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This blog once bore the name 'EDL Extra'. I supported the EDL until 2012. As the reader will see, the last post which supports the EDL dates back to 2012. This blog, nonetheless, retains the former web address.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Prof. David Papineau: Please Don't “applaud anti-Islamic cartoons”!


It's ironic that when I began this piece I knew nothing about the killings in Denmark. It was only when I was half-way through writing it that news began to come through about what had happened in Copenhagen.

Having said that, many people had already speculated that there would be similar Islamic attacks to the one in Paris. And others had also said that such attacks would happen sooner rather than later.

Basically, these are the first stages of a inevitable civil conflict (or even civil war) which will explode somewhere or other in Europe within the next decade or so. (Perhaps in different places at the same time; which is what happened in the UK in 2001.)

Professor David Papineau

David Papineau himself is the Professor of Philosophy of Science at King's College, London. He's also a well-known analytic philosopher who's written popular books on the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of science.

Ironically enough, Papineau signed a petition (dated the 2nd of February 2015) which was summed up by the Guardian newspaper by the title: 'Counter-terrorism and security bill is a threat to freedom of speech at universities'.

In that petition the following words can be found:

One of the purposes of post-compulsory education is to foster critical thinking in staff, students and society more widely...

The best response to acts of terror against UK civilians is to maintain and defend an open, democratic society in which discriminatory behaviour of any kind is effectively challenged....”

Despite the self-aggrandising words above, free speech is massively under threat from the Left in British universities.

The Leftist-Islamic Coalition Against Free Speech

David Papineau's central point is expressed by his own question:

How can our “outrage of the Paris killings provide extra reason to applaud anti-Islamic cartoons”?

Papineau himself doesn't seem able to guess the obvious and simple answer to that question. That answer is:

To many people, the killings precisely expressed the nature of Islam (as expressed in some of Charlie Hebdo's cartoons). Thus the Paris killings give people every reason to applaud “anti-Islamic cartoons”.

It doesn't matter at this moment if the critics of Islam have Islam right or wrong because that's the kind of reply that many people would give to Papineau. (Though, of course, they wouldn't use those precise words.)

Following on from that, the analytic philosopher then says something that is,well, quite repulsive. He says:

Why have so many people responded to the Paris horrors by insisting on the right to free speech?”

Well, to state the obvious, the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were killed because they were exercising their free speech. Thus many people, in response, are “insisting on the right to free speech”... Am I missing something here, Mr Papineau?

Anyway, Papineau's statement will be as offensive to many people as the cartoons were to Muslims. Not only that: what he has said is kind of like saying the following:

Why did so many people respond to those Nazi killings by insisting on stronger laws and actions against Nazis and stronger words against Nazism?
 Nothing to Do With Islam?

David Papineau seems to think that the killings in Paris had nothing to do with Islam. (Or at least they weren't, to use his own words, “due to Islam per se”.) What's worse than that, he sort of takes that for granted.

This is what Papineau says:

I can't help feeling that the insistence on free speech implicitly expresses the thought that the murders are due to Islam per se and so the right response is to condemn the religion.”

Firstly, what kind of demonstration or argument would Papineau require in order to show him that the murders were (or were not) “due to Islam”? (Not that he asks for an argument.) Indeed what kind of demonstration or argument could conclusively show that it was due to Islam?

Since there are around one hundred and sixty-four passages in the Koran which explicitly call for violence against “idolaters”, “unbelievers” and “blasphemers” (as well as the fact that the Prophet Muhammed himself killed people for these very reasons), what more does Papineau want? Above and beyond that, the killers themselves said it was due to Islam and many of their Muslim defenders (millions of them!) have said that it was due to Islam. Yet David Papineau (like David Cameron, et al.) - a non-Muslim who has no speciality in Islam - says that the killings had nothing to do with Islam (or that they weren't “due to Islam per se”).

Of course this is when Papineau and his ilk will cite the (very) few positive passages in the Koran. They will also tell us that people can interpret the Koran in any which way they like.

All that's true – in theory. (It's even true to a tiny extent in practice.) However, none of that stops it from also being a fact that everything the killers did they did in concordance with Islam: in concordance with the Koran, the hadith and with “the example of the Prophet”.

David Papineau also says that “to respond to those despicable murders by expressing ones distaste for the religion looks prejudiced to me”. Not it's not! It's both the logical and the commonsensical thing to do.

I'll show that by rewriting what Papineau has said and simply substitute a few words, thus:

To respond to the despicable murders and actions of the Nazis by expressing one's distaste for National Socialism (Nazism) looks prejudiced to me.
If Papineau thinks that it's some kind of category mistake to compare Nazism to Islam, then he'd better tell me why that's the case. The thing is, I'm not necessarily comparing Islam to Nazism here. All I'm doing is explaining the actions of the followers of a religion/ideology in terms of their religion/ideology itself.

Feeding the Fire of Extreme Islam?

If you take stern measures against Nazis/violent communists (or if your words against them are strong), will that also end up, as Papineau puts it, “feeding the fire”? Not if the actions and words make it more difficult for the Nazis/communists to do what they do.

And even if the words and actions do feed the fire of extreme Islam, does that mean we should remain silent? More to the point, does that mean that the Charlie Hebdo cartoons shouldn't have been published in the first place? After all, publishing them also fed the fire; at least according to many Muslims and Leftists.

Papineau is expressing a kind of means-end (or even utilitarian) approach to the Paris killings by saying that conflating (as he sees it) the killings with Islam is feeding the fire. And even if there are many connections between Islam and the killings, then we still shouldn't say that there are such connections.

By the same means-end (or utilitarian) argument, we shouldn't have allowed the cartoons to be published in the first place. In fact all sort of things – very many things! – are feeding the fire of Islamic extremism:

- the banning of the burqa in the workplace

- not having halal produce in every school in which there are Muslims

- not having prayer rooms in every workplace in which there are Muslims
- not allowing more sharia law in European “Muslim communities”
- taking any action against Muslim terrorists and sexual groomers
- allowing the EDL and Pegida to demonstrate (or not banning them)
- allowing women to wear short skirts, men to drink beer, etc. in “Muslim areas”, etc.
- the existence of Israel (as well as the support of Israel)

Perhaps Israel should be destroyed, the burqa should be allowed (even in public occupations), Muslims should have complete sharia law in their “communities”, EDL and Pegida demos should be banned, etc. You see, if we don't do all of these things, then - according to Papineau's logic – we'll be feeding the fires of Islamic extremism.

The bottom line is that Papineau means-end approach (which is actually appeasement and cowardice) will actually feed the fire far more than the positions and statements he's arguing against.

Being Against Islam is Being Against Muslims?

David Papineau also thinks that associating the killings with Islam automatically translates in “antipathy to all Muslims”.

So are the many critics of Christianity automatically antipathetical to all Christians? Some of them are, sure. However, most of them aren't.

So what's the argument here? Is it this? -

i) If people have a strong stance against Islam.
ii) Then they must also have a strong stance against all Muslims.
iii) Therefore it's best not to encourage - or even allow! - such people to display their strong stance against Islam because it will inevitably translate into a strong stance against all Muslims.
In fact that's precisely the position that Loonwatch, Reza Aslan and Tell Mama (Fiyaz Mughal), for example, have argued.

The end result of that kind of reasoning - which is precisely what Unite Against Fascism (UAF), Hope Not Hate, Islamophobia Watch, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), CAIR, etc. want – will be the complete political censorship of all criticism of Islam. That would basically be (ironic as it may sound) a sharia blasphemy law imposed on the entire non-Muslim West.



1) One can't help thinking that it's politics that's behind Papineau's position, not a philosophical position on free speech or his sensibilities regarding "people of faith". Indeed he more or less says that himself (if not in those precise words).

2) David Papineau is most certainly not religious. He's never mentioned blasphemy before (in print) or spoken out against the criticism of religion. In fact he's a "naturalist", "physicalist" (to use his own philosophical terms) and a self-described "atheist".

3) What David Papineau has done is what countless Leftists have also done: make Islam an exception (for basically political reasons).

As soon as many religious people were seen to have brown skin (in Europe and the United States) and threaten violence, everything changed. Not for any deep sensibilities as regards religion. (The British newspaper the Guardian perfectly displays this hypocrisy on religion.)

4) David Papineau says that he's “rather against offending Muslims for the sake of it”. What the hell does he mean by that? Would the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists have said that their cartoons about Muhammed and Islam were just attempts at “offending Muslims for the sake of it”? I know the Trotskyist/ communist/progressive Left has been arguing that; though what does it so much as mean? There's a whole culture, tradition and philosophy behind satire and I'm sure that this applies as much to Charlie Hebdo as it does to Private Eye or to Leftist satirists such as Gerald Scarfe (who's been accused of anti-Semitism) and Steve Bell at the Guardian.

Having said that, many would also argue that even if certain cartoons or pieces of satire are “just for the sake of it”, then that's not such a bad thing either. People often offend me and my beliefs “just for the sake of it”. People often offend you and your beliefs just for the sake of it. So you can't make an exception for Islam because that won't wash when it comes to Christians, atheists and the non-religious. They will ask: Why such an exception?

Almost every piece of satire ever created will have offended some group or some individual at some point. So why is that issue being brought up all of a sudden and by - of all people – socialists and Marxists?

5) Let's not mince words here. Why are so many Marxists/Leftists suddenly talking about “offending people of faith” and whatnot when many of these very same people will be on record of offending religious people in the past? The answer to that is brutally simple. They aren't against offending people or bothered about religious sensibilities. They're bothered about offending Muslims. And why does that bother them in the way it never bothered them when Christians were offended? Because Muslims kill people when they are offended and they tend to have brown skin - thus they are an ethnic minority (tools of the revolution). Thus political opportunism, cowardice and ideological correctness are making Leftists say the most hypocritical things imaginable about Islam and  even religion generally.

The Left was all in favour of Charlie Hebdo and other such publications until they brought about a violent backlash from Muslims. Then, one morning, there were Leftists galore (e.g., the Guardian, the SWP, Socialist Action, Counterfire, Glen Greenwald, CounterPunch, etc.) who criticised Charlie Hebdo for being disrespectful to religion and worse than that: of being racist and even “right wing”.

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