For those who haven’t read The New Vichy Syndrome, The New Humanist has published an excerpt from it, focusing on an argument that separates Dalrymple from many fellow conservatives: that “Westernisation is in fact far advanced among Muslims in Europe”. The argument relies in part on evidence Dalrymple obtained from perusing Islamic dating websites, which some reviewers have noted is an excellent idea. I love the closing paragraph:
The great majority of humanity everywhere is unwilling to risk much for philosophical principles. This means that there will remain outward adherence even by the fun-loving and humorous Muslims, who will never go to the trouble of exposing their scepticism or incipient unbelief. Why bother, when the alternative is an easy life, lived high in the regard of others? Hypocrisy and dissimilation are what keep social systems strong; it is intellectual honesty that destroys them.
Read it here
I remember being slightly surprised by this section of TD’s book, as I am concerned about the growth of Islam in the UK. I say growth because there is now a higher number of halal food outlets and mosques (I think I am correct in saying) than at any other time in the history of the nation.
I’m also a little surprised at TD’s endorsement of hypocrisy, since it always annoys me when people who are clearly morally apathetic claim a) that their religion is right and true and b) that they actually adhere to it. I know TD is saying this is done for practical reasons, but it is always nice to see someone take a stand.
This is one (very rare) issue where I am not entirely convinced by Dalrymple and believe we should continue to be vigilant against Islam (because at heart the ideology is totalitarian). It is a tough one though because I agree that the oft-found liberal relativism and nihilism can be as harmful as religious fanaticism.
I think this is a part of Dalrymple’s opinion (as stated in his article When Islam Breaks Down) that the suicide bomber is not a sign of a resurgent Islam, but rather, its death-rattle.
He considers Islam to be brittle – once it gives way an inch, it gives way a mile. I imagine that he is quoting from the dating websites to provide examples of this (I have not yet read this book of his).
I share your unease with this line of argument, for two reasons:
1) The sample Dalrymple chooses here has to be biased, because it is more likely that a westernized muslim will post on a dating site than a fundamentalist. So it is not surprising at all to find westernized muslims on a dating site. The question is, what proprortion of the population do they represent? Is it 10% or 90%?
2) Even a community where 99% are westernized can be a problem, if the remaining 1% are fundamentalists and impose their views by force on the rest. The question is, are the 99% moderates willing to stand up to the 1% fundamentalists?
Perhaps the answer is that a brittle Islam can be successfully challenged by a strong, confident West, whereas a strong and non-brittle Islam could not. This would be reassuring, if such confidence could be found any more in Western society.
I agree with the previous two posts. This is one of the few times I have disagreed with TD on a major issue. I think he is slightly influenced by the repulsion he feels towards the appalling moral and behavioural standards he observes amongst the indigenous British population (esp, the young), and therefore looks with some sympathy at the apparently more traditional and respectful standards required within Muslim communities. I think that this blinds him slightly to the reality that, even if he is right about the demographic trends in Europe (which I doubt), there will still be a very large Muslim population, tightly knit both in terms of location, culture, moral values, and, importantly, in terms of their ultimate loyalty – which will always be to Islam rather than to the nation they live in. I also feel that TD underplays and doesn’t appreciate the magnitude of, the degree to which many traditionally English towns and cities have been transformed by the growth of the Muslim population over the last 20 or so years – eg, Burnley, Blackburn, Bradford, Oldham, Keighley, Birmingham, Luton, and large chunks of Manchester and London. In many other towns all over the country the Muslim population is growing – and all the while being given every help by the Political Correctness that permeates local govt in Britain. At the back of my mind is a vague suspicion that perhaps, just perhaps, TD’s views on the nature and consequences of the rise in the numbers of Muslims in the UK is related to an ideological commitment to free market economics, and thus the free, unfettered movement of peoples as well as of goods and capital. Maybe I’m wrong on this, but I feel it may explain his attitude towards mass immigration and its consequences for the nature of British society and culture, esp since the 1990s.
You know you’re on a rare site when you see two intelligent comments one after the other!
I agree with what you have both written. I also think TD comes from the position that he sees so much depravity that at least religion imposes some order on these people’s lives, whether or not it is true (a Utilitarian and pragmatic position).
I know he had a run-in with Sam Harris over this. I despise sense of nihilism which often accompanies more intelligent atheists I have met. They seem attracted to atheism more because they do not wish to have any rules at all (they’re liberals and relativists) rather than because of any scientific or humanist beliefs.
As for less intelligent people, they are adrift without religion, having no rules whatsoever, and TD observes the effect of this. So I can see his argument so some degree.
But like both of you, I don’t share his confidence that all the Muslims will be assimilated. It just doesn’t look that way in my area of south London. There are dozens of Somalis every time I go out, all have children. I went up to north-west London the other day (Westbourne Park) and it was even more Islamified, numerous niqab wearers.
Islam is imperialist at heart and therefore I believe even “moderate” Muslims are part of the problem. No more so, though, than are decadent and apathetic nihilists.
Dalrymple on religion here.
Dalrymple on religion where?
I know exactly what TD is talking about here. I live in an area of Sydney (Australia) which has a very large Muslim population, but in terms of social identifying marks, most of them are unmistakably Australian rather than Muslim. The women mostly wear the hijab but there’s barely a niqab (the full face covering) in sight.
In other words, they’re hardly radicalised at all, and in my view this is down to the prevailing culture in Australia, which is inimical to Big Ideas as a whole – not a bad thing, really, considering that adherence to Big Ideas has been directly or indirectly responsible for most of the bloodshed of the last century.
Just to add to this discussion, I would advise interested parties to read Spoilt Rotten, because at the end of that book TD addresses the naivete of multiculturalism, especially with regard to the tenets of Islam and the Somali population (whom I see every day when I open my front door here in South London).