The current language and rhetoric around the ‘problem’ of ‘radical extremist Islamists’ is making me more and more annoyed. Today this new potential policy was revealed on the news and it has compelled me to write this.
The first thing to note with all of this is that this isn’t a problem of religion. It isn’t Muslims who are causing terror. It is terrorists who are doing it in the name of Islam. It might only seem like a minor distinction to many people – but it is a very important distinction. I’m certainly no religious scholar, but from all I’ve read and heard the Muslim faith is as peace-loving and tolerant as any other (including Christianity).
Of course there some passages of old religious texts that can be misrepresented, but that is true of any religion. (If you want an example of how the bible can be misrepresented that watch this amazing scene from The West Wing). But just because somebody quotes an old religious text to support their backwards views, it doesn’t mean they are religious.
But the main point I want to make is that the way to stop extremists is first to stop disaffection. It is a pyramid effect and extremism can only survive is there is a strong base of disaffection.
So, if we want to destroy / remove / halt extremism, then we should work on removing disaffection.
The next question is how do we do that?
Well, one of the first things we can do is stop the tone and language of many of the supposed policies – such as “The document reportedly proposes a number of new measures, including tightening the rules on citizenship to make sure new residents embrace “British values”.”
What does that mean exactly? Who defines “British values”? Why are we talking about “new residents” as if to assume that immigrants are all potential terrorists? If I was currently disaffected, then this kind of language and policy would be more likely to push me to extremism than pull me back into ‘mainstream views’.
Linked to this of course is the rise of UKIP and the increasingly loaded political debate around race, immigration and ‘otherness’ (and therefore the promotion of disaffection in the white, christian (with an intentional small ‘c’), working class population). By pandering to this the mainstream politicians are helping to fan the flames and ultimately increase disaffection in all quarters.
Why can’t they be strong enough to tell UKIP just how wrong they are? Why can’t they show the value of Europe and immigration to this country – economically, culturally and socially? Again if I was disaffected all of this rhetoric would be more likely to push me to extremism.
This is just a quick Sunday morning rant and I know I don’t have all the answers, but the current approach doesn’t seem to be working. Can someone not be brave enough, foresighted enough, compassionate enough to actually take the long view on this and to understand that aggressive responses only fuel further aggression? Please.