In an age like ours, so talkative and so free, it is always a bit surprising to see a certain moderation, to put it mildly, about events such as the stabbing of the novelist Salman Rushdie, threatened since 1989 for his " irreverence towards Islam ”, or the beheading of a professor in front of a French school. The point is that in the West alternative models of civilization are competing for the upper hand and the healthy one is losing.
There is, of course, our heritage, built on Rome, Athens and Jerusalem. The legacy of Europe, the legacy of the West. But two strong rivals have emerged from this legacy.
One of these is imported: Islam, which is not just a metaphysical faith, but an alternative civilization to ours and which wants to replace it.
The other rival is more subtle and has many names: politically correct, cancel culture, woke ... This is also an alternative model of civilization because it wants to deconstruct our heritage. In French there are two words that are pronounced the same way: Oxydant and Occident. Progressivism is this, the oxidant of the West.
When two civilizations face each other, as in the case of "West vs. Islam" in Samuel Huntington's theory, there is a very clear clash; but if we have three participants, the game becomes more complicated. And two can team up against the third, for example.
And that's what's happening. Islam and Western progressivism, in this case. Nor is it surprising that left-wing governments subsidize LGBT associations on the one hand and Islamists on the other.
It is now much easier to understand why our liberals reacted sparingly to the near-fatal attack on Rushdie. On the one hand, they love anti-religious satires. On the other hand, they only love satire against Christianity, never against Islam. The Indo-British writer thus places them in an embarrassing situation.
One song, "Jésus est pédé", Jesus is gay, was broadcast by France Inter, the French public radio service. Its author, Frédéric Fromet, envisioned Jesus as a member of the LGBT community. Catholics were angered by a public service attack on their faith and culture (no, they did not stab Fromet).
The Superior Audiovisual Council (CSA), the body that always has a quick hand when it has to punish criticism of Islam and immigration, has chosen not to sanction France Inter.
Then also the State Council considered that the song contained “obscene and rude words”. "However, the airing of this song was aimed at criticizing discriminatory attitudes towards homosexuals. Despite the outrageous nature, these remarks cannot be considered as exceeding the limits of freedom of expression”. Closed case.
The same public radio broadcaster France Inter has rejected an advertising campaign by the Oeuvre d’Orient, which fights for persecuted Christians. The radio had asked for a single word to be removed: "Christian". The phrase "au profit des chrétiens d’Orient", so that the proceeds would go to the Christians of the East, had to disappear and the billboards reprinted. "Advertisements must not contain any element that could offend the religious beliefs of listeners," he said, before admitting advertising for the protests.
There is freedom of thought and speech, yes, but only of single kind of thought. From the current left, therefore, we have been able to read, at most, vague condemnations of "all religions" or "all fanaticisms".
Today the West is actually a great paradox. However, a civilization is one that tells us why life is worth living.
Consider what is happening in Norway, the "happiest country in the world" according to the United Nations and the "country with the freest press in the world". On the one hand, we have Christine Marie Jentoft, a transgender activist. Biologically, Christine is male, but she identifies as a lesbian woman. On the other hand, we have Christina Ellingsen, a "traditional" feminist activist who thinks that gender does not erase sex. Ellingsen tweeted that a woman is born, not made. Jentoft (the man who considers himself a woman) filed a police report which opened an investigation. Now Ellingsen faces three years in prison.
In 2021 the Norwegian law was modified to introduce the notion of gender identity as related to hate crime. The government had been warned that introducing this change would lead to legal action against people who merely remembered basic biological facts, such as that only women give birth or that biological sex is binary and unalterable.
Amnesty International joined the progressive crusade by accusing Ellingsen of "molesting” Jentoft.
Amnesty is a textbook case on what I tried to say at the beginning (Rushdie himself accused Amnesty of "moral bankruptcy" ten years ago). Amnesty's secretary general, Claudio Cordone, said that "defensive jihad" is not "antithetical" to the battle for human rights. He said this in response to a petition on Amnesty's relationship with CAGE (formerly CagePrisoners), the NGO founded by the British Islamist Moazzam Begg. A prominent
Amnesty executive, Karima Bennoune, author of a book entitled "Your fatwa does not apply here," wrote: "During my years at Amnesty International I shared your concerns about torture in Algeria, but I could not understand the response of the organization to the violence of fundamentalist groups ". And Bennoune is not the first NGO executive to criticize her own organization. Amnesty also suspended Gita Sahgal for voicing some concerns. "To appear alongside Britain's most famous Taliban supporter, treating him as a human rights defender, is a big mistake," she wrote.
There was a time when Amnesty defended victims of ideological repression, such as the wife of Soviet writer Boris Pasternak, Olga Ivinskaya, who spent years under arrest and was persecuted for her husband's refusal to bow in the Kremlin. Now, as the Times documented, it has ties to Islamists (the same ones who attacked the life of Salman Rushdie's publisher in Norway) and represses women who do not want to be replaced by an absurd and grotesque ideology.
Don't we live in wonderful times? The West has become as thin as that cloud into which Rushdie disappeared for ten years after the fatwa.
Giulio Meotti is an Italian journalist with Il Foglio and writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author, in English, of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter and of "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books, in addition to books in Italian. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Gatestone, Frontpage and Commentary.