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Samizdata knee-jerk reaction of the day

I read this and suddenly found myself having a knee-jerk reaction.

He said the “bigger problem” was that many young Muslims were “disillusioned” but felt they could not express their views. Mr Khan said people needed a “safe space” where they could “speak freely without being labelled as extremists”.

My immediate reaction was “how about in a mosque in your middle eastern country of choice? That sounds like a pretty safe place to speak about how Britain is deeply suspicious of people who primary identity of defined by being a Muslims these days.”

If you feel disaffected by how the largely irreligious secular host society sees you because of your religion… bugger off to somewhere your notions do not seem utterly alien to most people. Do what your high initiative parents or grandparents did when they emigrated seeking a better life: seek a batter live elsewhere. I hear there is an outfit in Raqaa looking for “disillusioned young Muslims” if you have a sense of adventure and want to put the whole 72 virgins thing to the test.

Strangely I find surprisingly few people uneasy about the mostly-Muslim Kurds, and surprisingly few Kurds moaning about how Britain has treated them, for reasons that should be fairly obvious.

47 comments to Samizdata knee-jerk reaction of the day

  • Funny, I have a kneejerk reaction to this kind of stance.
    But I think it would be rather impolite to write it down, so I’ll limit myself to the proposal that “if you don’t like it here, leave” is not only a rather unkind response to criticism of our treatment of other people, but furthermore kind of conservative/authoritarian, don’t you think?

  • It is only authoritarian if rather than saying “so leave then”, the person is saying “we will throw you out at gunpoint”. I do not think many people here on Samizdata would argue anyone need to be expelled from Britain, but quite a few (such as myself) have close-to-zero tolerance for political Islam and anyone whose views involve political Islam.

  • Ockham's Spoon

    The post is only saying what most people are thinking.

  • Jerry

    This type of situation has always puzzled me and it happens in all sorts of other arenas.
    WHY did the young woman fight tooth & nail and utilize legal means to attend the all male Citadel military academy ?? She knew she wasn’t wanted there, wouldn’t be accepted etc. etc. etc. but went anyway ( it didn’t work out in any case )
    WHY do people move into neighborhoods where they KNOW ahead of time that they will not be accepted, may be harassed etc. etc. etc. !!
    There are many other examples. Countries are really no different than ‘neighborhoods’.
    Why do some people insist on living in a location or attending an establishment where they know they are really not going to be accepted ( girls in the Boy Scouts or vice versa ?? Give me a break ) and then complain when the situation turns out to be exactly what they knew ahead of time, it would be.
    It’s irrational.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    The problem remains, fundamentally, Islam itself. Members of a religion whose very name means ‘submission’, and which has its own built-in authoritarian/theocratic political system, aren’t going to be comfortable with freedom – especially for unbelievers.

  • Actually Jerry, I think that in most cases it is rather rational. You can understand this by noting that the purpose of such actions is not as proclaimed (i.e. being accepted by members of this or that group or community), but to change the very nature of that group or community.

  • And likewise if you feel disaffected by how a largely statist host society sees you because of your liberal beliefs…

  • Well Rocco, unlike Islamic folk, who are spoiled for choice, tell me the place I can go to and I will be off like a rocket.

  • BTW, isn’t a statist society an oxymoron?

  • You’ll likely need a rocket!

    My point is, we wouldn’t accept “if you don’t like it, leave” if it were said of high taxes, nanny statism, etc, etc.

  • @Perry de Havilland: I probably should have explained it better. I was on a mobile device, and lazy.
    What I meant is: By telling someone to leave our country if they don’t like it, we imply that there is such a thing as “our country” which is governed by “us” and which those other people need to leave if they don’t like “our” rules, which is, in my opinion, an inevitably nationalist/statist position.

  • Those Islamists who do not like living in a liberal State should just explode. That will solve a number of problems all around.

  • Muriel, indeed, but then substitute ‘society’ for ‘state’.

    Moreover from the original linked article, is this really about how Muslims have become disaffected by having rules imposed on them (ie a polotically driven issue)? Or it is that they just don’t feel welcome or advantaged by virtue of their muslim-ness (ie a socially driven issue)? I do not often hear that from muslim Turks or Kurds or Iranians in Britain btw which does rather colour my views on the subject. Nor do I hear it all that often from Jews, Buddhists or Hindus… and when I do, the ‘problem’ is generally not seen as British attitudes but rather a certain flavour of Mulsim attitudes towards Jews, Buddhists or Hindus in Britain.

    I am a great believer in free association, and therefore free disassociation. If a critical mass of people in Britain express dislike and distaste or feel threatened by people with a prominently Islamic identity, and many other societies (and not just states) exist where having such a prominently Islamic identity is the norm…

    As I have said once before here, I tend to see Islamic Dress as a political statement and therefore react much as I would seeing certain Nazi symbols (such as an swastika armband or a yellow star). A Yarmulke or a Sikh Turban on the other hand has no such political connotations and frankly I view them much the same as someone walking down the street dressed as a Pokemon.

    And put it this way, if there was a minarchist libertarian territory I could readily move to where my kind of views would be thought unremarkable by others, I would be very included to move tomorrow, stopping only to stock up on Marmite.

  • Those Islamists who do not like living in a liberal State should just explode.

    I would rather they did not explode in London, thank you very much.

  • @Perry de Havilland: I’m unsure why you’re telling me all this, but thank you. I’m always happy to learn more about other people’s opinion on stuff.

  • It seems germane to the issue, Muriel 😉 I agree it is unwise to fall into using ‘them’ and ‘us’ and ‘we’ carelessly.

  • Not so sure about those Buddhists anymore

  • Paul Marks

    Alisa is correct – the point (both for the left and for the Islamists) is not to be accepted into institutions, it is to radically subvert those institutions (in order to destroy civil society).

    Gramsci and the others were quite open about this.

  • Fraser Orr

    To the OP I’d ask this: here in the USA there are a lot of black people who are deeply dissatisfied with the state of affairs. Some of their complaints are nonsense, some are valid. Should we American’s take the view that “if they don’t like it here they should just go back to Africa?” I think that would be a horribly unjust, in fact a ridiculous thing to say, but it pretty much parallels what you say.

    The mark of a free society is one in which all views, even the most repulsive can be expressed, and subsequently refuted with more words. I have no desire to live in a Muslim state governed by Sharia, however I do wish to live in a society where people are free to desire and advocate for a Muslim state, and even to try to make it a Muslim state by the peaceful and honest means of convincing a super majority of the population.

    When they cross the line of “peaceful and honest” then action can and should be taken, and certainly it is reasonable for the sensible to pay particular attention to those who advocate crossing the line, even before they actually do cross it.

  • Barry Sheridan

    Do you know what your saying Fraser. I doubt you do. The idea that it is possible to live in peace with those trying to impose Islamic ideas is ridiculous, once they succeed you will either have to convert to Islam or live in subservience at best. Wake up man!

  • We don’t need liberals or Muslims subverting institutions in order to destroy Civil Society.

    The Right is doing an excellent job without any assistance.

  • I think that would be a horribly unjust, in fact a ridiculous thing to say, but it pretty much parallels what you say.

    No it does not. In fact it is a terrible simile. Blacks in the USA are not African. Not by any stretch of the imagination. You think a typical dissaffected American black turning up in one of the anglophone parts of Africa would be made to feel more welcome or find them sharing a culture with the locals, well, pretty much anywhere? In reality people in African do not generally define themselves by their skin colour.

    Yet someone who defines themselves by being a Muslim (as opposed to, say, someone who happens to be a Muslim but defines themselves in a different manner) can easily find a great many places they can find people who do likewise. Of course a great many mulims actually tend to primarily identify themselves as Turks/Kurds/whatever and unsurprisingly such folks actually find it much easier to adapt to a western host society. I have no problem at all with such people.

    I have no desire to live in a Muslim state governed by Sharia, however I do wish to live in a society where people are free to desire and advocate for a Muslim state, and even to try to make it a Muslim state by the peaceful and honest means of convincing a super majority of the population.

    Then that is where we differ. I am only willing to live is such a society if they have zero chance of success at implementing Sharia. The moment they start to actually be able to gain so much as a Sharia-tainted finger on the leavers of political power, I stop tolerating them because I am not suicidal. I am not willing to delude myself anyone who advocates political Islam intends to do it peacefully. Dhimmitude is not an option.

  • Fraser, this is not at all about being dissatisfied or being unhappy, it is about being left alone. We, the individualist and the freedom-minded types, are not complaining about being unhappy or dissatisfied. Most of us, at least the grownup, understand that life is not a rose garden, let alone a garden of Eden. We are not asking for anything, but to be left the hell alone. Unfortunately, as Perry pointed out, there is no place on Earth left where we can have that.

    That is not the case with the complainers under discussion: they are not complaining about not being left alone, they are complaining about being unable to change their host society to such that would fit their particular world view. That is the exact opposite of wanting to be left alone.

  • Let’s look at this from a different perspective. Let’s say that immigrants such as myself (South African-born, White) decided that British or American societies were hopelessly liberal and mushy, and attempted to set up Afrikaans-only enclaves within British or U.S. cities wherein Blacks were not permitted to enter, to reside or (God forbid) to socialise — in other words, we wanted to set up apartheid in our new host country, and wanted the laws of the country to change to be more like those in which we deeply believed — apartheid.

    Anyone want to offer odds on that happening anytime soon?

    And yet, in the name of “cultural sensitivity, we in the West are even contemplating the same in the case of that dangerously-stupid, backward and repressive set of Islamic laws called “sharia”, allowing “sharia” courts to operate in Muslim enclaves and turning a blind eye when some thugs threaten young women who are dressed in a fashion which displeases them.

    You will forgive my French if I call this what it is: absolute and utter bullshit.

    Perry, it’s not a “nationalist” impulse to tell someone that if they don’t like it (our society), then they should leave. That’s a deflecting tactic of the Left, and should be ignored, because it has nothing to do with nations. It does, however, have everything do do with culture –that complex web of laws, customs and mores which defines a society. In countries such as Britain (which have an ancient, storied culture) or in the United States (which is not as old, but is closely associated with its founding principles), for us to allow what is essentially a destructive virus into our society is not only foolish, it’s tantamount to suicide.

    So “fit in or fuck off” is not wrong, nor even inappropriate. People who relocate and attempt to change their new environment are poisonous, and should be told that. In Nevada, one of the top-selling bumper-stickers is “We don’t CARE how you did things in California” because of the influx of Californians who flee California and then set about replicating those same conditions in their adopted state. Ditto Colorado, Oregon and every other state to which Californians flee. (An amusing aside: transplanted Californians are absolutely loathed in Austin, Texas, because they’re too conservative — which tells you all you need to know about Austin right there.)

    So the next time anyone talks about allowing Islam to take root in the culture and laws of your society, feel free to use my “apartheid” aphorism in rebuttal. And lest anyone thinks that an apartheid : sharia analogy isn’t appropriate, they’re right: sharia is FAR worse than apartheid.

  • I’ve been called many things, but I think “left” is a first.

  • Oh I get called all sort of fun things, like racist, race traitor, leftie (I mean WTF?), neo-con, zionist stooge, anti-Semite, etc. etc. oh you name it, I’ve been called it 🙂

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Perry de Havilland (London)
    August 26, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    oh you name it, I’ve been called it 🙂


  • Laird

    @ Muriel: “. . . an inevitably nationalist/statist position.”

    A little late to the party, but I’d like to point out that “nationalist” and “statist” are far from synonymous.

    With respect (sic!) to the referenced article itself, I found it extremely poorly written and confusing. Is the estimable Harun Khan really complaining that the “Prevent” program is failing because young Muslims don’t feel free there to express radical Muslim sentiments? That’s what I got out of his criticism. But if the whole purpose of “Prevent” is to provide a “safe space” where moderate Muslims can express tolerant, anti-jihadist views, then extremist opinions are precisely what should be prohibited there. If those with extremist views don’t find that a welcoming environment, I would suggest that the program is working exactly as intended. (And, as SI says, those who don’t like it can “bugger off”.)

  • Fred the Fourth

    PfP: You owe me a new keyboard.

  • Beerophobe?

    No, you got me on that one. Never been called that. Been called the opposite a few times though.

  • Nick (natural genius) Gray

    Perry, you can go to the Isle of Man. I hear good things about it, such as low taxes.
    Or you could go to the United States, where there are fifty different flavours of government- Vermont and New Hampshire might be congenial to you.
    Or you could settle along the Nile River, bad-mouthing the hypocrites whilst making friends with the Hippo-critters.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Perry, I respectfully disagree. The idea that someone who has ideas different than the prevailing cultural ideas should somehow relocate or assimilate is the very opposite of freedom. Insofar as some groups wants to impose by force their ideas on others then they should be opposed. In fact, even advocating ideas that are repugnant to yours should call with resistance from the pen and with the word.

    However, the very essence of freedom of speech is a willingness to let the most vile things be said. Oppose them with more words for sure, but to demand they relocate to spout their nonsense is the very opposite of the type of society I want to be part of.

    One defends the walls of the city so that the one does not have to defend the King’s bedchamber.

  • Fraser, and the way I oppose them is by refusing to normalise them by saying “you are welcome here even if you want to impose those values on me”, when in reality I think they are not welcome and if they dislike living somewhere their views are held in contempt, then by all means piss off to somewhere Sharia is the law of the land. I am not arguing for them to be expelled, so it is a suggestion not a demand, I am just refusing to say what they want should be regarded as a perfectly ok thing to argue for in polite society. It ain’t. They should not go to jail for mere words, but they have no right to say certain things and then demand to be respected. Hell no.

    They can advocate for Sharia, and I can argue Sharia has no place in any civilisation worthy of the name, so piss off to one of the many places Sharia does exist if you want it… that is how I argue against them. Where have I argued that their freedom of speech should be abridged? I am delighted to have them out in the open expressing their views in fact so I know who needs to be urged to bugger off.

  • Perry, you can go to the Isle of Man.

    Something I have considered in fact, but it ain’t all it is cracked up to be. But still a possibility.

    Or you could go to the United States

    What? A paramilitary policed nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world, with pervasive ‘civil forfeiture’, that regards you as a taxable asset even if you leave the country? I would not regard that as a meaningful net increase in ambient liberty 😉

  • You think a typical dissaffected American black turning up in one of the anglophone parts of Africa would be made to feel more welcome or find them sharing a culture with the locals

    A few of them have tried this in Nigeria to “connect with their roots” and been robbed blind on the spot. Within a few days they’ve hightailed it back to the US, silently thankful that great-great-grandpappy was chucked on that ship.

  • Nick (natural genius) Gray

    Hutt River Principality? They might accept immigrants. We have various ‘independent’ micronations within Australia, all with a website, or so it seems, which you might want to try. They might even be ready to give you a job as a border guard, since you’ve had some military experience.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Anyway, the idea that it’s intolerant not to tolerate the intolerant is a word game. In an imperfect and imperfectible world, not tolerating one group that would not tolerate all other groups is a win for tolerance.

  • Indeed PfP, it makes no sense to tolerate anyone who will not reciprocate.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Perry, do you tell your liberal friends who want to tax the crap out of you to pay for their schemes to bugger off and go live in Sweden (or maybe Scotland…)?
    Or do you tell your Catholic friends who want to pass laws against abortion, birth control and gay marriage to go live in a Catholic country like Italy?

  • Stuck-Record

    Kim du Toit

    Outstanding summary.

  • do you tell your liberal friends who want to tax the crap out of you to pay for their schemes to bugger off and go live in Sweden (or maybe Scotland…)

    Indeed I do, assuming by liberal you mean illiberal (I view myself as a liberal), but it is usually “North Korea” I suggest 😉

    Or do you tell your Catholic friends who want to pass laws against abortion, birth control and gay marriage to go live in a Catholic country like Italy?

    I might if I could think of anywhere birth control was still illegal (is it still illegal in Southern Ireland?). As for Gay marriage, I usually argue the state should not be involved at all.

    But more seriously perhaps you miss the point I am making… if you think I am being unwelcoming and rude to people who advocate political Islam, yes I am, wilfully and intentionally so. And this is bad why exactly? I could not care less if someone is a muslim, but I care very much if they advocate political Islam. Not only is it an important distinction, it is actually a very easy-to-make distinction. Most muslims I have met personally are politically secular, and thus their religion or the residence of choice is irrelevant to me.

    I am willing to tolerate and struggle against democratic socialists of left or right within western society, as they are after all willing to tolerate me trying to vote them out of office when they are successful without sending me to a re-education camp in Siberia or Liverpool (same difference). But I am not tolerant of people with views which, if they are enacted into law, will result in me being murdered for my views. I am not at all tolerant of or polite to such people. This means I am very intolerant of Nazis or Islamists or Communists, because I am not at all suicidal. It makes me sufficiently rude to suggest they fuck off and go live in Riyadh or Raqqah (or even Karachi if they are a softie).

  • A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. – RWE

    I’m with Perry. I choose pragmatism over consistency. Some intolerance is more tolerable than others.

  • Stuck-Record

    The conundrum is that tolerance cannot tolerate those who would destroy tolerance.

    Liberals dance on the head of a pin about this because it suits their agenda to dance. Their pretence of tolerance drops when you suggest they tolerate those who are intolerant (the BNP, homophobes, redneck Americans, almost any kind of Christian).

    If you join a club with the avowed aim of destroying the club there is no stigma attached to those who eject you.

  • Paul Marks

    The left never learn.

    The Financial Times (business news and far left politics – what is wrong with British business people, why do they buy this thing?) blames declining Swedish educational results on the small minority of schools that are run by private companies (if only Sweden was even MORE statist all would be well…..).

    And all crimes of Islam are blamed on us being beastly to the poor followers of Islam.

    It is terrible.

  • bobby b

    “Their pretence of tolerance drops when you suggest they tolerate those who are intolerant (the BNP, homophobes, redneck Americans, almost any kind of Christian).”
    – – –

    It’s been my experience that redneck Americans and Christians are among the most tolerant, accepting people on earth.

    And, no, I’m not a redneck Christian American.