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Miscellaneous meanderings and philosophical ramblings. The title from a spiral notebook I used to jot down my thoughts on religion and other matters some years ago. I like to write, think and express my views on various issues. Robust discussion is welcome.

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"Lan astaslem."
I will not submit. I will not surrender.
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Saturday, July 26, 2008

One bad apple, so let's punish the entire class

Apparently a particular journalist has never experienced the injustice that such knee-jerk reactions entail. Or, not having the courage to confront the real problem directly, and lacking support from a culture that may not have the stones to do so either, decides to just take a swing at a much larger group with a silly idea.

While recognizing that radical elements in Islam have an alarming sway on a percentage of Muslims and are not assimilating well into British or western cultures, the author veers off course rather abruptly with this (thanks to

Religion is as long as a piece of string; true faith lies in the heart of the believer and is rarely susceptible to argument. Clearly, for lots of Muslims Islam is not a doctrine of gentleness, tolerance, sexual equality, forgiveness, democracy and all the rest. For countless others it clearly is.

What follows inescapably from this is that religious people and their views should not be officially recognised in groups.

Inescapably? I'm wondering if that word means something different in the UK, like say, "by ignorant leaps and bounds of foolishness".

Religion should not be allowed a public space or public representation. This is hard for those of us who used to love the muddled Anglican compromise; it means the disestablishment of our national church – if it doesn’t self-destruct first.

Let's put aside the notion of a national church, as the author obviously goes much further than simply detaching that from government.

The challenge of other, fiercer and more divisive convictions has forced the issue; multiculturalism has been subversive. There must be no more religious schools – personally I would leave those that exist alone.

I would say this means that personally, the author doesn't have the guts to follow through with the implications of her foolish idea.

There must be no public recognition of religious associations as representatives of anything or anybody: not on campuses, not in student unions, not in government consultations or in parliament.

So-called religious community leaders, or umbrella groups of religious bodies, must of course be free to associate as they like in private, in a free country, but publicly they must be ignored. Publicly they must not teach or promote illegal prejudices. Forced into the private sphere, denied the oxygen of publicity, power and influence, highly politicised religious groups will wither on the vine. Perhaps, in that wonderful phrase of Yeats, they might even wither into truth.

It's unfortunate that recognizing problems with multi-culturalism and how that allows radical elements to grow, results in this nearly hysterical rant against all religion. One has to wonder if the author would see how foolish this were if one replaced the word religion with the term world view. World views are not always susceptible to argument, after all. What does the author propose to prevent the state from determining which world view is acceptable?

Pardon me, but I'm not impressed that the ramparts against such a condition would consist of this journalist's personal desire not to go that far. Even worse, the reply might be, it's ok, as long as my world view is not being suppressed.

Western culture has enough problems, without extreme reactions to extremism and punishing an entire class of world views because one is having serious trouble with a minority of one particular group within that class. I suppose dealing with this particular bully, instead of punishing the entire class, might take a bit more effort and intellectual work. Judging from her proposal, "To beat extremism we must dissolve religious groups", Minette Marrin is not capable of either.


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