I recently criticized the British government's award of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie on the grounds that such an action recruited for Islamic extremism without hurting it.
However, it now looks as if, at long last, the British government is getting tough with deeds as well as gestures. Three Islamicists who led protests and demonstrations in the "Cartoon jihad" have received hefty six-year jail sentences from a British court for incitement to violence, while a group of failed suicide-bombers have drawn 40 years each -- and there has been no obvious protest about such a term being a "crushing sentence." The popular consensus seems to be that they should be crushed.
Islamicists may be about to find out, as others have before, that Britain, given sufficient provocation, is not as soft and decadent a society as it sometimes looks.
Although the Tories under David Cameron are still apparently paralyzed with fear over the possibility that they might be called nasty if they show any awareness of a clash of civilizations, it seems that the recent failed car-bomb attacks at London and Glasgow have marked a paradigm shift in British attitudes. Perhaps the fact that those involved were doctors and other professionals was the tipping-point, being taken by many as showing in unmistakable terms what the clash of civilizations is all about. As far as the Internet is any guide to popular opinion -- and it is -- the mood now is of that sort of rage that doesn't go away.
John Smeaton, the Glasgow airport baggage-handler who tackled the terrorists, and who when interviewed issued the memorable warning, "Coom ta Glasgie an' we'll set aboot ye!" is a popular hero throughout Britain, quite transcending the English-Scottish divide that has been coming to look menacing and ominous lately.
The endlessly promoted slogan of "celebrating diversity" (a few years ago the head one regional police force claimed the enforcement of this was part of police duties) is looking very sick. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, George, Lord Carey, has recently publicly urged Prime Minister Gordon Brown to control immigration. Carey, who as Archbishop was notably gentle and conciliatory, said pretty forthrightly that he hoped the new Prime Minister "will not forget the importance of Christian identity at the heart of being a part of the United Kingdom." So it's not the influx of Catholic Polish workers that he is referring to. A few years ago, probably even a few months ago, any public figure, Archbishop or not, who made such a statement would have declared a pariah and hounded out of public life. Such was the fate of Enoch Powell once upon a time. Today the main criticism of Carey's statement is: "Why didn't he say it sooner?"
Opinions that would have been dismissed as off the planet a few years back are now mainstream. In the big-circulation middle-market Daily Mail, senior journalist Max Hastings said: "Lord Carey's remarks show that it is not extremist, or fascist, or even illiberal to demand vastly more stringent immigration controls. It is vital common sense." The whole concept of multiculturalism which has been official policy for decades (though it is hard to say who exactly started it and when) is under attack, not from the fringes but from the broad center. The Daily Express, the other major middle-market British paper, stated in a recent editorial, headed "We should abandon the failed policy of Multiculturalism," that,
In response to the latest attempted terror outrages, the Government should certainly consider new powers for the police. But, more importantly, it should examine its own policies and abandon those which are making matters worse.In the major London paper, the Evening Standard, David Sexton wrote: "All this veil wearing is plain offensive." He continued:
That may mean no state funding for Muslim faith schools and must mean an end to so-called "chain migration" under which young British Muslims are pressured into marrying foreigners to afford their extended families a route into the UK.
It is surely also time for the Government to consider a legal ban on the burkha in public places. This is a nation where law-abiding citizens are not ashamed to show their faces.
The Commission on Integration and Cohesion has issued some feeble recommendations urging local authorities and government departments not to pander so much to immigrant communities. All well and good, all long overdue....We've all been too deferential, for example, about the veil, the hijab, the niqab. I find such garb, in the context of a London street, first ridiculous and then directly offensive. It says that all men are such brutes that if exposed to any more normally clothed women, they cannot be trusted to behave -- and that all women who dress any more scantily than that are indecent. It's abusive, a walking rejection of all our freedoms.
More than 200,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Prime Minister to prevent a gigantic new mosque, funded by the fundamentalist Tablighi Jamaat sect, being built near the Olympics site in east London. A number of terrorists are said to have had connections with Tablight Jamaat. The center-right think-tank Civitas has also raised concerns about the mosque which will hold 12,000 people, four times as many as Britain's largest Christian building, Liverpool's Anglican cathedral. Civitas said: "Are we sure, as a nation, that we want by far the largest place of worship in our land to be sponsored by an organization which holds views directly opposed to our democracy and a religion which, in many parts of the world, denies essential freedoms?"
Opinions penned by the young war correspondent Winston Churchill in 1899 in his book The River War, long regarded as something not merely unfortunate but literally unmentionable, are now being widely circulated and cited:
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property -- either as a child, a wife, or a concubine -- must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men....This is the country in which, a few years ago, police rampant to celebrate diversity made a lady take a collection of toy china pigs off her window-sill lest passing Muslims be offended (though none had complained). The times they are a-changing.
Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.
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