In his recent article about Benno Barnard, our Flemish correspondent VH cited Wim van Rooy, a writer and former editor of “PEN-Tijdingen”. To provide a little more background on van Rooy, VH has translated an interview with him and his colleague Joost Zwagerman. The original was posted at Politieke Partij Handhaving Waarden en Normen:
He who offends God receives a literature prize; he who offends Allah, a court case- - - - - - - - -
Since the publication of their critical pamphlets, Dutch writer and columnist Joost Zwagerman and Wim van Rooy have been classified as Islam-bashers. In a double interview they bite back. “The censorship and self censorship among western politicians, thinkers, and artists is immense.”
In the pamphlet “Hitler in the polder & Free of God”, Joost Zwagerman complains that you are left-wing in the Netherlands when you scold Christianity, but right-wing when you criticize Islam. And last year, Wim van Rooy — former editor of “PEN-Tijdingen,” the magazine of the Flemish PEN writers association— published his impressive study “Europe and Islam, the malaise of multiculturalism”. A conversation with two Islam critics.
Islam is not simply a mixture of useful and useless features, like both other monotheistic religions?
Wim Van Rooy: I try to show in my book that the Islam as the youngest offshoot of monotheism rightly means a total break with the Judeo-Christian thought that preceded it. In the first two monotheisms, a moral order was baked into it and had a secularization potential that Islam totally lacks. In this sense, Judaism and Christianity are infinitely superior to the Islam as culture, religion, and ideology. And even though there is an ultra-religious Zionism and an evangelical Christianity, still this is small potatoes compared to the rigidity and fanaticism of Islam. This can be observed every day, although the political and cultural elite out of a strange kind of political correctness has become blind to it. It is a bad habit among leftist intellectuals to be charmed by the totalitarian. Nowadays they defend a religion that has produced nothing positive and only generates arrears. Progressives of all kinds present themselves as a kind of self-Islamizers. They live in an irenic culture can not imagine that the Islamist will actually do what he says.
Van Rooy: Waging war against Western civilization! Islam is rigid and warlike by nature. And that cannot be otherwise, because the Quran is the literal word of Allah, that under penalty of blasphemy cannot be questioned. Whereas the Bible is the result of the inspiration of God, which makes possible a broad exegetical margin. Thus in Western culture there has always been critical thinking. Christianity itself laid the basis of the separation of Church and State. Christianity preaches universal charity. This all you will not find in Islam. Islam is about submission. These days the denial of jihad is fashionable but stupid. Jihad enlarged Islam, and Islam will never voluntarily abandon it.
The Arab regimes are too weak for a military jihad, but there is also a cultural, educational, legal, and financial jihad, there is the ideology of taqiyya, the conscious deceit, and dhimmitude, the subjugation of non-Muslims, through which the terrain is cleared by men like Tariq Ramadan and made available for expansion. There is the demographic jihad: Muslims reproduce much more enthusiastically than Westerners. And then there is the permanent death cult in Islam, such as Hamas and many other groups can not refrain from demonstrating. As an infidel I agree with Benedict XVI when he talks about Islam as a violent religion. From that religion there can never emerge be a humane and liberal society.
Is it not logical that we who begin our criticism of religion are first of all critical of our own tradition?
Joost Zwagerman: Yes, but it tips the scales toward self-contempt and a politically correct uncritical attitude towards Islam. A recent example was a monologue by actor and presenter Jan Mulder in the widely-viewed Dutch TV program “De Wereld Draait Door” [As the World Turns]. Within the Christian Union [Christian left wing], which on ethical issues is to the right of the traditional Christian Democracy of the CDA, the question arose whether a certain young gay political scientist could have a senior post in the party. Mulder pleaded, his voice rising, for a ban of the Christian Union. To the public you are the popular guy. If anyone then adds the nuance that the CDA appoints gay ministers with no problem, that Christian broadcasters have gay TV presenters of whom some really are not the flagship of the broadcaster, while in some mosques gay hatred is openly preached, you hear boos. If Mulder were to say that we should close mosques of that kind, he would immediately be accused of racism.
Van Rooy: There is a liberal Christianity, which is even dominant. A liberal Islam, aside from a few naïve stray souls, absolutely does not exist. That is what many Arab thinkers tell us who now, often out of fear, make sure to stay in the West. Wherever Islam is strong it causes problems. When not already is fighting among themselves, with many more deaths than in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they persecute Christians, as in Egypt, or burn down schools, as in Pakistan, or embrace the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Anyone who follows reports from the Islamic world will not believe his eyes and ears. Everything that is said and done, whether it concerns Jews, women, gays, or Western infidel dogs, is literally unimaginable. But schöngeisten [the lovely-minded] among us direct their haughty moralism only against people who denounce all that. Even more, they excuse those who chant “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” and shoot at the Biedermann who says the house is on fire. The censorship and self-censorship by Western politicians, thinkers, and artists is immense.
Geert Wilders compares the Koran with Mein Kampf. Is that not extreme?
Van Rooy: The love was mutual. Hitler had a great admiration for the power of Islam, with its ancient virulent Jew-hatred. He even dreamed of a 9/11: He fell into a delirium, according to Nazi architect Albert Speer, as he imagined how the skyscrapers of the Jewish world capital New York would be set on fire by kamikaze pilots… Hitler and Islam: one front. Mein Kampf can also be found in great piles in the bookshops in Cairo and Tehran. The current anti-Judaism comes crawling from all the pores of the Middle East.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are alive and kicking there, and, with funding from the European Union, the Palestinian textbooks are still full of Jew-hatred. After the extreme right, the past twenty years the Left has sealed a devil’s pact with the religion of the sword. The philosopher Michel Foucault welcomed Khomeini as a liberator, the communist Roger Garaudy went over to Islam, Jean Genet started to indulge his perversions in Palestinian camps, and the Dutch politician Anja Meulenbelt [SP, Socialist Party, ‘68-Feminist] and the activist Gretta Duisenberg (widow of the former Euro bank president, called the “Black Widow” for her anti-Semitism) even find discrimination against women not worth the trouble when it is about Islam, let alone that they would at times care about chanting anti-Jewish slogans. That Wilders compares the Koran to Mein Kampf is not that crazy.
The British Liberal and four-time Prime Minister William Gladstone claimed a century and a half ago that there would be no peace as long as “that book” existed. That sounds like a colonially-inspired expression.
Van Rooy: Not only was Gladstone very lucid when he said that there would be no peace as long as the Qur’an existed, also Gustave Flaubert knew the ropes and Winston Churchill was perhaps even more sharp: he said that Islam is a religion of blood and war and that “no stronger retrograde force exists in the world”. All these great Europeans spoke prophetic words about the lethality of Islam, words for which they today — like Wilders — would be prosecuted.
Flaubert writes in a letter “I demand, in the name of humanity, that they pulverize the Black Stone, spread its ashes in the wind, that they destroy Mecca, and that they besmear the tomb of Muhammad. This is the least that could be done to demoralize that Fanaticism.”
There is nothing colonial to it. Today writers such as Ian McEwan, Joost Zwagerman, H.M. Enzensberger, Pascal Bruckner and Henryk Broder speak the same language, but those thinkers are immediately put away as conservative or reactionary by the progressive elite — or as colonial, to use your words.
Zwagerman: Tom Lanoye [Flemish writer] said not so long ago that I just had to admit that I had become right-wing. The leftist intelligentsia think that you should let the Muslims down, who already suffer from discrimination, by criticizing their religion. Tom Lanoye is a dear friend, of the same generation, someone with whom I have a history. Precisely for that reason it is so shocking for me to experience how he speaks about Islam critics and personalities with a Muslim background. The way he has attacked Ayaan Hirsi Ali!
And if Mimount Bousakla becomes member of the List Dedecker, he blames her for that, because her form of emancipation does not suit him. The tragedy of this is that Tom Lanoye with this openly-avowed intolerance — because that’s what it is — makes it clear that self-image and actual political affiliation no longer converge. For who now is the conservative here? That is of course Tom Lanoye. While he thinks of himself as left-wing and progressive. The way he went on a rampage about Hirsi Ali, that is the tragic difference between self-image and actual fact.
Van Rooy: When in the old days you exhibited the slightest “petty bourgeois deviation”, in the eyes of the Left you were a fascist; now you’re a racist if you criticize an ideology that is a nasty mixture of Übermensch-feeling and victimization. The Western elite has internalized the fatwa. In 1989 even the death sentence pronounced by Khomeini could not stop the publication of translations of The Satanic Verses. Today only one angry Muslim student is enough to cancel a lecture or make a publication go underground, such as The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones. The only Muslim in the British House of Lords threatened to mobilize ten thousand Muslims when a fellow dared to invite Wilders into a back room. The visit was subsequently canceled
So no debate on this subject without Wilders at the table?
Zwagerman: Karel van het Reve ever wrote the essay “The incredible evil of the Supreme Being”. As a result he received a state prize and a medal from the Queen. The critique of religion in Christianity is completely internalized. Suppose Geert Wilders had literally copied the words of Karel van het Reve, but replaced “God” for “Allah” and “Christianity” for “Islam”… no one would have noticed, and if someone had recognized it, then they still would have said that it was not allowed in the current climate. He who insults God is rewarded a prize; he who insults Allah is rewarded with a court case.
Wilders expresses his criticism very brutally.
Zwagerman: You must support the education of young Muslims and strive for female emancipation and acceptance of gay people within their faith community, but with that you must say: you are obviously welcome, provided that you assent to the democratic rules and laws which apply to all of us without an exception for persons of faith. Tough love. That is what the Left has shyly looked away from since forty years. This way politicians like Wilders take away traditionally leftist themes. The right has very cunningly filled the void that has been left behind.
Filip Dewinter said recently in magazine Knack: “Make no mistake, Islam is a religion of conquest. Give them a finger and they take a hand, give them a hand and they take an arm. What are radical organizations such as the AEL doing? Pushing our society to the extreme, looking how far they can go: halal food in schools, separate swimming for women — before we know it the Sharia is introduced here. Ultimately that will be our downfall.” That sounds rather exaggerated.
Van Rooy: Even though painfully, perhaps, I fully agree with him here. The jihad is conducted in a variety of ways, but the Gutmenschen, originally inspired by Christianity, are not aware of this. One simply can not imagine the hateful character of the Qur’an. Islam is not Europeanizing, but Europe is Islamizing. It is a great mystery why Western intellectuals take a masochistic pleasure in exercising submission in relation to Islam, which they never have shown towards Christianity. Hugo Claus or later Tom Lanoye were applauded when they made a fool of Catholicism, but they do not dare the same thing with Islam. A Dutch Arabist once said that explaining Islam to the average naïve Westerner is equivalent to giving sex education to preschool children: they have no idea.
Is that not the worst defeat of the Left, having to admit that Dewinter at this point is right?
Zwagerman: I already said in my latest pamphlet, “The shame for the Left”. “Alienated,” that is the word I used. The Socialists have remained deaf to their own constituencies. They endlessly engineered education, instead of providing proper education to disadvantaged children in the tradition of the Social Democratic elevation of the people. Many immigrant children come from a culture where memory takes a central place. Make use of it, and do not let them drown in their presumed self-development.
Van Rooy: Of course the Left fails completely, individually and collectively. But as long as arrogant self-Islamizers like Tom Lanoye and Kristien Hemmerechts are believed, the political and cultural elite will continue to remain blind. Apparently the rationality has departed from many progressives, as was the case when they kept believing in the Soviet Union or in a European form of communism. Now they believe in a European form of Islam, while all the texts of that religion are full of fanaticism. To clarify everything: while I approve of that statement by Dewinter, I also know that his recent philo-Semitism is an act of opportunism.
On the evening of September 11, 2001 in Antwerp, I saw a scarfless, beer-drinking Moroccan girl dance for joy. “They” had finally taught those nasty Americans and Jews a lesson. How should we go on now with this multi-culture?
Van Rooy: The multicultural society ended up in a malaise, and every citizen experiences that every day and sees it in his own district or in the big bad world outside. There is no enrichment at all. The average Belgian is really not a racist. It is Islam that totally ruins the whole thing. Vlaams Belang is big, and people have become cynical due to that: see here the end result of a religion that becomes ever more obtrusive. In the thirties of the twentieth century, many did not see the danger of Nazism, and appeasement was the tune; today one does not want to see the fascism of Islam.