If racism is ineradicable, as critical race theory argues, then combatting it cannot be about winning equality. No issue expresses this better than the controversy over ‘cultural appropriation’.
is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster. His books include From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and Its Legacy (updated edition by Atlantic Books, 2017; first published 2009); The Quest for a Moral Compass: A Global History of Ethics (Melville House, 2014); and Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate (Oneworld, 2009).
On the fear of the Other and anxieties about the Self
The ‘community of communities’ approach is responsible for the emergence of a tribal sense of identity among third-generation Muslims in Europe, argues Kenan Malik. The reaction to diversity must be political dialogue rather than indifference disguised as respect.
Whatever the result of Thursday’s UK referendum, neither popular disaffection with mainstream political institutions, nor the sense among large sections of the electorate of being politically voiceless, is likely to subside. Nor will it, argues Kenan Malik, until the reasons for that disaffection are directly addressed.
Had journalists and artists and political activists taken a more robust view on free speech over the past 20 years then we may never have come to this, writes Kenan Malik. After all, what nurtures the reactionaries, both within Muslim communities and outside it? It’s this: the unwillingness of many so-called liberals to stand up for basic liberal principles, and their readiness to betray the progressives within minority communities.
Confronted with gruesome images of the brutality of ISIS, many people conclude that this violence is inherent to the faith itself, to Islam. But is there really something about Islam that makes its followers more prone to violence and intolerance than others?
Those who wish to pass off World War I as a just war against German militarism should remember that at the heart of the global imperialist network stood not Germany but Britain, writes Kenan Malik. And that behind imperialist expansion lay venomous racism.
The humanist impulse not only liberated the sense of transcendence from the shackles of the sacred, it also transformed the idea of transcendence itself. Kenan Malik on the humanization of the transcendent in art and literature, from Dante to Rothko.
It is wrong to make immigration responsible for Europe’s social ills, writes Kenan Malik. Worse still is the way in which fortress Europe has created not only a physical barrier around the continent, but an emotional one, too, around Europe’s sense of humanity.
Jonathan Israel's radical vision
The thinkers of the Radical Enlightenment pursued ideas of equality and democracy to their logical conclusions, envisioning a systematic egalitarianism extending across all frontiers, class barriers and horizons. Jonathan Israel in conversation with Kenan Malik.
The case of Britain
Today, the same arguments once used against Jews, and then against South Asian and Caribbean immigrants, are now raised against Muslims and east Europeans. However, Kenan Malik finds some comfort in reviewing the facts of the matter. He then tackles the illusions.
Salman Rushdie had to back out of attending the 2012 Jaipur Literature Festival because of an assassination threat against him. The lack of support for Rushdie shows that the defence of free speech is no longer seen as an irrevocable duty, writes Kenan Malik.
The claim that Christianity provides the bedrock of Western culture might serve the interests of extremists, but it is a betrayal of a far more complex history, argues Kenan Malik.
Were the riots in the UK a political upheaval of the poor? No, says Kenan Malik, the riots were not protests in any way. Instead they revealed that a second kind of poverty stalks Britain: moral poverty. The UK has become a nation of isolated individuals.
The irony is not just that Breivik’s hatred of Islam should lead to a horror that many took to be Islamic, but also that nothing so resembles Breivik’s mindset as that of an Islamist jihadist, writes Kenan Malik.
In his new book, American atheist Sam Harris argues that science can replace theology as the ultimate moral authority. Kenan Malik is sceptical of any such yearning for moral certainty, be it scientific or divine.
In Germany as in Britain, the consequence of multiculturalist policies was social fragmentation, argues Kenan Malik. But a critique of multiculturalism should not be confused with the current wave of political attacks on immigrants and immigration.