Saturday, 17 May 2014

On Mindless Overreaction.

I see another United Kingdom Independence Party councillor is in trouble over a contentious statement. It seems he wrote in an e-mail that Islam is a ‘totalitarian ideology.’ The enemies of UKIP (of which I would probably count myself one) are naturally dancing about gleefully, indulging in a torrent of largely histrionic condemnation. And the single word they are all using is ‘racist.’ Well, as much as I dislike most of what UKIP stands for, on this occasion I have to come to their defence.

The councillor has a point; his error is that the point is too narrow to be sustainable. The fact is that the fundamentalist wings of all religions, especially the Judaic ones, are totalitarian ideologies. Totalitarianism may be simply defined as any position based on the doctrine that:

You will believe all that we tell you to believe. You will do all that we tell you to do. You will not believe or do anything we forbid. Failure to accord with this directive will attract severe punishment.

As far as Islamic states are concerned, the post I wrote about the woman in Sudan who is under sentence of death for apostasy illustrates the point nicely. Any state which behaves like that – be it to satisfy a dictator, an insecure post-revolutionary regime, a political system in which totalitarianism is endemic, or a religious ideology – is totalitarian. I’ve argued before that the modern liberal alter-establishment is essentially totalitarian, preaching as it is wont to do that failure to adhere to every one of its shibboleths will get you branded a right wing bigot. Even schools in our relatively enlightened societies have traditionally behaved in a totalitarian way, although it seems they’re lightening up a bit these days. Islam has a humanitarian, tolerant side to it just as all religions do..That’s why the councillor’s statement is too narrow to be sustainable.

So what of the word ‘racist?’ It’s the modern, quick-fix buzz word that people use to demonstrate that their opponent is not only wrong, but disgustingly so. It’s become utterly devalued through immersion in the swamp of mindless hysteria, and is fast becoming a meaningless platitude.

I’ve been anti-racist all my life; I’ve had arguments with strangers in the street over the issue. As I understand the term, it’s the process of taking the view that:

You are from a different racial group than me, therefore you are inferior. As such, you are not entitled to the same rights as I am.

What the councillor said may have been narrow and ill-judged (and he may, indeed, be racist by inclination) but there was nothing innately racist about the statement itself.

No comments: