Monday, August 14, 2006

A simply extraordinary article

I have no idea what possessed the editors of the Sunday Telegraph to commission and print this simply extraordinary article.
It is a nightmare being a British Muslim these days.
Probably. The question is: "Why would that be?"
While we must await the outcome of the police investigation following Thursday's raids before rushing to conclusions, the fact that a small number of angry young Muslims may wish to kill us hardly comes as a surprise.
Quite. Though I don't quite see why this follows directly from it being a nightmare being a British Muslim. Surely these sentences are in the wrong order.
A recent poll found that 7 per cent of British Muslims believe that suicide attacks on civilians in the UK are justified under certain circumstances. If extrapolated, this means that more than 100,000 of the 1.6 million Muslims living in Britain see nothing wrong in another 7/7.
I reviewed that poll here. It is indeed scary, but it wasn't presented that way at the time in the MSM and that is not the scariest bit of it either.
So what causes these disturbing sentiments? Many point to the economic plight of Muslims here. The statistics certainly paint a bleak picture. One in three has no qualifications, the highest for any minority group; only 30 per cent gained GCSE grades A-C compared with 50 per cent across the population, and 9 per cent of prisoners are Muslim.
Are you suggesting teachers routinely and openly discrimate against Muslim children in order to ensure that they underperform? Why is this not the case for other children from the subcontinent but who happen not to be Muslim? It is also not in line with the specific subset of Muslims who actually carry out acts of terrorism as the sister paper points out so eloquently this morning:
First, the home-grown terrorist threat was the fault of racist Britain for denying opportunity and educational advancement to Muslim youth. Then it turned out that most of those involved in the propagation of terrorism were middle-class and university-educated.
Whatever. Our illustrious commentator does at least try to distance himself from the "poverty as excuse for terrorism" ghastliness.
 
Others, most notably President Bush, assert that this is a war inspired by an evil ideology. This is not a wholly convincing argument. While many Muslims find Western customs such as binge drinking and pre-marital sex abhorrent, an attack on these values was not the rationale provided on video by two of the 7/7 bombers for their actions.
Sorry: you suggest (correctly) that GWB asserts (correctly) that these killers are inspired by an evil ideology. In order to dispute that, you then bring in something (supposed Western decadence) that he hasn't said and show that the killers haven't said it either. Well, I'll be dipped in dogshit. Can I use your strawman to wipe it off?
 
There is, however, no doubt that anti-Western sentiment is fuelled in many mosques up and down the country. We are constantly reminded that there is a perpetual battle between the righteous (Muslims) and the "kuffar" (non-believers). You will find no "love thy neighbour" sermons of the kind I heard as a child at an Anglican primary school. [My emphasis]
I'm hearing "evil ideology" here. How does this make GWB's argument above less than wholly convincing?
In addition to this, anti-Jewish sentiment appears to be hard-wired into a number of Muslims I meet. At the last general election, I remember being told by some of Watford's taxi drivers, slurping the froth from their pints of lager, that they could not vote for me as the leader of my party, Michael Howard, was a Jew.
But then, don't get, for example, Mr Nasrallah on the subject of Jews either. I'll put this one in the "evil ideology" while we are about it.
Then Muslims talk of "Islamophobia". Bigotry is a two-way street.
Yup. That needs saying too. Elements of Group A want to kill more or less anyone available from Group B (and any passing members of Group A for that matter), driven by an ideology that does not promote tolerance ("a perpetual battle between the righteous and the kuffar", "You will find no "love thy neighbour" sermons"), then Group A tries to claim that it is the victim. Not very likely to endear you to members of Group B really is it?
 
But wait: having largely confirmed that there is indeed an evil ideology at play, we are offered an alternative explanation for :
But it is the foreign policy pursued by the US and Britain, not deprivation or a clash of values, in my view, that is the principal catalyst of radicalisation.
Principal catalyst? So of all the people who marched in favour of the continued rule of a mass-murdering proto-fascist dictator with a track record of the use of chemical weapons against his own population, why was it only one easily-identifiable section who go on to invoke random slaughter against their fellow countrymen? An easily-identifiable section that is not taught by its elders to "love thy nieghbour" but is taught that there is and should be a perpetual battle between true believers and kuffar? An easily-identifiable section that is encouraged by its elders to view Jews with suspicion and to oppose the liberal values that have made the West the free place that it is.
 
Principal cause my arse. You need to do some serious work to explain exactly why an invocation to perpetual battle is, in fact, not an invocation to perpetual battle if you want that one to stick. Particularly when such invocations are being drummed into children as young as 7. [Ok - that is not in the UK, but the ideological link is there. Find me a Christian charity that would support this kind of behaviour]
 
The sense of frustration at the injustice faced by Muslims across the world as a consequence of the foreign policies of the West (principally the US) is palpable. Mr Blair's refusal to call for an immediate ceasefire in response to the current war in Lebanon ...
... a war prosecuted by a liberal democracy on the one hand and a genocidal terrorist group on the other ...
... only reinforces the view held by more than half of British Muslims that the war on terror is a war on Islam.
And who is doing anything to tell them otherwise? Because if their elders are telling them that they ought to be part of a perpetual battle, it is kind of hard for them not to see things through that prism, don't you think, ducky?
 
There is much talk of strengthening the moderates and rooting out extremists, but policy makers should be aware of how rapidly the moder-ates are becoming frustrated. The disturbing reality is that as their frustration grows, so will the fringe prepared to resort to violence.
Translation: "Do as they say or it will turn nasty. Don't say I didn't warn you."
 
Disagreement with your Government's foreign policy might well lead to anger. That is entirely fair enough. What irks is the attempt to create a link here between this (justifiable) anger and the willingness of some to express this anger - anger that should be directed towards the Goverment - by the indiscrimate and deliberate slaughter of their own countrymen. This link should be severed, not reinforced. This article does the opposite.

4 comments:

Chromatistes said...

A suitably robust article, though slightly marred by two typos in the penultimate line. Pedantry is two-edged.

Keep up the good work!

james higham said...

...One in three has no qualifications, the highest for any minority group; only 30 per cent gained GCSE grades A-C compared with 50 per cent across the population, and 9 per cent of prisoners are Muslim...

I shall never accept the argument that certain individuals classes or groups can't make good, [the boy done well].

It's all in the pathetic mindsetthat it's all too easily to adopt - oh woe is me.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article and comments. I hadn't realised Muslim schoolkids performed so badly. I guess they're made brain-dead from all that compulsory Islamic non-learning: just having to repeat numerous Koranic verses by rote: imagine having to recite a telephone directory! All education should be secular.

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...

chromatistes,

Welcome to Infinitives Unsplit and thank you. However, I am at a loss to find the typos: am I getting slack in my old age - drop me a mail to save my embarrassment:

thepedantgeneral - at sign thingy - gmail dot com

James,

As always I defer to your superior depth of knowledge and experience.

Anon,

Welcome to Infinitives Unsplit. You might want to toddle off to blogger.com and fit yourself up with a blogger user id. Then we will be able to say hello to you properly in any subsequent conversations. Go on - it's free and you know you want to.

As for all education being secular, I won't go that far. The key thing is that children should be taught to reason, to evaluate, to deploy their critical faculties.

What's that you say? Not compatible with the way that Islam is taught? Aye, there's the rub.

Or maybe I'm seeing everything through the prism of post-Enlightenment mild C-of-E-ishness.