The 22nd May Manchester Arena bombing has etched a particularly traumatic experience into the people of Britain. The attack in Manchester has claimed the lives of young teenagers, including an eight-year old. My sympathies go out to the victims of this atrocity.
I delayed writing on this topic for two reasons; the first being in respect of the lives lost; the second because so little had been established concerning the motive. With the Westminster attack, if we recall, there was a significant internalisation of blame by the Muslim minority without establishment of key facts – a dynamic that was fully exploited by neocons. Indeed, once the motive was established, it pointed to an uncomfortable motive, which is increasingly being marginalised in the discourses that seek to analyse the “causes” of terrorism: Western violence.
Neocons relish a good tragedy. In a screed published prior to the 9/11 attacks, a cabal of neocons argued that the US Armed Forces could only be made resurgent through “some catastrophic and catalyzing event – a new Pearl Harbor”. Soon after the 9/11 attack the neocon David Brooks noted how the attack was positive for cultivating “an unconsummated desire for sacrifice and service”. Unsurprisingly, soon after the Westminster attack, the Times took the opportunity to milk the event and direct all narratives towards Islam and Muslims.
Niall Ferguson, a neocon, penned a particularly vitriolic piece, relying on three reports. The opinion piece has also been published in the Boston Globe.
A report commissioned by 5Pillarsuk.com reveals some interesting insights into the beliefs and views of Muslims in Britain. One hundred and fifty “influential” Muslim respondents across the Islamic spectrum were queried. The results demonstrate a problematic curve ball for neoconservatives and their endless efforts to target Islam and Muslims.
The questions revolved around normative Islamic beliefs, and across the board a generally high level of agreement with these beliefs was achieved. Participants rebutted dominant propaganda against Islam and Muslims. For instance, 100% agreed or strongly agreed that forced marriages are forbidden, and 100% agreed or strongly agreed that British Muslims are an “integral part of the UK”. It also established a high rate of agreement upon those beliefs and practices which are typically attacked by politicians in concert with the media, analysts and commentators:
- Segregation of men and women in closed public, or religious settings – over 80% agreed or strongly agreed
- There is no compulsion in Islam, no one can be forced to become Muslim – over 95% agreed/strongly agreed
- Hijab is an obligation in Islam – over 95% agreed or strongly agreed
- Niqab is a legitimate piece of Islamic clothing – over 90% agreed or strongly agreed (chart 16 is somewhat unclear)
- Islam is a holistic comprehensive way of life – over 97% agreed or strongly agreed
- Jihad as is mandated in the Qur’an is used to maintain or restore order, peace and security or to remove oppression and injustice – over 95% agreed or strongly agreed.
In my previous set of blogs (here and here), we saw how those groups connected to “foreign influences” – the sophisticated pro-Israel lobby and neoconservative “think-tanks” – have bullied through unethical policies and laws which have deteriorated civil liberties. Characteristic amongst these lobby groups which have unquestioned loyalties to a foreign belligerent state is the use of threat and intimidation; not toeing the pro-Israel line means no “donations”, as accurately demonstrated by Ed Miliband’s condemnation of the 2014 Gaza massacre. And no donations means a lesser likelihood of attaining power. It is similar to how these behavioural traits manifest in other areas of politics. In place of diplomacy, neocon like to utilise “Hard Wilsonianism” urging the benevolent bombing of “peace” and “freedom” into the hearts of (mainly) Muslim communities throughout the Middle East in concert with Zionist strategic interests. At home, bullying has been used effectively against those who politically dissent against government policies by being hounded by a press using strategies devised by neocons. There is also, of course, using the law to force compliance to state ideology and policies through PREVENT. In the words of Machiavelli, approvingly quoted by the “godfather of neoconservatism” Irving Kristol:
“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”.
There is a darker side to this bullying and intimidation. Wrongdoing over the years, like donation scandals and buying or selling influence, which would result in a cacophony of press coverage accompanied by vigorous laws and regulation if the perpetrators were Muslim, barely attracts a slap on the wrist where individuals involved have been linked to pro-Israel lobby groups.
An ideology is a set of beliefs held by individuals or a collective. Given the way in which the counter-extremism discourse, as propounded by the neoconservative elements of the government and its associated “think-tanks”, possesses underlying assumptions which have been comprehensively rejected the intellectual milieu (see here, here and here), one can reasonably conclude that neocons are dogmatically promoting counter-extremism as a subset of their ideology and imposing it on people.
Given the pervasion of neoconservatism, its proponents in government, and the veritable control of the broad-spread permeation of this counter-extremism ideology by them, it would also not be reasonable to state that in the context of counter-extremism, the government has become both authoritarian and totalitarian. It is authoritarian because those who dictate the policies on counter-extremism can be traced to a small, elite cabal of neoconservatives, and it is totalitarian because extremism policy has taken societally-driven surveillance and thought-policing to a whole new penetrative, fascistic level.
Over one Spy for Every Muslim
I have already drawn parallels between today’s PREVENT surveillance programme and East Germany’s Stasi. Professor Arun Kundnani, has shown how the FBI has one counterterrorism spy for every 94 Muslims in the U.S., which approaches Stasi’s ratio of one spy for every 66 citizens.
The pervasion of the counter-extremism apparatus in British society is now unprecedented. Co-opted professionals across disciplines which normally would be founded upon trust and confidence have been zombified into spying rings for the state as people are purged from the civil sector through the States direction of what constitute unacceptable views. The impact continues to shake up the education sector as children are being subjected to child abuse, Muslim teachers are suspended for their views expressed in the private sphere, and Ofsted continues its political agenda at the expense of the Muslim minority and their faith. Indeed, the shaping of thoughts and political views continues to broaden. A recent report revealed a non-Muslim child was bullied by counter-terror police for planning a protest outside David Cameron’s constituency office.
The agenda ploughs on, however, and the next step in ensuring that there are “no ungoverned spaces” for the authoritarian state, is direct state interference in the religious affairs of faith groups.
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.