Did you see Michael Gove on the Andy Marr show? Yes of course you did. Before he was wheeled in, Norman Tebbit and Helena Kennedy took a look at the papers. A gentle disagreement over what is and isn’t acceptable with regard to Islam in the UK ensued.
Norman was looking frail beside the larger-than-life Baroness Kennedy, who managed to introduce the commonly held but false equivalence when defending Sharia law in the UK by citing ‘Jewish law’ and metaphorically squashing Mr. Tebbit’s protests by sheer force of her comparatively overbearing personality.
Michael Gove was introduced with a promising fanfare - namely that he once authored a book warning the West about the threat of Islam.
“The forces of militant Islamism were determined to wage a war upon the West, which he described as The Conflict of our Times. He compared the Islamist threat with that posed by communism and that posed by the Nazis in the previous century. Strong Stuff.”
We were then entertained by the audio version of scary British Jihadi Abu Osama speaking on BBC Radio 5 live. To heighten the drama I transcribe it phonetically.
”Ah don’t want too coom buck too wha ah left behind there is nothing in Brit-tain s’ joost a pure evil if and when ah coom back too brit-tain it will be when the salaffa this islamic state coomes to conquer brit-tain und ah coom t’ raise the bluck flug of islam over Downing Street over bookinam palace over tower bridge and over bigben.”
Put that in your pipes you infidels.
Oh, we thought to ourselves, in view of the fact that Islamism, Jihad, ISIS, Trojan Horses, Ramadan, Burka rights, Caliphates, Iraq, Syria and Islam-related affairs have dominated the news for the last goodness knows how long, at last we’re about to hear some hard-hitting words of wisdom from a strong voice, perchance a clamp-down on Islam-creep.
But no. That was too much to hope for. Michael Gove wears those specs hoping they make him look like a swot, but we all realise that if he took them off he’d turn back into a little boy; but even with them on, he still looks like a naughty boy wearing man specs. Being in government has infantalised the lot of them. They’re afraid of rocking the horrible boat that they’ve created for us.
What we got was the usual contradictory waffle. We don’t want to stop people practicing their religion, he says. But when that religion is inimical to everything we hold dear yet stops short of violence, is that okay? asks Marr. What about Sharia? Are this-that-and-the-other illiberal cultural practices, which are part and parcel of conservative Islamic religiosity, acceptable?
We need to draw a distinction between expression of deep religious faith, and extremism, says Gove, sagely. There’s Islam and Islamism, a perversion of Islam!
Conservative religiosity will be tolerated as long as it stops short of extremism - direct advocacy or incitement to terrorism, perhaps. We all know that defining extremism with clarity eludes everyone under the sun.
You say in your book that there’s a parallel between religiously conservative views and Jihadi views, prompts Marr.
We draw that distinction. It’s perfectly acceptable for someone to hold deeply conservative views ..... but wrong for that individual to run a school, is the reply.
What?? Oh, here we go. So ‘extremism’ doesn’t actually mean ‘extreme’. It means Jihadi? It means war-like? It means God knows what?
Still confused dot com.