“The BBC and Channel 4 News regularly present the leaders of the Muslim Council of Britain, Muslim Association of Britain and Muslim Public Affairs Committee as the unelected spokesmen for the Muslim community without any mention of their politics, but would never dream of presenting Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP, as a spokesman for the white community.”
Nick Cohen in the Evening Standard.
Why the Left is Blind to Islamic Extremism
By Nick Cohen
Evening Standard, 31 January 2007
The other day I was on the platform at a Left-wing meeting and the discussion turned to the rise of the BNP. My fellow panellists talked about what should be done, and I added: “Of course, we need to fight the far-Right Islamists just as hard as our own thugs if we’re going to keep peace on the streets.”
A man in the audience booed and shouted. I noted his face was both furious and past its best. I guessed he had spent his youth on the demonstrations of the early Seventies. Maybe, I speculated, he’d called his father a fascist for telling him to get a haircut, and a police officer a fascist for telling him to move along. But confronted with Islamists who justify suicide bombings or the murder of Salman Rushdie, words failed him. His politics were colour-coded. Extreme multi-culturalism had so blinded his judgment that only whites could be on the far Right.
The full weirdness of the confrontation came home to me only when David Cameron said this week that the BNP creed was pure hate but added that those who sought a “separate law for British Muslims are, in many ways, the mirror image of the BNP”. He was following on from the call from Ed Balls, Gordon Brown’s man of affairs, for a battle of ideas that supports Muslims who cherish democratic values and reject their (and our) enemies.
It didn’t seem so far-fetched to imagine that my heckler had denounced the Conservative Party as fascist in his time, and emptied saloon bars with his loud jeers about New Labour’s betrayals. Yet the Tory leader and the chief adviser to the next New Labour prime minister were prepared to condemn totalitarian politics with a plainness of language he could never match.
I don’t want to pick on the guy. The BBC and Channel 4 News regularly present the leaders of the Muslim Council of Britain, Muslim Association of Britain and Muslim Public Affairs Committee as the unelected spokesmen for the Muslim community without any mention of their politics, but would never dream of presenting Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP, as a spokesman for the white community.
Perhaps the regulators should force them to do just that in the name of balance. Then we would be able to see the full absurdity of identity politics. Opinions and prejudices that would cause Jon Snow to throw a fit in normal circumstances would be nodded thorough with a soothing smile.
When Griffin said that the root cause of racist attacks was always the provocation given by ethnic minorities, Snow would accept the apologetics as a legitimate point of view that it would be culturally insensitive for a liberal journalist to contradict.
The logic of multiculturalism is to treat far-Right politics as legitimate cultural difference – and we simply can’t afford to do that any more.