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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Stephen Pollard is getting some critical comments in this post in which he endorsingly links to this highly questionable piece, by Will Cummins, in the Sunday Torygraph:

Meanwhile, among the majority of the UK population which is not Muslim, support for the odious BNP continues to grow. Thursday's programme, in disseminating its shrewd - and recent - anti-Muslim focus, will simply recruit more of us.
. . .
The Conservative Party should stop playing the Muslim Block Vote's game of divide and conquer. As the by-elections show, the party will only ever gain a small number of Muslim supporters. Breaking with the Umma would be a radical move that millions of voters would respond to. Do the Tories not sense the enormous popular groundswell against Islam?
. . .
But unlike the "Nazi-Soviet Pact" that the feminist, pro-gay Left has forged with Britain's Muslims, a Tory platform hostile to Islam would be neither incongruous nor immoral. An anti-Islam Conservative Party would destroy the BNP as quickly as Margaret Thatcher despatched the National Front in 1979 when she warned that, unless immigration was curbed, Britain would be "swamped" by "an alien culture". Infinitely more is at stake now.

Yukk. (What exactly is the "pro-gay left"?) And Pollard thinks this worth quoting and linking to? Yes, the author, a Will Cummins, probably just about treads the fine line and doesn't cross into direct bigotry, but he comes pretty damn close, and certainly close enough be shunned for his unnecessary exercise of freedom of speech. What was Stephen Pollard thinking?

Who is this Will Cummins fellow anyway? I've never heard of him before. He had a column in the Sunday Telegraph last week and the week before, which run in a similar vein. (He makes a few very spot-on comments on Rowan Williams though.)

Mind you, I suppose that's all pretty mild by the standards of Polly Toynbee's beloved Scandinavia:

Right-wing politicians want to ban Islam
. . .
It is about high time Norway and Europe make the ideology Islam and the practice of this, illegal and punishable in the same way as Nazism

Interesting and quite ambiguous comparison, no? But I digress.

The problem of Islamophobia is unavoidable when writing about such a subject in a strident and polemical nature. The descent into stereotyping and other ugliness is a logical result because the writer has to simplify, a problem I certainly have with Mark Steyn's writings too. Superficially this looks like I've just made an excuse for such bigoted journalism. I haven't. As I've said, it's unavoidable if you write polemically on the subject, so the logical consequence must be simple: don't write polemics about it.

Interestingly enough, next to Cummins' piece there is this by Jenny McCartney:

Mosley had the Jew and today Griffin has the Muslim
. . .
What is deeply disturbing is the leakage of these insidious views beyond the sealed circle of far-Right activists. Quasi-respectable thinkers are now apt to spout a garbled combination of Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilisations, carefully selected and interpreted quotations from the Koran, and assorted chunks of simplified history to "prove" that Muslims are an inherently warlike, intolerant people.
. . .
The British should indeed be alert to threats to our civilisation, so long as that civilisation remains representative of fairness and tolerance. On present evidence, the greatest threat to our civilisation - the true "enemy within" - comes, not from British Muslims, but from the far-Right and its culpable band of fellow-travellers.

Make of that juxtaposition what you will.
Whatever, Stephen Pollard is intelligent enough to know better than endorse such questionable writing.
As for the Tories, yes, they shouldn't be pandering to the "Muslim vote", just as little as they should be pandering to the "Hindu vote", the "gay vote" or the "tall people vote" or whatever. Toryism should certainly not be about any kind of identity politics.

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