The Discriminating Thought-Police Commander Mak Chishty

MakChishty1984

“It is intolerable to us that an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in the world, however secret and powerless it may be”.

Orwell, Nineteen-Eighty Four, p.205

What a pickle our Scotland Yard Commander Mak Chishty has gotten himself into it.  For a person who has a degree in law from the former polytechnic Birmingham City University, and for a person who declares that “I think everybody deserves fair and equal human rights”, the implications of his recent statements have not dawned on the poor man. In fact, he still remains adamant that his words are unproblematic.

Before I put forth my analysis of the delirious situation, it is worth clarifying Chishty’s initial statements.  He did not say that people who do not drink alcohol or shop at Marks and Spencer’s or wear “Western clothing” are on the path to radicalisation. Rather his focus is on the adoption of such a lifestyle which may suggest that persons are being radicalised.  As the Guardian reports,

“Chishty said… radicalisation… could be shown by subtle changes in behaviour, such as shunning certain shops, citing the example of Marks & Spencer… Chishty said friends and family of youngsters should be intervening much earlier, watching out for subtle, unexplained changes, which could also include sudden negative attitudes towards alcohol, social occasions and western clothing. They should challenge and understand what caused such changes in behaviour, the police commander said, and seek help, if needs be from the police, if they are worried.”

The change in behaviour is what attracts the invasive measures Chishty suggests.  These measures are as follows:

“Chishty said there was now a need for “a move into the private space” of Muslims to spot views that could show the beginning of radicalisation far earlier… Questions should be asked, he said, if someone stops shopping at Marks & Spencer or starts voicing criticism.”

In his latest interview with the International Business Times, he states that he does not want the police to move into the private sphere, but rather the parents to increase their monitoring. In what has become a habit of those merged with the establishment, he wants the “Muslim community to do more about it”.

Now that the clarification has been made, we can now comment on the outrageousness of his new demands of the Muslim community.

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Boris Johnson and the Normalisation of Xenophobia

Xenophobia

Napoleon once said that there are only two factors which unite men: fear and self-interest

In an interview with the Standard and returning from his tour from Malaysia, Boris Johnson seemed to present a slightly moderate demeanour to the discourse on immigration. But as they say the devil is in the detail. Britain should have a welcoming policy towards working migrants he suggested, but it is part of human nature to be xenophobic and that those who were afraid of foreigners were “not bad people”.

Without getting into a debate as to whether xenophobia is intrinsically innate, it is well established that the usual motivators for xenophobia are among other things economic distress, increased nationalism and nativism, and of course pressures related to immigration. These are external factors, not innate ones,[1] incidentally which are in the control of the present government. Furthermore, xenophobia is a tendency which can be very easily triggered.

The attempt at normalising xenophobia (xenophobes are not “bad people”) glosses over the seriousness of the phenomenon itself. Xenophobia is “bad”. To understand the gravity of normalising xenophobia, one needs to grasp the potentially violent manifestation of it.

Xenophobia is a phenomenon which involves prejudicial treatment experienced by the “alien”.  It is an irrational fear in the context of people who are different in some way. In the present British context, the manifestation of this irrational fear towards the Muslim minority has become most acute. With reports of increased attacks on Muslims (in particular Muslim women), the discriminatory targeting through government officials and organs, coupled with research which highlights the Muslim minority as the most discriminated when it comes to job opportunities, it would be no exaggeration to say that xenophobia, epistemologically irrational and inherently, usefully deflective of “real issues” (corporate tax havens, government corruption/cover-ups, poverty), is most visible in the experiences of the Muslim minority of Britain.

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