Sinéad O’Connor: A Metaphor for the Degeneration of the Left

From courage to capitulation.

2019-01-30

There is a strong parallel between the evolution of Sinéad O’Connor’s religious views and the degeneration of the modern political left in its attitude towards religion.

Sommaire en français Il existe un fort parallèle entre l’évolution des opinions religieuses de Sinéad O’Connor et la dégénérescence de la gauche politique moderne quant à son attitude à l’égard de la religion.

On the 3rd of October 1992, Irish singer-songwriter Sinéad O’Connor appeared on Saturday Night Live and, at the end of her performance, scandalized both the show’s producers and its studio audience by tearing up a photo of Pope John Paul II to protest child abuse in the Catholic Church. O’Connor was vilified by many, but her gesture proved to be completely justified by what we now know about sex abuse perpetrated by so many Catholic priests. Her protest was also an act of enormous courage. A quarter-century later, in September of 2018, journalist Niall O’Dowd asked Do we owe Sinéad O’Connor an apology for speaking the truth about church child abuse? and journalist Kerry O’Shea reported that Atheists think Sinead O’Connor is owed an apology, and then some.

Seven years after the SNL incident, O’Connor was ordained a priest in a Church in Lourdes, France, which had defected from the Catholic Church (which of course did not recognize the ordination). Then, in September of 2018, she announced her conversion to Islam, stating that it was “the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey.” She subsequently announced that she won’t associate with white people, whom she apparently finds “disgusting.” Referring to non-Muslims as “white” is bizarre, and the intensity of her hostility was enough to attract criticism from some fellow Muslims, to their credit.

O’Connor ripping a picture of the Pope
Click to enlarge
O’Connor ripping a picture of the Pope
Source: Wikipedia

I consider these two events in O’Connor’s life to be a fitting metaphor for the degeneration of what is left of the political left. A critical approach to religion is a major and standard aspect of left-wing politics, inspired by Enlightenment principles. Karl Marx is probably the most famous name associated with left-wing criticism of religion, but he was certainly not alone in observing that belief in a fictional sky-cop and an afterlife—where rewards and punishments will be meted out—is one of the most effective scams used by the dominant classes to convince the poor and the persecuted to accept their lot. It should also not be forgotten that Marx, even as he denounced the “opiate of the masses” in that famous quote from the introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, also showed a great deal of compassion for the plight of the victims of this scam.

And yet, in the XXIst century, much of the political left, if it can still be called “left,” has abandoned that approach and has even embraced religion, or at least some religions, especially one in particular (guess which one!). The reasons for this are complex, and I have discussed them in previous blogs such as The Identitarian Left. Suffice it to say that, in the name of minority rights, the current left, or at least part of it, shows a total lack of discernment by classifying very different minorities as worthy of defense (while being selective about which minorities make the cut).

Thus, we have the ridiculous spectacle of so-called progressives (who in reality are reactionary and regressive) supporting the “right” of fundamentalist Muslim women to wear the hijab or even the niqab (which covers the entire face except for a narrow slit for the eyes) anywhere and everywhere, even during a formal citizenship ceremony! We see a campaign, held annually on February 1st, to promote the hijab, as if it were a symbol of freedom, when in reality it is a flag of political Islam and a symbol of the enslavement of women. As Djemila Benhabib observes, “Pro-hijab activists […] try to convince us that the hijab is just so TOTALLY cool! What courage does it take to wear a hijab under the protective dome of Western democracies[…]? The truth is, pro-hijab activists risk nothing. They are protected by laws from which they benefit greatly, but without ever contributing to their advancement.” Thus the need for the #NoHijabDay, #FreeFromHijab campaign to counter this pro-hijab folly.

We see a similar degeneration in the behaviour of Sinéad O’Connor. From being a courageous critic of religious obscurantism and misogyny (in the form of Catholic sexual abuse of children and women) by the Roman Catholic Church, O’Connor has become an apologist for the most misogynistic major religion on earth.

But arguably the worst aspect of O’Connor’s descent into obscurantism, besides her denigration of non-Muslims, is her reference to them as being “white.” The racialization of religious affiliation, which many on the so-called left also do regularly, is completely unacceptable. Race involves innate and immutable attributes of the individual, whereas a religion is an ideology and a belief system which the individual can adopt or reject at will. O’Connor’s conversion to Islam does not make her any less white, obviously! To conflate race and religion is to essentialize religious affiliation and rob believers—especially children born into a religion through no choice of their own—of their freedom of conscience. This ploy is especially harmful in the case of Islam because of that religion’s taboo on apostasy.

Two dirty tricks which are favourite strategies of Islamists and their de facto allies are:

  1. specious accusations of being right-wing or bigoted; and
  2. obfuscation, by conflating race and religion.

The first strategy is particularly ironic and hypocritical, given that political Islam is itself an extreme right-wing ideology. We have a duty to criticize it assiduously and with determination. The purpose of this trick is censorship: whenever anyone dares to criticize Islam or Islamism on social media for example, someone spews venom in an attempt to bully them into silence. In the long term this will not work, but in the short term it succeeds in poisoning the necessary debate about Islam.

The second dirty trick is even worse, because it essentializes religious belief as if it were immutable. “Once a Muslim, always a Muslim” could be the slogan of this strategy. Given the Islamic condemnation of apostasy—punishable by prison or even death in several countries—such conflation is a betrayal of those unfortunate enough to be born into that religion, a denial of their freedom of conscience. Anyone who confuses race with religion lacks the competence to discuss either.

Sinéad O’Connor is a tragic figure. Her comment about non-Muslim’s as “white” is an endorsement of Islamists’ dishonest strategy of racializing religion. But let us not forget her courageous denunciation of Pope John-Paul II back in the early 1990’s.


Next blog: Support #NoHijabDay #FreeFromHijab

The Identitarian Left

2018-08-27

A discussion of several major aspects of the identitarian left, sometimes known as the regressive left, the communitarian left or the postmodernist left.

Sommaire en français Un exposé de plusieurs aspects importants de la gauche identitaire, connue aussi sous les noms de gauche régressive, communautariste ou postmoderniste.

In several previous blogs I have written about the so-called “regressive left”—or more accurately pseudo-left—which is ostensibly on the left end of the political spectrum but in fact betrays traditional left-wing values (i.e. Enlightenment values) in a number of ways, in particular by adopting cultural relativism (usually labelled “multiculturalism”), leading it to be dangerously tolerant of Islamism. I have also discussed my dissatisfaction with the label “regressive left” and suggested a few others in an attempt to arrive at a more accurate name.

After some reading and reflection, I have decided that the label “identitarian left” (or pseudo-left) is probably the best choice, although I consider “communitarian left” a reasonable alternative, i.e. the second-best choice. Whatever you may call it, this retrograde tendency, which has seriously corrupted the left and indirectly strengthened the right, is multifaceted—hence the difficulty in finding an appropriate name.

Below, are a number of aspects of this pseudo-left political tendency. These various aspects are not mutually distinct, as they tend to overlap and converge. (The following list is not necessarily exhaustive.)

The identitarian left is obsessed with identity politics.

National identities are generally considered an anathema. Thus neoliberalism, which seeks to weaken or eliminate national boundaries, is very comfortable with the identitarian left.

Identity politics orients political activism around personal identities, usually the individual’s membership in a group perceived to be either disadvantaged or privileged. These identities are normally based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc., while largely ignoring social class which is emphasized by traditional left-wing politics. In identity politics the emphasis is on the differences between the disadvantaged and the privileged; expressions such as “white privilege” and “male privilege” and admonishments such as “check your privilege” are commonly used to promote guilt. But traditional left-wing politics seeks to build alliances, thus transcending personal identities. Furthermore, the identitarian left tends to be rather arbitrary about which identities it considers legitimate and which is considers retrograde (or even fascist!). National identities are generally considered an anathema. Thus neoliberalism, which seeks to weaken or eliminate national boundaries, is very comfortable with the identitarian left. Quebec nationalism in particular is vilified and denounced as “far-right” or worse. On the other hand, I have never heard a identitarian leftist denounce “anglophone privilege.”

The identitarian left is intersectional.

Intersectionality is a theory of systems of social power, first introduced to feminist theory by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. It began as a current in feminism and has since spread. The basic idea is simple and superficially reasonable: if a person is a member of more than one discriminated group, then their degree of oppression increases with the number of those identities. For example, a black lesbian is triply oppressed because of her race, sexual orientation and gender whereas a white heterosexual woman is oppressed only as a woman. However, this view of oppression leads to a very divisive politics of guilt because in practise it reduces to a sort of point system where a merit point is gained by each oppressed group in which one can claim membership. The result is to see society as a sort of caste system with white heterosexual “cisgendered” men at the top. The goal of the intersectional activist is thus to topple that hierarchy by either leveling it or reversing it.

The identitarian left is communitarian.

Communitarianism means the habit of associating each individual with their community (ethno-religious, sexual, etc.) rather than emphasizing equality among citizens. It thus gives a great deal of authority to any leader who claims (often falsely) to speak for his or her community. This aspect is usually given the much more positive sounding name “multiculturalism” which used to mean cultural diversity but which has since become an ideology of cultural relativism.

The identitarian left is philosophically postmodernist.

Postmodernist philosophy rejects the values of the Enlightenment. In particular, it downplays or even denies the existence of one objective reality to which all have access and which transcends individual perspectives. For the postmodernist leftist, every oppressed or privileged group has their own reality, their own truth. The postmodernist left practices “cultural constructivism” or “blank-slatism” to borrow the words of Helen Pluckrose. Everything is about power dynamics, so the “truth” presented by a dominant group is just a narrative which allows them to preserve and enforce their dominance. It is up to the oppressed to impose their “truth” in return. When taken to an extreme, this approach makes objective knowledge impossible.

The identitarian left is racialist.

Thus, they first eliminate completely the concept of race, allowing them then to reinvent it wherever they want, for example by arbitrarily baptizing religious affiliation as a “race,” so that they can then make accusations of “racism” against anyone who criticizes that religion.

As the identitarian left attaches great importance to personal identities such as race, it generates its own form of racism. In particular, so-called antiracist activists of the identitarian left are often racially divisive, erecting barriers between groups based on old 19th century concepts of race such as “white,” “black,” etc., sometimes even promoting segregation. White-bashing has become very fashionable. However, this form of racism is somewhat different from more traditional racism which asserts actual biological differences. The racism of the identitarian left is more a question of in-group posturing, a form of virtue signalling or what I would call “cool signalling” and for this reason the term “racialism” has been suggested to label this phenomenon. In fact, identitarian leftists will often deny even the existence of race (and any discussion of scientific research into objective, measurable differences between ethnic groups is utterly taboo, an anathema in fact), while nevertheless talking ad nauseum about “racialized” groups. Thus, they first eliminate completely the concept of race, allowing them then to reinvent it wherever they want, for example by arbitrarily baptizing religious affiliation as a “race,” so that they can then make accusations of “racism” against anyone who criticizes that religion.

The identitarian left is Manichaean.

At its worst, the attitude of identitarian leftists is that anyone who disagrees with them is a racist, or mysognist, or fascist, or Nazi, etc. This is one of the most ethically repugnant aspects of identitarian leftism. Basically, if identitarian leftists do not like someone, they just slander the other, with little attempt to engage in any discussion about disagreements. Thus the world is divided absolutely into good and evil, us and them. Everybody is a fascist except for me and my buddies. You want to punch someone? Just label them a Nazi first, thus giving yourself permission to do so! This has led to many specious accusations. The psychologist and popular conservative speaker Jordan Peterson has been called a fascist (he is not). James Damore, fired by Google, has been called a misogynist (he is not). Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, has been called a racist and a fascist (in my opinion, he is neither). Sam Harris has been called a “gateway to the alt-right” (nonsense) and is vilified by the identitarian left because he is such an effective critic of it.

The identitarian left is Islamophilic or Islamolatric.

Given that Muslims constitute a minority in western countries and may be subject to discrimination, and given the identitarian left’s obsession with identity, it has become fashionable to offer privileged status to Islam, treating that religion with kid gloves and accusing anyone who criticizes it of “Islamophobia” or racism or worse. The conflation of race with religion is a crucial element of this gambit.

The identitarian left is antisecular and proreligious.

The identitarian left’s antisecular and proreligious bias is a consequence of its love affair with Islam, its refusal to distinguish between race and religion, and its rejection of Enlightenment values. The results are disastrous. A major example of this is the identitarian left’s enormous propaganda campaign against the Quebec government’s proposed Charter of Secularism in 2013-2014.

The identitarian left is post-Marxist.

The identitarian left can be seen as a form of degenerate Marxism in which the working class, having failed to rally to the Marxist cause, has been abandoned and replaced by a collection of minorities. Thus the identitarian left is post-Marxist but not Marxist. Here are three critiques of identity politics from a Marxist perspective:

The identitarian left is Orwellian.

… within religious minorities [the identitarian left] favours the most pious and fundamentalist among them, thus excluding the moderately religious and the secular.

Here, I mean Orwellian in the sense of using language which is almost the opposite—and sometimes literally the opposite—of reality. For example, the identitarian left claims to be antiracist but in reality it is obsessed with race and promotes racialism, which is its variant of racism. The identitarian left often claims to support diversity, tolerance and inclusivity, but in reality it rejects diversity of opinion, is extremely intolerant of those who disagree with it, and tends to limit its inclusivity to an incomplete list of minority groups. Not only does it tend to ignore or even denigrate the concerns of the majority, but within religious minorities it favours the most pious and fundamentalist among them, thus excluding the moderately religious and the secular. Furthermore, so-called “Antifa” groups, which are like ad hoc paramilitary branches of the identitarian left, claim to fight fascism but consistently make two huge errors: (1) they misidentify as fascists many who are not; and (2) they employ tactics similar to those of fascist goons. Spokespersons of the identitarian left often accuse their adversaries (in particular those who criticize Islam) of promoting a “politics of fear.” However, they themselves promote an exaggerated fear of the far-right, much (but not all) of which exists only in their imaginations. Basically, the identitarian left opposes fascism everywhere except where fascism is currently strongest and most dangerous: within Islamist movements.

And last, but not least, the identitarian left strengthens the political right.

The identitarian left is disastrous because it discredits the political left in many ways—by abandoning Enlightenment values; by abandoning secularism which is a traditional goal of the left; by its divisive racialism, in particular its anti-white racism and its politics of guilt; etc. The result is that this degenerated pseudo-left constitutes an enormous gift to the political right. In Canada and the USA, popular disgust with the craziness of the left has helped right-wing incompetents like Ford and Trump get elected. Yes, endemic racism and bigotry also contributed significantly to the rise of Ford and Trump, but the intellectual bankruptcy of many on the political centre and left also contribued to their victory. In France, the fact that much of the left has abandoned secularism, an extremely important core value of French culture, has resulted in the political right partially taking over this issue and using it to garner widespread popular support. This is not because the population has moved to the right, but because the left has betrayed its own values. The fault is with the left.


Epilogue: The Identitarian Left in Canada

Although the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) which currently holds power in Canada, under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, is a centrist party, not a leftist one, it has traditionally taken some of its ideas—both good (such as universal health care) and bad—from the left. Furthermore, the centre-left New Democratic Party (NDP) has moved increasingly towards the right (particularly under the leadership of Thomas Mulcair, formerly of the Quebec Liberal Party) so that it is not much different from the LPC. Both parties are pathologically attached to communitarianism.

Trudeau displays many of the worst qualities of the identitarian left

Thus, in the category of bad ideas which the LPC has borrowed from the left, we observe that Trudeau displays many of the worst qualities of the identitarian left: communitarianism, Islamophilia, conflation of race and religion (e.g. motion M-103), Manichaeanism (i.e. if you don’t swallow his “diversity” rhetoric, then you are a racist!). Trudeau is notorious for visiting mosques and Sikh temples in order to garner votes. He has declared that Canada is “the first postnational state” and if you are a Quebec secularist then he vilifies you as a Trump sympathizer. All in all, a person of little or no intellectual integrity.


Next blog: The Greatest of All Vices

Notes on the Regressive Left, Part V

The Vicious Circle of Islamophilia

2018-02-21

An infographic which illustrates how a certain left, by treating all Muslims, even Islamofascists, as a discriminated minority, then by abandoning secularism and criticism of religion, thus strengthens the political right by enflaming religious bigotry—which then causes hostility towards and discrimination against Muslims. Thus, the regressive left feeds off its own gross errors.

Sommaire en français Une infographie qui montre comment une certaine gauche, qui considère l’ensemble des Musulmans, même les islamofascistes, comme une minorité discriminée, en est venue à abandonner la laïcité et la critique des religions, renforçant ainsi la droite politique et attisant les préjugés religieux. Le résultat : de l’antipathie et de la discrimination contre les Musulmans. Ainsi, la gauche régressive s’alimente de ses propres erreurs grossières. La version française de l’infographie suit la version anglaise sur cette page.

The Vicious Circle of Islamophilia, How the Left Becomes RegressiveClick to enlarge Also available as a PDF file

Le cercle vicieux de l’islamophilie, Comment la gauche devient régressiveCliquer pour agrandir Disponible sous forme PDF aussi


Next blog: Religious Symbols and the Montreal Police

Notes on the Regressive Left, Part IV

A Collection of Important Articles

2017-11-18

A collection of articles criticizing the regressive left from a variety of points of view.

Sommaire en français Un ensemble d’articles présentant une variété de perspectives critiques de la gauche régressive.

Here I present a variety of important articles published on the web within the last few weeks, each providing a critical view of some aspect of the so-called regressive left and related issues such as the Antifa movement, intersectionality, censorship and dogmatism, etc.

Although I agree with the general thrust of each one of these articles, that does not imply that I agree 100%. For example, I think Kneeland exaggerates when he says that Trudeau is “far more dangerous” then Trump, although the enormous difference in mainstream media treatment of the two leaders should be enough to set alarm bells ringing very loudly. I also wonder if Claudé is exaggerating when he accuses Antifa in Quebec of terrorism.

One does not have to agree with everything in an article in order to find it useful. Indeed, one of the worst aspects of the regressive left is its Manichaean division of any issue into completely separated poles, one absolutely moral and the other absolutely evil, so that debate becomes very difficult or even impossible. But in the real world, there are many shades of gray. Intellectual diversity is a fact of life.

Jonathon Kneeland

To say that Trudeau is far more dangerous then Trump is, I think, an exaggeration. Trudeau, unlike Trump, does not have direct access to nuclear weapons capable of destroying the planet (which Kneeland fortunately recognizes). I would say, rather, that each is very dangerous in his own manner. Neither is a statesman. Each is incompetent but in very different ways.

Kneeland accuses Trudeau of playing “the vile and always eventually deadly game called identity-politics” although the way Trudeau plays it is to deny that Canada has any identity at all, declaring that Canada is “the first postnational state.”

Trudeau: a “spoiled twit”

Referring to Trudeau as a “spoiled twit,” Kneeland’s criticism of Trudeau’s obsession with his favourite buzzword “diversity” is devastating, hilarious and refreshing:

To aid in Trudeau’s dangerous, nihilistic, and suicidal desire to transform our country into a borderless, ghettoized, and completely unrecognizable country, he prefers to use easily spreadable and empty platitudes and avoids serious and rational discussion. For example, he frequently recycles the phrase “diversity is our strength”. The glaring stupidity of the statement is quite enough to deal with. The fact that news outlets parrot the idiotic phrase on his behalf actually makes it dangerous.

Specifically, Kneeland decries Trudeau’s promotion of Bill C-16 which adds gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination—Kneeland says it forces people to deny basic biological science—and motion M-103 which condemns so-called “Islamophobia.” Kneeland characterizes both measures as “nightmarish Orwellian policies” which use incoherent language.

Diana Johnstone

  1. Antifa in Theory and in Practice, 2017-10-09
  2. The Harmful Effects of Antifa, 2017-10-25
  3. Les effets nocifs des Antifa aux Etats-Unis (French translation of the previous article), 2017-11-04

A few quotes from (1) and (2):

“Antifa attacks on dissidents tend to enforce the dominant neoliberal doctrine that also raises the specter of fascism as pretext for aggression against countries targeted for regime change.”

  • Since historic fascism no longer exists, Bray’s Antifa have broadened their notion of “fascism” to include anything that violates the current Identity Politics canon: from “patriarchy” (a pre-fascist attitude to put it mildly) to “transphobia” (decidedly a post-fascist problem). (1) [Mark Bray is author of “Antifa: the Antifascist Handbook”]
  • The masked militants of Antifa seem to be more inspired by Batman than by Marx or even by Bakunin. (1)
  • Self-appointed radical revolutionaries can be the most useful thought police for the neoliberal war party. (1)
  • By making mass immigration the litmus test of whether or not one is fascist, Antifa intimidation impedes reasonable discussion. (1)
  • Antifa follows the trend of current Identity Politics excesses that are squelching free speech in what should be its citadel, academia. (1)
  • […] criticism of the system that produced Trump vanished in favor of demonization of Trump the individual (2)
  • The events of Charlottesville resembled a multiple provocation, with pro- and anti-statue sides provoking each other, providing a stage for Antifa to gain national prominence as saviors.  Significantly, Charlottesville riots provoked Trump into making comments which were seized upon by all his enemies to brand him definitively as “racist” and “fascist”. This gave the disoriented “left” a clear cause: fight “fascist Trump” and domestic “fascists”. This is more immediate than organizing to demand that the United States end its […] trillion dollar policy of global militarization […] (2)
  • Antifa attacks on dissidents tend to enforce the dominant neoliberal doctrine that also raises the specter of fascism as pretext for aggression against countries targeted for regime change. (2)
  • […] the violence and the censorship which are the hallmarks of the Antifa brand (2)
  • In keeping with neoliberalism, Antifa is out to privatize censorship, by taking over the job itself. (2)
  • The verbal violence of Antifa is worse than their physical violence insofar as it is more effective. […] It is the verbal violence that succeeds most in preventing free discussion of controversial issues. (2)

J. Oliver Conroy

Conroy describes a panel discussion entitled “Identity Politics: The New Racialism on Campus?” and sponsored by Spiked as part of its “Unsafe Spaces” American tour. The event took place at Rutgers University in early October, a week after the first event of the tour was cancelled at a Washington D.C. college which disinvited Spiked. The Rutgers event was attended by a large number of students whose only purpose in attending was evidently to disrupt the discussion and silence the panelists. A few quotes:

“Intersectionality is a strange kind of essentialism that professes to hate essentialism. It assumes people are determined by inherited characteristics, which is exactly what racists also think.”

  • Many of the disruptions took the form of impromptu, condescending lectures on intersectionality, a once obscure academic theory that has over time become the driving doctrine of identity politics for a significant part of the progressive and radical Left. […] Many conscientious people will find it difficult to argue with intersectionality’s premise. […] But intersectional activists push the logic to its perverse extreme. They insist that some identity groups’ “lived experience” grants them unquestionable and unchallengeable authority, both moral and political. Members of other, historically ‘privileged’ groups (men, whites, heterosexuals) have little right to an opinion at all. If their interests come into conflict, the latter are morally obliged to yield to (certain, recognized) minorities. The intersectional worldview is obviously incompatible with the basic tenets of life in a liberal democracy. That doesn’t bother intersectional activists, however, […] There is a creepy authoritarian bent to all of this. For someone really steeped in the intersectional worldview, almost any tactic or behavior can be justified if it serves the purpose of fighting “oppression,” the definition of which is elastic and gets a little more capacious every day. Because many intersectional activists believe that exposing people to harmful ideas can cause them emotional trauma, they view speech as a form of literal violence.
  • The worst of the audience’s animosity was directed at Kmele Foster, who is black. “How can you deracialize yourself?” one student demanded, […] “It seems odd to me for one to invest themselves in a concept” – race – “that they agree has been contrived and invented,” he [Foster] reflected at one point.
  • One of the things that struck me over and over was the protesters’ complete intolerance of complexity. Despite intersectionality’s roots in academic theory, the politics of the intersectional Left are deeply anti-intellectual. It’s not just that many intersectional activists seem to have no capacity for nuance; they fear and hate it, because they hate anything with the potential to complicate their narrative. Things are right or wrong; you’re with us or against us. Human beings, rather than complex agents with independent motivations and intellects, are nothing more than the sum total of their identities. Get on the bus or get under it.
  • I’m not the first to notice that intersectionality has less in common with an academic school or political movement than a religion. It is a fundamentalist religion, with no tolerance for ambiguity and, like any newly founded religion, it is insecure. People who disagree are blasphemers; people who change their minds are heretics; […]
  • Like Marxism in its more vulgar forms, intersectionality is highly deterministic, with no allowance for individual human agency; […] Instead of class consciousness, intersectionality takes racial and sexual/gender identity as its chief conceptual categories.
  • Intersectionality is a strange kind of essentialism that professes to hate essentialism. It assumes people are determined by inherited characteristics, which is exactly what racists also think.
  • […] students today regard free speech – once one of the defining causes of the American Left – as a “rightwing” doctrine, and therefore suspect.

Helen Pluckrose

  1. The State of the Campus and Women’s Self-Censorship, 2017-10-24
  2. When Intersectionality Silences Women, 2017-11-07

A pair of articles which explore how censorship and intolerance of ideas which diverge from the reigning dogma of intersectional feminism are widespread on campuses in the English-speaking world and the disastrous consequences of this situation for female academics themselves. Here is a quote from the first article:

“in terms of obstructive protests, calls for censorship, banning or firing, the justification appears to be a very specific leftist ideology and the targets to include both the right and the left”

There is clearly much evidence of campus censorship and it has been common to describe this very simply as “leftist” or “liberal” (often used interchangeably in the US) censorship of conservatives. Whilst this certainly is part of the story, it does not seem to be the whole story. Evidence has been provided by academic faculty members that intimidation and threats can come from both right-wing and left-wing students but in terms of obstructive protests, calls for censorship, banning or firing, the justification appears to be a very specific leftist ideology and the targets to include both the right and the left. As seen above, gender-critical feminists and ex-Muslim critics of Islam have also been targeted. Gender-critical feminists are usually radical feminists, often referred to pejoratively as “trans-exclusionary radical feminists” or “TERFs.” They are nearly always decidedly left-wing and include anti-capitalist analysis in their feminism. Ex-Muslim critics of Islam are politically diverse and Maryam Namazie is a communist. The situation on campus is clearly more complicated than a dominant left suppressing a minority right.

Yves Claudé

[…] the Antifa movement over the years […] has degenerated into something very closely resembling what it claims to oppose […]

This article is particularly important because it deals with the Antifa movement as it has developed here in Quebec. The author became actively involved in the early days of that movement some three decades ago, at a period when there was indeed a local neo-Nazi skinhead movement which the Antifa opposed, but which has now almost completely disappeared. Claudé describes the evolution of the Antifa movement over the years, how it has degenerated into something very closely resembling what it claims to oppose, having adopted practices, symbols and violent methods similar to those of fascists.

Here are a few quotes (translated by me), ending with Claudé’s damning indictment of the movement:

  • The “antiracism” of the Antifa movement is very dubious, because it sees itself as a fraternal coalition of different “races” which are distinct, separate entities. […] This racialist representation of society is objectively racist and is in fact basically similar to that of neo-Nazis. This racialism, when combined with the shared cult of violence, explains why we see such a remarkable back-and-forth between the two camps.
  • [In] 2012, the Antifa movement expanded into the student community. It diversified by including a Maoist component as well as an alterglobalist contingent. It then became imbued with postmodernism which was spreading thoughout the universities, thus overvaluing ethno-cultural differences and contributing to the racial segregation of individuals, to the detriment of social and political citizenship. The movement thus made a definitive break from its libertarian roots (“Neither God nor Master”) and began to ally itself with fundamentalist religious groups as these groups mobilized to oppose secularism.
  • It thus becomes increasingly obvious that the Antifa movement is an adversary of modern Quebec, of Quebec’s emancipatory and feminist values and its aspirations for national souvereignty. […] In the absence of true “fascists” (who have become very marginal, divided and disorganized), the main targets of Antifa’s threats and physical violence are increasingly independentists, secularists, etc.
  • In 2016, the Antifa movement […] developed an explicitly terrorist orientation, […]
  • The Antifa movement, having taken a path towards criminality and terrorism, indulging in fantasies of armed struggle, currently represents both a break with democracy and a serious problem of public security for Quebec, threatening companies as well as the physical integrity of many citizens, progressives, feminists, independentists, first-nations people, etc., but also that of media professionals. It must therefore reorient itself radically, in order to be socially and politically legitimate.

Next blog: Notes on the Regressive Left, Part V: The Vicious Circle of Islamophilia

Notes on the Regressive Left, Part III

ANTIFA: Kangaroo Court Implemented by a Street Mob

2017-09-13

This blog was also published in the Q2 2017 issue of Secular World, magazine of Atheist Alliance International, pages 22-23.

More discussion about the Antifa movement, how it harms the left and dovetails with neoliberalism.

Sommaire en français Un autre blogue au sujet du mouvement Antifa, comment il nuit à la gauche et comment ses buts convergent avec ceux du néoliberalisme.

The Antifa hatefully hate “hate.” They have all the rationality of a kangaroo court implemented by a violent street mob. They are like obnoxious children playing at revolution. It is difficult to know exactly what their ideas are, because they are so loosely organized. But we can judge them by their actions.

The Antifa are intellectually sloppy and physically violent, which is a dangerous combination, because they are unable to judge when violence is justified (which should be rarely, basically in self-defense) and they are unable to judge whom should be the target of their opposition. Bad behaviour, badly directed = disaster waiting to happen.

The Antifa are incompetent anarchists, unable to identify clearly whom we should be fighting. Only when the enemy clearly identifies itself (by wearing neo-Nazi symbols or KKK attire, such as in Charlottesville) are they able to judge correctly.

The burden of definition of “fascism” falls especially on those who oppose it violently.

If you want to oppose “fascism” then you must define what that is. If you allow yourself to employ violence, then it is even more important to define who fascists are, as rigorously and as precisely as possible, in order to avoid serious errors. The burden of definition of “fascism” falls especially on those who oppose it violently.

When is anti-fascist violence justified? Hint: If your country is being invaded by Hitler’s army (like Poland in 1939) then violence is justified. If an academic threatens to speak about his/her research or his/her book at your university, then violence is NOT justified.

The Antifa claim to oppose neoliberalism. But they are anti-nationalists and apparently oppose all borders. Thus they facilitate neoliberalism which has similar goals — against nationalism, against borders — because that allows corporations free reign and prevents the nation-state from adopting measures to improve or protect the quality of life of its citizens — measures such as workers’ rights, social programmes, environmental regulations, corporate regulation, secularism, etc. The use of national boundaries is foolishly denounced by the Antifa and other pseudo-leftists as “xenophobic”, “fascist” or worse. One of the consequences of this is that the Antifa oppose secularism, because secularism requires the state to impose some reasonable constraints on religious expression within the state apparatus.

A few examples of counterproductive Antifa actions:

  • Quebec City, 2017-08-20, where Antifa beat up a man because he was carrying an anti-monarchist flag.
  • Toronto Gay Pride, 2017, where a gang identifying itself as Antifa tried to stop Iranian gay Muslims and ex-Muslims from marching in the parade, accusing them of “Islamophobia”. At least the Antifa were not violent in this case. They withdrew when the police intervened and the Iranians were then able to march.
  • Middlebury College, Vermont, 2017-03-02, where there were violent protests against a speaking engagement by Charles Murray. Hate Murray if you must, but he is not a fascist by any reasonable definition of that term.
  • Montreal, 2015, a peaceful demonstration against legislation (Draft Bill 59) which would have censored criticism of religion by labelling it “hate speech” was met by Antifa counter-protesters chanting anti-fascist and anti-racist slogans. The counter-protesters were apparently too stupid to recognize the difference between religion and race. Police kept the two groups apart and there was apparently no violence. Fortunately the legislation (which the Antifa effectively supported) was withdrawn, because it would have been the equivalent of a new anti-blasphemy law at the provincial level.
  • Numerous incidents in Berkeley, California. A good overview of events there is provided by Raymond Barglow in Radically Wrong in Berkeley.

One of the most effective ways of undermining a cause is to defend it badly…

If you consider yourself a leftist but support the Antifa, then what the hell is wrong with you? You are probably in denial. Loyalty to a cause may be a virtue; but if many ostensible proponents of that cause make major errors which harm the cause and enable its adversaries, then blind loyalty is no longer a virtue, rather it is a vice. One of the most effective ways of undermining a cause is to defend it badly (thanks to François Doyon for this excellent meme); one of the best ways to promote a cause is to criticize its errors. As leftists, we must recognize that the Antifa feed into the extreme right. The Antifa are an extreme manifestation of the fanatical postmodernist nonsense underlying what has become known as the “regressive left” and which has seriously undermined progressive politics.

Suggested reading: Noam Chomsky: ‘Antifa is Wrong in Principle — a Major Gift to the Militant Right’. You will find criticism of the Antifa on many right-wing web sites, and that is only to be expected, because when so-called leftists discredit the left by behaving like assholes, then of course the right loves to talk about it. As Barglow observes:

Not surprisingly, Berkeley’s intolerance has become a favorite subject on Fox News and other right-wing media. […] But voices on the left have criticized this intolerance too: veterans of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement issued a statement in support of Yiannopoulos’ right to speak on campus, explaining that “Banning him just plays into his hands politically…. The best way to battle his bigoted discourse is to critique and refute it.” Violent demonstrations in Berkeley, purporting to “fight fascism,” fuel it instead; […]

Our duty is to oppose Antifa and to boycott all Antifa events — i.e. do not join them. Find other, more intelligent and more effective ways (peaceful protest, debate, writing, etc.) to express your opposition to ideas which you consider dangerous or retrograde.


Next blog: Notes on the Regressive Left, Part IV: A Collection of Important Articles

Notes on the Regressive Left, Part II

ANTIFA: Shock Troops of the Regressive “Left”

2017-08-25, Links added 2017-08-31

The “Antifa” movement claims to oppose fascism. But its actions resemble the behaviour of fascist thugs more than those whom it opposes. The recent events in Quebec City are an example.

Sommaire en français Le mouvement « Antifa » prétend lutter contre le fascisme. Mais lors de ses manifestations, il se comporte davantage comme des voyous fascistes que ceux auxquels il s’oppose. Les événements récents à Québec en fournissent un exemple.

The accompanying image by Branco, which draws a parallel between the Antifa and Nazis, is an exaggeration, but it is not a gross exaggeration. On the contrary, I would call it just desserts, considering how Antifa groups demonize anyone they disagree with as fascist, racist, etc. Let them taste a little of their own medicine. Furthermore, the Antifa often behave as violent, dangerous goons, recalling the behaviour of Nazi thugs. The cartoonist Branco is, unsuprisingly, a right-winger. Why is it that such criticism rarely comes from the left? People on the left should be criticizing the Antifa movement because it discredits the left.

Cartoon by Branco
Cartoon by Branco

It would be more accurate to say that the Antifa are the shock troops of what has become known as the “regressive left” (which is left more in name than in reality), i.e. the pseudoleft which sees fascists everywhere except where they exist (i.e. Islamofascists) and which has poisoned and corrupted the left in several countries, including the USA, Canada and France. Sam Harris summed it up well in his statement that “The Left is Irredeemable.” That too may be an exaggeration, but I fear that it is not.

If you think that spontaneously punching Nazis is acceptable, then you must condone the behaviour of those who would arbitrarily assault hijab- or niqab-wearing women or anyone else they might perceive as being Islamofascist.

Was it not the Antifa movement which came up with what is arguably the stupidest and most dangerous meme of the year, if not the century: “Punch a Nazi”? If you think that spontaneously punching Nazis is acceptable, then you must condone the behaviour of those who would arbitrarily assault hijab- or niqab-wearing women or anyone else they might perceive as being Islamofascist. Considering the pseudoleft’s propensity for false positives in their never-ending search for dastardly Nazis, the slogan “Punch a Nazi” is a recipe for universal violence. Even if the person in front of you really is a Nazi, punching him or her is a stupid thing to do, unless in self-defence.

In the events in Quebec City on 2017-08-20, the group which the Antifa opposed (“La Meute”) did not self-identify as far-right. (In this blog I will not comment on a recent event in the USA. To American readers I say: do not be chauvinistic by assuming that the rest of the world is just a reflection of what happens in your country. There was no group of white-supremacists, KKKers or neo-Nazis in Quebec City.) In fact, on their web site, La Meute denies being far-right, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynist, etc. But I think it is obvious they are right-wing, as their name suggests — meaning “The Pack” as in a pack of dogs or wolves — but not neo-Nazi. They are a new group and it is not yet clear just how to characterize them accurately. Nevertheless, the media have already begun labelling them “far-right” or “extreme right.” However the mainstream media, just like the Antifa, have lost all credibility in this area. They are so quick to smear people and groups with such labels that they are clearly incompetent when it comes to positioning anything on the right-left political axis.

Drapeau des Patriotes
Flag of the “Patriotes” from 1830s.
Yellow star & “habitant” added by
Quebec independentists in the 1990s.

At any rate, thanks to the violence of the Antifa and the calm behaviour of La Meute, the latter came off looking more respectable. The Antifa attacked two people (not with La Meute) simply because they were carrying Quebec flags (considered “racist” apparently). One carried the provincial flag, the other the flag of the “Patriotes” who fought in the republican (i.e. anti-monarchist) democratic rebellion of 1837-1838. They injured one of the flag-bearers while chanting « Tout le monde déteste les fascistes » (“Everyone hates fascists”). The Antifa apparently oppose nationalism (although they seem to have no problem with Canadian nationalism) and seem incapable of distinguishing it from fascism. If the Antifa were truly of the left, they would honour the Patriots’ flag, not condemn it.

Before attack by Antifa  After attack by Antifa
Man carrying Patriotes flag,
before and after being attacked by Antifa.
Both images from this video.

It is obvious that the regressive “left” and the Antifa play into the hands of the right by bringing disrepute upon the left. The pseudoleft hyper-polarizes the political field, alienating leftists and centrists and pushing them to ally with those further to the right, pushing them into camps which pseudoleftists may arbitrarily label as far-right. La Meute has undoubtedly garnered a lot of support because our elected officials follow the regressive “left” in adopting a policy of complacency and capitulation with respect to Islamofascism, vilifying anyone who dares to criticize the religion on which it is based.

[…] the regressive “left” and the Antifa play into the hands of the right by bringing disrepute upon the left.

To conclude, the Antifa movement may involve many well-intentioned people, but I see them as colossal jerks at best. I leave the final word to journalist Nicolas Lacroix who describes the Antifa using the delicious expression “Dollarama Che Guevaras.”


Further Reading

Videos


Next blog: Notes on the Regressive Left, Part III: ANTIFA: Kangaroo Court Implemented by a Street Mob

Pride & Shame in Toronto & London

Islamophilia Infests LGBT Pride Marches

2017-07-20, updated 2017-07-22

A report of how pro-Islamist groups have attempted to censor criticism of Islamic homophobia at two recent LGBT pride marches.

Sommaire en français Comment plusieurs groupes pro-Islamist ont essayé de faire taire la critique de l’homophobie islamique lors de deux récents défilés de la fierté LGBT.

Recently two pride marches — in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and in London, England — have been marred by attempts to censor legitimate criticism of Islam, Islamism and Islamic homophobia.

Toronto

At the Toronto event on June 25th, a contingent of Iranian gays and other sexual minorities marched to protest the extreme homophobia of the brutal regime which rules their home country. However, they were almost prevented from doing so by a group of so-called “anti-fascists” as can be seen in the video Leftists call Muslim refugees islamophobic at Toronto Pride. I am not sure what group it was, as Antifa Toronto claims that they were not involved. At any rate, as Maryam Namazie reports:

[…] some ‘anti-fascists’ surrounded Iranian refugees and LGBTQ activists and absurdly chanted ‘No Hate at Pride’ – as if defending LGBTQ people in Iran or countries under Islamic rule is ‘hateful’.

Police intervention ensured that they weren’t able to stop the Iranians from joining Pride as the video below shows.

The irony of “anti-fascist” activists accusing an Iranian holding a sign saying “I am Muslim and condemn the persecution of LGBTQ+ in Islamic countries” of “Islamophobia” was clearly lost on them. It’s just another example of how criticism of Islamism or even Islam is conflated with bigotry against Muslims at the expense of dissenters and to the advantage of Islamists.

Source: In Toronto LGBT Iranians were branded as ‘Islamophobes’

This incident is yet another clear example, as if one were needed, of how use of the censorious accusation of “Islamophobia” enables Islamofascism by making it even more difficult to criticize the excesses of political Islam and Islamist theocracies. In particular this harms the people who are already in a difficult position: gays, other sexual minorities, apostates, etc. who are persecuted by Islam.

Last year (2016) Toronto Pride was disrupted by the organization Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesting the presence of police in the march. BLM activists were successful in forcing Pride organizers to ban police participation, so this year a contingent of Toronto police went all the way to New York City to march in their gay pride parade!

When I was very actively involved in the gay movement back in the 1970s (we quaintly called it “Gay Liberation” in those days), even the thought of police actually participating in our march would have been preposterous. The police were there on duty, only for basic security and control, certainly not as participants. Relations between gays and the police were very strained indeed because the police were often very homophobic and barely tolerated our existence. But times have changed greatly since then.

The 2016 incident with BLM may appear unrelated to this year’s attempt to block Iranian refugees and LGBTQ activists. But the two incidents are indeed related. (1) Firstly, if one consults the list of demands on the web site of BLM-Toronto, we see that the demand “END ISLAMOPHOBIA & WHITE SUPREMACY” features prominently. That statement is extremely problematic for two reasons: it declares “Islamophobia” to be something one should fight against, which is nonsense, because there is nothing irrational or objectionable about fearing a dangerous religion such as Islam (or Christianity, or several others). Even worse, the statement lumps “white supremacy” — which indeed is a very dangerous and reprehensible form of racism — in with it. Such an inconsistent and ridiculous demand shows that whoever prepared the list is not even clear about what racism is, because a religion has nothing to do with race. How can we support an ostensibly anti-racist organization which is so evidently incompetent? (2) Secondly, Toronto police were involved in both incidents.

When so-called “anti-racist” and “anti-fascist” groups take actions which are more regressive than those of the police, then it is time for the leaders and members of those groups to undertake some serious reflection.

In both incidents, a group denouncing “Islamophobia” and thus showing its affinity with the regressive pro-Islamist “left” disrupted or attempted to disrupt the event. In both incidents, Toronto police took a position which was ironically more progressive than that of either BLM or the “antifas.” In the first incident police wanted to march for gay rights but were prevented. In the second they intervened and allowed the Iranians to march for gay rights. When so-called “anti-racist” and “anti-fascist” groups take actions which are more regressive than those of the police, then it is time for the leaders and members of those groups to undertake some serious reflection.

London

Meanwhile, across the pond in London, events transpired which somewhat resembled those in Toronto two weeks earlier. The group Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain marched in the July 8th Pride parade carrying banners with slogans such as “ALLAH IS GAY,” “FUCK ISLAMIC HOMOPHOBIA,” and my personal favourite “WE’RE HERE, WE’RE KAFFIR, GET USED TO IT.” (The term “kaffir” or “kafir” means a non-Muslim or an apostate of Islam.) It was a great success, as can be seen in the video The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) participates in Pride and in the report on the CEMB web site. CEMB’s participation was not blocked, although “police initially tried to remove placards with the slogan ‘Allah is Gay’ because of complaints of ‘offence’.”

More negative reactions came quickly in the aftermath of the march. The East London Mosque was so upset that it filed a formal complaint with Pride festival organizers. They of course denounced CEMB’s participation as “Islamophobic” and they criticized placards naming the Mosque as promoting homophobia. And they were particularly irate about the “ALLAH IS GAY” slogan.

Now, the slogan “Allah is gay” is of course meaningless, because Allah is a fictional character. It is like saying, “Superman likes blueberries” or “Thor is left-handed.” Nevertheless, it is a very useful slogan because it exposes homophobia. Indeed, the very fact that the East London Mosque was so offended by it means that they are homophobic, because they consider that calling their god gay is shameful. But in reality, it is the other way around. It is insulting to gays to be associated with such a distasteful character as Allah. But we know he is fictional, so we are not offended. And even if he were real, that would not justify censorship of the slogan.

The mosque accused CEMB of inciting hatred of Muslims, which of course they were not at all doing. CEMB was simply denouncing homophobia — and sometimes very violent and even deadly homophobia — based on Islam and enforced by theocratic regimes. As Maryam Namazie, speaking for CEMB in an email, declared:

the very reason CEMB was at Pride was to combat hate and to highlight the 13 states under Islamic rule that kill gay men (14 if we include Daesh-held territories). We included placards on the East London mosque to bring attention to the fact that there are mosques here in Britain that promote the death penalty for homosexuality and apostasy.

As ex-Muslims, we are at risk from hate preachers that speak at some mosques and universities; our gay members are at an increased risk.

The East London Mosque has a long history of hosting hate preachers who incite against blasphemers, apostates and homosexuals so we felt naming and shaming them was very apt.

Unfortunately, Pride organizers have so far reacted badly, denouncing CEMB. In the words of a spokesperson:

“All volunteers, staff and parade groups agree that Pride celebrates diversity and will not tolerate any discrimination of any kind. While our parade has always been a home to protest, which often means conflicting points of view, Pride must always be a movement of acceptance, diversity and unity. We will not tolerate Islamophobia.”

Evidently, the organizers do not accept a diversity of opinion and have bought into the dishonest propaganda of those who use accusations of “Islamophobia” as a form of bullying to silence legitimate criticism of Islamic ideology.

But CEMB has fought back rapidly, declaring that ‘They are trying to silence us’. Speaking for CEMB, Maryam Namazie said:

“Why are signs critical of Islam (a belief) and Islamism (a far-right political movement) ‘anti-Muslim’?” Muslims are people, with as many different opinions as anyone else. They are not a homogeneous group but individuals. Some will agree with us, others won’t. In fact, several Muslims visiting from Bangladesh joined us. The incredible support we received from minorities in the crowd cheering us on is a reflection of that. Not everyone was offended. And offence can never be a reason to censor and silence dissent.”

“[…] the climate we live in where bullies and homophobes are rewarded and victims blamed.”

As for the East London Mosque:

“The fact that […] their complaint is taken seriously by Pride speaks volumes about the climate we live in where bullies and homophobes are rewarded and victims blamed. The real problem for them is that we are ex-Muslims. We are not allowed to speak or show ourselves or challenge views that degrade and denigrate us.”

Apostasy is a Human Right!

Bravo to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and to Iranian and other Muslim refugees who support LGBT rights! And shame on all those who attempt to silence criticism of Islam or Islamism! Freedom for Muslim gays and other sexual minorities and freedom for ex-Muslims whose only “crime” is to exercise their freedom of conscience!


Next blog: Quebec’s Right to Self-Determination

Notes on the Regressive Left, Part I

…or perhaps it should be called the “fake left”…

2017-05-06, modified 2017-05-07

This blog was also published in the Q2 2017 issue of Secular World, magazine of Atheist Alliance International, pages 19-22.

Some thoughts about the so-called “regressive left” and how its infatuation with communitarianism and its complacency towards Islamism enable and strengthen right-wing political parties.

Sommaire en français Quelques réflexions au sujet de la soi-disant « gauche régressive » et comment son engouement pour le communautarisme et sa complaisance envers l’islamisme confortent et renforcent les partis politiques de droite.

The “regressive left” is a recently invented term, apparently coined by British anti-Islamism activist Maajid Nawaz in 2012. Wikipedia defines the term as:

a political epithet, used as a pejorative to describe a section of left-wing politics who are accused of paradoxically holding reactionary views by their tolerance of illiberal principles and ideologies, particularly tolerance of Islamism, for the sake of multiculturalism and cultural relativism.

Wikipedia entry Regressive Left

The expression “regressive left” is imperfect for a variety of reasons:

  • Perhaps a more appropriate term would be the “multicultural left” or even better the “communitarian left,” keeping in mind that the word “multiculturalism” sounds much too positive for what it really means, i.e. an ideology which assigns a higher priority to ethno-religious affiliation (hence the near-synonym “communitarianism”) than it does to individual rights or citizenship. Or how about the “Islamophilic left” or the “Islamolatric left”?
  • The use of the word “left” is confusing to say the least. The regressive “left” betrays classic left-wing values, and, by doing so, discredits the left and indirectly enables and strengthens the political right.
  • This expression is of recent invention, as if the left only recently began making mistakes. But all movements, even the most progressive, are capable of error and there are plenty of examples from the annals of left-wing politics. Just consider all the various derivatives of Marxism having totalitarian tendencies, in particular Stalinism and its variants. There is no shortage of examples of “regressive” policies in that tortuous history.
  • The Wikipedia definition given above is perhaps too narrow. There are, for example, some political tendencies which reject multiculturalism but adopt nevertheless an overly indulgent attitude towards Islamism. Furthermore, the Wikipedia definition omits the fact that some regressive leftists—in particular self-styled “anti-fascists”—regularly misuse and overuse the epithet “fascism” by using it to demonize almost anyone they dislike or disagree with.

So let’s call it the regressive left for now, but with the understanding that the search for a better term should probably continue. (I have a similar attitude towards the word “Islamofascism”—it is not perfect, i.e. probably too modern a term to describe totalitarian political Islam which is in reality more medieval than fascist—but will do for now. At least it has the merit of defying the regressive left’s attempts to monopolize use of the epithet “fascism.”)

The regressive left is not a well-circumscribed sub-movement within left-wing movements in general. Rather it is a mentality, a collection of attitudes which infects left-wing thought and distorts it in the direction of cultural relativism and tolerance of Islamism.

Whatever term you prefer, it describes a very real phenonemon which regrettably is all too commonplace. Any time a person who criticizes Islam or Islamism (the religion and political ideology) is accused of “Islamophobia” or “xenophobia” or “racism” then the accuser, if not an Islamist himself or herself, is clearly behaving in a regressive leftist manner and as a dupe of Islamofascism. The recent (2015) niqab issue here in Canada is an obvious example. Anyone who supported a ban on face-coverings at citizenship hearings was accused of racism even by leaders of the supposedly left-wing NDP (New Democratic Party). There are plenty of examples from other countries. Any ostensible leftist who celebrates the wearing of the hijab in the name of so-called “diversity” is a mouthpiece for the regressive left.

Canada is a very easy target for regressive-left ideas, a total pushover in fact. The reason is obvious: Canada is ground-zero for the ideology of multiculturalism, …

Canada is a very easy target for regressive-left ideas, a total pushover in fact. The reason is obvious: Canada is ground-zero for the ideology of multiculturalism, promoted by Pierre-Elliott Trudeau in his heyday and continuing to be very influential, indeed totally dominant, to the point that the federal government even has a Canadian Multiculturalism Act, enacted under one of Trudeau’s successors, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and giving that ideology force of law. This gives the regressive left a stranglehold over politics in Canada and greatly hampers efforts to secularize.

By virtue of its subservience to communitarianism and cultural relativism, the regressive left is resolutely anti-secular and that is clear from the sorry state of Canadian politics. Here are three major examples:

  1. During the debate over the Quebec Charter of Secularism in 2013-2014, the major opposition came from a de facto alliance between multiculturalists (principally of the Quebec Liberal Party and of Québec Solidaire) and Islamists or fundamentalist Muslims, while the Charter was supported by practically all secularists in Quebec (including many secular Muslims). However, several so-called “secular” organizations in Canada outside Quebec—obviously in thrall to regressive left ideas—issued public statements against the Charter. Fortunately, there were also a few who were more sympathetic to the Charter.
  2. During the 2015 niqab debate (mentioned above), the Conservative Party government’s response to the court decision allowing Zunera Ishaq to wear the niqab at her citizenship ceremony was inadequate, merely appealing the court’s decision, whereas that government should have made legislative changes (such as repealing article 17.1.b of the Citizenship Regulations). On the other hand, the “left” NDP and centrist Liberal Party took an even worse position, a position to the right of the government, a position which facilitated the Islamist agenda, praising the court’s decision and celebrating the wearing of the niqab, even at a citizenship ceremony!
  3. In early 2017, opposition to Motion M-103 condemning so-called “Islamophobia” came mainly from the Conservative Party, while the NDP and Liberal party supported it.

Since the regressive left is “left” more in name than in reality, adopting as it does a foolishly complacent attitude towards an ideology that is far to the right of even the more far-right parties in most countries, it creates confusion between left-wing and right-wing politics, thus strengthening the right and the far-right. For example, in the current French presidential campaign, Emmanuel Macron has declared (2016-10-05) that there is no religion which is problematic in France. No problem!? Such complacency can only strengthen his rival Marine Le Pen of the Front National.

This left-right political confusion can be readily observed in Canada in cases (2) and (3) described above. The right-wing Conservative Party offered some resistance to Islamofascist proselytism (the niqab and M-103), while the left-wing NDP and centrist Liberal Party took very regressive positions, to the right of the right-wing Conservatives on this issue, by enthusiastically supporting Islamofascism. This does not imply that we should support the Conservative Party! We must instead advance a principled critique of the very regressive position adopted by the other two parties.

Probably the worst blunder of all, the error frequently committed by Canadian pseudo-secularists, an error which is typical of the regressive left, is to oppose a measure because it has become associated with a particular unpopular political tendency, without regard to the merit or demerit of that measure: for example, celebrating the niqab because the Conservatives opposed it, or supporting M-103 because the Conservatives criticize it. This error is just a variant of the ad hominem logical fallacy or the guilt by association fallacy.

“My country right or wrong” is clearly a bad idea; just replace “country” by “left-wing buddies” and you have a recipe for blunders.

Just because you dislike or oppose the Conservative Party does not mean that everything they say or do is always wrong or that their opponents are always right. If Donald Trump says that an object is black, does that guarantee that it is white? (If that is how your mind works, then you are as stupid as Trump.) Exaggerated loyalty to one’s “tribe” can be very dangerous; if that tribe is one’s race or ethnic group, then we have the basis for racism and ethnic bigotry. If that “tribe” is the political left, then such loyalty can easily promote regressive left memes. “My country right or wrong” is clearly a bad idea; just replace “country” by “left-wing buddies” and you have a recipe for blunders.

To summarize, to criticize the regressive left (or centre) and recognize that it sometimes takes a position even more retrograde, more right-wing than even the parties of the political right does not mean that we should support the latter. Rather, it implies that we must resolutely criticize the regressive left whose foolish actions discredit and weaken the left and ultimately strengthen the right wing. It is only by refuting erroneous ideas and actions on the political left that we can make the left truly progressive.


Next blog: Notes on Racism, Part I

Fools Against “Islamophobia”

How the Regressive Left Neutralizes the Gay Movement

2017-01-29

In this blog I present two examples of LGBT activists who, instead of pursuing the necessary fight against religious homophobia, become dupes of the imposture of “Islamophobia.”

Sommaire en français Dans le présent blogue je donne deux exemples de militants LGBT qui, au lieu de faire la nécessaire lutte à l’homophobie religieuse, se font duper par l’imposture de l’« islamophobie ».

First, a quick reminder of the horrific event in Orlando, Florida, last June, as described by Wikipedia:

On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist attack/hate crime inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, United States. […] It was both the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in United States history. It was also the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since the September 11 attacks in 2001. In a 9-1-1 call shortly after the shooting began, Mateen swore allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and said the shooting was “triggered” by the U.S. killing of Abu Waheeb in Iraq the previous month.

Thus we have a massacre, an act of murderous terrorism, motivated primarily by Islamism and homophobia.

Now consider the following quotation taken from a “Solidarity Statement from LGBTIQ communities against Islamophobia” issued by the AIDS Network of several southwestern Ontario communities and co-signed by dozens of gay, lesbian and other organizations from Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and other localities in Ontario. (A copy of the document is also available here.) The statement, dated June 24th 2016, less than two weeks after the Orlando atrocity, declares:

We issue this statement against Islamophobia and in support of Muslim communities across Ontario. In the early hours of Sunday, June 12, 2016, (7 Ramadan, 1437), in Orlando, Florida, 49 people were killed and 53 people wounded in a shooting at a nightclub popular with members of the LGBTIQ communities. Most of those killed were LGBTIQ People of Colour, primarily Latino and Black. […] For people in LGBTIQ communities who identify as Muslim, this past week has also been particularly challenging as they deal with the shock and pain of the attack on LGBTQ people as well as facing the fear of increased racial profiling and Islamophobia. […] There has been a rise in hate speech against Muslims. Some are using this attack on LGBTIQ people to justify their racism and Islamophobia. […]

So let us summarize: An atrocious act of religiously motivated homophobia occurs, and what do these Ontario organizations do: they issue a statement in support of co-religionists of the perpetrator of the act, because somehow, in their warped imaginations, the possibility of antipathy towards those who practice Islam is worse than murdering gays in the name of Islam. They even give the Islamic date of the attack! Disgusting.

Imagine if a Christian fanatic, motivated by their faith, were to attack an abortion clinic, killing and wounding dozens of doctors, nurses and patients, and suppose that feminists, instead of condemning Christian misogyny and asserting their support for women’s right to control their own reproduction, were instead to sympathize with those poor Christians who might have to suffer dirty looks from their neighbours for the next few days because of resentment over this act. The total inversion (and perversion) of priorities here is obvious.

The appropriate response to the Orlando terrorist attack should have been, and was, for those of us who preserved our sanity, to denounce religious homophobia in general and Muslim homophobia in particular. Islam does not deserve special treatment any more favorable that Christianity receives. Islamic homophobia is just as virulent as Christian homophobia, and arguably much more so currently. Just as we categorically and resolutely condemn Christian homophobia, Islamic homophobia deserves at least similar condemnation.

LGBT Against Islamophobia at Birmingham Pride 2015Click to view full size
Source: LGBT Against Islamophobia

Another example: Consider the photo on the right found on the web site of LGBT Against Islamophobia. We see a bunch of colourful people at Birmingham Pride 2015 carrying a banner denouncing “Islamophobia,” “racism” and “fascism” and promoting “diversity.” It must be pointed out that:

  1. The term “Islamophobia” is obvious bullshit, a word whose purpose is to censor criticism of Islam.
  2. The word “racism” is inappropriate here because Islam is a religion and has nothing to do with race.
  3. The term “fascism” is worse than inappropriate, indeed it is hypocritical, because fundamentalist Islam is every bit as totalitarian as fascism, indeed more so.
  4. Furthermore, “diversity” is just a nonsense buzzword whose true meaning is that if you disagree with the previous sentiments, you will be accused of xenophobia or racism or worse. In the age of Islamophilia, the word “diversity” has become a form of bullying just like the other three words.

Fortunately, some clever individual had the perspicacity to take the Birmingham photo and join another relevant photo to it. Here is the result:

Gays for Islam, Islam for GaysClick to view full size
Gays for Islam, Islam for Gays

Blasphemy in the XXIst Century

The obsession with “Islamophobia” and similar specious accusations are used by the regressive left to silence necessary criticism of Islam and Islamism (the latter being a subset of the former). The accusation is a modern form of censorship of blasphemy, where the ban is enforced using intimidation. This bullying has effectively neutralized entire sections of the gay rights movement (but fortunately not all, see below) and other progressive movements.

Those who practise this form of bullying are partially responsible for the current wave of events such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, both of which were motivated in part by a desire for popular sovereignty, the ability of the people to have some control over their condition (i.e. democracy), a concept which has been denigrated and vilified by the regressive left by associating nationalism and populism totally with racism and xenophobia. In the words of Sohrab Ahmari of the Wall Street Journal:

[…] freedom of movement is unraveling now because liberals won central debates—about Islamism, social cohesion and nationalism. Rather than give ground on any of these fronts, they accused opponents of being phobic and reactionary. Now liberals are reaping the rewards of those underhanded victories.

[…]

For too many liberals, every Islamist atrocity was cause to fret about the “Islamophobic” backlash it was sure to trigger. This had become an almost an automatic reflex: When a jihadist would go boom somewhere, liberal hashtags expressing solidarity with threatened Muslim minorities were never far behind. But liberals didn’t bother nearly as much about the pathologies in Muslim communities, and in Islamic civilization itself, that were producing so much carnage. Some liberals would sooner abandon their own feminist and gay-rights orthodoxies than criticize what imams in certain suburbs of Paris and London were telling their congregations about Afghanistan and defending the honor of the ummah.

How Liberals Killed the Freedom of Movement

Where Ahmari refers to “liberals,” he is talking of course about regressive liberals. (In the USA, where there is basically no political left left, the term “liberal” is about as far left as one can generally go.)


An Appropriate Response

As mentioned above, the appropriate response to the Orlando terrorist attack should have been to denounce religious homophobia in general and Muslim homophobia in particular. That is indeed what I and my friends of the group LGBT pour la laïcité (LGBT for Secularism) did at the Montreal Gay Pride march in August of 2016, about a month after the Orlando atrocity. In the photo below you can see the banner of the group with the slogan “L’HOMOPHOBIE RELIGIEUSE TUE” or “RELIGIOUS HOMOPHOBIA KILLS.”

LGBT for Secularism in 2016 Montreal Pride ParadeClick to view full size
Contingent of the group LGBT pour la laïcité (LGBT for Secularism)
in the 2016 Montreal Pride Parade


Next blog: The Quebec City Attack: Some Context

More Dubious Words

2017-01-16

In a previous blog Dubious Words I presented several words and expressions which should be used with caution, or never used at all, and which should be met with suspicion when used by others, the worst being “Islamophobia.” In this blog I present several more expressions whose meaning has been corrupted by bad usage, usually by what has become known as the “regressive left.”

Sommaire en français Dans un blogue précédent Dubious Words j’ai présenté plusieurs expressions douteuses, qu’il faudrait éviter ou utiliser avec précaution, et qui devraient inspirer de la méfiance si utilisées par les autres, la pire étant la soi-disant « islamophobie ». Dans le présent blogue je présente encore plusieurs termes dont le sens a été corrompu par une surutilisation et par le galvaudage, surtout par ce que l’on appelle courramment la « gauche régressive ».

Clash of Civilizations

The origin of this expression is the title of a 1993 article in the magazine Foreign Affairs and a subsequent book, both by political scientist Samuel P. Huntington who hypothesized that “people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world.” (See the Wikipedia article Clash of Civilizations or in French Le Choc des civilisations.)

This expression has come to be used—typically by regressive leftists and Islamophiliacs—to denigrate anyone who sees Islam or Islamism (a subset of Islam) as threats. In other words, it is used by those who, through intellectual sloth or political cowardice or whatever reason, refuse to criticize political Islam, in order to bully and dismiss those who do dare to criticize it. It has become another weapon in the arsenal of the regressive left, along with “Islamophobia,” “xenophobia,” “racism” and similar terms. To say that someone is a proponent of the clash of civilizations is basically a euphemism for calling them a racist or a xenophobe.

It is interesting to note the role which essentialism plays here. To say that someone has a “clash of civilizations” mentality is akin to accusing them of seeing Muslims as essentially dangerous and backward, unable to adapt to modernity. And yet regressive leftists themselves display a similar essentialist attitude, but they draw the opposite conclusion: Muslims (which they conflate with Islamists) cannot adapt; therefore we must accommodate them (for example by allowing the veil everywhere).

Populism

In recent years, this term has been used in an increasingly pejorative sense, identifying it with right-wing or extreme right-wing movements, likes hordes of angry degenerates enthralled by dangerous and manipulative demagogues. This demonizes people in general. Demonization is rarely if ever appropriate because it stifles reflexion and debate about the causes of the behaviour being demonized.

In and of itself, populism is neither good nor bad, neither left nor right politically. It simply means appealing to the interests or perceived interests of the common people. That appeal may be either left-wing or right-wing or neither. Populism may appeal to the best in people—a desire for justice and equality, for example—or it may exploit baser instincts, or it may be somewhere between these two poles.

Populism, like diversity, like tolerance, is neither virtue nor vice. It can only be judged in context.

Fascism

This word is vastly overused. Accusing one’s political adversaries of being fascists or, worse, nazis (i.e. extreme fascists) is an all-too-frequent form of abuse. Regressive leftists exploit this term in order to target anyone who does not share their uncritical attitude towards Islamism and Islam. According to historian Roger Griffin who has specialized in this area, fascism is a modern political ideology which favours an ultranationalist revolution in order to restore the nation to some (probably imaginary) glorious past. Although Donald Trump’s program meets these criteria partially, he is nevertheless NOT a fascist because the revolutionary aspect is missing.

This raises the question of radical, political Islam. Is the term “Islamofascism” reasonable? The late Christopher Hitchens certainly thought so in his 2007 article Defending Islamofascism. It’s a valid term. Here’s why. So does Hamed Abdel-samad, author of the book Islamic Fascism. However Griffin prefers a stricter definition: in his opinion, the term “Islamofascism” is inaccurate for two reasons: (1) it refers to Islam while it should refer to Islamism; and (2) fascism refers to a modern movement based on nationalism more than religion whereas Islamism is an early medieval religious ideology unrelated to nationalism. The first point is indisputable, whereas the second leaves room for debate.

Despite its shortcomings, the use of “Islamofascism” has at least one major advantage: it defies the regressive left’s attempts to monopolize the term “fascism” for its own tendentious purposes!

Values (or lack thereof)

The question of values was raised during the 2013-2014 debate over the Charter of Secularism proposed by the previous Quebec government. The preliminary name of that legislation, before the final text was released, was the Charter of Quebec Values and the use of the word “values” was denounced by critics of the Charter, as if there could be something wrong with having societal values. Indeed, some opponents of the Charter continue to refer to it by its preliminary name, rather than its official name “Charter affirming the values of secularism and religious neutrality of the state and equality between women and men and governing accommodation requests” for the obvious reason that they want to continue to bash the concept of Quebec values.

More recently, Conservative Party leadership candidate Kellie Leitch has attracted a lot of flack for her proposal to screen would-be immigrants and refugees for “anti-Canadian values.” Leitch was soundly criticized for what many saw as a repeat of her promotion, during the 2015 election campaign, of a Conservative proposal to establish a tip line for so-called “barbaric cultural practices.” Both Leitch’s Canadian values and the Quebec values of the Charter of Secularism were criticized as right-wing measures, whereas in reality the Quebec Charter was motivated by Enlightenment values traditionally defended by the left (but currently abandoned by parts of the left). In both cases, criticism came mainly from Islamophiliacs, i.e. those who impose a taboo on criticism of Islam or Islamism.

Finally, Justin Trudeau, Canada’s most famous bimbo and, coincidentally, its Prime Minister, added his own particularly vapid point of view to this debate when, in a December 2015 New York Times article Trudeau’s Canada, Again he opined that “There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada” and that Canada is “the first postnational state.” Canada, the uncountry.

Cutting through the bullshit, we need to get real. There is nothing wrong with having societal values. There is nothing wrong with having a core identity. The question is: What values? What identity? Where do those values come from and how are they manifested? When the mere mention of the question of values leads to passionate opposition and knee-jerk vilification, then reasoned debate becomes impossible. In my opinion, a lack of values or a lack of core identity is no vision for a country.


Next blog: Fools Against “Islamophobia”