Below are some excerpts from Daniel Pipes’ debate with the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, on January 20th. Video of the event can be seen at YouTube; for a single clip version, see the posting at the Global Defense Group. For accounts of the debate, see the bibliography at “My Debate with London Mayor Ken Livingstone”.
The full transcript of the event is here. Initial transcription work was done by Gaia and Vicktorya of the 910 Group.
Another copy of the full transcript is available at Front Page Magazine.
Let me start with my position on the question of world civilization or clash of civilizations. One: I am for world civilization, and I reject the ‘clash of civilization’ argument. Two: The problem is not so much a clash of civilizations, but a clash of civilization and barbarism.
What Huntington did was to take an incident of the moment and turn them into something civilizational and it didn’t work. In short the clash of civilization idea fails, it does not fit the facts, it is not a good way to understand the world.
What about then a world civilization? Can it exist? If one defines it as Huntington does, as a culture, basically then, no, it can’t. As he puts it, correctly, “for the relevant future there will be no universal civilization but instead a world of different civilizations, each of which will have to learn to coexist with the others.” I don’t think there is anyone who would dispute that.
But yes, there can be a world civilization if one defines it differently. Civilization can be the opposite of barbarism. And civilization in this sense has a long history. In the Bible, there is a passage, “And ye shall… proclaim liberty throughout all the lands and unto all the inhabitants thereof.” In the Koran, “you are the best community ever raised among mankind, you advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and believe in God.” The American byword is ‘the pursuit of happiness’, the French is “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité “ Winston Churchill in 1898, writing about the Sudan, said that civilization is “sympathetic, merciful, tolerant, ready to discuss or argue, eager to avoid violence, to submit to law, to effect compromise.”
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Now what do I mean by barbarians? I do not mean people who are of lower economic stature. What I mean by barbarians — and I think all of us mean by barbarians in the past two centuries — are ideological barbarians. This is what emerged in the French revolution in the late 18th century. And the great examples of ideological barbarism are fascism and Marxist Leninism — they, in their course of their histories have killed tens of millions of people.
But today it’s a third, a third totalitarian movement, a third barbarian movement, namely that of radical Islam. It is an extremist utopian version of Islam. I am not speaking of Islam the religion, I am speaking of a very unusual and modern reading of Islam. It has inflicted misery (as I mentioned Algeria and Darfur, before), there is suicide terrorism, tyrannical and brutal governments, there is the oppression of women, and non-Muslims.
It threatens the whole world:. Morocco, Turkey, Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, you name it, Afghanistan, Tunisia, and not just the traditional Muslim world, but also Russia, France, Sweden, and I dare say, the United Kingdom.
The mayor defines multiculturalism as “the right to pursue different cultural values subject only to the restriction that they should not interfere with the similar right for others.” And he argues, as you just heard, that it works, that London is a successful city. I won’t dispute his specifics, but I do see the multicultural impulse creating disaster by ignoring a dangerous and growing presence of radical Islam in London.
One evocative sign of this danger is that citizens in your country have become a threat for the rest of the world. In 2003, Home Secretary David Blunkett presented a dossier to a Special Immigration Appeals Commission in which he “admits that Britain was a safe haven for supporters of worldwide terrorism” and in which he said Britain remains a “significant base’“ for supporting terrorism.
Indeed, British-based terrorists have carried out operations in at least fifteen countries. Going from east to west, they include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Algeria, Morocco, Russia, France, Spain, and the United States. I’ll give you one example, from the United States: it was Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, who I am primarily thinking of, but there is also the British involvement in 9/11 and in the Millennium Plot that did not take place in Los Angeles.
In frustration, Egypt’s President Husni Mubarak publicly denounced the UK for “protecting killers.” After the August 10th thwarted Heathrow airline mega-plot, of a few months ago, two American authors argued in The New Republic, that from an American point of view, “it can now be argued that the biggest threat to U.S. security emanates not from Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan-but rather from Great Britain.”
And I believe this is the tip of the iceberg. I believe it refutes Mr. Livingstone’s opposing view — that there isn’t a problem. This is the problem, the problem is radical Islam, also known as fundamentalist Islam, political Islam, Islamism. It is not, again, Islam the religion, it is radical Islam, the ideology.
I read the whole transcript at FrontPageMag.com. An excellent talk. Mr. Pipes really has a handle on this, and knows how to articulate it.
Islamism presents the world with the “triple choice”. In so doing, Islamism forces the world to present Islamism with a mirror-image of the “triple choice”.
For details, see Multiculturalism vs. Islamism
Its fundamentalist Islam, that creates problems. Calling it radical islam, is a way to hide our heads in the sand.
And its not a new thing. Its been going on for 1400 years.
True, Pipes is an excellent commentator on Islam, and the Middle East. He is one of our few beacons of hope in a world of myopic anti-Americanism and political correctness. But I think, perhaps in order to play it safely with the audience – which he anticipated to be hostile to his views – he underplayed Islam’s inherent radicalism in this speech:
“Radical Islam derives from Islam but is an anti-modern, millenarian, misanthropic, misogynist, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, triumphalist, jihadistic, terroristic, and suicidal version of it. It is Islamic-flavored totalitarianism.”
So the problem is a certain kind of flavour of totalitarianism – i.e. a deviant form of Islam? Hold on. Islam, as Robert Spencer and others have painstakingly shown, has since its inception made no distinction between religion and ideology (or the state); all the seeds of violence exist within the Qura’n and other holy books (hadith and sira), with the world sharply divided into the dar el islam (house of submission) and dar el harb (house of war). Muhammad himself set off the first jihad (holy war, not some form of yoga) 1400 years ago. Why is Pipes saying that the problem is not Islam as a religion but radical, ideological Islam? Its a false distinction.
Calling it “radical” Islam is misleading. Since that implies there is a genuine “moderate” Islam. In truth there may be moderate Muslims that do not adhere to Islam’s inherent ideology. But they are considered my millions of Muslims around the world as unworthy Muslims, even apostates (defectors). Calling the problem “fundamentalist” Islam is also perhaps misleading. Since that implies there might be a “non-fundamentalist” Islam. As if it were possible to ignore the core tenets of Islamic doctrine as well as its violent blood letting history. If Islamic reformers were able to develop a strand of the so-called religion that confronted (not ignored) and rejected much of Islam’s misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance, then we might be able to say there is also a moderate or non-fundamental Islam. Perhaps better put, only if Islam can throw off the ideological yoke, and in doctrine and practise be a religion without political aspirations, may we can begin to think there might be hope to reconcile Islam as a religion within our societies. Such hope is faint.
My second point of concern with Pipes’ speech lies not with him but with his audience – the applause when Pipes described how America was viewed as a terrorist state etc was abhorrent and deeply worrying. He was providing examples of anti-Americanism that connects Jihadists and the Left wing – not to bond with the audience.
Pipes still thinks in multiculturalist terms when it comes to islam. When he fantasises about “moderate islam” he reveals that deep down he believes the multiculturalist dogma that “all cultures and civilisations are equal”.
About there not being a non-fundamentalist islam. I know a lot of Muslims who associate Islam with passed down cultural tradition rather then the fundamental source; The Koran.
Instead they associate the religion with virtues like kindness, honesty, cleanliness and so on. I think people in the past, who was forced to convert, have simply kept their own value systems, but renamed them; Islam, in order to survive.
I imagine that there is not one form, but many many different forms of un-fundamentalist islam out there. And many of these are good people.
I think the new thing here, is that more and more Muslims can get a Koran and read in it themselves. This is what happened to cristianety and it changed Cristianety back then, with a bonus of 30 years of constant wars in Europe.
Well to get back to the point. Calling the people who use the Koran as a source for their religious understanding, for Radicals, seriously confuses the issues. Calling them fundamentalists, not so much so.
Besides, we used to call them Fundamentalists. Calling them Radicals, is a new PC-invention.
Witch-king of Angmar nailed that one.
Oh and by the way.
I know that some of you think, that in order to get to speak, he has to soften what he sais up a bit. And that its still a whole lot better then nothing.
But I dont think so. I would much rather have it out in the open that our side was not getting heard, then to have Daniel Pipes deliver some PC-talk
True, Pipes is an excellent commentator on Islam (…)
I don’t understand why Daniel Pipes is given so much praise, considering that what he presents is incoherent Islam-apologetic nonsense.
Lawrence Auster has pointed out some of the nonsense in Pipes’ speech.
Third World War —
That comment was way too long. Keep comments brief and on topic, please.