Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Who's afraid of the "vast majority"?

I think it's in one of Malcolm Muggeridge's autobiographical works, that he mentions a game he used to play with friends in his journalist days: taking a word that is likely to appear in a headline or news story, and filling in its obligatory accompanying cliché word. So a word like "crisis" would inevitably be accompanied by "looming". A "milestone" has been reached; what kind of milestone? Why, a "grim milestone", of course! Which brings us to the modern day, and the "majority" of Muslims. What sort of majority? Why, the "vast majority", you silly!

This vast majority is always even-tempered, good-humoured and tranquil; the press says so, even as they busily stuff rags into their own mouths to keep from uttering anything unobliging about Islam. The Danish cartoons were a good example; the more the press protested their belief in the pacifism of the "vast majority" of Muslims, the more their behaviour screamed the exact opposite. There are fewer Muslims in Canada than Native Indians, who also have their belligerant crazies. Yet I'd like to see the journalist who feels the need to hired a bodyguard and wear a bulletproof vest after exposing a corrupt band council, or a dysfunctional reserve culture, or armed squatting and defiance of the police, or even infatuation with a disgraced fool and bigot. All these things are written about without fear, because the "vast majority" of this minority really IS trusted to behave intelligently, even if provoked.

That other "vast majority", however, gets all the ink about peace and respect, but the behaviour demonstrates the exact opposite, and people read behaviour much more easily than they read words.

Which brings us to Ezra Levant and his publishing of the Danish Cartoons of Blasphemy. At a time when the rest of the press in Canada was cringing in fear while madly waving flags reading "RESPECT" and "SENSITIVITY", Levant actually put the "vast majority" trope to the test. And what do you know? It turned out to be true. Canada was NOT convulsed by riots and standoffs by demented Muslims. People did not pour out of mosques on Fridays to go looting and killing in the streets of Canada. People were annoyed, but peaceful.

You'd think this would be a matter of pride for Canadian Muslims, but I have not heard one Muslim "leader" (real or self-styled) boast about the lack of violence on the part of their people. On the contrary, groups like CAIR seem to want to play it both ways - go on enjoying the flattery of the media and the politicians about how precious and valued a part of the Canadian mosaic they are, and at the same time, keep cultivating an air of menace. They want us to behave as if we fully trust them and see them as "one of us", and yet also tiptoe around them, because you never know - violence can always erupt if the moment is right.

I come from a violent culture myself - I'm half Serb. My grandparents both came from the Krajina area of what was Yugoslavia (I don't think there are any Serbs left there anymore). But when they came to this country, they made a point of not only not bringing ancient grudges with them, they frequently expressed their scorn for the tribal hate-culture they left behind. They'd left to find something better, and they were smart enough to know that Canada WAS better.

I seldom hear this from Muslims. The Danish cartoons were an opportunity for them to say, "Hey, don't lump us in with those idiots in Assholeistan, screaming and burning crap on the news every night. We're not like them; we left because we couldn't stand their stinking barbarism." Instead, we got sullenness and shifty evasions. I didn't read that as a declaration of allegiance to Canada; I read it as a "Just you wait"; a suggestion that the violence is only temporarily suspended, until the day when the group is strong enough to make it count.

The cowardly behaviour of the press, who couldn't steel themselves to take a stand now, when the risk is low, has ensured that the day when the risk will be too high is going to come all the sooner.


Blogger Kasia said...

My grandparents both came from the Krajina area of what was Yugoslavia (I don't think there are any Serbs left there anymore).

Probably not many; that was one of the biggest hot spots in the recent Balkan wars. Since the Krajina ultimately ended up in Croat territory, my guess is most of the Serbs who lived there died, fled to Serbia, or are in hiding.

(Incidentally, my great-uncle married a woman of Serb ancestry. I gather that his family used to refer to her as "the hostile Serb" - outside of her hearing, I hope.)

I'm guessing the main difference, however, between mainstream Canadian Muslims disavowing their militant brethren and your Serb grandparents disavowing their militant brethren is that emigrating to the U.S. or Canada tends to provide an alternative ethnic identity, whereas your religion is not supplanted by having emigrated. I may come from Serbia to the U.S. and say "OK, forget those barbarians back in Serbia; I'm American now." But I'm unlikely to say "Screw those Serbian Orthodox Christians; I'm Canadian now." Religious identity transfers differently than cultural or ethnic identity, I think.

With that said, I agree that it would be a lot easier to keep defending moderate Muslims if they were better at piping up about such things. I'd like to blame it on selective press coverage, but with all the ink they use trying to argue that the "vast majority" of Muslims are not on board with the militants, it seems improbable.

12:30 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

In most cases, that's true, but my grandparents were very serious about leaving all the troubles behind. The Serbs and Croats are ethnically identical, and so their hatreds were specifically religious hatreds. My grandparents were so determined to make a break with that past, they didn't even have their own children baptized. They had nothing to do with the Greek Orthodox Church, seeing it as one of the sources of the endless strife in Yugoslavia. I've read that some younger Muslims in Iraq today are reacting the same way to Islam, since they've known nothing but death and hatred because of it, so it's not an unheard-of response.

4:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While we're on this topic, there was apparently a recent debate in Oxford about religious sensitivity and free speech, featuring among others famed atheism-monger Philip Pullman. The money quotes:

"The cartoonist Martin Rowson announced from the start that religion is an ideology and that if it’s okay for him to be vile and nasty about the ideology behind the Liberal Democrats, then it’s okay for him to be vile and nasty about religions. He tempered this by saying that he didn’t like to pick on those with less power than him because that’s bullying: so he’s happier being rude about Christians, who apparently do have power, than about Muslims, who don’t."

Got that? It's not because they'll slit his throat or blow his house up, no indeedy! The poor widdle Muslims (all one-billion-plus of 'em) are so powerless that his tender liberal heart is moved for their plight!

Then there's this:

"Philip Pullman ... is, he stressed, formed by his Christian upbringing. It is precisely because of this that he feels enabled to criticise Christianity, rather than, say Islam."

Yes -- say Islam. SAY IT, you pathetic two-faced hypocritical cowards. For once in your lives, speak truth to a power that is actually a danger to you. Or else shut the frak up!

Ellie M.

5:40 pm  
Anonymous FW Ken said...

A worthwhile read over at the First Things blog on this subject.

1:15 am  

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