Monday, 13 June 2016

The Muslims are coming, the Muslims are coming!

Donald Trump tweeted in response to the killings in Orlando, “Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism? If he doesn’t he should immediately resign in disgrace!”

The killer may have been a Muslim by birth but, as his ex-wife has pointed out, he had never been a religious radical. What he was, on the other hand, was violent: if she was no longer his wife, it was because he beat her. What’s more, the FBI was concerned about him. None of that prevented him buying powerful weapons.

Trump has followed up his tweet with another: “What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called and asked for the ban. Must be tough.”

Orlando: scene of the worst mass killing in the US
Trump repeats his call for a ban on Muslims entering the country
The ban he means wouldn’t be on the weapons that were supplied to an obviously unhinged person. No, it would be on his fellow Muslims. However, the killer in this case, Omar Mateen, happens to have been an American citizen. It’s not clear how Trump plans to ban such people from the US, unless he believes he can expel citizens from their own country. Most civilised peoples regard it as unacceptable to deny citizens their citizenship.

Not that there’s ever been much sign of the Donald being overly guided by concerns about civilisation.

He called the Orlando attack “just the beginning.” That is a widespread fear in Britain too. Resisting Islam seems to be a theme for some supporters of the movement to withdraw the country from the EU, the ‘Brexit’ campaign. This is seen as a way, in particular, of avoiding an influx of a million and a half Muslims into the country when Turkey becomes a member of the EU.

This is an odd notion, given that there seems no prospect whatever of Turkey acceding to membership any time in the foreseeable future. Even fifteen years ago, when the country was apparently moving towards greater democracy, and firmly committed to secularism, the chances of overcoming opposition to Turkish entry were slim. Today, with the nation slipping towards theocratic autocracy under President Erdogan, membership has become even less likely. The need to resist a putative Turkish invasion nonetheless remains a concern of certain of the most vociferous proponents of Britain leaving the EU. An odd state of affairs since the easiest way of preventing Turkey acceding is to veto it – which means remaining a member ourselves.

When veteran British broadcaster Michael Parkinson interviewed Muhammad Ali in 1971, he asked about Ali’s realisation in childhood that he was being treated as a second-class citizen.

“Second class?” Ali exclaimed. “Oh no. Sixteenth class. They used to always say I was a second class citizen. […] 

Oh man, if we were second class citizens we’d be driving old Cadillacs and living good. If we were first class we’d be driving a Rolls Royce.”

That exchange came to mind while I was listening to Brexiters explaining how we had to leave the EU to keep Muslims, and in particular Turks, out of Britain. Muslims, I was told, are taking over. That, it seems, is Islam’s aim: to dominate the world and impose its will on all peoples. It’s already happening in Britain, I was assured.

This is curious. Muslims account for about 4.5% of the total population of the UK. Even if the 1.5 million turned up from Turkey, which they won’t, they’d still only represent 7%. In my experience, most Muslims in Britain fall into Ali’s category: some are wealthy but the majority are poor and under-privileged. As to the imposition of their ways, even in Luton where I live, with its 15% Muslim population, Islamic customs are strictly limited to the Muslim community. After all, when you’re sixteenth-rate citizens, what chance is there of imposing your way of life?

In any case, we’ve faced religious movements that tried to inflict their outlook on Britain before. For centuries, Christianity tried to dictate every aspect of behaviour. Not just Christianity, as it happens, but whichever particular sect of Christianity happened to be in power at the time. Failure to attend Church was grounds for suspicion. Non-adherence to the dominant faith was a disqualification from public office. The sect in power was not above burning its adversaries to death – and was allowed to get away with it.

We saw those ghastly people off. We’ve obliged our Christian communities to legislate only for themselves. We’ve freed our institutions of religious dominance.

If we could see off the powerful force of Christianity, why should we fear the triumph of the much smaller, poorer and sixteenth-class Muslim community? Surely with perhaps nineteen out of every twenty people and most of the wealth, the non-Muslims can look after themselves.

A phobia’s a morbid fear. Islamophobia’s no exception. Morbidity doesn’t tend to conduce to rational thought, which makes it a less than ideal basis for deciding Britain’s relationship with the EU. 

Nor is it the best reaction to the Orlando killings.


Mark said...

Brilliant ! :-)

David Beeson said...

Well, thanks. That's very kind of you.

omaexlibris said...

Well said and thank you for writing this. Succinct and accurate and well written.

omaexlibris said...

Well said and thank you for writing this. Succinct and accurate and well written.

David Beeson said...

Thanks, omaxlibris, for that kind feedback