David Cameron, our benevolent and democratically-leader, here in the U.K, recently made a speech about the widespread problem of terrorism which the world currently faces, and the causes there of. You might be surprised to discover that this speech is almost entirely devoid of racism! Cameron instead focuses on actual and true facts, that just happen to be about the Muslim community. He kindly agreed, in his benevolent and democratic manner, to answer a few of my foolishly naïve questions about this incredibly unracist topic¹.
That Fucking Hippy: Thank you Mr Cameron, for joining us here today to talk about the problem of terrorism. Can you tell us something of where the problem stems from?
David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Conservative Party: Thank you. Well, the new and various threats that we face which are certainly not linked exclusively to any one religion or ethnic group.
DC, PM: Though, we should acknowledge that this threat comes in Europe overwhelmingly from young men who follow a completely perverse, warped interpretation of Islam, and who are prepared to blow themselves up and kill their fellow citizens.
TFH: How, Prime Minister, do you get from not blaming any one particular ethnic group or religion, to, well, focusing specifically upon one gender in a certain sector of a very specific religion?
DC, PM: W need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of where these terrorist attacks lie. That is the existence of an ideology, Islamist extremism.
TFH: That isn’t…that just isn’t what I asked, Sir. I…how do you come to these conclusions? That it is Islam which encourages terrorism?
DC, PM: No, you misunderstand me! Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people. We need to be clear: Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing.
TFH: But you are still blaming terrorism solely on Islam, no?
DC, PM: ….
TFH: Surely an extreme version of this peaceful and devout religion would be a super peaceful person?
DC, PM: ….
TFH: I suppose that if you wished to make an analogy, you could use Christianity? You know, that peaceful carpenter dude who encouraged people to love their neighbours as they loved themselves, and then the USA, claiming to be a Christian nation, went and laid waste to some countries, killing its citizens and ravaging the infrastructure? And that would be Christian extremism? Taking the peaceful doctrine to a conclusion which has very little to do with its progenitor? Is that what you think has happened in Islam, Prime Minister?
DC, PM: ….
TFH: In that case, how do you propose to prevent further terrorist action?
DC, PM: Europe needs to wake up to what is happening in our own countries. Of course, that means strengthening the security aspects of our response, on tracing plots, on stopping them, on counter-surveillance and intelligence gathering.
TFH: Sounds a bit like you want to follow around young, male Muslims and check their bags.
DC, PM: But not in a racist way.
TFH: Of course not, Prime Minister. What, then, do you think the reasons are for these young, male Muslims becoming terrorists?
DC, PM: Well, some people point to grievances about Western foreign policy and say, ‘Stop riding roughshod over Muslim countries and the terrorism will end.’ But there are many people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, who are angry about Western foreign policy, but who don’t resort to acts of terrorism.
TFH: Pardon me, Prime Minister, are you suggesting that if there were more terrorists you would take the claims of colonialism in Muslim countries more seriously? How many terrorists is enough for you? I myself do not identify as a terrorist, and am angry…if not critical! of Western foreign policy, which I believe to be ridiculously harmful to the rest of the world, but if I was, would you take more vote more seriously? I’m not, I’m just not sure what you’re suggesting here.
DC, PM: Now, I’m not saying that these issues of grievance about foreign policy are not important.
TFH: But you are suggesting that they’re not relevant…
DC, PM: Yes, we must resolve the sources of tension, not least in Palestine , and yes, we should be on the side of openness and political reform in the Middle East .
TFH: Is that what we’re calling the illegal invasion of Iraq?
DC, PM ….They also point to the profusion of unelected leaders across the Middle East and say, ‘Stop propping these people up and you will stop creating the conditions for extremism to flourish.’ But this raises the question: if it’s the lack of democracy that is the problem, why are there so many extremists in free and open societies?
TFH: Smooooooth. If these extremists are, as you say, young Muslims, living in the U.K which is, ostensibly, a democracy, and perhaps you could remind me later exactly how it was that you came to power, Sir, but you question why these young Muslims might want to cause trouble within the ‘free and open’ societies in which they live now…the same free and open societies in which the leaders are calling for the policing of their social lives, their religious practices, their families…while these same Muslims may feel a great, shall we say, kinship? for the oppressed Muslims of these other countries in which unelected leaders are being kept propped up by, um, equally unelected leaders of these free and open democracies and may even be related! To people in, well, you mentioned Palestine? Do you know what is actually happening in Palestine, Sir? And if you do, if that was your brother over there, being suppressed by Israel, and you knew that the U.S.A, of which you were a citizen and in which the white majority were being taught to fear you and the Government of which supported Israel and the media of which misrepresented the plight of the Palestinian peoples, do you think that maybe you would want to call attention to all of those problems?
DC, PM: Even if we sorted out all the problems that I have mentioned, there would still be this terrorism. I believe the root lies in the existence of this extremist ideology. I would argue an important reason so many young Muslims are drawn to it comes down to a question of identity.
TFH: I believe that you might have nailed this whole question on the head, Sir! I don’t suppose that you, yourself, have ever suffered from any kind of oppression? Being the able-bodied, upper class, well-educated white man who you are? I hesitate to make any assumptions about your mental health.
DC, PM: In the UK , some young men find it hard to identify with the traditional Islam practiced at home by their parents, whose customs can seem staid when transplanted to modern Western countries. But these young men also find it hard to identify with Britain too, because we have allowed the weakening of our collective identity.
TFH: Our collective identity? What…is that? I…barely share a collective identity with my family, at the moment, so I’m not really sure how the entire country, coming as we do from a multitude of backgrounds, might share a collective identity…Could you explain further, Sir, for the equally confused readers at home?
DC, PM: Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream. We’ve failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We’ve even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values.
TFH: What is this ‘our values’? I…am a white genderqueer FAAB non-binary individual, well-educated, middle class, well off…privileged, some might say. Just like you…but I doubt, very much, that we share similar values. Firstly, I try not to be racist! You’ve made an entire speech around policing Muslim lives. If our collective identity is fucking racist, then I choose not to be a part of that. My values are also, attempted anti-racism. There is an analogy that I would like to share with you here. Society is like a moving walkway, heading towards racism. Some people are walking along it, quite fast. These people are actively racist. These people, are you. Some people are just standing on it. They have multi-racial friends, they don’t use racist slurs, but they still benefit, if they are white, from white privilege. In order to NOT BE RACIST you must be walking fast in the opposite direction to the walkway. You must actively take part in anti-racist actions. I am trying to walk in that direction. These are my values. I don’t think they line up with your values, Mr Cameron. And yet, I am white! I have lived in the U.K my entire life! My parents vote Tory! I am not a Muslim! Neither am I a terrorist! And yet, we do not share the same values! HOW CAN THIS BE?!?!?! Also, I believe this ‘mainstream’ to be one of those strange, illusory beasts which you believe in and many others have never seen. What is it that you believe the ‘mainstream’ to which Muslims ought belong actually is? If Muslims live in Muslim communities, then Islam is the mainstream, in that area. Or is culture only valid if it’s suitably white?
DC, PM: When a white person holds objectionable views, racist views for instance, we rightly condemn them.
TFH: I might have to take a minute, Sir, to get stark raving drunk in order to be able to finish this conversation of magical folding logic. Can you hang on a minute? [A few minutes pass] OKAY! Let’s get this racism back on the road! What, exactly, do you think is the problem here? How is such a peaceable religion becoming a HOTBED OF TERRORISM? Sorry, sorry, I get loud when I’m drunk and people aren’t making any logic.
DC, PM: The problem comes when Muslims meet together and talk to each other. Internet chatrooms are virtual meeting places where attitudes are shared, strengthened and validated. In some mosques, preachers of hate can sow misinformation about the plight of Muslims elsewhere. In our communities, groups and organisations led by young, dynamic leaders promote separatism by encouraging Muslims to define themselves solely in terms of their religion. All these interactions can engender a sense of community, a substitute for what the wider society has failed to supply. Now, you might say, as long as they’re not hurting anyone, what is the problem with all this?
TFH: YES! That is exactly what I was going to say next. Although, I also planned to inform you that the Muslim community is not a ‘substitute’ for anything, it is a community. Or would you also say that the people I play badminton with are a substitute for what the wider society has failed to supply me. Should we be going on picnics with our entire neighbourhoods? Do you want to come down to Bristol for a cup of tea, Prime Minister? You haven’t met my Grandma and I feel as though her only seeing her family, her carer and her cleaner is a mere substitute for what the wider society has failed to supply.
DC, PM: Well, I’ll tell you why.
TFH: I was hoping you’d say that.
DC, PM: As evidence emerges about the backgrounds of those convicted of terrorist offences, it is clear that many of them were initially influenced by what some have called ‘non-violent extremists’, and they then took those radical beliefs to the next level by embracing violence.
Whether they are violent in their means or not, we must make it impossible for the extremists to succeed. Now, for governments, there are some obvious ways we can do this. We must ban preachers of hate from coming to our countries. We must also proscribe organisations that incite terrorism against people at home and abroad. Governments must also be shrewder in dealing with those that, while not violent, are in some cases part of the problem. We need to think much harder about who it’s in the public interest to work with. Some organisations that seek to present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community are showered with public money despite doing little to combat extremism.
TFH: WAIT. Are you suggesting that we, sorry, ‘we’, ought to police Muslim communities? Decide who they can and cannot have preaching in their places of worship? Not give money to certain organisations because they’re Muslim? Islam is…a gateway drug? To terrorism? Is that…Are you…
DC, PM: So we should properly judge these organisations: do they believe in universal human rights – including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separation?
TFH: Mr. Cameron, Honourable Sir…DO YOU?!
DC, PM: The extremism we face is a distortion of Islam, so these arguments, in part, must be made by those within Islam. So let us give voice to those followers of Islam in our own countries – the vast, often unheard majority – who despise the extremists and their worldview. Let us engage groups that share our aspirations.
TFH: That sounds almost reasonable, actually, Sir. Are you sure you’ve thought this through? Letting Muslims speak for themselves? About an issue which concerns them? Oh wait, sorry, what was that last part again?
DC, PM: Let us engage groups that share our aspirations.
TFH: Thank fuck! I thought I’d stepped into an alternate reality where you were becoming thoughtful, and not-quite-as-racist! You’re only going to let the Muslims who agree with you have a voice. Everyone who doesn’t, I imagine, will be accused of supporting those extremists you’ve been banging on about. What else?!
DC, PM: Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and a much more active, muscular liberalism. A passively tolerant society says to its citizens, as long as you obey the law we will just leave you alone. It stands neutral between different values. But I believe a genuinely liberal country does much more; it believes in certain values and actively promotes them. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law, equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality.
TFH: I’m…flabbergasted…again…You…freedom? You’re promoting…freedom? But Muslims don’t get to choose which preachers come to their places of worship? They don’t get to hang out in internet chatrooms because you’re afraid they might talk about how pissed off they are with the West? They’re not allowed money from the Government for their organisations and societies? And this is…freedom of speech, freedom of worship, equal rights? Please, continue! I am intrigued!
DC, PM: I also believe we should encourage meaningful and active participation in society, by shifting the balance of power away from the state and towards the people. That way, common purpose can be formed as people come together and work together in their neighbourhoods.
TFH: Um. Is…so…Muslims are only meaningfully participating with society if they are chilling out with the white man? Muslims hanging out in Muslim-only communities, where, y’know, they might feel, uh, safer, because there are less racist white people who think they’re all terrorists, isn’t participating in society? My Grandma barely leaves the house except for medical appointments and talks only to family, but I guess because she’s white and racist, that’s totes cool? Let’s get old people on the streets! They need to meaningfully and actively participate in society! C’mon Mabel, what do you mean you’ve had two hip replacements and keep having mini-strokes? ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE WITH SOCIETY IN A MEANINGFUL WAY, DAMMIT, for the Prime Minister has decreed it thus.
DC, PM: So, let me end with this.
TFH: You mean, you’re going to be quiet after this? Thank…thank…oh no, shit. You still run the country.
DC, PM: This terrorism is completely indiscriminate and has been thrust upon us.
TFH: Whut? I…that 9/11 thing, which targeted the Twin Towers and the Pentagon…the USAian centers of commerce and war…that was indiscriminate? I always thought whoever did it was kind of saying, um, QUIT FUCKING UP OUR COUNTRIES WITH YOUR ECONOMIC POLICIES AND WARS. But, hey! I guess I could be wrong. Thank you for joining us, Mr. Cameron. It’s been emotional.
1. This a mock-interview. Just want to make this clear before I get swarmed with e-mails saying “But the PM gave no such interview!”
This is a guest post by That Fucking Hippie. That Fucking Hippy points at things That Fucking Hippy does not like and says “I don’t like that”. TFH is a FAAB genderqueer non-binary individual who is made of sheer awesomeness as you can see nice people of the olde interwebes. I’d like to show you this magical page and tell you how it still works!