A political culture gone bad...
An interesting look at what's gone wrong in the UK....
Listening to Douglas Murray, one gets a picture of a world turned on its head, one where relativism has trumped common sense, where the state pays its enemies more than its soldiers and where turning in the inciters becomes an act of incitement.
Murray is the 31-year-old director of the Center for Social Cohesion, a London-based think tank that studies radicalization and extremism in the UK, and he is an outspoken critic of the British government’s response to the challenge of radical Islam.
Our meeting takes place shortly after the fifth anniversary of the 7/7 attacks, four suicide bombings committed by British Muslim men that killed 52 people and wounded hundreds of others. Murray believes that while the security services have learned the lesson of that event, government and politicians have so far failed to do so.
Britain’s thinking and its political culture, Murray says, have “gone bad” and it has become afraid to state its own values. Britain has become a society that no longer knows how to draw the line.
He is particularly critical of the government’s “Prevent” strategy, set up after the 7/7 bombings to tackle Muslim radicalization by providing a counternarrative. “Prevent,” says Murray, is an example of the government attempting to “do theology.”
“When the British government comes out after 7/7 and says, ‘Islam is a religion of peace,’ you can understand the reasons it is saying this – it is trying to reach out – but obviously there is something terribly counterproductive about this,” says Murray. “The problem is that the government seems to believe it can do theology. I’m a small government guy and I like government to do as little as possible.
The way I see it is that government can’t do many things very well – it doesn’t even do taxes very well, it doesn’t do policing very well, but the thing it definitely can’t do very well is theology, in particular a theology it knows very little about, or is only starting to learn about.”
For Murray the answer lies not in outreach, but in affirming the values of the state and in laying down the law.
“Instead of getting embroiled in endless wars and debates about a religion which is not our national religion, which after all is a minority religion and has no particular history of any significance in Britain – instead of getting involved in that conflict, which may or not be won by the progressives, you say what you are as a state,” he declares.
“A lot of young Muslims have said to me in recent years, ‘You ask me to integrate, but what are we integrating into? What is Britain, what are British values?’ It’s very hard to tell people to integrate if you don’t tell them what they are integrating into. It’s very hard to tell them to be British if they don’t know and you don’t know what Britishness is. The fact is that we have been very poor in saying what we are and we have also been very poor is saying what we expect people to be. We’ve been very good in stressing what rights people get when they come to Britain and very bad at explaining what responsibilities come with them.”
Britain, says Murray, has made a terrible mistake in the direction it has taken with its Muslim minority since the Salman Rushdie Satanic Verses affair.
“The problem is,” he explains, “that the British government has pushed young Muslims into becoming young Muslims when it should have pushed them into becoming young Brits. In other words, the direction of travel it sent them in has been deeply backward.”
MURRAY DESCRIBES himself as a long-standing critic of multiculturalism.
“Pluralism or multiracial societies seem to me to be good and desirable things,” he says. “Multicultural societies, where you encourage group differences, seem to me to be a very bad thing.”
For Murray, multiculturalism is a moral vacuum, and “into a moral vacuum always bad things creep.”
The Eton and Oxford educated Murray quotes Saul Bellow in his introduction to The Closing of the American Mind: “When public morality becomes a ghost town, it’s a place into which anyone can ride and declare himself sheriff.”
“Once so-called multicultural societies decided that they didn’t have a locus, that they didn’t have a center of gravity, anyone could ride in and teach the most pernicious things,” Murray expounds. “It didn’t matter. It was just another point of view.
“It’s an extraordinary situation. We allow absolutely anything. This is the reason the British police used not to investigate certain types of killing, like honor killings. This is a community matter, they’d say. Police have admitted that now. This is why tens of thousands of women from certain communities have been genitally mutilated. We have made ourselves entirely relative and its time to change that.”
Another instance of multiculturalism gone mad that Murray cites is a 2007 case where a Channel 4 documentary, Undercover Mosque, uncovered in the West Midlands clerics who they recorded preaching murder of minorities. The police were sent the tapes by Channel 4 and infamously decided to try to prosecute Channel 4 for incitement in broadcasting this material.
Murray says that a few months after the case, while lecturing senior police officers, he mentioned it and was told by one officer that he “had to understand we live in a very multicultural area.”
Murray replied to the officer that he was basically stating that to pursue the multicultural dream, he would allow certain minorities to have their lives threatened by other minorities because it would cause too much trouble. “He wouldn’t comment,” says Murray, “but this was clearly the decision they had made.”
Murray charges that because of its multicultural approach, the government has allowed certain groups to be approached through self-appointed leaders such as the Muslim Council of Britain.
“In Islam in Britain we have a bizarre situation where people are spoken of, or spoken to, through clergy,” he explains. “If I’m a young man born to Anglican parents, the idea that I can only be accessed via my local vicar is mad, but you now have this weird situation where, as it were, the more religious you are, the more devoted you are to the mosque and to the political organization of certain mosques in Britain, the more likely you are to have a voice.”
Murray paraphrases Henry Kissinger’s famous comment: “What number do I dial to reach Europe?” by saying that the British government has basically decided what number to dial to reach its Muslim minority, handing over the community’s voice to the clergy.
“It’s a pathetic, ridiculous idea,” he charges. “My belief is that you should encourage people to believe that they are represented in the same way everybody else is represented, by their MP, by their local councilor and so on. An Irish immigrant friend of mine put it to me rather beautifully when he said that the moment when you become most integrated into a society is not when you get special bribes, special rights, special laws etc., but when you have to put up with the same sh*t as the rest of us.”