By Bruce Bawer, HRS
In a series of articles published in the New York Times back in February 2009, Roger Cohen, who writes regularly for that newspaper and the International Herald Tribune, whitewashed the current Iranian regime and even – in a special touch of fantasy that was worthy of the Gray Lady’s late, great apologist for Stalin, Walter Duranty – described Jews in Iran as leading free, peaceful, and untrammeled lives. After a torrent of criticism, including understandably livid objections by Jewish and Baha’i refugees from Iran, Cohen modified his comments – somewhat, anyway – acknowledging the brutality of Ahmedinejad’s regime even as he reiterated his fatuous praise for Iran’s supposed “freedom” relative to other Muslim countries.
Now Cohen is at it again. The other day, in an article entitled “Mohammed the Brit,” he celebrated the fact that “Mohammed, in its various spellings, is now the favorite name for newborn boys in the United Kingdom.”
Never mind Britain’s steadily expanding no-go zones; never mind the burgeoning incidence of rape, Jew-bashing, gay-bashing, and honor killing in the name of Allah; never mind the colossal levels of welfare abuse; never mind that with every generation, British Muslims are more inclined to support the imposition of sharia law in Britain and to approve of armed jihad. Never mind, either, that the more education they’ve received, the more likely British Muslims are to despise individual liberty, sexual equality, freedom of religion, and all those other noxious trappings of Western life. No, in the face of all evidence, the British-born, Oxford-educated Cohen chose to view the rise of Mohammeds in Britain as a glorious thing, and to pay rhapsodic tribute to what he characterized as the successful integration of Muslims in the U.K.
Yes, you read that right: successful integration. Compared with France and Germany, Cohen insisted, the sceptred isle is doing a bang-up job of harmoniously incorporating Muslims into the fold: “British identity has proved more capacious than French or German….The variegated texture of London…stands in stark contrast to ghettoized Paris.” Okay, so London may not (yet) have Muslim enclaves as horrific as those outside of Paris – but, for heaven’s sake, anything would look good by comparison with the worst of the French banlieues. I suspect, moreover, that more than a few folks who have fled the East End in recent years would be surprised to hear that London has escaped Islamic ghettoization. Granted, Cohen did mention the heavily Islamized burgs of Bradford and Luton, but you’d never know from his piece that the names of these cities have become bywords for everything that’s disastrously wrong with European immigration and integration policies over the past quarter century.
Cohen made a major selling point out of the fact that “50 British Muslim scholars” are drafting a letter denouncing the killer of Punjab governor Salman Taseer. For Cohen, this letter is proof positive that Muslims support “free speech.” Never mind (among much else) the innumerable Muslims around the world who rioted, murdered, vandalized, and committed arson because a Danish newspaper ran a few cartoons one day in 2005. And never mind, either, the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, which explains in no uncertain terms that, Cohen to the contrary, the only speech permitted to Muslims is that which is consistent with sharia law.
Cohen’s article is a classic illustration of the fact that in some matters, no one is more clueless than the official intelligentsia – for no one is more insulated than they are from the things about which they presume to pontificate. For example, in a sentence that was nothing less than cringe-inducing in its cultural-elitist myopia, Cohen praised British society for a “relative fluidity that produces Faisal Islam, economic editor of the influential Channel 4 News, or Sajid Javid, a bus driver’s son and Tory MP.” As if the Muslims encountered by an ordinary Brit on an ordinary day were likely to be mass-media VIPS or Members of Parliament!
Cohen also applauded a recent BBC Radio 4 documentary series about five British men named Muhammed for providing “a good antidote to the simplistic caricature that conflates Muslim with threat, and a useful barometer of an integration that is uneven, certainly, but ongoing.” The five Muhammeds’ “universes,” wrote Cohen, “may be distinct, as in attitudes to marriage, but distinct in a way that, at best, complements rather than confronts.” Let’s unpack that sentence. Distinct universes? That’s actually a whale of an admission. Can a country survive with millions of citizens who not only have diverse backgrounds but also inhabit distinct universes? It’s true, of course, that most British Muslims inhabit a universe of their own when it comes to “attitudes to marriage” – after all, most British Muslims marry their first cousins, who’ve been chosen for (i.e., forced on) them by their families and who are usually shipped in from Pakistan or wherever, the point being to provide the Pakistani party with a Western visa and to provide the British branch of the family with a steady influx of seventh-century tribal “values.”
Needless to say, these are scarcely the only British Muslim “attitudes” that are “distinct” from their infidel neighbors’. Their religion, after all, prescribes the execution of gays. One online reader who posted a comment about Cohen’s piece noted a 2009 poll “showing that not a SINGLE ONE of the 500 Muslims interviewed found that homosexual acts were acceptable.” Since Cohen is a great-hearted New York Times liberal, I would imagine that, in his eyes, this doesn’t fall under the rubric of Muslim distinctiveness “at [its] best.” The problem, alas, is that Muslim distinctiveness is very rarely “at [its] best,” and that, at its worst, it can be quite unpleasant, especially if you’re the lifeless gay teenager swinging at the end of the rope.
Though Cohen cheered BBC Radio 4’s feel-good propaganda, he omitted to mention more hard-hitting – and honest – British media fare, such as Channel 4’s 2007 exposé Undercover Mosque, which revealed just how violence-happy many purportedly peaceable British Muslims are. Cohen sneered in his piece about “simplistic caricature,” but the stark revelations contained in programs like Undercover Mosque – and in studies documenting the large-scale radicalization of Muslim students at British universities – are anything but “simplistic caricature”; they’re fact. It’s Cohen’s sugar-coated picture of a Britain populated by serenely integrated Muslim MPs and media honchos that comes under the category of “simplistic caricature.”
The plain truth is this: in order to buy into Cohen’s pretty little picture, you have to drop whole chapters of recent history down the memory hole. Never mind the July 7, 2005, bombings in London, engineered by young men who’d been considered models of integration. Never mind the 2007 Glasgow bombing, perpetrated by respected British Muslim physicians. Never mind that it’s Britain – not France or Germany – that’s most notorious for harboring hate-preaching imams, and Britain that leads the Western world in exporting Islamic terror.
It hardly needs pointing out that Cohen’s Muhammeds, and the other British Muslims whose allegedly successful integration he touted, are, to a man, men. What about the women? Cohen mentioned them briefly toward the end of his piece, when he deigned to acknowledge a recent series of Muslim gang rapes in Derby of “white girls aged between 12 and 18” and quoted former foreign secretary Jack Straw’s observation that the perpetrators view Pakistani girls as “off limits” while considering non-Muslim girls “easy meat.” Cohen’s reaction: “I don’t think Straw’s argument stands up to scrutiny of overall sex-crime patterns.” I’m not exactly sure what this weasely sentence is supposed to mean (if Cohen meant to say that Straw was wrong, why didn’t he just say “Straw is wrong”?), but in fact Straw’s comment is no “argument” but a statement of an established fact: any honest student of the subject knows that millions of young European Muslim men have indeed been brought up to “respect” veiled women and to view “uncovered” females as fair game for sexual abuse.
“I do think,” Cohen ventures, “Britain’s Muslim community needs to take a hard look at repressive attitudes toward women. The debate is salutary.” Take a hard look? Debate? Salutary? In the year 2011, is this all Cohen has to say about a generation of Muslim women who have grown up in virtual slavery in the land of Magna Carta? Earth to Cohen: the debate is over. The facts are in. Any working-class Brit picked at random off the streets of Bradford or Luton could’ve turned out a more reliable account of Islam in Britain today. As John F. of London wrote in an online comment on Cohen’s article: “Roger, you gloss over many things in your piece which cause deep disquiet to a significant proportion of the British populace.” And apropos of Cohen’s well-nigh delusionary reference to “[t]he readiness of European Muslims to stand up for values of free speech,” Mark Armstrong of London pointed out that “it is literally impossible for Muslims to stand up for freedom of speech,” given the Organisation of the Islamic Conference’s ruling that “[e]very person has the right to express his thoughts and beliefs so long as he remains within the limits prescribed by the Law [i.e., sharia].” And R.S. from the U.K. wrote: “The people you mention are exceptions. A great majority of Muslims in Britain remain cut off from mainstream society.”
The bottom line is clear. Millions of ordinary Brits have long since grasped the grim truth about all this because it’s a reality they live with every day. Yet every day they also have to open the newspaper – or turn on the TV – and be lectured at by bien pensant types like Cohen, who are insulated from this reality and persist in denying it. How long, one wonders, can this cultural gulf endure? How long will “respectable” newspapers on both sides of the pond continue to run such arrant nonsense? And how long will the ignored, brutalized, and condescended-to ordinary citizens who know what’s going on, and can see where it’s all headed, continue to let Roger Cohen & co. fiddle while Rome burns?