Blasphemy Laws, oppression and control │ Marc Beaton
It was my birthday a few weeks ago. I remember when I was young I asked my mum what it was like in the year I was born. In 1989, Madonna and kylie Minogue were dominating the music charts, the first batman movie was released and Indiana Jones was searching for the holy grail in the last crusade. The year Solidarity won elections in Poland, Nicole Ceausecu was deposed in Romania, Vaclav Havel became president of Czechoslovakia, pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen square and citizens of Berlin, both West and East grabbed their tools and started the destruction of the Berlin Wall. 1989, What a year for liberty!
The Berlin Wall, constructed in 1961 represented a physical and ideological border constructed by the GDR (East Germany) authorities in order to prevent mass emigration from the repressed East to the free West. Referred to by GDR authorities as the ‘Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart’ the wall was a physical representation of the ‘Iron Curtain’ to protect it’s citizens from the ‘fascism’ of liberal democracy.
The period of history leading up to these events has always been fascinating to me and there are some striking lessons that can be learned in the context of the modern day. There was a tendency amongst the Communist states of the 20th century to legislate against, and spy on their own citizens suspected to be dissenters. From the far-left perspective of the GDR, Liberal ideas and Fascism were the same thing (anti-fascist protection rampart) in much the same way that when you speak against social justice or other far-left talking points in the modern day you’re accused of fascism.
This man has no shame. None whatsoever. Boris Johnson has now allied himself to Trump’s fascist, white supremacist former spin doctor. What a slap in the face to the men and women who died fighting facism in Europe. https://t.co/xiYsSTuPK3
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) July 25, 2018
The Berlin wall signified a childishness in thinking within the leadership of the Eastern bloc. Citizens voted with their feet by leaving so the establishment kicked and stamped its feet and built the biggest prison in history to keep citizens in. At the time the largest domestic spying organisation in the world with a peak of over 90,000 full time employees and over 175,000 informants, the ministry for state security (The Stasi) policed the speech and therefore thought of the citizenry of the GDR.
The western liberal approach people of eastern Europe fled to was quite the opposite. Political dissent and disagreements were aired in the free market of ideas. With nothing and no one above criticism, dissent wasn’t silenced, but put through the crucible of public debate, with the need for ideas to withstand the scrutiny of others.
The silencing of ideas behind the Iron Curtain led to a distrust in the establishment and the system itself. The fact that grievances were punished did nothing to address the grievances which went underground, effectively creating entropy within the system itself. People still thought what they thought and believed what they believed but they did it quietly. Eventually the total amount of entropy within the system became too great for the system to bear which led to the events of 1989.
We have laws in the United Kingdom to limit speech, some in very reasonable, specific circumstances such as slander libel and calls to violence. Others are applied in very broad, unreasonable circumstances such as ‘Gross Offense’ in the communications act 2003. Ostensibly a law against nuisance phone calls, the law is so broad in scope that Section 123 is used to police speech online.
Let’s start with the obvious, Boris Johnson was not inciting violence in his column, merely making the very accurate point that individuals wearing a full face veil look ridiculous, dressing like letterboxes or bank robbers. Had Boris been advocating that we kill all Muslims, I would join in the outcry but this is not the case and there is no incitement to violence, nor has there been any proposal or suggestion of a ban on the garment (and thus religious expression) and it’s a comment on the garment not the race of the wearer, so where is the issue?
The repression of totalitarian regimes is usually achieved by an establishment class within government, the media and academia. This character assassination of Boris Johnson follows all the same patterns with the government telling him he can’t say it, the media sensationalising it and pushing the narrative of racism with academia in hot pursuit, essentially building an ideological wall around British cultural values of free speech.
The worrying trend of the blurring of the lines between activism and journalism is a contributing factor to this Stasi-esque policing of the thoughts of others. Rather than providing an argument against the substance of the speech, ad-hominem accusations of racism degrade the debate in the public sphere leaving everyone badly informed and most importantly, angry. Native British people are left angry at constantly being accused of racism whilst immigrants who wear the garment don’t understand why people dislike it and do not get the chance to make their own argument for it.
This has been brought about by decades of neglect of the ‘education’ system with Neo-Marxist ideas openly taught in universities. Some people leave university in large amounts of debt and their only ‘marketable’ skill is to complain about conditions for their gender/race/religion etc ad nauseum as useful idiots for the cultural revolution.
During my first year at university last year I met a woman. She’s smart but humble, funny but reserved, has a smile that could warm the coldest of nights, probably the most compassionate person I’ve ever met and she’s also Muslim of Pakistani heritage. We wanted to get married but according to her parents, ‘white people don’t fit in with our culture’ and her brother and father told her they would disown her if she married me.
Boris Johnson is accused of being in bed with the ‘far-right’ for these comments simply because they touch on some of the same talking points and rhetoric around Islam. For this to be true, it should also follow that the comments made by her family put them in bed with ISIS because their comments follow the ISIS rhetoric of non-muslims and muslims being unable to co-exist peacefully.
I had the displeasure of attempting to have a discussion with her brother, who is one of the useful idiots with a degree in complaining about his identity (Islamic studies at SOAS.) His only real ‘marketable’ skill seems to be complaining about islamophobia and he is employed by Tony Blair of all people to do so as a counter extremism and co-existence ‘expert.’
After the horrific attack on Finsbury Park Mosque last year by Darren Osbourne, an article was written for the Tony Blair institute for global change which spun the attack as ‘The Crest of an Anti-Muslim Wave’ and I posited that Mubaraz can’t really complain about Islamophobia whilst comments about white people are being thrown around within his own family and my criticism was ignored and dismissed as ‘hearsay.’ The irony is of course, that the comments made were like ‘far-right’ comments about islam and muslims. Almost like they’re the same thing. Sounds like a point I would have made.
Fast forward to 2018 and the very same person is retweeting disapproving talking points about Boris Johnson’s ‘letterbox’ comments.
Depressing to see swathes of the right with its fingers in its ears about the mainstreaming of Islamophobia, besides a stunning anti-Semitism blind spot in sections of the left. Both sides so quick to leap on the other without recognising the need to get their own house in order.
— Milo Comerford (@MiloComerford) August 8, 2018
I’d agree that one should get one’s own house in order before criticising others. It’s depressing to see swathes of muslims seemingly with their fingers in their ears about the mainstreaming of anglophobia.
The calls to shut down jokes and mockery amount to blasphemy laws. Something this same person complained about just 2 short weeks prior.
IK is ideologically aligned with those that kidnapped, imprisoned & tortured my grandfather in Pakistan for opposing the introduction of the country’s notorious blasphemy laws and the demonisation of Ahmadi Muslims.
— Mubaraz Ahmed (@MubarazAhmed) July 26, 2018
Just as a bit of context for the uninitiated, Ordinance XX is a piece of Pakistani legislation banning the Ahmadi sect of Islam from publicly practising the Islamic faith or using Islamic texts to pray with as well as preventing Ahmadis from identifying themselves as Muslims.
It’s a shame about the kidnapping and torturing of a man for practising his faith in a manner which is different, however slightly from the majority. It’s a terrible thing which, despite the writer’s obvious disdain for the individual in question, kidnapping, imprisonment and torture is not a fate his grandfather should have faced for having a difference in interpretation of spiritual beliefs.
However, at the same time he is guilty of a softer version of the same attitude, towards his sister no less, ostracising her for having a different view of her faith to the majority. This demonstrates a complete lack of respect for British values and it’s not hard to see that there will be opposition to such attitudes socially.
Fascinating findings from new @PewReligion survey on how positive attitudes towards Muslims in Western Europe are influenced by personal interaction.
This would suggest need for more physical, face-to-face engagement, rather than relying on strategic communications approaches. https://t.co/1taWF8LPvb
— Mubaraz Ahmed (@MubarazAhmed) July 25, 2018
I’d argue that research is correct. Can’t really support it if we’re actively opposed to face-to-face interaction in certain contexts though can we?
This is just one example of hypocrisy surrounding the controversy. I’m sure if we looked hard enough we’d find similar hypocrisy amongst left-leaning activists with relation to hot-button issues like islamophobia. The important part is to get it right, and that involves more speech, not less.
The issue at play here is one of culture. The Berlin Wall, Ordinance XX and modern-day far left activists are all examples of the same issue. A collectivist culture imposed from the top down by an echo chamber of Individuals who lost an argument in the hearts and minds of the population and like children kicked and stamped their feet and legislated oppressively to get what they wanted, in much the same way as blocking someone who told you an uncomfortable truth on twitter for example.
No one is suggesting that wearing a bin bag be banned, nor should the people doing so be persecuted. I would personally defend the right of a woman to wear a bin bag if she so chose, but the right of others to mock the wearing of a bin bag should also be respected. In return, feel free to mock my love of bacon, or the few pints I have after the football on a Saturday. That’s what separates us from the savages such as those in East Germany and Pakistan.
The respect for the first principle that every individual is free to run their own life according to their own conscience is paramount to what we stand for and like my forefathers, I would be willing to take up arms to defend this principle. It’s just a shame that my forefathers were apparently the real fascists considering I now know the Donald’s position on censorship:
….Too many voices are being destroyed, some good & some bad, and that cannot be allowed to happen. Who is making the choices, because I can already tell you that too many mistakes are being made. Let everybody participate, good & bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2018
We don’t have blasphemy laws in the UK. The freedom to mock is an intrinsic part of our culture and If anyone doesn’t like the freedom afforded by liberal democracy, they are of course free to leave and I very much doubt we will build an ‘anti-fascist protection rampart’ to keep people from leaving. If those leaving could try not to run anyone over on the way to the Airport that’d be grand.