Not Saussure

December 4, 2006

Bringing It Home — government in denial (so what’s new?)

Filed under: Community, Politics, UK, War on Terror — notsaussure @ 11:55 pm

Not time to write much today, I fear; very busy at work over the next day or so. Can’t, though, neglect to note the Demos report, Bringing It Home, which argues

Too often, the things we do in the name of ‘security’ alienate the very people we need to engage. David Fromkin’s words from over 30 years ago are just as valid today:

Terrorism is violence used in order to create fear; but it is aimed at creating fear in order that the fear, in turn, will lead somebody else – not the terrorist – to embark on some quite different program of action that will accomplish whatever it is that the terrorist really desires.

In other words, when a terrorist kills, the goal is not murder itself but something else, such as a police crackdown, that will create a rift between government and society that the terrorist can then exploit for revolutionary purpose.4 Bringing it Home shows that the government’s response to terrorism is alienating the very communities it needs to engage, and that their growing sense of grievance, anger and injustice inadvertently legitimises the terrorists’ aims, with or without their active consent

Rachel covers it excellently. I’m hoping to write about it in a bit more detail later in the week, but here are a couple of quotes that caught my attention; criticising the government’s all-too-typical approach to ‘consultation’, they describe how

At a Home Office sponsored workshop in Leicester in June 2006, the event’s chairman criticised the department for dictating the workshop’s title: ‘Islamophobia and Extremism’. His organisation had raised concerns because of hostility towards the title from the community, but he was told that it would have to hold because it was in line with the department’s approach. This kind of practice does not promote local engagement; it reinforces the perception that the government is interested only in talking and leading, not listening or partnering. Unsurprisingly, it is having a negative impact on the government’s reputation in the eyes of many Muslim communities.

Finally, there has been very little follow through on the proposals generated by the working groups, and many of those involved confided that there seemed to be a ‘certain amount of inevitability’ about which issues were eventually picked up by the government. A number of those who were involved from outside the Westminster village said that they felt that their involvement was little more than a government legitimation exercise: their role was to rubber-stamp a process over which they had little or no control. (p 29)

And I was delighted that they noted, though depressed at the implications about how security policy is really determined,

The government has also been cautious about being seen to be close to those groups that might have some understanding of al Qaida, fearful of the types of attacks mounted by commentators such as Melanie Phillips. These are groups that are radical and fundamental in their outlook (but not violent), whose religious roots are closest to those of al Qaida, and who therefore tend to come across recruiters and activists in their mosques and community centres. (p 27)

Melanie Phillips a hindrance in the war against terror — the best argument I’ve yet come across for 90-day detention; bang her up forthwith.

Needless to say, HMG isn’t having it. Local Government Minister Phil Woolas told the BBC

“Good community relations is already at the heart of our approach to tackling extremism and we are building strong, positive partnerships to isolate and defeat those who are seeking to harm us,

“We therefore reject completely the idea that government actions are breeding resentment and alienating Muslim communities.”

Now here’s an interesting example of the way these ZaNu Labour chaps’ minds work; our policies aren’t supposed to do this, so they can’t be having the effect complained of. Mr Woolas should remember that only just over a month ago, he was defending himself against accusations from Mohammed Shafiq, of the Ramadhan Foundation, that his and Jack Straw’s remarks about veils were to blame for some attacks on Muslim men at a Manchester mosque. Mr Shafiq said,

This is another example of Muslims being attacked and persecuted and the responsibility lies with the politicians who have been on a feeding frenzy attacking Muslims and giving ammunition to thugs’ hatred towards us.

“The responsibility for this lies with the likes of Jack Straw, Phil Woolas and others who believe it’s open season on Muslims.

“People are extremely fearful now, especially the elderly people.

“People think they might be attacked on the way to the mosque or even inside while they’re praying.”

Mr Woolas said at the time,

“I don’t accept politicians’ comments are to blame for this,

“That would imply there haven’t been attacks before which, of course, there have been.”

Same argument, of course, that the invasion of Iraq has nothing to do with the threat of terrorism here because there were terrorist attacks in other places before — the word exacerbate clearly doesn’t exist in some people’s vocabularies.

Be that as it may, Mr Woolas may well be correct in saying that Mr Shafiq’s accusations are unfair and unfounded. What he cannot, though, accurately say is he rejects ‘completely the idea that government actions are breeding resentment and alienating Muslim communities’ when he’s been told, in terms, by, among others, Mr Shafiq that that’s precisely what they are doing.

Meanwhile, to repeat Lord Steyn’s words which I quoted yesterday,

In the cabinet of Prime Minister Blair two things are apparently forbidden. The first is to say that the Iraq war was a disaster. The second is to say that the world has been made a more dangerous place as a result of the foreign policy of President Bush and the Prime Minister. The pretences must at all costs be kept up.

But the public does not believe these fairy tales.

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  1. Hello. Thank you for the link. Woolas really is a defensive prick. He was exactly the same after the London Assembly criticised the response on 7/7.

    Comment by Rachel — December 5, 2006 @ 3:13 pm

  2. I would caution against taking too seriously anything Demos and Rachel have to say. Neither approach the problem with any sort of effort to attain objectivity. Instead they come with already sharpened axes!

    I would simply ask you this; if an element in our society is determined to go round blowing us up in order to change the foreign policy of our elected government should the government do something or nothing? If something, then what?

    Comment by David Duff — December 6, 2006 @ 9:22 am

  3. And what, David, other than these axes and lack of objectivity, do you say — speaking as someone with an objective point of view — is particularly mistaken about either Rachel’s or Demos’ analysis or recommendations?

    Comment by notsaussure — December 6, 2006 @ 11:22 pm

  4. Sorry I’ve only just come across this information. I believe the government has been in denial a very long time about these issues. But until there are big changes the situation won’t change.


    Comment by Marcus — April 24, 2007 @ 9:41 pm

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