By Daniel Greenfield at Front Page:
The George Orwell Memorial Fund appears to have missed the point of the Orwell lecture. It’s not supposed to be a lecture by someone who embodies Orwellian societies.
But nonetheless the George Orwell Annual Lecture was given by Tariq Ramadan, a Muslim Brotherhood Islamist stooge who misrepresents his affiliations, on a properly Orwellian topic. ‘Democratising the Middle East: A New Role for the West’
When Tariq Ramadan talks about “democratizing”, he really means allowing a fundamentally undemocratic Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, to take over, in pursuit of its agenda of Islamizing, not Democratizing, the Middle East.
The Muslim Brotherhood is a totalitarian organization dedicated to taking away everyone’s civil rights while manipulating language. Its self-description as the Freedom and Justice Party turns out to mean slavery and injustice.
That’s certainly what we think of as Orwellian.
So the George Orwell Annual Lecture presented a properly Orwellian lecture while being too stupid to realize what it was doing, thereby proving that Orwell really is dead.
The “popularization” of George Orwell by college students helps lead to an absurd situation in which everyone completely misses the point. And that leads to an event like this coming to you in 2014
Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, The Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The Inaugural George Orwell Lecture in Dubai. This event is staged in association with the Orwell Trust
Gavin Esler delivers the inaugural Orwell Lecture at Emirates Litfest. And he points out that The Ministry of Truth, depicted in Orwell’s iconic novel, 1984, was mostly dedicated not to rewriting the past, but to producing dim-witted but catchy pop songs, idiotic TV programmes and newspapers obsessed with crime, sport and sex. Did George Orwell really see into the 21st century world of the X-Factor, tabloid newspapers and Wayne Rooney?
And so we have it.
An employee of a national news outlet which everyone must support by law will deliver a lecture in a totalitarian Islamist state that argues that George Orwell wasn’t writing about totalitarianism… but about catchy pop songs.
It’s so brilliantly evocative of the manipulation of ideas that Orwell was against. And it’s being done in his name. Islamists are using Orwell to promote the Islamization of Europe.
(Note to readers, Islamist does not refer to a separate branch of Islam, as some seem to think, it refers to organized Islamic political groups and individuals who promote Islamization.)
From the Telegraph article Greenfield linked to:
George Orwell betrayed: Islamist Tariq Ramadan gives a lecture in his name
The present political chaos is connected with the decay of language. (George Orwell, Politics and the English language, 1946.)
This week in London, the annual George Orwell Lecture was given by the Islamist writer Tariq Ramadan. Where is one to start?
George Orwell was against religious censorship. Tariq Ramadan campaigned successfully to cancel a production of Voltaire’s play Le fanatisme, ou Mahomet le Prophete in Geneva.
Orwell was a rational man. When Ramadan taught at the College de Saussure he argued in favour of Islamic biology over Darwin.
Orwell risked his life fighting for the Spanish Republic against Franco’s fascists. Ramadan is a coward when it comes to fighting fascism. In November 2003, on French television, the future French president Nicolas Sarkozy invited Ramadan to condemn the practice of stoning women. He would not. Ramadan squirmed: “I have called for — because I know my position is a minority one within the Muslim world today — a moratorium so that there can be a real debate between Muslims.”
Orwell opposed state control and religious indoctrination. Ramadan would like the former to impose the latter. He wants Muslim parents to control the content of state school programmes according to “Islamic values”.
Ramadan pokes fun at feminism with silly jokes. Western society supposedly obliges women to “become brick workers or lorry drivers to show that women are effectively liberated”. (OK, so maybe there is a connection to Orwell, who was a bit of a sexist.)
Orwell was for liberty and justice. By contrast, according to the US essayist Paul Berman “Ramadan reveres [the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide], Sheikh al Qaradawi above all other present-day Islamic scholars, and in one book after another he has left no room for doubt about his fealty. If anyone in the world offers a model of modern enlightened Islam, Ramadan plainly judges Qaradawi to be that person.” That’s the same Qaradawi who, as Peter Tatchell points out, “condones suicide bombing, the killing of civilians, female genital mutilation, forced veiling, wife-beating and the killing of Muslims who turn away from their faith. He also blames rape victims who dress immodestly and supports the execution of LGBT people.”
Orwell’s 1946 essay Politics and the English Language famously observed that most political language “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”. This is a good description of…Tariq Ramadan. Entire books have been written about Ramadan’s linguistic evasiveness and manipulation. One of those books is even called Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan. In it Caroline Fourest catalogues all of the ways in which a naive French press have fallen for his manipulations.
One French leftist, Yves Coleman, accuses Ramadan of “using the key words of today’s public relations industry: ‘respect’, ‘tolerance’, ‘communication’ and ‘dialogue’ in the manner of a cynical politician.” Coleman offers this telling example of Ramadan using language to “make lies sound truthful and murder respectable”.
In 1998 Ramadan wrote a foreword to a collection of fatwas by Yusuf al Qaradawi, published by the European Council of the Fatwa … When Ramadan is asked about this foreword and his “deep respect” for such a reactionary theologian he has an answer which is typical of what is called in French “langue de bois” (or “wooden tongue”, a term used to qualify politicians’ language: something which is vague or impossible to understand): “I quote [his work] when I find it interesting. I also express criticisms or distance myself from some of his positions, which can be explained by the fact that he does not live in Western society. He develops social, political and geostrategic analyses which belong to him, and which I don’t always share.”
The gifted American essayist Paul Berman – why not invite him to give the Orwell lecture, by the way? – has brilliantly explained the deeper meaning of Ramadan’s abuse of political language. In his essential bookThe Flight of the Intellectuals, Berman shows that Ramadan is really a “Salafi Reformist”. In other words, Ramadan believes that an Islamic way of life is pure and authentic (the only really good way of life) but that Muslims are oppressed by “a western aggressive cultural invasion” and a “colonisation of minds”. Muslims must find the road back to a life free of animalistic, decadent western oppression and influence. The road back is textual, via the foundational documents of seventh-century Islam. This Koranic revolution is so large that the modern world will be swallowed whole as it is “reformed” in the light of Koranic revelation. “Reformism” then means the Islamification or Salafication of modernity. That’s the scale of Ramadan’s ambition in the West.
Ramadan’s project proceeds in the west strategically. It appropriates the language of modern democratic politics, occupying it, infusing it with Koranic meaning. This is why salafi reformists can sound like contemporary western politicians to wilfully naive people like those who invited Ramadan. But as Berman puts it, “the modern rhetorics [of Ramadan] always turn out to be translations, in one fashion of another, of Koranic concepts. They are worldly exteriors with Islamic interiors.”
Ramadan’s project is organised, pro-active and entrepreneurial in advancing its ideas and influence. By contrast the modern Left has mostly lost touch with what the ideas it should positively stand for, knowing only what it is against (Israel and, most of all, America). For Ramadan, one imagines, the encounter resembles the act of taking sweets from a child.