The Islamist Threat to Social Cohesion

The Islamist Threat to Social Cohesion, by John Carroll.

As the frequency and intensity of terrorist acts increase, without any tempering in sight, community tolerance in Australia comes under greater pressure. …

To date, the Australian response has been in keeping with tradition. A broad consensus — one that includes governments, police and most media — has striven to minimise conflict developing along ethnic or religious lines, while at the same time increasing surveillance, intelligence and police powers. Public authorities have rightly worked to keep the communal temperature low.

The generally easy-going Australian attitude to differences of ethnicity and religion has blended with the Christian ethic of turn the other cheek; or keep calm, turn a blind eye, under the assumption that the problem will slowly go away.

However, this problem is not going away. Liberal tolerance does not seem to be working. …

Islamism is crucially different today from fundamentalist Christianity or fundamentalist Judaism. It is driven by feelings of grievance against a very powerful enemy—oppressive and humiliating—that it imagines surrounding it. That enemy is secular modernity, not Christianity, as was illustrated by Osama bin Laden’s choice of targets on September 11—not the Vatican, or Westminster Abbey, or an American synagogue, but emblems of Western capitalism. What humiliates is Western success—which means Western prosperity and power. …

Islam has two quite different sides. One is, indeed, other-worldly and devoutly religious, with deeply pious and mystical strains. …

The other side of Islam is militant expansionist jihad, and from the foundation. Mohammed was a warrior, dedicated to conquest — to holy war. The beginnings of this religion were quite different from those of Christianity. Jesus was a teacher, not a warrior, with one of his most important messages — one of major significance for the future development of the West — that religion and politics do not belong together. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Islam has no equivalent teaching about the separation of church and state. …

Sharia law is pre-modern, incompatible with liberal democratic tradition. It is unassimilable, and will be hard to adapt to modernity, given the absence of any Islamic tradition of an independent state creating its own legal structure. …

But the biggest challenge facing liberal-democratic polities is what David Cameron, when British Prime Minister, called “non-violent extremism”. The wider Muslim community in Britain wilfully clings to a self-serving delusion about current global reality. … More than half responded in Britain that they didn’t know who was responsible for the September 11 attack. …

In the case of Islam today, the paranoid psychological disposition that separates the world into black and white, us and them, is not limited to a small minority of violent extremists. It is manifest much more widely, and in varied forms, from the 4 per cent of British Muslims who sympathise with suicide bombers, to the majority for whom a muffled cloak of prejudice distorts perception, triggers denials of uncomfortable realities, and prompts a view of the world that is transparently false.

A lot like PC.

hat-tip Stephen Neil