David Aaronovitch makes a vital point on who counts as a Muslim in the talk about the oppression and humiliation of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Note how the “more recent oppression” is supposed just to be a fact. And we know to whom it refers and to whom it doesn’t. The elected Government in Iraq, the Shia majority, the new fact of Kurdish rights in that country, don’t count. All these peoples are de-Muslimified for the purposes of victimology. And that happens because they simply don’t fit the narrative. The Sunnis of Iraq are imagined to be “us”, but the Shia and the Kurds aren’t. The bombed villagers of Afghanistan are “us”, the liberated women aren’t. The Kosovan Muslims aren’t, either, though you can bet they would have been had Nato not intervened to save them. As it is, they too have disappeared from Muslimhood.
This is not some kind of rhetorical point I’m making. It simply is not an accident — in psychological terms — that anything that conflicts with the Grievance is discounted, and anything that contributes to it is emphasised. Consider the narrative of Saddam. There were basically three options. One, do business with him. That equals propping up un-Islamic tyrants. Two, use sanctions against him. That equals murdering Muslim children. And three, topple him. Ditto plus. All options, bar none, are added to the Grievance.
All populist right-wing movements, inciters to violence and hatred, are adept in the language of Grievance. The only way to fight it ultimately is to argue — again and again and again — that it just ain’t so.
I’ll add one other to Aaronovitch’s list of people who are removed from the equation: the mass murderers currently terrorising Iraq. Next time someone comes out with the line that “there are 7/7’s happening every day in Iraq” (which is tragically true but is being used by someone as a way of ‘normalising’ the London attacks) remind them who it is doing the killing in Iraq.
You won’t find the faces of the Iraqi children last week murdered by Al-qaeda on the websites of Islamist groups.