I'm just catching up with the news after my holiday, and note that Tony Blair has said something not entirely stupid about "Islamism". The Spectator's Douglas Murray corrects him, but must, in his turn, be corrected:
Referring to the problems across the Middle East [Blair] said:
‘At the root of the crisis lies a radicalised and politicised view of Islam, an ideology that distorts and warps Islam’s true message. The threat of this radical Islam is not abating. It is growing. It is spreading across the world. It is de-stabilising communities and even nations. It is undermining the possibility of peaceful co-existence in an era of globalisation. And in the face of this threat we seem curiously reluctant to acknowledge it and powerless to counter it effectively.’
All of which is frustrating, because Tony Blair is so nearly there. After all, this is a man who, in office, only ever trotted out (as George Bush did, as David Cameron does, as absolutely everyone does when they are in office) the message that Islam is a ‘religion of peace.’
Nowadays, with interviews and speeches like this one, Blair gets huge headlines and is occasionally congratulated for admitting that it may be more complicated than this. But as he edges towards the truth of the situation, he is still a step away from facing up to the reality.
Here is what he would say if he wanted to be wholly truthful:
‘At the root of the crisis lies
a radicalised and politicised view of Islam, an ideology that – while obviously the worst version of Islam going– nevertheless has a long tradition. The extremists mainstream Muslims do not make their claims based on some wild misreading, but on a plausible reading of the texts and traditions which have existed within the religion since its founding. In order to confront this, and defeat the extremistsIslam, we cannot simply pretend that these problems do not exist. Non-Muslims must be unafraid to point them out and to say that there are extremistIslamic attitudes which remain permissible in mainstream Islam – such as the second-class status of women, the mandating of death for those who leave Islam – which go wholly against our own most deeply held beliefs. And it is vital that Muslims do everything they can to face up to the challenges which these extreme elements pose within their faithleave Islam if they can. Rather than denying that these questions of interpretation exist, or brushing them under the carpet, it is incumbent upon Muslims everywhere to do everything they can to anathematise and stigmatise the extremists and to chase them and their readings out of the religion.leave Islam. Muslims must face up to the problems of the tradition and overcome them, rather than deny that they exist. The process of denial only emboldens and strengthens the extremistsIslam while simultaneously making it easier for some non-Muslims to crudely and cruelly lump all Muslims in the extremist camp.see taqiyya for what it is. This is a matter of urgency. The threat of this radicalIslam is not abating. It is growing. It is spreading across the world. It is de-stabilising communities and even nations. It is undermining the possibility of peaceful co-existence in an era of globalisation. And in the face of this threat we seem curiously reluctant to acknowledge it and powerless to counter it effectively.’
Now, that would be a speech worthy of a former Prime Minister who – having made
a good living an obscene amout of money and with no need to search for higher office – should speak the whole truth, rather than portions of it, without favour or fear.
C minus to Blair, B minus to Murray. Talking of corrections, Caitlin Moran writes in The Times of the inflated London housing market:
You know this “never-ending bubble” is a tautology – no bubble lasts for ever.
A never-ending bubble would only be a tautology if it did last for ever. Besides, you can always make more of them:
One more word should be corrected (line 11): "process of denial only emboldens and strengthens
the extremists Islam while simultaneously making it easier difficult for some non-Muslims to ..."