Monday 12 January 2015

The real backlash

The other day I had one of those pyramid e-mails that seemed to have been cc’d to the sender’s entire address book. ‘Je Suis Charlie’ it said.
I assume the recipients were supposed to forward it to all their contacts till the message expanded into an all encompassing global expression of freedom. But cynic that je suis, I took it as a meaningless gesture. 
It’s not just that I don’t like being told what to think, and I’m not sure that ‘je‘ completely ‘suis’ Charlie.

I do get the principle of mass disobedience. United we stand. If we all drew Mohammed furiously we’d be like a massive trade union and we’d have those pesky Jihadis over a barrel.  As Ayaan Hirsi Ali put it, ‘spread the risk’ - the Islamists couldn’t murder us all.
Of course, if some of us falter, the rest are in the shit. So it has to be an all or nothing, and it’s really going to be a nothing;  we’re talking about depicting Mohammed, not sending each other pyramid e-mails with passionate futility.

We can do that till we’re blue in the face but so what? If Mahmoud Abbas can march and Hamas can send a message that Hamas, too, sommes Charlie, it’s all nowt but a pantomime. The media coverage of the Paris march was uncannily reminiscent of their euphoric coverage of the Arab Spring.

Let me talk about Mohammed for a mo, while we’re still allowed to. Can one mock Mohammed? Can one even reproduce a mere image of Mohammed?  

Muslims generally believe they can’t do either and think no-one else should be allowed to. To mock Mohammed is considered offensive by Muslims, quite understandably, after all to mock is to show contempt -  and obviously to those who love the prophet more than their own children, ridiculing Mohammed must seem pretty unfriendly. 

However, Muslims also believe that even reproducing Mohammed pictorially is not just offensive but blasphemous.
As far as I know there is no law against blasphemy in the west. You’re allowed to be blasphemous, in fact many people don’t even go along with the concept of blasphemy.

There’s no law against being offensive either, but deliberately setting out to mock or lampoon is bound to hurt someone, even though ‘being offended’ depends upon the personal sensitivity of the offendee. 

On the surface this free speech malarkey is all well and good. I’m all for being allowed to express odd, quirky and to a certain extent offensive opinions, but there are limits, which are already enshrined in law. You’re not allowed to commit libel or slander as it is. Slanderers have been fined fortunes.

I don’t know why I bothered writing any of that because the issue of ‘freedom of speech’ is being used as a smokescreen so that the masses can avoid dealing with something even more distasteful. Outrage against the slaughter of cartoonists is almost a universally acceptable outrage. “We will not have Islam dictating to us or curtailing our freedoms.” What’s not to like about that? But it masks the much more fundamental issue, which is the Muslims’ hatred for Jews.

Melanie Phillips has made herself unpopular with the entire left wing because she says what none of them want to hear. Don’t you just hate it when someone looks at you sadly and says “This is not going to be what you want to hear”? 

Well, none of us enjoy hearing what Melanie has to say, but some of us are relieved that she has the courage to say it on our behalf.

It’s a shame she is stuck behind a paywall. You can see one of her articles on JPost here  but the one I wish to share is in the Times. If you haven’t already got one I suggest you go and buy a copy or subscribe online.  "Jews, not cartoonists, are Islam's real enemy" Here are some of the best bits:

“Why is freedom of expression deemed more important that Jewish lives? The French have been slow to address this rampant Jew-hatred.
 “The decades long targeting of French Jews has barely been reported in the British or western media, which subscribes instead to the mantra that the main evil is ‘Islamophobia”. They ignore the fact that rooted in Islamic doctrine and appropriating obscene Nazi motifs, demonic Jew-hatred pours daily out of the Muslim world.
“Yet paralyzed by their phobia of Islamophobia, hung up by their obsession with “Palestine” and twisted by Holocaust guilt into a profound reluctance to acknowledge Jewish victimisation. Britain and Europe have failed to grasp that the fate of the Jews, in both Israel and the diaspora, is inextricably bound up with the fate of the west. For more than a decade western Jews have been living through the nightmare of the demonisation of Israel based on a unique set of Muslim-inspired distortions but whose anti-Jewish characteristic is denied.
 “As long as the ignorant, the complacent and the prejudiced dismiss this threat as caused by a few rogue actors, the west will surely lose this was it refuses even to name.
Do read it all.

The backlash.
There is a backlash. Not against Muslims. Against Islamophobes. Everyone on the BBC is saying ‘we must be careful not to stigmatise the Muslims’.
And that is what they are doing with a vengeance. The backlash is the BBC’s renewed drive not to stigmatise the Muslims.

One small example might be the blanket coverage they’ve given to the Steve Emerson gaffe. So he got it (slightly) wrong. The entire city of Birmingham is not a no-go area; ‘non-Islamised’ areas of Birmingham are (still) available. 

It’s been in the headlines all day, taking priority over most other news. This shows how trivial and ignorant the BBC editorial staff actually are. 

Yes, this embarrassing gaffe was aired on the right wing Fox News, and yes he is, apparently, an American, and a commentator on terrorism to boot. All fully-sanctioned by the BBC as legitimate targets for mockery and derision. 

Repeat after me. 
There are no such things as no-go areas in Britain. 
Muslims are innocent. 
The UK is a garden of tranquillity and harmony.
Muslims are full of love for their fellow human beings.
Islam is the Religion of Peace.

Today’s golden globe for most repulsive and objectionable BBC moment goes to James Naughtie and Sarah Montague for sneering at what they see as (and assume everyone agrees) a foolish but slanderous outrage against their precious Muslims.

The mammoth in the room is that there is more than a grain of truth in what Emerson said. Everyone know this.  It is their mockery that was the egregious gaffe. Emerson’s mistake was a simple exaggeration. 
They compounded the idiocy by quoting several unfunny Tweets from nonentities including one from the humourless Mitch Benn. This is poor even by BBC standards.

Next most repulsive, the wooden spoon award for crassness and bullying goes to Eddie Mair’s ‘interview’ with Emerson on PM.  Mair came across as a mocking, ignorant  bully. He should be ashamed of himself. He promised to put it online, via Twitter of course, so you can check it out for yourself.

Why does the BBC have licence to behave like this? It almost makes you wonder if freedom of speech is such a good idea at all.


  1. HEADLINE NEWS: Martha Kearney agrees that British Jihadist fighting for Islamic State can best be seen as football hooligans!

    Just heard at 13.20 from some politician, Conservative, I think. He was understanding that many R4 listeners would like to "throw away the key" for returning Jihadists. However, he said that it was better to see them as "football hooligans" most of who, in his opinion, are not interested in religion. Martha Kearney responded, "Sure", agreeing approvingly with this grotesque analogy. Don't recollect football fans with AK47s or RPGs killing and raping. Correct me if I'm wrong.

  2. That's a very strong piece by Melanie. She's certainly not wrong about the under-reporting. I can't say I'd heard of some of the incidents she described.

    As for that tricky thing, freedom of speech, the morning after the massacre I was driving to work listening to 'Today'. They'd been talking about the attack on freedom of speech at 'Charlie Hebdo'. Then came the sports news with Gary Richardson. The story was that the PFA boss Gordon Taylor had made a clumsy comparison of the Ched Evans case with the miscarriage of justice over Hillsborough. Without batting an eyelid, the BBC man reported the beginnings of a social media outcry against Mr Taylor, and then got a Hillsborough lawyer on and started goading him first into condemning Mr Taylor and then into calling for Mr Taylor's resignation. It was pure mischief-making, stoking another hue-and-cry against someone whose good intentions were clear but whose words left him open to offence-takers with too much time on their hands and manipulative BBC reporters out for sensation.

    Another example of the BBC trying to lead the mob against free speech, without (it seems) even the slightest glimmer of cognitive dissonance.

    Right, where's my pitchfork and torch? I'm off to get that Tim Willcox sacked.

    1. Yes I did hear it and thought exactly the same thing. We obviously think alike.

    2. We do. We ought to start a blog together :-

  3. Glad to see a sinner repent and all that but there was a time when Melanie Phillips stuck to the official Israeli line that there was nothing wrong with "true" Islam which was a religion of personal devotion to a monotheistic god. She was very reluctant in the wake of 9-11 to actually examine what Islam - mainstream Islam - taught.

    We have Robert Spencer, Hirsi Ali, and Geert Wilders for being much more consistent in analysing this difficult and painful (for anyone who likes liberal democracy) subject.

    I'm glad she's changed her tune. Perhaps Israel has as well, after it's historic gaffe of backing Hamas against Fatah in the early days when Hamas was posing as a quietist social movement.

  4. Tuesday morning. 6.50 am. "Apology for 'Muslim Birmingham' claim" is still among the 'Other Top Stories' on the home page of the BBC News website. They're not letting it go yet.

    1. It's obviously much, much more of a mortal sin than what Tim Willcox said, for which the BBC has quickly done the usual "line drawn under it, nothing to see here" routine.

      Worst. Double. Standard. Ever.

  5. All unfortunately correct Sue. The Birmingham thing is a fiasco, we all know there are certain no-go zones in several UK cities.
    Anyway, what I want to say is never mind the content, your article as ever is lucid, clever and entertaining, well-worthy of praise "in its own write" (as John Lennon would say). Thanks...


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