Saturday, 13 March 2010

Ian McEwan: Slightly Better Than Sebastian Faulks

British Booker Prize-winning novelist Ian McEwan has said in a recent interview that criticising Islam is not racist and blamed left-leaning thinkers for "closing down the debate".

In an interview with today's Telegraph Magazine, McEwan said: "Chunks of left-of-centre opinion have tried to close down the debate by saying that if you were to criticise Islam as a thought system you are a de facto racist. That is a poisonous argument.

"They do it on the basis that they see an ally in their particular forms of anti-Americanism," he said. "So these radical Muslims are the shock-troops for the armchair Left who don't want to examine too closely the rest of the package – the homophobia, the misogyny and so on."

In this sense, McEwan is absolutely right. To brand people "racist", or even bigoted in any sense, for criticising an ideology, is absurd. Islam is a set of beliefs about the world and our place in it, and just because some people believe those ideas derive from God does not oblige the rest of us to, which means that these beliefs are just as open to criticism as any other. To ban criticism of any ideology - especially when that criticism is legitimate, as in the case of Islam, but even if it is not - is the first step down the path to totalitarianism.

However, that said, there are indications in this article, and in earlier statements by McEwan, that his main gripe is actually not with Islam per se, but with "Islamism", a false construction of "radical Islam" which Mr. McEwan apparently shares with Charles Krauthammer, but is generally not accepted by Muslims themselves. For example, Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said: "These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”

In this sense, McEwan appears little better than fellow novelist Sebastian Faulks, but at least, unlike his spineless colleague, he appears unwilling to surrender to those who would try to force him to repent from resisting the Leftist dogma that there is no jihad problem and that anyone who says there is must be full of hate.

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