Morally Obtuse Melanie Phillips, Redux: “A Turban for a Durban?,” Re-Visited

Blogs by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer have brought to my attention Melanie Phillips’ “commentary” on the UK Home Office rulings banning both of the courageous US writers and activists from attending a planned Woolwich commemoration ceremony by the English Defense League (EDL) for drummer, Lee Rigby brutally slain in an act of jihad butchery.

Ms. Phillips rejects “the approach taken by either Geller or Spencer,” to what she terms, “the problem of Islamic extremism” because they dare to associate with a group, the EDL, and mysterious “others,” Phillips further insists, “which at best do not deal with the thuggish elements in their ranks and at worst are truly racist or xenophobic.”

Never mind that Phillips provides not one iota of proof for her allegations against  the EDL (she simply regurgitates agitprop calumnies), let alone the unnamed “others.” What I found striking—indeed, as my Yogi, Yogi Berra, might put it, “déjà vu all over again”—is that the morally obtuse Ms. Phillips has apparently learned and remembered nothing from her dangerously uninformed, preferential support of so-called “Muslim reformer” Ed Husain, in reality, a traditionalist Islamic Jew-hating bigot, over the intellectually honest and intrepid Somali Muslim freethinker Ayaan Hiris Ali, circa November, 2007.

Sadly apropos, almost 6-years later, here is what I wrote about Ms. Phillips’ distressingly ignorant “conclusions” following a November, 2007 debate she witnessed between Mr. Husain and Ms. Ali:

Friday, November 23, 2007 A Turban for a Durban?

Melanie Phillips attended what she termed a “riveting” debate between the much ballyhooed former Hizbut Tahrir enthusiast Ed Husain and the Somali secularist and former Dutch Parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Two years ago I discussed at some length Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s lucid argumentation and moral and physical courage. She remains the same noble, eloquent, and committed person.

Phillips somehow found Husain’s arguments more “persuasive.” But in essence he simply repeats the same ahistorical, apologetic prattle about rediscovering factitious golden eras of Islam’s “own religious traditions of peaceful co-existence”—ignoring that this false construction is merely a euphemism for jihad-imposed dhimmitude, or for those societies not vanquished by jihad, what the great Belgian scholar of Islam Armand Arbel described as follows:

…perpetual war should be their lot, waged in the course of the winter and summer ghazu. [razzias] If the sovereign of the country thus attacked desired peace, it was possible for him, just like for any other tributary or community, to pay the tribute for himself and for his subjects.  Thus the [Byzantine] Empress Irene [d. 803] “purchased peace at the price of her humiliation”, according to the formula stated in the dhimma contract itself, by paying 70,000 pounds in gold annually to the Caliph of Baghdad. Many other princes agreed in this way to become tributaries – often after long struggles – and to see their dominions pass from the status of dar al Harb to that of dar al Sulh.  

We get some hint at Phillips curious reasoning, or rather reductio ad absurdum argumentation, with this comment which ostensibly demonstrates how she “understands” Islam’s own depredations: “…not to mention the violence and oppression it [Islam] practised towards other faiths (although not as bad as Christian upon Jew) [emphasis added].” Not only is this  tu quoque “reasoning” (which trivializes the historical treatment of Jews in Muslim societies—chronic oppression, punctuated by outbursts of mass anti-Jewish violence, forced conversion to Islam, or expulsion—while ignoring the fact that there are no Jewish communities left in the Arab world, other than persecuted vestigial remnants of cemetery watchers, while here in a 90% rather devoutly Christian America we Jews do quite well, and haven’t ever experienced a pogrom in 250 years of inhabiting this blessed country), it is a reductio ad absurdum that negates the hundreds of millions of non-Jews (estimated here) slaughtered and enslaved and mutilated by jihad—Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Animists—through the present era.

Phillips’ “conclusion” is lamentable (and shallow) enough. Worse still, she blithely ignores Husain’s malicious, immoral equivalence between Zionism and jihadism, most notably the modern incarnations of this permanent, and genocidal Islamic institution. The “brave reformer” she champions, Husain made these nauseating proclamations in his June 2007 diatribe:

Zionism and Islamism are both political perversions of ancient Abrahamic faiths of Judaism and Islam…. Disregard for the sanctity of human life is a hallmark of both Zionism and Islamism…Just as Israel is an expansionist state which remains in occupation of the Golan Heights, Islamists plan for a state that would have an occupying army to support ever-expanding borders Just as Zionists claim territory based on notions of “Jewish land” and God-given rights, Islamists wish to reconquer India and Spain as “Muslim land”, once ruled by Muslim monarchs…Zionists have achieved their state; Islamists are busy trying out every conceivable option to bring their dream Zion to fruition. For centuries, Jewish people said “Next year in Jerusalem”, and for decades for now, Islamists have been repeating “Caliphate by next Ramadan.”Behind every single world event, from the Holocaust to 9/11, Arab Islamists blamed a global Zionist conspiracy. Similarly, in Jewish circles, Zionists from Binyamin Netanyahu to Daniel Pipes have made careers out of lambasting Islamists. But are Islamists and Zionists really all that different, despite their blatant enmity? I think not

Both the rather uninformed Ms. Phillips, and the unreformed Antisemitic Muslim bigot Ed Husain would do well to heed the words of Bat Ye’or—our greatest living scholar of dhimmitude, herself victimized by this oppressive, living Islamic institution—on Zionism:

The word “Zion”, which designates the land of Israel and its capital Jerusalem, exists in texts dating back almost three millennia.  It was the Emperor Hadrian who called this country Palestine in 135 C.E.   In this Palestine, Arabic was not the spoken language, the Bible and not the Koran was taught, and the population was mainly Jewish. Palestine was colonized five centuries later by the Arab armies of the Islamic jihad.  Many Jews were massacred at that time, others deported to Arabia as slaves, the whole population expropriated and reduced to the condition of dhimmis, as were all indigenous Jews and Christians in the south Mediterranean countries conquered by jihad, as well as those in many European countries.  Are these countries conquered by Islam – Portugal, Spain, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, and the southern regions of France and Italy, for example – Arab lands? 

If the liberation movement of the Jews in their ancestral homeland is interpreted as racism, then all the movements of liberation from expropriation and servitude imposed by jihad are racist.  Such a stance reinstates the imperialism of the Islamic jihad, which has claimed millions of victims in three continents over more than a millennium, deported an incalculable number of slaves, annihilated entire peoples, destroying their history, their monuments and their culture. 

…the conference against racism in Durban [August 2001} did not condemn this culture of hate;  they rehabilitated it.  When some of their propositions condemn Zionism, this conference is encouraging jihad, the culture of the war against infidels, it is scourging the principles of freedom and human rights.  It is demonstrating negationist racism. 

Ed Husain has merely exchanged his turban for the more acceptable Islamic Antisemitism/Anti-Zionism expressed at Durban. And Ms. Phillips just as desperately needs to become far better informed, shed her Spiritual Turban, and realize that she too, “…cannot stop the inquiring mind at the gates of any religion—let alone Islam.” Phillips must begin to realize the perversity of her willful ignorance about the contents of books such as Why I am Not a Muslim. In the words of that book’s author, Ibn Warraq, “How do they [those like Phillips] think reformation will come about if not with [such] criticism?”


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