Outside observers like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Andy Ngo (now based in London) point out the perfect storm of violence and cultural disaster now brewing across Europe, not least in England. This has been brought into focus, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, by the crude antisemitism evident in the response in Britain to the current Middle East war, combined with the (to say the least) easy ride given to Hamas amongst our British intelligentsia. One concerning thing, to me, is how these attitudes are shared even by many in the sceptical community.
Let’s summarise a few factors.
1 Mass-immigration from Muslim countries has been encouraged by post-imperial guilt; by our continued participation in neo-imperialist wars devastating Muslim-majority countries like Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria in the name of secular western democracy; by progressive politicians like Tony Blair keen to “rub our faces in diversity”; by a Treasury eager to gain cheap labour in the face of workforce decrease and over-education; and by the political class’s covert commitment to the EU despite the Brexit vote, leading to the legal impossibility of any moves to reduce immigration.
2 Behind this, the belief in multiculturalism relies on the mistaken idea that mutual tolerance in matters of culture and religion is an evolutionary inevitability, rather than being a very recent and fragile concept only resulting from the Protestant Reformation, reinforced by the European Enlightenment. This is part and parcel with the equally mistaken notion that all cultures share more or less the same values of tolerance, respect for those with different views, and peaceful co-existence.
3 Whether the rise of violent Islamism is the product of modern political forces, or a return to the original values of Islam (as its proponents themselves claim), it is clear, despite Western liberal sentiment, that it has widespread support from many Muslims, even of second and third generation British citizenship. Because of this, as a self-aware and politically motivated movement, it has been easy for Islamists to infiltrate Muslim institutions like the mosques (see Ed Husain on this), and of course to exploit our lax and lackadaisical immigration policies to send trained
terrorists freedom fighters in. Thus it has become easy for them to turn the inevitable social problems of recent immigrant minorities into an angry victimhood seeking revenge against supposed oppression.
4 Western people, including Christians as well as Progressives, have failed to register that Islam, of all world religions, began as a political movement dedicated to the overthrow of its political rivals by force. It is not insignificant that its enemies, from the start, were perceived as the Christians and the Jews, nor that “convert or die” is a principle going back to the Qu’ran, not just the invention of ISIS. I remember Patrick Sookhdeo, of the Barnabas Fund, pointing out a couple of decades ago that even to moderate Muslims, living quietly under another culture is purely a matter of numbers. If a certain proportion of a country becomes Muslim, they regard it as henceforth and forever a Muslim nation, and have a duty both to live by, and ensure that others live by, Sharia law, Islamic concepts of blasphemy, and so on. This required percentage is not a flat majority, but perhaps 20% – not that far short of where we are now.
5 Ayaan Hirsi Ali points out, from her experience in Germany, that this principle applies as much on the local scale, such as in Muslim-majority cities, as on the national scale. Hence Western politicians will be under pressure from their largely Muslim voters to support that “oppressed” population, even if it means suppressing the rights of others. Hence (in one of her examples) the mass public sexual assaults by Muslim men in Cologne during Christmas festivities a few years ago led to many complaints from women, but few prosecutions. Indeed the Mayor put the blame on the women for dressing provocatively. The Islamic influence then spreads nationally, and internationally, simply because the political parties to which the mayors and councillors belong need the votes too, and will hardly get into a conflict with their own local representatives, but rather endorse them.
6 This last example highlights that multi-culturalism ensures that the same political forces leave hitherto unacceptable practices unchallenged in our cities, quite apart from the overtly religious ambitions of Muslim minorities (considered en masse, of course – recognition of individual differences is uniquely integral to our Christian heritage). The liberal principle of multi-culturism, and the deliberate cultural isolation of minorities in its name, ensure this outcome. Ayaan Hirsi Ali points out that in many Muslim countries, young men indulge in what is called “the rape game,” robbing and assaulting women on the streets whom, presumably, they consider to be unchaste and therefore fair game consistent with their religion. We know from notorious, but actually typical, examples in Pakistan or Saudi-Arabia that being a rape victim is liable to get you punished, not compensated. In Britain the clearest examples of this are the rape-gangs in most of our big cities, their activities covered up for decades now by police and politicians, and even by the legal system, which in the case of a Somali rapist, excused him from a custodial sentence on the very grounds that he was acting according to the cultural norms of his own country. The judge thereby set the legal precedent for its becoming a cultural norm in this country, too.
7 To this blindness of Brits to the uniqueness of their essentially Christian worldview, we must add the increasing fear of violence should punitive action be taken against anti-social behaviour. It would be perceived as “islamophobia” by both spokesmen for the community (ie those Islamists who have pushed themselves to the microphone) and progressive liberals (ie those postmodern identitarians who have also pushed themselves to the microphone). We see this not only in the hesitation to prosecute gang-rapists, but in the fact that even necessary counter-terrorism actions, and the deportation of foreign criminals, are reported as discriminatory. Official spokespeople consistently divert blame to a largely imaginary “far-right” supposedly responsible for most terrorism, most anti-semitism and most civil disturbance. Naturally a tolerant majority accepts this carefully crafted distortion unquestioningly – Islam, after all, is the religion of peace, and “Jihad” can mean all kinds of innocuous things, as the head of the Met said last week. When a Hamas leader says his ultimate ambition is to rid the world of all Jews and Christians, no doubt it is the Middle-Eastern habit of hyperbole and he should be welcomed into political asylum here. In any case, he only says it when speaking in Arabic.
A British public long instilled with Post-Reformation tolerance finds it hard to believe that other nations might lack it, and so finds it possible to attribute even the grossest acts – like raping and beheading civilians – to a justifiable reaction to oppression. Or to the victims downright lying, if they are Israelis or low-status English girls. Perhaps this is why there is so little reporting of the ongoing Islamist atrocities against Christians in northern Nigeria and many other countries, except for the occasional non-judgemental reference to “inter-communal violence.” But to paraphrase Douglas Murray, “Christians don’t behead people.”
8 What Ali and Ngo both point out about the future of this toxic mix is not simply that it must inevitably lead, in the end, to violent confrontations, but that no mechanisms are in place to stop the existing culture being replaced by the incoming one. Already the unwritten rules of “diversity” mean that the actual population of minorities becomes effectively boosted by DIE policies ensuring that councils, parliaments, advertising, journalism, and every other institution has more than its fair share of them. This is a gift to those Muslims who are looking for that 20% of “clout” to put pressure on a country to institutionalise Islam as the foundation of the state.
Some of my Christian friends welcome Muslim immigration as a way to tell the gospel to those who were forbidden to hear it in their host countries. There is a spark of truth in that, but they forget that the reason they were forbidden to hear it is is because the religion they fervently hold to themselves requires that alternatives be suppressed. It is seldom the State that brings charges of blasphemy against innocent Christians in Pakistan, and if it wanted to prevent it, it would be afraid of the public backlash.
What if the beloved democratic institutions of Britain, including the freedom to share the gospel with minorities, were to be abrogated by the democratic votes of those minorities, aided and abetted by indigenous people motivated by progressive suspicion of “white” Christianity and craven fear of Muslim “days of rage”? Even non-religious Andy Ngo notes the specifically anti-Christian bias of dominant progressivism, and we are all familiar with the corresponding “Islamophobia” brickbats that exasperatingly lead to “Queers for Palestine” and comparable oxymorons. There is little rationality left in high places to save us.
Both Ngo and Ali are profoundly pessimistic about the future of Britain, and I have tried to lay out some of what makes them so. It is interesting that the latter, having abandoned Islam for Atheism, now finds herself a “cultural Christian.” I think we should pray that she finds Christ, rather than Christendom, but the change indicates that her acute intellect has realised that the roots of what is valuable in the West lie not in the Enlightenment, but in the Christianity that spawned it. If there is a hope, it is a hope in Christ – and that means a hope in the means that Jesus embodied, not the enforcement, somehow, of the Christian worldview.
“If we deny him, he will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:12) is certainly true of nations, as I have been saying since before the Twin Towers fell, and so it seems to me that the way of Christ will inevitably be the way of suffering for a while to come, in Britain. But as we see exemplified (as we approach Christmas) in the Virgin Mary’s Magnificat, on which I happen to be preaching this Sunday, the way of suffering is also the way of confident faith in the future return and eternal reign of Christ, even as evil in the world reaches its climax.
Even so, come Lord Jesus – Maranatha!