“for neither conscious nor shame ought to have any influence upon you… those who obtain great power do so either by force or fraud, and having got them they conceal under some honest name the foulness of their deeds”. – Irving Kristol, quoting Machiavelli
Lying and deception are traits ingrained in the post-modern political world we inhabit today. Worse still, is the continued unaccountability and societal indifference to the consequences of these traits. This remains the case despite wars initiated upon on blatant lies, ulterior motives and utter deception. The Iraq war comes to mind, however, it is frequently isolated as a case of bad planning and a blip in the normally “virtuous” causes of Western violence in the Middle East. Few recall that the massively delayed and strategically released (Jack Straw’s Brexit silver-lining) Chilcot report went through a sanitisation process with documents and correspondences blocked at the behest of the Americans. Whistle-blowers like Katharine Gun and her leaks demonstrating underhanded tactics to convince UN Security Council delegates to favour war, were ignored. It matters little that a grinding genocide has taken place over the course of the War on Terror.
Every facet of the Iraq war and the accompanying War on Terror is doused in deception.
Counter-extremism and terrorism strategies and laws have decimated the rule of law. The Countering Violent Extremism agenda is being slated by the professoriate and resisted by Muslim minorities in the West. Calls are being made to scrap PREVENT.
Despite this picture, it is “business as usual” in Britain. The scandalous nature of PREVENT peaks as taxi-drivers are now being trained to become the “eyes and ears” of local authorities and police. One can envisage the scenario of an overzealous taxi driver reporting individuals heading to protests, a mosque or a get together at the local Arab restaurant. The insidiously suppressive nature of counter-extremism makes this all possible.
Prisons have been the latest theatre of ideological war for the neocon counter-extremism craze. With the imprisonment of Anjem Choudhry came proposals which were last dog-whistled by original Quilliamite and current Tony Blair Faith Foundation senior advisor Ed Husain. It has been suggested that in order to combat the “pernicious” ideology of “Islamist extremism”, prisoners ought to be kept apart from the rest of the prison population. As I commented back in March, such measures are counter-productive and not needed.
It has become routine now. Take a minor issue, concoct a dark, Muslim-linked conspiracy theory around it which reinforces far-right narratives of Muslim hoards taking over Europe any time soon, sell it to the public via the right-wing media which is connected to neocon think-tanks, and after thoroughly hyping the situation, push through a policy, which, to normally sane minds, would be unpalatably surreal. The prime example for this is the 2014 Trojan Hoax scenario and the resultant roll out of the PREVENT Duty. Since then, minor operations broadly using the above design, have seen Muslim governors banned and Muslim MPs smeared under bogus “entryism” allegations to form the basis of the new Counter-Extremism Strategy.
This pattern of neocon behaviour is trite but is still used.
The preceding weeks have seen trickling news around Muslims “prisoner radicalisation”. In keeping with the demonisation of Islam and the dehumanisation of Muslims, the theme of attributing every social ill to the Muslim remains buoyant.
Fulfilling the annual ritual of attacking the smallest minority within a minority (women in niqab – subject of a follow-up blog) came with an additional twist this year, spearheading Muslims, their beliefs and manifestations across the media spectrum. The right-wing relished in reproducing defunct diatribe of the Yasmin Alibhai Brown variety. The Guardian meanwhile comforted itself in introducing David Cameron to the concept of empathy, whilst asserting he was right to “raise the often unfavourable position” of Muslim women. The additional twist was Cameron dictating to his subjects that learning English reduces susceptibility to extremism. Whilst there have been a fair few commentaries and responses, the blatant elephant in the room has been completely ignored: structural, flagrant discrimination and racism.
The red herrings in this discourse and Cameron’s Cameronialism exhibited in his Times comment – titled We wont let women be second-class citizens – as such requires deconstruction.
This is a continuation of a previous article which can be found here. David Cameron demanded that if people “walk our streets, learn our schools, benefit from our society, you sign up to our values. Freedom. Tolerance. Responsibility. Loyalty.” The question is, who indeed is Cameron and his neoconservative syndicate “loyal” to?
Some of the biggest backers of Cameron’s party are also linked to neoconservative/pro-Israeli lobbying and activism.
David Harding, for instance, who has donated £600,000 has spoken at the neoconservative Policy Exchange and has also financially contributed to fundraisers for ARK – the notorious charity backed by neocon Michael Gove, and linked to Michael Wilshaw. It has aggressively taken over schools in Muslim majority schools which Ofsted (headed by Wilshaw) placed into special measures in the aftermath of the Trojan Hoax lies.
The War on Terror breathed life into morbid industries. Those who were the fundamental cogs in the illegal, immoral and strategically catastrophic neoconservative war machine profiteered. Over the years it has also spurned another industry at the soft end of the War on Terror: counter extremism. Pimping the discourse of rights, and using it as a stick to beat a minority with, the language has shifted from rights to one of security.
Having observed over the past decade or so the recycling of the calls to “reform” or rather, deform Islam through various charlatans like Ziauddin Sardar, Ed Husain, Taj Hargey et al, the need to freshen the line up to resurge the desperate call is necessary. This is mainly because deconstructing Islam has been a somewhat difficult affair; Muslims understand the meticulous nature of their Book, belief and disbelief, and the fact that the calls to deform conveniently serve the neoconservative War on Terror agenda. Those who force a deformation of Islam using superficial and spurious argumentation do so often incredibly poorly, without any intellectual rigour and to the wine-sipping neo-colonial glee of the unctuous neoconservatives and their supporting, superficial Twitterati.
PM Cameron goes two for two today following up Ramadan greetings last month with a speech in Bratislava accusing British Muslims of “quietly condoning” extremism, and Eid greetings issued last Friday followed up with a wide ranging speech in Birmingham that demurs little from the ideas articulated in Munich in 2011.
Indeed, James Forsyth, the Daily Mail’s political commentator gave indication of Cameron’s impending speech late last month noting, “Tellingly, this speech is being referred to in Downing Street as ‘Munich 2’.”
British Muslims will be forgiven for reliving a déjà vu moment. Truth is, much of what Cameron had to say today is not ‘new,’ which is perhaps the most disturbing part of the speech delivered. After a term in office, the Government is no better informed about tackling extremism than it was five years ago. Despite promises made in opposition to review the Prevent programme and to ensure that security legislation did not impinge on hard won civil liberties, the Government is beginning to look distinctly like the Blair Government before it: in denial about foreign policy and other factors impacting on radicalisation while using the power and resources of the state to, as former Labour MP Phyllis Starkey put it in her scathing review about the earlier Prevent strategy, “engineer a ‘moderate’ form of Islam, promoting and funding only those groups which conform to this model.”