The story of PREVENT has now become routine. Stifling debate. Chilling impact on freedom of expression. Self-censorship. An affront to human rights. Plain unlawful. These are common descriptors and phrases which come to mind when talking about PREVENT.
Some of these were repeated in yesterday’s evidence submission to parliament’s joint select committee on human rights.
If we recall, the Daily Mail adopted a neoconservative strategy to categorise opposition to PREVENT as “extremism”, and smeared universities for not implementing the PREVENT duty for not ensuring an “opposing view” supporting PREVENT. It seemed like PREVENT is so embedded in government now that the need to give both sides of PREVENT – the non-neocon and the insane neocon – had been mandated. Thus, on the one side sat David Anderson QC, and the other Alexander Carlile.
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.
“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.
Photograph: Rob Stothard/Getty Images
The focus of PREVENT has discriminatorily targeted and resultantly profiled the Muslim minority for some time. Over the past year, I have documented how the structural discrimination at the state level has progressed pretty much unnoticed and without any furore – the type of furore that was created based upon smears and allegations last year which culminated in multiple reports being commissioned and published, which led to Muslims being associated with the far-right derogatory term, Trojan Horse (based off a fabricated letter no less).
I have challenged the skewed application of the term “extremism”. Indeed, biased, politically motivated investigations in other communities would yield interesting findings, and the government alongside complicit mouthpiece media would have little trouble turning the Jewish community for instance, into an “enemy within”. However the indifferent attitude to issues in the Jewish community, exemplifies the discrimination facing Muslim. Early last year I highlighted a school in which corporal punishment was being meted out to Jewish children by teachers. Most of the media did not even report the findings of Ofsted. Neither was there a relentless cultural attack on Jews designed to prove the inferiority of their way of life. No muscular liberalism was flexed.