This may be a long post for which I apologise in advance but it is on an exceedingly complex subject which is difficult to precis into small amounts. It stems from two questions posed to me in a comments thread by MalcolmPollack, proprietor of the always interesting and thoughtful blog 'Waka Waka Waka' - go pay a visit if you want an explantion of his title. These are the questions:
“do you agree that allowing mass Muslim immigration to the West has been a mistake? (To put that another way: if you had it to do over again, looking at Europe and Britain today and knowing what you know now, would you?)”
“Do you agree that it would make sense, at the very least, to curtail further Muslim immigration until we can demonstrate that we can successfully assimilate those already here?”
The first question is, of course, entirely theoretical because what is - is! However, it is useful as a means of teasing out some fundamental thoughts on the subject. In theory - and I stress the word 'theory' - no, I would prefer that mass Muslim immigration had not taken place and that the mostly metropolitan bien pensants who shrugged their shoulders at it made a huge mistake. Even so, we should not shrug our shoulders with them and ignore the benefits of it either. Look at any factory shift turning out and you will see huge numbers of Asian, and probably Muslim, workers streaming away. Our IT offices (according to 'SoD') are filled with very bright Muslim men - and women! - all working, paying taxes and contributing. As in most of the countries of western Europe, our indigent populations are failing to breed in sufficient numbers to support a thriving economy. Putting it bluntly - we need people!
However, as we have all found out the hard way, with the Muslim population we do have a very specific problem. An element of them have taken up Islamist arms against not only their own homeland states but their host states, too. I am not sufficiently wel- educated in the details of Muslim theology to decide whether or not the Quran encourages or frowns upon the concept of a holy war. However, commonsense tells me that if you are sufficiently interested in one direction or another you will always find the necessary passages to support and justify your stance! It was ever thus, from communism, to the Protestant reformation, to the imposition of early Christianity on western Europe. 'The fault, dear Reader, is not in our stars, But in ourselves' - sorry Will!
To sum up, Muslim immigration has provided some benefits but now poses some problems of a deadly but so far trivial nature! What? I hear you cry, 'trivial', how dare he write that with people being murdered in our streets and offices. Well, I will repeat it - yes, so far Islamists' efforts amount to less than pin pricks. To a generation who lived through the truly mighty efforts of the Luftwaffe, and to a German population which managed to survive the sledgehammer blows of the RAF and the USAAF, the efforts of Islamists are pathetic - which is NOT in any way to understate the horror and misery of those individuals and their families on the receiving end of the "pin pricks". But we do need to keep a sense of proportion. We need to follow the sage of advice of Cpl. Jones - "Don't panic!" In fact, I would add to that injunction, 'Don't panic - instead THINK!'
First of all we need to recognise that this is a 'world war', or if you prefer the modern parlance, a global war. It is being waged sporadically from the streets of Paris and London all the way round to the Chinese provence of Xinjiang, home to a Uygher population. (It's worth pointing out that the Chinese authorities take an extremely tough line against their Muslims but it seems to 'availeth them nought'!) Far and away the most bloody 'battlefields' are in the homelands of the Muslim faith where several all too real wars are raging between Muslims of a variety of beliefs. There, in my opinion, is where we should concentrate our 'offensive' efforts but in a subtle and intelligent manner. No more Blair-Bush invasions but instead a very careful analysis by middle east experts who can discriminate between friend and foe. That done, we need to decide, again very carefully, exactly in what form our assistance should be offered - arms? training? money? propoganda? education? diplomacy? This mix will vary from situation to situation. Its effects will take decades to be felt - this will be a long game. It would be excellent if the western powers could work together to co-ordinate all their efforts into one sustained campaign but, alas, I fear that is impossible when the damage done to us remains at the pin-prick level. Even so, it is not impossible to agree on certain measures on an ad hoc basis. For example, on a different area of 'warfare', I am delighted that the Brits and the Yanks have agreed to conduct mutual e-warfare exercises with and against each other to test our mutual defences against e-attacks.
Having decided on a doctrine - I deliberately avoid the word 'strategy' because this goes beyond the purely military - for the Muslim homelands we need to do the same thing for the internal, defensive security of our own countries. If you have managed to stick with me this far let me urge you to take a break and instead read this week's editorial in The Spectator which contains much good commonsense as well as a warning against silly, lightweight politicians like 'Dim Dave' who are prone to ignore 'Cpl. Jones' and instead panic like mad. Go read it - now! - and then come back.
Well, there you are, says it all, really! We do need sensible security laws but it is essential that they are only ever passed for a strictly limited time period, say, five years when parliament has to ratify them again. Also, and this is critical, there should be a law passed that makes it a criminal offence for any agency other than the security services to make use of such laws to further their own agendas on other subjects.
The other hugely important matter, as 'The Speccie' emphasises, is for the government to re-enforce what I call the cherished 'Freedom to Insult and Offend' within the existing legal framework which already covers and blocks obscenity, libel, slander and provocation to violence. We must not allow ourselves to be muted by the superior metropolitan types who think they know better than us what's good for us. If a Muslim wishes to slag off Jesus Christ, provided he does not do it inside Westminster Abbey during a service and thus provoke a possibly violent re-action - although thinking about it the congregation are much more likey to 'turn the other cheek' but you know what I mean. Equally, if someone wants to call Mohammed a child-violator and mass murderer then they, too, should be free to do so in the right circumstances. What is absolutely essential in this state of affairs is that this freedom, with its pros and cons, is rammed home to our children including, and especially, Muslim children. Unlike 'the cousins', we Brits are not very good at extolling the virtues of our liberties, we just take them for granted. We can no longer afford that laziness or modesty. We need to emphasise loud and clear to our young people of all demoninations that the essential ethos of our way of life is that everyone, within slight limits, is free to be rude about anyone else - eventhough good manners should always be observed. Also, that the bedrock of our liberty lies in the belief that everyone is equal before the law.
This subject of law brings me to the problem of Sharia law which some Muslims hold to be superior to our own common law. I see no problem in different religious or ethnic groups settling disputes in their own way by their own customs provided that nothing occurs which breaks our British law. Again, it needs to be pressed home to them, especially the young, that British law always takes precedence. Thus, for example, genital mutilation of young girls will be punished!
The other 'defensive' doctrine that needs to be followed should be intelligence-led. The re-action of the French authorities in pouring troops out onto the streets is a nonsense. We all know that they cannot keep it up for ever so it is shown to be what it always was, an example of 'gesture politics'. What is needed is a massive but covert surveillance campaign. We have done it before in Ulster - see my previous post on 14 Intelligence Company - and it should be used here. Of course, that sort of activity needs to be targeted and thus it is critical that the security services to employ their age-old techniques to find, follow and infiltrate likely offenders. This requires a blanket coverage of all electronic means of communication but I stress that information gathered by such means must be confined strictly to security matters only. Again, anyone, including government ministers, making use of such intelligence for their own political or social purposes should find themselves in court facing criminal proceedings.
The final axis of my 'defensive' doctrine deals with the second of Malcolm's questions as to whether I would now be in favour of curtailing any further Muslim immigration. My answer is a hesitant 'yes' because I just know that any such effort will probably fail. I have lost count of the number of times different ministers have promised to ramp up border controls and failed miserably. They are hamstrung by our links to the EU and the Human Rights Court. Both need to be dispensed with if we are to stand any chance of making our border controls fit for purpose. Even so, we will then need to decide what, precisely and exactly, our immigration policy will be. I simply do not know because I have never given it sufficient thought - bit like a government minister, I suppose! But yes, the rules do need to be tightened and enforced but on a universal basis not just aimed at Muslims.
If you have read thus far you will be relieved to know that I have run out of huff 'n puff, or perhaps, huff 'n' Duff is a better description! I am dimly aware that perhaps I have not answered Malcolm's questions exactly and precisely but, truth be told, this was really an exercise in trying to clarify what passes for my own mind. I think now that perhaps I still see dimly but perhaps a little more clearly than when I started. You, on the other hand, probably remain as confused as ever - sorry!