the mess we're in

Britain is a strange place to be right now. In the last week or so we’ve had two people from the BNP (I’m not going to link to their site – you can find them on google if you want to know more) caught on camera spouting racist filth acquitted of stirring up racial hatred (so leaders of a political party referring to Islam as a ‘wicked vicious faith’ and asylum seekers as ‘like cockroaches’ isn’t designed to stir up religious hatred? hmmm).

Then we have the insane scenes in central London over the last week with some crazy Islamic extremists calling for beheadings, bombings and death to infidels over the publishing of some cartoons in a newspaper in Denmark. No one was arrested, though police are viewing the footage at the moment, and one buffoon who dressed as a suicide bomber has been returned to jail as he was out on parole for drug dealing. So, as Sid Smith points out, selling illegal life-destroying drugs is fine, drawing pictures is evil? The laws of moral equivalence have clearly shifted since I last gave them some thought…

And then we’ve had in the last day or so one English-speaking Saudi newspaper in the UK publish a cartoon of Anne Frank in bed with Hitler… the mind boggles. And, unlike most of the other stuff that goes on, I’m actually offended. But more baffled than anything else – what on earth has a dutch jewish teenager killed at Belsen got to do with Danish cartoonists? Was the point just to be as offensive as possible to anyone? ‘Anything you can do, we can do better’? Are they willing to do a beheading swap – their newspaper lose their lives in exchange for the Danish cartoonists? What kind of morality is informing such things, or it is as I suspect, just an exploitation of one incident to peddle their own nasty racist ideology.

Let’s get one thing clear, racism is evil and pernicious in any form. The evils of the current Israeli government in no way legitimise anti-semitism, in the same way that the fucked-up actions of jihadists who don’t understand the central tenets of their faith in no way justify anti-Islamic sentiments. If they did, the behaviour of those who call themselves Christians over the last 2000 years could be used to justify a war on the church quite easily – from the Crusades to the well documented corruption of the Catholic church through the years, to the ‘biblical’ justifications for slavery, apartheid and the genocide of the British Empire and the foundation of the USA, right up to GWB’s own jihad rhetoric in relation to the current Iraq war. Surely if God told him to to do it, other followers of God are culpable?

Of course not, but what it does provide is a hook for those who seek places to express their hatred, bigotry, intolerance and a further excuse to refuse to attempt to understand, learn from and be enriched by other faiths, ideologies and cultures.

So the challenge is to do the opposite, to expose the powers at work in the BNP, the fascistic Islamic fringe groups, the right-wing church in the US and UK, the behaviour of the Israeli forces in the occupied territories, and all other places where oppression flows out from intolerance, and to live the opposite. It’s quite a challenge, but there doesn’t seem to be much of an alternative right now…

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