Friday, May 9, 2008

An unusual Agenda on TVO

I watched the Agenda on TVO with the confrontation between Mark Steyn and three of the Muslim laws students who are calling him Islamophobic. It was an unusual program for this very good public affairs show.

The normal format is for the host, Steve Paikin, to interview the "headliner" for 15 minutes and then adjourn to another part of the studio to moderate a panel discussion that normally does not include the headliner. The headliner in this case was Mark Steyn who used the occasion to bait the students into a face on debate. They were clearly uncomfortable and wanted Paikin's assurance that Steyn wouldn't shout at them.

Bear in mind that these are law students who have entered their articling period which means that within a year or so they will be unleased on the public to be able to represent them in court. One would think they would embrace the opportunity to deal with somebody who would shout at them just to get that experience under their belts.

Most of the program was taken up with their complaints that Macleans magazine would not surrender editorial control so that they could publish a pro-Islam article. One wonders why they would not have just submitted an article to Macleans for publication. If Macleans wouldn't publish it, then they might have a stronger argument. If Macleans did publish it, then I guess their 15 minutes of fame is up.

Two of the students were women. One was born in Canada and one came here as a baby from India. The male had been born in Pakistan and had lived in Britain where he grew up before he emigrated to Canada. All of them were in western dress and had they not said they were Muslims there would be nothing about their appearance that would have tipped you off.

At one point, Paikin offered that if all Muslims were like them Canadians would have no problems. I have no idea what he meant, but as one Canadian I would like to exempt myself from his list. I have problems with them.

In numerous articles Steyn has been calling them "sock puppets" for reasons that escaped me. However, I have since learned that sock puppets are people who are put up to putting out some party line or propaganda. In that sense, I would agree with Steyn's depiction.

What bothered me was that they wanted to talk about the issue of Islamophobic media (specifically Mcleans) but not about Islamophobia itself. Try as he might, and he did try valiantly, Paikin could not steer them on to that discussion. Every time Steyn pointed out that he had simply been reporting the claims religious spokespersons were making for Islam, the students tried to suggest that these people he was quoting were obscure, and irrelevant, like Ayatollah Khomeini. Huh!

What impressed me was their lack of preparation (they came with some idea of a script that they would simply put out without challenge). This is not a good beginning for young lawyers. In law, preparation is everything, and thinking fast on your feet outside the script is essential.

The second thing was, despite the fact that they have come of age and were educated in Canada, specifically in the legal tradition of Canada, they still don't understand the concept of free speech. They think they are entitled to force Mcleans to simply allow them to publish whatever they want, and if they can't get it by bullying Mcleans they will get a government agency to do it for them.

This is so Muslim. If you want to accuse somebody in an Islamic country of offending Islam, you go to an Imam and get him to issue a fatwa against the offender. In effect, the human rights commissions substitute for the Imams and issue the fatwas.

They frequently complained that all Muslims in Canada were tarred with this extremist voice that rises in various parts of the Muslim community that Steyn featured in his book. But at no time did they take the opportunity to point to specific things and say as Canadian Muslims those things were wrong and those people who say them are wrong and are wrong to say them. In short, like nearly all other Muslims, they find themselves incapable of criticizing or taking issue with relious authorities. Islam is an authoritarian religion.

And this is what so-called moderate Muslims who live in western countries are not getting, even though, time and again, writers and journalists have pointed out the absence of forcefull denials of the extremists by the moderates. This was a good opportunity for these Muslims to show that kind of awareness and respond to it, and yet they sat on their hands.

I am continually left with the impression that the only thing Muslims do not want discussed in any public forum is Islam. And anyone who wants to discuss it is an Islamophobe. Unfortunately, mainy mainstream journalists think that bigotry, Islamophobia and critical discussion of Islam are all the same thing, and they aid and abet this silencing of critics.

As Mark Steyn said, from the geopolitical, social, cultural and religious perspective the impact of Islam on western societies is one of the biggest story of the 21st century and these folks don't want us to talk or write about it.

I happened to come across this quotation from George Washington, the first American President:

"If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use for us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led like sheep to the slaughter."

Wise words.

Go to this site if you want to see the hour-long video of the show:


Tom said...

"...the human rights commissions substitute for the Imams and issue the fatwas."

Right on the money.

I remind you -- and me and anyone else who's listening -- that they are little scared chicks and we are big, bold, experienced citizens of a pluralistic society.

So, yes, they run for the Imam's skirts. They are like children. Well, actually, they are children.

How could you reasonably expect them to have "correctly" absorbed our culture and traditions so quickly?

We are defending our way of life aren't we? Maybe we can acknowledge that the things we grew up knowing don't come so easy to newcomers.

A lot of the blame goes to the left for coddling. They would rather be whipped than offend someone else's cultural perspective, no matter how batty.

So you have these little kids feeling brave and scared and expecting some major slaps on the back and attaboys for defending their culture in a supposedly multicultural and tolerant society.

All that is required is to let them learn that they cannot demand an imaginary right not to be confronted with things they do not want to hear about a religion they cannot defend.

If Islam is wanting a Reformation, then Muslims of the West want that moment Catholics reach when they realize they are not afraid of hell...that it was something someone made up.

It takes some sand for an individual to come to this conclusion. And it takes seeing others step up and assert their own world view before many will take the leap.

So our Muslim friends are a few decades behind, but how could they not be?

We are not doing them any favours by treating them like babies. The very fact that McClains agreed to meet with them and negotiate is extraordinary.

I think that deep down, as they shift in their seats and shoot uncomfortable glances at each other, they know they are babies and are just waiting for a parent to set them straight.

They are stuck between the authoritarianism of their religion which they have not rinsed from their ever Westernizing brains and the freedom and individuality which are dawning in them. At least we hope so.

Give them time. They don't need to be barked at. They need to be sympathized with first and reasoned with second.

Tom St. Louis

Stephen said...

Give them time. They don't need to be barked at. They need to be sympathized with first and reasoned with second."

This cannot happen. For this to occur, they will have to move irrevocably away from Islam, as a faith in Islam requires that you set aside reason in favour of obedience. There is no middle ground, hence the silent moderates.

aelfheld said...

I would take issue with your description of Islam as an authoritarian religion.

As Islam allows for nothing outside of itself, totalitarian would be a more apt term.

Steel True, Blade Straight said...

A small clarification on the "Sock Puppet" monicker:

As the original HRC complaint was filed by Mohamad Elmasry, the three students are the ongoing voice (with no genuine standing in the suit) of this man.Elmasry has publicly aquiesced to the theory of free speech, but has not withdrawn his complaint.

To coninue the metaphor, Elmasry's is the hand inside the Sock Puppets.