The strategy of consensual dissimulation

by Melanie Phillips (brilliant analysis)

People in Britain are shocked — shocked! — that medical doctors are suspected of involvement in the al Qaeda terrorist attacks on Britain over the past few days. The shock reflects the deep unreality of public discourse up till now. People have persisted in believing that Islamic terrorism could be explained by poverty, deprivation, alienation and so forth, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Now they are horrified that doctors, whose calling is to save life, can be bent on mass murder.

The capacity of the human mind to delude itself never ceases to amaze. How can such educated individuals be killers? people exclaim. Have such people really leaned nothing from history? Have they forgotten the Nazis, forgotten Dr Mengele, forgotten that the genocide of the Jews was carried out by people who delighted in Goethe and Mozart? Ayman al Zawahiri, bin Laden’s number two until he died, is a paediatrician. Not just a doctor, but a children’s doctor. Yet he is responsible for the deliberate mass murder of thousands of people.

On BBC Radio Four’s Today programme this morning (0755 approx), the reformed Islamist extremist Hassan Butt patiently spelled out to presenter Jim Naughtie that Islamist terrorists carry out their acts of mass murder as an expression of religious faith and fervour. They do it, he said, ‘for the pleasure of God’. Far from being acts of despair, these terrible atrocities are acts of religious exultation.

If we don’t understand, even now, that what we are facing is a religious war, a jihad against the unbeliever and backsliding Muslims across the world we cannot possibly hope to defend ourselves against it. Yet while former Islamist extremists such as Hassan Butt and Ed Husain are urgently telling us the truth, Gordon Brown’s new administration is shutting its ears and embarking on a suicidally stupid and cowardly strategy. Astoundingly, it has decided to deny the religious element of this jihad altogether, to redefine Islamic terrorism as mere criminality and to ban all terms that call this horror by its proper name. From the Daily Express today, we learn:

    Gordon Brown has banned ministers from using the word ‘Muslim’ in ¬connection with the ¬terrorism crisis. The Prime Minister has also instructed his team – including new Home Secretary Jacqui Smith – that the phrase ‘war on ¬terror’ is to be dropped. The shake-up is part of a fresh attempt to improve community relations and avoid offending Muslims, adopting a more ‘consensual’ tone than existed under Tony Blair… Mr Brown’s spokesman acknowledged yesterday that ministers had been given specific guidelines to avoid inflammatory language. ‘There is clearly a need to strike a consensual tone in relation to all communities across the UK,’ the spokesman said. ‘It is important that the country remains united.’

For ‘consensual’, read bowdlerised, censored and dissimulatory; and for ‘united’, read defeated. This is a disastrous beginning to Brown’s premiership. The terrorism we face is a jihad carried out in the name of Islam, mandated by the principal religious authorities in the world of Islam and drawing on theological concepts in Islam. That doesn’t mean all Muslims go along with it; many do not, and many are indeed its victims. But to deny that it is a war which draws its authority from Islamic precepts is to deny the truth. That is why it is not enough for British Muslims to condemn these acts of terror. They have to acknowledge that what drives these acts is a part of the faith to which they subscribe — a part which they must renounce.

In the light of that, the Commons statement yesterday by the new Home Secretary Jacqui Smith — whose performance had our terminally frivolous and ignorant media drooling in pleasure this morning — was an absolute disgrace. Clearly following instructions to avoid telling the truth in this new strategy of ‘consensual’ dissimulation, she conspicuously avoided talking about Muslims or Islam. Instead, she spoke — absurdly — about ‘communities’ and insisted that these terrorist outrages were merely ‘criminal’ acts. Exactly which ‘community leaders’ will she be talking to, one wonders, about the problem posed by these purely ‘criminal’ activities? Hindus? Chinese? Rastafarians?

Invited, moreover, to agree with a daft and worrying statement (by the chair of the supremely moderate Sufi Muslim Council) that ‘such actions have nothing to do with Islam’ she eagerly concurred, saying:

    Any attempt to identify a murderous ideology with a great faith such as Islam is wrong, and needs to be denied.

Yes, the British Home Secretary has actually said that terrorist outrages committed by al Qaeda have nothing to do with Islam.

In the Telegraph, the Labour MP Denis MacShane — who has himself paid a political price for speaking the truth about Islamist extremism —rightly poured scorn on the Tory leader David Cameron for criticising those who used the word ‘Islamist’ to describe the ideological roots of the terrorist threat (yes, the Tories are also playing this suicidal game). But MacShane went on to claim that, by contrast,

    There is a new determination in government to spell out hard truths.

On the contrary. Gordon Brown has talked about the need to ‘win hearts and minds’ in the community we cannot now name, just as the west did during the Cold War. Clearly, if Mr Brown had been in charge during the Cold War, we’d have lost it. For it is now plain that to him, winning the hearts and minds of British Muslims means endorsing and regurgitating their own false claim that Islamist terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, and suppressing the truth that what we are up against is religious fanaticism and a holy war in the name of Islam against the infidel west.

This is the way we lose that war. Britain’s friends and allies in the free world should be appalled.

July 5, 2007 | 37 Comments »

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