It is increasingly difficult to use social media these days. It is a loud and raucous place where the self-righteous try and promote their views and signal how virtuous they are whilst doing so. No where is this more apparent than in the arena of the conflict in the middle east where claim and counter-claim abound. Two strands running through the social media at the moment are opposition to bombing and support for refugees of the conflict. I am in broad agreement with both principles; I do not think bombing will reduce the spread of islamofascism and we need to help those who manage to escape its grip. This being said, you might anticipate I would share the annoyance of this facebook poster who was upset about the media coverage of a London demonstration against the plans for the UK to start bombing syria.
Unfortunately when the left gets involved principles tend to evaporate. This image was shared many times of facebook today. It invites us to feel angry about the duplicity of the media failing to report a demonstration against the proposed bombing in Syria. (And to stress the author’s superior news reading skills over the plebs who are interested only in pulp news). Many shared it unaware of two important pieces of information.
Firstly, the mainstream media had indeed covered this protest. The statement that “it wasn’t even mentioned” is a lie. Here is one report form the BBC below :-
There are many other reports across the various forms of media. However, this not the only lie. The image itself is a lie. It is an image taken from the getty library of a demonstration against the war on Febuary 15, 2013 (original picture). Obviously the facebook poster did not feel that the demonstration was well enough attended but rather than accept the truth he decided on some creative posting. In the tradition of Stalin and Mao the image that fitted the idea rather than closest to the facts was used. It is very unlikely that this was an honest mistake, the poster would have needed to search for the image and would know both its provenance and its date. Perhaps, in knowledge of this the comments for this facebook page were disabled.
Yasmin Alibhai Brown is usually wrong and she is again. She is a useful bellwether for current events. If you are not sure what is the best thing to do, read her articles and opt for the opposing point of view. You will usually be right. She has done so again. In the Independent (15/11/15) she calls for an increase the power of the state to defeat terrorism. This article is slightly unusual as even she knows she is wrong as she rights it ..
“Yes, I realise the state may well misuse these powers and maybe I will be sorry for letting go of a precious liberty.”
There is no good reason to believe that increased policing will improve our security in this area. Indeed some argue that excessive policing of young muslim men creates a well of alienation and anger which foments terrorist activity as it pushes them away from mainstream society.
The risks of being the victim of a terrorist attack are considerably lower than those of being struck by lightening and the costs of surveillance are extremely high. It may cost as much as $8,000,000 to watch each individual suspect (Australian estimates). The French think that they may have to watch around 200 at any given time. So this very high cost covers and extremely low risk and has no proven beneficial outcome.
While the benefits of surveillance are unknown at best, the hazards are well established. It is unheard of for the state to give away powers that it has gained without a considerable fight. We can not presume that after the “emergency” has gone the powers will be rescinded and revoked.
We are in the midst of a fight between two diametrically opposed cultures. Our own liberal and democratic culture against the fascist culture which is personified, at present, by ISIS. We seek to preserve freedom for our people while they seek to impose the will of the state (through the guise of God). In all areas; the freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of association they wish to remove these from us. It is no surprise that their recent attack struck where it did, as it signifies their disgust with our morals and behaviour.
We can not defend these freedoms by giving them away. If we allow this tragedy to encourage us to give up our liberty we have started to loose the battle. As others have said, we need to remain strong in our belief that our culture is correct and behave in a manner that shows we believe it. We will destroy islamofascism eventually but only if we know what and why we are fighting.
Him: Do you want to put a ‘ buy it now ‘ price on the e-reader?
Me: I am not sure what price to put
Him: I’d be happy to give you £20 to save you time.
Me: Let me think about it, cheers.
I sat back and started to think. What is the value of my old e-reader? Should I go with this offer of quick and ready money or should I wait? how much is it worth, I don’t need it any more it is just collecting dust. It is not long until Xmas, do they go up in price in anticipation of becoming prrsents, or do they drop when everyone upgrades courtesy of Santa? New readers are on the market has this dropped prices? On the other hand if I don’t sell it, it will just lie depreciating.
Then I remembered the Austrian economists. It is the free market which allows us to know the value is things. It is the absence of the market which causes problems for, so called, planned economies.
I could look at prior auction results and see the prices realized. I could check other small ads and ask around. Or I could just trust to the market and let the listing run, let the market decide.
I waited and watched as the number of watchers slowly increased and the number of bids likewise. The market did is work and the price that pleased both the buyer and myself was found.
For interest I checked what we agreed and discovered it was very similar to other prices agreed. The same result in Europe and America, the same through Ebay and on comparable sites. With very little work on my part we had agreed on the right price. As I had read before the best way to discover value and to have the best information was to trust to the market.
Similarly the gentleman who wanted the “Buy it now” option also knew this. He hoped that by avoiding the market I might remain ignorant and that he could take advantage of this. I am glad I did not.
P.S. The e-reader went for five times the suggested price by my helpful friend.
It could not be otherwise and the the media continued its attention to the Paris attacks. Unfortunately the liberal press, in the main, continued to miss the point and continued to try and separate the attacks from Islam. Though there are glimmers of light. This article in Left Foot Forward raises the importance of tackling this issue. As it reports..
“But something somewhere is seriously wrong when prejudice against a community is one’s primary concern on the day a nation suffers the biggest acts of violence in decades.”
and we are unlikely to be able to tackle this problem unless we discuss it. Dissenting voices in the Muslim community need to be encouraged and removing the link removes the impetus for change.
Why, after all, would we Muslims work on solving a problem that isn’t ours to being with?
it is also increasingly clear that facing this problem with Islam could also help deal with the problem of Islamophobia.
It’s a no-brainer that once Islamist extremism is curtailed, anti-Muslim bigotry will be gradually snuffed out in synchrony.
During the 1970s and 1980s in Britain there was a strong and initially vibrant anti-fascist movement. Through organizations such as the Anti-Nazi League (ANL) it involved the young and with Searchlight is spread the word and kept the world aware. However, it seems that the antifascists feel they have done their job, they can retire content in the knowledge that they have defeated the enemy. Certainly the state of the far right in UK politics, particularly the weak and inconsequential states of the British National Party (BNP), National Front (NF) and English Defence League (EDL) might suggest we can rest on our laurels. Occasionally writers raise the warning flag after the Europeans support Golden Dawn, Pegida or the French National Front, and at home attempts are sometimes made to tar UKIP with a racist or fascit brush. But there is a problem.
Much of the fascism that was met previously used simple racism to whip up fear and support. When the fascist was a thug who expressed his hatred of people because of the colour of their skin he was easy to spot, and easy to tackle. Some fascists shifted their focus from “the blacks” to “the muslims” in the hope that they would be able to maintain their fearmongering and calls for power. In part this worked, campaigns against Hallal meat and honour crimes did gain more traction. People who would never fall for a racist move based on skin colour were sometimes drawn into campaigns of racist anti-islamic feeling under apparently liberal and humane banners. But there was a further problem.
While it is true that our home grown fascists use islamophobia to garner support it is also true that some groups with Islamic origins are themselves fascistic.Indeed, it is these fascists who prove the greatest threat to our future. Christopher Hitchins spoke of “fascism with an Islamic face” as he disliked the term Islamofascism but he did recognise this as a valid term (1). Our fears to avoid stoking islamophobia mean we avoid this term and it leads us towards much more dangerous problems. Many on the left, who would be naturally anti-fascists, find themselves allied with anti-Semitic and frequently fascist groups. Even Owen Jones has started to realize the blindness that this causes (2).
Make no mistake, it is not that these groups are ‘partially’ or ‘in a fashion‘ fascistic. They are fascist at their core. An old, but still valuable, piece by Lee Jenkins (3) was quite celar in the common core of the ideologies of ISIS and its related organizations. He noted :-
Glorification of Violence
Hyper social conservatism
Strength through Unity
Sexism and brutalhomophobia
A yearning for a Golden Age
are all themes that these organizations hold in common. There is very little to separate ISIS, Hamas, Al Qaeda and Hezbolla from other fascist groups. A difference in victim does not avoid the obvious conclusion. As Michael Onfray has said the Islamic Revolution “gave birth to an authentic Muslim fascism” (4).Just as in the middle of the last century we were called on to fight and destroy fascism developed in Europe. This century we face the same task dealing with the fascism developing out of the the middle-east.
An excellent piece by Brendan O’Neill on the need to, as he says, “fight — really fight — for the Enlightenment.” His criticism of our self-loathing is both trenchant and important and he has expressed my feeling much better than I would have managed myself.
I have sat and watched in horror what has just happened in Paris. Scores dead; men, women and children, and all civilians. If this is a war, then this is a further war crime by the Islamists.
But while I shrink in horror on what has happened and my incomprehension as to how we can tackle this, and prevent future massacres, I start to notice a second affront to dignity and civilisation. While we should be focussing on the dead and injured and seeking a remedy for this the media and social pundits have started their usual self-flagellation.
What can we expect, they cry,when we have caused Islamophobia ? Don’t let this misfortune cause problems for the innocent muslims amongst us ! Pity the poor Calais migrants who have been attacked tonight in revenge (A false story as it transpired) ! All the concerns are for possible future victims of suspicion or abuse with no real thought for the dead or their families.
This is inappropriate and wrong and should not be our focus at the moment.
These are usually the same people who caution us against criticism of Palestinian actions in the middle east and never seem worried one whit when anti-semitic atrocities occur. They may be right that events like this increase feeling of animosity to muslims, but, if this is the case then there is a pressing need to stop events like this.
Just for common decency our thoughts should be with the victims and their families at the moment, we can deal with these less pressing risks later but in the interim just shut the fuck up.