No doubt a number of people will have noted the irony that Martin Bright’s recent pamphlet When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries, which claims to expose “the British State’s flirtation with radical Islamism”, was published by the right-wing think-tank Policy Exchange. When it comes to treating with reactionaries, Bright can evidently speak from first-hand experience.
In yesterday’s Observer, Bright tried to justify his alliance with the political Right, with whom he finds common ground in Islamophobia. He describes Policy Research as “centre right”, despite the fact that its research director on international issues is the frothing-at-the-mouth reactionary Dean Godson.
But Bright does accept that right-wingers like Peter Dobbie in the Mail on Sunday, Frank Johnson in the Torygraph and Charles Moore in the Spectator have showered him with praise for his stand against the Islamist hordes. Bright writes: “There is no doubt that it has fed into the perception in some circles on the left, encouraged by the MCB, that I am part of some Islamophobic campaign….” Yup, I think that just about summarises it. As one commentator on the Guardian website observes: “Like [Melanie] Phillips who started on the left and is now on the far right, I suspect Bright will end up there as well.”
Bright’s excuse for his behaviour is the stupid assertion that all Islamists, even mass democratic-reformist tendencies like the Muslim Brotherhood, are just fascists and in principle little different from the groupuscules who commit terrorist atrocities like 9/11. Bright’s main gripe is that the government is prepared to work with mainstream Islamists or Islamist-influenced organisations in countering the terrorist minority.
He complains that the Foreign Office funded a conference which included Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the most influential opponents of al-Qaida, and that FOSIS were involved in organising a government-funded roadshow of Muslim scholars that toured the country after 7/7 campaigning against terrorism. “While this situation remains”, Bright writes, “there is no shame for those on the left opposed to the rise of radical Islam to build alliances with conservatives prepared to call fascism by its real name.”
I do think that Martin Bright’s role in undermining attempts to prevent further 9/11s and 7/7s is worthy of wider recognition. Perhaps Ayman al-Zawahiri should produce a video applauding Bright’s efforts.
Postscript: Over at Jihad Watch, Robert Spencer declares his support for Bright’s proposal that the Islamophobic “left” should join forces with the political right: “that’s what I’ve been saying for years”.