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Old 08-21-2006, 10:08 AM   #1
jaguar
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Where are the militant secularists? (or where are the heirs to Pim Fortuyn)

Hello all, long time no see and all that. Riddle me this.

For those not already in the know, Pim was a gay, anti-immigration, liberal (supported euthanasia, gay marriage & a liberal drug policy) politician assassinated on the eve of the Dutch election in 2002.

His argument was, effectively that if Muslim immigrants felt that he should be stoned for his behaviour (as a homosexual) that there was no place for them in his country. Effectively he was arguing that if they we not willing to conform to Dutch cultural values they should not be allowed into the Netherlands. He saw Islam as a threat to the Dutch way of life and, to quote, that "I want to live together with the Muslim people, but a tango needs two". He saw freedom of speech as more important than freedom from discrimination.

I'm finding it pretty hard stuff to argue with really. The intellectual hemlock that is cultural relativism seems to have made the so-called left unable to defend its own values. It is too wrapped in seeing who can be more open minded to realise that there is a real and growing threat that we will lose and are losing the freedoms and values that our forefathers fought and died for. The lack of serious criticism of the Muslim council's assertion here that what is needed to curb terrorism is Islamic social law only serves to underline this.

My question is this, where are the militantly secular? Where are the died-hard freedom of speech advocates? Why is the immigration debate so simplistic and monochrome? When the label racist is used to silence debate the same way 'communist' was in 50s America is there not space for the political argument that to truly foster tolerance, we must actively and aggressively fight intolerance? How on earth is tolerating intolerance in the name of multiculturalism & diversity going to create a cohesive society? Why is no-one asking why the Church & the Mosque can attack homosexuality but plays & performances attacking religions are shut down by protest & threats? What's going on here? What's the way forward?
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Old 08-21-2006, 11:03 AM   #2
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"1) You may say, "You are a fool to believe [X], we'll have to straighten you out." 2) You may say, "[X] is not true, but [Y] is and [Y] is close enough to [X] that you'll eventually get used to it. Trust me, everything will be alright." 3) You speak of [X] meaning [X], while I speak of [X] meaning [Y] hoping that my way of speaking will eventually win the day in this play of language games, so that you, or your descendents, will eventually come to mean [Y] when you or they say [X]" - Owen Flanagan

In other words, you can only have it all if you change what it all means.
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Old 08-21-2006, 11:47 AM   #3
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I follow your dots, and I follow my dots but I'm not quite seeing the dot inbetween.
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Old 08-21-2006, 12:22 PM   #4
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You've stated the whole question very well.

The clash of civilizations is seen differently through everyone's different lenses. One libertarian friend of mine was entirely unconcerned about international terror, against invading Afghanistan, but was fiercely annoyed during the Danish cartoon controversy.
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Old 08-22-2006, 02:39 PM   #5
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well this hasn't quite sparked the debate I was hoping for, did I fart or something?
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Old 08-22-2006, 02:53 PM   #6
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Jag, i was sent some newspaper pics of a muslim demonstration that was probably in England--the demonstrators had placards that said things like: Europe is the Cancer, Islam is the Answer; Europe, your 9/11 is on the way!; Behead those who Insult Islam, Get ready for the REAL holocaust, etc. Did you see these? If you did, did it pique your interest in the need for militant secularists?
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Old 08-22-2006, 03:02 PM   #7
MaggieL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaguar
well this hasn't quite sparked the debate I was hoping for, did I fart or something?
I think there's been a largish influx of liberals^h^h^h^h^h^ progressives in your absence...and many of them are busy stroking each other elsewhere in the fora.

There's also been a lot more volume, which dilutes people's attention.
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Old 08-22-2006, 03:12 PM   #8
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Brianna - formed part of the influence in this long percolating line of thought.
Watching the entire left british media do a double take and shit themselves when those were published was amusing.

Maggie - what are your thoughts then? Where do you see this in the political spectrum? And is the lack of response a kind of collective denial or some kind refusal to get involved on a moral high ground basis?
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Last edited by jaguar; 08-22-2006 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 08-22-2006, 04:41 PM   #9
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You could probably put Penn Jillette in the militantly secular camp. Maybe Bill Maher, too. But their 'militancy' is pretty much restricted to having big mouths on small shows. It would be nice to see some politicians willing to make secular arguments, but suggesting that religions don't come with any more moral authority than any other association of humans is political suicide, as everyone considers it an attack on their own religion.
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Old 08-22-2006, 04:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Brianna - formed part of the influence in this long percolating line of thought.
Watching the entire left british media do a double take and shit themselves when those were published was amusing.
That was quite amusing. What I found particularly funny was the way, days before there was this huge fuss about how the Moslems just didn't understand "Western respect for freedom of speech" (referring to the cartoons which were published showing Mohammed with a missle for a turban) then having an apoplectic fit when the Moslems painted banners:P
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Old 08-22-2006, 04:56 PM   #11
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So does no-one actually disagree? This is almost surreal.
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Old 08-22-2006, 05:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
My question is this, where are the militantly secular? Where are the died-hard freedom of speech advocates? Why is the immigration debate so simplistic and monochrome? When the label racist is used to silence debate the same way 'communist' was in 50s America is there not space for the political argument that to truly foster tolerance, we must actively and aggressively fight intolerance? How on earth is tolerating intolerance in the name of multiculturalism & diversity going to create a cohesive society? Why is no-one asking why the Church & the Mosque can attack homosexuality but plays & performances attacking religions are shut down by protest & threats? What's going on here? What's the way forward?
The main problem, as I see it, is that people like Pim end up attracting the dangerous far-right. It's one thing to say that fundamentalist Moslems are anti-gay; it's quite another to say all moslems are bigots and should be barred from your country.

When I was working in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages). One of my students was a gay guy from Iran. He had`faced horrendous persecution for this. He also had a large group of friends who knew of his sexual orientation and didn't care. Moslem communities, like any other community, do not usually stand up to gross generalisations. There are plenty of religious moslems who, whilst they personally believe homosexuality to be a sin, would not advocate violent oppression of those who are of that persuasion. There are also those who would. There are plenty of non-religious working class white men who would happily kick the shit out of a man if they found out he was gay (as did the London pub bomber). There are plenty who don't really care either way. The danger with the current climate is that we charactererise all moslems as sharing this intolerance. That's where it leads to racism. That's why it shouldn't have any place in a debate on immigration. It should however have a place in a debate on tolerance.

As to advocacy of freedom of speech. I believe in freedom of speech, right up to the point it endangers someone else's freedom of speech/action.

I was appalled when the theatre that was running that Sikh play recently ended up stopping its run, because of the protests and death threats. Disgusting. That was a victory for the reactionary and anti-questioning values of a particular group of people.

The answer in my opinion is to attack the view without attacking the whole demographic. It is right to attack anti-gay propoganda, it is not right to attack all moslems because of it. It is not right to attack someone for being moslem. It is right to make a determined stand and say, that a church or mosque has no right to advocate violence against someone because of their sexual orientation.

The question then becomes.....Does the church or the mosque have the freedom of speech to tell their followers that homosexuality is a sin?

*smiles* as a member of the Secularist Society I find this a particularly interesting debate.

Last edited by DanaC; 08-22-2006 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 08-22-2006, 06:06 PM   #13
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I agree it's a platform that attracts far-right elements but the argument is not a far-right one at all and that alone is not a reason for it not to be pursued. Pim himself made that much clear.

If we have widespread cultural acceptance of homosexuality, enshrined in law, why can't we say fundamentalist muslims are bigots and should be barred from this country? Possibly more to the point, why don't we say that? If that level of nuance is too much for today's political climate we truly are screwed.

I had a rather viscous debate with a friend about anti-white racism inside the black community in London recently which ended in an impasse and the more I think about it, all these issues come back to the same question: How on earth is tolerating intolerance in the name of multiculturalism & diversity going to create a cohesive society? and if we accept that it is not, why do these double standards exist?
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Old 08-22-2006, 06:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaguar
...why can't we say fundamentalist muslims are bigots and should be barred from this country?
Because it makes you look really un-cool. The left is very concerned that they look "cool"-they are not so concerned with the rights of ordinary people not to be terrorized by their neighbors. The placards those sweeties in the English news pix were holding up called for murder--beheadings I believe it was. The left is ok with that. Just don't call them un-hip. On the other hand, a cartoon, NOT calling for murder but giving mohammed bomb-shaped head gear...well, THAT is just uncalled for and insensitive and the monsters who printed that cartoon? well, they deserve what they get.

See how that works?
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Old 08-22-2006, 07:10 PM   #15
Undertoad
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Multiculturalism = all cultures are completely equal, and the only differences are that they speak a different language and eat different foods and some of those foods are very tasty.

In other words, a necessary, purposeful, pseudo-educated prevention of actual understanding of the true differences in different cultures.
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