Friday, 15 June 2012


It's good to see Gavin McInnes giving his usual sensitive take on the Islamic world, over at Taki's. Yes, he's right. Islam does produce plenty of newsworthy and easy-to-ridicule moments. For a writer of McInnes's sarkiness it must look like one hell of an inviting piñata, although the words "fish," "barrel," and "shooting" also spring to mind.

The Muzzies are a right lot, and what an image too: beards, frothing mobs, bums in the air, scimitars, shadowy women shuffling around in binbags, Allah-akbar-this, Allah-akbar-that, etc. etc. Writing about them in the way McInnes does is the right-wing 'liberaltarian' equivalent of the easy-laugh pratfall engaged in by comedians of the silent era like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.

Those who have read the article, The Turd World, probably experienced the same disquieting feeling that I did. After the easy laughs and the rather clunky juxtapositions of moments culled from the oddball doings of a quarter of the world's population with historical reference points from our own past savagery, it is the obvious smugness of McInnes's article that stands out:
"They're merely slower than us—'retarded,' if you will."
The idea that McInnes explores in the first half of his article is basically that: that the Muzzies are a less developed version of our wonderful, liberated Western selves. Hence the references to the Salem witch trials and the mini-skirts that once adorned Tehran under the Shah.

But Taki's readers are intelligent. Following that simple line too far won’t keep them interested, so McInnes throws in his next big idea, a clever-sounding piece of sci-fi theorizing courtesy of Philip K. Dick about multiple futures. In the way that McInnes uses this idea it sounds suspiciously like a disguised version of Calvinistic Predestination (an echo of McInnes’s Scottish roots perhaps), with the Muzzies as the Damned-and-there's-nothing-they-can-do-about-it and the cool people McInnes represents as the Elect-whatever-the-fuck-they-do.

The problem however is that the Muzzies are not quite as backward or damned as McInnes would like to think. "Backward" can mean a variety of things. Usually it’s connected to technology: e.g. Japan was backward in 1853 when America's paddle steamers showed up. The Incas and the Aztecs were similarly out of their depth with the high-tech wizardry of the Spaniards, but cases like this are rare and are limited to a brief period in human history when year-on-year technological change was on a revolutionary scale and new lands were being discovered. It is a period that is now over.

In his book The Great Stagnation, Tyler Cowen says his grandmother saw great changes during her life, citing the birth of airplanes, skyscrapers, suspension bridges, radio, television, antibiotics, atomic bombs, nuclear energy, interstate highways, jet travel, and a moon landing, among others; and contrasts this with someone born in 1970 who has seen the advent of biotechnology, drones, CDs, cellphones, internet porn, and…erm…Facebook.

The Islamic world might still be technologically backward, but they were a lot more backward in 1970 and 1917, when they still fought in a way that Mohammed would have recognized.

But rather than a lack of technological glitz, backwardness can also be defined as the inability to solve existing problems, especially the existential problems that bedevil the West, like our feeble fertility rate, increasingly broken family structures, and apparent need to import masses of people of markedly different cultures and inclinations.

In this respect, the idea that the Muslims are backward and need to catch up with us is clearly wrong. Indeed, it is entirely the other way round. In terms of demographic effectiveness, the Muslims are streets ahead of us, as are Non-Islamic Africans, Hispanics, and Indians. This might be one tiny little point lost in the great big bundle of Western technological, cultural, and consumerist superiority, but come back in a hundred years and see the difference it makes.

McInnes aims most of his venom at the Muslim attitude to gays and women. The Muzzies being the 25% of the world that they are, he is luckily able to find some nice examples: a guy chucking his wife's head out the window and an old cleric's ramblings about drinking breast milk, among them.

But these are just kooky extremes that deflect from the heart of the issue. What McInnes is essentially attacking is the notion – unpopular in the oversexualized and demographically impotent West – that the human body is not merely a sex toy. It is ironic therefore that in an article attacking Muslim backwardness, his attack is centered on the point where they are most ahead of the West.

No comments:

Post a Comment