voltaire
As Voltaire waspishly wrote, “if you want to know who has power over you, find out who you are not allowed to criticise” ; and as another historically famous person once said 2,000 years ago, “The truth will set you free.”

But to come upon the truth, you have to be able and willing to ask the questions.

It’s probably one of the most offensive things you could call someone: telling them that they are a ‘fundamentalist’. And it saves one the bother of having to work at the argument any further. You can’t argue with a ‘Fundy’. They have closed minds. They don’t like their cosmetic reality to be disturbed by the truth.

In the past, most fundamentalism was assumed to be religious.

But it has moved beyond religious arguments and into the rest of society. Actually that was always the case, but it didn’t make it into the public perception. Marxists were fundies, so were fascists. They had dogma which they clung to in the face of the facts. The proletariat were not going to rise all the way round the world and throw off the old order, forging a new utopia; the Germans were not the master race. It was not good to kill all the Jews.

But fundamentalism is back big time, and its secular. The press and media, which are so central to holding power to account, are prevaricating, not sure which way to turn, or which values to uphold. Free speech, describing reality, is at stake, and the press and media are wondering if they dare tell the truth?

The extent of one of the current dilemmas was demonstrated in Cologne in Germany over the New Year.

In the Arab world it’s not unusual for mobs of men surround young women to grope them and even rape them. It’s a part of their ‘culture.’ It even has a name , ‘Taharrush gamea.’ It was played out in front of Cologne cathedral last month, and the police found that they didn’t know what to do. They were more afraid of being accused of being racist than they were afraid of being accused of not defending women.

And here is the problem. In our new liberal culture, two of the most cherished values come head to head. The equality and safety of women, v immigration.

It was probably pretty obvious that if you import Islamic culture in which women are subjugated, into a culture founded on Christian values, where all human beings are believed to be equally valuable, the conflict between these two value systems would sooner or later cause trouble.

Numbers are the key to it. Sweden’s left wing government, supposedly deeply pro-feminist, has pursued a highly liberal immigration policy. So how has society changed as a result? The answer is that women have been seriously endangered.

Forty years ago, 421 rapes were reported to the police in Sweden annually.

In 2014, the number had risen to 6,620. The Gatestone Institute, a respected American think tank, charts this as an increase of 1,472 per cent since 1975. Sweden now has the largest numbers of rapes in the world, second only to South Africa.

The Swedish police are forbidden to record the ethnicity of the rapists. So at first sight, no one can claim that this is due to Islamic immigration.

The politicians are terrified that if the figures are released, it will give support to the anti-immigration parties. So they don’t release them. Nor do the media.

In Germany after the Cologne incident, there seemed to be more political anxiety that anti-immigration parties would make political capital of the incident, than that the women have been molested and raped. The police and the media were more afraid of being called racists than they were concerned to protect women.

When the questions were first asked in Germany about the identity of the women molesters, the authorities answered that there was no concrete indication that the perpetrators were asylum seekers. It’s true. There was no official evidence, because the police and other officials were forbidden to record it.

If the government of a country decides that the principle of mass immigration is more important that the safety and dignity of women, it has the right to put it to the people in a democracy, to allow them to accept or reject the project. It doesn’t have the right to suppress the facts or the truth.

The problem we face in this clash of liberal values is that instead of looking for an answer to the problems the clash throws up, the political instinct has been to hide the truth; and in these cases to make women pay the price for it.

Only by asking the questions can one get closer to the truth of things. We should all ask searching questions of any agency that claims authority over us whether its the Bible, the Koran, our economists, our media bosses, or our politicians.

As Voltaire waspishly wrote, “if you want to know who has power over you, find out who you are not allowed to criticise.” As another historically famous person once said 2,000 years ago, “The truth will set you free.” But to come upon the truth, you have to be able and willing to ask the questions.