Pat Condell – truth-teller or ignorant bigot?

This angry YouTuber is an insult to the many people who kind of agree with him

Pat Condell is an atheist YouTuber who’s in your face and not afraid to insult your religion or your political views. Whether you’re a Muslim, Christian, polite and/or pro-Muslim atheist, Europhile or “middle-class left-wing p***k”, be prepared for his angry wrath.

I used to regularly watch and quite like his videos. Being a former comedian, he has a rather amusing cynical sense of humour and there are some points he makes on Islam, multiculturalism and the EU that either I agree with or are at least extreme mirror images of my opinion.

He has always been subject to controversy, with a lot of popularity (with 164,114 subscribers to his channel as of today) as well as criticism, from the usual accusations of intolerance, racism or “Islamophobia” to malicious death threats (that’s actually a huge understatement if you click on the link).

But a lot of criticism against him is very well-founded. In particular he seems to have become a lot more extreme of late, and his two most recent videos are testament to that. In one, “Insulting religion”, he gratuitously does exactly what the title suggests and appears to blame Islam and Christianity for all the evils in the world. Yes, you have a right to insult religion, but please keep a bit of perspective.

The other video, “An illiberal consensus”, is the one where I got the “middle-class left-wing p***ks” quote from. He keeps repeating this infantile name-calling throughout the video to describe the Guardian and the BBC. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a Guardianista either, but when he uses such labels to attack people who disagree with him, he stoops below the level of many people he criticises.

His claim of BBC bias is a reasonable one I might be inclined to agree with, and again I don’t agree with everything the Guardian says. I also agree it’s a shame that the Yes campaign lost the AV referendum because they were too close-minded and stubbornly limited the campaign to lefties. (See Telegraph blogger Ed West’s convincing take on this matter.) Please don’t insult these views by resorting to infantile personal attacks.

You know, I’m no fan of extremist Islam, and – while I don’t accept his conspiracy theory that from the start, multiculturalism was all about Islamization – I think it’s a misguided philosophy. But what is the solution? Banning sharia law and shutting down extremist mosques is all very well, but what else do we need? Integration between ethnic and religious minorities and the rest of us. And I’m afraid, Pat, that integration is a two-way process. So instead of just attacking Islam, we also need to:

a) Have a healthy, civic nationalist sense of pride in our nation and values, including tolerance.

b) Accept Muslims and all other minorities as fellow citizens (this seems to be a passive feeling that many non-prejudiced Britons have, that Muslims are somehow different)

Judging by Mr Condell’s videos, it seems that he has a long to way to go in achieving these things. He, and a depressing number of other people, stubbornly thinks it’s only Muslims who have to change, and he has no obligation to do anything other than insulting people. Well good for you, Mr Condell, but don’t expect to change anything with that attitude.

EDIT: I now regret some of the language I used, specifically calling Mr. Condell a bigot. (25.13.14)

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“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

This extraordinarily important Western value has finally been realized by Geert Wilders’ trial. The controversial Dutch politician has been acquitted after an enduringly long trial for saying what he thinks. He is anti-Islam and an overall radical conservative, and it was comments such as a comparison between the Koran and Mein Kampf that led to his trial. I don’t agree with all of his views, but he is one of the few politicians in the Netherlands who is speaking out about the threat facing the Netherlands and the rest of the Western world, whether or not he properly understands what that threat is. 

The fact that he was put on trial is a stain on the Western democratic world. No-one should ever be prosecuted for airing opinions just because some people find them extreme and offensive. As Ed West writes on his Telegraph blog, half a century ago the idea that anybody would be put on trial in Holland for speaking their mind would have been inconceivable. Yet that has happened. Wilders has said that his acquittal is “a victory for freedom of speech”, but that he was even put on trial makes it crystal clear that, as he says, free speech, liberty, equality, Dutch and Western culture are under enormous threat.

So where are the newspapers, the so-called “liberals” who go on about wanting to protect civil liberties, the “conservatives” who want to preserve our culture? Where are they in applauding the verdict while condemning the fact that a man can be put on trial for his views, in supposedly the most freedom-loving country in the world? Don’t ask me.

I don’t agree with his way of dealing with this threat, or that the threat is Islam itself and not radical Islamism. I don’t agree with banning the burka in all public places (though I do think it should be banned in public and some private buildings), temporarily freezing non-Western immigration, taxing headscarves or introducing Israeli-style administrative detention.

On the other hand, I have to contend that things are a lot worse in the Netherlands than we’re having to deal with. It’s hardly well-known, but it’s fair to say that many gays in Amsterdam are afraid to go out in public, for fear of being beaten up by Muslims. White people living in Muslim-majority suburbs encounter random abuse (skip to about 8 minutes in the video below). Immigrant women are not safe.

That fact that he could have been put on trial in what used to be the most liberal, freedom-loving country in the world, is absolutely incredible, but he’s now been cleared of all charges, so he won’t be sent to a physical prison. He’ll remain in a prison of constant death threats and 24-hour police protection. He is risking his life for his beliefs.

This makes me even more glad we at least now have a government that understands the threat of radical Islam to our freedom, understands that it stems from multiculturalism (by which I mean the idea that immigrants should not adapt and integrate into the culture of their new country of residence), and is actually doing something about it. Touch wood, we hopefully won’t end up in as bad a situation as the Netherlands. Let’s not get too complacent though.