Friday, May 18, 2007

Islam's 'nannies'

Islam, the Muslim world, Arabs, do not need nannies: the people that refuse any criticism directed at their supposedly vulnerable 'charges'.

Rather the Muslim world needs, and has, intellectuals - frank, outspoken, critical, creative thinkers.

The Islamic civilisation is 14 centuries old; it long ago reached maturity - the age of reason - so it can be expected to speak for itself, defend itself where it must, partake in intelligent debate, and enjoy trading friendly insults with its detractors and critics even when the situation becomes heated. The nannies, ('well-meaning' they might call themselves, but ignorance comes in all guises), say they are looking after/protecting what is fragile, disliked and misunderstood. These people are not doing their charges any favours.

Some of the spokespeople, thinkers, politicians, from the Muslim world might sound a bit cruder, may dress a little more vulgarly, and their jokes might be in bad taste for some, but so be it. This is a debate between adults, whereas the nannies want to promote their precious babies to the spotlight and censor the mean and harsh questions from the floor. So in the stead of the big people who are complex and often contradictory, the way big people are, we have cossetted babies; and the little people, as cute as they sometimes are, stick to baby talk: Islam is evil, say the childish detractors. No, we object! chorus the toddlers, Islam is good; you are bad!

Are we still in the nursery? Is this the level of the so-called debate between 'Islam and the West'? If Islam's self-appointed nannies want to produce an opponent for Richard Dawkins, he of the badly researched and silly book, God Delusion, or for Ayaan Hirsi Ali (ditto) then they must produce, it seems, a child at his or her level. But if neither one of the opponents should be considered to have even graduated from high school of religious and identity politics, they don't deserve to be in the fucking debating society in the first place, and we, the intelligent public, must demand qualified debaters.

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