The Left

I Admire Bob Pitt

This is what Bob Pitt is up to:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

7:30pm – 9:30pm

Location: Committee Room 14, House of Commons

Moazzam Begg (former British detainee in Guantanamo Bay)
Ruqayyah Collector (NUS Black Student Officer)
Bob Pitt (Islamophobia Watch)
Amrit Wilson (writer)
Pragna Patel (Southall Black Sisters) – invited

Since the launch of the so-called ‘war on terror’, a wave of anti-Muslim hatred has swept Western countries. Tabloid newspapers launch regular diatribes against Muslims; attacks on civil liberties have fallen hardest on Muslims; and the far-right focuses their hate on Muslim communities. Meanwhile, Muslims in Britain are over three times as likely to be unemployed and 69% live in poverty.
But what is Islamophobia – and how do we fight it? How do we express our solidarity with Muslim people? Is Islamophobia different from other forms of racism?

Hosted by the Socialist Youth Network (the youth wing of the LRC), this major debate will explore one of the most controversial topics today. As well as contributions from the panel, we’ll be encouraging a big debate from the floor.

The Socialist Youth Network is associated with the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs, which includes such luminaries as John “Honour the IRA” McDonnell MP.

Bob Pitt is one of a dwindling band of Trots, which used to include the Socialist Workers’ Party, which is at least trying to recruit young British muslims to their politics. Certainly, they’re doing it in a way which is both terribly wrong and, as the experience of the hapless SWP has demonstrated, in a manner which is fraught with peril. Pitt has devoted the last few years to the energetic online defence of the most vicious of right wing theocrats. Moreover, he has cheapened his currency as a political commentator by routinely accusing anybody who questions him, including muslims, as “Islamophobes”. His only achievement has been to validate an utterly unwarranted sense of grievance, which has strengthened the Islamist far right. The effect of his activities, and those of others of a similar cast of mind, has been to bring the Islamist far right into alliance with a part of the far left, and facilitated the entry of these marginal groups into the British political mainstream.

The reason I admire Bob Pitt is this. As Mike Harris reported last year, he does what he does for utterly cynical reasons. The SWP was equally self-serving in its disasterous alliance with the Jamaati and Muslim Brotherhood blocs. They did so in the belief that they could “make some of the more radical Islamists question their allegiance to its ideas and organisations”, and recruit them to the cause of revolutionary socialism.

Their problem was this. Revolutionary socialism is a moribund, failed philosophy. And, as a great philosopher once said:

“When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse”

Muffin the Mule is a fast horse compared to the Campaign Group, Bob Pitt, or the SWP.

Nevertheless, how much better to be a proselytiser for a future which is better than that offered by the likes offered by Qaradawi, than to petulantly give up the fight. Pitt is a more admirable character than, say, Bishop Nazir-Ali, with his defeatist talk of “no-go areas”.

I believe that we should honour those who have fought to create a country, and a world, premised upon the principles of liberal democracy: liberty, equality between persons, democracy itself, and respect for fundamental human rights. We should strive to extend and deepen within our own society, respect for these values. We should also extend fraternal support for those who strive to create such a society for themselves.

I do not think that “British Identity” should be taught in schools. These things are best passed on organically, and left free of the dead hand of officialdom. But I do think that respect for the long struggle for liberal democracy is a perspective worth drawing from a study of history, and political philosophy.

Liberal democracy is the strong horse. It is Islamism and Revolutionary Socialism which are the weak ones.

So, what else should we be doing?