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Notes on your speech

Reader comment on item: The Rushdie Rules, 25 Years Later

Submitted by Michael S. (United States), Nov 5, 2014 at 08:50

Hello, Daniel

If I were a student of yours, attending this lecture, I don't think I could fill my notebook fast enough with things you brought up that are worthy of comment. All in all, your speech was interesting and insightful. Let me try to touch on a few of the main points:

1. "Free speech is just the battleground; the war is a clash of Islamic vs. "Western" civilization (my paraphrase).

This may be true; though I would prefer that governments decide on the free speech issue in its own right. In the US, "anti-racketeering" laws have been used to attack the free speech rights of anti-abortion protestors; and an attack on the right to freely practice religion by groups labeled "cults", particularly the Branch Dravidians, have been inhumanely attacked (to the extent of burning alive innocent women and children) in the name of "gun control". Our "Western Civilization", therefore, is just as likely as the Islamics to attack the free speech of its citizens, and violently so. Items such as the wrongful imprisonment of Right to Lifers, and the vicious murder of innocent people branded as "cultists" are far afield of the "Clash of Civilizations" you allude to; but I think they are more dangerous to ordinary citizens in my country, the US than the Islamists -- for the very reason that those who carried out these attacks on my fellow citizens are already in power in the US.

Concerning the label, "Western Civilization", it's an uphill battle for me to deal with this. I certainly live in a country that is part of "The West"; and I and my family have had some influence on bringing about many of the characteristics of that civilization, both good and bad. I and my ancestors, for instance, have been strong advocates of religious freedom and free speech, hailing back to the Puritan and Separatist movements in Europe and America. I also was involved in movements which have fueled some of the leftist and ungodly extremes rampant in today's "Western Civilization": the Anti(-Vietnam)war movement and the hippie-led "Counterculture" that followed.

Bear in mind that our "Western Civilization" contains as much evil as good: We promote the freedom to preach the gospel, for instance (with some restrictions); we promote far more loudly the anti-virtues of promiscuity, adultery, attacks on traditional families and lascivious dress. It was rather farcical, then, when you mentioned, in passing, "Judaeo-Christian values", in a way that seemed to imply that they had much to do with what "Western Civilization" is about today. In 1904, perhaps they did; but today, our civilization is definitely NOT religion-based: It is wandering off, leaderless, into uncharted waters, and is headed for certain disaster. I do not blame many of the young men and women, basically very virtuous men and women, from having a certain attraction to the Islamist camp, simply out of revulsion to what we are producing and promoting; and it's unfair to say that these things they abhor are part of "Judaeo-Christian values". They are not.

Again, I prefer that free speech issues should be dealt with as free speech issues, without connecting them with any "clash of civilizations". Free Speech is a very important issue, in its own right.

2. "Leftists, who are allied with the Islamists" (my paraphrase).

The very term "leftist" implies a counterbalancing "rightist" group, and suggests that they are part of a greater whole. We are a diverse society. I am a Paleo-Conservative, and my son is a Radical; and we get along well with one another. Sometimes, it seems as though Leftists in particular, and Europeans in general, come from another planet; but I cannot disown them -- they are my kith and kin. This is especially true of my Jewish relatives. You are correct, though: They are aligned with our enemies, and sometimes dangerously so.

3. "Multiculturalism". That's a funny one, in a way. At a recent pro-Israel rally I attended, we saw a very small "counter-rally" across the street. Where I live, Palestinian flags are not readily available and are even less appreciated; so one of those counter-demonstrators raised the "rainbow flag" to represent his/her cause (I can't remember which gender they was). Ironically, some people on our side sported rainbow motifs as well; because gay and lesbian issues, on which Jews represent both sides, have become intertwined with "multiculturalism" under the rainbow banner.

Trying to fight that monster can be like batting at the air. What's more, my family is multi-RACIAL and multi-LINGUAL in a big way (My Eurasian grandchildren live in China and speak four languages). You yourself posted an article describing the US as "multicultural", based on the many languages spoken here. There's a fine line, between being against multiculturalism, and encouraging xenophobia and racism. This is a dangerous issue to deal with, one I'm sure your co-speaker Geert Wilders is well aware of.

That's it. My mental notebook has reached capacity. Generally a good, thought-provoking talk.

Shalom shalom :-)

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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