This video, published in February 2013, is a film of a debate held by the Cambridge Union on the proposition: “This House believes religion has no place in the twenty-first century”. (Organized religion only is meant.)
It is over an hour and a half long. Is it worth watching?
We think it’s worth hearing what Richard Dawkins has to say in support of the motion. And also for what another eloquent atheist says – Douglas Murray, who surprisingly opposes it, but for quite different reasons from those of the other two opponents. They are a pair of downright villains: the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who campaigned for sharia to be introduced into Britain; and his friend Tariq Ramadan of the Muslim Brotherhood. You’ll only get an earful of pious poppycock from each of them.
There is no argument over theology. No one mentions the wars of religion raging in the Middle East.
We came to one certain conclusion: religion may linger on a while yet, but Oh, it will be dull!
The admirable Douglas Murray is interviewed intelligently on Canadian TV about the pro-Hamas anti-Israel protests erupting in the capitals of Europe.
Into its socialist democracies, slowly dying out of indigenous populations, Europe has admitted hordes of its worst enemy.
None is yet ruled by them – as we think the United States is at present. (Fortunately the United States is much more robust – we dare to say virile – than decadent Europe. Here it is the ruling that is feeble.)
When all of Europe is governed by sharia law (and all European women ambulant black bags), it will be very bad for America.
We sorrow most for Britain which has long been the sanest, the soberest, the most reasonable of nations. Now the blood of native Britons, citizens of London, members of Her Majesty’s armed forces, stain its streets from time to time and ever more frequently, shed by the barbarian colonists of Islam. And every time distant Israel wages war on its perpetual barbarian attackers, the colonists of Britain turn out in force in the capital to yell hideous, vicious, racist hatred and calumny, in a quiet avenue lined with dignified embassies.
Douglas Murray, who always displays moral clarity, writes at Gatestone:
The barricades are up again outside the Israeli Embassy in London, as they are across many capitals of Europe. Given that even more rockets than “normal” have been raining down on Israel in recent days, any sane country would need further barricades outside the Israeli embassy in order to contain yet another demonstration of support for Israel. But no, another day in London and another Palestinian-ist and Socialist Worker party protest is going on against the Israeli state.
The protestors are not, of course, demonstrating because they especially care about the lives of the people of Gaza. If they cared about the lives of Palestinians – or the people of the region in general – they would have spent night after night outside the Syrian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Turkish, Egyptian and Saudi Arabian embassies, among others. …
I have watched them a bit in recent days, watched the contorted hatred on their faces as they scream at the embassy and then watched their friendly sociability as the headscarfed women are driven away by their menfolk, often with their children in tow – a family day outing in “diverse” modern London. Behind their smiles and the increasingly competent public relations that the pro-Hamas faction is managing in Britain, it is possible for some people to forget that what brings these people out is one simple thing: a hatred of the Jewish state and a desire to see it annihilated by the terrorists of Hamas or anyone else at hand.
There are those who will say this is not a not-sufficiently-nuanced observation, that the motives of those protesting Israeli action are something other than a great hatred of Jews and the Jewish state. But if this were true, why would their posters say, “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza?” There is no “Holocaust” in Gaza. Anybody can see there is no similarity between the organized and systematic murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis and the precision targeting of some Hamas rocket sites, some of which are deliberately hidden under hospitals, in the Gaza strip. Why do the protestors say “Holocaust” then? They know that this way they will hurt Jews as deeply as possible. By using the term “Holocaust” for this, they will either give the impression that the Holocaust was a small and minimal thing in the history of war – such as the confrontation between Hamas and Israel currently is – or else that the Israelis are, in their view, currently carrying out precisely the same barbarism which made the creation of the state of Israel such an added necessity for Jews in the 1940s, and that by supposedly becoming the Nazis they are meant to abhor, the Jews have forfeited any right to be regarded as part of acceptable humankind.
Either way, these protestors clearly mean to harm, not to help. But their presence – and the growing manner in which they are trying to wake up a far-away country to the actions of Israel, and condemn them as they would condemn Nazism – displays a trend worth dwelling on.
Israel has been through an exchange like this with Gaza every couple of years since Condoleezza Rice had the brilliant idea of pushing for elections in Gaza and allowing Hamas to finish with guns what they had failed to achieve at the ballot box. In the wider world’s response – as well as the facts in the ground in Israel – certain trends can now be spotted. One is that, since the 2006 war in Lebanon, protests against Israel in cities such as London have increased in number and vitriol year on year. This is not because the confrontations between Israel and her enemies during this period are getting larger. On the contrary, no exchange since 2006 has been anything in size like the war which had to be engaged in then. Each time, however, despite the actual conflict diminishing, the protests in London and other capitals in Europe have grown.
So how can one account for this? One reason, simply put, is that you cannot have a country in which the Muslim population doubles each decade (as in Britain) and radical Islamist groups teach young Muslims to make the Israel-Palestine issue their prime concern, and expect the result to have no impact.
The young men and women who pack their banners back in the car after a good day’s shouting at the Israeli embassy may or may not have British citizenship, yet it is hard to say that they are British in any recognizable sense of the term. If they were, they might think that a simple sense of fair play, among other things, ought to dictate that a country being bombarded with missiles on a daily basis should, every now and then, have the right to respond by hitting the sites from which those missiles are fired as well as at the people who order the launchers to let loose.
Israel, one can probably say with some confidence, can very well look after itself. Like everyone else who has spent time in the country, and admires and even loves it, I worry for it, but I can think of no nation on earth that is better equipped or better motivated to look after itself and its people. So when I see these young protestors in London, protesting against Israel, I do not worry for the country they are shouting against. They cannot touch her. But I worry for my country — Britain.
It is a country that is finding it so difficult to integrate the millions of Muslims who have come here that (in a figure that ought to be better known) there are now at least twice as many young British Muslims who have gone to Syria to fight alongside ISIS and other such groups than there are Muslims fighting for Queen and country here in the British armed forces.
By any standards, this is a symptom of a disastrous immigration and integration problem. The people shouting outside the Israeli embassy – the knackered and foolish old minority of Trots aside – can do Israel no harm. But they can do great harm to the country they are in.
Europe’s Israel-haters are no real problem for Israel, but they are the greatest possible problem for Europe.
We cannot stress strongly enough that the Obama administration is committed to the protection and promotion of Islam in the world at large, and in America.
One of the few (known) just men of Europe, Douglas Murray, writes at the website of the Gatestone Institute:
Say hello again to two of the most appallingly over-promoted and sinister figures involved with the current U.S. government: Mohamed Elibiary and Dalia Mogahed. …
Thankfully there are a number of people who can still rouse themselves to point out how outrageous Western governments’ hiring policies are these days – as when Mohamed Elibiary was promoted to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council. Yet despite these heroic individuals pointing out Elibiary’s track record of support for Islamists worldwide, the appointment held – and so it was that the U.S. government welcomed another fox into its chicken coop. …
In September, when violence against Egypt’s Copts had reached another peak, the new Department of Homeland Security Advisor, Elibiary, used his twitter account to blame American Coptic activists for the murder of their co-religionists by Muslim Brotherhood extremists of the type Elibiary has a track record of supporting.
On September 15, he wrote, “For decade since 9/11 attack extremist American Coptic activists have nurtured anti Islam and anti Muslim sentiments among AM[erican] R[igh]T wing.” A day earlier, Elibiary blamed American Copts for protesting against attacks on their relatives in Egypt, and recommended an article “on need to reform #Coptic activism in #US including stop promoting #Islamophobia.”
So while Copts were actually being targeted and killed in Egypt, Mr. Elbiary chose to try to switch attention onto the fictional persecution of Muslims in the U.S. …
Unfortunately, thanks to our enthusiastic, politically-correct attitudes and radical Islamist ideologies, Elibiary is not alone in the U.S. administration.
It was Dalia Mogahed, you will recall, who helped President Obama draft the 2009 Cairo Speech — a “reset” speech, regarded as seminal across several rooms in the White House. It was Mogahed who helped draft the address which apologized for America’s past actions while giving the benefit of the doubt to most of its self-stated enemies.
Dalia Mogahed, advisor to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Mogahed is not only one of the geniuses credited with that speech; her record also includes other glowing occasions. Such as the time, that same year, in which she cropped up on a U.K. television program, which aired on the most notorious satellite Islamist channel. Mogahed took part in a discussion about the empowerment of women through Sharia.
A reminder of just some of the ways in which sharia law – the law of Islam – treats a woman as half-a-human-being at best: The testimony of two women equals that of one man. A woman can inherit only half of whatever would go whole to a man. A woman who is raped, unless she can produce four male witnesses to actual penetration by the rapist, is guilty of adultery and can be stoned to death. The Koran says she can be beaten by her husband. To sum up – Islam, far from empowering women, enslaves them.
She participated, seemingly happily, in the program hosted – and introduced as such – by a member of the radical Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Mogahed also seemed unfazed when, for instance, passionate fellow participants called for the restoration of the Caliphate (a key pipedream of Hizb-ut-Tahrir). …
[Now], after 80 Coptic churches had been burned down by Brotherhood supporters, Ms. Mogahed decided to single out for criticism not the perpetrators but – the Egyptian media! “The Egyptian media took advantage of the Copts to achieve many personal/political gains which has angered the West,” she wrote on one of the Facebook pages to which she spends her time contributing: “Egyptian Americans for Democracy and Human Rights.” … One of the strangest sets of messages any American government has surely ever given out.
If you were one of those Christian Copts standing in the ruins of your village or church, what message would you take from all this? If the officials of the current U.S. administration are managing to blame the media, or even fellow Copts in the U.S., for your slaughter and the desecration of your churches, would it be any surprise if they took the message that the current U.S. administration is not just indifferent to the suffering of Christians across the Middle East and the rest of the world, but actively asking them, “Would you mind dying quietly, please?’
Our view on the pros and cons of a US military attack on Syria is very close to Douglas Murray’s as he expresses it in The Spectator (UK):
For me the conundrum of Syria now comes down to one particular problem. That is one which the House of Commons stumbled over last week and which the US Congress is likely to stumble over in the week ahead. The West has now given ample warning to President Assad of its intention to strike at some point. President Obama has famously drawn a red-line over the use of chemical weapons.
The problem then is this. If any country carries out punitive strikes against the Assad regime they will undoubtedly and rightly be demonstrating the international community’s revulsion over the use of chemical weapons. But if the targets that are hit in the resulting strike are meaningful (government buildings, installations etc) then there is the risk that such an intervention could tip the balance in the Syrian civil war. If that balance is tipped and Assad is severely weakened or even falls as a result then whoever carried out the strikes will be at least partly responsible for what comes next. That is a responsibility which neither America, Britain, France nor any other Western power can handle and it is one which none of us wants.
So – and here is the imponderable – the only purpose of strikes must be to hit targets which are meaningless. … That means something akin to President Clinton’s futile lobbing of missiles at an aspirin factory in Sudan as a response to the 1998 al-Qaeda embassy bombings in Africa. …
I don’t believe that the military should be used for making gestures, but rather to exert power and punish enemies in as meaningful a way as possible.
And the US should only intervene when its own interests are at stake. We want Iran’s nuclear installations to be attacked – in as effective a way as possible.
On Tuesday February 5, 2013, Lars Hedegaard was shot at by a would-be murderer who came to his door pretending to be a postman. Fortunately, though fired at close range, the shot missed him.
Lars Hedegaard is the head of Denmark’s Free Press Society, which stands against attempts by religious and other ideological bigots to gag free speech if they don’t like what is said.
He is also head of the International Free Press Society which, under his leadership, supported Geert Wilders when he was indicted in a Dutch court of law for criticizing Islam (as it ought to be criticized).
In 2011, Lars Hedegaard was indicted in his own country for the same “crime” as Geert Wilders. He was fined, but won an appeal to Denmark’s supreme court.
Douglas Murray writes at the Spectator (UK):
It is now three days since a European journalist was visited at his door by an assassin. For three days I have waited for any response to this. The BBC reported the story in brief, as did the Mail and the Guardian posted the Associated Press story.
But where are all the free-speech defenders? Where are all those brave blogs, papers and journals who like to talk about press freedom, human rights, freedom of expression, anti-extremism and so on? Where are all the campaigners? I have been scouring the internet and apart from Mark Steyn at National Review and Bruce Bawer at Frontpage, and a few other US conservative blogs, hardly anybody seems willing even to report events in Copenhagen on Tuesday.
What explanation can there possibly be for this silence? Allow me some guesses:
Lars Hedegaard is a 70 year old white conservative male who is critical of Islamic fundamentalism. He enjoys none of the currently approved ‘minority’ statuses that might have allowed more people to leap to his defence.
Two years ago Lars was outrageously put on trial in Denmark for discussing honour killings in his own home. Nothing he said should ever have been the subject of such a trial. As it was … the charges against him were dismissed on appeal. But I know that a certain type of otherwise ‘brave’ journalist gets the heebie-jeebies thinking they might be even within a million miles of defending anyone who was once near a courtroom on speech-crime charges.
I can see the ‘liberal’ blogosphere contorting themselves over this. … “I’m happy to defend freedom of speech, but it must be speech I absolutely agree with, otherwise it’s all off.”
Then there remains the unknown identity of the attacker. The man who appeared at Hedegaard’s door has been described as ‘foreign’ looking. It remains eminently possible … that the person trying to kill Lars was not Muslim but was somebody whipped up by the lies and misrepresentations of much of the media into thinking they were doing a good deed. … But the possibility that the assassin was a Muslim would make this even harder. Surely, in the contortions which the left has got itself into over Islamic fundamentalism, even reporting the possibility that a young Muslim tried to kill a journalist for his views would risk being a hate-crime in itself. Might not even reporting such a fact (if it becomes fact), or mentioning it, let alone deprecating it, not risk causing further tensions?
But there is one other crucial part of this near-unanimous cowardice. Might it not be the case – as the media suggested through their headlines – that as an ‘Islam-critic’ Lars Hedegaard might actually have brought this on himself? Very regrettable and all that, but it has been reported that he has started a new newspaper – Dispatch International – which some reports have described as ‘anti-Islam’. From a cursory look I cannot see that it is. It looks like it is trying to do the job that any mainstream paper would do if they weren’t all so terrified. …
Well to hell with them all. We live in a culture of cowards and hypocrites. Our public squares are packed with grandstanders who talk of human rights and freedoms, but when an assassin comes to a journalist’s door they can’t even lift their fingers to their keyboards.
I am now going to take out a subscription to Dispatch International and hope people will join me in doing so here. If that is indeed why the assassin called, then let’s spread the risk around a bit. Let’s make it the most gloriously widely-read publication out there. Since the attempt on his life, Lars has invited me to write pieces for Dispatch International and I have already told him that it will be a pleasure and an honour to do so.
What has happened to Lars Hedegaard was an attempt at the ultimate form of censorship. Many people have already shown that they take these lessons to mean they should be silent.
I suggest we go the other way. Solidarity used to be a virtue of the left. … I suggest we simply make it a virtue of the remaining free.
We argue against all religious belief. We reiterate that religion is historically and presently the cause of much human suffering. And we declare Islam to be the greatest menace to civilization in our time.
As much as we speak against religion, we speak up for its victims, whether they are religious or not.
We post, with indignation, news of Muslims persecuted by Muslims.
And we post, also with indignation, news of Christians persecuted by Muslims.
A Christian writer, Lela Gilbert, recently wrote this in her book Saturday People, Sunday People*:
On October 31, 2010 … eight [Muslim] terrorists stormed into the Assyrian Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad. … The total death count was 57 … [An American soldier] was close enough that he was able to go in [to the church] immediately after the massacre… [and took photographs of the victims]. … It was horrifying to see babies in puddles of their own blood. Their mothers were next to them … There were old men, middle-aged women, pretty young girls and little children. And there were the [two] priests. Some of the bodies were intact, some mutilated. … I never saw those photographs on any media sites; I tried sending them to people but almost nobody responded. … Jillian Becker … a writer on counterterrorism, has a website called The Atheist Conservative. She posted several. Otherwise they never, to my knowledge, appeared.
See our post Holy slaughter, December 20, 2010.
We are happy to have the acknowledgement, and we share Lela Gilbert’s dismay at the unconcern of the Western media and Christian churches over the fate of Christian victims.
Among the victims of religious persecution, the Jews have the most appalling history. Hatred of the Jews is the longest, the most intense, and the most spuriously rationalized. And today antisemitism is as real as “Islamophobia” is phony.
Recently there have been a spate of articles about antisemitism in Britain. Some argue that there is no future for Jews there.
The admirable Douglas Murray writes in the Spectator (UK):
What sort of future is there in Britain for Jews? I would submit that there is a future. But what is becoming increasingly clear is that the price of that future is that Jews will increasingly be expected to distance themselves from Israel. There is a fair amount of evidence from the Jewish community suggesting that this process is already underway. Once it is complete then those ‘good’ anti-Israel Jews will be able to proclaim victory. But the same force that they encouraged to come for their co-religionists will then just as surely come for them. And then where will they hide?
Among the many comments on Murray’s article is one by C. Gee (co-editor of The Atheist Conservative), who writes:
Antizionism is antisemitism. I have read nobody – especially in these comments – who “criticizes” the actions of Israel who cannot justly be labelled antisemitic. Of those who regard the state of Israel as an abomination, only the ultra-orthodox Jews can escape being called antisemitic.
Since 1967, British opinion has been steadily reverting to the antisemitism of the 1930s. It has not mattered whether a right or a left wing government has been in power in Israel. When the right wing is in power, the British left feels safer in asserting that “zionism is racism/nazism.” Netanyahu, Shamir, Begin – are really Jewistic Jews, zionistic zionists. Any “criticism” that assumes that Israel occupies stolen land, that it (and not the Arabs!) intends ethnic cleansing or apartheid, that it has not negotiated in good faith for a two state solution (but the Arabs have!), that it has genocidal plans for Arabs (but not the Arabs for it!), that it (but not the Arabs!) commit war crimes, that it is a colonialist power, that its citizenship rules are racist – is, by definition, antisemitism: the irrational hatred for and calumnious criminalization of Jews collectively or individually for being Jewish. Each of those criticisms is the modern form of the older poisons: German eugenics, Tsarist Protocols, medieval blood-libels.
But, really, does any such critic of Israel actually mind being labelled antisemitic? Who does he think he’s kidding? The critic believes that any offense Jews might take at being called thieves and murderers is a fraud – after all, they are thieves and murderers – emanating from that Jewish need to control the world, in this case, the “debate.” No, being called an “antisemite” gives the Israel critic a frisson: it shows he has caught the whining bugger being a Jew.
* Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel through the eyes of a Christian sojourner by Lela Gilbert, Encounter Books, New York, 2012
Douglas Murray, a writer and thinker who is consistently intelligent and just, declares – optimistically – that Britain will not succumb to sharia law.