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”.
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.