Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Debunking the "Islamisation" myth

Via Five Chinese Crackers, I find that Edmund Standing has produced a report called "Debunking the Islamisation myth" (PDF). It is well worth a read.

There are issues with the report. 5cc mentions Standing's naiveté in believing the press about "white liberal do-gooders," though from my own perspective it's the lack of class analysis and the vague, civic nationalist undercurrent that is most worrying.

Nevertheless, the conclusion is worth quoting as it is a point I have made before;
The widespread acceptance of the ‘Islamisation’ myth illustrates the ascendancy of cultural pessimism in the West, at a time in which we actually have more to be happy about than at any other period in history. In the past hundred years, overall living standards and wealth have increased greatly in the West. We no longer live in fear of diseases such as diphtheria, polio, and typhoid; tap water is safe to drink; good sanitation is the norm; cheap food is widely available; life expectancy has risen hugely from 45 years for males and 49 years for females in 1901; all children receive an education; overseas travel is no longer something just for the rich. Yes, of course there are many problems in society, but at what period in human history has that ever not been the case? Each new generation seems to look back to its childhood as a better time, or to an idealised past in which things supposedly ‘weren’t so bad’. Yet, objectively speaking, no period in human history has been as good as the one we currently live in.

There will always be cultural pessimism, and there will always be those who want to turn back the clock. Indeed, we Brits seem to be experts at holding a gloomy view of the world. The ‘Islamisation’ myth is based in an outlook of despair, an almost apocalyptic fear that an old world is dying and a terrible new age is dawning, but in this there is nothing new. As noted earlier in this text, theatre, poetry, books, novels, newspapers, photography, the music hall, television, and so on, have all been seen by successive generations of pessimists as harbingers of doom.

Today’s pessimists, when they’re not engaged in attacking many of the same things that have been attacked for centuries, are busy working themselves into a frenzy about ‘Islamisation’ and the death of the West. Yet, as I hope I have demonstrated, such panic is not rationally grounded. Islam is not a powerful global force on the verge of ‘taking over’ Britain. Muslims are not a powerful group in society, or indeed in the world as a whole, and besides, the majority of Muslims in Britain have no interest in creating an Islamic State and imposing Sharia law, even if they did have the power to do so.

That the ‘Islamisation’ myth is growing in popularity should be of concern to those who seek a more rational world. It is not the irrationalism of Islam that poses the greatest threat (or even any significant threat) to Britain, but rather the growth of a culture of despair, for despair creates an environment in which the irrational, the violent, and the oppressive really can flourish. Undoubtedly, the pace at which change progresses is dizzying for many, and the collapse of some of the old institutions such as the Church that once gave society a unified narrative has created something of a void, as has a loss of faith in the political process.

However, the answer to a rapidly changing world is not to sink into despair and perversely comforting myths of grand conspiracies and inner enemies. Anyone with an awareness of Twentieth Century history should know where a society based on belief in hidden powers and scheming minorities can end up.

Through thousands of years of wars, plagues, and natural disasters, Britain has survived and stood tall. Despite losing more than a million of its citizens in two world wars, Britain has survived and prospered. Are we now to seriously believe that Britain is finished because a religious minority, many of whom are poor and powerless, and very few of whom are found at the heart of our economy and our political process, has arrived on our shores? And are we to seriously believe that the majority of the population has a collective death wish and will idly sit by and allow a handful of religious fascists led by the likes of Anjem Choudary take over the country and create an Islamic State? Is this what we have come to?

The ‘Islamisation’ myth is fallacious, dangerous, and pathetic. Islam is not taking over Britain, nor will Britain ever be an Islamic State. The extremists can scream their mantra ‘Islam will dominate the world’ as much as they like, but in fact it can’t, and it won’t.
It's just a shame that, due to the propaganda model under which the media functions, the vast majority of people will never even hear this argument made.