This week the Sunday Times News Review carried a major article by Sarah Baxter headed "Where do you stand in the new culture wars? - as the rise of Islamism challenges the old assumptions of left and right, new cultural fault lines are emerging …"
It was a fairly pointless exercise, based on the false premise that because of the recent outbursts of extreme Islamism and the Neanderthal tribal traditions that go hand in hand with it, we are all having to decide which side we're on. The article shot itself in the foot, really, by providing a spoof questionnaire for readers to answer …
1. Is it allowable for Muslims to be homophobic because of their culture?
2. Should forced marriages for women be illegal?
3. Is it acceptable to insist that a woman wears a veil?
4. Is anti-semitism a legitimate response to frustration with American and Israeli policy?
5. Should Ahmadinejad's regime in Iran be allowed to acquire a nuclear bomb?
6. Can you be a people's champion if your people can't get rid of you?
7. Are political prisoners ever justified?
8. Is Al-Qaeda in Iraq a legitimate resistance organisation?
9. Is Ayaan Hirsi Ali too critical of Islam?
10. Should the Dutch government have taken away her security abroad?
11. Should Salman Rushdie have written about the Koran the way he did in "The Satanic Verses"?
12. Are freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion (and atheism) universal human rights?
13. Is it an acceptable cultural tradition to call for the death of people who wish to leave your religion?
14. Is it okay to ban members of other religions from holy sites such as Mecca?
15. Can honour killings or genital mutilation of women be placed in their "cultural" context?
16. Is it acceptable to call for the death of cartoonists because you don't think their cartoons are funny?
What interested The GOS about this was the fact that 99% of the population would give exactly the same answers to these questions. There is no cultural divide, there is no rift in British society, there is no bl**dy argument. We all think the same about these issues.
Take Question 7 as an example. Ignoring the slap-dash use of English (political prisoners are frequently justified - it's locking them up for their political beliefs that isn't), is there anyone reading this who wouldn't answer "no"?
Or Question 15. If you think that honour killings or genital mutilation can ever be excused by putting them in a "cultural context", you must either be just off the plane from Mogadishu or some sort of pervert. And if you want to engage in an argument about placing things in a cultural context without necessarily condoning them, don't bother - we're not interested. You sad, soft tosser - a thing's either right or it's wrong, and killing teenage girls is wrong in any culcher.
So if there is no measure of disagreement about these issues, why exactly are we discussing it in a major newspaper? And why have our government and our society failed so completely to do anything about them?
We all think the same, so what are we scared of? Watching the rugby World Cup final yesterday, I didn't notice any of the England team going into a huddle to discuss whether, in the light of the South Africans' power, size and skill, it might be more sensible to just roll over and give them the cup without a fight?
By the way, hands up all those who think we should have Lawrence Dallaglio as Prime Minister?
(This is a picture of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, placed here
because The GOS fancies her something rotten)
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
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