Clash of the Titans

Harry’s Place reader, TedM alerts me to the exciting news of this upcoming Oxford Union debate:

“This House Regrets the Founding of the United States of America”

Proposing the motion are:

David Pidcock, leader of the Islamic Party of Britain
Robert Griffiths, leader of the Communist Party of Britain
Jamal Harwood, chief executive of Hizb-Ut-Tahrir UK

Opposing the motion is:

Jonah Goldberg, of the right wing journal, the National Review
Matt Frei, the BBC’s Washington correspondent
Peter Rodman, of the Brookings Institute

Jonah Goldberg is a conservative. Here is his position on gay marriage:

I’m not a passionate opponent to gay marriage — as some close readers have gleened over the years. I favor civil unions and it’s my guess that gay marriage is ultimately inevitable. And yet, I still oppose it. Why? Truth be told, my primary — but not sole — objection isn’t religious. Rather, it’s that, unlike some relevant advocates of same-sex marriage, I am humble and skeptical about the extent of what I can know. I work from the Hayekian assumption* that there is a vast amount of social-evolutionary knowledge and utility embedded in traditional marriage that should be respected even if I cannot tell you what it is.

In short, my objection to gay marriage isn’t primarily principled in the sense that my objection really has nothing to do with my attitudes toward homosexuality per se. It has to do with my views toward the pace of change itself. Gay marriage is a very, very, new idea. My view/hunch is that implementing it too quickly is a bad idea (for all sorts of obvious and unobvious reasons). More social “evolution” is required. This may be unjust to individual gays living today — I have no doubt it feels that way to them — but as Edmund Burke said conservatives “must bear with infirmities until they fester into crimes.” (Note: I’m quite consistent on all of this ). And, who knows? After a generation of study, comtemplation and debate we may discover that it really is a bad idea after all. Or it may just seem obvious that gays should have been married all along.

To put that in context, here is is the position of David Pidcock’s Islamic Party of Britain on homosexuality

[Question:] Would an Islamic nation in Britain tolerate homosexuality? By tolerate I mean allow people to live their lives this way without state interference. Christianity does not tolerate homosexuality but it is not punishable by death. Would an Islamic state therefore ‘condemn to death’ Britain’s 6.6 million homosexuals?

[Answer:] As far as Islamic law is concerned, the rules are that the state does not interfere in the privacy of people’s homes, but it would need to safeguard public decency by preventing any public advocacy for homosexuality. Such activity would come under the heading of public incitement. The death penalty the questioner mentions only applies to a public display of lewdness witnessed by several people.

Hizb’ut Tahrir, by contrast, is a clerical fascist party which has produced and disseminated racist political-religious tracts, whose Danish spokesman has been jailed for calling on Danish muslims to “”exterminate rulers” if they opposed people leaving Denmark to fight in Iraq” and for “publishing a text on the party’s website urging people to kill Jews”. It is working to create a state in which women and non-muslims will be subjected to political and social apartheid.

I’d say that Jonah Goldberg has a long way to go before he meets the standards of “conservatism” advocated by the Islamic Party of Britain and Hizb’ut Tahrir. He’s Peter Tatchell, compared to this lot.

As for Robert Griffiths’, hardline Stalinist Communist Party of Britain. Well, this is the party which has a “basic position of solidarity with Peoples [i.e. North] Korea”. Yet, it is the United States of America which Griffiths wishes hadn’t been founded.

If that’s your position, it’d be silly to have qualms about sharing not merely a platform, but a position in an organised debate, with representatives of organised racist and fascist parties.

Should be a fun debate.

It does neatly describe an aspect of contemporary politics.

First, it shows the gulf that exists between traditional conceptions of “conservatism” and the clerical fascists.

Secondly, it illustrates how comfortable some on the far left are with extending the comradely hand to those on the far right.

I think that both the Islamist speakers are British converts. If that is so, it illustrates how absurd it is to excuse support for clerical fascists on the grounds of third worldism or solidarity with ethnic minority groups.

Gene adds: There was a time when a communist would have refused to share a stage with the head of a party whose leadership includes a flat-out antisemite, let alone debate on the same side with him. Wasn’t there?