Interview With Melanie Phillips On <em>“World Turned Upside Down”</em>
January 10, 2011
By Roger Aronoff
Has Western civilization now reached a point where it has stopped trying to survive? That is one of many questions raised by British journalist and author Melanie Phillips in her recent book, The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle Over God, Truth, and Power. In an exclusive interview with Accuracy in Media, she was very critical of the role the media have played in creating this upside down world, as she sees it. She said that “The British media are worse than your American media. At least in America you have Fox News, you have talk radio, which can challenge the otherwise unchallenged worldview of the Left represented in organizations like CNN, ABC, and so on—and our BBC. But the fact is, most journalists are on the Left, and most journalists, I think, are acting as fifth columnists in the war against the West, a war waged both from within and from without.”
Melanie Phillips worked for a decade for the left-wing British newspaper, The Guardian, as a correspondent, editor and columnist, starting in 1977. From there she went to The Observer (which had been bought by The Guardian), The Sunday Times and later The Daily Mail, and has written several books along the way, including the widely acclaimed Londonistan. She also currently writes for The Spectator.
Among the issues most important to Ms. Phillips, are the breakdown of the family, the obsession with multiculturalism, the phenomenon of radical Islam coming into Britain and not being dealt with properly, and Israel, of which she is a passionate supporter.
She explained that she decided to write The World Turned Upside Down when she realized that the above-mentioned issues, and others such as how the war in Iraq was reported, had something in common: “They were all issues on which it was not possible, any longer, to have a proper discussion or debate; they were all issues on which the progressive side of politics took the view that it wasn’t simply that they believed that people who dissented from their point of view were wrong, they believed that they shouldn’t be allowed to speak at all.”
What these issues have in common, she concludes, is that “They were all linked by the fact that they were all ideologies—that is to say, they were all governed by ideologies such as a whole range of -isms: Feminism, anti-Americanism, environmentalism, anti-Zionism, moral and cultural relativism, and so on. And all these ideologies, because they’re ideologies, basically, they start with the belief that the idea is not only correct, but can’t be challenged, whatever that idea is, and then they force evidence to fit the idea.”
Below, in quotes, are excerpts from the interview. You can listen to the entire two-part interview or read the transcript here.
“The higher up the social and educational scale you go, particularly people who have been educated in universities in the last decade or two, you find that they are people who are much more likely to have a highly ideological view of the world, to be anti-America, anti-West, anti-capitalism, and to have—most importantly—no idea what truth and objectivity actually are. They disdain the whole notion of truth and objectivity, and they’re the people who are the most vicious and venomous towards Israel, a subject I care about very deeply. I am, myself, a Jew, but I also believe that Israel should be supported not simply in its own right, but because I believe Israel is a kind of paradigm issue of our time, that as far as Britain and Europe are concerned, it’s where the most irrational and bigoted views coalesce under the umbrella of “being rational” and “progressive.” It’s a kind of symbol, if you like, of where we’ve lost the plot over a whole range of issues.
“So all these ideologies—look at environmentalism, look at anti-Zionism, anti-Americanism—we may think that some of them, or all of them, are horrible and destructive, but from the point of view of people who believe in them, they are all ways in which they think the world can be perfected.
“So it is extraordinary that the Left literally march on the streets of London, literally march shoulder to shoulder with the Islamists. I think there are a number of reasons. The most obvious reason is that they are both revolutionary movements wanting to overturn Western society and its culture, and replace it by something else. Now, it’s perfectly true that the Islamists want something radically different from the Left, in terms of what they want to replace it by, but they are happy to use each other as troops in the common cause of defeating the West. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is that they are all Utopian creeds...
“You have the same problem developing very fast in America. You’re quite behind us in Britain because we’re so far in advance because of our demographic situation, but, unfortunately, you’re going down exactly the same route, because you’re too frightened, collectively—as we are in Britain, collectively—to acknowledge that this thing we’re facing is not simply a problem of terrorism, it’s also a problem of cultural takeover which is rooted in religious fanaticism. Now, how we should be dealing with it, in my view, is this: We should be expecting Muslims who live in Britain and America to adhere to exactly the same standards as every other minority.
“...in Britain, we’ve given a lot of ground to sharia law. We’re turning a blind eye to it. So we are tolerating, in Britain, for example, polygamy. We are giving welfare benefits to polygamous households. We are even toleratin, sharia courts. Now, sharia courts, they are courts which do not recognize a superior law of the land, and, consequently, we have the terrible phenomenon developing in Britain of parallel jurisdictions in which British Muslim women, who are British citizens, are effectively being forced to live under a rule of law administered informally within their communities which makes them into second-class citizens. One cannot have that.
“In the Islamic world, symbols are very, very important. Consequently, to erect near or very near the site, which is a graveyard, of a terrorist attack—conducted under the aegis of Islamic jihad—a mosque which is particularly large is very, very significant in the Islamic world, because the symbol, the signal, that gives to the Islamic world is that on the site where the Islamic world attacked America, it has kind of planted a flag in triumph. That’s what that [Ground Zero] mosque symbolizes to the Islamic world.
“But it struck me that The Guardian had taken a much more strategic decision, which in a way is quite comical, and it’s this: Assange [founder of WikiLeaks] embodies, as it were, two articles of politically correct faith...On the one hand, they support Julian Assange as a hero of the century because of the harm he is doing to America. On the other hand, there is this inconvenient—for them—set of claims that he has committed rape and sexual assault.
“But it seems to me that the real fault here [WikiLeaks] is with the American authorities. I mean, it is absolutely staggering that all this material could be downloaded so easily. I don’t know whether this Bradley Manning fellow was the guy who leaked all this—we’ve been told he was...but whoever it was clearly was able to get a hold of this stuff very easily. It almost defies belief—it does defy belief—that America can be so sloppy in leaving this stuff so unprotected, in the sense that it didn’t take much to download all this. I mean, given the number of people who we’re told had access to it all, it’s astonishing that this hasn’t leaked before... It’s just incredibly incompetent.
“The trouble is that our media in America and in Britain don’t report this. They are so incredibly biased and prejudiced against Israel and against America—but, in this respect, against Israel—that they dwell obsessively and viciously on Israel, and they produce this incredibly distorted picture which puts Israel at the center of the problem, whereas, in fact, it is not—it is Iran that is the problem. It is Iran that is the strategic menace to the region, and to the free world. The media simply refuse to report that. So it’s been rather amusing—the WikiLeaks leaks have come as a bolt from the blue for the Left, for whom this is a really inconvenient truth. But to the rest of us, who actually have seen through all the propaganda, it wasn’t a shock at all.
“And that is what the WikiLeaks leaks have thrown into such very stark relief, that President Obama’s administration has been acting in bad faith. It has been telling everybody that if you can solve Israel/Palestine, then you have a much better chance of getting all these countries, like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, on one side against Iran. This was always patently ridiculous. But now, it has been shown to be absolutely true that it was ridiculous, because now we can see that it was a lie, that Obama’s whole approach has been based on a lie, a very cynical lie—because he knew perfectly well. He was being told by these countries, “What we want you to do is take out Iran.” They weren’t even bothered about Israel. So he knew that, and yet he told the world a lie.
“I think that Obama is set upon using Israel as the scapegoat in the region for a whole variety of reasons. He had a setback, because his strategy over the settlements has run into the ground, but he will find other ways of hurting Israel. This is a very, very anti-Israel President. He is hurting the West’s major strategic ally—only strategic ally, only unambiguous, strategic ally—in the Middle East, he’s weakening the West as a result, and he’s dumping on the victims of genocidal terror. It is absolutely obscene. What’s going to happen, I don’t know. I mean, Obama clearly has been weakened by the midterms, but he still has power, as we know, over foreign policy. I don’t know whether Congress could rein him in if it wanted to... I don’t think the American media is telling the American public the extent of the perfidy that is going on here, which is almost unbelievable, the extent to which he’s putting the thumbscrews on Israel, and he’s simply finding new ways of doing so.
“These things that are being said—“genocide,” “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing”—are obscenities. They are absolute obscenities. First of all, they are completely, and demonstrably, untrue... There is no apartheid. Israeli Arabs have full civil rights. There are Israeli Arabs who are members of the courts. They are lawyers. They are judges. They are politicians. They are members of the Knesset. There is no apartheid at all. These are the most wicked lies, and the Western intelligentsia has been consumed by these lies.
“You talk about “ethnic cleansing”—no Arabs have been ethnically cleansed from Israel, but the Jews were ethnically cleansed after 1948, when they were driven out of Arab countries. A future state of Palestine, according to the Palestinians, must have not one Jew in it. That is apartheid. That is ethnic cleansing. That is racism. So this is why I think it really is a world turned upside down, where you have people who are the victims of these terrible things—apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide—who are accused of perpetrating it. The appalling thing is that the West can’t see this for what it is.”