Melanie Phillips, whose blog I’ve had in the blogroll since I first started blogging, has published a new book, Londonistan
Here’s the book description in the blurb:
The suicide bombings carried out in London in 2005 by British Muslims revealed an enormous fifth column of Islamist terrorists and their sympathizers. Under the noses of British intelligence, London has become the European hub for the promotion, recruitment and financing of Islamic terror and extremism – so much so that it has been mockingly dubbed Londonistan. In this ground-breaking book Melanie Phillips pieces together the story of how Londonistan developed as a result of the collapse of traditional British identity and accommodation of a particularly virulent form of multiculturalism. Londonistan has become a country within the country and not only threatens Britain but its special relationship with the U.S. as well.
She describes what it took to publish this book in her article The battle to publish Londonistan
I was taken aside by a senior editor at a big-name imprint who was well-disposed towards me. ‘Drop it’, he said. ‘No British publisher will touch this’. Why? Because it defended Israel, already well on the way to becoming a pariah state, and worse still levelled the charge of anti-Jewish prejudice against the British intelligentsia.
Now the reaction is that Melanie Phillips is an hysteric, at least according to the Grauniad’s interviewer, Jackie Ashley.
Ashley’s article reminds one of a catfight. It is to Ms Phillips’s credit that there wasn’t one.
The Daily Ablution was discussing the Grauniad’s article and found that Guardian Attack on Apostate Staffer Misfires, and notices that
Unable to muster any argument against the points Ms. Phillips raises, she is reduced to criticising the means by which they’re expressed. She’s unsuccessful even at this, though; all she accomplishes is to provide an(other) example of a pervasive and willful blindness to a very real problem, inadvertently supporting Ms. Phillips’ observations concerning her critics.
David Thompson comments,
At no point does Ashley even try to refute Phillips’ statement in any meaningful way; she simply gasps in disbelief and encourages her readers to do the same.
This refusal even to entertain some theological connection between coercive Islamism and ‘mainstream’ Islam is remarkably widespread, and appears to be based almost entirely on ignorance and wishful thinking. Despite her emphatic tone, Ashley doesn’t explain why this reassuringly total distinction is to be assumed as a given. At no point are readers told why they should suppose some clear ideological discontinuity between those who believe that the world belongs to Islam, and would be made perfect by submission to it, and those who try to further that end exactly as Mohammed demanded.
Ashley not only cannot refute Phillips’ statements; when it comes to radical Islam, Ashley suffers from an error of Liberalism that Paul Berman has pointed out in his book Terrorism and Liberalism, and in an interview with Alan Johnson where,
If material factors (economic and sociological facts) are the only thing to consider, then everything that happens is rationally explicable…
Alan Johnson: …and we don’t need to pay any attention to the specific ideological complexion of particular movements because it’s all just a surface reflection of something deeper…
Paul Berman: …yes, but it’s more than that. The presumption also means we end up distorting those ideas by converting them into ideas that we find more easily recognisable. So we end up saying, for instance, ‘It’s not true that Hamas has encouraged a cult of suicide and murder. People in the West Bank and Gaza are engaging in suicide bombing because they lack water rights, or because the Peace Plan offered by Clinton created a border which was inadequate’. In other words we end up attributing to people ideas that are not theirs, but which fit our assumption that everyone acts in accord with a rational calculation of their material interests.
Ashley would do well to read an article by an Iraqi Reformist on Arab Society and Social Schizophrenia (via Sigmund Carl and Alfred). She might learn a thing or two on rational or irrational assumptions.
As a post-script, Scott of the Daily Ablution tried to purchase Londonistan at his local store and it wasn’t available. Thank goodness for Amazon.
Update, June 21 Melanie Phillips vs. MPACUK