Our author responds to the debate:
“This impression was not helped by his tendency to answer specifics with generalities. Ramadan’s favorite word seems to be “diversity” and it was trotted out with numbing regularity to serve as many masters as there were sentences that night. It was the answer to every question, which is to say, once again, not an answer.”
Ramadan knows how to play the Western end of the debate. One of his arguments that resonates with me is that human nature itself is flawed. Any religion, secular group, moral philosophy, human rights campaign etc….any person really…ought to be concerned with has been done (and what people are doing) in the name of any set of ideas or principles, which is often violence. This has some weight.
Hitchens, however, remains unmoved and maintains that the metaphysics of Islam will ultimately create and encourage violence through its moral absolutism and its total metaphysical prescription for all aspects of life, including politics and the public square (though Hitchens was clearly anti-religion, a materialist through and through, on a broader basis). Muslims are the ones right now in Europe and the Middle-East, he points out, who are violent and threatening violence and it must be stood up to.
I suspect on Hitchens’ view, one of the products of Europe is the secular multiculturalism to which Ramadan often appeals, but which the adherents of secular multiculturalism are not always fully willing and able to defend (free speech for example) against Muslim threats of violence. This secular tradition has also not been fully integrating Muslims successfully under its banner nor through public policy, the economy, or Europe’s political institutions, often creating fiefdoms and ghettoes.
Many Americans want this to be our approach as well.
Here’s a further debate from Intelligence Squared with Ayan Hirsi Ali on one side, arguing that Islam is the problem (the same absolutism in Islam that will not tolerate questioning of its tenets, and its many violent passages). A member of the opposing side suggests that Muslim alienation in British life, combined with a European influenced fascist inspired-Islamism is the problem, not Islam itself (yes, it’s colonialist Europe’s fault). He proposes a more human-rights based Islam.
R.I.P to the victims of 09/11.
Addition: Interesting post here from A Reluctant Ombudsman on The Church Of Atheism. You can be civil, and not bash religion from within your own atheism and stand up against the evils and infringements upon liberty that both religious groups and non-religious groups pose.
Also On This Site: There are American traditions which do not seek a holy war, but naturally seek to oppose enemies, defend our citizens, and expand our reach without secular multiculturalism: Richard Fernandez At PJ Media: ‘The New Middle East’..Daniel Greenfield definitely thinks Islam is the problem: From Sultan Knish: ‘The Mirage Of Moderate Islam’
Virtual Philosophy has a series on free speech and some links and notes to J.S. Mill’s ‘On Liberty’ among others. Is Mill’s utilitarianism enough?: From virtual philosopher: ‘Free Speech: notes and links for course at Free Word Centre’
A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea…as a more entrenched radical British Left and Muslim immigration don’t mix too well: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’… Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’…
Free speech (used both well and unwell) meets offended Muslims: ‘Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks Headbutted‘During Lecture’……From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’…From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’
It’s a big assumption to make: From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism…