Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Islam Does Not Belong in Europe

The following op-ed was published last month in Die Welt (subscription required), and has been translated for Gates of Vienna by JLH.

I’m amazed that this article appeared in the German MSM. Yes, I realize that the author’s arguments have their deficiencies — I can see them as clearly as you. However, as with a dog walking on his hind legs, the amazing thing is not how well it is done, but that it is done at all.

Ideology of Power
by Josef Lödin

Islam, as am ideology does not belong to Europe. It is not willing to regard religion, society and politics separately. Freedom, nucleus of the European Enlightenment, is alien to it.

Everyone — regardless of race or religion — can feel at home in Europe, provided he accepts and internalizes the essential values of European civilization. They were fought for and won in difficult battles between state and religion, individual and society, philosophy, science, art and faith. The nucleus of European Enlightenment is the freedom of the individual. This freedom is the greatest of possessions; with it comes questioning tradition, choosing a life different from that prescribed by the collective. This freedom was often paid for with one’s life. People allowed themselves to be burned at the stake, accepted torture, persecution, murder. We know that “spiritual progress” (Freud) is not a one-way street; that retreats in our European Enlightenment were often more powerful than advances; that barbarism was always and everywhere a reality. Nonetheless, the world will not get around the idea of freedom. And Islam too will founder on this idea. As Europeans, we are not prepared to give up our idea of freedom.

We are not talking about the individual who comes from Islamic culture and wants to be a Muslim, but about Islam as a philosophy and “idea of civilization.” Islam does not belong in Europe because it does not wish to regard religion, culture, society and politics as separate, but decisively wants to support its own unity. This mindset is not unknown to Europe. Both Judaism and Christianity are acquainted with this idea of unity under the banner of a faith. All religions would like have the effect of building civilization, but, in an arduous battle, Europe has distanced itself from the idea of omnipotence in religion.

Islam does not belong in Europe, because in this respect it is dragging along centuries behind. Because it places faith above science and enlightenment. It knows no Reformation. It has not experienced the battle between philosophy, science and church, for which the church paid by giving up its claim to omnipotence. With all due tolerance to traditional beliefs, European civilization cannot accept the superiority of faith over philosophy, science, art and enlightenment. Above all, Islam does not belong in Europe, despite Ataturk, because it is a stranger to the separation of politics and religion. Islam is in its essence a political theology. It is not by chance that its expansion came with the sword. Islam is an ideology of power. In its developing phase, it was not carried by a tradition of powerlessness, as was Judaism (“We were slaves in Egypt”) and Christianity, which had to defend itself against persecution and repression. Islam, to the contrary, played the part of master of the world from the start. Even though nothing of that is left, the claim has been internalized.

Islam is not European, because it put the collective above the individual, because it is not prepared to defend the individual from the collective, because it disregards the rights of minorities and because — all lip-service to the contrary notwithstanding — it maintains the greater value of the man. The culturally internalized inferiority of the woman has been a reality in Islam for centuries. You have to have a lot of sand in your eyes to justify or deny this. Islam can never be European, because the non-Muslim is an incomplete human being. Islam cannot be part of Europe, because criticizing it is forbidden, because apostasy of a Muslim is punished by death, because heresy is seen as more serious than all crimes against civil law. Islam does not belong in Europe, because it cruelly persecutes sexual minorities and is capable of no effective tolerance.

All these reasons form the causes of the backwardness of the Islamic world — its distaste for science, art and enlightenment. Any Muslim can become a European and practice his religion within European civilization. Because of its archaisms, Islam as an idea of civilization cannot be recognized as a part of Europe. Europe would limit itself; we would bow to the aggressive demand of Islam.

We must distinguish clearly between Islam as a religion and Islam as a civilization. Islam is not content to be a creed, but threatens secular European civilization with an imaginary alternative. Europe must reject this idea of an Islamic civilization. Many Europeans are lulling themselves with illusions, when they do not take Islam's claim to overlordship seriously. The do not understand that this pseudo-idea of a civilization drives millions of Muslims, who want to free the world from our decadence.

In this discussion, Europeans must insist that it is not about religion: everyone can practice that within the framework of the law. The question is: What else does Islam have to offer? What civilization is it suggesting, what legal system, what system of public order, what educational system, what infrastructure, what opera houses, what libraries and hospitals, what answers to ecological questions? Only taking care of these things can claim the name of civilization. Everywhere that Islam has "civilized" in the last 600 years, it has left in its wake poverty, illiteracy and backwardness. In the realm of civilization, Islam has utterly failed. Since the Renaissance, it has dozed through the modern age. Whoever is unable to cope is happy to offer religion as a cure. In this case, religion is not an intellectual-historical heritage, but really just the opium of the people.


The author was born in Afghanistan in 1951 and came to Germany in 1960. Presently, he works in Zurich as a neurologist and psychiatrist. He is active as a psychiatric training analyst in Paris and Berlin.

24 comments:

Zenster said...

Islam does not belong in Europe, because in this respect it is dragging along centuries behind.

Or, as Geert would say, "retarded".

I'll cheerfully admit to how refreshing it is to see something this (relatively) accurate hit the European press, even if only in Germany.

Hesperado said...

Not bad. Now, if Mr. Lödin can stop his silly habit of personifying a belief system -- "Islam... is not willing..."; "Islam... does not wish..."; Islam... decisively wants to support its own unity"; etc. -- and realize that a belief system only does concrete things in the world through the actions of humans who translate its ideas into deeds, then he'll have taken a leap forward equal to all the baby steps he's accomplished thus far toward the crux of the matter.

I.e.: The problem is Islam only because Muslims insist on actualizing Islam.

If Islam were simply a belief system, and nobody were practicing it, it would be inert, unable by itself to cause harm.

Islam is the loaded gun, the Muslim is the shooter. Mr. Lödin is like a man afraid of a gun pointed at him, personifying the gun, endowing the gun with will and wishes, putting murderous thoughts into that gun -- all the while strangely ignoring the man aiming the gun at him.

cornholio said...

@Hesperado,

Good points. After all Islam doesn't exist in the ether, but in the minds of its followers/believers.

Academic debates about Islam aren't going to civilise it much less hinder its spread.

Nick said...

However, no one wants to be prosecuted, and have to go through what Geert Wilders just went through. By criticising a set of beliefs the author will avoid that. A somewhat significant point, if one is putting one's given name to an article appearing in the national press.

In addition, one could look at it the other way and say that if Islam did not say to do something, then you wouldn't have true believers running around doing it. Sam Harris (the author of several atheistic books) wrote a long time ago that beliefs could be seen as 'levers' that caused certain effects in the external world - beliefs make people do things, one could say in everyday terms. Criticizing those beliefs is perfectly legitimate then. Since those beliefs are the driving force behind how true believers act.

As for the gun analogy: that could easily be turned around too. No guns allowed in the UK. Hence no shootings.

(There are strictly controlled gun licences given out to people involved in hunting & fishing etc, but in the UK 'the man in the street' has no access whatseover to firearms.)

Nick said...

And clearly it is not 'silly' to discuss a belief system. And referring to Islam as 'Islam' is of course perfectly correct.

"The problem is Islam only because Muslims insist on actualizing Islam." No. This is wrong.

Islam itself can be examined and seen as a problem, just as any other political ideology can be.

"After all Islam doesn't exist in the ether, but in the minds of its followers/believers." Again, this is clearly wrong. Islam exists as a set of teachings which have been written down for us in a number of Islamic texts. And in the computer age, these teachings are available to all and sundry at the click of a mouse. Ignoring that this is what 'followers/believers' actually follow/believe in isn't too helpful, and it certainly isn't accurate.

"Islam is the loaded gun, the Muslim is the shooter." As I've said, this is a bad analogy. In the UK we have legislation in place which massively restricts the availability of firearms. To all intents and purposes, people in the UK have no access whatsoever to guns. And I am 100% confident that I will go through life without anyone ever pointing a gun at me. Banning guns works.

cont ...

Nick said...

In addition, likening Islam to a gun acknowledges that Islam exists, that using the word 'Islam' is a legitimate way of referring to it, and it also implies that Islam is dangerous. Certainly not something that one should leave lying about the home for children to have access to. Discussing the dangers of Islam is therefore as sensible and as necessary as it would be to discuss the dangers of having guns lying around all over the place, accessible to all and sundry.

If you happened to live in a country which hadn't already banned guns.

Nick said...

To try to clarify: One could look at the troubles around the world today; for instance the way Christians are treated in many Islamic areas and countries, which was described in some detail during a recent debate at Westminster Hall. One could ask if Islamic teachings play a part in motivating those true believers to behave as they did towards Christians? If the answer is yes, then it would be logically correct to view 'Islam' (as Islam is usually referred to) as a necessary condition for such events to take place. From that, it follows that Islamic teachings are part of the problem being looked at, and if that's so, then Islam is a legitimate area of concern. And therefore worthy of discussion.

It has been noted that Islamic teachings don't exist in the ether, but inside the minds of true believers. However, those Islamic teachings did not arrive in those minds from the ether, nor did they self-generate. Their source is Islam itself.

Or as it's sometimes known, 'Islam'.

Nick said...

"The problem is Islam only because Muslims insist on actualizing Islam." No. This is wrong.

Islam itself can be examined and seen as a problem, just as any other political ideology can be.

And just to clarify this too: The political leaders throughout Europe are all non-Muslims, yet here we all are. If those politicians insist on actualizing Islamic principles in our countries, if they adopt Islamic principles as part of their own political ideology, then that's going to be a problem.

The govt. could bring in new legislation saying, for example, that anyone living in the NE of Scotland will get a tax rebate of £500 this year. I'd have no problem with that at all. So obviously one's government having a political ideology and acting in accordance with it is not necessarily a bad thing.

However, if the author of the original article is correct, then our governments acting in accordance with Islamic principles in particular, and adopting those same principles as part of their thinking, is going to be a problem because Islamic principles are not in accordance with the principles that our ancestors fought for, and which underpin European civilization.

Hesperado said...

Nick,

"The problem is Islam only because Muslims insist on actualizing Islam." No. This is wrong.

Islam itself can be examined and seen as a problem, just as any other political ideology can be.

Nick, you're not thinking this through. A belief system can be adjudged to be wrong and even evil, but if no one is putting it into practice, then it is not a problem.

So the practical concrete problem of Islam is the fact that Muslims are putting it into practice; they are the ones torturing, killing and exploding; and they are the ones we have to deal with.

The body of ideas that compose Islam are only important for us as a guide to the behavior of its practitioners as we seek ways to identify, predict and prevent the dangers they pose.

Hesperado said...

P.S.:

I never said we shouldn't discuss Islam. I specifically took the author to task for personifying Islam and, in the process, in gingerly caution stepping around and avoiding the problem of Muslims.

Over the years, I have noticed (and I have myself gone through) various stages of awareness as people advance on the Learning Curve of the Problem of Islam.

One step is moving beyond the "small minority of extremists" and expanding that to Islam itself.

Another step is moving beyond using "ism" and "radical" and "extremist" and "Wahhabi" and "Salafi" and numerous other qualifiers instead of Islam straight up, no chaser as the problem.

Then, about three years ago, I noticed another interesting point of retardation in advancement on that learning curve: the curious inability of some, even in the AIM (the Anti-Islam Movement), to speak of Muslims. To them, the problem was always Islam, never Muslims. And it's not difficult to see why: such people are stuck in the mode of not wishing to "paint all Muslims with the same brush", etc. I.e., they still have residues of the PC MC virus in their blood stream, and have internalized an anxious reluctance to succumb to what they think will be "bigotry" and "racism". So it's safer just to go after Islam, and leave all those millions of Muslims -- most of whom must be moms and pops like the rest of us, perhaps just "victims" of those dastardly imams and madrassas who would run toward and embrace our Wonderful West if only they could, if only we could help them...

Et ad nauseam cetera.

Meanwhile, thousands of dots of data keep pullulating out of the Muslim world (and more and more our Western world into which the Muslim diaspora has spread) indicating that extremism is the norm in Muslim societies, not the exception (such as, to pick one example out of a turban, that over 70% of Egyptian Muslims believe in killing apostates and those who blaspheme against Mohammed).

Nick said...

Instead of trying to psychoanalyse me, would you care to comment on what I said earlier?

Hesperado said...

Nick,

I wasn't psychoanalyzing you. Part of my response merely adverted to a tendency that explains the reluctance to include Muslims in the problem of Islam. I never said you do that. The main part of my response (indicated by the fact that it was not a "P.S.") specifically addressed one of your main points (which was a response to my initial main point).

Cheradenine Zakalwe said...

What a great article. I'm going to repost it on my blog because I'm getting a lot of traffic at the moment thanks to a post I made on the Johann Hari journalistic fraud scandal. Some major Brit political websites are linking to me. Maybe some of the passing 'civilians' will read this post while they are there and be converted to the cause.

Kevin Stroup said...

Islam is the ideology of the conquerer. Islam (its followers) does not care what you think about it. Islam does not care about you at all. You are garbage to be "taken out". At some point you have to get off your rear end and fight this in the streets. Complaining about it and intellectualizing it will not save you.

Anne-Kit said...

I agree: The fact that this article appears in the MSM at all is to be welcomed and applauded, without a doubt.

Having said that, the constant need to assert the difference between the private (“private” in Islam?! Give me a break!) practice of the “purely religious” aspects of Islam and the expansionist, imperialist aspirations of Islam reveals a widespread need to reflect more honestly on the exact nature of Islam.

If you take away the legal system, the system of public order, education, social strictures, etc. – the question that remains is indeed – to quote the author himself: “What else does Islam have to offer?” Indeed, what remains? Any “religion” that remains consists merely of the rituals of a dead faith: the praying five times a day with your head pointing to Mecca, the washing of hands and face, the non-partaking of certain foods, the wearing of certain clothes, the dictate for men to grow a beard, to sit down when peeing (thank you
Baron for teaching me the priceless term “sitzpinkler”!!), the parroting of koranic verses learnt by rote and often not even understood by non-speakers of Arabic. It’s all form and no substance, no spiritual dimension, no individual connection with a personal God.

It is, to quote the excellent "Allah is Dead" by Rebecca Bynum, a purely materialistic creed.

In fact, the author negates his own assertion of a possible separation of “two Islams” here:

“We must distinguish clearly between Islam as a religion and Islam as a civilization. ISLAM IS NOT CONTENT TO BE A CREED, but threatens secular European civilization with an imaginary alternative.” (emphasis mine)

The time is not far away when each “moderate Muslim” living and practicing their “private” religion in the West will have to choose where he stands: With the Ummah or with his adopted country in the West. Then we shall see who’s who in the zoo.

Nick said...

Should you care to search Amazon for the work of the author Diarmaid MacCulloch, you will find that he has written a book entitled ‘A History of Christianity’. The word ‘Christianity’ is all that is required to refer to the many different aspects of Christian thought, the development of the different Christian churches, the stories of the many different players involved in the story of Christianity, etc. In fact the word ‘Christianity’ refers to so many different things that MacCulloch needed to write a 1200 page book to cover it all.

In exactly the same way, the noun ‘Islam’ is used to refer to the phenomenon that arose in the 7th century desert which then spread throughout the Levant, North Africa, and even into Europe. Everything that Islam is, everything that its adherents have done, and everything its prophet and preachers have said. If an author chose to write a book about all of that, it would, linguistically speaking, be quite acceptable for her to call it ‘A History of Islam’.

So obviously it is acceptable to use the noun ‘Islam’ to refer to the vast, multi-faceted phenomenon which we now concern ourselves with in all its various guises here at GoV.

And it is perfectly normal to use a noun as the subject of a sentence (with or without a determiner.) In fact, sometimes a writer transforms a verb into a noun (this is known as nominalisation – not ‘personalisation’ btw) because there are linguistic advantages to be had by doing so. A moment’s thought shows that one can, for example, grade, measure or describe a noun in many different ways that one simply cannot do to a verb. One may also elect to use a particular noun as the subject of a sentence in order to organise one’s writing into a linguistically effective “theme-rheme” pattern. Using a noun as the subject of a sentence then (as a “participant” – to use a contemporary linguistic term) is the most common, most unremarkable linguistic act anyone could possible imagine.

The author’s use of the noun ‘Islam’ to refer to Islam then, in terms of both grammar and meaning, is not in any way controversial.

I therefore find your criticism of the author to be without merit. One might even say ... it’s rather silly. I can only assume you didn’t think it through properly beforehand.

Nick said...

"We must distinguish clearly between Islam as a religion and Islam as a civilization. Islam is not content to be a creed, but threatens secular European civilization with an imaginary alternative. Europe must reject this idea of an Islamic civilization. Many Europeans are lulling themselves with illusions, when they do not take Islam's claim to overlordship seriously. The do not understand that this pseudo-idea of a civilization drives millions of Muslims, who want to free the world from our decadence." - original article.

Getting down to basics: I would be hesitant to nitpick too much when you're reading a translation of something that was originally written in another language. Is any linguistic nuance the work of the original author, or the translator? Difficult to tell. And if you don't know, then it is perhaps best to say nothing at all.

Note too that the author does indeed wrap up part of his essay by stating that the 'ideology of power' he is writing about drives ... who?

Millions of Muslims.

Nick said...

And finally, your saying that when Muslims act in accordance with some of the more unpleasant Islamic teachings which we all know so well, that is a problem - is just stating the obvious. If you really believe that we need you to point out that startlingly obvious fact to us, then there's something far wrong with you.

"If Islam were simply a belief system, and nobody were practicing it, it would be inert, unable by itself to cause harm." - Hesperado.

To suggest that you want to have a world where there are no Muslims will give any neo-Nazis scrolling through GoV wet dreams.

If you wish to develop your fantasy of a world where nobody believes in Islam, and that's all it is, a fantasy, then I seriously suggest you do so elsewhere, and not on GoV, which doesn't belong to you.

Oh and once again - your gun analogy sucks.

Nick said...

@ Anne-Kit,
I read 'A State Beyond The Pale' a while ago, and the author talks about one of the charges sometimes levelled against Jewish people: that of dual loyalty. Surely it is clear as can be that this very charge can be, and indeed should be, laid against the members of the ummah, as you say.

I spoke to a guy at work a while ago, this is a devout Muslim who tells you quite happily that he's over here to get a British passport. And this guy started ranting about Afghanistan etc. It was 'your' country did this, and 'your' government did that, and 'your' soldiers shouldn't be over there, on and on he went. Why should someone who has no loyalty towards, or interest in, the UK be given a British passport? Beats me. If he's so unhappy with Great Britain I'd give him a plane ticket instead. Back to Pakistan. Sorted!

cornholio said...

Nick stated:

"To suggest that you want to have a world where there are no Muslims will give any neo-Nazis scrolling through GoV wet dreams."

Funnily enough, Islam's similarity to Nazism is such that I'd prefer to see it and Nazism outlawed -- at least in my country, the USA. Unfunnily enough, Pislam's holy hadeeths repeatedly call for the genocide of Jews and I'd much rather see Pislam eliminated than Judaism.

Your comment that "banning guns works" is undercut by the fact that Mexico bans the ownership of firearms -- yet criminals have no problems obtaining them. The only people gun laws disarm are honest citizens -- because hardened criminals couldn't care less. I've met convicted felons and ten year old kids who have, own and carry loaded firearms -- illegally.

Unknown said...

Hesperado, you post got me to thinking.

Islamists in Europe have had ample opportunity to compare Western liberalism with Islam and they have chosen Islam. Why would they do that? Can't the see the obvious superiority of Western liberalism? Perhaps not. Perhaps there are people with certain genetic traits that predispose them to prefer Islam over competing belief systems and that is why Islam has been around for so many centuries.

One cannot be at war with Islam, only Islamists. How can we recognize Islamists? Well, let it be said that they are able to recognize one another.

Hesperado said...

Unknown,

I don't think it's a matter of genetics with Muslims. They are profoundly inculcated from an early agae, in myriad ways through the family, the street, the mosque, etc., to regard their culture as superior to all other cultures. Their culture is a script for supremacy and for the absotlute certitude of the True Meaning of Life. It is emotionally and mentally intoxicating to believe you are supremely better than everyone who does not belong to your group.

This by itself wouldn't be that much of a problem, if that script did not also include violent expansionism in order to translate that attitude of supremacism into actual belligerence, attacks, and the hope for eventual military conquest. Just because Muslims now are too weak to launch major military invasions against the West (as they did for a good thousand years from the 7th to the 17th centuries), doesn't mean they don't still cultivate the fanatical dream of doing so, and in the meantime doing everything they can (including both terror attacks, various forms of crime, and propagandistic stealth jihad) to pave the way for that eventuality they nurse in their hearts.

Even if they fail in their ultimate desideratum (and I expect they will fail, because the West is astronomically superior to their culture on all levels), they will however manage to wreak untold massacres and dislocations merely through trying while ultimately failing to succeed.

The sooner we, the West, can wake up to this fact about Muslims, the less costly, less messy, and less bloody will be the devolution that is bound to unravel in the coming decades. It's up to our dominant and mainstream PC MCs. Will they wake up from their pleasant triple decaf lattes they sip at their suburban malls while listening to some liberal podcast from NPR on their ipod whilst multi-tasking on their Blackberry concerning their cushy job that allows them to sit at the mall for two hours in the middle of a work day to smell the Arabian coffee in time -- or will they, like the Appeasers who only took Hitler seriously when it was too late and millions would die and millions more would suffer dislocation & disease dither about "tolerating diversity" until it is tragically nearly too late? It's their call.

cornholio said...

@Hesperado,

If Western culture is superior, why has Lebanon, once democratic and a majority Christian nation now become, for all intents and purposes,
an Islamofascist state?

I don't see any real evidence that Islam, as a totalitarian, supremacist, antisemitic ideology is failing anywhere -- at least in the sense of being successfully spread.

Baron Bodissey said...

A reader named “GI Joe” was unable to post his comment, and asked us to post it for him:

-------------------------

This author who wrote the article says some things which are accurate, but he doesn’t realize a few other things.

“Islam is not European, because it put the collective above the individual, because it is not prepared to defend the individual from the collective”. It’s ironic that this is the exact same thing that left wing politically correct extremists, “secular humanists” are doing. They attack and demonize the individual who does not conform to the collective delusion of political correctness as an ideology. It’s their fault that the Western world has gotten to this stage of almost being conquered by Islam. The Marxists always encouraged and instigated hatred against capitalism, against biblical Christianity, and against the individual freedom of those who dared to speak against the doctrines and dark history of Islam. They are the ones who are infuriated when a few people burn the Koran, but when others insult Jesus Christ or ridicule the Bible and Christians in the most arrogant way, then they say that’s “free artistic expression”. And now, their monster which they have created, multiculturalism, is turning against them.

These are a few of the things that the author of the article misses completely. His praises of an enlightened Europe are exaggerated and unjustified, given the fact that in Europe people are persecuted for speaking in public against political correctness and against Islam. It seems to me that EU leaders are more concerned with defending Islamic doctrines against “blasphemy” and “denigration”, than with defending the rights of Europeans. The European Union is acting like the secular Inquisition of Islam. In the last century, Europe has had two monstrous totalitarianisms, that have their source in 19th century hostility to traditional society. Both Marx and Hitler were hostile to traditional beliefs and morals, they wanted to set up a new kind of society based on worship of the state and the collective. This is very similar to Islam, in Muslim societies the state and the mosque dictate to all the people. It is a collectivist society, like the other totalitarianisms. Many Europeans hate America and are sympathetic to Communism (disguised as progressive socialism these days) and Islam. That’s why they’re in such a mess now. I love Europe, my background is from there, but I hate to say it, Europeans did it to themselves. They ruined their own civilization. What he says about Europe and freedom in this article, is actually true of America. America has its own problems and it’s not perfect, but it’s doing better when it comes to individual freedom. At least in America people are not taken to court for speaking against Islam. As Ronald Reagan said: “Ours was the first revolution in history, that reversed the course of government. We, the people, tell the government what to do. It doesn’t tell us.”

Well, that was true for a long time, not so much today.

— GI Joe