“There’s a book that came out at exactly the same time as the Charlie Hebdo atrocities. It’s by Michel Hollelbeq, and it’s called Submission — some of you have read about it.
There’s a point in this book which I think is extremely important for what we must think of, which is how to impart an urgent concern for free speech beyond the people in this room and to wider society.
The most critical point in this novel… not to give away the whole plot, but there’s a French professor. It’s 2024 and France is becoming a Muslim country. The Jews are all leaving, and this professor who’s not Jewish — he’s an atheist Frenchman, likes his pleasures, you know — and he’s speaking to a Jewish friend who says she’s off to Israel.
And there’s a very, very important point in the novel where this man realizes he doesn’t have an Israel.
Now, this is a very, very important thing to tell people in this country, and it goes far beyond the Jews.
I don’t have an Israel. This is it. If you care about a decent, democratic, broadly pluralistic society in which you can live the life you want to live, this is the best deal and I don’t have a get out option. Now other people need to know that.”
(Slightly modified) remarks from Douglas Murray during last month’s panel on free speech and the future of Europe at London’s Central Synagogue.
There’s more on the topic:
- Murray delivers a tour de force speech on defending Western values
- Churchill’s epic words on the defense of freedom and peace
- McEwan writes, the day after Hebdo, that Islamic jihad has become a global attractor for psychopaths