Strange, the apparent lack of public alarm in Britain over an extensive new poll showing that significant minorities of Muslim students at some of Britain's better colleges and universities embrace the most threatening aspects of Islam. These include the conviction that killing in the name of religion can be justified (32 percent), belief that men and women shouldn't mix freely (40 percent), support for Sharia (Islamic law) in Britain (40 percent), and support for a global caliphate (33 percent) based in Sharia, among other repressive tenets.
Of course, the poll, conducted by the online research company YouGov and commissioned by the conservative Centre for Social Cohesion, came out just this week. Still, having recently visited England and interviewed a string of political, media and religious figures, I'm going to guess that these horrifying numbers -- and they are indeed horrifying, despite the emphatic disclaimer that the majority of polled Muslim students support secularism and democratic values -- will kick up little cultural dust. After being plastered across a news cycle's worth of papers, they will be regarded as so much political wallpaper that people gaze upon without seeing -- or, at least, without reacting.
Fear or outrage would be considered Islamophobic, of course, and isn't there a law against that? Concern for British common law would be called nationalistic, and that's got to be a crime against multiculturalism. Calling for any action would be labeled xenophobic-slash-mean-spirited. Better to read and weep, silently.
One early exception was a laudably passionate outcry from columnist Minette Marrin writing in the venerable Sunday Times. Marrin's concern was palpable; she ticked off many of the poll's disturbing statistics, noting also the perils to be found within Muslim uncertainty over key questions. For example, she wrote, "When asked how supportive, if at all, they would be of the introduction of a worldwide caliphate based on Sharia, fully 42 percent said they weren't sure. That's quite some uncertainty." She added: "One in five wasn't sure whether Islam is compatible with the western notion of democracy. Insecure young people can be swayed by extremists.
And then she acknowledged the all-important and consistently avoided problem: "The question is how to stand up to the extremists."
Did the columnist next call for a campaign of zero-tolerance for Islamic law? A new immigration policy designed to stop or even reverse the growth of the Islamic demographic in Britain as a means of preventing the democratic implementation of Islamic law in Britain?
Not a chance. "First," she wrote, "I think, we should abandon all discussion of what Islam truly is." In other words, just stop the conversation, PC-halting as it already is.
Her logic? "Questions of true (Islamic) doctrine are insoluble," she declared, felling with one deconstructive swoop the objectively knowable facts of Islamic law, which is rooted in Islam's mainstream teachings.
She went on: "Clearly, for lots of Muslims Islam is not a doctrine of gentleness, tolerance, sexual equality, forgiveness, democracy and all the rest. For countless others it clearly is.
What follows inescapably from this," she wrote in the very next sentence -- and here we must pause to stretch our neck muscles to soften the approaching trauma of journalistic whiplash -- "is that religious people and their views should not be officially recognized in groups. Religion should not be allowed a public space or public representation." She added: "This is hard for those of us who used to love the muddled Anglican compromise; it means the disestablishment of our national church -- if it doesn't self-destruct first."
Huh? It's not easy to read between these lines, but it seems possible that Marrin just might believe that the anti-Western and even violent outlook of too many of Britain's best and brightest Muslims is in fact traditional Islamic doctrine. Shutting down discussion of Islam, eradicating all religion, even British core Anglicanism, from the public square -- which is essentially what former French President Jacques Chirac did in 2003 when he banned the kippa and cross along with the hijab from public schools -- allows the British to avoid this postmodern abyss.
But it leaves another gaping hole.
Anthony Glees, a professor of security and intelligence studies at London's Brunel University, has underscored the importance of the survey. "The finding that a large number of students think it is OK to kill in the name of religion is alarming," he said, adding: "There is a wide cultural divide between Muslim and non-Muslim students. The solution is to stop talking about celebrating diversity and focus on integration and assimilation."
Excuse me, but integration and assimilation into what? Not a Britain that abandons all discussion of what Islam actually is -- along with all vestiges of what Britain ever was.