Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Conversion: An Act of Desperation

2023-12-29

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s conversion to Christianity is a desperate and irrational attempt to use that religion as a shield against several threats to Western civilization.

Sommaire en français La conversion d’Ayaan Hirsi Ali au christianisme est une tentative désespérée et irrationnelle d’utiliser cette religion comme bouclier contre plusieurs menaces qui pèsent sur la civilisation occidentale.

Recently (2023-11-11), Ayaan Hirsi Ali, well-known critic of Islam and formerly a “central figure of New Atheism” (to quote her Wikipedia entry), published an article on the UnHerd website, entitled “Why I am now a Christian, Atheism can’t equip us for civilisational war.” However, upon reading that article, one will notice a complete lack of any assertion of belief in Christian dogma or mythology. So why then did she convert to Christianity? Apparently, the answer has nothing to do with belief, as explained in the following paragraph:

“Part of the answer is global. Western civilisation is under threat from three different but related forces: the resurgence of great-power authoritarianism and expansionism in the forms of the Chinese Communist Party and Vladimir Putin’s Russia; the rise of global Islamism, which threatens to mobilise a vast population against the West; and the viral spread of woke ideology, which is eating into the moral fibre of the next generation.”

Hirsi Ali goes on to explain that her adoption of Christianity is motivated by her hope that it will be a major weapon to fight against that triple threat of authoritarianism, Islamism and wokism.

“We can’t withstand China, Russia and Iran if we can’t explain to our populations why it matters that we do. We can’t fight woke ideology if we can’t defend the civilisation that it is determined to destroy. And we can’t counter Islamism with purely secular tools.”

Hirsi Ali’s correctly identifies the three principal enemies of Western civilization, especially considering that the latter two—Islamism and wokism—are allies. Those who have adopted the ideology of wokism (which I call post-leftism) passively and naïvely, out of conformism, simply because it is the fashionable nonsense of the day, probably think that qualifying it as a principal enemy of Western civilization is an exaggeration, but they would be mistaken. Those who take that ideology most seriously reject the Enlightenment, which is arguably the greatest achievement of Western culture and which is vilified by the piously woke.

However, Hirsi Ali’s choice of weapon—Christianity—to fight against these threats is not only wrong, but ludicrously wrong.

There have been several responses to Hirsi Ali’s proclamation of her conversion to Christianity. In a brief article published on the AAI website, August Berkshire misses the point. Although he recognizes that “Her critique of radical Islam is accurate,” he nevertheless completely ignores the seriously complicating factor of post-leftism and how it opens the floodgates to radical Islam.

there is no real political left remaining in the USA, the post-left having utterly corrupted the former left, causing it to betray the Enlightenment universalism which defines it.

The prize for the most outrageous response goes to Maryam Namazie for her tweet accusing Ayaan Hirsi Ali of being a “right wing hate monger” even when she was an atheist. This is very mean-spirited. Hirsi Ali is no hate monger. As for her associating with the “right wing,” it must be remembered that there is no real political left remaining in the USA, the post-left having utterly corrupted the former left, causing it to betray the Enlightenment universalism which defines it. The post-left rejected Hirsi Ali because of her uncompromising criticism of its ally, political Islam.

In “Foxholes, Deathbeds, and the Extraordinary Case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali” in Free Inquiry magazine, author Adam Neiblum apparently thinks that we atheists need to be reassured that Hirsi Ali’s conversion does not represent a weakening of our worldview. However, his concern is unwarranted. I do not think that we atheists are so delicate. He points out the obvious: that apostates—former believers leaving a religion—greatly outnumber those who convert to a religion. This particular conversion story is interesting only because Hirsi Ali is a public figure of some importance, but it has no relevance to the atheism-theism debate. Neiblum suggests that her conversion may be related to her religious indoctrination as a child. But he totally ignores the issue of woke ideology, i.e. post-leftism.

In his response “Why I Am Not a Christian,” Michael Shermer does a much better job. He asserts his continued admiration for Ayaan Hirsi Ali and calls her a “heroic figure.”

“Ayaan has pride of place in the pantheon of greats who have had the courage of their convictions to the point of putting their own lives on the line in the name of universal principles of justice and freedom.”

Shermer acknowledges that Hirsi Ali correctly identifies (1) Islamism, (2) China and Russia, and (3) woke ideology as major threats. But he also rejects categorically Hirsi Ali’s conclusion that Christianity is any solution to those threats. Shermer makes the all-important point that “Scientific naturalism and Enlightenment humanism made the modern world” and they did so in opposition to Christian obscurantism.

Dawkins is also well aware of the problem posed by “postmodernish wokery pokery.”

Perhaps the best response of all is from Dawkins. In his “Open letter from Richard Dawkins to Ayaan Hirsi-Ali” he adopts a tone which is even more sympathetic than that of Shermer. Dawkins also recognizes the threats identified by Hirsi Ali and he is also well aware of the problem posed by “postmodernish wokery pokery.” But he also makes an important observation, one I hinted at in the first paragraph of this blog when I observed the absence of any declaration of belief by Hirsi Ali. Dawkins states:

“As you know, you are one of my absolutely favourite people but … seriously, Ayaan? You, a Christian? You are no more a Christian than I am.”

I tend to agree. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an intelligent person. She cannot possibly believe, really believe, the nonsensical dogmas which constitute Christian mythology. Her decision is a strategic one. She apparently thinks, and hopes, that Christianity will show itself to be an effective antidote to the craziness currently infecting Western societies. Of course she is mistaken.

The waning of Christianity did not cause wokism and restoring Christianity is no solution to it.

Recently there has been a rather bizarre hypothesis making the rounds in social media, based on the observation that the atheist movement in the USA (and also in English Canada) has been largely corrupted and rendered regressive and next to useless by post-leftism. The hypothesis is that the woke movement is somehow a consequence of the atheist movement’s criticism of Christianity!!! Of course I agree that the atheist movement has been compromised, but the hypothesis is baseless. For one thing, correlation is not causation. Furthermore, the roots of the post-leftist phenomenon go back several decades preceding the modern atheist movement. Those roots include postmodernist philosophy, neo-Marxism, American antiracist theory, etc. The waning of Christianity did not cause wokism and restoring Christianity is no solution to it. In fact, even some Christian churches, the more liberal ones, have embraced post-leftist dogma.

The insanity of the woke has been so destructive, so demoralizing, that she is grasping at straws

I suspect that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been influenced by this peculiar hypothesis, this idea that somehow atheists and the weakening of Christianity are to blame. And I think that this has been a significant motivator of her conversion. In fact, post-leftism is itself a sort of parareligion, another irrational ideology competing for marketshare with more traditional ideologies. Replacing one form of nonsense by another is not the solution. Her conversion is an act of desperation. The insanity of the woke has been so destructive, so demoralizing, that she is grasping at straws, or one very dubious straw: Christianity

Whatever Hirsi Ali’s ultimate motives may be, whether I am right or wrong in my suspicions, one thing is clear: irrational ideologies such as Christianity, Islam, post-leftism, etc. must be criticized and opposed. In particular, they must not be allowed to infect State institutions with their mythologies and dogmas. Thus, the necessity of secularism, separating religions and parareligions from the State.


Next blog: The Fall of Minneapolis: A Dishonest Documentary

Repeal Citizenship Regulation 17.1.b

Canadian Media Continue to Promote Religious Privilege

2022-03-25

A recent article in The Toronto Star reminds us of the niqab controversy from several years ago, and how Canadian elites supported extreme right-wing political Islam at that time, as they continue to do today.

Sommaire en français Un article récent du Toronto Star nous rappelle la polémique autour du niqab d’il y a plusieurs années et comment les élites canadiennes ont soutenu l’islam politique d’extrême droite à cette époque, comme elles continuent de le faire aujourd’hui.

Never underestimate the fatuity of Canadian mainstream media. There is no way that The Toronto Star can justify its recent publication of an asinine article by Haroon Siddiqui, under the title Will Charest and Brown force the Conservatives to confront their Islamophobia problem?. Siddiqui excoriates the Conservative Party, especially its former leader and prime minister Stephen Harper, for their so-called “Islamophobia,” in particular for Harper’s attempts to prevent the wearing of the niqab at citizenship ceremonies.

We all remember the events of 2015: the religious fanatic, Zunera Ishaq, succeeded in getting the courts to force the federal authorities to allow her to wear a niqab at her citizenship ceremony. This obscene situation, where the strictures of an extremely misogynistic and obscurantist medieval (or pre-medieval) politico-religious ideology were given precedence over common sense, was made possible by two things: (1) dubious Canadian legislation, especially article 17.1.b of the Citizenship Regulations, and (2) the scurrilous Canadian media and political elites who regularly bully anyone who may disagree with their mollycoddling of Islamism by showering them with ridiculous accusations. For example, in a Feb. 16, 2016 article in the Globe & Mail, Gerald Caplan of the NDP declared that attempts to ban the niqab constituted a “demagogic racist campaign against the niqab by Mr. Harper and associates.” The idea that there could be anything “racist” about trying to restrain the spread of political Islam is beyond moronic.

At the time, the Harper government was vilified for opposing so-called “barbaric cultural practices” but such opposition is eminently reasonable. Insisting that women wear the niqab anywhere and everywhere for religious reasons is certainly a barbaric practice, although I would not call it “cultural” but rather “anti-cultural.”

The problem with the Harper government of the day was that it did too little to try to stop Ishaq and her fanatical allies.

The problem with the Harper government of the day was that it did too little to try to stop Ishaq and her fanatical allies. Its efforts were limited to court appeals, i.e. it appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn the 2015-10-05 decision by the Federal Court of Appeal in Ishaq’s favour. The Liberal government of Justin Trudeau, elected only two week later, simply withdrew that appeal.

The Harper government could have done much more, if it had acted earlier. It could, for example, have adopted legislation to repeal article 17.1.b of the Citizenship Regulations, part of the Citizenship Act, which stipulates that the oath must be administered with “the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or the solemn affirmation thereof.” That stipulation was one of the foundations on which Ishaq’s lawyers built their case.

But of course, the Conservative government would never consider repealing that article, because it would alienate their Christian base who would surely not tolerate the repeal of such an important religious privilege. Thus, Ishaq, Islamists and their anti-Enlightenment dupes were able to benefit from Christian bigotry in order to a further the agenda of political Islam.

The Conservatives favour Christianity because that is their tradition, while the Liberals and NDP favour Islam because it is the current fashion.

All three major federal political parties—Liberals, New Democrats and Conservatives—are antisecular, pro-religious and utterly lacking in intellectual integrity whenever the issue of religiour privilege raises its ugly head. The Conservatives favour Christianity because that is their tradition, while the Liberals and NDP favour Islam because it is the current fashion.

Speaking of a lack of integrity, where were all those so-called “secular” organizations in Canada outside Quebec back in 2015? Why did they not all oppose the niqab at official ceremonies as any secularist must obviously do? Allowing such a religious privilege is a clear violation of the principle of religion-State separation as well as a violation of religious neutrality. It must be emphasized that religious neutrality does not mean the State should grant privileges equally to all religions! On the contrary, it means that privileges cannot be justified for religious reasons if such privileges are not also allowed for non-religious ideologies.

If there had been a secular movement in Canada outside Quebec in 2015, that movement would have massively opposed allowing religious privileges at citizenship ceremonies. Similarly, if there were a secular movement in Canada outside Quebec today, in 2022, it would currently be fighting massively in support of Quebec Bill 21 and against the hysterical opposition to that very reasonable legislation.

A Léger Marketing poll at the time of the niqab controversy indicated that 82% of Canadians favoured banning face-coverings at citizenship ceremonies, while the percentage was even higher in Quebec. Thus, so-called “secular” organizations in English Canada are hypocrites who are less secular than the majority of ordinary Canadians.


Next blog: The Patriots of Lower Canada

La Loi 21 pour les nuls

Version abrégée

2021-12-14

Un résumé des faits essentiels concernant la Loi 21 québécoise et la controverse à son sujet.

Summary in English
A summary of the basic facts about Quebec Bill 21 and the controversy surrounding it.
This blog is available in English.

Étant donné que la Loi 21 du Québec fait de nouveau l’actualité et que plusieurs incompréhensions, idées fausses et mensonges purs et simples se répandent, il est temps de rétablir quelques faits importants. Voici le minimum que vous devez savoir.

  1. La Loi 21 est une législation qui réalise partiellement la laïcité d’État au Québec et qui impose une restriction très mineure, voire insignifiante, à la liberté d’expression de certains employés de l’État, en leur interdisant le port de signes religieux au travail. Cela n’affecte en rien leur liberté de croyance. Ceci est fait dans le but de protéger les libertés d’autrui : les usagers de la fonction publique et surtout les écoliers. C’est fondamentalement ce que font toutes les lois : rechercher un équilibre entre des libertés conflictuelles. La Loi 21 fait un assez bon travail à cet égard, même s’il est trop faible.
  2. Le Québec est à l’avant-garde dans les Amériques en matière de laïcité. Beaucoup de gens au Canada anglais ne comprennent pas cela, ou refusent de le comprendre.
  3. De nombreuses personnes et groupes s’opposent à la laïcité pour diverses raisons. Mais il existe une force anti-laïcité particulièrement virulente et dangereuse : l’islam politique, qui est un mouvement politico-religieux d’extrême droite international, également connu sous le nom d’islamisme.
  4. L’un des outils de propagande préférés de l’islam politique est le voile islamique, dont il fait la promotion n’importe où et partout où il le peut. Cette mouvance a eu un énorme succès à imposer le voile dans les pays à majorité musulmane où, il y a quelques décennies, le voile était rarement vu dans les villes. En faisant porter aux femmes cet outil de propagande, on peut très efficacement jouer la carte de la victime. Le voile est à la fois religieux et politique, surtout ce dernier. Sa signification est indépendante de la mentalité des femmes qui le portent. Celles-ci ignorent souvent les implications du voile mais ressentent une forte pression pour le porter afin de se conformer.
  5. L’islam et même l’islamisme bénéficient d’un énorme traitement préférentiel de la part de la soi-disant gauche (et, de plus en plus, du centre aussi, comme Justin Trudeau), pour des raisons historiques et idéologiques liées aux succès spectaculaires et aux échecs ultimes tout aussi spectaculaires du marxisme.
  6. Le préjugé ethnique contre les Québécois francophones est un thème majeur de l’histoire canadienne. Les islamistes l’ont largement exploité. La peur anglo-canadienne du mouvement indépendantiste québécois a accru ce préjugé au cours des dernières décennies. L’opposition hystérique du Canada anglais à la Loi 21 est en grande partie (mais pas entièrement) une campagne de propagande haineuse contre les Québécois.

Prochaine blogue : English Canada’s Messiah Complex

Quebec Bill 21 for Dummies

Abbreviated Version

2021-12-14

A summary of the basic facts about Bill 21 and the controversy surrounding it.

Sommaire en français
Un résumé des faits essentiels concernant la Loi 21 et la controverse à son sujet.
Ce blogue est aussi disponible en français.

Given that Quebec Bill 21 is in the news again and many misconceptions, misunderstandings and outright lies are being spread, it is time to establish a few important facts. Here is the minimum you need to know.

  1. Bill 21 is law which partially implements State secularism in Quebec and which imposes a very minor, even trivial, restriction on the freedom of expression of some State employees, by banning them from wearing religious symbols on the job. This in no way impacts their freedom of belief. This is done to protect the freedoms of other people: users of civil services and especially schoolchildren. This is basically what all laws do: seek an equilibrium between conflicting freedoms. Bill 21 does a reasonably good job at that, although it is too weak.
  2. Quebec is in the vanguard of secularism in the Americas. Many people in English Canada do not understand this, or refuse to understand it.
  3. Many people and groups oppose secularism for various reasons. But there is one anti-secularism force which is particularly virulent and dangerous: political Islam, which is an international extreme right-wing politico-religious movement, also known as Islamism.
  4. One of political Islam’s preferred propaganda tools is the Islamic veil, which it promotes anywhere and everywhere it can. It has had enormous success imposing the veil in Muslim-majority countries where a few decades ago the veil was rarely seen in cities. By having women wear this propaganda tool, they can play the victim card very effectively. The veil is both religious and political, especially the latter. Its meaning is independent of the mentality of the women who wear it, who are often unaware of the veil’s full implications but feel pressure to conform by wearing it.
  5. Islam and even Islamism enjoy enormous preferential treatment from the so-called left (and increasingly from the centre, like Justin Trudeau), for historical and ideological reasons related to the spectacular success and equally spectacular ultimate failure of Marxism.
  6. Ethnic bigotry against Francophone Quebeckers is a major theme throughout Canadian history. Islamists have greatly exploited it. Anglo-Canadian fear of the Quebec independence movement increased this prejudice in recent decades. English Canada’s hysterical opposition to Bill 21 is largely (but not entirely) a hate-propaganda campaign against the Québécois.

Next blog: La Loi 21 pour les nuls

The Swiss Face-Covering Ban is About Deterring Religious Fanaticism

Accusations of racism are dishonest and slanderous.

2021-03-14

Face-Coverings in general impede identification, communication and security. Islamic full veils are even worse, expressing extreme misogyny and religious fanaticism. The newly approved Swiss ban on face-coverings in public is a progressive step to deter such fanaticism.

Sommaire en français Les couvre-visage en général empêchent l’identification, la communication et la sécurité. Les voiles intégraux islamiques sont encore pires, exprimant une misogynie extrême et un fanatisme religieux. L’interdiction suisse nouvellement approuvée de se couvrir le visage en public est une mesure progressiste pour freiner ce fanatisme.

Recently, Swiss voters approved, by referendum, a ban on face-coverings in public, including (but not limited to) the Islamic full veil. To the surprise of no-one at all, this event was met with the boisterous whining of those who systematically oppose restrictions on religious practice, as if freedom of religion should be absolute (especially if that religion is Islam), regularly trumping the rights and freedoms of others.

The Swiss referendum result is good news, although the narrow majority by which the ban passed is disconcerting. Face-coverings cause problems for identification, communication and security. However, Islamic (or should I say Islamist) face-coverings, i.e. full veils such as the niqab and burqa, are particularly egregious and problematic. They are an expression of the most extreme misogyny of fundamentalist, radical, political Islam. They should not be tolerated.

Prevention

The argument that few women currently wear the niqab or burqa in Switzerland is irrelevant. If Switzerland passed a law against slavery, who would complain that it is unnecessary because there are currently no slaves in that country? And yes, I am saying that the Islamic full veil is on a par with slavery. Both are barbaric practices.

The face-covering ban is a preventative measure. If nothing is done, the number of veiled women will continue to increase in future years. Islamists will continue to claim territory by promoting the veil (both hijab and full veil) anywhere and everywhere, asserting that any Muslim woman who does not wear it will go to hell. The veil is a choice, you say? Sure, a choice between wearing one and going to heaven or not wearing one and going to hell. Islamists use the veil in the same way that dogs use their urine: to mark their territory.

Secular Muslims

One of the leaders of the Swiss campaign to ban face-coverings is Mohamed Hamdaoui, a secular Muslim. Apologists for fundamentalist Islam almost never talk about secular Muslims or ex-Muslims. They only talk about pious Muslims who promote the veil, presenting them as victims of persecution, but who are, in reality, religious fanatics. As for women who wear the veil in non-Muslim countries, some are religious fanatics too, but some are forced by pressure from family or community. Face-coverings, including the full Islamic veil, are banned in numerous countries of Europe and Africa, including several Muslim-majority countries.

The assertion that the ban “tells women what to wear” is dishonest. The ban, where it applies to the niqab and burqa, bans a symbol of Islamism which is arguably the most extreme-right-wing movement on the planet. The ban tells no-one “what to wear.” It bans the most atrocious symbol of Islamism in order to prevent its use for politico-religious proselytizing.

The organization Amnesty International has shown itself to be especially unprincipled and cowardly by opposing the Swiss ban, just as it has taken a cowardly position against Quebec Bill 21 (which by the way, does not ban the full veil in public, but only in civil services).

Islamist Propaganda

One particularly dishonest ploy frequently used by opponents of bans on religious symbols is the false equivalence between racial identity and religious affiliation. They claim that such bans are “racist.” This is a blatant lie. Restrictions on religious practices such as the Islamic full veil have nothing to do with race. A Muslim (or an Islamist for that matter) can be Arab, black, white, Indonesian, French, American, Apache or any other “race,” ethnic group or nationality. To conflate “race” with religion is standard Islamist propaganda.

The ban on the full veil is largely motivated by fear of Islamism, and that fear is legitimate. I repeat: it is reasonable to fear Islamism, especially in Europe (although even moreso in Muslim-majority countries). Invoking “racism” in opposition to the ban is also based on fear—fear of racism—and that fear is irrational because Islam is not a race.

Although Islamists do sometimes engage in spectacular physical violence such as terrorism, they do so only occasionally, because it is easier and much less costly to use disinformation. They do not even have to spread such disinformation themselves. They can rely on unscrupulous fools to spread it for them, fools like those who make accusations of “racism.”

It’s about religion, stupid.

It’s about religion, not race. Even if all Muslims in Switzerland were black or brown and all non-Muslims white, that does not change the fact that the issue here is fundamentalist religion and everyone knows that. The dishonest conflation of race with religion greatly confuses the issue and slanders those who support reasonable measures such as this face-covering ban. To those who oppose the ban, I suggest they try to come up with rational arguments for their position, if they have any, rather than indulging in slander.

Anyone who conflates race with religion is incompetent to deal with either. Anyone who conflates them deliberately is lying in order to promote a political agenda.

The wearing of the full veil such as the niqab and burqa is an extremely retrograde practice, an implementation of the subjugation of women. Banning full face-coverings in public is one small and reasonable step that can help to put a break on the advance of radical Islam in Europe. Banning the wearing of all religious symbols for civil servants and schoolteachers while on the job (but not everywhere in public) is also a good measure.

Balancing Conflicting Freedoms

Restrictions on religious symbols do not interfere with freedom of belief but only with freedom of religious practice, because that practice, when done in public, can and does sometimes compromise the freedom of conscience of others. Freedoms are not absolute. The challenge is to find an equilibrium between freedom of religion and freedom from religion, an equilibrium between the freedoms of some and the freedoms of others.

Suggested reading:


Next blog: The “White Supremacism” Scam

Three Examples of Cultural (Mis)Appropriation

Christianity, Islam and Canada

2019-12-03

In this blog I present three instances when a idea or a set of concepts was appropriated from an existing culture by a newly forming religious or political entity. Should we call it cultural appropriation, or cultural misappropriation?

Sommaire en français Je présente dans ce billet de blogue trois exemples d’une idée ou d’un ensemble de concepts qu’une nouvelle entité religieuse ou politique s’est approprié à partir d’une culture existante. S’agit-il d’appropriation culturelle ou de « mésappropriation » culturelle.

In a previous blog, I argued that the taboo against so-called “cultural appropriation” is irrational and harmful, because intercultural borrowing is not only very widespread—being practically the norm rather than the exception— and furthermore because it enriches human cultures and improves the general quality of life. I also suggested, in those rarer cases when such borrowing is harmful in some way to the orginating group and may thus be reasonably considered a sort of plagiarism or even theft, that the term “cultural misappropriation” be used instead. Of course, determining the category into which a particular case should be classified often leaves plenty of room for debate.

In this blog, I give three examples of borrowing where the resulting concept is so well known, so commonplace, that most people are probably unaware, or have forgotten, that any borrowing had occurred.

Christianity

It is well-known that Christianity is basically a rip-off of Judaism. I call it Judaism for ancient Greeks. The religion of the Hebrews, Judaism, was just another of countless tribal religions among various peoples of antiquity in and around the Roman Empire. It was not even a monotheism until rather late in its history, starting first as a polytheism, then evolving into a monolatry (worship of one god while recognizing the existence of many others) and finally emerging as a monotheism, where all gods were subsumed under their one god Jehovah. (This last step was a rationalization used by the defeated Hebrews to explain how the god of a rival tribe could defeat theirs—at least that is the explanation put forward by author Jean Soler to explain the origins of monotheism.)

Then along came Paul of Tarsus, a rather dysfunctional individual, especially his views on sexuality, whom Christians venerate as “Saint Paul.” Paul took an obscure Jewish reform movement and turned it into a new religion Christianity, and the rest is history. Paul was the founder of Christianity, not Jesus, because the existence of Jesus is uncertain, and even if he did exist, we know almost nothing about him. Christianity borrowed heavily from both Judaism (a large chunk of the Christian bible is lifted directly from the Hebrews) and from the religion of the ancient Greeks (for example, the concept of hell is an extension of Hades, but much worse). Of course Christianity also borrowed from Egyptian and other religions, in particular the concepts of virgin birth and the son of god.

Christians were persecuted for centuries by the Roman authorities, because their dogmatic monotheism was so intolerant that they refused to recognize the gods and authority of Rome. Constantine put an end to that persecution in the early IVth century C.E. and later that century the spectacularly intolerant Theodosius Ist made Nicene Christianity the empire’s state religion, while banning all other religions including the traditional cults of the Roman and Greek gods.

Thus, in creating the new religion of Christianity, a tribal religion was transformed into one with universalist pretentions and which persecuted anyone, regardless of ethnicity, who refused to adopt it. In particular, Jews who refused to convert to the new fashionable religion were particularly reviled, and the crucifixion story, an essential part of Christian mythology, was used as a convenient excuse for that persecution on the pretext that it was Jews who had murdered Jesus Christ. It is amusing to note that the word “pagan” is derived from the Latin “pāgānus” meaning “rural” or “rustic” (and related to “peasant”), as non-Christians were apparently considered country bumpkins not yet hip to the cool new religion of Christianity which was all the rage in urban centres of the empire.

Islam

Several centuries after the Christians plagiarized Judaism, along came Muhammad, calling himself a prophet of the one true god—indeed claiming to be the last prophet of god for all eternity! He borrowed heavily from Judaism and Christianity, the so-called religions of the Book, which he apparently envied for their scriptures which gave them an aura of wisdom and sagacity. His new religion Islam is sometimes considered to be a derivative of Arian Christianity. Arianism was a non-Nicene variant of Christianity (i.e. no trinity) which was rejected as heresy by the First Council of Nicaea, convoked by Constantine in 325.

I call Islam Judaism for Arabs. Muhammad initially attempted to convert some Jewish tribes, living in the Arabian peninsula, to his new religion, but when they refused, he had them massacred. Basically, Muhammad took two bad ideas, Judaism and Christianity, combined them and put himself at the centre of the result, which became arguably even more intolerant than the two already very intolerant source religions. The quran contains many expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment, as well as lots of misogyny and violent hostility towards unbelievers and polytheists.

Canada

According to the Historical Dictionary of European Imperialism by James Stuart Olson, “The name Canada probably is derived from the Huron-Iroquois kanata, meaning a village or a community.” So we can consider the use of the word Canada by Europeans to be a form of cultural appropriation, although a rather trivial one, as many languages borrow heavily from others. However, a far more significant form of cultural (mis)appropriation occurred centuries after Europeans overran the Americas.

Until the British conquest of New France in the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), Canada was basically just another name for New France. This territory was divided by the British into Upper and Lower Canada (« les deux Canadas ») and its inhabitants, « les Canadiens » or « Canayens », were of course mainly French-speaking and descended from settlers from France with some intermarriage with native peoples. The two Canadas were re-united by the Act of Union of 1840-1841 into a single colony known as « Canada-Uni » or the “Province of Canada” in an attempt by the British to assimilate francophones into the anglophone majority.

Then in 1867, year of Confederation, the two then became distinct provinces, Ontario and Québec, in the newly founded nation which we call Canada. By that time, only Quebec was majority French-speaking, because immigration into Upper Canada, a.k.a. Ontario, had made it mainly English-speaking. At Confederation, Canada was composed of four provinces (with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia), and since then six more have been added to make ten today.

The point of this brief historical review is to explain that the name “Canada” and the adjective “Canadian” refer primarily to New France and its inhabitants, but those terms have been appropriated by the country Canada founded in 1867 in which English was and remains the dominant language. That dominance increases with each passing decade, for a variety of reasons. Thus, the word “Canadian” should properly refer to the Québécois who are the descendants of the inhabitants of New France.

Of course, that is not how things have worked out. The name “Canada” now refers to a country which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific and from the Arctic islands in the north to the U.S. border in the south. Those who once referred to themselves as « Canayens » now prefer, or at least have become habituated to, the term « Québécois » and have abandoned the now quaint-sounding « Canadiens français ». However, even after all these years, the two language groups in this enlarged Canada, English and French, are still divided by some major differences in culture and values.

So, the next time you hear some Canadian ideologue complain about how Quebecers are so stubborn and backward (or worse) and fail to worship fashionable Canadian ideals such as so-called “multiculturalism” (i.e. communitarianism) or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, just remember that Canadians appropriated the term “Canada” and now, using that plagiarized name, wish to impose forcefully on Quebecers values they do not agree with. It must not be forgotten that the Charter is part of the 1982 Constitution which has never been approved by Quebec and was indeed foisted upon it against its will. If anyone gloats about the fact that Quebec is legally required to obey the Charter, what they are basically saying is that “Might Makes Right”—ethics and democracy be damned. This whole scenario reminds me of how Christians plagiarized Jews and polytheists, then vilified the former as Christ-killers and denigrated the latter as pagans.

Appropriation or Misappropriation?

Should the three cases explained above be considered appropriation or misappropriation? I think it is clear that the borrowing in each case ended up being rather harmful to those who were plagiarized. This is especially the case with Christianity and Islam, both of which have been, and often continue to be, very anti-Jewish. The final example, that of Canada, is much less extreme, but nevertheless harmful to the plagiarized Québécois. I consider all three examples to be cases of misappropriation. However, I do not think that any kind of corrective re-appropriation, for lack of a better expression, is in order. That would be akin to rewriting history. It would absurd to ban the use of the Pentateuch by Christians because they copied it from the Hebrews. It would be equally absurd to require that Muslims stop referring to Abraham and Jesus as (lesser) prophets of Islam. And it would be ridiculous to insist that the country we now know as Canada change its name.

Rewriting history, in the sense of erasing parts of it, is for fools and demagogues. What we do need to do is to remember history, to preserve it, to enrich our knowledge of it, to learn from it and to use it as one resource among many as we face the future. We can learn two lessons from the above historical considerations: (1) neither Christianity nor Islam had anything particularly original to offer; and (2) Canadians have no right to feel self-righteous and superior to the Québécois.


Next blog: Décision de la Cour d’appel du Québec, 2019-12-12

This Does NOT Promote Child Health

2019-08-16

In this blog I criticize the decision of the editors of a paediatrics journal to use a photo of a veiled girl on the journal’s cover.

Sommaire en français Dans ce blogue je critique la décision prise par la rédaction d’une revue de pédiatrie de se servir de la photo d’une fillette voilée pour faire la couverture de cette revue.

It has come to my attention (via a tweet from Ensaf Haidar) that a recent issue (July 2019) of the academic journal Paediatrics & Child Health, Journal of the Canadian Paediatric Society, published by the Oxford University Press, featured a photograph of a young girl wearing an Islamist veil as shown in the accompanying image. (Here I use the word “Islamist” instead of “Islamic” for reasons explained in my previous blog.)

Paediatrics & Child Health, Vol. 24, #4, July 2019
Click to enlarge
Paediatrics & Child Health
Vol. 24, #4

Why would the editors of a paediatrics journal choose a photo of a veiled girl, given that the veil is a flag of an international far-right political movement? The kindest thing that can be said about this choice of cover photo is that it is airheaded fashionable nonsense. The editors have obviously fallen under the influence of the identitarian, islamophilic “left” and their centrist emulators, who are obsessed with religious minorities, especially Muslims, and therefore act as if Muslims can do no wrong, even when it is a radical fringe of fanatic Islamists who are setting the agenda, pretending (falsely) to speak for all Muslims.

Using a cover photo of veiled female of any age, as if such a phenomenon were perfectly banal and ordinary, is bad enough. After all, the Islamist agenda is to promote the veiling of females anywhere and everywhere, regardless of circumstances, with the goal of rendering the veil just that: banal and ordinary, that is to say, to normalize it, to make us forget just what a disgusting icon of women’s subjugation it is. But to use a photo of a minor, especially for a journal devoted to children’s health of all things, is inexcusable!

In my writings I have already pointed out several times that imposing the Islamist veil on a child for any extended period of time (weeks, months, years) is a form of child abuse and should be illegal. Even if the child wears the veil of her own volition, that does not change the situation: after all, we do not allow children to make their own decisions about many things, and I would suggest that wearing such a retrogressive symbol should be one of those things.

As I wrote in a previous blog discussing a similarly unacceptable photo used by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, “The consequences of wearing the veil are very serious for a young girl. There may be negative physical effects (such as Vitamin D deficiency or an impediment to the child’s normal physical activity), but the most grievous consequences are psychological and social. When the person wearing the veil is a child, the social segregation is much more serious, depriving the young girl of a normal childhood and erecting a barrier between her and other children.”

Of course I do not know the context in which the cover photo was taken. Perhaps the girl wore the veil only for the duration of a photo shoot, in which case no harm has been done to her personally. Nevertheless, the use of such a photo for a paediatrics journal remains dubious at best and arguably harmful. Indeed, it is literally unhealthy. It is an affront to children’s physical and mental health, especially the latter.

In fact, I would say that any paediatrician who accepts the long-term veiling of young girls lacks the ability to deal competently with the psychosocial development of children.


Next blog: Another Notch Lower for Canada

Summary: The Islamist Veil

2019-08-12

A summary of my analysis of the implications of the Islamist veil.

Sommaire en français Un résumé de mon analyse des implications du voile islamiste.

For future reference, I have decided to summarize here an analysis of the Islamist veil and its implications. I could call it the “Islamic veil” instead, but the word “Islamic” applies to Islam in general. However the veil is much more closely associated with the fundamentalist and radical variant of Islam known as Islamism or political Islam, and it is for that reason that I refer to it as “Islamist.” That veil is, after all, a political symbol even more than a religious one. It comes in several versions of course: hijab, chador, burkini, niqab, burqa, etc. This blog summarizes and builds on my previous blog Notes on the Islamist Veil.

Some essential points:

  • The Islamist veil, in all its forms, is an advertisement for political Islam, regardless of the mentality of the woman wearing it.
  • The Islamist veil is imposed by fanatics. It is not an article of clothing for Muslim women in general—but Islamists would like us to think that it is!
  • Most women who wear the Islamist veil, especially in Muslim-majority countries, do so because they are in some sense forced to do so, as they are under severe pressure from family, community, fundamentalists and sometimes the law. The consequences of not wearing it can be life-threatening.
  • Those women who decide to wear the Islamist veil willingly, mainly in non-Muslim countries, are implicitly expressing solidarity with political Islam, whether or not they are conscious of the implications of their decision. Such women are objectively allied with religious fanaticism.
  • The Islamist veil is a marker of segregation, keeping Muslims separate from other “inferior” people. It also sends the message that religious affiliation (for Muslims) is more important than other attributes.
  • The Islamist veil is a purity symbol, a form of slut-shaming. Wearing it means that other women who do not wear it, especially Muslim women who do not wear it, are impure, i.e. “easy.”
  • The Islamist veil is an expression of rape culture. It implies that women are responsible for the sexual excesses of heterosexual men.
  • The Islamist veil is not just an article of clothing. To treat is as such is to empower the religious fanatics who use it for proselytism and propaganda.
  • The Islamist veil is a tool to control women’s bodies.
  • Proponents of political Islam use veiled women in the same way that dogs use their urine: to mark their territory.

In summary, Islamists treat women in general with contempt and they use veiled women in particular as tools for their political purposes. Recall that Islam is arguably the most misogynistic of all major religions, and that political Islam is a fundamentalist variant which takes that misogyny to an extreme.

Finally, it must be emphasized that all of the above observations about the Islamist veil apply regardless of the mentality of the woman flaunting it. The objective meaning of the veil does not depend on the thoughts of the bearer. She may be naïve, she may be totally unaware of the implications of the accoutrement she has “chosen” to display or been forced to display or, on the other hand, she may be fully cognizant that she is effectively supporting political Islam. In all cases, she is just one more veiled woman, one more walking advertisement for one of the most dangerous extreme right-wing movements on our planet.

Thus, the wearing of the Islamist veil should be discouraged and it should be banned where appropriate to do so. There are three main contexts (this list may not be exhaustive) where banning is appropriate:

  1. Wearing religious symbols—including all versions of the Islamist veil—by public servants, i.e. State employees, while on the job, should be banned.
  2. Imposing any Islamist veil on a child for any extended period of time (weeks, months, years) is a form of child abuse and should be illegal.
  3. Versions of the veil which obscure the face, i.e. the niqab and burqa, should, like all face-coverings, be banned in any situation where covering the face compromises security, identification or communication. This includes at least situations where security checks are performed, such as in airports or at entrances to some public buildings. However, there are further reasons why the niqab and burqa should be resisted, as these veils represent a violation of human dignity and women’s rights. Extending the ban to everywhere in public is an option to be considered.

In other situations, the wearing of the Islamist veil should be tolerated for reasons of personal freedom, but it should be neither endorsed nor encouraged—and certainly not celebrated as some governments (such as Canada) foolishly do.


Next blog: This Does NOT Promote Child Health

Six Pseudo-Arguments of Antisecularists

2019-05-20

In this blog I summarize six fallacies used by antisecularists as “arguments” against Quebec’s Draft Bill 21.

Sommaire en français Dans le présent blogue je résume six sophismes qu’utilisent les anti-laïques comme « arguments » contre le projet de loi 21 au Québec.

Antisecularists who oppose Quebec’s Draft Bill 21 have no valid arguments to make, or at least none that I have ever heard. Their attacks on the proposed legislation can basically be summarized in the following six pseudo-arguments:

  1. Absolute Rights: By considering the rights of public servants and teachers to be absolute, while simultaneously ignoring completely the freedom of conscience of users of public services and students of public schools, i.e. their right to a environment free of partisan religious advertising, opponents of Bill 21 claim to be defending freedom but instead threaten it by granting a huge religious privilege to wearers of symbols.
  2. Absolute Libertarianism: “Don’t tell women (or people) what to wear (or what not to wear)” is a common mantra of antisecularists. This fallacy is an expression of right-wing libertarianism on steroids and is reminiscent of the mentality of opponents of gun control. Firstly, Bill 21 bans only religious symbols (and not even for all State employees) and does so for excellent reasons, i.e. religious neutrality and to protect users and students. Secondly, to reject any and all bans would mean the end of uniforms and would imply chaos even among non-uniformed employees. What would you think if your child’s teacher began showing up for work every day wearing a bikini, or a hazmat suit, or clothing covered with ads for fast food restaurants? And thirdly, dress codes—sometimes written, sometimes unwritten—are commonplace in society, even ubiquitous, and some restrictions, such as bans on political or religious symbols in certain contexts, are eminently reasonable.
  3. The opponents of the Bill never hold religious believers responsible for their own practices and beliefs; instead, antisecularists hold the State responsible for accommodating those practices and beliefs. This is obviously backwards.

  4. Deresponsibilizing Believers: The opponents of the Bill never hold religious believers responsible for their own practices and beliefs; instead, antisecularists hold the State responsible for accommodating those practices and beliefs. This is obviously backwards. The believers are the ones who make such choices and are therefore responsible for any consequences. If a person chooses to wear an ostentatious religious (or political) symbol at all times and refuses to remove it even while on the job in the public service, then it is that person who excludes himself or herself from that job. The State excludes no-one; rather, it only excludes partisan displays.
  5. Accusations of Discrimination: Opponents allege that the Bill discriminates against religious believers (especially minorities) and threatens religious freedom. This is false. The Bill does not target any group of persons; rather, it restricts certain behaviour, i.e. religious advertising by public servants. This is a small and reasonable restriction on freedom of expression, such as the restriction which already exists banning partisan political symbols worn by public servants (articles 10 and 11 of the Public Service Act), in order to protect the rights of users and students. A corollary of this pseudo-argument is the claim by some that there will be a massive exodus of people, especially religious minorities, from Quebec. This is a form of blackmail, as well as being alarmist nonsense. Many members of religious minorities, including Muslims, moved to Quebec because of its penchant for secularism and they support Bill 21. The vast majority of people concerned will undoubtedly comply with the law, regardless of their views. There may very well be a tiny number of religious fanatics who leave the province (probably very noisily, for maximum effect) and to them I say, Good Riddance.
  6. Accusations of Anti-Muslim Prejudice: Given that proponents of political Islam (with help from their sadly numerous dupes) are particularly aggressive in promoting wearing of the Islamic veil anywhere and everywhere in order to advertise their brand, radical Muslims, by their own actions, are a centre of attention in this debate. Opponents of Bill 21 thus claim “discrimination” against Muslims in particular when the reality is a campaign of religious exhibitionism by an extremely vocal subgroup of Muslims. Bill 21 does not discriminate against any particular religion; it applies to all.
  7. Defamation: When all else fails (as it inevitably does), opponents of Bill 21 fall back on slander, defaming supporters of the Bill with gratuitous accusation of “xenophobia” or “racism” or other, even worse sins.

[…] a law dealing with State secularism, a law which, all thing considered, is very moderate.

Given their lack of any plausible line of reasoning, antisecularists, in their vituperations, have a strong tendency towards dishonesty, irresponsible speculation and sometimes complete nonsense. Their behaviour is increasingly toxic. And on that disturbing note, I would like to conclude by quoting Pierre Allard, award-winning career journalist:

The debate about secularism has taken an unhealthy turn these days. […] black clouds are piling up on Quebec’s democratic horizon. I did not vote for the CAQ and undoubtedly never will, but the Legault government was elected. It has proposed a law dealing with State secularism, a law which, all thing considered, is very moderate. That government is confronted by a barrage of (minority) opponents who use extremist rhetoric and who, for no valid reason, question the legitimacy of a majority which governs without excess. This should worry us.


Next blog: Quebec Bill 21 Causes Earthquakes, Anal Warts and the Collapse of Civilisation

Three Strategies of Islamists

…and their dupes and allies in non-Muslim countries

2019-02-08 Epilogue added 2019-02-08 @ 21:00

This blog summarizes three major strategies employed by Islamists and their objective allies: (1) accusations of “Islamophobia”; (2) conflation of race and religion; and (3) defamation by association with the far-right.

Sommaire en français Dans ce blogue je résume trois stratégies majeures utilisées par les islamistes et leurs alliés objectifs : (1) les accusations d’« islamophobie »; (2) confondre race et religion; et (3) diffamation par association avec l’extrême-droite.

In non-Muslim countries, Islamists, i.e. promoters of political Islam—a variant of Islam with serious political ambitions—have several key strategies. Here are three important ones:

  1. Accusations of “Islamophobia”: This strategy needs little explanation. The dishonest and incoherent nature of the term “Islamophobia” is well known and well documented. The main purpose of such accusations is to stifle, i.e. censor, legitimate criticism of Islam and Islamism.
    • The suffix “-phobia” implies an irrational fear, whereas to fear a religion, especially a dangerous monotheism like Islam or Christianity, is eminently rational, especially if that religion has political ambitions.
    • Furthermore, the term is often used incorrectly to mean a prejudice against Muslims, i.e. a group of persons, whereas Islam is not a group of persons but rather a religious ideology.
  2. Conflation of Race and Religion: Again, this strategy is well known. And again, the main purpose is to stifle criticism of Islam or Islamism by labelling the adherents of those ideologies as belonging to a “race” (which is of course nonsense) so that accusations of “racism” may be used against critics.
    • The dishonesty of this strategy is obvious: whether or not one considers race to be a fictional or a real phenomenon, it must necessarily be based on innate, immutable attributes of the individual (such as genetic inheritance, skin colour or some other physical characteristic). But religion, on the other hand, is an idea or an ideology which one can (or at least should be allowed to) change at will. When an individual adopts a new religion, or abandons their former religion, they do not thus belong to a new race, obviously. Furthermore, the conflation of race and religion amounts to a denial of freedom of conscience for religious believers.
    • If an individual has the misfortune of being born and raised in religion X, then identifying that person with religion X amounts to a denial of his/her right to think for himself or herself. In fact, identifying a child with the religion of his or her parents is already a violation of that child’s freedom of conscience. Religion should be a matter for adults only, like marriage or alcohol. Until an individual reaches adulthood and attains the maturity necessary for informed decisions on such matters, he or she should not be identified with any religion.
  3. Accusations of Far-Right Political Affinity: This strategy is very often used by the identitarian left (or more accurately, pseudo-left) to slander anyone who disagrees with it—often using or misusing the vague expression “alt-right”—and it has been gleefully borrowed by Islamists to their great advantage. This slur is based on an extremely loose definition of “far-right” or, even better, no explicit definition at all, thus allowing the label to be stuck on any person or thing one dislikes.
    • This strategy works very well for Islamists as it converges greatly with the two strategies described above, especially the second.
    • This strategy is particularly ironic and hypocritical as Islamism is itself an extreme far-right ideology, far worse than even the classic fascism of Mussolini.
    • One major example: the denigration of the Quebec government of the party CAQ (Coalition Avenir Québec) elected to power on October 1st 2018. The CAQ is a centre-right party which places it close to the defeated QLP (Quebec Liberal Party) on the left-right political spectrum in terms of economic policy. Yet the English-language media in Canada, which were very sympathetic to the PLQ, do not hesitate to associate CAQ with far-right groups. Why? Because the CAQ has committed itself to implementing several very good secular measures in Quebec (which, by the way, places it far to the left of any other government, provincial or federal, in Canada on that issue). Secularism is of course an anathema for Islamists; thus, the CAQ has already been the target of a tsunami of negative propaganda from Islamist ideologues and their dupes—just as the Parti Québécois (PQ) was several years ago and for similar reasons—and we can expect it to continue for some time.

All three of these strategies are variants of the same theme: slander, in varying degrees of intensity. Furthermore, all three are blithely deployed in the service of Islamism by non-Muslims who are duped by that ideology into becoming its unwitting allies.

Anyone who employs all three of the above strategies is an objective ally of political Islam. By “objective ally” I mean that, regardless of the person’s intentions (which are often difficult or impossible to judge), their words and/or actions objectively benefit the spread of Islamist ideology whether intentionally or not, whether they realize it or not.


Epilogue

Aislin cartoon
Click to enlarge
Source: Facebook page of cartoonist Aislin

Only hours after putting the above blog on line, I received some news that illustrates all too graphically my point, in item 3 above, about slandering the CAQ by falsing associating it with the far-right. The cartoonist of the Montreal Gazette produced the caricature on the left. It is available on-line, on the cartoonist’s Facebook page. This image does not merely transmit a message which defames the CAQ. It is a major slur directed at all those who support the CAQ’s secularism measures, including the majority of Québécois. Although the Gazette decided not to run it—a wise decision, I think—I am publishing it here because it needs to be seen in order to expose the profound and virulent hatred for Québécois which underlies opposition to the CAQ’s very reasonable and laudable plans. This is the face of anti-Québécois racism, so prevalent in English-speaking Canada.


Next blog: An Open Letter to the Council of Canadians