Non-white people can be racist. 

This is Goldsmiths university’s student union welfare and diversity officer, Bahar Mustafa, explaining why she can’t be racist:
 

I, an ethnic minority woman, cannot be racist or sexist to white men because racism and sexism describe structures of privilege based on race and gender.

Therefore, women of colour and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist, since we do not stand to benefit from such a system. For our actions to have been deemed racist or sexist, the current system would have been that enabled only women and people of colour to benefit economically or socially on such a large scale and to the systematic exclusion of white men, who for the past 400 years would have had to be subjected to colonisation. 

To be racist is to be powerful. Racism is racial prejudice married with power. This definition of racism – nourished in “liberation  groups”, circulated by social justice activists – is underpinned by post-colonial thinking: white people are structurally privileged above people of colour as a result of Western colonisation of the Third world. Consequently, only white people can be racist.

This conception of racism is myopic because power is crudely defined as being white; to be white is to be powerful and therefore to be racist is to be white. This definition doesn’t account for the racial prejudice married with power undertaken by non-white people. The Hutus fomented hatred of the Tutsis by routinely reinforcing that they were superior to them. This led to genocide. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe continues to persecute the white minority. This has led to expulsion and landgrabs. Between the 8th and the 20th century, Arabs owned roughly around 20 million black slaves (and a lot of white slaves) on the basis that they were inferior by virtue of their cultural identity. Are some slave trades more equal than others?
 
A more sophisticated reading of the prejudice + power doctrine is to emphasise that it only applies in a British/Western context. When Mustafa and liberation activists say people of colour can’t be racist, they mean people of colour can’t be racist in western societies. This is because the power dynamic in these societies clearly favours white people. This reading makes context crucial in determining what constitutes racism. What is unclear from this, however, is whether Jews, Roma and Irish – all victims of discrimination and hostility because of their identity – qualify as people of colour. If they do qualify as people of colour, then “white” people would have to be the literal descendants of white protestants, and only they can be racist because their ancestors directly facilitated the transatlantic slave trade. One would have to demonstrate that a person’s ancestors were exempt from persecution and oppression for them to be capable of racism. This would make the accusation of racism ridiculously strenuous to prove. (“Hello sir or madam, can you, err, tell me if any of your ancestors were persecuted or oppressed in the past before I decide whether your racially prejudiced comment was racist?”). If Jews, Roma and Irish people are not considered people of colour, however, then Black and Arab people can express anti-Jewish or anti-Roma sentiments unencumbered by the possibility of being labelled racist. With anti-Semitism on the rise, predominantly from some Muslim communities, is this conception of racism really such a wise move? It would be more coherent, not to say productive, to define racism as it has always been traditionally understood: Animus, manifested physically or verbally, to a group of people because of their cultural identity or characteristics.
 
Moreover, power as a concept doesn’t sufficiently account for racism. Economically or politically powerless people, relatively speaking, can still demonise another group on the basis of their racial and cultural characteristics. Israel is economically and militarily more powerful than Hamas, yet the terror group circulates and produces virulently anti-Semitic material, indoctrinated into the population, with their raison d’etre being the pinnacle of racism: genocide. It is clearly the case, therefore, that ‘power’ is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for racism. What distinguishes racism is hatred against a group of people on the assumption that they’re inferior or demonically powerful. If power was essential to racism, Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, comedian-cum-fascist, would casually declare that he is just being anti-establishment. In fact, anti-Semitism itself, from the Protocols of the elders of Zion to modern day conspiracies about Israel’s control in Washington, is grounded on the perception that Jews are more powerful than anyone else. If racism is powerful people expressing prejudice to the powerless, you offer justification for the oldest hatred in our civilisation and legitimise all its lurid conspiracies. This may partly explain why the modern radical Left glosses over anti-Semitism and, at times, actively nourish it.
 
Racism is the demonisation of a group on the assumption that they’re innately inferior or innately omnipotent, both of which point to a group being existentially threatening. A lack of relative power does not preclude any individual from assuming superiority or reckoning any group of people threaten by secretive power. What precludes a person from being racist is not being racist – that is, not passing value judgements on racial and cultural identity, emphasising our common humanity above all else, and being respectful unless a person’s behaviour and beliefs necessitates otherwise. The post-colonial definition of racism does the exact opposite of all three.

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Yes: Charlie Hebdo deserve praise and support. 

Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine whose staff were murdered for the crime of blasphemy. This fact alone should entail support and sympathy from everyone who believes the right to mock ideas and cause offence trumps acquiescence to blasphemy law. But it hasn’t. The qualification of ‘but’ is still bandied about and it rests on the premise that, while Charlie Hebdo had every right to offend religious sensibilities, giving them an award for courage constitutes an endorsement of their work. This reasoning has led reputable writers such as Teju Cole, Michael Ondaatje and Peter Carey and three others to publicly declare disapproval of PEN America and consequently disengage themselves from an annual PEN gala celebrating Charlie Hebdo.
 
Teju Cole remarkably prefaces his disapproval of Charlie Hebdo by saying he is “a free speech fundamentalist”. He argues that Charlie Hebdo has the right to satirise religion but giving them an award for bravery lends moral credibility to their satire, which allegedly demonises the Muslim community. His words were published by The Intercept:
 

I’m a free-speech fundamentalist, but I don’t think it’s a good use of our
headspace or moral commitments to lionize Charlie Hebdo in particular.
L’affaire Rushdie (for example) was a very different matter, as different
as blasphemy is from racism. I support Rushdie 100%, but I don’t want to
sit in a room and cheer Charlie Hebdo. This distinction seems to have been
difficult for people to understand, and any dissent from the consensus
about Charlie Hebdo is read as somehow “supporting the terrorists,” or
somehow believing that they deserved to be murdered.

 
Anyone oblivious to the facts may be forgiven after reading this for concluding Charlie Hebdo is a racist magazine, analogous to Der Sturmer and without any redeeming features. Racism and hate speech carry a toxicity which shouldn’t be applauded with an award for courage, it is suggested. Bravery means Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. Bravery doesn’t mean a magazine that attacks the earth’s downtrodden 1.6 billion Muslims.
 
But Charlie Hebdo are not racist and their staff were not murdered for racism and hate speech. They were murdered for depicting a religious figure. Rewarding them with an award for bravery therefore constitutes an endorsement of a liberal ideal: people in free societies have the right to offend religious beliefs unencumbered by the threat of murder and intimidation; this right must be reaffirmed and encouraged, especially after an attempt at enforcing blasphemy law through murder.
 
Francine Prose in The Guardian also recycled the arguments from taste:
 

Perhaps my sense of this will be clearer if I mention the sort of writers and whistleblowers whom I think would be appropriate candidates: Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, the journalists who have risked (and in some cases lost) their lives to report on the wars in the Middle East. Or the extremely brave Lydia Cacho, who has fearlessly reported on government corruption in Mexico, along with the dozens and dozens of Mexican journalists who have been murdered for reporting on the narco wars
 

This strikes me as petty and myopic in the face of the facts. So I’ll restate the facts again: In a western democracy, people who drew cartoons of a religious figure were murdered by those who espouse a viciously totalitarian, theocratic ideology. Charlie Hebdo published an image of Muhammed a week after large chunks of their staff were murdered. They were defiant in the face of murderous fascism. The content of what they published is irrelevant as to why they are feted as brave, so arguments from taste miss the point. Their murder, instead, symbolised an attack against our most elementary liberty and for that they deserve our unreserved solidarity and nothing less.
 
Glenn Greenwald also, unsurprisingly, misses the point. He argues thus:
 

What, pray tell, is remotely admirable about sitting in the West — which has been invading, bombing, and otherwise dominating Muslim countries around the world for decades, and has spent the last decade depicting Islam as the Gra
vest Threat — and echoing that prevailing sentiment by bashing Muslims? Nothing is easier than mocking and maligning the group in your society most marginalized and oppressed. 

An invitation to double standards is made here. Muslims are oppressed in a western context therefore offending their sensibilities perpetuates this victimisation. This is patronising to Muslims as it assumes they can’t accept the informal contract that attends an open society – being able to face offence, gratuitous or otherwise. But more perniciously, it nullifies universal human rights; one standard for western people, another for fragile Muslims. Those dedicated to celebrating the courage of Charlie Hebdo all recognise that right to draw cartoons that is potentially offensive supersedes the right to be offended, and a visceral attack against the right to mock beliefs necessitates solidarity with those attacked. No matter their provenance, offending deeply held beliefs is acceptable in a free society. Murdering people for offending beliefs is unacceptable. This is why Charlie Hebdo are awarded for their bravery. Their staff were murdered for offending religion but they continued to offend. Their actions entrenched and enacted our most noble principle in the face of unimaginable terror. Je suis Charlie. 

NUS working with CAGE; progressives in alliance with theocrats. 

The National Union of Students has devastated its credibility once more by choosing to align itself with a group contemptuous of democracy and pluralism. In its annual conference, the organisation, which represents 600 student unions in the UK, declared in motion 517 that it will “work alongside civil liberties organisations including CAGE” in order to challenge the PREVENT strategy against counter-terrorism and extremism.

The PREVENT strategy, it is argued, criminalises and indiscriminately targets Muslim organisations. It destroys social harmony by viewing Muslims with suspicion and hostility. Because of this, it is incumbent upon anyone who respects the human rights of minority groups to critique the PREVENT strategy and to ally themselves with Muslim organisations who do the same. However, CAGE are not a conventional civil liberties group. In fact to describe them like that demeans the term. CAGE are an advocacy group sympathetic to theocratic fascism which campaigns in favour of convicted terrorists.

Notwithstanding the faults or merits of the PREVENT strategy, to explicitly declare CAGE to be a civil liberties organisation suggests either ignorance or a conspicuous lack of moral integrity from the NUS. For an organisation that presents itself as dedicated to promoting tolerance and equality, ignorance seems a feeble excuse.

As noted in this piece, CAGE has campaigned in favour of an assortment of convicted terrorists: from Aafia Siddiqui, an Al Qaeda linked terrorist who planned to murder US officials in Afghanistan; to Nizar Tribelsi, a suicide bomber planning to blow up a US military base. The NUS is feted by many young progressives as a bastion for justice and peace. This perception of them doesn’t accord with their admiration for terrorist-sympathisers.

CAGE are also sympathetic to theocratic fascism. In an interview with Andrew Neil for BBC’s This Week, research director of Cage, Asim Qureshi, refused to condemn stoning women for adultery. In an interview with Julian Assange for Russia Today, Qureshi said if the necessary conditions were met he would support stoning. The NUS, which is contemptuous of women who use the wrong pronouns to describe trans people, has chosen to align itself with a group whose members endorse medievally barbaric punishments meted out against ‘adulterers’. The NUS, passionate in its advocacy of ‘safe spaces’ for racial and sexual minorities, endorses and legitimises a group whose ideal conception of society necessitates embedding religious doctrines in law; persecuting with violent intensity gays, women and freethinkers. An organisation which cherishes tolerance should not accommodate the viciously intolerant. But NUS plan to do just that

The NUS are, in many instances, inspired by good intentions. Their ostensible principles is declared to be tolerance, equality and the empowerment of oppressed groups. These principles, however, lack meaning unless they’re universal. The NUS has shown itself to be partisan in its advocacy of these principles because it is hostage to a worldview infecting the wider left; campaigning only in the direction of white western forces, forgetting minority groups can also be homophobic, misogynistic and, indeed, racist. This viewpoint leads them to accommodate groups whose beliefs and doctrines are diametrically opposed to the professed beliefs of the NUS. Their alignment with CAGE is such an example. In campaigning alongside a group like CAGE, the NUS should dissuade any reasonable person of the notion that it actually cares for equality and tolerance.

Censorship in university campus

I’ve recently written a blog for the Gerasites about free speech and censorship. I’ve reproduced it here:

The recent attitude displayed by the NUS Women’s campaign received scorn on twitter and elsewhere, but they revealed a mindset undimmed by shame or contrition. Whether by suggesting clapping be replaced by jazz hands, or insisting gay men stop culturally appropriating black women, the absurdity of these suggestions were plain to see. Yet, despite this, the values that informed these suggestions – emphasising narratives over facts, and identity over principles – is espoused unabashedly by many, and therefore merits examination.
The influence of these values is clear and growing.

 In universities, Individual liberty and moral universalism continues to dwindle whilst identity politics and a culture of moral relativism flourishes. Freedom of speech, a pre-condition for free and open societies, is being curbed by censorship and self-censorship, from debates to classrooms to online forums. This censorious climate is caused by a widespread belief that the freedom to express oneself must be balanced against securing the comfort of those without ‘privilege’. The assumption of individual liberty – and its possibility of offending anyone – is replaced by an assumption of collective responsibility to tiptoe around our thoughts, trying desperately not to offend those most vulnerable in society – namely people of colour, LGBT people and women. Freedom is speech is transformed from a right into a privilege, to be exercised responsibly in accordance with particular issues.

Firstly, self-censorship is nourished by this attitude: individual viewpoints are burdened with the responsibility of not being offensive when talking about issues that affect victimised groups. An offence to them, it is argued, constitutes an act of oppression, disabling their dignity and therefore requiring a response even – especially! – at the expense of certain principles; principles are married with privilege and thus are meaningful only in consequential terms. Because of this, censorship in some instances can be excused under the invocation of victimhood – and the consequent challenge to privilege – however spurious: from no-platforming feminists with the ‘wrong’ and ‘oppressive’ opinions, to banning music videos with the ‘wrong’ and ‘oppressive’ messages. And, because of this, the central tenets of liberalism are unravelling in a relativistic swamp. 

The fundamental logic justifying this new censorship is indistinguishable from the logic that justified old censorship: the sheer arbitrariness of ‘offence’ legislating against individual liberty and conscience. Who is defined as oppressors and oppressed is done spuriously, one persons oppressors is another persons oppressed – to some, because of her identity, Julie Bindel qualifies as a victim. However, because of her views on Trans issue and Islam, her censorious critics paint her as a perpetrator of oppression. The fact that her censors don’t subscribe to objectivity means that there isn’t a meaningful criterion for distinguishing whether she is privileged or unprivileged – they rely on a binary that doesn’t account for the fluidity of identity and beliefs. Liberal minded people rely on an insistence on objective principles. Julie Bindel should be afforded the right to express her beliefs unencumbered by attempts to silence or intimidate her, as should anyone expressing their beliefs irrespective of whether their identity qualifies as victimiser or not.

We live in a world where the lucid expositions of Locke and Paine have lost their allure and potency and given way to postmodernism: an ideology so convulsed by a cult of victimhood it censors without compunction under the pretext of protecting the ‘victims’ and arraigning the ‘privileged’. It is through this context that we can observe the flourishing of safe spaces, trigger warnings and cultural appropriation. These practices contain within them principles one can reasonably be sympathetic with: empowerment of previously persecuted groups, and an attack on structural inequality. The incontestable progress made by society partially depended on advocacy of these principles, it would be wrong to entirely dismiss them.
However, when these beliefs – admittedly noble – are shot through with the fanaticism induced by identity politics, censorship and the policing of behaviour is normalised: a vital component of free societies – individual rights – is made secondary to special rights accorded to groups, people are thereby viewed through regimented and differentiated moral prisms rather than through a universalism that views each person as an individual. Following from this, people are infantilised; People who, by accident of birth, happen to be ‘privileged’ have their behaviour and individual conscience policed; It also infantilises the victimised groups who, by accident of birth, are assumed to be allergic to controversial views, and are thus mollycoddled from dangerous and contestable beliefs. It is therefore counter-productive to its stated aims of empowering victimised groups.

It is also wrong in principle. It is carried out with noble intentions, confidently posturing as ameliorative. It intends to inoculate downtrodden groups from dangerous ideas and the hostile terrain of those with privilege. In reality, it limits civil discourse and stifles the engine of free societies: the capacity to discuss ideas and express one’s moral convictions with the inviolable liberty conferred to all citizens. This is why, most of all, this new manifestation of censorship necessitates a rebuttal.

Anti-semitism and the Left

Part-1 The Link 

 In a twitter conversation with me regarding the limits of free speech, Tim Squirrell – former head of the Cambridge union – revealed something striking. It strikes at the very heart of a pernicious trend: its main justification. It revealed the justification for the oldest hatred in its newest form, infecting campuses and social milieus. It revealed anti-Semitism in the guise of anti-Zionism. It revealed, most of all, how the tropes of classical bigotry can be found in a modern, political context. I wanted to highlight a contradiction in his reasoning regarding free speech. And, in doing so, he revealed to me something obvious about a separate issue: that the normalisation of anti-Semitic attitudes is grounded in an assumption that Israel is privileged and Palestinians are not.

I’ll start by focusing on the aspect of free speech, my main dispute with Squirrell. Squirrell believes freedom of speech should be circumscribed if a person of privilege uses it irresponsibly. If a person of privilege expresses bigotry to victimised groups – blacks, gays, women, trans – he is exercising his freedom of speech irresponsibly. He isn’t according with the principles underpinning just societies; protecting the weakest within society. Therefore, because of his lack of responsibility to the weakest in society, his rights should be circumscribed. This emphasis on responsibility, though, is naturally inconsistent. This is because a privileged person does not have the right to express bigotry but a victimised does, as long as this bigotry is directed upwards to the powerful.
 
I strongly disagree. I believe all viewpoints – hateful or not – should be free from censorship. This is for functional and principled reasons. Allowing hateful views to be expressed exposes them to transparent scrutiny, and so makes refutation public. (How else is civil society meant to undermine the reasoning of bigotry if it isn’t out open?). Furthermore, freedom of speech means that, because every person is endowed with individual liberty, the right to express an individual viewpoint is essential to a functioning liberal society. The emphasis should not be on exercising this freedom responsibly. Doing so transforms it from a liberty, grounded in individual conscience, into a duty to accord to certain norms and practices established by groups. The norms and practices Squirrell wants to defend include protecting the weak from bigotry. And in doing so, he implies censorship is a form of empowerment. He reverses a transformative cultural trend. He reverses the assumption of individual liberty being emancipatory and censorship destructive, he does this gleefully.
 
And, in gleefully emphasising freedom of speech for some but not others, he reveals the justification for the new anti-Semitism. Under the guise of anti-Zionism, justified by the exact reasoning Squirrell offers: those with power deserve greater hostility than those destitute of it. Israel, in having power, prestige and wealth -immeasurably more than its Palestinian neighbours – deserves greater hostility than the apocalyptic fascists seeking its annihilation. In emphasising this logic, the genocidal anti-Semitism of Hamas is normalised.
 
How does Squirrell get to this point? Well, his conception of free speech is informed by his ethics, protecting weak groups from harm. Some speech, argues Squirrell, are so sufficiently repugnant they impinge the well-being of certain groups and constitute harm. Racist views harm the dignity of people of colour, likewise misogyny for women. Because his conception of free speech is grounded in his ethics, it is reasonable to infer the viewpoints he would allow for free speech are those he deems morally acceptable. Anti-Zionism is morally acceptable, other bigotries are not. “Oh” you say, “But Squirell said anti-Zionism and not anti-Semitism”. He reveals something doubly striking here. For, in saying he accepts anti-Zionism and not anti-Semitism, he misunderstands the nature of power in feeding the oldest hatred. The reasoning that underpins virulent anti-Zionism, which Squirrell accepts, is equivalent to the reasoning that underpins a strand of anti-Semitism: Jewish power, and the consequent duty to resist it.
 
It is this logic, of analysing power above principles, and a conception of privilege above values, that nourishes the conspiracies and vampiric fantasies of the new anti-Semites. Israel is the incubus, sucking the innocence of Palestine. It is this logic that is disempowering to those sympathetic to the Jewish state, and leading to resurgence in anti-Semitic attitudes.
 
Part-2 Manifestations of the new anti-Semitism
 
A basic feature of bigotry and prejudice is its disconnection with reality. Those who espouse racist or sexist views don’t do so due to a function of power relations, they espouse these bigotries because they fashion something at odds with its reality. Black people may be viewed as dangerous and hostile, this is at odds with their reality as mostly normal. The same is true with Israel. The hysteria surrounding Israel is at odds with its reality as a pluralist, democratic state engaging in protracted wars with undemocratic, closed societies. This rhetoric is damaging. Chatham House recently revealed that, in Britain, Israel is viewed more unfavourably than North Korea and Saudi Arabia- and every other state in the Middle East. This is at odds with its reality as having the highest standard of living in the Middle East and the longest life expectancy. And, as the former head of human rights watch, Robert Bernstein, noted:
 
Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world — many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.   

What is most worrying is that this disconnect with reality in regards to Israel is seen most acutely in campuses and university forums. Criticism of Israel isn’t anti-Semitic. Yet anti-Zionism isn’t criticism of Israel. Zionists accept that democratic societies welcome – and even demand – criticism and scrutiny. But when this criticism is disconnected from reality, when it is unique to Israel or disproportionate to the reality of Israel, it transforms from criticism to prejudice.
 
In a Kings College university debate this week, ostensibly dedicated to discussing Israeli policies, the anti-Zionist activist and academic Norman Finkelstein recycled numerous anti-Semitic tropes. He was roundly applauded, treated warmly by the students. The debate also featured Alan Johnson, head of BICOM and writer for the Jewish Chronicle. According to Johnson:
 

Finkelstein’s speech dripped with contempt for a “non-existent, pseudo and contrived antisemitism.“He invited the students to unearth a plot, a vicious fraud. 

And:
 

The taboos fell like nine pins. “Jews are tapped into the networks of power and privilege,” he said. “You marry a Jew, it opens doors,” because Jews are “the richest ethnic group in the United States”. Maybe there was some little stigma, sometimes, directed at some Jews, but so what? It’s not nice, but it is “socially inconsequential”. In fact – he actually said this, I have the tape – it is more socially consequential to be short, fat, bald or ugly than to be Jewish. “Look,” he said, “most people carry on in life, bearing these stigmas. It’s called life. Get used to it.

“These are bad times”, concludes Johnson. Indeed, they are.
 
In university societies across the country such as in SOAS, BDS resolutions are being passed (73% of people were in favour in SOAS). The BDS(M) movement is a phenomenon which implicates Israelis in collective guilt, ostracises the freest nation in the Middle East, and targets Jewish intellectual and cultural freedom. It is a noxious mix of masochism, bigotry and philistinism. Or, as MJ Rosenberg – a fervent critic of Israel, no less – put it:

   … the BDS movement is not targeting the occupation per se. Its goal is the end of the State of Israel itself.  

The BDS movement isn’t just an attack on Jewish intellectual and cultural freedom. Its venom is spilling uncontrollably into the streets. In South Africa, BDS members congregated around a Zionist conference. They jeered anti-Semitic abuse, crucially under the cover of anti-Zionism. “You Jews don’t belong here”, they jeered. “You think this is Israel, we are going to kill you!”, they bellowed. This was all described in a recent Hareetz column.
 
The growing presence of the BDS movement, and the hateful attitudes it inspires, should be a cause for worry for everyone.
 
In the university of Southampton a debate is being advertised about Israel. Debates enliven universities and centres for learning, they enrich one’s critical faculties. What is being advertised is not actually a debate though, but something else. Something sinister; an orgy of splenetic fury directed without challenge against Israel. Richard Falk, Ghada Karmi and Jeff Handmaker are the guests invited and they all question Israel’s right to existence. And so they all question the right of Jews to self-determination. I don’t think they should be banned from doing so, but will they be challenged? I think not.
 
The new anti-Semitism is accerlating under the aegis of anti-Zionism. The CST, a Jewish charity that monitors anti-Semitic incidents, reported a spike of attacks during the Gaza war last year. In July and August alone, they were 500 anti-Semitic incidents. Dave Rich, a spokesperson for the organisation, is quoted in The Guardian as saying examples of abuse include:
 
Jewish people in the street having ‘Heil Hitler’ shouted at them by someone with a Palestinian flag hanging out of their car.”
 
A campaign against anti-Semitism survey reports that, “77% of Jews questioned have witnessed anti-Semitism disguised as political comment about Israel”, and ;”82% of Jews [questioned] say boycott of Israeli goods is intimidation”.
 
In the streets of Europe, banners have been held out endorsing Hamas and Hezbollah and Israel being traduced as child-killers. The blood libel is being resuscitated. (Can anyone conceive a situation whereby many people in Britain occupy London and endorse placards expressing support for the BNP?) These people are by-and-large not ill-educated Nazis or David Irving-esque fascists. They’re self styled progressives, riven with self-righteousness who, by accepting the conspiracy of power structures, generate apologia for fascism.
 
After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, the BBC’s Tim Wilcox asked a Parisian Jewish guest whether there was a connection between killing Jews for being Jews and the policies in Israel. In a Channel 4 interview with a Jewish guest, who recorded himself being abused for 10 hours in Paris, Jackie Long felt it appropriate to bring up Israel. The link is there. The link between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is entrenched in our minds and unavoidable.
 
Israel is a locus for peoples pathologies and conspiracies- it binds their hatred. Israel exists as a projection for loathing Jews, enmeshed totally with the tropes used to denigrate Jews; omnipotent power; infanticidal bloodthirstiness; enormous wealth and influence. These tropes and pathologies, utterly at odds with reality, justified by resistance to power, are being normalised and entrenched by those who should cherish tolerance.
 
If the left and others cease their obsession with power structures, and cease their crippling inability to confront Islamic fascism – paralysis, often induced by acquiescence to cultural relativism – it can begin to correct these problems. It can begin to confront and correct the resurgence of anti-Semitism in its midst. It can begin to recognise prejudice isn’t bound by power but deep conspiracies. And conspiracies can only be denuded by liberty; the freedom to challenge ideas, to debate issues, the freedom to unmask anti-Semitism in its latest manifestation and not cower to the spurious definitions offered by Tim Squirrell. There has to be a platform for a battle of ideas, and our side has to win. I fear we won’t. I hope I’m wrong.

Decay in the Left and the need to reaffirm liberalism 

As evident from an increasing number of young people, much of left wing politics has become a tainted pursuit, bereft of the intellectual credibility and value it once held. Many sections are in decay because many people identifying as leftwing have ceased embodying the values of universalism, rational thought and secularism. Enlightenment values are falling into disfavor. Through notable and seismic cultural shifts, parts of the left, following from a tradition of post-modernism (and Marxism), have placed a worrying emphasis on power structures above liberal values. 

Similarly, due in part to multiculturalism and increased globalisation, cultural relativism has replaced universalist principles. Because of this, many young Leftists now incubat campus censorship, irrationalism, and it’s consequent disfigurement of moral clarity. Sadly, this trend only shows signs of strengthening. A lot of the Left – with aid from post-colonial theory, identity politics and anti-Zionism – now stand against the very values its predecessors fought for. 
 These changes are accelerating across society, especially in institutions of higher learning. With this in mind, it is essential to reassert the values that underpin many of our freedoms-values abandoned, besmirched and often mischaracterised as oppressive. The truth is that most of these ideals are emancipatory; such as the fundamental right to discuss ideas, challenge regressive beliefs, and pursue objective truth. All three of these rights are threatened, and these threats are coming from within the left.
 
Three ideological trends have intersected to create reactionary cultures gaining ascendancy within the Left: identity politics, post-colonial thinking and anti-Zionism. According to these three frameworks, evaluating power is more important than exhibiting principles, and solidarity to victims is more important than valuing rights. Addressing power and grievance is their binding lens; rather than articulating principles and expressing indivisible rights. Leftwing identity has shifted from a culture of Paine and Mill to a culture of Foucault and Chomsky.

Identity politics values viewpoints on the basis of the identity of those who make them, not on the arguments’ merits. Its intention is to give a voice to the downtrodden, embolden their identity, emphasise their worth by privileging their viewpoint above rational argument and people of power. It is a form of empathy. It is also inimical to individual liberty and rationalism, and, in being so, it discounts something more ennobling than exclusive truth: the capacity to think independently and rationally.
We do not deny that, in many instances, those who speak on issues or hold opinions may be blind to certain social problems that doesn’t affect them directly. A man’s view on abortion may be compromised by his lack of intimacy with the issue, or a white person’s understanding of racism may be partial, relative to that of a POC. However, this doesn’t mean a person’s identity gives him or her exclusive access to the truth. And this is what is implied by privileging the views of group of people above another. This is a view that has a censorious edge. 

If you’re a man and you want to discuss abortion with another man at a high-ranking university,you can’t; because you’re a man. If you want to advance a viewpoint that threatens the “mental safety” of students, you can’t; because the mental safety of student, which in itself is speciously defined, is more important than the unfettered discussion of ideas. This stifles discussion from the outset and is a tool for protecting those who don’t wish to be questioned, rather than protecting those who have vulnerabilities.

Accusing someone of bigotry is a common feature of this discourse-racism, islamophobia, transphobia. These labels are sometimes a reaction to perceived and at times correct victimhood, but a culture of victimhood is exploiting the shaming nature of these words to silence those who raise genuine concerns. 

In discussing ideas, it would be more productive to tell someone why they are wrong and you are right, in an understandable way with rational argument, rather than through screaming and defamation. This isn’t to say one shouldn’t make allegations of racism, anti-Muslim prejudice or sexism when they are appropriate, but far too often they are misused for ideological ends.

 The most arresting implication, though, is the attack on individuality. Identity politics chills the ability to think independently; one’s viewpoint is made a priori by his/her identity. Freethinkers, those who challenge prevailing ideas, are deemed nihilists who wish to sully the utopia by spreading bigotry. If you’re a woman and you believe abortion is wrong, your nature is challenged. Similarly if you’re muslim and defend Israel. This points to the determinacy of identity: views have ceased having autonomy and, correspondingly, people have ceased being autonomous.

Identity politics also has a discordant relationship with rationalism. In a stratified media, diversification of opinion is important and it’s also important to treat minorities with dignity and respect, by giving them a space and offering them a platform. This shouldn’t, however, dictate how we value statements and engage in discourse. It is, of course, important to diversify and give platforms to women talking about women related issues, or a POC talking about a race issue. However, offering a platform shouldn’t be at the expense of rationalism, nor does it have to be. Arguments should be measured by whether they are valid or sound, not on the basis of whether the proponent has a particular genitalia or skin-colour.
 
Identity politics seeks to embolden minority voices and delegitimise views which are seen as an affront to their dignity, yet, in its confrontational approach to liberalism, it does the direct opposite. Identity politics is an affront to a minority person’s ability to think and discuss freely as an individual, with reason and without pious sentimentality. It is illiberal and irrational in effect and it’s vitally important it’s resisted.
 
Post-colonial thinking, on other hand, tries to address the concepts of victimhood and power more directly. It has influenced anti-globalists and anti-imperialists, critical race theorists and anti-Zionists. It tries to analyse and address the evil wrought against minority groups by the west. It offers a robust rebuttal to eurocentricism and orientalism, it is rebellion against a reading of western history that it feels is one-sided and tendentious. But, in exclusively emphasising western oppression, it denies primary agency for any act of oppression not practiced by the west. In over-emphasising western failings as a way of countering western triumphalism, it disregards something equally important: objective truth. This stunts any coherent defence of liberalism – as liberalism rests on universalism. 

Post-colonial thinking also foments hostility to western values such as ‘universalism’, which it views as hegemonic, and it does this in an academically unscrupulous manner.

Post-colonial thinking is established on the premise that the actions of Western or European “imperialist” nations deserve more attention than the third world and global south. This emphasis on western evil is a reaction to what they perceive to be the whitewashing of history. They start from the premise of trying to address an inequality, trying to counter the triumphalism and ‘eurocentricism’ evident in some parts of academia. But, In emphasising the imperialism of Britain, something important and necessary, they forget to mention Islamic imperialism, or any other imperialism. They should mention as many as possible. Because in doing so our common humanity is emphasised, and in focusing solely on the west, the idea that the west is uniquely evil is implied. It isn’t uniquely evil. And oppression, though present in western history through slavery, massacres and terror, doesn’t mean it’s unique to the west. Irrespective of their noble intention, focusing exclusively on the west implies it does. We mustn’t view the European colonial world as some form of paradise, in which wars were never a feature, persecution was a fiction and oppression was non-existent. Taking off rose-tinted glasses and seeing that cultures had both positive and negative effects is an important component of any self-critical society. Self-criticism must not, however, manifest into self-loathing. One clarifies the misuse of values we hold dear, the other distorts and degrades our values .

This sins of past centuries are worth remembering, but the fact that imperialism had massive casualties shouldn’t determine how we morally value current western states. To paraphrase Pascal Bruckner, French public intellectual, western states shouldn’t be paralysed by the tyranny of colonial guilt, nor in our view should individuals be allowed moral high ground by raising the sins of one’s ancestors. This is fallacious, as it associates the sins of one individual with another individual who isn’t culpable in committing that sin. In other words, it is guilt by association. This is an assault on history, evidence is pruned for ideology. Solving problems and addressing grievances demands fidelity to the truth. But, given their disregard for objective truth, in trying address a wrong, the Left actually exacerbates cultural division and furnishes conspiratorial thinking.

The victimology bred by post-colonialism is dishonest and directly inimical to progressive values. If you insist on your victimhood and the victimhood of delineated minority groups, above discussing ideas freely, and at the expense of western values because of western oppression, your analytical framework tears protrudes with gnawing bias and you abdicate emancipatory principles: individual liberty, freedom of speech and an egalitarian ethos, all of which have incalculably aided civil and legal legislation granting minorities equality. Post-colonial lefties have, on the other hand, aided “safe spaces”, banning Brendan O’Neill and trigger warnings.

The politics of liberty and universalism is more productive the politics of victimhood and difference. Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass were invested in modulating the US constitution to encompass minorities; Many critical post-colonial lefties reject the values of the US constitution outright as a tool for oppression and hegemony. This difference, if it continues to widen, will make liberty-derived arguments isolated within groups that ought to affirm it. It will make liberalism heresy and threaten the hard-won rights that constitute free nations. 

Anti-Zionism attacks Israel because Palestinians are the victims and Israel are the victimisers. And protecting the victims, the Palestinians, is more important than accepting, in many instances, that Israel has a right to defend itself. This dialectic is binding, unchanging and crucial to understanding the psyche of anti-Zionism. Because victimisers are western, it follows from anti-imperialist lefties that this conflict should attract our greater moral indignation. Criticism of any state is important. Democratic states are marked by their capacity to welcome criticism and welcome debate. We, and many of our friends, are critical of the settlements in the West Bank, and believe it to be counterproductive to the peace process. But, Israel as a society attracts bile way beyond specific criticisms. Criticism is well and good, but the language and tone of criticism levelled against Israel is animated by something deeper. From the BDSmovement , to anti-Zionist groups in British universities, hostility to Israel is boiling. Hatred of Israel is in fact a microcosm of how many anti-imperialists analyse Middle Eastern conflict; they’re motivated more by animosity to Israel than solidarity to Palestinians. Hostility to western states, and it’s apparent imperialist ambition, is focussed above fidelity to objective human rights abuses. Assad wasn’t met with protests, large scale derision, calls for boycotts, when he massacred Palestinian in Yarmouk. This criticism of double standards is usually met with an accusation of whataboutery; you’re trying to distract from Israeli’ human rights abuses. But this is an appeal to anyone that democratic states in complex conflicts should not be judged with greater moral outrage than dictatorships killing promiscuously. The use of whataboutery suggests moral equivalence where there is naught and it nullifies an understanding of intention and an understanding of the nature of the conflict.

Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran are not met with calls for boycotts. Iranian and Saudi Arabian individual are not met with bigotry because of their nationality, from university students to members of parliament. As the former head of human rights watch, Robert Bernstein, noted: moral clarity is an important aspect in evaluating Middle Eastern conflicts. And when you emphasise the evils of a democracy in a region riven with dictatorships you destroy moral clarity beyond repair. When complex conflicts are reduced to oppression and killings and massacres and genocide, it ceases being a natural case of applying principles. It becomes a theatre of hysteria. When the only democracy in the Middle East, with the highest living standard, and best relation with minorities, is viewed more unfavourably than North Korea and Saudi Arabia, this is unintelligible to anyone with a firm grounding in morality and progressive values. The anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist left, through systematic demonisation, have contributed to this dysfunction of ethics and principles.

Anti-Zionism is also both an umbrella for protecting individual anti-Zionists, and it contributes to anti-Semitism through its zealotry. This is not to say all avowed anti-Zionists are anti-Semitic. Many individuals are critical of Israel with equal conviction in the way they’re critical of other Middle East states, and It is unfair to smear all those who are highly critical of Israel as anti-semites. However, the rhetoric surrounding Israel, in many anti-imperialist sections of the left, is becoming more and more associated with anti-semitism and racist tropes. Modern day anti-semitism manifests itself by projecting all racist tropes associated with traditional anti-semitism unto Israel. The idea, for example, of Israel having a fondness for infanticide; controlling the US and western states through powerful lobbies; being a uniquely evil and voracious state. These tropes feature in many pro-palestinian marches (though they should be correctly called anti-Israel marches), and on twitter, where pictures of dead children are spread and used to intimidate supporters of Israel.
 
Because of anti-globalists and anti-Zionists, the only state in the Middle East with a flourishing press, independent judiciary and functioning parliament-all things progressives should rally for-is treated as a pariah state. Whereas, relative to this, criticism of theocracies and dictatorship is minimal and passing. (Saudi Arabia only criticised because it is an ally of the west). The disfigurement of moral clarity is, therefore, seen most clearly in many lefties relationship with Israel.
We fear some parts of the left are in irreversible decline, and have therefore created a rough manifesto, hopefully binding centre left and centre thinkers and activists alike. The list is as follows:

– Supporting freedom of speech without the qualification of ‘responsibility’, or “duty not to be offended, and the implied correlative right not to offend”; or any acquiescence to Blasphemy Law. Noting that this right must be found in all institutions of education, against the TERF-hunters and privilege checkers.

– Being consistent in denouncing far right politics, whether it be far-right white nationalists or liberty-hating Islamists; this entails rejecting multiculturalism; the view that all cultures, with their embedded values, have to be respected on an equal footing. The need to respect cultural difference, it is argued, is more important than the need for assimilation. In short, it is a realisation of cultural relativism. It is clear that pluralism, rule of law and liberty (all of which are universal values, but best embodied by the west) are not morally equivalent to the regressive values existing in some minority cultures. Implying that they are makes it impossible to make a coherent case for challenging malignant values in minority communities. If they’re the same, and the values best embodied by the west are not qualitatively superior to the reactionary values of some minority communities, on what basis can we challenge honour killings and child marriage?. The values developed in the west over centuries, and which can certainly be developed in other minority cultures, is better because it enriches freedom and enshrines equality.

-Making Zionism a positive rather than negative word. Zionism is the belief that Jews should have a sovereign state, guaranteeing their continued existence, and a haven from persecution and terror. Anti-Zionism denies a persecuted people the right to have this state. This is absurd, and something that is often equated with criticising Israel’s policy. Zionism is a diverse movement, and as we’ve said: supporting a state’s existence doesn’t mean you forego the right to criticise it. However, challenging those who defame the only functioning democracy in the Middle East-often with apologia for supremacist, anti-semitic regimes- is absolutely mandatory.

Increasing parts of the Left have ceased being left-wing. The parts which follow identity politics, post-colonial thinking and anti-Zionism to a zealous degree. They were initially considered a fringe, because zealotry isn’t associated with the tradition of Mill and Paine. But these zealots- social justice warriors, anti-globalists, critical race theorists and anti-Zionists- are creepily forming the nucleus of left wing identity. Correcting inequality is something noble. But, when it is at the expense of individual liberty and universal rights, it’s effects are devastating. In trying to right these wrongs, they have recycled arguments traditionally associated with the cultural right; the toxicity of ideas and debate; the vulnerability of humans; the violability of rights; and the corresponding need for paternalism. The ability to think like a rational individual who dissents from orthodoxy has ceased being praiseworthy. All we have left is privilege-checking and safe spaces.

Why blasphemy law shouldn’t pardoned 

The past four weeks have prompted intense debates around freedom of speech. The attacks on the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris on the 7th of January have intensified the need in some to defend certain values. The attacks have also, unfortunately, intensified the need to equivocate in others. I wrote a piece two days after the event, arguing that we shouldn’t forget the true victims of the attack: satirists murdered for drawing cartoons and, two days later, Jews murdered for being Jews. This piece, though, is about the necessity of free speech in light of these events, and a rebuttal to those advocating or apologising for blasphemy laws.

On February 13th in Queen Mary university of London, a debate is being hosted about freedom of speech. Four of the six guests invited to speak are Muslim and all four happen to be regressive. This is unsurprising. Not because being Muslim entails espousing regressive views-this is obviously not the case. It is unsurprising because the debate is being organised by IERA; a group infamous for its toxic brand of Salafi supremacism (detailed here), and infamous, I might add, for couching its supremacism in victimhood and urbane posturing. The four guests are: Yvonne Ridley – chairing the debate and former Respect party member; Hamza Tzortis – member of IERA; Moazzem Begg – founder of CAGE prisoners; Abdullah Andalusi – “intellectual” . The two non-Muslim guests are professor Peter Cave and the journalist Dan Hodges.

It is ironic that, in a debate about free speech, 4 out of the 6 guests don’t believe in it’s value. Freedom of speech means you have to right to say or express any idea as long as it doesn’t explicitly incite violence. Scrutinising religious belief is not illegal, and it certainly isn’t violent, contrary to some authors. The burden to censor should always be on the censors, never on the person censored; therefore, all the rhetoric about responsibility – in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack – was grounded in nothing less than victim-blaming. Two common arguments advanced against free speech include: What about hate speech laws and what about holocaust denial (this one especially gets their pulse racing).

All these arguments have a common theme: what about X. This theme distracts and obfuscates. It is attractive and easy. So attractive and easy, it is tailor-made for Mehdi Hasan. And, true to form, Hasan wrote quite possibly the worst piece about Charlie Hebdo. Incidentally, during operation protective edge in the summer, Hasan rallied fervently against what he perceived to be whataboutery, but in this case the alleged whataboutery of Israel’s supporters. Yet when talking about his religion and his beliefs, he cheerfully forgos this attitude. (See, I can do it aswell; we all can, ad infinitum). In short, he, like Andulasi et al, is a Chaucerian hypocrite. Unlike them, he isn’t a fascist. He does, however, recycle their tone and their arguments: victimhood, anti-western loathing and equivocation. He is a social conservative and the more this is said, the better. He isn’t the Muslim Martin Heidegger but the Muslim Malcolm Muggeridge. And his disgraceful attitude following the murder of 12 people should never be forgotten.

Andalusi, on the other hand, is more explicit in his animosity to the west. He detests ‘Liberalism (individualism), secularism andfeminism‘. He writes in a coolly philosophical tone, but his argument, when taken apart, reveal hot bullshit. For one, he doesn’t understand what he is criticising. He misunderstands free speech and, by corollary, misunderstands liberalism. He says in his piece:

The purpose of free speech, when expressing opinion, is the pursuit of truth. That is all, nothing more.

Nope. The pursuit of truth is an important aspect of free speech, but it isn’t sufficent. The purpose of free speech is free speech. Expressing an idea, a feeling, an impulse, not necessarily grounded in this or that- it is an essential right, not a consequential one. In any sense, scientists may argue religious ideas don’t pertain to any notion of truth, they are verifiably untrue. Indeed, they’re offensively untrue, and so shouldn’t be allowed hearing in public. Andalusi is arguing for his concept of truth, the truth of the Koran. An attack on this truth is, therefore, impermissible under his conception. After laying out what freedom of speech must entail, he lays out what it mustn’t:

Surely if something yields no benefits, and only offers harm and negative experience to human life, should it be tolerated amongst a society of civilised human beings?

He doesn’t define ‘harm’, presumably because his definition is loose: satirising the edicts of Islam may be harmful. But its harm is necessary. Its harmful to those who belief these ideas shouldn’t face scrutiny, and that those who scrutinise it should face punishment. His writing supports blasphemy laws in its variants – through law or through courtesy. We must continue harming and disfiguring this dogma.

Like Andalusi, Tzotzsis detests freedom of speech. And, like Andalusi, Tzortzis supports blasphemy law. He argues:

use good speech. God doesn’t love the actions of evil speech.” […] “Just be human. Because a civilised society isn’t a society that basically degrades each other, defames and dishonours, and uses vile speech. We are human beings. So let’s be human being.

Once again, an appeal to civility is made. A proscription upon using speech that doesn’t defame, degrade and dishonour is again also made. And once again degradation isn’t precisely defined; its lack of precision invites loose and encompassing application. IERA operate on the slippery, the hinted. They’re allergic to plainness and clarity- it uproots their ideology. Only one plausible conclusion can be drawn: The Charlie Hebdo cartoons, even in portraying the prophet sympathetically, degrade and defame. Attacking the cartoonist’s right to portray the prophet is not reasonable or tolerant in any sense; it is the deliberate intrusion of blasphemy codes into secular society.

Andalusi,Tzortzis, Ridley and Begg all argue freedom of speech doesn’t entail the right to offend. They’re wrong, it does. Freedom of speech entails the right to offend, otherwise it wouldn’t be free and, because offence is taken not given, circumscribing free speech on this basis is incoherent: what is offensive to one person is inoffensive to another. I find Andalusi’s views on liberalism, Tzortzis’ views on child marriage, Ridleys view on Israel and Begg’s views on shariah punishments, all very repugnant. Yet I’ll rightly defend their right to host the debate at Queen Mary, or host any other debate, and express their repugnant views.

The argument from offence invites slippery slopes and privileges the arbitrary. This is what is at stake here. Free societies endorse the possibility of offence. They thrive in its presence, and recoil in its absence. Robust debate means somebody is offended, ideas can be tested and, consequently, values can evolve. It means, in essence, you can be progressive. However, those advancing the argument from offence desire blasphemy law and, therefore, are not. They want their beliefs insulated from criticism. They don’t accept irreverence and they detest religious scrutiny. This makes the issue more profound; an essential conflict in values. One in which on one side stand supporters of regressive speech codes; and on the other, those supporting Enlightenment principles stand steadfast, but with their numbers dwindling. 

Post-modernism and post-colonial dogma is ensnaring their principles; universalism is now hostage to the ‘white man’s guilt’, unfettered reason is seen as threatening. Modern Anti-racists don’t understand cultures, values and ethnicity – all is elided. They only understand one thing: what is primarily evil and what is secondarily evil. Details are pruned to this axiom. We are primarily evil, Islamists are not. Moral equivalence is internalised: we judge acts with reference to ourselves, our deformities and our ignominies. We can’t confront evil directly, and thus, we let it flower.

People who are unwilling and unable to confront evil always equivocate. The ‘buts, whataboutery, on the other hands’. The irrelevant context bolted inelegantly. They complicate the transparent and, in turn, placate the implacable. What is a totalitarian revolt against liberal values isn’t that, but something else. What is x isn’t x, but x and y and z, because x frightens. Cowardice is exhibited, these forces are emboldened and evil continues. Islamists thrive amidst euphemism. They also thrive under the aegis of victimhood. They are victims inveighing against western oppressors. The benefit of the doubt, therefore, is their right and theirs alone.  

But, with this in mind, what about their victims? Progressive Muslims who face charges of blasphemy; both punitively or through social stigma. What about the virulent abuse they receive? More damaging than pointing out Andalusi doesn’t understand liberalism. Their victimisers, the Islamists, escape unburdened with scrutiny and unchallenged by liberal principles. IERA don’t face the same level of hostility as the BNP. If contesting inhumane beliefs can only be done consequentially – challenging only those with ostensible ‘privilege’ -Muslims by accident of birth will continue to suffer indefinitely. This is unpardonable. Nevertheless, this is our current state. Silence on our part debilitates and destroys: only speaking is revolutionary; only speaking is progressive; debate, dialogue and scrutiny are emancipatory, silence is not. This is why free speech is important, and this is why its enemies should be directly confronted.

Remember the true victims: Charlie Hebdo. 

Some people are missing the point. 

The victims of the Charlie Hebdo assault in Paris are not the Muslims satirised by the magazine, or Muslims facing the possibility of backlash. The victims are the 10 journalists murdered for drawing cartoons. Their murder deserves better analysis. They don’t deserve defamation after death-for exercising the right which caused their murder. They certainly don’t deserve their status as victims to shift to people who weren’t murdered for drawing cartoons. They deserve unreserved sympathy, for existing, and proudly asserting their right to do so in the face of murder and terror.

What happened on Wednesday was viscerally clear: A cornerstone of liberal democracy was assaulted by theofascists. Focusing exclusively on the ‘racism’ of the cartoons, immediately after it’s assault, distorts this fact. Whether the cartoons are horrible or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether they have the right to exist, unburdened by the threat of murder. 

As the incidents on Friday suggest, this is more profound than the contents of the cartoons. This is an assault against free speech, Jews, gays, women and anything or person inconsistent with their warped ideology. This is a cult of death and an attitude of appeasement, apologetics and equivocation constitutes suicide.

But people are still missing the point. They’ll continue to do so because, put simply, the victimhood of non-white people is the premise with which they draw conclusions; 10 journalists murdered for cartoons is reallyabout the Muslims they portrayed and the Muslims who could face backlash. The murder of these journalists is not an assault on free speech-that is too simple, straightforward and direct. It is really about race narratives, interconnectivity between power structures and “islamophobia“. The fetish for nuance nullifies an honest analysis. Rather than stating the force of radical Islam directly threaten our liberties, we inwardly gaze for our Islamophobia and imperialism. Rather than saying “x” we say “x, but”. If we can’t respond to straightforward evil with a straightforward moral response, our values will continue to degenerate intermittently.

It has already begun. Freedom of speech being qualified with respect to beliefs is indistinguishable from de facto blasphemy law. Hate speech laws, blasphemy laws, every tenet of civil liberties will soon be sullied. Unless, of course, rights are affirmed and analysis is honest. The two go hand in hand and depend on positive dynamism. Not self-loathing and not paralysis.

This attitude, though, will continue to fester amongst people of my generation. Anti-racism is developing from a principled position into a vehicle for excusing and mollifying totalitarian forces. These forces don’t possess shaven heads or white masks. They do possess the same impulses, instincts and the same pathological supremacism. The response to them should also be the same. I fear it won’t and my fears are not being assuaged at the moment.