Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Self Hating White Liberalism - It's Infectious

Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, talking on R4, condemns the latest execution video, calls on Muslim leaders to condemn it, and makes a couple of revealing asides on relationships between Muslims and 'the West' (I don't think he includes British Muslims here) - "and there are the Crusades, which are a problem". And on the Abu Ghraib revelations, "it is deeply shameful and indicts us all (my italics) in the West".

Now Lord Carey is by no means a stereotypical SHWL. His comments about Islam a month or two back earned him bad press from Guardianistas and Muslim spokesmen (not many spokespersons yet) alike. He is the kind of Christian who still reads the Bible, worries about human sin and frailty rather than Third World debt, and is not overly happy with homosexual bishops. So his comments reveal just how deeply the SHWL world view is part of educated English culture.

There's no doubt that our European partners (and a few Brits) did some bad things in the Crusades. From the sack of Jerusalem in 1099 (including the killing of the Jewish population, who sheltered in the synagogue only to be burned alive) to the attack on Byzantium, it could be said in President Clinton's words that "mistakes were made".

But there are one or two outstanding issues the other way. The Med was once a Christian lake. Turkey, Egypt and the whole of North Africa were Christian but were overrun militarily by Islam. These peoples weren't converted as were the Saxons and Danes. It was 'convert or die' for most (though not all) of them. Where now are the Galatian Christians to whom St Paul wrote ? Where are today's African saints ? Anatolia is full of ruined churches. Saint Sophia in Constantinople is now a museum (thanks, Fisky) in Istanbul. And of course the site of Solomon's Temple is now the Dome of the Rock.

This is not to say that I believe these issues should inform policy today. Fourteen hundred years is a long time. But apparently Lord Carey, like many others, believes that long memories are for 'them' and not for 'us'.

"It is deeply shameful and indicts us all in the West". Think about that. Does Saddam's regime, the latest horror decapitation video, or Osama Bin Laden indict all Muslims ? I thought stereotyping was one of the most feral creatures in the anti-racist bestiary.

But when 'Westerners' (a code name for white people - you could hardly call us Christians any more) do bad things - we are all indicted. One or several Muslims do bad things - they are not typical. Indictment is for 'us' and not for 'them'.

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