Three terrorists shot and killed, at least seven dead and fifty more seriously injured in the heart of London. This madness has to stop and it starts with admitting the problem.
Repeating “they will not change our way of life” is not good enough. It never has been. Not only must we actually DO something about this, we have to accept that it is going to mean some changes to the way our society currently functions. Ones which by dint of our social contract with each other, we are all responsible for demanding.
The ‘Status Quo’ has bred this situation. Blindly doubling down with the same choreographed response of shock, sadness and defiance, again and again after these sick atrocities will not facilitate the change that we need.
Neither will kind words, thoughts and prayers, hashtags or filters on your Facebook profile picture. The pacifying effects of social media do us no favours here, because we need to focus our minds on the seriousness of the problem during times of acute national crisis.
So what should we do?
Well let’s admit that no amount of policing prevents this. This is an ideological fifth-column in our society. We need to fight this ideology head on, but first the British people need to find the courage and conviction to stand up for the liberal values they claim to have, insisting they are respected by all who live here.
From the mouths of those who most loudly defend these values of tolerance, liberty and equality, there often follows a huge ‘bigotry of low expectations’ regarding Britain’s moderate Muslim population. They are condecended to by liberals, treated as a beleaguered group that must be somewhat protected from us.
However these people do not need you to come to their defence. They integrate, function and contribute productively as full members of our society; they necessarily follow a moderated form of the Islamic faith that is compatible with those liberal and secular values we hold dear. They know better than most the power and currency of these values. Their lives have improved to no end, having come from illiberal nations to living in a society that affords them such privileges. Many love and thank our country for it. Muslim or not, they are British because they believe in Britain.
Instead, where these people need our help, is with their sons and daughters. Unlike them they have grown up in a society that has the values their parents hold dear, but does not seem at all confident in claiming their superiority. When their parents came, the contrast was obvious and respect grew for these values. We were proud of our Britishness and they wanted to be part of it.
Now their youths grow up, on the one hand in a country that has systematically lost its confidence and character, leaving them nothing to identify with. On the the other hand, a proud and defiant Islamic Caliphate that highlights an apparent hypocrisy of values we claim to have but never defend.
When people like Maajid Nawaz, Ayaan Hersi Ali and Douglas Murray rightly call out ‘Political Islam’ (please read that carefully… go back and read it again, ‘Political Islam’ aka Islamism) as the root cause of this problem, too many insist on muddying the waters by saying it has nothing to do with ‘Islam’.
Of course they do this with the best of intentions. Those like Andy Burnham who repeated this line after Manchester no doubt wanted to avoid a backlash against the Muslim communities there. However his good intentions have malign consequences. Inadvertently, saying this uses the good, moderate, secular and Liberal Muslims as a human shield for the radical Islamists to operate with impunity.
Wahhabism, a radical Sunni teaching imported from Saudi Arabia is an Islamic ideology that venerates the doctrine of Martyrdom and illiberal values from FGM to Death for Apostasy. This ideology is firmly here in Britain, spread by clerics sponsored by radical Wahhabi Sunnis in Saudi. To deny that is fantasy, as is denying the links between this Ideological ‘literalist’ Islam and all of the recent mass killings in Europe.
By not calling this out for exactly what it is, by not defending your liberal values in contrast to this Wahhabi abomination, by refusing to insist that this ideology has no place in our society or culture, you make it easier for this poison to infect the sons and daughters of the very moderate Muslims we should be championing.
One brief look at history will show you that the values of this nation are anything but guaranteed. They are fragile, built up over a thousand years of cultural development. If we care about these values as much as we say we do, we must be willing to defend the culture that gave birth to them from those who hate us for it.
The enemy is emphatically not the Islamic faith writ large, but again, it is ‘Political Islam’ that wants to impose values antithetical to our own. We ignore the need to defend them at our peril.
INb4 ‘racist’ – ‘Xenophobe’ – ‘bigot’; you might have noticed I championed many Muslims here several times..
Since I posted this article at 3:30am, the Prime Minister has echoed many of my points in her speech. I have been very critical of her in recent weeks, but for this speech she can be highly commended. We need to move forward and tackle this problem head on.
I was subsequently asked what practical solutions I personally have to this problem. My response is below. However, while you are free to disagree with this section of the post, I implore you to take the first part seriously. We need a consensus on this issue:
First things first, we legislate to ban the foreign sponsoring of mosques. There are numerous liberal, tolerant and integrated British Muslims who need to be empowered to challenge this poisonous ideology. These are the people that we need to help take charge of their religious communities so they can lead fellow Muslims down a similar path to them. We should not tolerate illiberal forms of Islam to spread in our communities when their core tenets are fundamentally antithetical to our values.
Therein is the second point. We need to be much louder and prouder about the superiority of our liberal values and abandon the ‘cultural relativism’ that says that they are appropriate and necessary for us to subscribe to in full, but somehow not as necessary for other ethnic populations in our society. This has been called by Maajid Nawaz ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations’. For liberals to extol their values but not expect them of others in our nation is a form of bigotry in itself, it implies that we are enlightened, but that these other groups are not yet ‘ready’ to accept values that we have come to see as axioms. The patronising nature of this is perhaps even a cause of further barriers between communities.
Again this leads to the next point. We have to realise that the very essence of a functioning society is a common culture that binds us all together as citizens. If you look at the history of immigration into this country, the gradual tide of migration from the commonwealth in the 50s-70s was a remarkable success story in the long-term (despite uproar at the time). This is because despite different cultural imports such as cuisine and music, they came as subjects of the former empire with values and customs compatible with out own. Also lets not forget that net migration was at little over 50,000 in that period and this necessitated a degree of assimilation from those who came.
However, we should not mistake this multi-ethnic society which is something we can celebrate, with what has become termed as ‘multiculturalism’. No society in the history of the world has succeeded in maintaining itself on a multicultural basis for very long. Indeed, historically it is a clear sign of a society that has given up on itself.
This is because without a common culture that binds people together in a social contract, society means very little indeed. Even Rome at the height of its power, dominating the Middle-East, North Africa and the entirety of Europe did not operate a ‘multicultural’ model. It succeeded because it forced people (rather barbarically but this is an aside) to subscribe to a set of common laws and values which were non-negotiable. Those from Thrace to Thebes from Gaul to Iberia could call themselves ‘Roman’ if they signed up to their culture, but only if they did. Roman society thrived for centuries. We need to learn that lesson. Multi-ethnic societies are possible and indeed thrive on the diversity they offer, multicultural ones are doomed.
In our time inward flows of migration are too high to be conducive to this kind of integration, because there is a perverse incentive for people who come to live in ‘communities within communities’; ones where the barriers to functioning effectively in daily life are significantly less profound.
However, we must also admit that the kind of migration we are experiencing now is fundamentally different to what we experienced in the 20th century. Many coming now have no experience of our values as they did then. In fact, they have views ‘insoluble’ with our values. To use an analogy, immigration in the 20th century was like adding sugar to hot water; give it a stir, it will mix straight in. However, if you add oil to water no amount of stirring will succeed. We have to realise that some cultures are not conducive to this process of integration. We have to be brave and honest enough to not accept them.
We have to step up our intelligence response. The IRA sued for peace when their organisation was penetrated at every level by the security services. I suspect we are already, but the emphasis needs to be much more focused on infiltrating these groups with double agents and rooting them out from within. Prisons and prison sentences are also an issue, they are a hotbed of radicalisation and we need to do a great deal more to confront that process at the source.
Lastly, I think we need to get real as a society and stop doing these low-live’s jobs for them. As in the 1980s, I don’t think it is in the public interest to see pictures and the life stories of these pathetic individuals on television screens. These are details for the police and the security services only. The public needs to know the details of the attack and the motivations behind them. However every time we plaster their mugshots on the news we give them the publicity they seek. These people sign up to this perverse ideology because they find nowhere else to belong and are told they will find meaning in paradise if they martyr themselves. They want to be noticed and mean something. We should not give them the satisfaction and a direct line to the world’s media apparatus.
This also extends to WhatsApp and end-to-end encryption. I am a huge advocate of internet freedom, but I would allow our nation’s security services the ability to decrypt my messages with a court warrant. This means the world has to come together to ban end-to-end encryption, or at least implore on those who use this technology to develop a backdoor or master-key that allows messages to be read.
Importantly, the best way to build a consensus on the left and right in this country is by tackling this problem at source and break our ties with Saudi Arabia. The left are rightly outraged by their illiberal practices on human rights. We should also recognise they are being imported into Britain via Wahhabism. Breaking our energy dependence with Saudi and our love of their money is something the right want too.
This is where we should begin to build a consensus for action.