Our Flemish correspondent VH didn’t take a Christmas break, but instead spent his holiday translating several articles for us.
First, an inspiring polemic by Benno Barnard, for which VH includes as an introduction this apropos quote:
Flemish comedian and singer Urbanus: “For years I have been saying that that the strongest weapon of the Left is a stamp with a swastika. They stamp that on the forehead of anyone who is not in the left-wing corner, so all those people will have the reflex: Oops, that’s what I’d better remain silent about. I cannot stand that.”
The original article, entitled “Antwoord van een onmens”, appeared in the print edition of De Morgen. The full text was posted in the Dutch-language blog ik krankzinnig. This is VH’s translation:
The answer of a brute
Benno Barnard, writer, poet and columnist, tries to drag the debate on Islam away “from the mud in the trenches”
by Benno Bernard
The prose of Paul Goossens in newspaper De Morgen of November 17 cries out for an oratio pro domo, but I honestly feel more like commenting on the article by Yves Desmet (ibid., 14/11 “Friends, cease your wild roar” [copy here]). At one time this newspaper called every Islam-critic a fascist. Those were orderly times, for sure! But Yves Desmet has powerfully nuanced his past as an Islam-basher, and to reward him for that I will make an attempt to drag the Islam-debate from the mud in the trenches.
Unfortunately I feel obliged to first dwell in the sphere of “Im Westen nichts Neues” [“All quiet on the Western Front”], for that monster Paul Goossens really breaks open the lies, stupidities and indigestible innuendo. This mouthpiece of the outdated Left states for example that Wim van Rooy is “the echo” of my Islam-criticism. While in fact, my echo last year published the most important book on Islam that exists in Flanders: “De malaise van de multiculturaliteit” [“The malaise of multiculturalism”]. If someone ever again gets up to claim that the undersigned & co. (this is the collection of all Islam-critics, according to Paul Goossens) do not come up with arguments for their “Islamophobia”, then I tell him or her that there are hundreds of arguments, documented and everything, in that book. And it urgently needs more readers, as I conclude from the readers’ letters section of the newspaper.
It is shocking to see how all kinds of nice people, who have it good in their own heads, let themselves be deluded by a politically correct illusory reality that even in the nineties proved to be a bubble. But as the philosopher with the mustache and the hammer said, facts are not enough, you must also tempt people to believe in those facts.
On this so-called “Islamophobia”, a word that Goossens takes in his mouth like a sweet candy: he himself does not seem to know from which glass jar in the third-world-shop he has stolen it. For it is a term that originates with the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the same social club that has tuned the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be in line with the Sharia — thus maimed beyond recognition, much like the Sharia is used to maim people: foot off, hand off, head off. The semantic trick is this: a phobia is an irrational fear; fear of spiders (arachnophobia), for example, or open spaces (agoraphobia). Ideological criticism of Islam, based on extensive reading and discernment, would then amount to an irrational reflex. Do you now understand where the Organization of the Islamic Conference is heading?
Even worse is the lie that Wim van Rooy recently said that he wants to “drive out” the Muslims. That word, o perfidious Paul Goossens, was used by the interviewer — Wim Van Rooy wisely did not respond to so much nonsense. But what is really shocking is the insinuation that critics of Islam would like to gas Muslims. Or that we would recommend an “old-fashioned religious and civil war” as a solution to the problems raised by us. From the AEL [the Islamonazi Arab European League] come loud cheers for such nasty crap — because they love the pose of the new Jews, because they are very well aware that the Achilles heel of Western morality is called Auschwitz.
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Let me once again reiterate here that my criticism of Islam concerns an ideology. That it is a criticism of an ideology. Of a totalitarian doctrine, which is much more than a religion. An ideology that literally wants to control everything, from the street to the State, and from the court to the bed. No, that obscurantist doctrine is indeed clearly not compatible with the open society, and that is what Paul Goossens has not understood very well.
But criticism of Islam differs fundamentally from hatred of Muslims. Thus I have never — other than when describing Yves Desmet — used the phrase “little-c**nt-Moroccans” (this is the first time). I am therefore not extraordinarily afraid of that unloved population group. But I do fear the influence of the imams, the preachers of the totalitarian doctrine called Islam. But I do fear the deliberate manipulation of the spirit coming from Muslim dictatorships. And in this way I have a few more fears that are not phobias.
When in the thirties Karl Kraus warned of the totalitarian mix of socialism and nationalism [expansive nationalism based on the pre-WWI German Empire], there were no Paul Goossens-like people who accused him of Germanophobia and scolded him for being an instigator of future war. What half-boiled idiot now comes up with the idea that the undersigned & co. would long for a civil war?
The only war we have provoked is a battle of words, a polemic, a word that is indeed derived from the Greek word for war. Such a war belongs to an open society, which owes its progress to the clash of ideas, a phenomenon that is called dialectic. In Islam dialectic is forbidden. For that polemic therefore I have absolutely no regrets. It seems to me that we have progressed quite a long way. We have stolen back the debate on Islam from Vlaams Belang.
Perhaps we have sometimes been too relentless in that debate. Desmet may be right about that. Even so, I continue to find the blazing innocence of so many decent people a problem. I think this naïveté stems from the fact that Europe’s only remaining collective ideology professes materialism, which simply keeps us from understanding our own Eurocentrism: our inability to understand that there are cultures which think completely differently than we do. What we also do not comprehend is that ideology, far more than hunger and thirst, drives people to extremism — otherwise the 15,000 attacks since the year 2000 would have been committed by black people, not by Muslims.
In our spiritual poverty, we therefore cannot do other than — as does Yves Desmet — equate Islam more or less with our own tradition, because “in the Old Testament there are also nasty things”. Desmet does not seem to understand that Judaism and Christianity have a built-in dialectic that is totally incomparable with the black-stone-system of Islam. So I commend to him the lecture of Van Rooy. Or of Abdelwahab Meddeb, Wafa Sultan, and many other angry Arab women.
But let me reach out my hand to Yves Desmet. It is indeed time for a new phase in the debate. A phase in which critics along both sides make constructive and rational proposals, to each other and to politics.
My own proposals would concern the schools and mosques. Recently a friend of mine who is involved in education told me how he coincidentally happened to be in a fourth-grade class. The teacher was just talking about the origin of man. A Moroccan girl raised her hand spontaneously and said: “In the mosque we have learned that only the Jews are descended from the apes.”
In this little anecdote all the death bells of the Occident begin to chime. But because our continent has gone down more often before, I will not let myself be demoralized. Instead, I propose that the government oblige Islamic teachers to teach about the separation of church and state and the equality of men and women, of heterosexual and homosexual, of Muslims, Jews and otherwise, to incorporate this into their curriculum. And that they demand the imams to preach the same, as well as the need for integration in the open societies, preserving idiosyncrasies (if desired), at least insofar as those curiosities do not undermine our society. That would all then have to be strictly monitored.
Give me a table with a few glasses on it and I do want to talk, always, especially when there is wine in my glass. But stop with those idiotic insinuations that I am a some sort of non-human.
Possibly we may have been too harsh in the Islam debate. Perhaps Yves Desmet is right about that. Even so, I continue to find the blazing innocence of so many decent people a problem.