The End of Intolerance
CS Lewis wrote that the adjective “democratic” has two meanings, which are frequently antithetical. It describes institutions – such as freedom of speech and equality before the law – that democracy needs in order to thrive. But it can also describe things that democracies like, such as organised sentimentality and the promise of easy answers. And there is nothing that modern democracies like more than feeling good about themselves. “Tolerance” gives them the chance to preen over their own niceness.
The most pernicious falsehood undermining democracy is the claim that tolerance is a major virtue. It is not a virtue at all. It is just a feeling, and a pretty flabby one at that. At best, it is ethically neutral – at worst, it is an alibi for intellectual sloth and moral cowardice. We would have more honesty in public life if the word were abandoned entirely and replaced with “apathy”. A society which prides itself on its tolerance will be swept away by those who don’t know that such a thing even exists.
Those Islamic “scholars” who claim that Islam can co-exist with democracy are either indulging in the same kind of sentimentality and self-delusion as secular liberals or they are practising the deception of infidels sanctioned by the Koran. Perhaps even they don’t know which.
We used to know a subversive, totalitarian ideology when we saw it. That is why communism was recognised as a national security risk and its supporters were excluded as far as possible from public office. But the followers of Islam – an equally ruthless and violent ideology – get a free pass, and even preferential treatment, when they squawk about “culture” or “freedom of religion”.
The notion that the demands of Islam can be appeased is the supreme delusion of the liberal mind. Islam means “submission”; Muslims submit to Allah, while the rest of us are supposed to submit to them. There is no “common ground”.
When the Roman Empire collapsed, political power passed to the only institution still functioning – the Christian Church. The various forms of paganism were more or less eradicated, not by persecution of individuals, but by closing temples and ceasing to pay priests from public funds. This is the way to deal with Islam. While opposition to the spread of Sharia courts etc. must continue, the long-term aim must be eradication.
I would not advocate banning the Koran (nor any book for that matter, not even Mein Kampf). People should be free to read and think what they want. What matters is no organising. That means no mosques, no imams, no “Islamic cultural centres”, no faith schools.
Those who are committed to Islam can move to countries where it is the norm, though I suspect that a great many would be happy to escape from the pressures exerted by their “community”, and sink into the pervasive agnostic torpor of the rest of this country. Jihadis will still be a problem, of course, and they will have to be dealt with more seriously than they are now. There would be negligible public opposition to the re-introduction of capital punishment for terrorist crimes.
Whether we have time left to implement the above is the real question. Whatever happens, we must stop being tolerant of the intolerance of Islam.