“There should be no ungoverned spaces…” – Prevent Strategy
David Cameron’s speech was textbook neoconservativism. It was characterised by the need to manufacture an enemy for the state to court a form of fear-based nationalism, which enables warring and a resultant neocon-shaped society founded upon principles of fascism and increasing authoritarianism.
A “Greater Britain”, a Neocon Britain
It is certainly interesting to note that a “Greater Britain” for Cameron “begins by making the case for strong defence”. It echoes neocon hawks William Kristol and Robert Kagan’s “remoralisation of America” which requires a hegemonic foreign policy. There was much veneration of the global militarism in Cameron’s speech directly tied to the “greatness” of Britain and national identity. For war, an enemy the “nation” can relate to and remain in fear of, is required. In other words, an identity based on the “other” through fear is the Machiavellian recipe for a Straussian “closed society” shorn of individual liberty and freedom.
The “other” in Cameron’s speech, came in the form of Jeremy Corbyn. The attack on him only served to demonstrate the reality (and pyschosis) of the neocons. Everyone seems to be an extremist except those who subscribe to their views and those who oppose them are the enemy. To demonstrate the Machiavellian enemy, Cameron, in a Hitler-esque fashion, said of Corbyn:
“But you only really need to know one thing: he thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a “tragedy”. No. A tragedy is nearly 3,000 people murdered one morning in New York. A tragedy is the mums and dads who never came home from work that day… A tragedy is people jumping from the towers after the planes hit. My friends – we cannot let that man inflict his security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology on the country we love.”
Thus we have Cameron’s demagoguery encouraging emotion over rationality. The people should focus on the emotional aspect because if one takes a rational, inquisitive approach to Cameron’s statement, one swiftly realises that David Cameron is being David Daily Mail. Again, it is worth noting the forced carving of a national identity based on fear and the manufacturing of the “other” through securitised rhetoric; apparently, neocons who are tearing down foundational principles upon which Britain rests, love Britain, but men like Corbyn, who even paleoconservative commentators recognise as postulating sensible solutions, hate “us”.
And the Muslims
Continuing the defining of the “other”, Cameron identified another “area for social reform” necessary to “rebuild Britain” – one which is intrinsically linked to the counter-terror discourse vis-à-vis “extremism” and which impacts the civil liberties of all. Bearing the brunt of the manufactured enemy necessary to “rebuild Britain” are typically the Muslim minority and all things connected to them.
The brazen Muslim minority discrimination exhibited by David Cameron was astonishing for its casual, colour-blind racism and yet at the same time, perhaps more disconcertingly, it was expected. He struggles to get by a major speech without attacking Islam and associating Muslims to various negativities. Here, it was saturated with double speaking hypocrisy.
Cameron blustered to a standing ovation that “Tories want to be the generation that ends discrimination”. In the same speech, he spoke solely of “Islamist extremism” and identified “mosques in Mogadishu” and “bedrooms in Birmingham” being susceptible to a “diseased worldview”. David Cameron feels “sick in the stomach” when hearing about the young people born and bred here travelling to joining ISIS for a “life of servitude” and knife wielding. Conspicuously omitted from the causes of his nausea is the reality of young Jews born and bred here, leaving Britain to join a far more sophisticated, Western-backed and armed killing machine, which as a matter of policy, murders indiscriminately.
Discrimination and Dehumanisation
Continuing the decrepit process of discrimination and dehumanisation of Muslims with talk of “diseases”, stomach pains and now infections, Cameron stated,
“Zoom in and you’ll see some institutions that actually help incubate these divisions. Did you know, in our country, there are some children who spend several hours each day at a madrassa? Let me clear: there is nothing wrong with children learning about their faith, whether it is madrassas, Sunday schools or Jewish yeshivas. But in some madrassas we’ve got some children being taught that they shouldn’t mix with people of other religions, being beaten; swallowing conspiracy theories about Jewish people”.
Cameron chooses to only “zoom in” on Muslims presenting negative traits that are *exclusively* associated with Muslims. “Did you know”, that if one “zooms in” on the Jewish community one will find that children are being “beaten” in Jewish schools; Jewish children aged three and four are commonly taught that non-Jews are bad and evil; that these children are conspiratorially indoctrinated that the outside world hates Jews, and that non-Jews have no souls? Apparently, it is “part of the prayers, teaching, their whole ethos.” As for divisions, Stamford Hill has been described as a “totally secluded”. Did you know? Cameron doesn’t seem to know. Cameron could only pick out madrassas and Muslims to portray in his speech, because, well there are wars to fight and rights to erode.
The demonising of Muslims by the state whilst exonerating or ignoring other communities is a familiar theme for perceptive Muslims who are monitoring the pro-Israel, neoconservative hand driving British politics. Theresa May announced, for instance, that Shari’ah courts will be investigated whilst granting assurances to the Board of Deputies of Jews that Beth Din courts were not. Similarly when news broke that an orthodox Jewish group had decreed children would not be permitted into school if their mothers brought them, the Home Office, instead of the usual tirade of “extremism”, “Islamism” and “undermining British values” cacophony, stated that the government “believes everyone in this country is equal and everybody is free to lead their lives as they see fit”. Everyone but Muslims, it seems.
Muslim minority discrimination is official government policy.
I have been waiting for the PREVENT push into supplementary Islamic school for a while. Last year I noted how neocon Michael Gove was attempting to foist PREVENT upon madrassas, and that it “is voluntary now, however, just as the definition of an “extremism” has shifted to now include mainstream, normative Islamic beliefs, the voluntary will soon slip down the slope and become mandatory.” I was right.
Madrassas have been a favoured target for neocons. At the inception of the catastrophic Iraq war, the then US defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz described madrassas as “schools that teach hatred, schools that teach terrorism” while providing free “theologically extremist teaching to ‘millions’” of Muslim children. Tony Blair, with whom Cameron shares his position on Islam on Muslims to an uncanny degree, recently echoed this in an essay stating,
“This Islamism… [is] taught and preached every day to millions, actually to tens of millions, in some mosques, certain madrassas, and in formal and informal education systems the world over.”
What is evident from the essay is that for neocons, madrassas are a way to control the thinking of Muslims. The extremism discourse provides that controlling mechanism.
The fundamental question is, is there a connection between madrassas and radicalisation? Cameron’s attack is premised upon the PREVENT Strategy and the conveyor-belt theory of radicalisation – a premise which has been comprehensively rejected by an increasingly large body of academics and experts. Moreover, a report by MI5’s behavioural science unit indicated that a large number of those involved in terrorism are religiously illiterate and that “there is evidence that a well-established religious identity… protects against radicalisation”. In the various reports covering the Cameron’s crackdown on madrassas (see Guardian for instance), the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank is referenced to describe some of the less admirable, isolated aspects of madrassas. What is curiously omitted from these reports is the following concluding statement:
“There is an absence of strong evidence linking madrassas to the radicalisation of young people in the UK.”
Of course such minor details matter little when a neocon crusade masquerading as liberal piety needs to be fought.
Concluding Remarks: “Milking ISIS”
Whoever understands neoconservatism will recognise the danger of what is being promulgated. The disturbing institutionalisation of discriminatory, xenophobic, colour-blind racist narratives about Muslims is directly connected to Cameron’s proposals to tackle “extremism”. As they are firmly framed within in the conveyor-belt theory of radicalisation, Cameron has firmly removed the foreign policy of UK and US as cause from the radicalisation process. This necessitates the dehumanisation of an enemy and as such the culturalist attacks on an already demonised minority become convenient.
The implications, however, are broader.
The same discourse is being used to attack political opposition in a manner similar to despotic regimes, effectively excluding them from what it means to be a part of Britain. Freedom of thought, speech and religion are all unceremoniously being eroded through the excuse of “security”. Taken together, it constitutes to a threat to the principles of democracy.
Just as Tony Blair, in the words of Iain Duncan Smith, “milked 9/11 for all it was worth” and warred ever since, the “heir to Blair” is milking ISIS to drive through policies, laws and wars which will help foster a Straussian “closed society” at home and escalate mayhem in the Middle East. The Counter-Extremism Bill, which will be the means through which this unprecedented infringement of human rights is to take place, is the next part of the neoconservative assault on open society. David Cameron said in his speech that the “shadow of extremism is hanging over every single one of us” and the fight to defeat it was a ‘fight for our existence’. I couldn’t agree more. The politics of neoconservatism is certainly threatening each and every Briton. Indeed against neoconservatism is the “fight for our existence”.