Friday, 1 November 2013

This opinion piece appeared in Le Monde, written by "essayist and writer" Pascal Bruckner.
We know from totalitarian regimes that languages, too, contract diseases that can corrupt them. "Islamophobia" is one of those toxic words that blur and distort the vocabulary. Forged by French colonial administrators at the start of the 20th century to protect their "indigenous subjects" from any modernist contagion, it resurfaced in public discourse at the turning point of the Iranian revolution. But with another meaning: anxious to achieve the dignity of antisemitism, it tends to make Islam an object inaccessible to criticism, on pain of prosecution. It becomes the new instrument for the propagation of a fundamentalism which advances masked, draped in the finery of the victim.

The ingeniousness of this invention lies in its re-establishment of the crime of blasphemy when dealing with the major systems of faith. It confounds religious intolerance coming under the jurisdiction of the courts with the free examination of a doctrine. To the same extent that racism is addressed to persons guilty of being what they are, the Black, the Arab, the Jew, the White, opinion about a religious faith can vary and concern dogmas still subject to exegesis and discussion.

Since when does a great religion constitute a race? Since when does the judgement that we bring to bear on it constitute a crime? We have the right to detest this or that religious faith and to say so. Islam is a house divided between progressives and traditionalists who are filled with sadness and hatred by the memory of its lost greatness. The fundamentalists would like to heal this wound as quickly as possible, blaming it on crusaders, wicked people, Zionists, while the reformers would like to open it up even further to provoke a vital shock.

The concept of "Islamophobia" is intended to stimulate our western guilt. But, above all, it is an internal policing tool in respect of liberal Muslims who dare to criticise their faith. These renegades need to be singled out, for the condemnation of their co-religionists, accused of being impregnated with colonial ideology in order to block any hope of change, with the benediction of auxiliaries and useful idiots on the left and right, always on the lookout for a new racism and sure that Islam is the last oppressed subject in history.

Over the last twenty years, we have been witness to the fabrication of a new crime of opinion. It's about stigmatising young women who wish to liberate themselves from the veil, marry who they like and not whoever is imposed upon them, thundering against those French, German and English people of North African, Turkish or African origin who demand the right to religious indifference and want to live their lives without allegiance to their community of origin. In short, we move the question from the intellectual or theological plane to the sphere of criminal law, every objection, mockery or reluctance being subject to prosecution.

A flagrant counter-example: even when Christians in the land of Islam are being persecuted, killed, driven into exile, the word "Christianophobia" doesn't catch on and never will catch on. Curious failure: we find it difficult to represent Christianity in any other way than as a religion of conquest while today it is a religion of the martyr, at least in the Middle East. In France, a country with a tradition of anticlericalism, we can mock Moses, Jesus, we can represent them in any posture, even the most obscene, but we must never laugh at Islam. It alone must escape opprobrium, mockery. What presumption! All the more so as anti-religious acts in France affect Christians even if they are increasing proportionally for Jews and Muslims.

It is precisely because secular France considers its Muslim citizens as equals that it voted in the law on the veil. Islam forms part of the French and European landscape. In this respect it has the right to freedom of religion, proper places of worship and respect. On the condition that it itself respects the republican rules, does not demand an extra-territorial status, special rights, exemption from swimming and gymnastics for females, separate education and canteens, various favours. The best thing you could wish for it is neither "phobia" nor "philia" but benevolent indifference in a market of spirituality open to all beliefs. But the fundamentalists don't want this indifference. Because that would mean that Islam was one religion amongst many, an intolerable observation in their eyes. It cannot be the equal of others because it is superior to all. That is exactly the problem!
Source: Le Monde

The republican model Bruckner defends is simply the ideology of state-based identity. It is the intellectual genocide that underlies our present predicament because it denies the right of Europeans to exist as distinct peoples. Even when confronted by the failure of his "republican" intellectual vision, Bruckner can only mope around the symptoms. The effort involved in re-appraising the very foundations of that republican model is too great a wrench, morally and intellectually, for Bruckner, and virtually all western anti-Islam activists, to undertake.


Anonymous said...

"The republican model Bruckner defends is simply the ideology of state-based identity. It is the intellectual genocide that underlies our present predicament because it denies the right of Europeans to exist as distinct peoples."

Very well said! The republican model is a disaster for the indigenous people of europe, since it does not recognize their right to exist. The state based identity and "human rights" must be discarded, so that it is possible for ethnic europeans to defend their interests.

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