Monday, November 13, 2006

Soumaya Ghannoushi on the BNP and MI5

Large secions of Soumaya Ghannoushi's piece over at Comment is Free do not really need rebutting as they are simply statements of the blatantly obvious like "hating people of a certain religion is somewhat similar to hating people of a certain faith". This does not mean that it warrants similar regulation of things like speech as there is a far greater danger of stifling legitimate criticism of religion. Other parts of this article do warrant a response.

"We are witnessing the emergence of a new type of hatred, where religion and culture overlap with race and ethnicity. The climate generated by the war on terror - stoked further by the inflammatory speech on Friday of the MI5 director general Eliza Manningham-Buller - has allowed the far-right to redirect its poison of exclusionism from specific racial minorities to specific religio-racial minorities: from the black and Asian, to the Muslim black and Asian."

Nick Griffin has been trying this line for some time. What has made it slightly more effective isn't MI5s statements of a couple of days ago but the fact that we have had terrorist attacks and others convicted of plotting to carry out far worse attacks. Blaming the messenger in Manningham-Buller is utterly backward. Instead, blame the terrorists who have made the BNPs rhetoric sound plausible to more of an otherwise relatively tolerant people.

"With the tragic events of 9/11 and the July 2005 London bombings, the threat of violent groups such as al-Qaida, and the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, an explosive political climate was born. In this context, a dangerous language emerged, one that moves smoothly from race to religion, from terrorism to Islam, from al-Qaida to Muslims. The dominance of this discourse is such that it is no longer necessary to explicitly link these terms together. It is sufficient to invoke fanaticism, violence and extremism for Islam and Muslims to spring to mind. Today we have slid further towards the explicit and direct association of Islam and Muslims with all that is "wicked", "vicious" and dangerous."

Pretending that there isn't a violent threat isn't going to cure this. It would have an effect similar to Napoleon's pretending the army advancing on his right at Waterloo was that of a subordinate when it was actually the Prussians; in the short term that's fine but when people find out they tend to be angry. When attacks happen it is better that people do not think the possibility of them was hidden from them by an elite which thinks it knows best. Far better to have a frank debate with the truth of the threat out in the open.

"On the day that Griffin was cleared, Manningham-Buller delivered a public speech on the terror threat. Instead of the secrecy and discretion we are accustomed to from the intelligence services, the head of MI5 seemed to metamorphose into a politician. We cannot undermine the seriousness of the threat, but these statements are certain to be exploited by numerous media and political players. The MI5 director general insisted she knew of 30 major terror plots. If that is the case, why haven't the plotters been arrested, and why did she give credence to patently unreliable surveys suggesting 100,000 British Muslims supported last year's London bombings?"

Police work involves gathering evidence and then making a conviction. Of course MI5 could just drag them off the street but I doubt that "Liberty" would be impressed; they might not come to Ghannoushi's demo.

As for the surveys being "patently unreliable", why? Because they are inconvenient?

This article was a classic example of a Guardianista using the BNP as an excuse to clamp down on legitimate debate and the frank discussion of important issues.


Monty said...

'As for the surveys being "patently unreliable", why? Because they are inconvenient?'

You have hit the nail on the head. There is nothing that irks people like Ghannoushi more than having their moral superiority shattered when it is revealed the people they attempt to stick up for are the ones who are inciting or commiting acts of violence and terror.

You should know by now that we are not allowed to debate when uncomfortable truths about the friends of the left may be exposed.

Gracchi said...

Ghannoushi is useless. Personally I find Sunny Hundal much better to read precisely because he can see all sides to the question. Good Fisk though.