On Extremism

Since I didn’t see any prospect of sweeping away a whole religion and didn’t even think that a very good idea, I stuck with my argument that the actual task, with regard to the Islamic minority in Britain, was to protect it from its extremists, if necessary by encouraging the mass of law-abiding Islamic people to separate themselves from any of their religious leaders who had trouble understanding the general implications of the message that Allah is merciful. Esteemed contemporaries such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens believed that religious extremism is a product of religion and will be a menace as long as religions exist. I didn’t believe it.

Religious extremism is a product of extremism. It’s a disposition. Systems of belief can undoubtedly exacerbate that disposition, but no amount of rationalism can entirely eliminate it. The kind of man who wants to deal with an insubordinate daughter by cutting her to pieces would like to do whatever form of worship he favoured and would still like to do it if he worshipped nothing at all except the knife in his hand.

Multiculturalists who, in order not to offend the Islamic culture, wished to soft-pedal any criticism of repressive behaviour by Islamic men towards their women — the perverted concept of ‘honour crime’ was the most conspicuous example — were thus making what the philosophers used to call a category mistake.

Source: A Point of View by Clive James


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