What is it about the policies of the right that seem to either strive and/or achieve increased homogeneity? Whether it’s the racists like Nick Griffin and his BNP bully boys who want to homogenise the population by removing what they see as “foreign” influences to “preserve the British culture” (I shall refrain from alluding that this may constitute an oxymoron in itself!). The acquital of Griffin and co-defendant Mark Collett marks something of a turning point for the BNP because this was a defence of speeches made to internal BNP audiences and not the wider public arena. Collett refers to asylum seekers as being “a little bit like cockroaches” whilst Griffin describes Islam as a “wicked faith”. I am not surprised they have said this, I am even less surprised that they have been acquited and for as long as their arguments refrain unrefutted in the mainstream this situation will only continue to get worse. In fact at the last 2 elections the main political parties have tantamount to adopted a BNP style policy on asylum seekers so it cannot come as any surprise that if hating Johnny Foreigner is back in vogue that many people choose to go to the party that do it best.

Instead of simple condemnation and failure to engage, vigorous debate needs to be instigated, Muslim officials should be getting the message out as to exactly why Griffin’s words are so misplaced just as they should be explaining why they disapprove of any depiction of the prophet Mohammed. Many people have never seen the inside of a mosque they do not know that it does not house the sort of imagery so common in Christian churches it is therefore seen as being an overreaction when tens of thousands of Muslims take to the streets in protest at a cartoon. After all, they think, Christians wouldn’t complain if someone did a satirical cartoon of Jesus and Muslims probably wouldn’t either. The Jews of course are a very different bunch and would attack with vigour anyone who critcises their faith and of course there is a word that can be used ‘anti-semitic’. Admitedly when ‘Jerry Springer The Opera’ was to be shown on television there were 50,000 complaints from Christian fundamentalists to the BBC and the vast majority of these came before the program had even been aired.

I have heard the debate about whether Muslims should be allowed to protest at such things whilst not always condeming people like President Ahmadinejad and his attack on the very existence of Israel. In fact the same criticism can be levelled back at the Westerners who claim the right to free speech when it comes to the right to criticise a faith they know precious little about whilst inconsistently defending another faith about which they are equally ignorant solely on the grounds that it is more politically sensitive not to do so. Freedom of speech does not simply apply if you are saying something low-key and inoffensive just as it does not only apply to people without power and influence. If France-Soir have the right to allude to a link between Islam and violence then Ahmadinejad has every right to claim that the existence of Israel in fact ferments such violent feeling amongst Muslims.

Freedom of speech is not necessarily a comfortable thing, it is as Voltaire says sometimes about defending someone else’s right to say something you wholeheartedly disagree with. If freedom of speech is a laudable endgame then one must uphold that Griffin and his odious cronies can say pretty much what they like, just as one must allow the publication of cartoons that may be deemed offensive to certain sections of the population, to be done properly the same courtesy must be extended to people like the Iranian president and the Hamas leadership alike. It’s not going to be pretty but that’s the price of freedom. If you deem it too high to pay and you don’t feel you can support all of those things above then you are simply arguing for a varying level of censorship, which of course you may do so, and I shall defend your right to do so whether I agree or not!

Placards bearing slogans “Slay those who insult Islam,” “Behead those who insult Islam,” “Islam is conquering Europe” and a senior Hamas figure referring to Islam coming to take over whether people like it or not is not helpful in allaying any fears of those who may be suspicious on account of ignorance about the religion. It would be tantamount to Christians taking to the streets exclaiming that Christianity is taking over the Middle East or that people should be flogged for insulting Jesus. I find myself somewhat torn on this one because I am not religious, I can therefore distrust the fundamentalists on both sides. I don’t like the idea of Islam taking over anymore than I like Christianity being currently in control. The reason why Christianity is less of a threat in this country is because it is very much a religion on the wane, make no mistake, given a position of strength it is a different story as one can see from the American bible belt. Both sides of the religious extremists fuel one another and escalate tensions, they suck in many people around them using emotive phrases such as “clash of civilisations”. Both sides wish to present a polarised argument on both sides, Bush will refer to a them and us just as many extremists in the Middle East will refer to “the West”. The reality is not so cut and dry though if allowed to continue unfettered it may become so. The clash of civilisations is such as it always was, the haves seek to control the means by which they have and they see the easiest way to do this is by the dispossession of the have-nots. It may seem that I am being formulaic and over-simplistic and reverting to old leftie arguments, but I do see religion as having been one of the greatest forces for social control that there has ever existed. In the days when religion has waned in its influence there has needed to be something to breach the gap and the media has filled in for this, but religion is better because it promises that if you do its bidding you will be rewarded and rewarded in a way that nothing else can offer. I am not offering this so much as a conspiracy theory, it would be ludicrous to assume that there has been some plot down the centuries passed on from generations but the opportunity that religion has offered has not been turned down by those that would rule and the proof for this is plain to see. To ostracise those who don’t play the games we have ridiculous notions like blasphemy and damnation.

I would not like to thing of a world where I cannot exercise my view that religion is all bollocks and the religious texts are simply the work of men, but I would not expect to force my opinion onto those who disagree and choose to practise religious beliefs. I expect the same courtesy in return and to my mind that only way of safeguarding such freedoms is to maintain a completely secular state. Marx was right, religion is opium for the people and like opium it provides relief and comfort at first but there is always more to it than that, it is a dangerous drug and addiction and side-effects are just one part of it. I have previously taken a rather laissez-faire attitude to other people’s religion(s) and I will try to continue that in the spirit of Voltaire but I wonder if such liberalism can really have any future. To stand by and watch drug addicts slowly descend into stupifaction would be considered barbaric, could the same not be said of someone who stands by whilst religion destroys what little consensus the human race clings to?

Song Of The Day ~ The Delays – Nearer Than Heaven

Original Comments:


Pimme made this comment,
Whether it’s drugs, religion, or whatever…it’s one thing to hurt yourself with it, but quite another to hurt others.
comment added :: 5th February 2006, 02:15 GMT+01 :: http://pimme.blog-city.com
sarah made this comment,
i think that the muslim extremists violent reaction over the cartoons is ridiculous, but not entirely surprising. if you read the original article accompanying the cartoons, the editor had written that he was aware that mohammed wasn’t allowed to be depicted according to islam. so obviously they were also aware that there was going to be a backlash (how could they not be? van gogh got murdered fairly recently by a fanatic that did not believe in freedom of expression).
you know i hate self-cencorship and if anyone told me not to do something, i’d be ten times more likely to do it. however, there ARE lines and everyone is frankly being very hypocritical by saying there aren’t and that they’re fully in support of freedom of expression. it is not considered okay to call ugly people ugly, fat people fat – also (like you said), we are extremely sensitive when it comes to the feelings of jews and blacks. oprah shouts racism when she isn’t let into a store 15 minutes after its closed and gets an apology. why? because she is powerful. you cant mess with the jews because THEY are powerful. and they control the media. you have to think twice before using any term other than ‘a person of african american origin’ or black because if you do, you’re very likely to get a lot of stick for it. yet it is kosher to stereotype muslims and label all of them as terrorists or portray their prophet as one.

i think muslims are extremely stupid or at least those that ran out into the streets with death threats are. the moderates refuse to speak out with their opinions because they’re too darn lazy and the only voices that are heard are the ones chanting ‘your 9/11 will come’. had more muslims or muslim businesses reacted the way a lot of businesses in the middle east are (by pulling danish products off their shelves), it would be far more effective as a protest. muslims kill their sympathy vote each friggin time by reacting with violence – i don’t know when they will wise up.

basically, i am on the fence on this one – both sides are full of idiots (as is the world – you and me, my twin, are the only smart ones left!).

-Redbaron applauds –

comment added :: 5th February 2006, 17:03 GMT+01
april made this comment,
Wow, Red Baron. You’re so much more reasonable on your own blog site. While I agree with most of what you say, surely you have to see why the average person in America is suspicious of Muslims. And don’t give me that crap about the masses being stupid. They’re not. Come on, Red Baron, Muslims killed over 3,000 people who were just going to work, in the name of Allah, then we see them on television DANCING in the streets with joy over it! Every year at the holiest of their pilgrimages (which, incidentally, ALL Muslims are supposed to attend at least once in their lives)hundreds are trampled to death in their frenzied worship. Some cartoons were published, and they KILLED over it. Need I continue? Christians and Jews would piss and moan loudly were cartoons offensive to them to be published, but this? Honestly, I don’t think Muslims will wise up. There is something inherently wrong with a religion that produces, century after century, people of such hate and violence.
-Redbaron responds – Hello April, yes I know exactly why many Americans are fearful of Muslims, just as I know why many Muslims are fearful of Americans, the fact is that the hysteria isn’t based on fact, you would not blame all Europeans for the Nazis so why all Muslims for the 11th of September. As regards the deaths in Mecca, a similar thing happens in India with Hindu festivals. Christianity doesn’t have the same furore any more tho’ it once did too. I agree entirely that any religion that produces bigotry, hatred, violence etc. etc. hmmm, that’s about all of them then!-

comment added :: 25th February 2006, 03:01 GMT+01

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