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British Values From Theresa May

Mick Hall @ Organized Rage questions the notion of superior British values.

We do not need lessons in British values from Mrs May: the truth is they're no superior to those of any other nation.

Tony Benn in Parliament warning MPs of the hundreds of innocent people that would be killed if they vote to bomb Iraq. Yet few of them learned a damn thing from Tony's wise words and we live with the dreadful consequences of that today. Gullible and heartless people have once again deceived themselves into believing that in death their god will award them a status they could never attain in life if they go out and kill and main totally innocent people who are going about their business.

For the prime minister to claim what has happened in recent weeks is nothing to do with British foreign policy beggars believe and goes against the advice she has had from the British security services.

As Myriam François wrote in a reason article:

British foreign policy, whether you agree or disagree with its direction, is reverberating on British soil. And here it mixes with the underbelly that exists in all societies: the marginalised, the angry, the alienated; those looking for a higher cause to bring meaning to an often dead-end existence.
And as long as the UK is involved – rightly or wrongly – in military actions in the Middle East, there is likely to be violent blowback on home soil.
So the notion that the real problem is a set of ideas being pushed in the murky underground of the Muslim community is false. In fact, intelligence analysts are at pains to highlight that families – let alone the nebulous notion of “the community” – are often the last to know. And when they have had suspicions, recent cases have shown that families and mosques have approached the authorities. Communities work, and will continue to work, with the police to stop those who wish to harm us all.
But this relationship of trust and cooperation is made harder, not easier, when the government casts a wide net of suspicion over the entire Muslim community. To begin a conversation about counter-terrorism, as May did on Sunday, with the proposal that people (read Muslims) simply need to be better educated about “British values” is to cast terrorism as first and foremost a problem of social cohesion.
It suggests the entire Muslim community is a suspect group that needs to be inoculated, through the injection of a predetermined set of ethics – as imagined by the superior mind of May and her cohorts – to protect them from themselves. The days of empire may be long gone, but the notion that the barbarians at the gates need to be civilised is clearly alive and well.
The truth is that British values are no superior to those of any other nation. The very conversation is patronising to anyone of non-British origin. What’s the reasoning, exactly? If only these men had read a little more Jane Austen, they couldn’t possibly have considered the prospect of mass murder? Improving social cohesion is a laudable objective – but linking terrorism to integration produces a dangerous confusion over the roots of the problem, which ultimately stigmatises and alienates some of the poorest communities in this country.

When I listened to Theresa May's Speech on the morning after the atrocity in Borough market it took me back to the 1970s. She hinted at introducing internment, more rushed anti terror legislation, and as Myriam wrote; her government casting a wide net of suspicion over the entire Muslim population.

Such policies are a throwback to the 1970's, as too are soldiers on UK streets. It failed then and it will not only fail now but make a bad situation even worse. When internment was introduced in NI in August 1971, hundreds of people suspected by god knows who of being involved with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were arrested and interned without trial. All those arrested were Catholics and Irish nationalists with a sizeable number of them having no connection whatsoever with the IRA.

This caused outrage within the nationalist community in the north of Ireland and amongst the Irish population in the rest of the UK. Their outrage was seen by the Tory government led by Edward Heath as a sign of disloyalty and thus they too came under suspicion. When you added in the rushed new anti terror legislation introduced by the then government, you had a recipe for a disastrous situation which saw the IRA grow from a small fringe organisation which was on its last legs, into one which due to the aforementioned quickly became embedded within the nationalist working classes communities across the north.

To paraphrase Myriam's words the Irish community in Britain experience a double penalty when bombing attacks occurred back then: the same trauma as all other citizens, plus the guilt cloud that hangs over it thereafter. That May if re-elected now intends to do the same to the Muslim population is infantile and plain wrong.

Myriam François concluded with this:

In her speech, May repeated the point that terrorist ideology is derived from a “perversion of Islam”. While this may be true, we’re in 2017, not 2001. Almost 16 years into this threat, it’s time to change the record. The statement that this has nothing to do with Islam, reiterated after each attack, seems not only trite but counterproductive. How many more times does this need to be stated: terrorists are not motivated by the faith of the 1.6 billion regular folk walking this planet; Muslims aren’t immune to bombs and bullets.

Indeed around the world Muslim's have been the main victims of ISIL yet we hear little about this fact.

Myriam continues:

How about not repeating this same toxic conversation after each attack? Because, frankly, there is a point at which it appears almost like the caveat after which the bashing can begin.
What the government could do however is be honest about the risks to domestic security of foreign military interventions – risks the public may or may not wish to accept. It can invest heavily in the security services working to keep the country safe. This means more resources, but it also means not creating a climate of suspicion around Muslims, who, like everyone else, are partners in the common goal of preserving life – incidentally, the highest of values in Islamic law. Creating dichotomies between British and Islamic values only feeds a toxic narrative.
The aftermath of the recent horrific events shows us that people from all faiths and none, drawing on their diverse value systems, can come together to emphasise love, solidarity and unity. We don’t need lessons in British values; but our politicians may need to learn a thing or two about not widening the very divisions they believe to be the problem.

We do not need lessons in British values from Mrs May: the truth is they're no superior to those of any other nation.

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Anthony McIntyre

Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher

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