Sunday, December 10, 2006



Winning hearts and minds II

While the British are wining hearts and minds in Afghanistan, they're also trying hard to do it at home, with Prime Minister Tony Blair telling Muslims

"Our tolerance is part of what makes Britain, Britain. Conform to it; or don't come here."

As usual, the irony of the statement seemed completely lost on him.

But apart from the irony and hypocrisy on display here - Like Don Brash, Blair is quite happy to tolerate the intolerant, provided they are white or Christian - this sends a clear message to British Muslims: that they are not and can never be truly British. When combined with a program of sackings and discrimination, it's a great way to win hearts and minds...

6 comments:

In Greek philosophy, there were two major schools of skepticism, called Academic and Pyrrhonian. The Academic skeptics claimed that the only thing we know is that we know nothing. The Pyrrhonian skeptics claimed that we cannot know even this.

There is an obvious parallel to draw with tolerance. There's your "Pyrrhonian" tolerance, which means tolerating everything, including intolerance. And there's Blair's "Academic" tolerance, which means tolerating everything except intolerance. So, there is no irony or hypocrisy in Blair's statement.

As well as ignoring the distinction between these two kinds of tolerance, you have also ignored another crucial distinction in your criticism of Don Brash. It's perfectly reasonable to treat citizens (such as the Exclusive Brethren who are, unfortunately, already here) with non-citizens (such as Islamic fundamentalists who apply to emigrate here and to whom we should, arguably, deny entry).

Posted by Richard : 12/10/2006 02:29:00 AM

Nice post Richard.... I'd need to think a bit about whether your academic/pyrrhonian comparison really helps, but the distinction that you're gesturing at is clearly essential. I wrote extensive comments the last time this stuff came up (with Brash), so won't repeat them here, but if you check what I say there (just follow the link in i/s's post) you'll see I develop both your points in specific ways that you might find useful (with the caveat that obviously nothing I said there convinced i/s to change her ways!).

Posted by Stephen Glaister : 12/10/2006 04:05:00 AM

Besides - if you are not hypocritical and are tolerant of intolerance you also should be tolerant of intolerance of intolerance.

Hypocrisy is a messy tool because it is not one side of a spectrum, it is both sides (consistency is more or less in the middle). So the most vigourous accusations of hypocrisy are just hypocritical in the opposite direction.

Posted by Genius : 12/10/2006 09:16:00 AM

Genius

"So the most vigourous accusations of hypocrisy are just hypocritical in the opposite direction."

Is this only in regard to tolerance, or are you saying it is the case with all vigourous charges of hypocricy? If the latter I am not sure I follow.

The most common examples of the hypocricy charge I can think of are around gay rights issues.

Ted Haggard in the states made a lot a of money, and became influential in the social conservative political arena. He did so, in large part, by railing against the supposed destructive effects of homosexuality. At the same time he was making a mockery of his marriage by partaking in P fuelled sex romps with a male prostitute.

How is it hypocritical for social liberals to call him a hypocrite? Surely the charge is not that he is a bad person for being a homosexual, but rather that he is a bad person for lying to his wife, family and church.

Where is the non-hypocritical consistant middle in the Haggard case?

Posted by Pascal's bookie : 12/10/2006 11:38:00 AM

You say: "this sends a clear message to British Muslims: that they are not and can never be truly British."

I don't see that at all. His statement clearly says that Muslims who are tolerant of others are British. Muslims who do not like pluralism should live in, say, Saudi Arabia, just like non-tolerant Christians should try, say, Alabama.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/10/2006 03:41:00 PM

Pascal,

1) What are most of those people trying to say/achieve by making an issue of this?

I don’t think they are trying to identify a 'bad person', i.e. 'a liar to his family' - instead they are trying to discredit his position because they believe he is wrong. That, on its face, looks like hypocrisy.*

Two less hypocritical positions would probably be
1) he is bad because he is a homosexual
2) This is a bit of a non issue we should not have paid attention to him in the beginning and we still shouldn’t be.

Most people try to use both, which is cheating.

>He did so, in large part, by railing against the supposed destructive effects of homosexuality.

2) I am inclined to believe that isn't, in itself, actually an example of hypocrisy**. The point being that I don’t think he does believe in homosexuality even though he may engage in it (weakness of the flesh sort of thing). So he is honestly expousing the standard to which he tries to hold himself. And now, I presume, he is a huge living example of the ‘destructive effects’ he claimed existed.

* That and how many of his critics have also lied to their community at some stage?
** although I expect there is some related hypocrisy

Posted by Genius : 12/10/2006 07:40:00 PM