You are here:   Faith > A Veil of Silence Over Murder

In February 2005 the Australian journalist Pamela Bone, already close to her death from cancer, published an article in the Melbourne Age entitled "Where are the Western Feminists?" Some of us would still like to know. 

The immediate spur to Pamela Bone's article had been the piercing silence from Western feminists on the subject of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's condemnation of how women were being treated in Islamic culture. In asking her question, Pamela Bone already knew why the Western feminists were saying so little. They were saying little not just about Islam, but about Hinduism or any other culture which, when the behaviour of its more extreme groups towards women attracts criticism, bridles as if it is being attacked as a whole. Of all the liberal democracies, Australia is the one where the idea is most firmly entrenched among the local intelligentsia that the culture of the West is the only criminal, all other cultures being victims no matter what atrocities they might condone even within their own families.

Perhaps the most successful example of how a Western liberal democracy can absorb migrant diasporas into its social texture, Australia would have reason to vaunt itself as a multicultural society if the supposedly universal unhappiness of the Aboriginals did not, in the eyes of its guilty intelligentsia, make the claim seem empty. But in Australia multiculturalism is not only a social aim, largely attained, it is also an ideology, in which form, to borrow Pascal Bruckner's useful phrase, it becomes the racism of the anti-racists. Australian multiculturalist ideologues will call anyone a racist who dares to suggest that another culture than the one in which they flourish might have aspects more repellent than their own. And it was just such accusations that Pamela Bone heard ringing in her ears when she made her exit.

The essay you are reading now has its own history, which will probably be part of its subject, because I have nothing original to say on the matter. Indeed, that was why I could never seem to get the thing written. That there were countries in the world where the culture visited hellish violence on women even when their governments professed a measure of equality, and that these governments were unlikely to temper the psychopathic inclinations of the culture unless there was a measure of democracy sufficient to separate the state from theocratic pressure: these conclusions seemed obvious. The only mystery was why so few female intellectuals seemed willing to reach them. 

Pamela Bone was still very much alive when I began making sketches for this essay back in the first year of the decade, before the successful attack on the World Trade Center. Her cancer had already been diagnosed but she was fighting it hard and had definitely not stopped writing. Indeed, she was producing some of her most adventurous things. She had made the inherent conflict between feminism and multiculturalism one of her subjects. 

To do so took bravery, especially in Australia, where the multiculturalist ideology — as opposed, often directly opposed, to the reasonable approval of multiculturalism as a desirable form of social organization — is not just a consensus, as I have said, but often thought to be fundamental to a liberal position, and therefore not to be questioned. The distinguished writer Helen Garner had been similarly daring when she raised the possibility that the occasional woman might be evil enough to accuse a man falsely of rape — a conjecture on Garner's part which drew the wrath of all those legions of Australian female pundits who seemed honestly to believe either (a) that if the occasional innocent man should get locked up it would be a small price to pay for the sure punishment of those men who were guilty, or (b) all men were guilty. Like Helen Garner, if on a less celebrated scale, Pamela Bone was a fine enough writer to make the onlooker toy with the possibility that these matters vital to women were being debated among them. 

View Full Article
August 31st, 2009
10:08 AM
You make a fundamental error, Graham, when comparing the rise of Islam to the rise of fascism. It is the other way around. Fascism was the feeble reflection of Islam has done for 1400 years, and still does.

Graham Davis
August 30th, 2009
11:08 AM
It is right to encourage feminists to make a stand against Islam as women are one of its main victims. However what is really required is a united front by all of us who are concerned about freedom and liberty. Am I exaggerating by comparing Islam to the rise in Fascism in the 30’s? The similarities are remarkable, a supremacist ideology, a ruthless opposition to libertarian values and an aggressive policy of expansion along with a political class largely indifferent to the threat. All religions would like to muddy distinction between church and state but only one, Islam, seeks to remove it altogether. Sharia is not a folksy neighbourhood arbitration service, it is a parasite that seeks to destroy our secular legal system and replace it with its own, misogynistic, homophobic and barbaric practices. Take a look at Saudi Arabia if you want to see what Sharia is like for all but the privileged few. For many Moslems the goal is a global caliphate where no authority is tolerated other than their own. As the film Fitna aptly demonstrates the Quran provides ample justification to pursue any amount of barbarism so long as it is sanctioned by the word of “God”. And what are we doing about it? Nothing and the reason is that we are not willing to assert the superiority of our own values. The fear of offending minority interests and the assumption that multiculturalism, so favoured by the left, is the only policy, has allowed the wooden horse of Islam to take root in many of our cities. So what about moderate Moslems who simply want to get on with their lives? Of course they are not all fellow travellers of the 9/11 or 7/7 terrorists, but polls have shown that when push comes to shove many tacitly sanction the use of terrorist tactics when Islam is threatened, wherever that may be. The problem is that most Moslems identify primarily with other Moslems, rather than their fellow countryman, regardless of the country in which they live, their ethnicity or even the language they speak. Wherever they settle be it Bradford or Brisbane their allegiance is first to God. This is why creeping “islamification” needs to be confronted. We Brits are famed for our tolerance and moderation but if they blind us to a threat to our way of life that is moving inexorably towards us, they will have served us poorly and we will live to regret it.

August 29th, 2009
4:08 PM
Thank you, thank you for this blunt, uncompromising polemic on the hypocrisy of "multi-cultural" feminism -- I write as a "Classical" rationalist feminist of the old school. It seems any atrocity can be excused as long as it occurs in a homoginized middle-distance of the mind where individuals and their suffering cannot be made out and the choreography of "culture", and its internal consistencies, are the only values. It all gives cultural imperialism a good name.

August 29th, 2009
2:08 PM
oh god the usual guff about 'australian intellectuals' blah blah. No-one ever named or quoted, save for a stray quote by greer, who resides in the UK. a shoddy, self-indulgent, rambling exercise saying nothing new. doubtless you'll be coming out against the afghan govt, now theyve endorsed such laws, Clive? you know, the one we're expending blood and treasure defending?

Tina Trent
August 27th, 2009
6:08 PM
We need to come to terms directly with the phenomenon of justice movements as progenitors of virulent misogyny. South Africa, Australia, throughout the revolutionary Islamic world -- in every one of these places, liberation of a formerly oppressed population is followed by a whiplash of rage against all female populations, some of it directed inward, some outward, but always at women. In the United States, you can see a similar phenomenon in the hate crimes movement, which declares war on "hate motivated" crimes "in the name of justice" with one hand while working hard to deny that women represent by far the greatest number of victims selected on the basis of identity. Whether it is Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young trading on his civil rights credentials to whitewash Saudi gender apartheid in corporate America, or President Obama's transition from a paid anti-racial-apartheid worker to an apologist for Islamic gender apartheid, the legitimation of woman-hating through the mechanisms of liberation movements goes a long way to explaining (though not at all justifying) the silence of the feminists: they know perfectly well that silence is the price they must pay for a place at the table. So perhaps it is not the feminists who most urgently need to change their views.

Post your comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.