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Bill Moyers: How does a liberal democracy deal with Islamic preachers who get up and preach violence against the country that protects them?

Clive James: Make them do it in English. America does a fine job. It’s easier in America, because all the Muslims that are living in the area of Detroit — that’s the biggest Muslim community outside the Islamic countries — sing the Star Spangled Banner every morning. You know, American patriotism is much easier to induce.

Australia does a pretty good job, better than Britain, and it’s largely for a single reason: because in Australia, a government spokesman — actually the Deputy Prime Minister — had the strength to get on television and say to all Muslims, ‘You’re welcome here. Of course, you are. You’re citizens. But your young people must give up the dream that this will ever be an Islamic republic. Australia will never have Sharia law, so forget about it. What you’ve got here is law. And you must obey the law.’

He actually got up and said it. This made it easier for moderate Muslims. The top Muslim imam had been preaching radical hatred for years, and he really dissed himself when he said that women deserved everything they got if they took their clothes off. Australian women take their clothes off very easily; it’s a hot country. And he said every woman in a bikini was a message from the devil. And he wanted them all treated as if they were enemies. And his own fellow imams managed to force him to step down.

What gave them courage to do that is they realized the state was unequivocally on their side.

Terror has the advantage. For example, terrorism wants to destabilize your justice system. The minute you get people proposing new laws where people can be detained forever or tortured, it means terrorism is winning. That’s exactly what terrorism wants. That will recruit more terrorists. It will turn the jails into Al Qaeda universities which is what is going to happen in Britain unless we’re very careful.


James and Moyers, talking on Bill Moyers Journal in 2007.