Thursday, 4 August 2005

The Mayor of Fatuity

In The Guardian today, Ken Livingstone makes a curious statement in the course of arguing for the admittance of Yusuf Al-Qaradawi to Britain: “Whatever his individual views, he is seen as a moderate and is fiercely opposed to al-Qaida”.
.....Before this statement was made, Mr Livingstone’s argument for the admittance of Qaradawi to Britain posited a moral parity between Israeli leaders and supporters of Palestinian suicide bombers, such that if we were to ban the latter from Britain, we should ban the former. But Mr Livingstone must have felt that it was also important to make some case for Qaradawi’s moderation, or, to put it another way, to persuade us that he is not an extremist. I think that Mr Livingstone is right to see this as important to the acceptance of his argument. We do not wish, after all, to admit some extremist homicidal lunatic.
.....The only expression in Mr Livingstone’s essay that suggests that Qaradawi is a moderate, however, is the one quoted above. Now, if it is meant to persuade us of his moderation, as would be useful to Mr Livingstone’s argument, it does a poor job; for it does not even address his moderation. It says only that he is seen as a moderate and that he opposes al-Qaeda. Well, I might say two things: (1) that Tracey Emin is seen as a talented artist with impeccable taste; and (2) that the Bolsheviks fiercely opposed the Mensheviks. The first testifies to the existence of cretins (or fakers); the second, that one extreme may oppose another.
.....But perhaps I have been unfair to Mr Livingstone, and his statement does address Qaradawi’s moderation. In other words, the statement is not simply meant to point out that Qaradawi is seen as a moderate, but rather that it is meant to intimate that he is a moderate. To judge his moderation, therefore, we need to assess his views. Yet with a flighty “whatever”, the mayor asks us to disregard Qaradawi’s views, the very things by which we must judge his moderation!
.....Thus, if Mr Livingstone wishes only to point out by this statement that Qaradawi is seen as moderate, then his statement reads as follows: Whether his views are extreme or not, he is seen as a moderate and is fiercely opposed to al-Qaeda. If, on the other hand, we are charitable in our interpretation, and believe that he means to intimate by this statement that Qaradawi is a moderate, then the statement is as follows: Whether his views are extreme or not, he is a moderate and is fiercely opposed to al-Qaeda. The first is fatuous and does not support the case for Qaradawi’s moderation, which would support Mr Livingstone’s case for his admittance into Britain. The second is absurd, and supports the case that Mr Livingstone has not obeyed his own exhortation for “clear thinking, not rhetoric”.
.....Mr Livingstone should hope, therefore, that we are not charitable in our interpretation; otherwise we should think him absurd.


Anonymous said...

great post... thanks.

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Deogolwulf said...

It is kind of you to say so.

Akaky said...

It is a great post. I sometimes wonder if the definition of a Islamic moderate is someone who only wants to kill half the infidels and is prepared to leave the rest alone, provided we learn the proper respect for our Muslim betters. At the time of our dhimmitude the community colleges can give courses in how to grovel properly.