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1st August, 2020

In his much demonised speech in 1968 where he referred to ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood’ Enoch Powell warned of future trouble being stored up by allowing excessive immigration. In recent times a quantity of dismemberment and butchery has been visited on the UK by Muslim terrorists. Notably, three attacks, the one on Fishmongers' Hall at one end of London Bridge, the one at Borough Market at the other end, and the one on Westminster Bridge took place in close proximity to the River Thames. In one case a victim was callously tossed into the river by being struck by a car. One wonders if the river foamed with her blood. Given this and the Pakistani grooming gangs who raped and even killed large numbers of vulnerable white girls considered, as female infidels, to be second class citizens it could be argued, perhaps, that Powell had a point. Let’s wind back a little. Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslim communities are not in the UK by accident. They are here as a direct result of the British Empire ruling India. When partition came in 1947 and there was grizzly bloodshed between Hindus and minority Muslims the latter fled centrifugally to East and West Pakistan and to Britain. Given the part we played as a cause it was probably right to receive some Pakistanis.

However, it created a problem that was well illustrated in a recent 30 year anniversary programme about the reaction to Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses in 1989. The programme makers interviewed two Imams who had participated in the public burning of the book in Bradford. One of them proudly boasted to the effect that ‘they’ want us to integrate but they don’t realise that we belong to a nation and that we will never integrate. This illustrates nicely a problem that can be variously described. Muslims, almost by definition, owe primary allegiance to the nation of Islam (and this is literal as, in its DNA, Islam militates – an interesting word - towards political and legal self-determination) over any allegiance to any geographical or cultural nation they inhabit. Thus they have divided loyalties and what Douglas Murray described, in talking about Shamima Begum as a tendency to play home and away while always wanting the benefits of being on the home team. Further to this one could say that this situation creates a kind of psychological schizophrenia in children growing up in Muslim households in Great Britain. The Conservative reaction to the Begum dilemma can be characterised by those of the Home Secretary at the time, the Muslim, Sajid Javid and of Jacob Rees-Mogg. Javid, perhaps afraid of seeming to appease Muslims, over-compensated by stripping Begum of her citizenship because of pragmatic national security concerns. This left his hasty action open to legal challenge as it appeared to render her stateless. Her possible claim to Bangladeshi citizenship by descent was possibly vitiated by her never having visited the country or owned a passport and by the refusal of Bangladesh to acknowledge her and its insistence that if she did come to the country she’d be tried for a capital crime. Indeed Lord Flaux has just ruled, against mere expediency, that she should come to the UK because ‘Fairness and justice must, on the facts of this case, outweigh the national security concerns.’ Rees-Mogg emphasised British responsibility for her given that she was, technically, a groomed 15 year-old minor when she departed and that we should not disown our problems by dumping them on other poorer nations. I sympathise with Rees-Mogg’s argument. Islam is a medievally literal religion in line with purely Old Testament thinking. We distinguish ourselves from it and, perhaps, make ourselves superior to it by the refined addition of enlightened New Testament liberalism. This being the case, it could be argued that, if we have a much admired  reputation for being nuanced, humane and legally disinterested, abandoning that reputation at the first skirmish might not be the best way to protect our reputation for being nuanced and humane. To protect civilisation one has to be it.

Also, by their nature, legal regimes and judiciaries define themselves by operating in a philosophical sphere remote from the grubby world of political expediencies. It is rightly viewed as a disaster if they are dragged into being merely instrumental within it. If it is felt that proactively left-wing judges have infiltrated the remedy is not to infiltrate with right-wing judges who will do your bidding. It is to entirely vanquish judges who are allowing political prejudice to influence their judgements. If you compromise blind-folded and independent justice you might as well remove it entire and resort to more primitive ways of resolving disputes.

When Muslims first settled the nettle of their split allegiances was not grasped. Instead successive governments took the attractive and apparently virtuous line of least resistance. This consisted in pretending that the tolerant universalism of the Liberal Enlightenment had blossomed into the admirable bloom of a multi-culturalism that, in reality, just fudged the issue because of the special nature of Islam. The direct result of this failure to address the schizophrenia it created in the specific case of Muslim (rather than Sikh or Hindu) British children resulted in Shamima Begum. She is our creation; our Frankenstein’s monster. In literal terms she has witnessed (and possibly even participated in) severed heads in bins, suicide bombers and carnage of limbs. From the age of 15 she has borne three babies who have died. I would imagine that the psychological simulacrum of all of this is a similar carnage of sewn together limbs. Of course, minors are held legally responsible as moral agents and are rightly punished by our system as minors. I am not suggesting that this practice is suspended in her case. Her behaviour has been wicked which means she should face the music in penal terms. However, can one simply angrily expel from our system someone in whose creation we played a part and who is the product and embodiment of our negligence? Are we not compelled to make the leap of imaginative sympathy required to understand the conflicted nature of Muslim children we allow to grow up in militant families so that they become timebombs in our society? Can we wash our hands entirely and comfortably? We are, in effect, nationally, in loco parentis to all children. It is notable how the state has a duty to step in and removes innocent children when parents are abusive in other ways. As parents we should punish errant children but not abandon them. All parents and teachers happily make a division between the sin and the sinner in normal life and, again, this is the humane thing to do for which we are well known. This distinction continues with adults in civilised countries in that we punish adult prisoners but attempt to maintain standards in how we keep them and at least offer them the possibility of rehabilitation. If a child errs it is a split responsibility. The child is punished and one looks to the parents.

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