Lee Rigby was brutally murdered by crazed Islamists in the streets of London this past May 22. In a feat of timing, the Oxford Union Society held a previously scheduled debate the following day on the motion this House believes that Islam is a religion of peace. The motion carried 286 to 168. The Oxford Union has posted videos of each of the six participants’ debate presentations here.
You can get a good taste of the debate’s give and take from two of the speakers. Standpoint editor Daniel Johnson opposes the motion in the video below.
Huffington Post UK political editor Mehdi Hasan supports the motion in the video below.
Hasan unleashes a farrago of nonsense and non sequiturs at such a clip that it is difficult to think through his various points as they are made. Robert Spencer slows down and subjects his points to close analysis here.
As I watched Hasan, I started thinking back to the infamous debate before the Oxford Union in February 1933 just about the time Hasan himself refers to it in his remarks. The motion on that occasion was that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country and it carried by a vote of 275 to 153.
Winston Churchill was not amused. In a speech the following week at the 25th anniversary meeting of the Anti-Socialist and Anti-Communist Union, he condemned the vote as an “abject, squalid, shameless avowal” and “a very disquieting and disgusting symptom,” as indeed it was. “We are told we ought not to treat it seriously,” Churchill noted. He disagreed:
My mind turns across the narrow waters of Channel and the North Sea, where great nations stand determined to defend their national glories or national existence with their lives. I think of Germany, with its splendid clear-eyed youths marching forward on all the roads of the Reich singing their ancient songs, demanding to be conscripted into an army; eagerly seeking the most terrible weapons of war; burning to suffer and die for their fatherland. I think of Italy, with her ardent Fascisti, her renowned Chief, and stern sense of national duty. I think of France, anxious, peace-loving, pacifist to the core, but armed to the teeth and determined to survive as a great nation in the world.
One can almost feel the curl of contempt upon the lips of the manhood of all these people when they read this message sent out by Oxford University in the name of young England.
In another feat of timing, the 1933 Oxford Union King and Country debate took place roughly a week after Hitler’s accession to power in Germany.