A 2009 study supported the notion that people in power may know what the “right” thing to do is, but their sense of power rationalises away ethical lapses. Power, in other words, breeds hypocrisy. With an unchecked moral ethic to keep one grounded, we have wars based on lies and personal (oily) interests, government-paedophilia investigations stalled, tactical delays of the Chilcot Inquiry point to “stitch-ups” and utter hypocrisy in applying principles equally.
Combine this with the already morally dubious neoconservative thinking, which at its deepest level has no scruples about fascism and authoritarianism, actively advises those in power to “not be good”, even without necessity, advocates lies and spineless Machiavellian tactics then, well, you get the UK government today. As already explicated, the discourse around Muslims and Islam is xenophobic, feeding into a very tense anti-Muslim atmosphere. Muslims as a minority have supplanted the previous enemies, the communist and Jews.
The treatment has been the subject of rationalisations which disguise the obvious. Over the past few days I have repeatedly witnessed the argument which is a justification for bigotry: Muslims are not a race. The argument thus becomes: we don’t you hate or discriminate because of your physical character traits, we hate or discriminate because of what you believe in. I will leave this point with the following bullet points as it is not the focus of this piece:
- Human rights law bases discrimination on race and religion
- Islam and Muslims have become racialised in the political and public discourses
- The underpinning xenophobia remains the same as racism against Islam and Muslims. The prejudicial treatment is due to the perception that Muslims are different in some way.
- The discourse assumes the superiority of Western values over and above Islam and Muslims.
The above translates into an irrefutable reality: rising anti-Muslim sentiment and violence against Islamic places of worship and Muslims.
Free speech is fantastically defended to the teeth when truly sickening images depicting the Prophet peace be upon him, the central most sacred figure to every believing Muslim in the world, are repeatedly deployed against the Muslim minority at a time of increased anti-Muslim hysteria, and alongside aggressive foreign policy in their lands. David Dimbleby continued the provocation on the “impartial” television channel that is BBC – funded by taxpayers which includes Muslims – by highlighting BBC’s policies to not depict the Prophet peace be upon him under a “sensitivities” pretext.
However, the free-speech cheerleaders, who speak of the concept as an absolute right, are speech-free on the PREVENT strategy. “Extremism” is thrown around the media by demagogues on a frequent basis. It is used to label a Muslim in order to discredit his or her standing. It is also used to monitor activists, discourage demonstrations, castigate speakers, suppress Muslim parents, constrict Muslim charities, and “disrupt” Muslim organisations.
Extremism is defined as,
“vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas.”
Interestingly, no definition of “active opposition” is given. A non-violent socialist advocating communist collectivist principles whilst disagreeing with democracy may or may not be regarded as an “extremist”. The current geopolitical climate however would not necessarily present a problem for a person with such beliefs. That ship has sailed. The keen focus on Islam and the its subjugation to the neocon government’s actions and strategies which are tantamount to an “assimilate or suffer” policy infers an assumption that Islam and Muslims are regarded as the “other”, the inferior, who need to be raised to the civilizational superiority of the west. In other words, ethnocentric bias with a heavy dose of supremacism is the order of the day.
“Grievances” expressed against Western policies, racism, discrimination for instance (see PREVENT Strategy Review p.27) are interpreted as a sign of “radicalisation” of a “vulnerable” person. Ideas, and their expression, which are tenuously associated through an academically debunked counter-terrorism theory consigned to irrelevance, are being heavily restricted. The fact that Theresa May has measures soon in place to ban “extremist” speakers means she has placed herself and other neocons in government in a peculiar position of banning themselves from university campuses. After all, they themselves have actively opposed these British values, including free speech (see here, here, here and here for example)
Respect and Freedom to Offend?
Then we have a demand to “respect” British values. This demand however, only seems to be applied in defence of secular liberal values. How else can we explain the completely blasé attitude towards the lack of “respect” afforded to the most important figure in Islam (may be peace by upon). In fact, we witness the opposite: the complete and utter demonization of any notion which seeks to protect sacred sensibilities from extreme insults. What happened to concerns about social cohesion, mutual respect and tolerance? Or is that a neocon esotericism for a one-way policy disadvantaging the Muslims minority?
Conversely, how are we to reconcile the social programming agenda which includes “tolerance” and “respect” as British values, as now asserted through the soon-to-be-statutorily enforced PREVENT Strategy, with free speech and in particular, “the freedom to offend”? Or, is that (again) only applied against the Muslim minority? If the assertion of the primacy of the Shari’a for instance, is perceived as “offensive”, then why is such an assertion not protected by this mythically unrestricted right to offend? Of course, human rights law prohibits discrimination based on belief even in cases of war. But hey, it’s all good people! They’re a religion not a race!
There is more to the “special treatment” afforded to Muslims. Against the backdrop of the Trojan Hoax sham, David Cameron said, “It isn’t enough simply to respect these values in schools. They’re not options, they’re the core of what it is to live in Britain.” In September 2013, Theresa May echoed David Cameron with further elucidation targeting the Muslims:
“You don’t just get the freedom to live how you choose to live, you have to respect other people’s right to do so too and you have to respect British values and institutions – the rule of law, democracy, equality, free speech and respect for minorities. These are the values that make our country what it is. These are our values. There is no place for extremism here.”
In other words, if you vocally or actively challenge these values, then not only do you get the yellow star of “extremism” applied to you, your absolute, non-derogable right to freedom of conscious and belief, i.e. holding an opinion is now conditional upon “respect”. Clearly, Theresa May’s “powers” have gotten to her because her statements exemplify thoroughly bred hypocrisy to perfection.
Again there have been no national debates, no “Big Question” discussions questioning whether the untenable position of demanding respect for rights in order to invoke them has any validity.
Two days ago Boris Johnson, reinforcing his “intolerance” to those holding “alien” ideas and joining the chorus of “respect” said that those who are unwilling to accept British values should “go away”.
Hurray for free speech.
All of the above leads to a damning conclusion which the Muslim minority is reminded of daily: there is one rule for Muslims and another for “liberals”/neocons. When a white liberal applies “free speech” in his attack against Islam and Muslims, he is deified if attacked, verbally or otherwise, as is the principle which is being invoked. If a Muslim invokes his right to free speech when discussing Islamic concepts or foreign policies, his statements are framed with the suspect language of “radicalisation”; he is charged with “extremism”, undermining democracy, and unceremoniously “disrupted” and sanctioned. As the government powers increase through neocon blusters, so too does the hypocrisy. The adage, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, couldn’t be more apt.
The agenda is broader. This whole free speech fiasco will proceed towards the now familiar “British Islam” discussion. The only good Muslim (like Sajid Javid), it seems, is the one who serves the neocon state, and actively attacks the Muslim community, making (more) demands of them. Maajid Nawaz, recently Tweeted that in essence, there are no moderates due to the relativity of the term, and thus by extension the only “moderates” are secular/liberal Muslims. Given his proximity with the government and history of supporting anti-Muslim, anti-Islam government strategies which have actively undermined the Muslim minority, it is no surprise this will be the top agenda-item this year. The Trojan Hoax was just the starter praxis, it seems.