Friday, May 10, 2013

The retreat of liberal values

On the curious alliance of many Western liberals with the most reactionary and intolerant Islamic extremists, from "Feminism Or Islamism: Which Side Are You On?":
No group is better than liberal academics at illustrating how racist anti-racism has become. As liberals, they ought to respect individual rights and oppose reactionary attempts to corral and control. As academics, they ought to look for evidence that shakes comfortable opinions. As it is, they do neither.
In human rights organisations, leftish political parties, liberal newspapers and, above all, in the universities, committed and morally earnest people would rather die than admit that radical Islam is a murderous and oppressive movement. The effect of their evasion is to promote the racism they say they oppose, while denying their supposed allies in "Muslim lands" and immigrant communities the same rights as they enjoy. Hypocrisy is too meagre a word to cover their behaviour. ....
I don't mean to single out academics for special condemnation. The postmodern university may not be able to guide society, but it reflects its deformities and double standards. I know civil servants, liberal journalists, broadcasters, politicians, diplomats and police officers who never read an academic paper from one year until the next. They will condemn the gender pay gap or the sexual abuse of white-skinned women, but stay silent about the religious oppression of brown-skinned women. Fear of violent reprisals, fear of causing offence, fear that their enemies will denounce them for possessing a racial or sectarian hatred play their part. On the Left, there is the strong fear of accusations of complicity with the status quo, which never go down well in arts and humanities departments. ....
But we should be able to acknowledge that there is now a general taboo against discussing religious oppression, which is not confined to campuses or left-wing meetings. Universal standards are everywhere in retreat. ....
.... On the Left, radical Islam has taken the place once filled by socialism. As I said in my book What's Left?, when the dreams of Karl Marx died, many leftists concluded that any enemy of the West was better than none. It did not matter that the most violent enemies of the West were against everything leftists supported. They were also against America and that was all that mattered. Beyond the Left, in the politically indifferent mainstream, ignoring oppression has its advantages. Members of a consumer society do not want to campaign against the mistreatment of women in immigrant communities at home or support costly and dangerous interventions abroad. .... [more]
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