I was tempted to write that the response to the Danish cartoons controversy from the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty is entirely predictable. But, in fact, their statement on the issue goes further than I would have imagined in solidarising with anti-Muslim racism. While a recommendation for a new blog by the appalling Maryam Namazie might be expected, even I was taken aback by the AWL linking to an editorial on the National Secular Society website, presumably written by Terry Sanderson.
Headed “Islamist Steam Roller Attempts To Flatten European Free Speech – It Must Not Succeed”, the editorial puts forward a “clash of civilisations” line and adds that “these cartoons were published in Europe, where European values still have a precarious toehold”. Precarious toehold? What is that, other than an appeal to the racist myth, promoted by the likes of Gay & Lesbian Humanist and the BNP, that “western values” are under threat from Muslim immigration and population growth?
But this is par for the course with the National Secular Society. In July 2004, when the then home secretary David Blunkett announced his plans for a religious hatred law, the NSS website carried an article by Terry Sanderson which read:
There was rare unanimity among press pundits last week as they made clear their opposition to David Blunkett’s announcement that he intends to introduce a law banning incitement to religious hatred. The fears of the press commentators were clearly and passionately expressed. Will Cummins, in the Sunday Telegraph wrote: “A society in which one cannot revile a religion and its members is one in which there are limits to the human spirit. The Islamic world was intellectually and economically wrecked by its decision to put religion beyond the reach of invective, which is simply an extreme form of debate. By so doing, it put science and art beyond the reach of experiment, too. Now, at the behest of Muslim foreigners who have forced themselves on us, New Labour wants to import the same catastrophe into our own society.”
The fact that the AWL are prepared to direct their readers to an article produced by people like that speaks volumes about their own politics.
Postscript: The AWL’s decision to post the cartoons on their site has come in for some stick, and rightly so. One critic writes:
And the Little Green Footballs award for services to community relations goes to… the AWL for publishing the Jyllands-Posten cartoons and thus deliberately offending every practising Muslim who ever reads this site. Because you can, and because the Muslim community don’t want them published. So nyah nyah. How utterly bloody-minded and juvenile can you be? Republishing deeply offensive, borderline-racist cartoons, a) because it pisses off religious leaders, and b) in the interests of defending the “rights” of a rightwing Danish paper to publish said material.
Couldn’t have put it better myself.