In an interview to promote her new book, Melanie Phillips is asked a tough question. Why, if as she maintains, leftish secularism and atheism, have weakened the West by promoting moral relativism, are people such as myself, Christopher Hitchens and Oliver Kamm at the forefront of arguing against the appeasement off radical Islam.
Christopher and Oliver can speak for themselves – no, really, they can. In my case, Melanie says that I do not fully understand the conflicts of our time because I am obsessed with “the right,” and see the fact that Western liberals and leftists are allying with or making excuses for “the far right” of Islamist clerical reaction as a great betrayal of their principles.
I have two responses.
1.Obviously “far right” like “far left” are lazy terms. I accept that what unites fascists and communists is more important than what divides them. Similarly what unites democratic leftists and conservatives – that they both believe in democracy, for instance – is more important than their arguments over economic and social policy. Still you have to have some label for ultra-reactionary beliefs which seek to impose a totalitarian dictatorship by promoting the oppression of women, homophobia and the demonisation of Jews. Traditionally in Europe, such movements have been associated with Catholic ultras and fascists. They were indeed a long way from small-state, free-market conservatives but not so far away by any means from “blood and soil” conservatism.
2 What does she think frighten clerical fascists the most? What does she believe will eventually bring down the Mullahs in Iran, the Saudi royal family, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood? I don’t believe it will be the spread of Christianity to the Middle East which will do it, but demands for democracy, freedom of speech, freedom from religious persecution and, above all, for the emancipation of women.
In other words it will be my ideas that win this battle, not hers.
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