Thursday, May 10, 2012
Demonisation and Delegitimisation
A few years a go a friend of mine, a Labour counsellor for Harrow, was discussing with me my forthcoming trip to Israel. He made an anti-Israel statement and by responding I fell into his trap. That was my error. I call it an error because unfortunately those that deny Israel the rights they give to everyone else are incapable of seeing the racism inherent within their own arguments. Therefore, any reasonable response by me was not only an act of futility; it was an act of incitement by me. I should have just walked away.
I think we all of us believes in democracy but not every-one of us believes in free speech. When a discussion is labelled an act of incitement simply because any response agitates the listener it is time to fear. Fear and the absence of equal access to free speech is the start of fascism.
Intolerance is a staple of the political bigot’s diet – indifference to the facts is the meat and two vegetables of Israel’s enemies.
My friend furiously spat out the statement that one mans’ history is another mans’ mythology. The way he violently spewed out his response startled me but it was also intended as an act of intimidation whose intent it was to foreclose any further debate.
Edward Said was a Lebanese/US - Palestine born philosopher at Columbia University. He worshipped at the alter of pan-Arab imperialism – he had no qualms resoundingly condemning Western Colonialism while celebrating Arab Colonialism and he had no issue with the Arab aggression which continues to this day at the expense of its indigenous non-Arab and original inhabitants. Edward Said was the founding father of Orientalism – it has been fashionable since the 1970’s and while it rejects Western imperialism it is reliant on the Identity Politics of non-Western players to demonise the influence of Western thought or action outside of the West. And it refuses to judge them. He mainstreamed the idea that history is the servant to the cause which till he argued for it, was a propaganda device favoured by the Far Left. Put another way, history is no more than a storyline and truth an inconvenient impediment which may be discarded at will. If all history is bunk (as Henry Ford said) then the truth is truly hostage to the terrorist.
So how do we combat delegitimisation and demonization? I want to make it clear that we are currently playing by our enemy’s rules and any narrative response must therefore lead to our defeat. If we are to answer the question effectively it must be appreciated that there will be no benefit to trying to convert the agenda driven bigot. They aren’t listening and they don’t want to hear. Of greater importance is to gain the publics attention. As important, we want to deny them access to the bigots’ pre-conceived prejudices.
If we accept the basic premise then it becomes a lot easier to answer the question. You do not address your attention to the denier. We will not convert the intelligent idiot. A propaganda war is a war by any other means – it is disinformation, it is intimidation; it utilises physical violence such as when the East London Muslim university lecturer attacked the photographer; and it is vandalism, threats of violence and the creation of a climate of fear.
I am not advocating the same tactics, but if we honestly believe that our rights are being violated at every opportunity then it is time we took the fight to our enemies. They are not adversaries or protagonists, or any other woolly euphemism we may prefer. They are our enemy and if we become casualties of their war – they will blame us, their victims, for it.
So again, how do we fight demonization and delegitimization? That depends on the identity of our interlocutor.
If it is the Muslim block or their Left wing activist acolytes, we need to use the same placards they use to incite others against us, against them. Islamism is a racist ideology, it is colonialist and genocidal. There is no love or peace in their theology and the Left has embraced this hatred because it has always been comfortable with a story that is not complicated by complexity or nuance. The appropriate Koranic texts should be displayed in response to every act from the other side. Our slogans must be as familiar to the general public as theirs are to us.
This is essentially an agitprop exercise. We must have an explicit message. Repetition is a staple of the propagandist’s arsenal. But as important is to stop addressing our enemy’s claims – only then will they be forced to respond to our narrative attack on them. We are not interested in our enemy, only in the onlooker. Remember they hate us so why do we try to gain their affection?
There are people who say that suffering ennobles; that those who have suffered should be more honourable, purer, better, kinder, more tolerant than those who have not. It is a fine idea but it is also nonsense. Suffering does not ennoble us. It makes us bitter, twisted and it torments us. I have never heard it said that the former Afro-American slaves must uniquely turn the other cheek and to do so would rightly be condemned as racist. But Jews who suffered persecution and genocide are told to have trust and be noble, to suffer in silence and to turn the other cheek. And no one cries ‘outrageous,’ ‘RACIST.’
Years ago in the flagship Saudi Mosque in Regents Park the mosques’ elders projected an image onto the massive back-wall, of Ariel Sharon’s head as it slowly underwent metamorphosis into a pigs' head. The animal metaphor, of the monkey, the pig or the dog as an allegory for the despised and worthless adversary is by intent, deeply offensive. It is central to the anti-Christian and anti-Jewish imagery in Koranic literature. Ridicule is an essential component of dehumanization that raises Islam and Muslim civilisation above the dhimmi (the inferior infidel). There is not a single reason to not turn it back on them. The demonic visage of Mahmud Achmadinijad (add a couple of horns) should be everywhere displayed. Recent Iranian history justifies the comparison to Hitler or perhaps Rasputin. A few placards showing people hanging from cranes, won’t make for regime change but will be a reminder of the difference between us and them. And when it is distilled to its purest point the differences are what define us and what this conflict is all about. It is a simple matter of choice, between those that (we are frequently reminded) celebrate death, (because it brings them nearer to their god and their prophet) and those of us taught to live life in this world as if there was no next world.
The entire Arab world save perhaps Egypt and Iran are the random creation of Western Colonialism. I repeat: the Arab world is no more than the artificial creation of western imperialism fostered by the greed of its Arab leaders. Self-determination was perhaps, never intended to be unique to the Arab nations and they can be deconstructed to rid us of the artificial racist entities that they represent. The Arab nation is hegemonic, they believe in the inherent superiority of the Arab over all other people, everywhere. Muhammad / Allah chose for them to be his vehicle for the conquest of human history and our physical subjugation. They have suppressed, discriminated against and ethnically cleansed every non-Arab people that they have encountered.
People have selective memories. They like to imagine that by sacrificing us they will be ignored or that at least they will share in the spoils of victory, and for nations, guarantee an uninterrupted oil supply. After the Madrid bombing in 2004 when al-Qaeda murdered 200 people and injured 1,000 others Osama bin-Laden told us here, living in Europe that we could immunize the continent against further terror if we returned the Iberian Peninsula to Islamic control. All we needed do was to deliver Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar into Muslim hands, a mere 60 million souls sacrificed to an Islamic dream. At the heart of this acquisitive Islamic fundamentalism is the concept of colonization and cultural transfer. Today we would summarise it as “What is mine is mine and what is yours is also mine” but Islam adds the following: “Once we seize it, it remains our patrimony for ever.”
I do not think I am better than anyone else, my religion does not impose on me a duty of taking my cause unto others; my choseness imposes demands on me but does not make me nor imply superiority over any one else. I resent the bigots’ accusations that render me guilty of every act they themselves have committed against me.
Our narrative and the vanished narrative of the other persecuted non-Arab players, bruised and battered by conflict with imperialist Turkey, racist Iraq, theocratic Iran, Ba’athist Syria, fundamentalist Egypt (and to every Arab nation we could add a description that would be no less aspirational in their desire to dominate and destroy) can only be heard if we express our outrage publicly at every opportunity. There is much to demonise in the aims and ideology of our enemies.
The Kurds and the Armenians are the perfect Delegitimization weapon - Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Arab world: Chaldeans (Assyrians), Copts, Greeks, Berbers and Baha’i – the too long list of the murdered and the butchered, the humiliated and the expelled, the discarded people of history – it is propaganda that the Muslim world denies with not a moment of shame. We must rewrite the rules of engagement.
Only then will the people want to listen, only then will they hear us.