Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Tim Montgomerie recently published a comment piece on religious persecution worldwide in the Times. There have been a few things like this appearing in the media recently, so it's worth taking a look at to see what is lacking in this level of analysis.

It starts promisingly enough with the title: "Too many Christians are not free to rejoice"

At least he dares to mention Christians specifically rather than take refuge in abstractions about religious persecution.
The Tory MP Sajid Javid provided one of my moments of 2012. Speaking to the Conservative Friends of Israel, he announced that he was a “proud British-born Muslim” who would choose Tel Aviv or Jerusalem if he had to settle in the Middle East. Only in Israel, he said, would his wife and children feel at home, safe and free. Few Christians — or gay people — would disagree.
Source: The Times (£)

So straightaway we're presented with a "good Muslim" character, just in case anyone might think Montgomerie was one of those crazy Islamophobes.
Seventy per cent of the world’s population live in countries where religious freedom is restricted in severe ways by political policy or by intimidating social forces. Sometimes these policies and forces come together — as in northern Nigeria, where last month five Christians were shot by extremists and then burnt in their homes until their corpses were unrecognisable. Despite the crime lasting an hour, security forces who were stationed nearby did nothing. In Russia it is Muslim minorities and Evangelical Christians who are marginalised. In China it is any religious group that is politically off message.
As always when commentators mention Muslim persecution of non-Muslims they try and balance it out by finding examples where Muslims are persecuted too. The best Montgomerie can do here is Russia, where he says they are "marginalised". What does he mean by this? What do Muslims experience in Russia that can possibly compare with the experience of Christians being randomly butchered by Muslim terror gangs acting in concert with state security forces? They don't have enough mosques, perhaps?

Soon we're veering back into abstractions about "religious persecution".
While there may be real short-term tensions between Christian and gay groups and between newly self-confident Muslim populations, the long-term evidence is that no one is safe if any minorities are vulnerable. First they came for the Communists and trade unionists, warned Dietrich Bonhoeffer, then the homosexuals, then the Jews, and there was no one left to speak out for me and for you.

There we are then. Back to square one, with the ghost of Hitler hovering in the background.

What's lacking in Montgomerie's analysis is illustrative of the limitations of the humans rights ideology generally. It favours abstractions and eschews specificity; because specificity might lead to judgement.

Surveying the extent of religious persecution around the world, various patterns could be applied to the data. And these differing interpretations suggest widely varying remedies to the problem.

The most common interpretation, at least in mainstream commentary, is the one Montgomerie favours. There is some bad generic thing called extremism or intolerance, which that really bad man Adolf Hitler had lots of, and if we don't want to be like him we should avoid it and be nice to everybody. And the government should try and indoctrinate its people into feeling this way too. It's not clear how Europeans being nice will help Christians being persecuted in Africa or the Middle East. Presumably Montgomerie believes that our surfeit of niceness will inspire tolerance in non-Europeans by sheer force of example.

Alternative interpretations of the same data are possible. For example, one obvious pattern is that wherever Muslims have achieved numeric ascendancy, they use their position of dominance to persecute non-Muslims. Another interpretation might conclude that immigration is a very bad thing, as almost all of these religious conflicts result from immigration having taken place at some point in the past. Yet another analysis might conclude that's it's a bad idea for governments to try and impose their ideology on their people (China).

These varying interpretations matter because they lead to exactly the opposite remedies being prescribed to solve the same problem. Tim Montgomerie's analysis suggests the following "remedy" to the problem of religious persecution: be nice to Muslims, let more and more of them into our country, don't dare suggest that there is anything sinister or threatening in their religion, and use the power of the state to indoctrinate citizens into feeling this way and persecuting them if they do not.

This is, in essence, the human rights approach to the problem, one that is favoured by the entire Establishment and even large parts of the Counterjihad movement. Rather than look reality in the eye, and address specific problems, they hide in generalisations and do battle against an imaginary phantom called "extremism". The use of our judgement is deprecated, and we are asked instead to put blind faith in the written rules. "All people have the right to practise their religion" says the human rights creed. We must obey.

The alternative interpretations I offered above suggest exactly the opposite remedies, however: stop immigration, deport and otherwise get tough on Muslims and discontinue government indoctrination of citizens.

(Doesn't getting tough on Muslims imply the state imposing its ideology on the people? Yes, but the key factor in this is that the Muslims are immigrants or the descendants of recent immigrants. In other words, they are aliens. It is their alienness that justifies the state getting nasty with them, because we have a right to expect that aliens who come to our countries to live will not create problems here. And this expectation extends trans-generationally. See my Probationary Citizenship idea, which would involve creating a separate legal citizenship status for immigrants and their descendants across several generations until they have proved their fitness to be admitted as full members of the tribe.)

Let me recast Montgomerie's quote, which he misattributes to Dietrich Bonhoeffer based on a Wikipedia look-up. (The quote is from Martin Niemoller.)
First they came for the racists. Then they came for the Islamophobes. Then there was no one left to warn us that letting large numbers of Muslims into our country was a bad idea. Then came Sharia.


Anonymous said...

Javid isn't really a Muslim either. He was born a Muslim, currently married to a Christian and does not practice a religion.

So he's handy.

Lucas said...

Cheradenine Zakalwe,

Habe you considered instaling the widget that allows us to receive new posts by email?

Think about that, mate. ;-)

Lucas said...

habe = have

Cheradenine Zakalwe said...

What's it called? I think if you follow the blog on Google, it does that.

Maria José said...

Alemania, en guardia ante posibles atentados islamistas con aviones no tripulados

El objetivo de los ataques podría ser un avión comercial, un aeropuerto o cualquier lugar público


Lucas said...

Cheradenine Zakalwe,

It's the 5th widget in "Basic" section.

But I'll try to find a way to get it via google.

Anonymous said...


Germany: a “society of prey” — Kurdish-Lebanese clans and the helplessness of the constitutional state

While the federal government and the opposition in the Bundestag adamantly regard immigration as an indispensable contribution to Germany, the intensity of the conflicts between some groups of immigrants and German society is steadily increasing.

Maria José said...

Dr. Terry Jones — Banned from Spain and Schengen States

Spain has banned Dr. Jones because of his involvement with the YouTube video, “The Innocent Prophet”, stating that, “the video has offensive references to the Koran and to Islam which creates a hazardous situation for Spain.”


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Cheradenine Zakalwe,

This essay is brilliant.

alas said...

The probationary citizenship sounds like a stupid idea, quite honestly.

If we have immigrants they should be complete citizens. How else could they have loyalty to the country and feel like valued members if they are treated as second-class citizens?

Not to mention the technicalities of such an idea. For instance, you say it should extend into future generations. But what if after the second or third generation, someone has some immigrant ancestry, but mostly ancestry from within that country (their parents being mixed?). You would have a situation where someone might be half or three-quarters of the nationality, but still treated as a foreigner.

We should simply not let in many immigrants in the first place, accepting only white, christian (or atheist) ones. But once they have citizenship, by god, treat them as a member of the community and do not ostracize them. It is bad for the immigrant, their descendants, and the country.

It seems this idea is only necessary if we have our current-day problems of large Muslim and non-white populations. Why not just establish policies to get our countries to be all-white once again, and do away with such policies as your probationary citizenship idea which would become redundant.

Cheradenine Zakalwe said...

Well, the probationary citizenship idea would offer them a route to full citizenship, or at least future generations of their families. The prospect of them obtaining full citizenship would encourage them to feel and demonstrate their loyalty. If they didn't, they could be removed.

Political parties have proposed the wholesale expulsion of non-European populations before and got nowhere. People feel that it isn't fair, that at least some of the third-worlders deserve to be allowed to stay. The Probationary Citizenship idea puts their removal on a fair, individual basis.

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