[Marxism] Overt racism, anti-free speech role of Blair "anti-terrorism" bills alarms 'Economist'

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon Aug 15 04:52:28 MDT 2005


http://www.ufppc.org/content/view/3268/

DEALING WITH TRAITORS

** The British government's anti-terrorism proposals are wrong, both in 
principle and in practice **

Economist
August 11, 2005

http://www.economist.com/printedition/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=4274935 
(subscribers only)

"Let no one be in any doubt: the rules of the game are changing."  Even
by 
Tony Blair's demotic standards, it was a stark response to last month's 
bombings in London.  Outlining on August 5th what he described as a
"heavy 
agenda" of 12 reforms to Britain's immigration and criminal justice
systems, 
Mr. Blair opened a new front in the war on terror.  Battle will now be
joined 
not just with terrorist plotters, but also with the extremists who
inspire 
them.  If the prime minister gets his way, any foreigner who indulges in

extremism, even if he does no more than run an unsavory bookshop or
website, 
will be deported.  Naturalized Britons will be stripped of their
citizenship 
before being treated in the same way.  Troublesome outfits will be
proscribed 
and their meeting places shut.

Quite right too, said the Conservative opposition and many of Britain's 
newspapers.  They want to see the back of men like Omar Bakri Mohammed,
the 
former leader of the now dissolved Islamist group al-Muhajiroun, who has

insisted that Muslims cannot be blamed for the London bombings or the
attacks 
on America.  Nods of approval also came from France, which already takes
a 
tough line on the deportation of inflammatory preachers and plans to
speed up 
the exodus in the next few months.  The French disapprove of what they
regard 
as an absurdly sensitive attitude to free speech in Britain -- and
resent it, 
too, since at least one man who they believe was involved in bombings in
Paris 
a decade ago took refuge in "Londonistan."

Britain's anti-terror laws are among the toughest in the world -- not 
surprisingly, given the long struggle against the Irish Republican Army.
But 
the legal system is not so tough on inflammatory speech, unless it
happens to 
be directed at a racial group.  Although bringing firebrands to book is 
possible under incitement and conspiracy laws, it means proving a direct
link 
with criminal acts, which is tricky.  Evicting foreign preachers is also

difficult.  That is not so much, as is often claimed, because the
European 
Convention on Human Rights has been incorporated into British law, but
because 
of the country's adversarial legal system, together with a long history
of 
sheltering troublemakers who do not propose to carry out their plans on 
British soil.  "Londonistan" existed long before the Human Rights Act.

TRUST US

There are two good arguments for lowering the threshold for prosecution
and 
deportation.  The first and most obvious is that extremism is the pool
in 
which terrorists swim:  it inspires, supports, and justifies them.
Those who 
watch would-be terrorists say that radicalization often begins with a
chat 
with a charismatic agitator, although the sort of loudmouths who give 
interviews to newspapers are much less dangerous than the covert kind.  
Curtail offensive speech and the number of potential bombers might fall.
The 
second reason is that extremism creates fear and resentment.  Because
they are 
liable to cause a backlash, fiery Islamist clerics pose more danger to
western 
Muslims than to anybody else.

These arguments are seductive at a fearful time, yet they must be
resisted.  
The prime minister's proposals would serve the terrorists' ends by
undermining 
the civilization they attack.  Free speech is not a privilege, to be
revoked 
if it is misused, but a pillar of democracy.  Threatening naturalized
citizens 
with deportation if they flirt with extremism, as the government
intends, will 
create two classes of citizen:  the British-born and the rest.  That
will do 
incalculable harm to race relations and undermine the inclusive British 
identity that Labor has tried to nurture.

The government's proposals may also achieve the opposite of what is
intended 
by further alienating Britain's Muslims from their fellow countrymen.
Many 
say that, since the attacks on London, they feel under suspicion.  Now
they 
fear that they will be punished for the sort of violent speech that
might be 
overlooked if it was, say, uttered by a drunken football fan.  For an 
indication of how far trust has already broken down, compare the
reaction to 
the bombings of July 7th and that to the announcement of August 5th.  A
month 
ago, mainstream Muslim leaders stood alongside politicians and promised
to 
co-operate in the struggle against home-grown terror.  But since Mr.
Blair 
revealed his latest proposals, they have dug in their heels even against
the 
banning of extremist organizations that they formerly attacked.

The government says it will use the new powers it plans to acquire with 
restraint.  Trust us, it implies:  only nasty Muslims will be targeted.

Everybody else can relax.  But even if a government could be trusted to
keep 
such a promise, which none can be, it should not be accepted.  Laws are
not 
created in order that undesirables may be put away.  That is a side
effect.  
Their real purpose is to set down clear guidelines about what is
acceptable 
and what is not.

Mr. Blair is right that things are changing.  People are scared, and are

therefore more inclined to trust government than they normally would.
That's 
dangerous.  The sooner Britons' healthy wariness of government returns,
the 
better.






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