Interview: Melanie Phillips
Has Western civilisation now reached a point where it has stopped trying to survive? That is one of many questions raised by British journalist and author Melanie Phillips in her recent book, The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle Over God, Truth, and Power.
Among the issues most important to Ms. Phillips, are the breakdown of the family, the obsession with multiculturalism, the phenomenon of radical Islam coming into Britain and not being dealt with properly, and Israel, of which she is a passionate supporter.
She explained that she decided to write The World Turned Upside Down when she realised that the above-mentioned issues, and others such as how the war in Iraq was reported, had something in common: “They were all issues on which it was not possible, any longer, to have a proper discussion or debate; they were all issues on which the progressive side of politics took the view that it wasn’t simply that they believed that people who dissented from their point of view were wrong, they believed that they shouldn’t be allowed to speak at all.”
What these issues have in common, she concludes, is that “They were all linked by the fact that they were all ideologies—that is to say, they were all governed by ideologies such as a whole range of -isms: Feminism, anti-Americanism, environmentalism, anti-Zionism, moral and cultural relativism, and so on. And all these ideologies, because they’re ideologies, basically, they start with the belief that the idea is not only correct, but can’t be challenged, whatever that idea is, and then they force evidence to fit the idea.”
Below are excerpts from the [exclusive] interview [with Accuracy in Media]. You can listen to the entire two-part interview or read the transcript here.
PHILLIPS: The higher up the social and educational scale you go, particularly people who have been educated in universities in the last decade or two, you find that they are people who are much more likely to have a highly ideological view of the world, to be anti-America, anti-West, anti-capitalism, and to have—most importantly—no idea what truth and objectivity actually are. They disdain the whole notion of truth and objectivity, and they’re the people who are the most vicious and venomous towards Israel, a subject I care about very deeply. I am, myself, a Jew, but I also believe that Israel should be supported not simply in its own right, but because I believe Israel is a kind of paradigm issue of our time, that as far as Britain and Europe are concerned, it’s where the most irrational and bigoted views coalesce under the umbrella of “being rational” and “progressive.” It’s a kind of symbol, if you like, of where we’ve lost the plot over a whole range of issues.
So all these ideologies—look at environmentalism, look at anti-Zionism, anti-Americanism—we may think that some of them, or all of them, are horrible and destructive, but from the point of view of people who believe in them, they are all ways in which they think the world can be perfected.
… Now, it’s perfectly true that the Islamists want something radically different from the Left, in terms of what they want to replace it by, but they are happy to use each other as troops in the common cause of defeating the West. So that’s the first thing.
The second thing is that they are all Utopian creeds, what I was saying earlier, and I think that the Left, the progressive side of Western politics, is drawn to Islamists in a strange kind of way, even though their agenda is so radically different.
They are all governed by this idea of the realisation of some kind of paradise on Earth, and that gives them a kind of common cause.
The third thing is that the idea that people on the Left have always been against violence, against tyranny, and against fascism is wrong. People on the Left have a great deal in common with tyranny and fascism. People on the Left obviously have lent themselves to tyranny during the Communist period, and, as I say, you go back to the French Revolution, you find the progressive side of politics lent itself to mass murder.
The Left has always been drawn to violence, it’s drawn to the exercise of brute power, and it’s drawn to people who extol that. In my view, the Islamists are a kind of religious—they represent a kind of religious fascism, and the Left comes from that tradition. The far left and fascism have common roots going back to the Counter-Enlightenment, the movement of force which set itself against reason and tolerance in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
It was those thinkers who spawned a way of looking at the world which then took two different pathways—one was fascism, one was Communism—but they actually have the same root, which is against reason, and against liberty. So it’s not really a surprise to me that these people all march together.
The final thing to say is, if you look at the Islamists—by Islamists I mean the people who are the modern Islamic ideologues who have given modern expression to the ancient idea embedded in the Islamic world that it should conquer the non-Islamic world for Islam—now, if you look at the ideologues of the 20th century, the early 20th century, the ’20s and ’30s they were writing, people like Sayyid Qutb and Maulana Maududi and several others in this whole way of thinking. Post-colonialism, these people came out and developed a kind of movement of radicalised, aggressive Islam which is behind the problems that we have in the world today. Now, if you look at those ideologues, it’s very, very striking how much they drew upon Communist thinking, quite explicitly drew upon Communist thinking. So it’s absolutely no surprise—and I go into this in my book—that the Left is marching, literally, shoulder-to-shoulder with what I would call Islamofascists.
ARONOFF: In a column this week, you say that—again, talking about Islamisation—“most of the British establishment is in denial about what it is up against. Our leaders know there is a major threat of terrorism. But they remain wilfully blind to the fact that the terrorists’ ultimate aim, the Islamisation of Britain and the West, is being pursued by Islamic groups that are not violent, as well as those that are.”
PHILLIPS: You have the same problem developing very fast in America. You’re quite behind us in Britain because we’re so far in advance because of our demographic situation, but, unfortunately, you’re going down exactly the same route, because you’re too frightened, collectively—as we are in Britain, collectively—to acknowledge that this thing we’re facing is not simply a problem of terrorism, it’s also a problem of cultural takeover which is rooted in religious fanaticism. Now, how we should be dealing with it, in my view, is this: We should be expecting Muslims who live in Britain and America to adhere to exactly the same standards as every other minority. In other words, our attitude to Muslims should be “You’re very welcome to live here, and to contribute to our society and economy, and to become American or British citizens—that’s absolutely fine! You will add a great deal to our cultures, just as other immigrant and minority groups have done.” But until this moment, every single immigrant and minority has accepted that they live under the rule of law, which applies to everyone. In other words, that they are welcome and free to practice their minority faith, their minority culture, and to form communities of minority faith and culture, that’s fine, but where those minority faiths or cultures conflict with core principles of the society in which they are living, they must give way.
Now, there are many Muslims in Britain—and I’m sure this is true in America, too—who are very happy with that arrangement. Indeed, they have come to the West, they’ve come to Britain and America, precisely because they want to live under Western freedoms, Western human rights, one law for all, and all the rest of it. But there are others who will not accept that, and they want to live under Islamic law.
… But, in Britain, we’ve given a lot of ground to sharia law. We’re turning a blind eye to it. So we are tolerating, in Britain, for example, polygamy. We are giving welfare benefits to polygamous households. We are tolerating, and even tolerating, sharia courts. Now, sharia courts, they are courts which do not recognise a superior law of the land, and, consequently, we have the terrible phenomenon developing in Britain of parallel jurisdictions in which British Muslim women, who are British citizens, are effectively being forced to live under a rule of law administered informally within their communities which makes them into second-class citizens. One cannot have that. One cannot have a society where you have a parallel jurisdiction, because if you have a situation developing in which you do not enforce the principle of one law for all, then you stop being a democratic society, and you become, instead, a kind of Balkanised country in which you have different groups jostling with each other but are not part of the same society. This is intolerable—it’s inimical to the core principle of a democratic, liberal society, which is one law for all, and where we have unchallengeable bedrock beliefs in equality, freedom, and so on.
Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.