Here we go again. It is only two months since an Islamist drove a car onto the pavement on Westminster Bridge and killed a bunch of “infidels” in order to get his reward from his imaginary friend. Now we in the aftermath of an other attack inspired by a twisted belief system that thinks the murder of children and teenagers attending a concert is pleasing to a psychopathic deity. Depressingly, the words used by Prime Minister Theresa May in responding to the events in Manchester are almost identical to those she used when commenting about those in Westminster. Are we, like Sisyphus and Bill Murray, condemned to repeat the same set of experiences over and over again?Politicians love crises like the Westminster and Manchester attacks because it means they can make ghastly sub-Churchillian speeches and threaten all sorts of reprisals against unspecified enemies. They can also make appeals for unity and against hatred, as if anyone is against the former and in favour of the latter . One of the most nauseating aspects of any crisis in recent years has been breathless reporting about the Prime Minister chairing a COBRA meeting. COBRA, eh? Sounds great, doesn’t it? Like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are going to burst in, sans shirts, and kick the bad guys’ butts. The more prosaic reality is that COBRA stands for “Cabinet Office Briefing Room A” – more Sir Humphrey that Bruce Willis. The fact is that nothing will be done in response to the Manchester attack, just as nothing was done about the Westminster attack.
As ever, the political and media classes have been more concerned about the possibilities of a backlash against the so-called “Muslim community” in the UK. I’ve written before that the Establishment have contempt for the ordinary people of Britain, viewing them as a bunch of thicko racists who are one Katie Hopkins tweet away from a pogrom against any of their fellow citizens whose skin is somewhat darker than the majority of the population’s; this disgusting article by the Guardian’s Hugh Muir is typical of this arrogant mindset. (Incidentally, I am not defending the loathsome narcissist Hopkins; anyone with half a brain would never have used the words “final solution” in connection with a minority group). This backlash never appears, and will never appear, for the simple reason that ordinary people are far less racist than the Establishment.
The Establishment are, frankly, extremely racist. This is caused by their belief in, and endless promotion of, identity politics. People from South Asian, Middle Eastern or North African background are assumed, because of their ethnicity, to be Muslim. This is the very definition of racism – you are claiming to know something about a person simply because of their race. Perhaps someone from a Pakistani background is a Muslim because of the social pressures within their family and wider community. But perhaps they are not. Perhaps that person is a Christian, perhaps they are a Scientologist, perhaps they are even, gasp, an atheist. Because the Establishment have allied themselves with the religious bigots who seek to dominate minority communities, anyone from those communities is considered a “Muslim.” Their own opinions, feelings, desires have nothing to do with it. Once the Establishment racists have decided you are a “Muslim” you are stuck with that label.
I often wonder about the experiences of people who have come to the UK to escape from the violent theocracies of the Middle East and North Africa. These people need and want our help. We can and should be helping genuine asylum seekers. Indeed, I would suggest that it is our moral duty to help people who are fleeing violent, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, homophobic and infidelphobic regimes. But because of the racism of the UK Establishment, the assumption, the racist assumption, is made that anyone coming to this country from a so-called “Muslim” country is themselves a “Muslim.” What must it be like to flee from a place like Afghanistan, come to the UK and find yourself handed over to the tender mercies of the same violent religious bigots you are running from? This must be particularly hard for women and young girls fleeing from these theocracies to find themselves in a country run by people who are so racist that they turn a blind eye to savagely misogynistic practices like FGM because the victims of said practices are considered to be “Muslim” because of their ethnicity?
As a final point, I dispute that most people of South Asian, Middle Eastern or North African descent living in the UK are “Muslim” in any meaningful sense. Just as some people claim to be “Christian” but are rarely seen in church outside Christmas or Easter, I am quite sure that the vast majority of people who the racists of the Establishment call “Muslims” are rarely seen at a mosque. I would also say that I suspect that the average person who is forced by whatever pressures to attend a mosque finds the services as depressing, tedious and pointless as the average person attending a church finds Christian services.