HDS Greenway, who is one of the Boston Globe’s resident Liberal Cognitive Egocentrists, has tackled the problem of radicalized Muslims in the Britain with predictable results.
British Muslims on the move
By H.D.S. Greenway | November 21, 2006
When the head of Britain’s secretive internal security service moves out from the shadowy world of counter-terrorism to publicly warn of an impending threat, Britons take notice. Recently, MI5 chief Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller said that more and more British Muslims are “moving from passive sympathy toward active terrorism through being radicalized . . . Young teenagers are being groomed to be suicide bombers.” MI5 has identified more than 200 terrorist networks in Britain. It is a growing threat, she said, that will “last a generation.”
Britain is emerging as the country most vulnerable to Islamic extremism in Europe. The suicide bombings of the London transportation services last year were followed by the foiled plot to blow up America-bound aircraft over the Atlantic this past summer.
“My service needs to understand the motivations behind terrorism to succeed in countering it, ” she said. And part of the problem was a perception that British foreign policy was anti-Muslim, “in particular, Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Interesting that she left Israel off the list.
But the very formulation is astonishing and shows the lack of psychological sophistication of MI5. This complaint about foreign policy has little to do with what turns Muslims radical, although the radicals regularly make the complaint. They do so, not because if England changes their foreign policy these folks will be more responsive to the demands of civil society. On the contrary, the very threat of turning to violence if Britain’s foreign policy doesn’t align with their demands is a form of blackmail which defies the very basis of the civil society they pretend to be willing to join, if only Britain would comply; and Britain’s compliance would show them that Britain isn’t willing to fight for its civil rules.
By those rules, terror as a response to political disagreement is inadmissable, and by failing to stand by that, the Brits will assure their Muslims that their aggression pays, that Britain is weak. And just as one could predict that the Gaza withdrawal would lead to more violence, so one can predict here that concession will lead to further demands. For the British “Intelligence” — allegedly the best in the world — to take such an obvious smokescreen seriously is pretty amazing.
What would M say? I know what Mrs. Favors, my fifth grade civics teacher would say.
I came to this industrial city in the Midlands as a guest of the British foreign office to meet with British Muslims. Zahid Hussain, the director of an organization called Social Enterprise Development Initiative, said that Muslim young were assaulted by TV and Internet images of Muslims being mistreated in Chechnya, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, and also the Kashmir, where one-third of British Muslims have roots. The Internet has opened up new worlds of agitation and radical chat rooms into which the young and impressionable can wander.
This is the core of the problem as far as I can make out. The Europeans have no idea how powerful an impact the imagery they run on their TVs has on Muslim Europeans. It may make the BBC and French media ideologues of anti-American and anti-Zionist ferver feel good to seize any occasion to make their rivals look bad — to show exaggerated images of Israeli and American aggression and talk of war-crimes and disproportionate responses. But they clearly don’t realize that the same images have a much more disturbing influence on others.
What comforts the Europeans — these negative images of Israel and the USA make us feel more moral, we are against war, we are for peace and dialogue — enrages others for whom the obvious answer to such images is not to prefer war but to nourish implacable and violent hatreds. And rather than running images of Muslim aggression to show the disapproval of things far more vicious, like real genocide, like Darfur, they obsessively run the images of Western aggression. What Muslim, looking at the images of mayhem from Qana this summer, presented as the fault, even the intentional fault of the Israelis, could not feel outraged and vindictive about Israel and anyone else who helps them.
“A million people marched in the UK, yet we are still in Iraq,” he said. “It’s a feeling inside people and they look for solutions. The Palestine is an issue that absolutely needs to be resolved,” he said “People feel totally powerless.” And Britain’s close alliance with the United States wasn’t helping. “If only there was a perception that the United States was trying to solve the issue,” he said.
I’m not calling Mr. Hussain’s integrity into question. He may well believe what he says. I’m calling Greenway’s intelligence into question for taking these statements at face value and reporting them without either challenging the speaker or offering his readers any analysis.
The language here is classic demopathic discourse. We must solve the Palestinian problem before anything can work out. The claim is ludicrous — until a virtually insoluble problem has been solved by active British and US involvement, Muslims cannot be expected to deal with real, immediate, and local problems. Apparently, repeated constantly with no challenge, it has now risen to the status of axiom. This aside, there arises the obvious question, “What needs to be done?” My guess is that Mr. Hussain wants Britain and the USA to force the Israelis to make major concessions to the Palestinians. (What else would appease militant Muslims?)
Greenway, of course, doesn’t ask. (He agrees.) Nor does he ask the man why he faults the US (which has done more than any country to try and solve the problem). So he doesn’t probe what Hussain thinks are the legitimate rights of the Palestinians (river to sea?) as well as legitimate means to achieve those rights (suicide terror), as well as what “trying” might consist of.
Of course the answers to such questions would map quite neatly onto the map of domestic radicalism for which Mr Hussain offers a false solution. Give in to my demands, no matter how much they are not in your self-interest, or we’ll start doing more suicide bombing. More blackmail. Just as Israel now suffers for every concession — leaving Lebanon, trying the Oslo process, leaving Gaza, cease-fire in Lebanon — so will the Europeans suffer for every concession they make to these kinds of demands.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Mr. Greenway, a veteran reporter and a supposedly shrewd man with a good record of wanting nice things to happen, were to probe these demopathic complaints. (Note. I’m not saying Mr. Hussain is a demopath — he may be a very shallow thinker and just take this dishonest rhetoric at face value, giving a sympathetic account of the motivations of radical, and radicalizing Muslims to Western media.) But dream on if you expect reflections of this sort from Greenway. Even without believing that Mr. Hussain is misleading us, our journalist could just ask them to find out if his interlocutor is sincere (we want a solution), or a demopath (we want you to weaken Israel so we can destroy her). But, alas, Greenway would never give someone like Mr. Hussain a hard time.
“When I was a child I believed that Muslims were united all around the world. (Non-Muslims) don’t understand that feeling. We feel an affinity for Muslims abroad. It’s a sense of belonging,” said Samer Salam, an orthodontist.
In the 19th century, outrages against Christians in foreign lands would inflame British public opinion, but in modern, secular Britain this feeling for co-religionists across the seas has lost its power among Christians. But not for Muslims.
Fascinating. There are two reasons why the British (and other liberal Westerners) have “lost” their sense of solidarity: 1) they’ve worked hard to overcome the tribal values of “my family/tribe/religion/nation right or wrong”, and 2) they’ve lost any real sense of being Christian. What’s striking about Greenway’s formulation is that he presents this split with complete neutrality. No value judgments here, certainly not of the tribal Muslims who would never break their solidarity with Sudanese Arab Muslims to denounce their genocide of black Sudanese Muslims, even though he almost surely approves of the first reason for European and Western lack of concern for the outrages against Christians around the world (primarily committed by Muslims), and possibly the second as well. Muslims get a pass.
Moreover, Greenway doesn’t even hint that this sense of solidarity — in particular its current intensity — is a relatively new phenomenon, the product of both the media of international cable/internet, and the emergence of a pan-Muslim Islamism that reformulates Muslim identity as global. The earlier generation of Muslim immigrants to France did not have this kind of global identity. The massacres and outrages against Muslims in Bosnia in the 1990s raised scarcely an eyebrow among European Muslims (the most I can find is a 1200-person demonstration in 1999 in Paris by Albanians and their supporters), whereas al Durah (2000) and the Danish cartoons (2005) aroused passion the world over. I would date the shift not to the Iraq war or the Serbian-Muslim conflict, but to al Durah and the October 7, 2000 demonstrations all over the world. But that’s just my obsession. I will accept correction of readers can offer prior evidence.
It is not just foreign policy, however. Muslims constantly complain that they are being demonized at home in the British press.
Again, no analytic comment from our alleged journalist. No remark on how much the British press has muzzled itself from any criticism of the Muslims lest it provoke angry responses; no comments on the extraordinarily thin skin of British Muslims who find any criticism “demonizing.” Just a flat statement that gathers weight with the reference to constant complaints… as if, by constantly complaining about something made the complaint true. Maybe it’s a sign of just how ill-suited to a free society these Muslims are. After all freedom demands free speech for all — and an ability to self-criticize.
Some second- and third-generation Muslim youths, feeling not quite accepted in British society, are finding solace in religion. “The young are saying their parents aren’t real Muslims,” said Zahid Hussain. One of the great fallacies seems to have been the perception in the host countries of Europe that when Muslim youths went to European schools, adopted Western dress, listened to Western rock, and played football they would become more secular, as have most Europeans.
The point about mistaken expectations among Europeans is, I think, correct. It reflects the exceptionally shallow understanding of what democracy and civil society consist of that seems to characterize the European appreciation of what they have finally accomplished (largely after WW II). The very consumerism that they criticize Americans for emerges as the essence of the socialization process they assumed would work on their Muslim immigrants.
Today, as a political statement, many Muslim girls are wearing veils that their mothers never wore.
No single statement in this essay marks Greenway as an apologist more than this one. One gets the impression that a) it’s a political statement, and b) it’s the choice of Muslim girls. And while that may be true of some (few), others do so because they are under terrible pressure by their communities (largely the alpha males) to do so. If they don’t wear the veil, they are in danger of being considered assimilated sluts and therefore, rape-bait. To present the choice of the veil as a political choice of young women is a perfect illustration of a Western journalist serving as an unfiltered channel of Muslim propaganda.
Former foreign minister and parliamentary leader Jack Straw, who represents another midland town, Blackburn, said recently that he thought Muslim women wearing veils made positive relations between Muslims and non-Muslims more difficult. Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed, saying veils were a “mark of separation.” Holland is considering a total ban on wearing the all-concealing “burqa” in public.
Yet Afzal Khan, who finished his term in May as the first Muslim lord mayor of Manchester “in 700 years,” wrote that “there is an implication in Jack’s statement that difference is wrong. Britain has always had a strong tradition of different people coming together and living in this country.” Recently a judge in London ruled that female lawyers could appear in court fully veiled as long as they could be heard properly.
Once again we get Muslim apologetics unfiltered, as if the veil — really the Niqab which covers everything but a slit for the eyes — represents mere “difference,” and anyone expressing discomfort at dealing with someone so dramatically concealed from view was opposed to difference.
There can be little doubt that strains between Muslims and non-Muslims are growing in Britain, which for so long, and rightfully so, prided itself on its tolerance. The entire concept of multi-culturalism is being questioned here as never before.
Home Secretary John Reid is crafting a “script of British values” to include “respect for the law, freedom of speech, equality of opportunity and taking responsibility for others” as a way to win Muslim hearts and minds.
“There are some that believe that we’ve lost a generation,” a Whitehall official told the Independent. “Now we’ve got to make sure we don’t lose the next one.”
It’s not clear whether Greenway is aware of how lame this formula is, and that’s directly related to his soft-pedaling of what has brought about the strains between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britain. The Brits are (very) slowly awakening to a population of people who can get enraged over just about anything — like Jack Straw’s comments or Danish cartoons — who produce people who openly call for a European holocaust of infidels on the one hand, and slick PR folk who “explain” and justify these responses to credulous journalists eager to give the Muslim communities a positive spin.
Instead of tackling the real problem — the radical illegitimacy of an ideology that says, “if I don’t like your foreign policy, I’ll blow up your civilians until you change it in my favor” — it’s “how can we win your hearts and minds?”
Now this is nice. And where Muslims are concerned, the British are definitely trying to be nice. But think about their formula for a second:
respect for the law, freedom of speech, equality of opportunity and taking responsibility for others
Respect for the law, that is the British law as opposed to Muslim law, will not fly very high.
Freedom of speech will work as long as they can use it; anyone else who uses free speech to criticize Muslims will not be tolerated.
Equal opportunity means not only equal chances to succeed but also to fail. The French schools have melted down in the ZUS (zones urbaines sensibles) because, given equal opportunity to get an education, the Muslim immigrants’ children preferred to trash the system in which they did so badly.
Taking responsibility for others… no comment.
This list illustrates better than almost anything how clueless the British authorities and Greenway are about the nature of the problem. It is the implications of this very list, and in particular the granting to “others” of the rights one wants to use to gain one’s own ascendancy that represent the very anathema that Western civilization constitutes to Islamists.