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Joignot serves up plenty more in this vein, noting, for instance, that a number of writers – he names Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Bernard Lewis, Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Melanie Phillips, Mark Steyn, and me (what an honor, incidentally, to be named in such company!) – depict “a conquering, authoritarian Islam invading Europe.” Joignot sneers at Oriana Fallaci, calls Christopher Caldwell’s book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe “the bible of the New Right,” and cites Caldwell’s alarming demographic predictions about Europe only to dismiss them with a wave of the hand: “a number of studies from different countries dispute these figures…..All the predictions of a Muslim-majority Europe (‘Eurabia’) are unfounded.” The mathematical illiteracy of supposedly educated people never ceases to amaze.
Also included in Joignot’s piece is something that is now a de rigueur element of such articles: the claim that the writings of these critics of Islam led directly to the mass murders committed by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway last July. (Interestingly, while Joignot paints the bloodthirsty Breivik as a disciple of writers none of whom have advocated violence, he depicts Mohamed Merah, whose child murders in Toulouse a few months ago were in perfect accord with the directives of his own favorite book, as a psychiatric case, a “lone wolf,” and not a jihadist.)
Joignot further quotes anthropologist Malek Chebel, who complains that “Caldwell and Le Pen are silent on the thousands of educated Muslims, executives, doctors, engineers, political activists and trade union, students” – as if being any of these things and being a jihadist (violent or stealth) were mutually exclusive. Joignot quotes more from Chebel: “Most Muslim countries in the Asian region…live out a peaceful Islam….I also see examples everywhere of harmonious modernization.” In a world of Twitter and Skype, Chebel insists, bullies and demagogues can no longer gain power. What to say about words so totally unhinged from present reality?
But this is precisely Joignot’s argument: that “a vast majority” of young Muslims in Europe “want to promote an open Islam.” To the extent that Joignot acknowledges the grim reality of Islam in Europe, it is to blame it on others or to focus on its alleged “exploitation” by the supposedly dark forces of the “extreme right.” If there is Islamic violence in Europe, for example, it’s because “young Muslims” are reacting to “unemployment, racism, and poverty.” Yes, perhaps Islam is rough on gays and women, but what matters is that “the way in which women and homosexuals are treated by some Muslims – homophobia wins in the suburbs – is…exploited by the extreme right.” “Exploited”! Thus does Joignot cavalierly dismiss the seriousness of Islam’s treatment of women and gays. (He doesn’t even dare, I guess, to mention its treatment of Jews.)
I didn’t know who Frédéric Joignot is, so I looked him up: he’s the author of a bunch of novels, essay collections, plays, and screenplays; for several years before becoming a reporter at Le Monde in 2002, he was the cultural editor of the far-left newspaper Libération. This, I’ve discovered, is a not uncommon career trajectory for journalists in Europe: start out at some far-left (or even explicitly Communist) rag, and work your way up to the “newspaper of record” – all the while keeping your ideology perfectly intact.
As is often the case, the only cheering thing about Joignot’s article was the reader comments. The first two said pretty much all that needed to be said. The first pointed out that if “Islamophobia” is gaining ground, it’s “because Islam is gaining ground.” And the second read, in part: “it is the religion of Islam that is truly phobic: afraid of female seduction, afraid of alcohol, pork, the representation of the human body, etc.” How striking that, when it comes to reporting on Islam nowadays, it’s almost always left to the readers to supply the obvious truths around which the so-called journalists have been so desperately dancing.
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