The Leave/Remain EU debate over the past months has descended into propagandised political rhetoric. According to one BBC article, “Boris Johnson may seem to be the face of the Leave campaign but in private Mr Gove is its brain.”
Pro-Israel neocon Michael Gove has framed the EU debate as a threat to the UK using language which knowingly roused the prejudiced fears of people. Britain, Gove argued, would be “voting to be hostages, locked in the back of a car” as a hoard of foreigners and criminals overran Britain. He’d rather have Britain hostage to the US and Israel.
However, these Machiavellian politics have a price.
Nothing demonstrates this more than the terrorist attack which saw a rare example of an honest politician being gunned down and stabbed in broad daylight by a white, possibly Christian man. Thomas Mair shot and stabbed Jo Cox whilst shouting “Britain First”. Cox was campaigning to remain in the EU.
The identity traits have been emphasised to exemplify a point. If it is hatred of anyone deemed “foreign” which ultimate led to this killing, than both overt and subtle forms of this is supported politically and institutionally across various sections of society.
When Lee Rigby was murdered in cold blood in the streets of London, the state and establishment papers predictably were looking for the “Other” to hang. That Other was Islam, and its adherents. Papers like the Daily Mail and Telegraph ensured that the perpetrators’ religion, and its significance was plastered in the headlines. Dramatically, a Cobra meeting was called to determine next steps. David Cameron spearheaded the singling of Islam in a discriminatory fashion in his counter-extremism proposals and laid down a totalitarian path which has culminated in open-season political hate of Islam.
Since then, (although certainly not limited to that timeframe), Cameron has accused Muslims of “quietly condoning terrorism” for “sharing” beliefs with terrorists. This fear-fuelled, dehumanising rhetoric continues to peak, as MPs openly declare the counter-extremism strategy a counter-Islamic strategy, and institutions like Ofsted and Charity Commission engage in their neocon cold war on Muslim educational and charitable institutions.
The politics of fear is an entrenched neoconservative political strategy and has been deployed for over a decade against the Muslim minority.
However, unlike the above, with the recent terrorist attack, there will be no Cobra meeting. There will be no statements from David Cameron that large swathes of the white, Christian population (Britain First claims to be Christian) are quietly condoning this terrorism because they share the Brexit/nationalist/Christian sympathies as well Mair’s disdain for “multi-cultural societies” and “expansionist Islam”. There will be no calls by Cameron to coerce public bodies and civil society to not engage with “anyone whose views condone” the Brexit/nationalist/Christian “extremist narrative”. There will be no headlines by Cameron-connected Murdoch papers falsely claiming that one in five white Britons share sympathies with the attacker. There will be no policies to discriminatorily target the white population of Britain with counter-extremism measures. There will no culturalist attacks which seek to demonise, censure and “reform” the underlying ideas like neoconservatism, nationalism and Christianity, which provide the “mood music” for people like Thomas Mair. There will be no high-profile threats by politicians to go into Churches and sunday schools to examine “extremism”, or ban nationalist speakers and neocons like Douglas Murray and Michael Gove, both of whom actively peddle various far-right takeover myths.
In short, the very same dehumanising process, the neoconservative cold war on Islam which the Muslim community has been subjected to, will not be instituted against the white, non-Muslims populace.
Mainstream media remains complicit in the dehumanisation process through the skilful deployment of language. The following papers variously described Mair and his actions as “killing”, “enraged gunman”, “fatal attack”, “fatal shooting”, “murder”:
There is no association made between Mair and terrorism. In fact, there is not a single reference to Mair as “radical” or “extremist” in any of these reports. And as expected, there is no reference to his race or religion. Compare this to the reporting on the murder of Lee Rigby, where his faith and the terrorist ascription were firmly planted in the headlines from the outset.
Let’s not Jump to Conclusions!
With the recent attacks in Orlando, neocon establishment commentators like Maajid Nawaz did everything in their power to link the attacker to ISIS and Islam. This, despite the fact that the CIA later confirmed that Mateen had no link with ISIS.
However, this highlights yet another layer of problematic white privilege and discrimination. When the attacker is of Asian/Middle Eastern origin with a Muslim name, religious ideology automatically becomes the dominant cause. There is no need to wait for the facts to precipitate. When the perpetrator is a white non-Muslim, all of sudden Tweeters, and commentators are keen to wait for the facts to be established. When I deliberately sent out a Tweet questioning why Brexiters, Christians and nationalists had not condemned the attack loudly enough, I was swiftly notifed that the facts were not yet firmly established. The Tweet precisely made my point.
As I write, the papers are keen to report that the motivation of Mair is still not yet known, despite the circumstantial evidence (purchasing publications on how to build weapons from American neo-Nazis, attacking and killing a pro-EU campaigner, and the not-so-subtle shouting of “Britain First”) suggesting quite blatantly that the attack was of a right-wing terrorist nature. Instead, we are treated to humanising profiles of the suspect killer, where he is described as “quiet, polite and reserved”, and a “loner” with a “history of mental health problems”, who did voluntary work. The Daily Mail pointed out these details in the second line of their article, adding further below that he volunteered at a special school several times a week. Sky News in its headline proclaimed the suspect was “Not a violent man”.
Presumably this is all apologism for a terrorist based on the standard which has been established for Muslims by media and politicians. But it isn’t. Wrong race, and wrong religion.
Counter Terror Police? What Counter Terror Police!?
The discriminatory treatment of Muslims is further accentuated by the handling of this event by the police. Where counter-terrorism police units would be all over the incident were it perpetrated by a Muslim – houses of relatives would have been raided by now – according to security editor for ITV Rohit Kachroo, the investigation into the terrorist attack was not being led by counter terror officers.
To further accentuate this blatant double standard, Mair has not been charged for terror offences, but “grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon.” The effect of this is to skew statistics when it comes to collating data on terrorist attacks.
In an age where police come knocking on the door because a Muslim child draws a cucumber, this shockingly laid back, light touch response once again demonstrates the second-class citizenry Muslims continue to endure as they are both seen and treated with the lens and gloves of the War on Terror. Muslims are subject to pre-crime thought policing without having broken the law. Non-Muslims, even if they kill a person, are not handled nor charged under counter terror measures.
This tragic event has once more brought to light the troublesome inclinations and thinking simmering subcutaneously within various levels of society. Mair’s attack was stoked by the political establishment, and their associated think-tanks. Neoconservatives like Michael Gove and Douglas Murray, champions of the Brexit campaign, have done everything to push the narrative of Islam and Muslims as an internal threat, as well as fear of demonised immigrants coming into Britain. The far-right group Britain First employs both anti-Muslim and anti-immigration narratives. Their website even references the Henry Jackson Society intwo of its articles (see here and here).
When the state and their connected think-tanks and media commentators actively manipulate the prejudices of the public instead of removing stereotypes, and when they intentionally perpetuate fear instead of instilling confidence in the public, someone somewhere will snap.
The media too is also complicit in tacitly endorsing double standards in dealing with perpetrators of such crimes based upon their religious backgrounds. This constitutes a reinforcement of damaging stereotypes which people like Mair and organisations like Britain First feed off.
The historically consistent difference in the language, cautiousness in applying politically charged labels when the perpetrator is not Muslim, and the indifference to the way media, state and police have fostered second-class citizenry of Muslims is evidence enough that parts of society need to face with its own problem of subconscious racism and discrimination.
The whitewashing of white non-Muslim terrorists is no longer tenable.