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Ghosts of the Past

For all the talk of “Islamic Fascism” what we have seen in the media for the past few weeks has been the rise of fascist bullying. Under the pretext of a debate, a shamelessly right wing attack has been levelled at a portion of Britons who have paid their taxes and contributed to the diversity of this country only to be told, condescendingly, that this is Britain and there are some things ‘we’ just wont accept. The truth is, this collective and cowardice ‘we’ just wont accept Muslims.

It is a harsh reality that fascism has crept into the politics of Britain when Universities – institutions of historic intellectual integrity – are told from ministers to spy on Muslim students for signs of extremism. The unashamed targeting of a minority and using them as convenient escape goats is all too reminiscent of recent history. The involvement of high profile individuals – the Pope and leading Political figures – to ratify base and shallow typecasting of a minority is again harrowingly familiar. ‘Those that do not learn from history’, wrote George Santayana, ‘are condemned to repeat it’. These prophetic words leave a grave impression on any conscientious individual who surveys the recent snowballing of news stories concerning Muslims.

The government is pandering to right wing sentiments knowing that this secures some affection amongst a dissatisfied electorate who see the present government as tired and directionless.

Without shouldering the blame for a rise in the threat to this country which their foreign policy has had, the government’s call for the Muslim community and parents to take charge of the situation is merely an example of the utter visionless quagmire modern politics finds itself in. We are being led like asses by individuals who know nothing of the reality faced by their public. To have an open debate requires an honest and equal footing. By ‘bulletinising’ the current realities – the terrorist who simply hates ‘us’ – does not even begin to address the complexities of a world where the butterfly effect is all too real. What we face then is merely the entrenching of familiar fault lines such that Huntington’s Clash is not avoided but pushed towards inevitability.

Civilisations collide when they become politicised and politics has become everything in today’s climate. The war on terror is the back drop to this politicisation of every sphere of life, from clothes to education. But that is not all, hidden in the crevices of the war on terror is the politics of the right. What has emerged is not simply politics of fear, as Adam Curtis rightfully pointed out, but politics of hate. The right is growing in its influence across Europe and the USA fuelled by an anti-immigration and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Meanwhile, in the biggest democracy in the world, the Hindutva movement is growing too, repeating a Sanskritised version of the idioms coming from the West. All in all, the right is on the rise.

Today then, the war on terror is woven into any debate to stifle opposition and overwhelm legitimate dissension. The fact that we can invade another nation on the back of fictitious intelligence; target non-embedded journalists; and unflinchingly label the death of innocent civilians – women and children – as acceptable collateral damage, illustrates the manner in which the phantom fear laden in the war on terror thwarts our moral orientation. The result of this invariably becomes the birth of crude hypocrisies, illustrated well by Alan Duncan in last weeks Question Time, when he unabashedly said that ‘we’ could have nuclear arms because ‘we’ were rational and ‘they’ could not because ‘they’ were irrational. If this is not harking back to good old colonial dichotomising nothing is. Today more than ever we must remember the past for the ghosts of dark periods gone are on the rise once again.

 

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About Syed Haider

A PhD candidate at SOAS and English teacher.

2 comments

  1. Taken from a paper being prepared: “The Place of Narrative and the Importance of Narrativity (part 2)”
    “Reality is multi-layered with each layer forming a dialectical relationship with other layers. Independent thought is really analytical and reflective thought about structures of meaning and their influence in guiding behaviour. This is something the Muslims need to promote. They must seek out the structure that shape public opinion and challenge them. Because these structures are discursive, the challenge must be mounted not only in the legal and political domains but in the cultural domain. Hence websites like these and channels like Islam channel, and Muslim newspapers, and fictional (like, “Does my Head Look Big In This?”) and non-fictional texts (like, “Epistemological Bias in the Physical and Social Sciences”), and conferences, and marches with analytically sharp speeches, and pamphlets, and newsletters, and plays, discussion groups, need to all be refined and made sharper in the way they engage discourses. We must sharpen the quality of our thought-articulation. All the diverse mediums set up (as stated above), must seek to embolden and crystallise their ideational perspectives. We must then begin to circulate and flood the public domain so as to make our voices (carrying our ideas of our self, current affairs, and the reality of living and dying) heard.”

  2. spot on
    I absolutely agree with your article. The extremely sad part i think is not that our politicians are racist, but that we live in an age where information is so widely available yet the majority of the population are still influenced by the rhetoric of right-wing politicials. What happened to independent thought?

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