I like to see myself as one of those much sneered at people, a white, middle class and rather liberal male and I’ve mostly been proud of living in my native home here in the United Kingdom. I often look West across the Atlantic at another liberal democracy, the United States. Recently, I have been unsettled by the news both at home and in the great Nation Of The Free. I mostly defend ‘Western’ values against the hurled abuse and hatred that has been bellowed in our direction from murderous, so-called Islamic fundamentalists. I listened to their words about how we, in the West, are degenerate blasphemers and recoil from their unjustified murdering in the name of a God who must be in despair at what is being perpetuated in his name. These haters mostly look to the USA and the UK when they shake their blood-stained fists and I have to admit our societies are by no means perfect. We discuss these things, here in the UK, us liberal folk, usually over coffee or the odd beer or two, and shake our heads at our own government and anguish over the many reforms that we would like to see implemented in our own country.
No one can look forward to September any more without remembering the atrocities committed by Al Qaeda in the name of their God and, if we thought militant Islam’s dream of a Worldwide Caliphate was over, then this year in Africa and in Asia, we learnt that this is far from true.
The brutality of the American journalist, James Foley’s murder in the blasphemed name of Islam has been merely the latest outrage to ricochet around the largely benevolent, caring and ethical peoples of the World. At the centenary of the First World War, is 2014 bubbling over in hatred and bloodshed just to show us how little we have learnt in this time?
So no wonder, people are horrified by the violence and unfairness of the modern World. We have watched the slaughter in Africa, the Middle East and in Asia . Here in Europe and the USA, some people felt justified in demonstrating their own revulsion by looking for obvious targets. There will be no answers in ‘Islamophobia’ or anti-Semitism for the atrocities committed by soldiers, brain-washed adolescents and unbalanced religious fanatics under the instructions of their political leaders. Apart from a few but very noisy religious sects, most religious leaders share the disapproval of us democracy-loving liberals so it so very unfair for synagogues and mosques to become targets for ignorant but angry demonstrators.
We in the West, if we are to stand up for our principles, need to abjure all prejudices based on religion, race, sexual orientation or gender and to do our best, even if it’s only writing the odd blog, to remind people that prejudice is ignorance.
We, in the UK, have been watching the news from Ferguson, USA, recoiling from the evidence that America is still split by racial tensions exacerbated by very real unfairness where being a young black male appears to make you automatically suspect in the eyes of the law. I visited a Chicago jail some years ago and was shocked to discover that all the faces behind bars were black. Not much has changed it seems.
The UK has similar racial tensions but they are nowhere near as extreme as in the USA. Our multicultural state might actually be beginning to work but I am not suggesting that young black males in this country are any less likely than their American cousins, from being automatic police suspects. There is still a long way to go. Our laws, our politicians and most of our media, reinforce the errors of racism and, there is a groundswell of opinion that this has had an effect.
Great if true. Then, a new set of problems emerge. In Rotherham, we discover, a group of Pakistani men have been operating a paedophile circle, raping and abusing teenage girls whose cries for help were largely ignored by the police and the local council leaders. It appears, there was a political panic on behalf of the authorities, that if they moved against this group of presumably Islamic Pakistanis then they would be accused of racism and incite a race riot. Excuse me but the racism is in the fear of identifying the perpetrators regardless of their race.
Let’s not blame Islam for Al Qaeda or ISIS, nor Judaism for Israel’s bombing of Gaza. Let’s not blame black Americans for standing up for injustice and let’s not blame innocent Pakistani residents in the UK for the crimes of a few sexual monsters. There are offensive people professing to follow all belief systems. We only help them by seeing them as anything other than criminals.