This is a cross post by Effendi of The Spittoon:
Baroness Warsi, the Conservative party chair and minister “without portfolio”, leaked a sneak preview of her “Islamophobia” speech to the Telegraph the day before she delivered the full speech at the University of Leicester yesterday.
Warsi is right to speak out against the kind of casual anti-Muslim bigotry which has become increasingly noticeable in the day to day language of Britain. We are now living in a climate where phraseology invoking ”fucking Muslims” is commonplace – and you don’t have to be Muslim to pick up on it. And this is to say nothing of the heightened levels of Muslim baiting which passes for journalism on the pages of the Daily Express and the Daily Mail. The content on both of these organs are both a barometer and weather vane for gauging society’s prejudice du jour. We know from them that English exceptionalism is fickle when it comes to the fear and loathing of minorities which has passed in the space of a generation from jews to blacks to southasians and now, currently, to muslims.
But Warsi’s points suffer from ambiguity and a failure to discern between overt prejudice and the necessity of isolating extremist and racist elements within the fold of Islam. This suggests a barely disguised political agenda of her own, and most worryingly, a tendency to lean in favour of the goals of organised political Islamists. The kind which organise the GPU – an event she was banned from attending by Cameron himself. Is Warsi’s speech motivated by a need to extract payback from Tory Head Office for reigning her in on the question of political Islam?
Reading the speech, it is not immediately apparent whether Warsi wants to conflate criticism of Islam with Islamic extremism and equate both to anti-Muslim bigotry. Is she suggesting that any criticism of any abuse of the Islamic faith is synonymous to hatred of Muslims? Warsi does herself no favours when she singles out Polly Toynbee an anti-Muslim for this benign quote:
You could even say that Islamophobia has now passed the dinner-table-test.
Take this from Polly Toynbee:
“I am an Islamophobe, and proud of it”.
This quote comes from an article from 1997, and when read in context, is by no means anti-Muslim bigotry, at least no more than Christo-phobic or anti-semitic for that matter:
I am an Islamophobe. I judge Islam not by its words – the teachings of the Koran as interpreted by those Thought-for-the-Day moderate Islamic theologians. I judge Islam by the religion’s deeds in the societies where it dominates. Does that make me a racist?
For I am also a Christophobe. If Christianity were not such a spent force in this country, if it were powerful and dominant as it once was, it would still be every bit as damaging as Islam is in those theocratic states in its thrall. Christianity remains a lethal weapon in Northern Ireland.
If I lived in Israel, I’d feel the same way about Judaism. Everywhere in the world where religion dominates over the state, that is a bad place to live. Religiophobia is highly rational.
Most revealing of all is the good things she has to say about people she thinks are critical of Islamophobia:
I commend those who understand and condemn the cancer of Islamophobia…
….whether that be John Denham, Seumus Milne, Peter Oborne, or the Metropolitan Police…
Warsi’s uncritical appreciation of Seumas Milne is an eye-opener. Milne is a far-left journalist and ideologue who has championed (on the Guardian!) every single stripe of extremist Islamic radical group, and who praises the forces of al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq as the “resistance“, in the knowledge that they detonate car bombs in the Shi’a districts of Baghdad with blood-curdling regularity. Warsi’s support for Milne, who criticises “Islamophobia” in Britain but who champions sectarian terrorism in Iraq as a form of liberation politics, needs to be seen for what it is.
Another point Warsi makes which sets of alarm bells is on the question on what constitutes the plausible difference between the extremist and moderate positions. It seems Warsi only wants Al-Muhajiroun, al-Qaeda terrorists and perhaps, at a push, Hizb-ut-Tahrir to be labelled “extremists”. Every other Muslim, in her world, is moderate. This is worrying because it means she is arguing for excusing the elements of Jamaat-e-Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood which dominate groups such such as the Muslim Council of Britain and its sibling Southasian Muslim Islamist groups from the IFE to iEngage.
It would be difficult to pass a cigarrette paper between Warsi’s line of argument and that of the Islamist pressure group iEngage, so close are they. What exactly is the extent of her sponsorship and support for this Islamist organisation? If Warsi wants to be the Muslim go-to person in the Conservative party for all things British Islamic, then it is imperative that she give full disclosure of the nature of her relationship with this and other British Southasian Islamist outfits.
Sayeeda Warsi has criticised the pervasive culture of anti-Muslim bigotry in some sections of the press and which is now creeping into polite and not-so-polite society – and that is a good thing – for that she must be applauded. However, she has used “Islamophobia” to shut down criticism of extremist Islam by playing on the notion, much beloved of Islamists, that “extremism” is a “confusing” epithet when applied to any Muslim collective. We have heard this line of reasoning many times before, of course. They have been made previously by Islamists and their paid clients and apologists like the putative academic Bob Lambert, amongst others.
This is not the line of reasoning to be expected from the Co-Chairwoman of the Tory Party. She certainly has some explaining to do.