Saturday, 6 November 2010

On the Use of the Muslim card in Oldham.

When one looks at the utter failure of politics in 2010, one need only look at the grotty little episode concerning the election of the former New Labour MP and Minister of State for Borders and Immigration Phil Woolas.

Woolas was a politician prepared to use his supposed credentials on being "tough on immigration" to portray him as the man during his anticipated re-election in Oldham who would stand up to "Muslim extremists" unlike his Liberal rival in the election.

Such idiotic claims have been rightly condemned. Yet in an article today Inayat Bunglawala can't resist getting this in,
He had already alienated much of the sizeable local Muslim community through a series of patronising comments including dismissing as "a load of crap" a young Muslim woman's concern that the UK's foreign policy in the Middle East was contributing to the radicalisation problem.
There is no evidence offered here as to the extent of the alienation of "the Muslim community's"and given this is supposed to be a defence of democracy against those who avoid clear and open democratic debate through mendacious political propaganda and soundbites, Bunglawala's language needs looking at.

People do not necessary exist in cantons of homogeneous communities like "The Muslim Community". Such language itself was curiously used by both New Labour and Islamists wanting to play on it to upgrade their own political interests and was part of a power game.

Open discussion about the exact nature of the potential threat of terrorism by some alienated Muslims who embrace Islamist ideology deserves rigorous examination. The exact nature of how UK foreign policy has brought into existence the "radicalisation problem" needs looking at.

Politicians like Woolas should not dismiss the concerns of British Muslim citizens or anyone as "a load of crap" and certainly not play on atavistic notions of "Muslim extremists" to unscrupulously gain power at any cost. Woolas was using language vulgar and unbecoming of MPs.

More depressing is the insight into the utter cynicism of the way gaining power must depend on media manipulation,
Fitzpatrick also wrote: "We need to go strong on the militant Moslem angle" and "We need … to explain to the white community how the Asians will take him out … If we don't get the white vote angry he's gone."
Yet Woolas's comments and the penchant for spin and deception are reflected in the language of media savvy Islamists no less. For Woolas did not exactly say there was a death threat against him. Merely that the "Muslim extremists" wanted to "take Phil out".

Unless I'm mistaken, the phrasal verb to "take out" could mean to remove "Phil" from power somehow. No doubt Woolas and his advisers wanted voters to think that could mean "assassination", but such language of insinuation is quite common in politics as what Steven Poole calls "Unspeak".

Unless we get an open democracy once more free from spin and deception, then it is unlikely that the fear of intractable conflicts within Britain will be avoided. What Woolas did was not ordained directly by New Labour from but it was part of the culture of New Labour spin and Orwellian language.

The danger has become one where there is the belief that "The Muslim Community" can be encouraged to exercise power politically as a lobby group in the same way that certain Islamists consider that Zionists do over British foreign policy.

No doubt the Liberal Democrats opposition to the Iraq War made it more appealing to many Muslims but it also did so with many non-Muslims as well who saw it would be a disaster. Woolas wanted to link the Liberal Democrats with "Muslim extremists" to deflect attention from unpopular policies.

Ironically, these include both the Iraq War and mass immigration which the BNP both oppose and which were one reason why Woolas might have thought that conflating the Liberal Democrats with "Muslim extremists" was one way of co-opting such discontent.

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