On June 14, Tim Farron announced his intention to resign as leader of the Liberal Democrats, citing unfair media coverage surrounding his Christian faith. In this podcast, Aidan argues that beliefs matter and that religion does not exempt anyone from reasonable scrutiny. You can tweet Aidan with your thoughts @theaidanproject.
One hundred years ago to the day of this episode’s release, on 6 April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson declared that the US was at war with Germany. This is part two of a two-part series focusing on the role of the United States of America in the Great War of 1914-1918. In part one, Dr. Paul Dean explained the underlying tensions that led to war, the ambitions of the Central Powers and The Entente, and the tragically misplaced belief that it would all be over quickly. Part one concluded on the eve of the momentous Declaration of War on Germany. Part two surveys the path of the war following the US’s official military intervention until the 11 November 1918 Armistice, but also beyond in wider political terms. What were Wilson’s war aims? How did the US military perform? What overall impact did the US have? And what is the legacy of ‘America’s Forgotten War’? All judgements on the merits of the war aside, the events of 1914-1918 must never be forgotten. It appears there is much work to do to raise the Great War’s profile in the US. This is the Aidan Project’s small contribution towards reinvigorating this valuable historical memory. The series’ special guest, Dr. Dean, is a former instructor at, and alumni of, Washington State University, who is an expert on World War One and author of ‘Courage: Roy Blanchard’s Journey in America’s Forgotten War’. For more information on Dr. Dean, please visit his web site at www.paultdean.com.
“Americans on both sides should find a way to address the lethal ideology of Islamism. This standoff is a distraction.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
9 February 2017
I have provided this companion piece to put to writing one of the most surreal examples of the Regressive Left‘s insatiable desire for self-strangulation and to address what I will simply call ‘bad ideas’. Enter the Southern Poverty Law Centre, an organisation which incomprehensibly included Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali on a list of dangerous extremists in October 2016.
The SPLC describes itself as ‘combating hate, intolerance, and discrimination through education and litigation’. There is no question that the SPLC has been responsible for a number of admirable successes in tackling intolerance, but it has now gone completely off course. Indeed, by adding Nawaz and Ali to a list of persons it alleges exploit terrorist attacks to demonize the Islamic faith, the left has struck a new low in inexplicable moral confusion.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a heroic icon of would-be Islamic Enlightenment. Fleeing an arranged marriage and the confines of a strict Islamic upbringing, Ali found asylum in the Netherlands, where she embraced liberal, democratic values. Ali, who admits in her book that in her indoctrinated youth she supported the Fatwa against Salman Rushdie, is now a brave campaigner for Islamic reform. A dangerous job, which she tackles with immense courage and intelligence.
Maajid Nawaz now operates a counter-radicalization group called Quilliam. Nawaz, a former Islamist himself, speaks with insight about Islam, and makes clear the distinctions between Muslims, Islamists and Jihadists. A distinction all too often confused by the real Islamaphobes, who address all groups as one. Unfortunately, to his enemies on the left, Nawaz is – in true regressive fashion – labelled as Islamophobic, while his opponents on the right infer that he is a secret Islamist on a mission of infiltration. What a sorry state of affairs.
The SPLC would certainly go on my list of regressive liberal organisations which have completely lost the plot. The poverty of progress could not be more pronounced than with this embarrassing own goal by the SPLC. What chance, I ask, does the left have in winning the moral and progressive argument when its own best assets of informed reason are themselves attacked as extremists? It is not only the right which have moved to post-truth, the left is at it as well.
The wider debate continues, and whilst the left argues with itself about Islam, immigration, healthcare, the economy – and anything else worth debating – there is only one winner, and it is not the left. To be sure, the left has always been at war with itself, but I simply do not believe it needs to be this way. We just need some honesty. Real honesty. Perhaps even uncomfortable honesty. We urgently need to have difficult conversations that do not confuse the true essence of liberal democracy. Bad ideas must be challenged by good ones. And there are some really bad ideas out there.
Perhaps, even with the left totally confused and impotent, Trump would still have won, and Brexit would still have happened. However, at least with a sensible, honest left, there would be a united opposition to Trump’s bigotry. As it happens, large sections of the left are willing to defend bigotry and misogyny, as long, of course, if it is done in the name of good-old-fashioned religion. But there is no such tolerance for the President. Would Trump’s infamous “grab ’em by the pussy” utterance be okay if it was merely the sincere expression of a deeply held belief based on his closely observed religious faith? Is this not ever so slightly patronising and hypocritical to condemn Trump but let the zealots off from their nonsense because of their supernatural beliefs? Let us be clear: neither Trump nor the devout should get a pass for bad ideas. It is quite proper to expect more from society. There is nothing more regressive than letting bad ideas slide for fear of causing offence. You should never have to apologise for bad ideas.
We must be able to say honestly, in the 21st century, that desiring to throw homosexuals off buildings for the “crime” of their sexuality is wrong, regardless of religious belief. I am not an Islamaphobe for saying that. If you are willing to defend the right of any religion to hold such pernicious views then you are part of the problem. If you want honest debate and want to help challenge the nonsense of the Regressive Left, please do share my message. Please also support Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz.
‘Left to Die: Whilst Liberals Slept’
In this episode, The Art of Terror, I will be looking at the War on Terror, in addition to Edmund Clark’s thought-provoking exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, London, entitled War *of* Terror. This adapted name is quite deliberate, as will become clear within this episode. The artist-photographer, Clark, has visited Guantanamo Bay, along with the homes of persons who have been held under house arrest here in the United Kingdom. In a world in which ISIS and other groups sympathetic to the Jihadist cause are committing regular atrocities in the Middle East and, indeed, much closer to ‘home’, Western-speaking, we must surely offer strong support for robust governmental action to tackle terrorism. But – and this is the key – it needs to be effective and proportionate. Is it really a case of no pain, no gain? Is torture ever morally acceptable? Indeed, can the War on Terror ever be fought with our morals intact? This episode also looks at the West’s best options for tackling extremism; options which, frustratingly, are being suffocated by the ‘regressive left’. Furthermore, and very much linked to the work of would-be reformers, the power of belief in the supernatural is a significant factor in the War on Terror, which this episode explores in detail. Did George W. Bush’s belief in God lead to the invasion of Iraq? Thank you for tuning in. You can follow my work on Twitter @theaidanproject.
This episode of The Aidan Project tackles the moral confusion of the liberal argument, and the intellectual self-harm being conducted by the left. The rise of Trump, and the Brexit result can surely, at least in part, be explained by the inner fighting on the left, which has moved many to the centre, and on some issues, to the right, in the search for a measure of much-needed honesty. The left has a lot of work to do; Aidan is aghast that the left is not willing to defend basic constructs of liberalism by not being honest about its unpalatable challenges. This episode also looks at Trump’s conduct thus far in 2017. Thank you for listening. Please do take a moment to subscribe, be it via WordPress, iTunes, YouTube or Stitcher et al, as this truly assists in getting this argument out there. This is a wake-up call.