Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.


Recent Comments

Monthly Archives

Most recent entries


Advanced Search

Other Blogs I write for

Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

CNE Competition
CNE Intellectual Property
Transport Blog


2 Blowhards
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alan Little
Albion's Seedling
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Alex Singleton
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Biased BBC
Bishop Hill
Bloggers Blog
Blognor Regis
Blowing Smoke
Boatang & Demetriou
Boing Boing
Boris Johnson
Brazen Careerist
Bryan Appleyard
Burning Our Money
Cafe Hayek
Charlie's Diary
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
Chicago Boyz
China Law Blog
Cicero's Songs
City Comforts
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Clay Shirky
Climate Resistance
Climate Skeptic
Coffee & Complexity
Coffee House
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Contra Niche
Contrary Brin
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Скрипучая беседка
Dave Barry
Davids Medienkritik
David Thompson
Deleted by tomorrow
diamond geezer
Dizzy Thinks
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
Dr Robert Lefever
Dr. Weevil
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
English Cut
English Russia
EU Referendum
Ezra Levant
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Flickr blog
Freeborn John
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
Fugitive Ink
Future Perfect
Gaping Void
Gates of Vienna
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Idiot Toys
India Uncut
Jackie Danicki
James Delingpole
James Fallows
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Jihad Watch
Joanne Jacobs
Johan Norberg
John Redwood
Jonathan's Photoblog
Kristine Lowe
Laissez Faire Books
Last of the Few
Lessig Blog
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Alone
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
listen missy
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Mad Housewife
Mangan's Miscellany
Marginal Revolution
Mark Wadsworth
Media Influencer
Melanie Phillips
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael Jennings
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
Mick Hartley
More Than Mind Games
mr eugenides
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Natalie Solent
Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
NO2ID NewsBlog
Non Diet Weight Loss
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
Oddity Central
Oliver Kamm
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
Picking Losers
Pigeon Blog
Police Inspector Blog
Power Line
Private Sector Development blog
Publius Pundit
Rachel Lucas
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Rob's Blog
Setting The World To Rights
Shane Greer
Shanghaiist The Violin Blog
Sinclair's Musings
Slipped Disc
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stephen Fry
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Style Bubble
Sunset Gun
Survival Arts
Susan Hill
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Agitator
The AntRant
The Becker-Posner Blog
The Belgravia Dispatch
The Belmont Club
The Big Blog Company
The Big Picture
the blog of dave cole
The Corridor of Uncertainty (a Cricket blog)
The Croydonian
The Daily Ablution
The Devil's Advocate
The Devil's Kitchen
The Dissident Frogman
The Distributed Republic
The Early Days of a Better Nation
The Examined Life
The Filter^
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Futurist
The Happiness Project
The Jarndyce Blog
The London Fog
The Long Tail
The Lumber Room
The Online Photographer
The Only Winning Move
The Policeman's Blog
The Road to Surfdom
The Sharpener
The Speculist
The Surfer
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
things magazine
Tim Blair
Tim Harford
Tim Worstall
Transterrestrial Musings
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Unqualified Offerings
Violins and Starships
Virginia Postrel
we make money not art
What Do I Know?
What's Up With That?
Where the grass is greener
White Sun of the Desert
Why Evolution Is True
Your Freedom and Ours


Mainstream Media

The Sun
This is London


RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0


Billion Monkeys
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Career counselling
Cats and kittens
Civil liberties
Classical music
Computer graphics
Current events
Digital photographers
Emmanuel Todd
Expression Engine
Food and drink
Getting old
How the mind works
Intellectual property
Kevin Dowd
Latin America
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
My blog ruins
My photographs
Open Source
Other creatures
Pop music
Quote unquote
Roof clutter
Science fiction
Signs and notices
Social Media
South America
The internet
The Micklethwait Clock
This and that
This blog

Saturday October 14 2006

I suppose Europe used this weapon for many centuries.  To get away from depressing circumstances at home, Europe’s younger sons sought escape from the frustrations of Europe, at the expense of more settled, more prosperous, and less turbulent societies.

Now North Korea threatens its neighbours with all the refugees that a North Koren collapse would unleash, thus taking away the threat to induce such collapse.  This refugee threat counts for far more than some half-baked Bomb, which one well-aimed and properly baked bomb could take out in minutes.

Less deliberate, but just as depressing to a European (because on a massively bigger scale), is the way that “moderate” Muslims flee from rancid governmental nastiness and dispiriting economic lassitude in the regular Muslim countries, but bring with them the very Islamic memes that did so much to cause the misery they flee from.  The non-separation of Church and State.  The worship of the Koran, and the constant threat that not so moderate sons and grandsons will read it and actually take it seriously.  The fact that when said sons and grandsons do go crazy, the Koran gives their “moderate” parents and grandparents no arguments against Islamo-craziness.  Muslims may be overwhelmingly moderate in their lives and conduct, and in most of their opinions, but the most important things they say that they believe are not moderate.  They have got to stop saying these things.  Or, some of them, at least, should, at least, challenge them.  And live to go on challenging.

Until “moderate” Muslims start explicitly criticising their wretched Prophet – “He may very well have said that, but that doesn’t make it right” – then Muslims, however moderate, constitute an offensive threat to any non-Muslim society into which the immigrate in numbers beyond trivial.

This was what I found so disappointing about Yasmin Alibhai-Brown when I listened to her arguing and conversing with Iain Dale, while I sat between them last Wednesday evening on 18DS TV.

Alibhai-Brown said a lot of incidental stuff that I agree with, like: immigrants tend to work harder than lazy fat stupid white men on welfare, and: London is a great city.  But her central proposition was that terrorism is not the fault of moderate Muslims.  Absolutely nothing to do with them.  Yet: We are being blamed! Yes you are, and now I’m doing it again.

Now fair enough, Alibhai-Brown has said enough against the Islamo-nutters to provoke death threats from them, apparently, so good for her.  But her argument is that Westerners who blame Islam - i.e. her and all her moderate, civilised Muslim friends - for the Islamo-craziness, have no case, and are as bad in their way as the Islamo-crazies.  That was what she said.

Consider Alibhai-Brown’s argument against the burqa, the veil etc., and her reason, therefore, for siding with Jack Straw in the Great Veil Debate.  She made much of the fact that Muhammed himself apparently didn’t insist on the veil.  If the argument is only about the rights and wrongs of veil-wearing, then if you can sign The Prophet Muhammed up to your team, you are far better placed to win.  But in so doing, you reinforce the proposition that Muslims should all continue to be ruled by the pronouncements of this long dead brute.

The really important moment will come when some “Muslim” says that even if Muhammed did favour the veil, so bloody what? If Muhammed was for it, then so much the worse for Muhammed.  It’s still stupid and demeaning to women, and a piece of male chauvinist piggery.  (If that’s what it is.  It looks more like a trick to avoid being identified to me, like an IRA balaclava, and as such rather different.  But that’s not my point here.)

The equivalent debate in the Cold War was when people started denouncing not just Stalin, for “betraying” Marxism-Leninism, but Marx and Lenin for having cooked up the evil brew in the first place, and acknowledging that Stalin did not betray Marxism-Leninism; he simply did it.  That was when the writing was on the wall for the old USSR, and it began its long, slow struggle to get from barbaric mess to civilisation and civility.  That was the ideological dagger to its heart.

Now it may be that Alibhai-Brown has said this kind of thing, that is to say its equivalent in her debate.  I haven’t read everything she has written, to put it mildly.  In fact, all I have to go on with this lady is what I hastily read when preparing to go on the inter-telly with her, and what she then said on the night.  If she has taken a genuine swipe at the worship of Muhammed, then that really would count for something.  That really would be to separate Muslim culture from Islamic worship.  But she didn’t do this last Wednesday evening.  Not a whiff of that.

There are obvious differences between the Islam-versus-The-Rest argument and the Communism-versus-Civilisation argument, such as the fact that whereas Marx and Lenin had no excuses for their disgustingness, Muhammed did have a very good excuse for being a bastard.  He lived in the seventh century!  Everybody did things the way he did, if they could, in those days!  So hats off to Muhammed for writing a very effective success book, suited to the needs of its time.  It’s bollocks of course.  There is no God.  Muhammed is not his Prophet.  But saying that there was and you were was the kind of thing you said in those times, if you wanted to make friends and influence people, so that all your friends could then help you to subjugate or kill your enemies.

But worshipping all this bloodthirsty crap now is something else again.  This is the current evil.  And the moderate Muslim, the most impeccably well-behaved citizen of Western Europe, who would be personally horrified if the political arrangements that he or his forebears fled from were to spread to his new home, is all part of those arrangements spreading.  Signing up to Islam, however sensible you think it may be, means worshipping everything in the Koran, whether you yourself read it or not.  That means your crazy teenage son, when he’s looking for weapons to compete with you and to rule or ruin the world, reaching for the Koran.  Only when the Koran is dethroned down to being a mere book, written a very long time ago by a very ambitious and aggressive bloke with an absurdly vivid imagination and lots of very gullible and belligerent followers, is this going to stop.

And at present, when it comes to this necessary process, “moderate” Muslims are not the solution; they are the problem.

Excellent post!

One thing.  At the beginning you say: “To get away from depressing circumstances at home, Europe’s younger sons sought escape from the frustrations of Europe, at the expense of more settled, more prosperous, and less turbulent societies. “

Did they?  If so, when?  Surely after the Industrial Revolution took off Europe was by far the most prosperous continent.

Oh, another thing.  It seems to me that the greatest barrier to the emergence of moderate ex-Muslims is the ban on apostasy.  How can we expect people to do sensible things when they run the risk of being killed for doing so?

Posted by Patrick Crozier on 15 October 2006

That’s easy for an atheist to say (and I am one, I think).  We don’t expect Christians to say “I don’t care that Jesus said x,y,z.  He was wrong.” Why should we expect Muslims to do so?  If they did, they wouldn’t be Muslims would they?  No, all we can expect from muslims is that they contort their minds sufficiently to simultaneously be Muslims and yet also decent “Westerners”.  Be it moderation, compromise, reinterpration or just good old-fashioned hypocrisy: it doesn’t matter how they do it, just that they do.  But to ask them to explicitly deny their prophet’s teachings is to ask them to stop being Muslims.

Posted by Charles Pooter on 15 October 2006

I don’t agree with half of this. I think moderate - the late Zaki Badawi preferred the term ‘mainstream’ - Muslims are not a problem, they’re just not heard.

Posted by Framescourer on 16 October 2006


I take your point that my use of the word “Muslim” to describe people who reject the religious tenets, as opposed to broader culture that they were raised with, was wrong.  However, we now don’t have the right word, perhaps because if anyone says they are this, they risk death threats or worse.

My label for myself, in this respect, is: Church of England Atheist.

As to the tactics of the thing, it may be too much to expect Muslims to do everything I ask, but one of the principles of effective propaganda is to ask for everything you want.  That way you are far more likely to get something than if you merely ask for something.  I want “Muslims” - or whatever one calls people raised as Muslims but rejecting Islam’s demand to be submitted to - to dump the Koran as a commanding force in their lives.  I want them to treat it the way I treat the Bible – interesting, often inspiring, a great story, but not the ruler of me.  And I say so.

In a world filled with that opinion, claims that the Koran is nice and cuddly, and that non-cuddly Muslims betray the Koran, are far more likely to be asserted, vehemently and effectively, complete with assistance to the police in their investigations, if only because such an opinion will seem middle-of-the-road.  I think that this compromise is woefully insufficient, and I will continue to regard the Koran as a ticking bomb, liable to detonate any excitable adolescents who read it and take its claims seriously.  And I will continue to say that.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 16 October 2006


You assert that you disagree, but do not engage my argument.  (Which is fair enough.  You’re just saying.  And so am I.)

The thing is, last Wednesday night I did hear an impeccably mainstream Muslim, namely Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, and what she said was, in my opinion, a definite problem.  What she does, how she lives, how she looks – absolutely not a problem, I agree with you about that, assuming you agree.

But it’s a two stage process I am objecting to.  “Moderate” Muslims behave moderately, but use an immoderate book to justify this, thereby boosting its authority.  Others therefore read this book, and do what it actually says.  That’s a problem.  Why do you think it isn’t?

I keep my ears open for these mainstream Muslims, but when I hear them all that they say is that Islam does not mean this or that (violence, suicide bombing, terrorism etc.).  They sometimes quote the Koran, very unpersuasively.  That the Koran should still rule their lives is not questioned.  Maybe on the quiet they do question the authority of the Koran, but I have not heard this said out loud.

Oh, wrong, I do recall that there is definitely one Muslim-raised hundred-percent-proof atheist, who blogs, and he will surely know most of the others who have put their heads above the parapet.  Anyone know the link?  I want him on my blogroll.  I read him a few months ago, but lost track.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 16 October 2006


My understanding of the West versus the Rest is that only when the Industrial Revolution got seriously going, circa 1800, did the West get definitely richer.  But Western impingement on the Rest definitely pre-dated the IR by some two to three centuries.

I had in mind the amazing plunder that East India company people brought back to England with them.  That kind of thing.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 16 October 2006

And, to go back rather further.  What about all those Spanish silver fleets, that Sir Francis Drake et al in their turn plundered?

Surely, to start with, the West only had the edge militarily and managerially, so to speak.  They were not richer.  Not at first.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 16 October 2006

By the way, Framescourer:

Thanks for putting me in your blogroll.  It is now mutual.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 16 October 2006
Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.