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.