Thursday, August 17, 2006

COMMENT: On Western culture and Steyn

In today’s Crikey alert, Christian Kerr wrote:

Give me western culture any day. Even if it is just Mark Steyn’s Song of the

I agree with him. Give me Western culture any day. I’d rather live north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge than in suburban Karachi. And I’m the first to criticise leaders of nominally Muslim states, local Muslim leaders, terrorist goons, imbecilic Muslim protestors, quiescent Muslims slow to condemn terrorism from among their ranks, Muslim societies that oppress women and local thick-Sheiks.

I also have no problems with respecting and even participating in non-Muslim religious events.

But it makes me sick in the stomach when I see allegedly conservative politicians and media suggest that preserving Western values and further the goals of national security means generating hatred toward and derision of anything even remotely related to my ethno-religious heritage.

And it makes me even sicker when Steyn speaks and writes that the best way to stop people converting to Islam is to convince them that it’s better and cooler to be Australian or Canadian or English or French than to be Muslim. As if you cannot be Muslim and Aussie or English at the same time.

Western culture is my culture, and doesn’t conflict with my religious heritage. If Steyn and his fellow travellers cannot accept the pluralism of Western culture, they should find another culture.

I respect and support what the CIS does, and I don’t expect them to always invite imams and Muslim apologists. But having Steyn on stage is as offensive to Muslims as having David Irving on stage would be to Jews. But to be fair, one of the CIS’s own senior scholars (Owen Harries) deftly demolished Steyn’s entire argument.

If the CIS are genuine about open and honest debate, they should at least enable an unedited transcript of the entire function to be made available to the public. Unedited. Leave all the ugly bits in. Including the altercation between Steyn and myself. Including the bits where Steyn gives advice on how to stop people converting to Islam. Including where Steyn describes Islam as an “apocalyptic” faith engulfing Europe, and that Islam cannot exist in a pluralistic society.

(And also leave unedited the brilliant surgical analysis of Owen Harries as well.)

Steyn aked me to look into my heart and ask who is committing the terrorist acts and why. I know who they are. And if Steyn could look into their hearts, he'd see that his rhetoric fills the bin-Ladins and Zawahiris with joy.

Steyn’s attempts to marginalise and demonise Muslims will only serve the interests of al-Qaida in the long run. Terrorist recruiters want ordinary Muslim citizens of Western countries to feel alienated, saying: “They hate you. They’ll never accept you. Come and join us”.

If I believed everything I read and hear from Mark Steyn reflects official government policy, I’d probably believe them. Steyn is doing al-Qaida’s work, whether he accepts it or not.