In a long career filled with achievement, historian David Irving has a new feather in his cap — as a poster boy for the British government’s new campaign against extremism. It is an accolade he shares with internet executioner ‘Jihadi John’.
Prime Minister David Cameron bizarrely chose to single out the revisionist historian as an example of someone beyond the pale in his major speech on dealing with non-violent extremists who, he complains, manage to sneakily stay on “just the right side of the law”.
It was an outrageous slur: “When David Irving goes to a university to deny the Holocaust — university leaders rightly come out and condemn him. They don’t deny his right to speak but they do challenge what he says. But when an Islamist extremist goes there to promote their poisonous ideology, too often university leaders look the other way.”
So, quite apart from the ludicrousness of Irving ever being allowed to speak on campus, combating him and his books are part of “the struggle of our generation” as Cameron put it. The Irving reference, as with the Charlie Hebdo and internet Jewish conspiracies reference, was really a signal to the Jewish community, that their interests remain closest to his heart. Even the venue for his speech was a nominally Jewish school in Birmingham.
Cameron was talking about how Britain’s success was because and not in spite of diversity but how we still need to tackle extremism. It is hard to get away from the onward march of Islamic fundamentalism in Britain; from the child grooming gangs in dozens of cities, Jihadi John and the whole families who leave to join Isis, to the Muslim “Trojan Horse” takeover of schools and their recruitment in prisons. Islam is arguably the most important grassroots social force in Britain today.
On the same day as Cameron’s speech, the news contained the following UK stories: Cardiff student victim of “drone” strike on Jihad in Syria; A Luton man charged with planning terrorist attack on US military personnel by running one over and using a knife on him; Liverpool man seeking internet purchase of enough ricin to kill 1000.
It was largely a chiding speech but balanced with Cameron’s usual sympathy and understanding:
I understand that it can be hard being young, and that it can be even harder being young and Muslim, or young and Sikh, or young and black in our country. I know that at times you are grappling with huge issues over your identity, neither feeling a part of the British mainstream nor a part of the culture from your parents’ background.
The speech I was proudest to give in the election campaign was where I outlined my 2020 vision for our black and minority ethnic communities. 20% more jobs; 20% more university places; a 20% increase in apprenticeship take-up and police and armed forces that are much more representative of the people they serve.
And it’s not just about representation — it’s about being in positions of influence, leadership and political power. That also means more magistrates, more school governors, more Members of Parliament, more councillors, and yes, Cabinet Ministers too.
And I know that for as long as injustice remains — be it with racism, discrimination or sickening Islamophobia — you may feel there is no place for you in Britain. But I want you to know: there is a place for you and I will do everything I can to support you.
What is striking here is there was not one word of acknowledgement for the mainly poor Whites who have suffered so much from Muslim depredation and who have to live cheek by jowl beside it. Nothing for the parents of murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby or the people of towns like Rotherham. Instead of the sympathy he doles out to young Muslims, he dripped pure hatred for poor Whites who stand up for themselves or, as he put it, “hateful neo-Nazis” and “poisonous far-right extremists.”
A moment’s thought shows how he cannot afford to acknowledge their concerns. That would mean tackling some tricky questions. Who let Muslims into the country? Why were we never asked if we wanted this? As the Muslim community grows more powerful and numerous why are we assuming they will behave better in the future?
To avoid this, the prime minister has to take us, Alice-in Wonderland-style, down the familiar rabbit hole of psycho-babble and wild rationalisation. Young Muslims suffer from a crisis of identity about not being attached to society. Their behaviour is caused by racism, poverty and alienation and something called “failure of integration.”
All of which is meant to prevent us from thinking what everyone knows to be true — that every aspect of their behaviour from the crime to the terrorism and child molestation is just Muslims being Muslims and this is how they behave everywhere. And it is a problem that would not exist if they were not here.
So what is a non-violent extremist? Who decides what is non-illegal but non-permissible speech? When will the new speech codes be published? The proposed counter-extremism bill will be unveiled in the autumn. More detail has already been provided by the Home Secretary who said that Blacklists are to be introduced to prevent “extremists” from working in the public sector. (Members of right-wing parties are already routinely sacked in the private sector though this has to be done carefully to avoid breaching European law).
There are also plans to introduce ‘Extremism disruption orders’ which will enable the banning of individuals from the internet or speaking at public events, protests and meetings. These ‘extremists’ will also have to inform the police in advance of any public event, protest or meeting that they plan to attend. An ‘extremist’ could be someone who criticises Sharia law or gay marriage.
The new wheezes are variations on old themes. The Home Secretary wants to ban “radical preachers and neo-nazis” from making television appearances. Internet companies will be encouraged to identify potential terrorists, passports will be withheld.
The government’s flagship anti-radicalisation programme is called Prevent, and with an annual budget of £40 million, it has spawned a vast network of academics, community groups and various other agencies all competing for a chunk of the cash. Like all government bureaucracies it has developed a life of its own and generates conferences and university papers devoted to arcane questions such as whether disaffected youth channel their anger through Islam or whether Islam directly inspires violence.
The language of the therapeutic state helps keep reality at bay. Up and down the country police officers have been transferred to work a part of the Prevent programme called “Channel.” They are busy identifying “vulnerable people” who may fall victim to this mysterious ailment called “radicalisation.” These youngsters are kitted out with individually tailored “support packs” and mentoring which can include anything from football to table tennis to learning a trade.
This week a BBC radio programme looked at Channel in action in Northamptonshire. Two friendly police officers, Shaun and Jason, explained that their job is not about criminalising or arresting people. “I don’t even know if I can remember the caution, anymore” laughed one of them.
Shaun and Jason’s job is to change minds, perhaps by mentoring. They have dealt with a young man who had been indoctrinated with far-right ideologies. One of the turning points in his journey was a visit to a Holocaust centre and then meeting a Holocaust survivor. A complete success. Apparently.
Last year a regulation was introduced placing a statutory obligation on specified professionals such as teachers or doctors to notify the police in any cases where they think someone is being “radicalised.” It has meant much more work for Shaun and Jason, and they think they will triple last year’s caseload. Three that week already, they told the radio reporter, divided between 60% Islamist and 40% far-right. Each case is assessed by a panel of health professionals, probation officers, psychologists and youth workers who monitor the progress of the “vulnerable young people.” (A taste of the programme can be gleaned from this video.)
So what are the warning signs? Is someone being angry and withdrawn? Perhaps they have developed a grudge against authority and are changing their hairstyle and clothing. What the difference is between this and standard teenage behaviour was not explored.
There are similar programs to Prevent across Europe, often more directly aimed at White resistance. In Sweden EXIT was set up in 1998 to help youngsters “transition” from “White Supremacist” groups. It works on the premise that individuals join not because of ideology, but are searching for status, identity, support and power. It offers safe houses, training and an average of six to nine months support.
In Germany the Violence Prevention Network focuses on prisoners from the far right and offers a 23-week program and spends 8000 Euros per person, although an evaluation of how successful it is cannot be made as additional funding is needed for this.
Meanwhile in Denmark the cities of Copenhagen and Aarhus are where a pilot program called “Deradicalisation —targeted intervention” is based. This is run by both the police and the intelligence service and seems to be aimed at both Islamics and Whites.
Meanwhile in Britain new measures are already rolling out. Informal Internment has already been re-introduced in the case of White nationalist Joshua Bonehill. This non-violent nationalist has been refused bail pending his next court appearance on 21 September after being charged with publishing or distributing written material intended to incite racial hatred. He already has the doubtful distinction of being the recipient of Britain’s first internet Anti-Social Behaviour Order. He has also been banned from entering London to attend an anti-Shomrim demo.
So how did the PM’s speech go down with the Muslims? Not well, is the charitable interpretation. One columnist thought it had all the hallmarks of the prime minister’s neoconservative advisers.