In her maiden speech to the Senate, Pauline Hanson called for a complete ban on Muslim immigration, mosques and burqas. She also said that Muslims who had not “assimilated” should “go back to where [they] came from”. Her speech was so potent, unapologetic and controversial that members of the Australian Greens Party walked out in protest. Hanson’s One Nation Party, which might best be compared to Britain’s UKIP and America’s Tea Party, are a handful of xenophobic, right wing, white nationalists who possess the collective I.Q of a sundried tomato – yet their appeal and subsequently their platform has dramatically increased this year, giving Hanson a total of four powerful Senate seats. The rise of the right across many western governments is an increasingly pervasive trend within western politics, and there appears to be quite a simple explanation for this disturbing phenomenon. The left has completely dropped the ball on the necessary discussion desperately needed with regards to the obvious link between some of the doctrines of Islam and Islamic extremism. The debate over Islam has for a while now been polarized between two equally absurd positions. On the right we have the narrative that might best be articulated as, “all Muslims are evil theocrats who thirst for the blood of the infidel”, and on the left, the side of politics that most closely reflect my own values and ethics, we have the prevalence of that noxious meme ‘Islamophobia’ and the ridiculous position which holds that anyone who even dares to point out some of the inherent problems within the religion of Islam must believe “all Muslims are evil theocrats who thirst for the blood of the infidel”. As most sane, rational and nuanced thinkers will appreciate, reality is never quite this simple.
Islam does have some very problematic doctrines. Now, before your critical faculties shut down and the word ‘Islamophobe’ begins to incessantly repeat itself in your “morally superior” mind, I fully appreciate that Islam is a religion and that religions are not monoliths – that they encompass a spectrum with regards to the quality and quantity of varying and various beliefs, a spectrum which is affected by geography, politics, history, culture, and various individual, psychological variables – yet regardless of such variables, it needs to be said that a legitimate exegesis of some of the core and peripheral doctrines of Islam has proven to be problematic for women, same-sex couples, religious minorities in the Muslim world, apostates, blasphemers, and that such an exegesis is manifesting violence in the form of Islamic (Muslim) terrorism across the globe. Having said this, it must also be recognised that the overwhelming majority of Muslims living the west are perfectly peaceful. It must also be conceded that the rise of the right, or perhaps better stated, the recent soapbox handed to the right by the left has led to a rise in vile and violent anti-Muslim bigotry, and such bigotry, if widespread, can be an agent in the radicalization process of disaffected Muslims, who, prior to being radicalized believed that they were Australian, American, British, etc. – that is, until this new handful of fascists managed to convince large platforms of bigoted troglodytes that these citizens who happen to identify as Muslim are not in fact citizens at all, but devious sleeper agents who are all plugged into a giant Muslim conspiracy to take over the world and deny us our bacon, our beer, and our beloved freedom. I’m not saying that anti-Muslim bigotry is the only radicalizing agent, nor am I implying that it is the main one, but you must admit that being born and raised within an isolated and demonized demographic is certainly a possible motivating factor for some members of that demographic to join groups like ISIS.
Herein lies just one of the reasons why it is crucial that left-leaning, human rights focused critics of Islam take over this discussion. However, to do this, the zealously guarded taboos surrounding the criticism of this religion in particular must be defeated. It is extremely easy to criticize ideas and beliefs without persecuting those who harbour them. The challenge, however, is in hijacking the existing discourse on Islam and Islamic extremism in such a manner that lifts it beyond the irrational clutches of the simpletons who constitute both the Regressive Left and the Far/Alt-Right. If the status quo is maintained and the discussion on Islam is left to the PC police on the far left and the noxious xenophobes on the right, we might expect the unabated continuation of the oppression of Muslim women, ex-Muslims, religious and non-religious minorities in the Muslim world, as well as further legislative attacks on freedom of expression which are now beginning to seep out of the Islamic theocracies and into western democracies under the guise of religious defamation and vilification laws. We should also expect the continuation of the disturbing trend that criminalizes and demonizes helpless refugees who happen to be Muslim. Finally, unless we begin to allow honest, open and frank conversations on Islamic (Muslim) extremism, we will almost certainly see the unhindered continuation of Islamic terrorism and the ineffective and idiotic response in the west, which frequently takes the form of the previously stated vile and violent anti-Muslim bigotry. In short, to dethrone misanthropes like Pauline Hanson we need more brave critics of Islam to rise up from within the ranks of liberalism and challenge both the politically correct narrative on Islam and the politically incorrect one.