Mandatory Reality Avoidance | Edward Howard

“There’s an unspoken agreement among the people in charge of our country not to talk about what has happened to it. They’re personally implicated in its decline… so they maintain an increasingly strict policy of mandatory reality avoidance.”

Tucker Carlson, 2019

“He is free to evade reality, he is free to unfocus his mind and stumble blindly down any road he pleases, but not free to avoid the abyss he refuses to see.”

Ayn Rand, 1961

Following the tragic murder of Sir David Amess MP, there are undoubtedly many questions to answer. How can we improve the security of our elected representatives? How serious is such a security threat that Amess was the second MP to be killed in the line of duty in less than a decade, not to mention the other non-fatal attacks that have befallen other representatives? And how bad is the problem with radical Islam on our shores that one of its adherents has managed to commit such a heinous act, and why has little been done to tackle it?

Of course, given the age that we’re in, some of these questions are the last our political class are interested in answering, let alone asking.

No, instead much of the national dialogue has been focused on abolishing online anonymity as a way to supposedly tone down nastiness and anger in politics – even though that had nothing to do with this case from what we know so far, and instead seems like another power grab by an administration who supported some of the strictest coronavirus lockdowns in the world, have undermined the right of protest and are attempting to pass some of the most censorious internet legislation in Western Europe.

Home Secretary Priti Patel got the ball rolling during a Sky News interview, stating that she could use the Online Harms Bill to do so and the government wanted to make some ‘big changes’ on the issue. Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab meanwhile has concurred with such a statement, feeling that it would tackle the ‘out of control’ abuse of MPs online. Even the usually reliable backbencher Mark Francois used his otherwise moving tribute to a fellow Essex Parliamentarian to note how Amess allegedly hated ‘the appalling misogynistic abuse which female MPs had to endure online’ and now was the time to toughen up the aforementioned Bill to make sure that Amess didn’t ‘die in vain’.

If the Labour Party were to do this in government, the same politicians would no doubt accuse them of left-wing censorship and pandering to reactionary elements – but because they’re doing such a Blairite policy, it’s fine, even if it comes back to hurt them and their supporters when and if the left uses such powers in the future to censor critics for supposed ‘hate speech’.

Of course, this is despite the fact that this had nothing to do with the case from what is known so far – that being the suspect Ali Harbi Ali was an Islamic extremist, of who had been previously referred to the Prevent deradicalization programme due to such fears of his behaviour. The only way online activity played a role in this was that online videos of notorious Islamist hate preacher Anjem Choudry had apparently radicalised him, according to his friends. Meanwhile, the attack was not a targeted one, instead Amess was picked seemingly at random, although his links to Qatar, of which supports the government of Somalia – where Ali’s family hails from, with his father being a former advisor to its current administration – are currently being investigated in relation to a possible clearer motive. It is admittedly not all certain yet, but there isn’t much in the way of evidence that online abuse of MPs is what caused such a tragedy to happen.  

However, that hasn’t stopped much of the media from jumping on the bandwagon, possibly to undermine opposing views that they don’t like instead of keeping the ruling class they’re covering honest. James O’Brien, being the usual sophist that he is, complained about such behaviour on his echo chamber of a radio show, and didn’t even mention much that the Islamic terrorist element had anything to do with the murder.

Unfortunately this is atypical of the response to Islamic terrorism since the new millennium; instead of bluntly confronting and calling out the problems which led to its growth, the ruling classes of Britain are more interested in confronting and calling out those who dare complain about it – hence why you are far more likely to see the civil liberties of all citizens restricted than anything done about issues of mass immigration and radicalisation on our own soil that have got us into this mess in the first place.

On the surface, such a policy seems reckless, suicidal even. Islamic terrorism has become the biggest threat to Britain since the collapse of the IRA. Since the year 2000, Islamic extremists have caused most of the major terrorist attacks on British soil, and that’s not even mentioning the multiple ones stopped monthly. Meanwhile, as of March 2021, Islamic extremists make up 73% of those imprisoned for such offences, and 67% of those charged with terrorist offences between 2001 and 2012. On top of this, as of 2020, of the 43,000 suspected terrorists on MI5’s watch, 90% are of Islamist persuasion.

Now of course, it would be ridiculous to assert that most Muslims sympathise with these radicals, or that their community is the problem. They clearly don’t align with such lunatics, and often call out such behaviour, as demonstrated most recently with a joint statement from Southend’s mosques of which condemned the attack on Amess, and paid respect to him and his loved ones. It’s also true that many of these terrorists are not exactly scholars of their faith, often being groomed by others to carry out such heinous acts without fully understanding what they’re doing. All of this is obvious.

However, that doesn’t matter. Most Northern Irish Catholics were not sympathetic to the IRA, nor were most of their Protestant counterparts sympathetic to the Loyalist gangs during The Troubles. But that didn’t mean that such groups weren’t a problem, nor was talking about them a sign of prejudice, given how serious that conflict was. This is the same attitude that is much needed here in order to solve the problem. Why isn’t this the case then?

It’s cynically obvious; both sides of the mainstream political isle are implicated in the causes of this rise in extremism, of which they either don’t want to address or simply often benefit from too much to want to tackle in any serious way.

For the political left, this is perhaps most blatant. The more radical elements of their movement are in part sympathetic to the revolutionary ideals of Islamism, and seek to cynically work with them – as the late Socialist Workers Party representative Chris Harman noted in his 1994 work ‘The Prophet and The Proletariat’ that it is a case of ‘With the Islamists sometimes, with the state never’ for these people, as they could use them for ‘progressive purposes’ without fully supporting them. For the soft left meanwhile, it is a case that they’re either too scared or distant to criticise the ideology, or in a bizarre crossover with the radicals of their movement, believe that such attacks are brought on by resentment of past atrocities like colonialism, the Crusades or our neoconservative foreign policy over the last two decades.

This doesn’t justify such attacks in their eyes, but they instead emphasise with the alleged anger behind them – a sickening projection of their own self-loathing, without a doubt. Others meanwhile are scared for more basic reasons – they are anxious about ‘racist’ and ‘Islamophobic’ slurs coming their way, and in some cases, elected politicians in areas with badly integrated Islamic communities which breed such extremists would not want to annoy some of their loyal constituents.        

However, given that the political left isn’t in power (de jure anyway), it is also sad to note that the political right don’t do much better either, unfortunately. Firstly, they are also scared of the same slurs being thrown their way, a problem that has become endemic of the Conservative Party establishment ever since they got bit by the Blairite bug in the mid-2000s – this was no better displayed than former Prime Minister Theresa May’s grovelling appeals to ‘tolerance’ and ‘responsibility’ following questions surrounding Olympian Louis Smith’s ban from British Gymnastics for mocking Islamic prayer.

Secondly, many of the policies that they back and benefit from which have caused such extremism to flourish and grow would have to be seriously altered to fix the issue, so they don’t do it. The mass immigration from societies which are breeding grounds for the ideology, and the encouragement of mass multiculturalism whereby ghettos are created where this problem becomes concentrated are too beneficial to them – mainly to their neoliberal economic plans to increase GDP and get cheaper nannies and waiters for themselves, and to their rich big business donors to have more undemanding slave labour whose rights are not as strongly protected as those afforded to Britons.

Meanwhile, the foreign alliances with Gulf and Arab nations which funnel money to Islamic terrorism and extremism to either jihadist groups in their regions or soft power in Western institutions – like Saudi Arabia and Qatar for example – are too important for geopolitical and financial reasons to give up, and nothing could kill them quicker then calling out who backs these fanatics in the first place. Casein point, a government report which pointed the finger squarely at Saudi Arabia for aiding Islamic terrorism has yet to be released.  

Hence why the policy with Islamic extremism for such political leaders is simple; enforce the message that life goes on as normal, all the while anyone who complains is a crank and an extremist, whose rights we shall happily infringe in new anti-terror legislation we have coming up. All the while the problem keeps bubbling under the surface and shall never be tackled while such people are in charge.

The most insulting use of this tactic in more recent times came during the 2017 Manchester Arena Bombing; an event so shocking and devasting in its horror that Morrissey himself called it Britain’s 9/11. Of course, no-one in Britain’s political class were willing to give it such weight.

The Independent spoke for much of the British establishment and their coy attitude to the attack when they ran this headline: ‘There’s only one way Britain should respond to attacks such as Manchester. That is by carrying on exactly as before’. Theresa May’s speech on the subject matter reflected this, with her noting that ordinary Britons and Mancunians alike wouldn’t be divided or ‘broken’ by such acts – all the while not naming the ideology behind the attack, nor any practical long-term solutions to prevent future terrorist acts.

Indeed, there seemed to be an upbeat mood to the response to these attacks, most emphasised by a clip widely shared of Oasis’ 1995 hit ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ being sung at a moment of silence tribute to the victims to show the supposed unity and Manchester spirit that much of the country felt in the face of the attacks (very tellingly, one of the song’s co-writers Noel Gallagher, in his typical sweary demeanour, didn’t take well to this at all).    

But as Douglas Murray later noted ‘Almost nobody asked ‘Why not? Why shouldn’t people look back in anger when their daughters have been blown up just because they went to see their favourite pop singer on a Monday evening?’ Why shouldn’t people be angry that the young Abedi killed 22 people, one for each year of life their country had given him?’. Quite so. Instead, such a false sense of optimism was used to quell any anger many undoubtedly had the time – Murray also rightly noted that the admittedly sincere ‘One Love’ concert held soon afterwards was seen as a sign by the establishment that ‘people began to enjoy themselves again’ and was of ‘resilience in the face of terror’, of which ignored the fact that ‘the dead still hadn’t been buried before everyone else ‘moved on’’.

Indeed, the only actions taken were to crack down on civil liberties on top of criticising and demonising those who dared complain. For the former, there was much talk by the then Home Secretary Amber Rudd to end encryption on social media, undermining internet privacy, and of which had nothing to do with the case. For the latter, a participant on Question Time who highlighted alleged extremism at Didsbury mosque was dismissed by fellow audience members and panellists as a conspiracy nut, and a march undertaken by questionable football hooligan rabble rousing elements was dismissed by the city’s Labour Mayor Andy Burnham for bringing ‘hate’ there – in other words, those who dared complain were akin to the likes of such people, so keep quiet, otherwise you’re a crank just like them. 

Beneath all of the spin and false optimism however, ordinary Mancunians didn’t seem to take warmly to this at all – recent research showed that during that year’s general election, May’s Conservative Party fared worse electorally in areas closer to the attack, indicating that not being tough on terror isn’t a comforting message for voters directly affected by it. Indeed, the only person who seemed to understand the gravity of the situation was the then US President Donald Trump, who rightly called those involved in the bombing ‘evil losers’ – shame no-one prominent on our side of the Atlantic was as courageous and honest with their statements about this terrible event in modern UK history.

If this soft and frankly pathetic attitude was the same for all terrorist attacks it would be less questionable to apply such a mindset to Islamist terrorism, but it isn’t. The far-right attacks of the 1999 London nail bombings, the 2016 assassination of Jo Cox MP and the 2017 Finsbury Park Mosque attack were rightly not treated with such kid gloves. Instead, they were treated for what they were: terrorist attacks by dangerous people with an evil ideology that stands contradictory to everything Britain stands for as a nation.

It speaks also to how cynical much of the British left is that they happily exploited such tragedies to push and propagate their worldview – something they hypocritically accuse the right of doing whenever they have the hutzpah to complain about Islamic extremism, grooming gangs or the problems with mass immigration.

So, what is to be done? It is so obvious that it’s infuriating that it hasn’t been done already.

Firstly, severely curb mass immigration from societies known for being extremism hotspots, all the while toughening up our asylum system to the point whereby it becomes very hard for any radicals to seep through the cracks – such a solution would also be helpful in solving some of the gang violence in London as well, whereby such people who don’t integrate have allegedly been responsible for the violent increase in crime in the capital city, according to other gang members.

Secondly, it’s time to better integrate those already here – it’s very telling that problems with Islamists mainly stem from areas where their communities are badly mixed and too numerous to do so, like in Luton, Bradford and parts of East London, as opposed to the far smaller, better mixed communities in areas like the Isle of Wight and Cornwall. Reasserting our values through the education system in these areas would be a good start, in order to make these communities feel like they truly belong, and are not of their own little enclaves. Encouraging assimilation as opposed to mass multiculturalism would be a good start too.

This would include having to draw some serious lines in the sand as to where our values are, and having to ban anything that goes outside of it, such as the burqa in public places and Sharia courts, as well as banning some of the aforementioned countries from funnelling money into mosque building for example.

There’s no doubt that this would take time but it can work in the long term – after all, these issues need to be dealt with head on, not buried by people hoping that they’ll go away overnight, or be handled by dodgy football hooligan organisations or the legitimate far-right. This government can do this, and in more recent times, has shown that it can act better against this stuff than previous ones have.

For instance, Sajid Javid’s decision as Home Secretary to revoke Shamima Begum’s citizenship was one I and many others still regard as a truly brave move, especially for all the opposition and pressure that he faced for doing so – not least of which came from a left who would happily have let Javid have his way if Begum was a far-right Briton of Hungarian descent who had gone to fight with pro-Russian forces in Ukraine, or something like that. Hypocrisy knows no bounds.

In short, there’s no doubt that the late great Sir David Amess should be allowed to rest in peace. He was a very distinguished and brave politician, and it is also nice that Southend shall become a city in his posthumous honour. It is his deeds we should primarily remember him by, not his tragic murder, and to do not do so is undermining his legitimate achievements and genuinely good character.

But it is also about time that this government considers serious solutions to these problems to make sure such incidents never happen again. This Mandatory Reality Avoidance should be dropped on radical Islam at all costs, in order to ensure that the country has a bright future ahead of it, and to make sure that many more lives can be preserved and kept safe for the next generation and beyond. This should be the last tragic chapter on this period of our politics, provided that swift action is taken now.

Photo Credit.

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