The Lights Go Out In Britain

By The Spectator | by Melanie Phillips
Tuesday, November 20th, 2007 @ 6:30AM

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The sinister police response to Islamist incitement (see post below) in which they tried to suppress the evidence of it in the interests of ‘community cohesion’ is unfortunately part of a far larger picture of terminal British cultural cringe and abasement in the face of the threat to Britain and the west. Following the statement by the head of MI5 that we should ‘pay close attention’ to the language used to talk about such matters, The Guardian reports that counter-terrorism officials are abandoning ‘offensive’ ‘inappropriate’ and ‘emotive language’ when talking about, er, Islamic terrorism. So no more ‘war on terror’; the ’battle’ against extremist ideology becomes a ‘struggle’ (hello? isn’t that what ‘jihad’ actually means?); and terrorist plots and conspiracies will be described as ‘criminal’ instead. ‘ We hadn’t got the message right,’ said one senior official. He added: ‘We must talk in a language which is not offensive.’ Another said that the terrorist threat must not be described as a ‘Muslim problem’.

Later on in the story, however, we learn that the geniuses in the Home Office Research, Information, and Communications Unit, which was set up to counter al Qaeda propaganda and ‘win hearts and minds’, will draw up ‘counter-narratives’ to the anti-western messages on websites designed to influence vulnerable and impressionable audiences… to explain what one official called the government’s ‘foreign policy in its totality’, counter the accusations made by al-Qaida sympathisers and extremist groups and pinpoint the weaknesses in their arguments. The unit will also support ‘alternative voices’ in the Muslim community. So how precisely are they going to do this if they won’t even acknowledge that the words ‘Muslim’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘problem’ might go together? Since the driver of I*****c t*******m is the I******t injunction, mandated by leading M****m religious authorities, to wage war against western civilisation in the name of I***m, restore the M****m caliphate and subjugate unbelievers and M****m backsliders everywhere, just how is the HORICU going to ‘pinpoint the weaknesses in their arguments’ if they refuse even to use these words? On what basis will they single out the Muslim community for the encouragement of ‘alternative voices’ if they say the problem is nothing to do with that community? And just what is the government’s ‘foreign policy in its totality’? Doers this involve saying less than fulsome things about George Bush, perhaps, and more fulsome things about the Palestinians in their historic ‘struggle’ against the Zionist entity? I’m sure that we’d all love to know.

Last week, London Mayor Ken Livingstone published a report about ‘Islamophobia’ which damned pretty well every factual reference to Islamic extremism, terrorism or intended genocide as ‘Islamophobic’. This risible document was said to have been written by ‘leading academics and experts’; but one of its main targets, the television journalist John Ware who made an exemplary documentary exposing the extremism of the Muslim Council of Britain, quickly discovered at the press conference that one of these alleged luminaries wasn’t an academic or expert at all but Inayat Bunglawala of the MCB, whose form in the field of prejudice and extremism has been well documented (see here, for example) and that two other MCB people were also among the authors. As Ware wrote in the Sunday Telegraph, the purpose of this travesty was to suppress legitimate discussion of such issues by putting political Islam beyond the scope of media inquiry.

There is already alarming evidence that this is happening. The British libel laws have been successfully used by a Saudi banker, Khalid Bin Mahfouz, to suppress evidence about the alleged links between Saudi financing and terrorism. More than 30 publications, authors and publishers have been successfully sued in Britain, with only one author, the terrorism financing expert Dr Rachel Ehrenfeld, fighting a lonely battle against such ‘libel tourism’. A nine-minute video documentary on this can be viewed here. Meanwhile, the Times reported yesterday that the prize-winning artist Grasyson Perry had consciously avoided commenting on radical Islam in his otherwise highly provocative body of work because of the threat of reprisals. ‘I’ve censored myself,’ Perry said at a discussion on art and politics organised by the Art Fund. ‘The reason I haven’t gone all out attacking Islamism in my art is because I feel real fear that someone will slit my throat.’

Far from upholding and protecting the culture that is under attack, the British government and counter-terrorism establishment are instead pushing us all further down this dark path. The lights are going out in Britain. This is the way freedom dies.

The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London, SW1H 9HP. All Articles and Content Copyright ᄅ2007 by The Spectator (1828) Ltd. All Rights Reserved


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