It’s All About Us

Brendan O’Neill spots similarities between Tory tabloid readers and some Muslims:

One British Muslim woman bemoaned Britons’ obsession with getting drunk and flirting openly with the opposite sex. Others said they were disgusted by gay culture. A group of young British Muslim men said they were convinced that Princess Diana was conspiratorially killed off because she planned to marry a Muslim. They could have lifted that directly from the Daily Mail, which has an unhealthy obsession with the circumstances of Di’s demise.

No doubt there is some crossover there. After all both Conservatives and Muslims who belive in the literal truth of the Koran are by definition backward-looking. A Conservative Party would not be worthy of the name if it did not attempt to ‘conserve’ traditions and existing institutions from unwanted progress. A Muslim is often encouraged to seek answers about life from precedent set down prior to the modern era.

So far so good – and a more realistic view of religiously-observant Muslims than hoisting them onto the revolutionary vanguard plinth so recently vacated by the proletariat in the Respect Party worldview.

But O’Neill tries to take the analogy too far and falls on his face:

Today’s political Islamism is not a foreign threat from abroad; nor is it particularly radical. Rather it is shaped and informed by some very British prejudices about modern society and the people who inhabit it.

Sayyid Qutb as a ruddy-faced golf club bore? Al-Qaeda as an offshoot of the Ripon Women’s Institute?

Oh dear.

It’s ironic that O’Neill complains of Little Englandism because there can be no better example of it than seeking to explain the international phenomenon of Islamism by reference to a British newspaper the vast majority of Islamists out there in the big world won’t have heard of, never mind read or become influenced by.

It’s pretty racist too to assume that the coloured chaps out there in the world can’t put a reactionary political philosophy without reference to the English suburb’s favourite tabloid.

I mean the Koran does precedes the Daily Mail by well over a thousand years.

Not that O’Neill’s Anglocentric worldview is uncommon on what remains of the British Left, but Our Maddy of the Sorrows is still the original and the best when one wants an intellectual round peg banged hard and repeatedly into an increasingly splintered square hole.