July 22, 2005

Invation of the body snatchers

Some strange an powerful force, possibly called 'reality', appears to have taken over the body of Poly Toynbee as Polly Pot has started talking sense:
"apologists or explainers for these young men can expect short shrift. This is not about poverty, deprivation or cultural dislocation of second-generation immigrants. There is plenty of that and it is passive. Iraq is the immediate trigger, but this is about religious delusion."
Not about poverty, deprivation, Islamophobia, or Britain simply not bowing down to the colonists every whim and impossing Sharia. This is not the Polly Pot that we all know, something has kidnapped her and replaced her with an almost identical clone.
Enlightenment values are in peril not because these mad beliefs are really growing but because too many rational people seek to appease and understand unreason. Extreme superstition breeds extreme action. Those who believe they alone know the only way, truth and life will always feel justified in doing anything in its name. You would, wouldn't you, if you alone had the magic answer to everything? If religions teach that life after death is better then it is hardly surprising that some crazed followers will actually believe it.

Moderates of these faiths may be as gentle as the carefully homogenised Thought for the Day preachers. But other equally authentic voices of religion, the likes of Ian Paisley or Omar Bakri Muhammad, represent a virulent intolerance that is airbrushed out by an official intellectual conspiracy to pretend that religion is always or mainly beneficent. History suggests otherwise. So do events on the streets of London. Meanwhile the far left, forever thrilled by the whiff of cordite, has bizarrely decided to fellow-travel with primitive Islamic extremism as the best available anti-Americanism around. (Never mind their new friends' views on women, gays and democracy.)
This is rather unsettling, I completely agree with every word. The problem of religious extremism is religion, the problem with Islamic extremism is extreme Islam. Our tolerant and broadly secular society is much better at many things than the various Sharia based societies of the world. That is why people come here. If they think they can lead a better life under Sharia then there are plenty of places to move to, we are stopping them. Polly might not got along with my previous statement but I certainly go along with her next one:
A third of all state schools are religious. The National Secular Society, a lone voice in monitoring their onward march, reports that Labour has let 40 more nonreligious state secondaries be taken over by the Church of England in the last four years, with another 54 about to go. The Office for the Schools Adjudicator said in a recent report that the only reason faith schools often achieve better results is because of "their practice of selection from churchgoing families". That attracts the pretend churchgoers, but selection, not religion, is the magic.
Yes, selection works. Parents will go to great lengths to get a chance at sending their children to a selective school, such as faking faith. Instead of demanding more faked faith why not give people what they really want, selective schools open to everybody that can pass the entrance exam. Rather than selective schools that are only open to the children of parents taht are religious, or can fake it. By opening the schools to everybody, and making them good (through selection) people from across community boundries will all want their kids in the same school. This will help to break down the barriers between communities and foster shared values, it might even start to erode the frontiers of the hermitically sealed Muslim colonies as the more sucsessful start to use schools that are not part of their colony simply because they are good. More religious schools will have the oppersite effect reinforcing the barriers that stop people from mixing at a very young age.


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