Muslims and immigration

November 20, 2010

Long-term readers will not be surprised to hear that I unashamedly despise Islam. Just like Christianity, I find its moral system immoral, it’s intolerant, and it’s based on shaky factual foundations. Indeed one of the few differences between Christianity and Islam is that there seem to be a great many more fundamentalist Muslims, and they seem to be more influential. That doesn’t affect me so much though.

What does affect me more, and what I see more on a day to day basis is the response to Muslims, the attitudes displayed towards them. It’s disgusting, and it makes me ashamed to be associated with people who are supposedly ‘on my side’, if such a thing existed. You see whilst I’m happy to say I hate Islam, I do not hate Muslims. Most of the Muslims I know are perfectly good and nice people, who thankfully do not follow the teachings of their religion like fundamentalists, just like most Christians don’t follow their religion to the letter.

Let’s start basic. Whenever the tabloids talk about Muslims, it’s always ‘them’ vs ‘us’. This is a very simple tool but I think it really gets to the root of it. It’s a signature mark of populism to refer to the majority as ‘us’ and then denigrate a minority by making them ‘the other’. Then they dehumanise the ‘other’. A week or so ago there was an old guy in the pub and he was talking about how the most common name for babies born in the UK last year was Muhammed. This was a Daily Mail lie, and I was happy to point that out, and when I mentioned that actually Oliver was the most popular name, the guy said “I don’t believe that.” Take it up with the Office for National Statistics then!

He then went on to say how Leicester was the first town in the UK where the indigenous population has been overrun, and this illustrates another problem; dog-whistle terminology. You see although newspapers like the Sun, Express, Mail, even the Telegraph and the Times sometimes, want to appeal to the populist bigoted masses, they have to hide behind terminology. Everyone knows what the press (and the EDL and the BNP by the way) mean when they say ‘indigenous population’. They mean white people. But they can’t say that because they’d get ripped apart, it’s too obvious. So what they do is hide behind words and myths, and the racists come flying in from all over the place, have their little rants and then take away a skewed version of reality and a chip on their shoulders. Terms like ‘ethnics’ and myths like ‘Winterval’. It helps perpetuate an untrue narrative which feeds the likes of the BNP.

Then we can see how it filters through into the general population. Comments on BBC’s Have Your Say or on the Daily Mail comments, as well as various groups set up on Facebook, say things like ‘Deport the Muslims who burnt the poppies‘ or ‘If you don’t like the England/Australian/Canadian/American flag, then I’ll happily help you pack’. Sorry but where did this assumption come from that all Muslims are immigrants? Here’s a prime example illustrating how the right-wing tabloids are deliberately deceiving, and succeeding in that deception, and yet the Press Complaints Commission wrings its hands and does nothing. It’s sickening. And since the word ‘immigrant’ has become a dirty word along with ‘asylum seeker’, they become vilified. They’re the other. They’re not us, so it’s ok to treat them like one homogenous group and then publically shit on them all in the press. And the Press Complaints Commission is so fricking toothless that they can get away with it.

Here’s another insane example of how deranged some people have become. During the whole (Not) Ground Zero (Not) Mosque fiasco, people were saying things like “When I can do what I want in Saudi Arabia I’ll let them do what they want here” or “When churches can be built in Saudi Arabia we’ll let them build Mosques here”. Let me just reiterate that. People were actually saying this. As if Saudi Arabia is a standard to live up to. And on top of that, since when is Saudi Arabia representative of Muslims? Especially the ones that have moved away from the Middle East!?

It gets worse, this is becoming the mainstream. In the last election, Labour’s manifesto had a section entitled ‘Crime and Immigration’, as if the two were intrinsically linked in some way, as if being an immigrant is a crime. That manifesto was put together by current Labour leader Ed Miliband, by the way. You’d think a guy of Jewish descent would be particularly aware of the dangers of populism, but apparently not. Was there a big outcry about this? Was there fuck. During the election campaign, Gordon Brown called a woman bigoted because she was apparently confused about where all these Eastern Europeans were flooding from (the clue’s in the question), and then apologised sincerely for his misjudgement. When Labour eventually lost, they blamed it on their weak stance on immigration. And now, as if their record is spotless, they’re kicking out Phil Woolas and pretending he’s not like them.

Why is it that in politics these days, the only acceptable answer to the question ‘where do you stand on immigration?’ is to say which one is your preferred method of curbing it? Gordon Brown was absolutely right to call her a bigot. Yes, it is the role of politicians to listen to public discourse, but they can also help shape it. Someone has to make the argument that immigration is not necessarily a bad thing, that Muslims are not necessarily bad people. I used to put my faith in the Lib Dems, but since they’ve become Tory lapdogs, there’s noone left.

Daily Fail tackles winter ails

December 27, 2009

My parents used to read the Daily Express. That was bad enough, you used to be able to guarantee there’d be a picture of Princess Diana, another royal, or Madeleine McCann on the front together with a fear-mongering headline about some made-up health emergency or miracle cure, or some bullshit story about nig-nogs. Ok, that sounds very much like the Mail, and they’re almost indistinguishable, except the Mail sells a lot more for some reason. Anyway, whilst I’ve been away my parents have switched to the Mail, and I’ve been having a quick flick through the pages. I suppose I needed to throw up, especially after the Mail is yet again cashing in on the recently-deceased. Here’s one taken from the health section of the Mail website.

Yes, the Mail is revealing to the world 5 of the best cures for your winter cough. So how have they figured out what the best cure is? Well, let’s see… let’s see… oh right! Here we are, at the top it says:

A study from the American College of Chest Physicians says there is no evidence that over-the-counter cough syrups work. But herbal alternatives have been used for generations. Here are five options to soothe nasty coughs.

Nothing else, no studies, not even a testimonial from a patient, nothing. Just ‘these have been used for generations’ and therefore they’re “5 of the best”. I wonder how they define “the best”. Are all cough remedies counted underneath the banner of “the best”? Because that’s the only way I can think of that means they can justify counting these as “5 of the best”. It’s rather telling that they lead with a little jibe at the usual cough remedies which may or may not work anyway, it’s the only possible justification they could come up with for a story which is less like journalism and more like false advertising. I did a search for “American College of Chest Physicians over the counter cough” and found various articles about the same study, published in January 2006. That’s just under 4 years ago. And this is from a news service. Last night.

And it’s without a touch of irony that they start the article with ‘there’s no evidence that these usual treatments work, but here’s a list of alternative remedies with no evidence behind them’. That’s impressively stupid. That’s pretty much the whole article, all the rest of it is a little description of the products which could have been taken right off the website selling them, with no critical thought put into it whatsoever. So seeing as the Mail haven’t done any work into this, I’m not going to do any more on it either.

Embryology Bill

May 22, 2008

Wow, what a lot of to-do about nothing! For the last few days, MP’s have been taking part in free voting on 3 clauses of the much-scorned-by-fuddy-duddies Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, and thankfully it appears they’ve voted with their heads.

I sent a letter a month or so ago to my local Labour MP, Ben Chapman, urging him to ignore the irrelevant religious arguments that have made their way to the forefront of the public debate. He sent me a very nice letter back saying that the religious arguments were not the only reasons to oppose the bill, and listed a few other arguments which I don’t personally agree with. His main reason was that (paraphrasing) “the importance of human life is paramount. It’s what all our other laws are based upon.” Now this is essentially a religious argument. Thinking biologically, human life is no more important (or ‘sacred’, to use the religious terminology) than animal life. That said, I’m glad he voted with his head rather than with his heart.

Looking at the science, I’m a bit confused what all the fuss is all about. The words “human-animal hybrid” portray to many a little baby with a cow’s head or something. In reality most of the hybrids are 99.9% human, and the only animal part is the casing of the egg. What’s the big deal?

Similarly, the Daily Mail made a massive deal about “fathers being made redundant”, the morning after the vote which meant that lesbian couples or single females could have IVF treatment without the need for a male parent. I’m sorry but their argument is totally flawed. Nobody is saying that male role models aren’t important in a child’s life. But a woman can go out, have sex with a man, get pregnant and bring the child up alone, totally by choice. But as soon as it gets to IVF, there has to be a male parent. Why is the law different in this respect just because IVF is involved? I really think that these religious people (and a series of articles in the Daily Mail have specifically defended the religious view) will argue against anything that advances reproductive rights in this country.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, (who remember, supposedly represents a million Catholics in Scotland), has reeatedly said that this bill “has no public support”. But the polls suggest otherwise, apparently 61% of people support the bill, according to a survey from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

Sometimes I wish people would pull their heads out of their arses and use them for thinking, for once.


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