The comedian Jason Manford once joked that English Southerners and English Northerners only come together in the presence of someone ‘more’ foreign, like a Scot. The two usually opposed characters become in this situation, ‘English’, and proudly so, with all differences suspended. In the face of a French person, all three (the Scot, the Northerner and the Southerner) join together as ‘British’. In the face of an American, all four become ‘European’ etc…. Ultimately, Manford mused, the only way in which humanity could unite given these principles is after an Alien invasion, in which all would be become proudly ‘human’.
The Islamist threat is as close as we may get to that happy situation. Islam is not a race, or a nation, or anything with irreversible physical characteristics. It is something maintained by choice. Islamism, even more so, is entirely optional and can be abandoned at any time. Consequently, opposition to Islamisation attracts an extremely diverse community of peoples, creeds and colours. No one type predominates. All human varieties are banded together in defence of something universal, good and decent: the principle of liberty.
Islamophobia consequently can be (and is) a force for human solidarity.
The Islamists have done much of the work for us. From the dawn of this century, every culture of note has been warred upon.
America was attacked with hijackings. Britain was attacked with subway bombings. Spain was hit by train bombings. India was hit by mass-shootings. Israeli cafes were blown apart. Russian children were massacred inside their own school.
And on and on, the list could go.
Islamophobia, long portrayed as a new Anti-Semitism (with which it bears no resemblance), could turn out to be the new energy globalisation requires to complete itself. By ‘globalisation’, I do not mean the regime of mass-immigration, unregulated banks and rampant pollution rightly protested the world over, but rather the much better (and older) idea of a global sense of solidarity and understanding.
Multiculturalism in-and-of itself need not be a life-threatening disease for Europe. Most people can live with Sikh, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist immigration within reason. As long as the numbers stay within reasonable constraints and the areas immigrants inhabit remain open and safe for the natives to live in and visit, who could object?
Human solidarity, humanism, worldliness – whatever you want to call it, was an early victim of Islamism. The Muslims tricked us into believing that it was an either/or choice between liberalism with Islamisation, or fascism without it.
This is dirty lie, and one worth putting well below ground.
Goethe once talked about the ‘evil which cannot help doing good’. Islamophobia, despite its often cruel intensity forms a good example of this. For all the innocent victims of anti-Muslim fury, there are hundreds of diverse communities drawn tightly together by it who would otherwise not have been.
I remember a year ago, when Tommy Robinson attended a Sikh-EDL demonstration wearing a traditional Sikh head-dress, he was widely ridiculed, but surely there is much in this to be warmed by. Before the EDL, Robinson was a mere hooligan, drunkenly fighting rival football fans on Saturday afternoons. Now, he is trying to be a catalyst for something bigger than himself and inspiring others to do the same.
Islamophobia has fertilised an old ethic, an old ideal, at a crucial time in World-History. It may be morally ironic and it may have its imperfections but the cause of human solidarity has a new, unlikely champion, and that’s no bad thing.