Theresa May’s speech following the attacks yesterday has been met in some quarters as not going far enough. Following my statements about speaking the Truth about Islam yesterday I thought I’d dissect some of what I thought were the significant parts here.
She introduced her speech with a overview of the attacks and the response to it, thanking our response teams and members of the public for their bravery. She then went on to point out that in their planning and execution these attacks were not connected but, I feel significantly, she then went on to say that we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face. The terrorists were moving away from complicated attacks that take a long time to coordinate, from lone wolf attacks to those being inspired by each other using the crudest means possible.
I felt this was important as we’re seeing a departure from the official line of reducing the threat faced by portraying it as random people. These statements of ‘lone wolf’ were also often accompanied by a claim to a mental illness and many of the public, including me, saw this as a way to deflect from the ideology that linked all these ‘lone wolves’.
She goes on to say that the terrorists are being inspired by each other; this is significant because it’s a recognition of the Truth, If partially. These attacks were always ‘inspired by each other’, along with the shared ideology of course. However a politician can never openly admit they were wrong can they? So this shift in language, although frustrating to some, to me seems to be an important recognition of what the situation is, if not a totally honest one.
This recognition is expanded in a qualified manner by her later statements which point to what this shared ideology is as she goes on to say that “while the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single, evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism.”
This is a frustrating line for many as she refers to Islamist, not Islam. However I feel that May has struck the right tone with this when it is considered in light of everything else she says.
She’s recognising that the ideology of Islam is a foundational aspect of this terrorism, however she knows that not every Muslim is a terrorist and they don’t support the methods of their co-religionists. I know many will ciriticise me as well for this point, pointing to surveys of Muslim beliefs and their support of Sharia and Jihad. However let me just say that the difficulty with surveys, unless they use complex, open ended questions, is that people plump for ‘an’ answer, but wish to say more in addition to that response. It can’t be completely representative.
The would-be dictator Erdogan would like to make this a war between the religion of Islam and the ‘Crusaders’; there is little point throwing petrol on that fire. We want to ensure that the many Muslims who don’t support these actions remain on our side.
As someone who objects to same sex marriage I know how the label ‘bigot’ has affected me not just about that argument, but many of other gay rights issues (although I try and fight this knee jerk response). When you add this label to malicious legal actions against other Christians it’s difficult not to become hardened towards gay rights advocates.
For any Muslim who is just getting on with their life identifying their entire religion and thereby it’s followers (however lax there approach) will have the same affect.
May then turns her attention to how this will be defeated – through counter terrorism operations and through, in her words, removing their safe spaces. She defines these safe spaces as in the sphere of the Internet and in the public arena.
It has frustrated many people that she is calling for the ability to police the internet and how any powers created could be used against us all. Firstly, I would encourage you again to read The Guardian article, a newspaper that has supported press restrictions and restricting free speech on the internet for all those nasty white men who are mean and wicked to women, suddenly does not want any such thing. Interesting isn’t it?
That doesn’t mean to say that May’s request for powers within the internet aren’t a worry. All too often government policies in response to Islamic extremism are used against other groups as a way of demonstrating ‘balance’; Trojan Horse schools anyone?
Nevertheless if we recognise we are at war there needs to be a curtailing of information; this has always happened in war. The difficulty here is that it is being named as terrorism, not war, and as there is no definitive end to terrorism – or at least I can’t see one in this case as, unlike Northern Ireland, there are no explicit demands – there isn’t a definitive end to these infringements on personal liberty.
The other difficulty is that as we are only beginning to name ‘the evil thing’ then these strategies online won’t be specific will they? Hence the fear of targeting others is a genuine one (The Guardian, like all stopped clocks, can be right twice a day).
She continues “Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time. But it cannot be defeated through military intervention alone. It will not be defeated through the maintenance of a permanent, defensive counter-terrorism operation, however skillful its leaders and practitioners.
It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence – and make them understand that our values – pluralistic, British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.”
This use of pluralistic rather than multi-cultualism is, for me, another significant departure in public policy. Multiculturalism at its most benign can be considered to be pluralism; in fact I think it was in this manner that the whole idea of multiculturalism was first introduced. A far more palatable prospect and certainly not the radical idea that multiculturalism is; in fact in this manner it was just a reflection of British society on the whole.
Pluralism is the idea that there is an over-arching, dominant culture (which can include a religious belief), yet within this other cultures and religions can exist peaceably. Multiculturalism at it’s most extreme, current format, as introduced by New Labour and continued under the Cameron government, is one that states that all cultures are equally valid and should be supported in the separateness by the state.
An example of this ideology and how it’s communicated through our public sector is how it’s introduced within the teaching profession. Prior to what I do now I was a teacher and went through the PGCE programme. During our training on multiculturalism the speaker brought up an incident were some OfSted advisors went into a school and spoke with a headmistress of a primary school about introducing the ideology at its inception. When asked if she had any pupils from an ethnic background she said she didn’t have any (primary schools being small). As the inspectors went outside they saw a young, black boy playing under the table nearby and they referred to him to the headmistress who, apparently, gave the wrong answer; “Oh, that’s just little [child’s name]. We don’t see him as an ethnic minority, he’s just little [child’s name]”.
In this way it has become a governement mandate to teach children not as individuals, but as their ethnicity. Which brings me to the next part of her speech.
“While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country. So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out – across the public sector and across society,” stated May. “That will require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations, but the whole of our country needs to come together to take on this extremism – and we need to live our lives not in a series of separated, segregated communities, but as one truly United Kingdom.”
This is identifying that the problem isn’t just in these communities, but in the public sector as well; which in every facet has the ideology of multiculturalism imposed throughout. It’s one of the main reasons why Rotheram happened as police and social services dealt with community leaders and assumed the guilt of the victims. I was a police officer before teaching, believe me when I say that even to get your foot through the door of the police force you must subscribe to this ideology. It is promoted from on high that, irrelevant of the response from the person you were speaking, that is the demeanour of the individual – specifically with someone identified as an ethnic minority – could not be considered when dealing with, for example, a traffic violation. So if, the specific example used in my training, prior to stopping a vehicle you decide to give the driver advise or a verbal warning and they become aggressive towards you then you must continue with this prior decision. You cannot as a result of their behaviour decide that a ticket, for example, is more in order (a policy formulated as a result of civil unrest in the Toxteth riots).
From reading May’s speech I would suggest that if these are not just words designed to win an election, but a genuine shift in policy, I think we’re heading in the right direction. We will see.