Much though I find his 2001 flirtation with the SWP rebarbative I must admit that Cohen is a man of rare lucidity and bravery. His books such as What’s Left? and Waiting for the Etonians are very readable. His prose is acerbic and he exposes the hypocrisy of the left. Bigotry is quite acceptable if it happens to be a member of a minority faith or ethnicity that espouses such a view – that is the stance of much of the liberal left. He wrote in the New Statesman of how the liberation of Iraq was eminently justifiable from a leftist perspective.
I know an unrepentant Stalinist who speaks up for Moqtada as-Sadr because as-Sadr opposes the US presence in Iraq. This is all too typical. But even milder leftists voice such opinions.
It reminds me of the Danish cartoons issue. Many were upset by them. This is not reason enough to ban them. My attitudes are greviously offended on a daily basis by Commies but I would not stop them expressing their opinions. I acknowledge that Muslims are entitled to fight fire with fire. A proprotionate response from Mohammedans would have been to publish a cartoon.
Witness the fact that Labour tried to stop Geert Wilders from speaking in the UK. I do not share his views and banning the Koran would be an exceedinglu illiberal act but that is what Wilders calls for. At the same time Labour allows Islamist groups to legally exist whilse they call for death to be awarded to gays and feminists. Double standard is not the word for it. Wilders’ views though worrisome are not in the same league as those of the Islamic fundamentalists.
I am not against Islam. There is a positive side to it with charitable giving. its encouragement of literacy and its opposition to female infanticide. These were big advances in 7th century Arabia. There are many likeable Muslisms. It is more respectable than some faiths. Liberal Muslims are perfectly convivial. Fundamentalist ones are not to my taste overmuch – in the same league as fundoes of any faith. But if a fundo chooses to keep his faith to the private sphere – so long as this is not abusive – then I can see no reasonable objection.