My focus, over the last few years, has been on the activities of specific, named Islamist groups, and on the relationship between those groups, this Government, and those on both the extreme and liberal Left of the British political spectrum.
Anybody who reads this blog regularly will know why I think this subject deserves attention. In short, I think that any attempt to impose a theocratic system of government that executes homosexuals and religious dissenters, and entrenches constitutional and legal inequality between men and women, and Muslims and non-Muslims, should be resisted by anybody who regards themselves as politically progressive. This issue is an important one, for two reason. First, this country is facing a very real and constant threat from British Islamist terrorists. Secondly, specific Islamist groups have been working very diligently over the last few years, to form strong political bonds with liberal and progressive organisations, and Government: and in some cases, have been very successful at achieving their aims.
There are two types of people who disagree with me: Islamists and their fellow travellers, and anti-Muslim bigots. They both do so from a perspective that is pretty much identical. Islamist politicians argue that their religion requires that an Islamic state be created, and that any Muslim who disagrees is no true Muslim. And that is precisely what the anti-Muslim bigots say, as well. The fellow travellers defend the flank, by slandering as an “Islamophobe”, any attempt to criticise Islamist groups, or politicians.
It should be pretty easy, by now, to spot an anti-Muslim bigot. The giveaways, for me, include the following:
– Muslims are thought of an a homogenous bloc, without differentiation (sometimes referred to as “The Muslims”)
– Muslims are presented as either conspirators or dupes of a Muslim conspiracy to subvert the West.
– Muslims are attempting to take over the West by outbreeding non-Muslims.
– Any Muslim who denies this is either engaging in “Taqiyya” or has simply yet to realise the true nature of their religion.
I’m sure that most of you could identify other good examples. It doesn’t matter to the anti-Muslim bigot, that Muslims almost always reject Islamist politics when they’re given the choice to vote for it. As far as anti-Muslim bigots are concerned, that’s probably just part of their fiendish plan. Bigots can’t be reasoned with.
Can you imagine – have you even tried to imagine – what it must feel like to be a Muslim in this country, and to come across this sort of indiscriminate bile. I can. If you read a lot of hate speech, directed at your cultural group, you begin to internalise it. It does very strange things to you. If you’re Jewish, and you read article after article which tells you that you are part of a plot to trick the USA into war, to murder children, to control the banking industry and the media: that exposure begins to change the way you think of yourself. Are you really that bad? Do your friends think of you like that? You might find yourself worrying about whether a politician, journalist, or public figure is Jewish – might he be part of the conspiracy? Of course, there’s no conspiracy, but then is the Mearsheimer and Walt theory really so far fetched? What about Atzmon’s “Jewish Power” theories? What about Kevin MacDonald – David Irving’s expert witness – who believes that Jewish genes make Jews need to trick non-Jews in order to survive? Which of these criticisms are ‘beyond the pale’, and which are valid? Is there a germ of truth in even the worst of all this?
Anybody who is a member of any cultural minority group that has been at the sharp end of a campaign of vilification, will be familiar with what this feels like. It is hugely damaging. You might have thought that you were a complicated person, with a beautiful kaleidoscopic identity, negotiating the many joys and hazards of cosmopolitan life. But no. You’re one of “the Muslims”. Or “a Jew”. Or “a Gay”. You find yourself becoming a caricature of yourself, of the thing that others hate.
Then there’s the flip side of all this. Some people will actively seek you out, because they have decided that you’re part of a tragic victimised group, and they want to be your special friend. Pretty yucky when it is some sappy no-hope loner who has cottoned on to you. Even worse, when it is the Socialist Workers’ Party that wants to hold your hand. But I repeat myself…
This is what British Muslims live with, today.
None of this means that you should never criticise the precepts of a religion. Religions are just collections of ideas and practices. They have no particular sanctity.
Neither does it mean that there is no connection between Islam and Islamist politics. Of course there is. It couldn’t identify as a religious politics, if there wasn’t. However, you shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking that religions that claim to be monolithic, unchanging, and directly transmitted by God, really do have those qualities. Follow any religion through the ages, and see how it changes. Look beyond the claims of coherence and universality, and look at the variation in its practice. If the Bible tells us anything of value it is this. Humans are schizmatic. We disagree with each other. We love to innovate and disobey. What matters about a religion is how it is practiced, and what its adherents say and do. For a bigot or an Islamist to lecture a Muslim who does not want a theocratic state on his supposed failings as a Muslim, is not only grossly offensive: it utterly misunderstands the diverse and mutable nature of religious faith and practice.
So, what can be done about this?
When I write articles about Islamist politics, I name the specific groups that I am talking about: Al Muhajiroun, Hizb ut Tahrir, Jamaat e Islami, Hezbollah or Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood, and their various front organisations. There are a limited number of people in this country who are involved in this politics. We know who they are. We can and do identify them, and chronicle their activities. That is the way to defeat Islamism.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer, ramble on in a vague way about the misdeeds of “the Muslims”, while throwing out the odd quip about paedophilia every now and then. That is the way to make Muslims in this country feel extremely exposed, and make you look like a complete wanker.
As you know, I maintain an open comments policy. However Harry’s Place’s editorial line on this subject is very clear. We are opposed to the politics of specific Islamist groups, the accomodation of those groups on the liberal Left, and within Government. We will also not stand for the whipping up of anti-Muslim bigotry.
Don’t stand by and let hatemongering go by, unopposed. I do not moderate comments, because I trust our side to win all the arguments. But that will only happen if you challenge anti-Muslim bigotry, and do not let it slide by.
In addition, remember that fighting your corner is good combat practice.