thanks for clearing that up buddy!
If I were to give full reign to my view of Islam on here then I could be facing a €25,000 fine in an Irish court.
So I’ll pass on that one…
However, the blasphemy laws here in this Republic do not seem to be that rigorously enforced when it comes to the baby Jesus and his pals.
We have laws on incitement and our courts can recognise a hate crime when it is brought to their attention.
However this atheist does not see why imaginary deities or their adherents should have special legal protection from ridicule.
Of course in Ireland we are no strangers to religious immunity from normal democratic scrutiny.
When the British left the 26 counties in 1922 the winning side in the Civil War hopped into bed with the Catholic Church and you know how that turned out.
The ignorance among some journalists as to the threat we face from the Jihad chaps is rather breath-taking.
I was troubled to learn of one trained reporter yesterday who had never heard of the Haddith or Salafism or Wahhabism.
My young reporter friend had also not heard of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Yet this cub felt adequately informed to hold forth on ‘Islamophobia’.
I have decided to prescribe a copy of “Infidel”.
At this stage I am not sure how useful that meme actually is.
It should be stated that the turgid ramblings in the Islamic scriptures are no more murderous than those contained in the sociopathic Old Testament.
However the main difference is that, in 2015, there are not hundreds of thousands of Christians willing to die in a crusade.
Ah yes, the Crusades…
The hereafter deal being offered to Jihadis is very similar to that offered by Pope Urban when he launched the First Crusade.
“All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested.”
This was big medicine in 11th century Europe dear reader.
There is now a civil war going on in Islam between 7th century barbarism and modernity.
That conflict could easily be summed up in one word:
Moreover an Islamic Peace of Westphalia for the Sunni and Shia tribes is, I fear, a long way off.
In the former the Wahhabist genie is out of the bottle thanks to Saudi oil money.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali also speaks of an Arab cultural imperialism being spread in this fashion through countries like Indonesia.
Some think that there is a nice Scandinavian flat pack Islam out there waiting to be rolled out, all welcoming and multi-cultural.
That it will dovetail in with the mores of Western Liberal Democracy.
To self-censor from making any criticism of the Islamic faith for fear of being branded ‘Islamophobic’ is, I’m afraid, to indulge in a form of liberal self-harming.
There is no Ikea Islam and the slaughtered of Paris, especially the policeman who was of the Islamic faith, deserves better than such Pollyanna nonsense.
The change must be organic within the Ummah and the good gals will to prevail against the Jihadis on their own terms.
Sadly it will be a long tortuous process.
We in the West can help for letting the ISIS chaps know that we do not accept their diktat.
That is the best response to what happened in Paris.
That wonderful city played a central role in my political upbringing.
My Trotskyist cradle was rocked by ‘Sixty Eighters’.
They were about ten to 15 years older than me and they had come of age in that amazing year.
These leftists had become radicalised on the streets of Britain and Europe around the events of 1968 and a central part of that was opposition to the Vietnam War.
The USA was seen as the major bad guy and there was, of course, much to lay at the door of Uncle Sam.
Now we have the Iraq war generation who, rightly in my view, opposed that calamitous adventure of 2003.
It was illegal, justified by lies and created massive regional instability.
Of course the French political elite were in line with their own people in 2003 and vehemently opposed this criminal lunacy at the United Nations.
That is why Bush and Blair did not get their second resolution at the UN.
Like the Sixty Eighters these Iraq War oppositionists generation see the United States as the Great Satan.
So within that worldview anyone opposing Uncle Sam, somehow, must be the good guys.
Actually it is one of the main allies of the USA in the Middle East that is the nexus of the problem.
Subsequently, I was heartened to read this from Jon Snow.
The Europe of the Enlightenment was a product of reason finally defeating superstition in the public space.
Then the obstacles to human progress were Jesuits and not Jihadis.
The irony is that the break out of the human mind in this continent was hugely assisted by the learning of Arabic scholars.
This was especially true in the advance of medicine as a science in medieval Europe.
I doubt that the ISIS chaps would approve of Trotula of Salerno, but her life and work proves that ultimately the closed mind will be outmanoeuvred and outsmarted by inquiry and discourse.
That is what the Jihadist fears most and that is why, for all of us, they must be defeated on every level.