I read an article describing confrontations between the fascist EDL and ‘anti-fascist’ protesters in the aftermath of the recent Woolwich atrocity. Ok, Marxist collectivists confronting non-Marxist collectivists, very much a row-within-the-family it seems… “Yah Boo Sucks! Our identity politics are better than your identity politics!”
But I have a question… were these fine anti-fascists also out in force when Islamic fascists were marching in London calling for the imposition of Sharia law?
Just curious, does anyone actually know?
John Stephenson has some views regarding the Woolwich attack and freedom of speech
The events witnessed this week in Woolwich, London, were a devastating reminder of the problem Britain faces regarding the threat of terrorist activity. However, much of the ensuing reaction has been one of confusion and has done little to aid the in the slow and painstaking process of combating such delusional ideology. On the one hand there are those who are determined to tar the events by forwarding their equally absurd beliefs. Demonstrations organised by the EDL and “Operation Fightback” were organised but quickly shut down by police, while mosques were attacked in places such as Gillingham and Braintree. On the other hand, I have to say that there appears to be an apologetic element within the public domain that is just as guilty of blemishing debate, although this has been done by shooting down anyone who is willing to speak openly about the nature of the attacks as “islamophobic”, “bigoted” or “racist”. Some of these attacks are justified – the support for Stephen Lennon’s EDL movement is undoubtedly host to anti-Asian racists and those who are prepared to beat up anyone they meet wearing a veil. However, many of their gripes come as a result of the confusion that surrounds the criticism of Islam.
The perennial problem for those who wish to speak frankly about organised religion is that in asserting their view they can sound similar to the bigot they would run a mile to get away from. However there is one fundamental difference; while the intolerant will tar a religion’s supporters with the same brush, the critic of religion will be averse to doing so. This can easily be put in a better light; suppose I am opposed to Conservative politics (which for the most part I am). This should say nothing about the way I treat Conservatives when I meet them in my day-to-day activities and should not prevent me from greeting them with the same friendliness I would give anyone else. However I should still have the fundamental right to speak my mind with regards their ideology or beliefs as long as my conduct towards them is not affected.
One objection to this may come from those who deem it “offensive” to voice anti-Islamic views. The problem is that it assumes that this gives the offended some sort of “rights” and in doing so seems to pay little regard or thought to the fact that the person of no religion may be equally offended by religious views. For all it’s worth I may be offended at the Bible’s description of a lady turning into a pillar of salt or offended at the Quran’s views on polygamy. However, I would not for one moment suggest that my offence should impede their right to voice those beliefs. As long as we do not discriminate against Muslims, we should be allowed to voice our views and people should have the right to be offended.
→ Continue reading: The Woolwich attack: criticism of Islam and the issue of free speech
One of the most shocking things about the brutal attack in Woolwich yesterday was the arrogance with which one of the bloodied knifemen claimed to be acting on behalf of all Muslims. In what sounded like a South London accent, this British-seeming, casually dressed young man bizarrely spoke as if he were a representative of the ummah. He talked about “our lands and what “our people” have to go through every day. He presumably meant Iraqis and Afghanis, or perhaps the broader global “Muslim family”.
How can a couple of men so thoroughly convince themselves that they speak for all Muslims, to the extent that they seriously believe their savage and psychotic attack on a man in the street is some kind of glorious act of Islamic resistance? Perhaps because they live in a country in which claiming to speak “on behalf of” a community, even if you’ve never been elected by or even seriously talked to that community, is taken seriously. A country where one’s identity, one’s racial or religious or cultural make-up, now counts for everything, certainly for more than what one does or what one believes. A country in which the politics of identity, the narrow and deeply divisive communal politics of shared cultural traits, has been privileged over all other kinds of politics.
- Brendan O’Neill
He was writing in the aftermath of the murder of a young soldier in London this week.
There are many reasons how this state of affairs came about, and I am sure commenters have their views on this. I would point to what has happened in our own education system and the climate of ideas in the West for the past few decades. While Western society is, by some measures, more “individualistic” than it used to be – and that is a good thing – in some ways tribal mentalities remain strong. Maybe part of that has to do with post-modernism and the whole challenge to the idea that there is such a thing as objective truth, and that there are universal, shared qualities that all humans have, most importantly, the capacity for long-term, rational action, coupled with notions of taking responsibility for one’s actions, linked as that is to the idea that humans have free will.
As those notions have been challenged, or even mocked – consider how it is fashionable these days to say we are all driven by “unseen” motives and urges that come from Darwinian evolution – then people are more susceptible to collectivism, to group-think, with its consequent view of people as either “belonging” to this or that group. Throw in the features of Islam as it is today as described by the likes of Bernard Lewis, and this fusion of religious fundamentalism, craven Western self-abasement, victimology, and post-modernist moral relativism, then it is not hard to see why these thugs can claim to speak for a whole chunk of humanity.
Rape, enslavement, child prostitution go unpunished for years. The victims’ complaints are dismissed by social services. The accusations are not seriously investigated by the police. With a few honourable exceptions the politicians and the media won’t even discuss the issue.
No one disputes that the crimes themselves are the responsibility of the criminals, but who is to blame for the conspiracy of silence?
Why, the first man to break it, of course!
In the comments to my earlier post, Jaded Voluntaryist pointed out an article by Sean Thomas in the Telegraph “…which blamed Nick Griffin for the events in Oxford, since by talking about this issue no-one wants to talk about way back in 2004, he made it impossible for anyone else to talk about it seriously. Yes, I’m sure if he had kept schtum it would have all been sorted out years ago…”
Here is said article: Oxford gang rape: did people ignore this sort of scandal because racist Nick Griffin was the first to mention them?
Mr Thomas has wisely opted not to allow comments. They would be radioactive.
As long ago as 2001, Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP, was making claims about Asian grooming gangs. In 2004 he repeated these allegations in a speech clandestinely recorded by the BBC for a TV documentary, Secret Agent. He was arrested and charged with inciting racial hatred.
Which is exactly what he was doing, of course. He was making his allegations to stir up ethnic strife. Right-thinking people, aware of the BNP’s record as liars, presumed that these stories were just racist demagoguery. No doubt Griffin feels vindicated today: for telling the truth before anyone else. And yet it was thanks in part to his thuggish intervention that society felt able to ignore the scandal. And thus the abuse continued.
[UPDATE 17 MAY 09.45: As those viewing Samizdata on the morning of 17 May will have seen, I tried to edit a minor error in the post and somehow deleted the text from this point onwards. A kind person has emailed me the lost text, which now follows. I will gradually reinsert the links. Apologies for this interruption - NS]
Some background on “the events in Oxford” here.
…a jury at the Old Bailey convicted seven men responsible for running an underworld child sex abuse ring in the Cowley area of Oxford of 43 charges of rape, child prostitution, trafficking and procuring a backstreet abortion. Six victims gave harrowing evidence during the three-and-a-half month trial, but police believe the number of girls recruited by the gang and abused numbers more than 50.
The gang – who were of Asian and north African descent – targeted extremely vulnerable white girls as young as 11 on the streets of Cowley and sold them for £600 a time to be raped and violently abused over an eight-year period. Two other men were cleared by the jury.
A litany of failings by police and social services had allowed the men between 2004 and 2012 to groom young, vulnerable girls they met on the streets, outside schools and in cafes, entice them with the promise of alcohol and trinkets, and subject them over years to sexual atrocities and torture.
“Asian” generally means Pakistani background, although two of the perpetrators here were Eritrean. All the abusers were Muslim. None of their victims were. This was not coincidence. The men generally targeted girls from children’s homes and disrupted family backgrounds. The abusers saw their victims as promiscuous white trash, in an utterly different category from their own wives and daughters. This is the latest of a string of such cases, all following the same pattern, such that a report produced by the police-staffed Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre “found that more than a quarter (26 per cent) of suspects reported to Ceop were of Asian origin, and the majority of groups identified were Asian”. There have been other trials of similar “Asian” (specifically British Pakistani) grooming gangs in Rochdale, Rotherham, Derby, Telford and Keighley.
Keighley, as it happened, was where Nick Griffin made one of the speeches that got him prosecuted. In that speech, Griffin said,
“These 18, 19, and 25-year-old Asian Muslims who are seducing and raping white girls in this town right now are not particularly good Muslims, they drink and all the rest of it, but still part of what they are doing comes from what they are taught is acceptable.”
It will be a cold day in hell before I vote for the Holocaust denier Nick Griffin’s literally fascist party, but I rather think that if Griffin feels vindicated that is because he has been vindicated.
Thug he may be, but his “thuggish intervention” in this case consisted of stating the truth when almost nobody else would – and being prosecuted for it. The charges covered many things said by Griffin, but the opening speech by the prosecuting counsel specifically featured his claims of “paedophile drug rape” in Keighley. (The prosecution was unsuccessful. Two juries acquitted Griffin and another defendant in two separate trials.)
Society did not just “feel able to ignore the scandal”, society – in the form of police chiefs, social workers, and the media – actively, cravenly dodged saying anything about it. Why? Because they were all afraid of being branded racist. As one of the few exceptions to the media silence, the documentary-maker Anna Hall, wrote, “…a senior children’s services manager said: “The men are Asian, Anna, but you’ll never get anyone on the record to say that.”” Or as Tim Loughton, the former Children’s Minister admitted, “There are clear cultural sensitivities around these cases that too often meant the relevant agencies were reluctant to intervene properly”. Or as retired police Superintendent Mick Gradwell said, “There is a problem with some members of the Pakistani community targeting young women in this way [...] In the past there have been major fears of being seen as racist, especially after the Stephen Lawrence inquiry at the Met police said the force was institutionally racist.” (H/T: Laban Tall at UK Commentators, who has followed this story for years.) Note how Gradwell described the former Home Secretary Jack Straw as “brave” for speaking out as late as 2011. He was, too, even though his fellow Labour MP Ann Cryer had been much braver in speaking out back in 2004 when she was MP for Keighley. Bravery was required to speak out because bad things were likely to happen to the careers of those who did, particularly if they did not have Cryer’s or Straw’s Parliamentary privilege.
And thus the abuse continued, Mr Thomas.
Incidentally, the police “requested” that Anna Hall’s documentary “Edge of the City” be postponed until the 2004 local elections were over, for fear it would send votes to the BNP. I thought the police were meant to be politically impartial.
There is a grain of truth in what Sean Thomas has written. When I first saw reports that the BNP claimed that Asian gangs were grooming white girls, my eyes skated over them because claims that “their” men are seducing, corrupting and raping “our” girls have been a staple of racist propaganda through the ages. Thus far, Mr Thomas was right. But to attempt to shift the blame for even a fraction of years of sustained, repeated evasion of their duties on the part of every organ of the establishment onto Nick Griffin is… inventive. Were the social services departments of multiple British towns really listening that hard to Nick Griffin? Did the chief constables of several different police authorities check that the chairman of the British National Party hadn’t spoilt the atmosphere before giving the go-ahead to investigate? Should we assume that the fact that in the last couple of years the Crown Prosecution Service has finally started to actively prosecute these gangs (following the initiative taken by Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England Nazir Afzal, himself of Pakistani heritage, please note) is because the CPS lawyers have finally got over their sulk at Griffin making them look bad?
A question for the mainstream media: aren’t you ashamed that the British National Party reported what you dared not?
A question for the politicians, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service: do you now regret the prosecution of Nick Griffin and Mark Collett on charges of using words or behaviour likely to stir up racial hatred, specifically including his claims about Keighley? Do you acknowledge that your action in attempting to curtail and punish his free speech, in part for saying this type of crime was happening at a time and a place when it was, will certainly have deterred others from speaking out?
Earthquake near Iranian nuclear power station leaves four people dead…
Claims that Israel caused the earthquake in 3…2…1…
What? You think I am joking?
The claim that muslim thugs have been harassing people walking through ‘muslim areas’ of Britain has received much coverage in the UK media. I am always leery of taking such stories at face value… how prevalent is this? I do not live in an area with much in the way of a muslim population but I do regularly visit parts of London that do… and I have never seen anything like what is shown in the linked article/video happening.
That is not to say I do not think this sort of thing is at all implausible… not at all and heaven knows I am never slow to think poorly of a religion that explicitly espouses a totalitarian political order in its holy writings. But I wonder just how much of a problem it is? I am not in a position to judge for myself, but that it happens at all is intolerable.
Nevertheless, I wonder if the appearance of ‘Muslim Brownshirts’ in Britain is the sort of problem that is particularly amenable to government suppression. In truth, it seems to me it would be best dealt with at a more local and social level… no, I do not mean via some officially sanctioned ‘community outreach’ but rather by people taking a more ‘civil society oriented’ approach, which is to say confronting the fuckers on the streets, getting in their faces and if needed, replying to any violence by kicking them in the bollocks repeatedly.
Ideally, this sort of thing should be done by non-lunatic members of Britain’s muslim community, but that should by no means be seen as a prerequisite for pushing back. Indeed as they seem to enjoy picking on perceived homosexuals, perhaps some members of the typically vocal gay community might like to forcibly stick their oar in the water on this… but who pushes back matters less than someone should.
I suspect a more ‘grass roots’ approach would be vastly more effective than anything our worthless political class is likely to come up with.
Look, I want you to know that if I thought there was the slightest chance that it was really going to happen my first reaction to this story would probably not have been to say “Cool”.
Lord Gilbert Suggests Dropping A Neutron Bomb On Pakistan-Afghanistan Border
Even cooler: he is a former Labour defence minister.
Responding for the government Lord Wallace said the coalition did not share the “rumbustious views” of Gilbert.
We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions. This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video – which is widely available on the Web – is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube
- YouTube Official Statement. Bravo YouTube!
Azhar Ahmed has not been sent to prison for expressing his offensive opinions on Facebook, but he has been sentenced to 240 hours community service and fined £300.
Azhar Ahmed’s “crime” was saying on Facebook that he hoped that soldiers fighting for Britain in Afghanistan would “burn in hell”.
This was clearly not an incitement to violence. Azhar Ahmed was merely expressing the wish that Allah should inflict violence. Azhar Ahmed is not himself planning to burn anybody in hell, nor is he inciting any other particular individuals to burn anybody in hell.
I think this is a perfect opportunity for all those of us who believe in the right of individuals to say offensive things to protest vehemently on Azhar Ahmed’s behalf, and to tell him and anyone else listening that he should not have been legally punished in any way for what he merely said. There is an important principle at stake here, and this is a truly excellent moment for many, many people who agree about this principle to say so.
It is also a perfect opportunity for us all to say other offensive things that we each happen to believe in, thereby doing the old “I’m Spartacus” trick. In that spirit, let me now say some other offensive things that I happen to believe in, and which I also believe to be pertinent to this argument.
I hate Islam. Not just “Islamic extremism”. Islam. I agreed with Osama Bin Laden about very little, but I did and I do agree with him about what Islam says and what it demands of its followers. That’s all part of why I hate it. I think that if you are a Muslim, then simply by saying that you are a Muslim, even if you never do anything else evil at all, you encourage evil-doing by others. You should stop being a Muslim. Your only morally reasonable excuse for remaining a Muslim is that you are scared of all the grief you will suffer from Muslims of your acquaintance, and from Muslims generally, if you do stop being a Muslim. None of my best friends are Muslims.
So, those being my opinions about Islam, and now that I have said them, again, on a blog, should I also be sentenced to 240 hours of community service?
If not, this hardly seems fair to Azhar Ahmed.
What I have just said will surely offend most Muslims (though probably not all) who read it. Tough. Muslims have (by which I mean should have) no right not to be be offended. And nor do all those British citizens who are offended by what Azhar Ahmed said on Facebook. Tough. Live with it. We don’t all agree about things. Many non-Muslim British people consider Islam harmless, even entirely good. I am offended by what I consider to be the stupidity of such head-in-the-sand opinions. And I continue with my life. I also have no right not to be offended.
The correct way for people with my opinions about the whys and hows of reducing the influence of Islam in the world, and of persuading people to abandon it, is for us to say – to argue – that Islam should be reduced in influence in the world and that people should abandon it. The correct tactic is not for us to agitate to make the expression of Muslim opinions illegal. Violence should only be used against Muslims when those particular Muslims have done something that is – and should be – legally wrong. (Done something like: physically attacking someone who has stopped being a Muslim.)
Azhar Ahmed should not be legally punished for what he has merely said. Muslims in Britain should be legally punished only for what they do, for what they do that is and ought to be illegal, not for what they think or what they say, no matter how offensive.
Perhaps Azhar Ahmed has, in the opinion of some British people in authority, done actual wicked things, illegal things, things that are illegal and which ought to be illegal. Perhaps this is why they are going after him. If so, let them present the evidence that Azhar Ahmed has actually done these bad things. Meanwhile, let Azhar Ahmed say whatever he wants.
(My thanks to Bishop Hill for pointing me towards the Padraig Reidy piece in the Telegraph. There always was more to the Bishop than just the climate.)
LATER: Here is a somewhat more detailed description of the trial. Azhar Ahmed is reported in this as saying that soldiers should “die and go to hell”. That’s slightly closer to incitement, but only closer. Not close.
All part of how depressing this trial was is that Azhar Ahmed was reduced to claiming that what he said was not that offensive, when it clearly was very offensive indeed to many people. He ought to have been able to just say: “Offensive? So what? There’s no law against it.” Sadly, it would appear that there is.
According to Ramadan, writes Ahmari, “the American government and ‘powerful American corporations’ nurtured the young activists who triggered the Arab Spring as a way of ‘opening up Arab markets and integrating the region into the global economy’.”
This analysis is magnificent in its idiocy. It is radiant, luminescent, in its absurdity. What on earth do “powerful American corporations” know about bringing down a totalitarian regime like Moammar Qaddafi’s in Libya, a military dictatorship like Hosni Mubarak’s in Egypt, or the sectarian Soviet-style creature that the Assad family hatched upon the people of Syria?
Why on earth would “powerful American corporations” care about Egypt? There’s no money to be made there. Half the country lives on less than two dollars a day. It consumes little and exports nothing of value. India, China, and Brazil are serious emerging markets, but Egypt? Come on. And what corporate boardroom worth half a damn would waste time even discussing the “nurturing” of activists in a backwater like Yemen? Yemen, from the corporate point of view, is off-planet.
- Michael Totten
And consider dropping your mouse on his ‘donate’ button to fund his excellent work. Worth every Penny, Cent, Yen, Renminbi, Piastre, Swiss Franc, Crown or Groat you throw his way.
I have been paying almost zero attention to President Obama’s campaign of robotised aerial execution, beyond noting that it has been happening. I didn’t know if this drone-killing was doing good, or harm, or what, besides the potential harm of causing governments maybe later to incline towards drone-killing or drone-harassing their domestic enemies, when foreign enemies have run out or have negotiated a truce. I still don’t know what I think about drone-killing, but recent Islamo-American dramas made me wonder slightly more than usual.
I was raised by an Anglo-Saxon trial lawyer (himself the son of another Anglo-Saxon trial lawyer) and by the daughter of yet another Anglo-Saxon trial lawyer. Barristers, we call these creatures over here. This was the mental and conversational equivalent of being raised by wolves. My father was eloquent enough to present very good arguments. My mother was eloquent enough to stop him ever pulling rank to win such arguments. We all had our turn.
Which may be why I understand things best by watching people argue about them. Only when there is disagreement do the experts feel the need to try to persuade the humans of their own rightness and of the other experts’ wrongness, and thus to speak in clear English rather than in very unclear Expert. And only then do I have much of a chance of getting a handle on things.
Today, the indispensable Instapundit pointed me towards just the sort of drone-killing arguments I had been keeping about a quarter of any eye out for.
Robert Wright, commenting on an article by Micah Zenko, concludes thus:
If this is a strategy for eliminating terrorists, what would a strategy for creating them look like?
This story, as Zenko and Wright tell it, reminds me of the classic counter-terrorism movie The Battle of Algiers. In this movie, the French soldiers spend almost the entire movie winning, by torturing and then killing all their enemies. And then in the final seconds of the movie, they lose. More enemies, enraged by the injustices suffered by their predecessors and clever enough to avoid suffering the same fate as them, have sprung forth out of nowhere. Hearts and minds are not, said this movie, won merely by the most hostile ones being blown to pieces. You have to win the argument.
The good news is that England did achieve total domination over Afghanistan, just two days ago. But, alas, this was only at twenty overs each way cricket.
LATER: Cricket? Sorry I mentioned it.
The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published cartoons mocking the Islamic prophet Mohammed. The magazine’s website is at CharlieHebdo.fr. It was very slow to load when I tried it, and although I did eventually find the front page I could not see the actual caricatures.
My opinion has not changed since I contributed a “Mohammed emoticon” (((:~(> to Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. I said then and I say now,
I take no pleasure from violating other people’s taboos. It is not polite and I wish to be polite. In ordinary circumstances if I want to do something that will annoy others I am willing to put up with moderate inconvenience in order to do it out of their sight. These are not ordinary circumstances. People are being threatened, harassed and sometimes murdered by fanatical Muslims for exercising free speech. The media and academia, fearless defenders of free speech so long as there was nothing to fear, have by and large caved in. So maybe it is time for ordinary people to step up. Lots of them. Spread the risk.
Obviously Charlie Hebdo itself stands proud where most other newspapers and magazines in the Western world cringe. If other journals had been as brave no one would have to be that brave.