20th June, 2010
I am reading “Londonistan” right now. This is the first time I have read Melanie Phillips’ acclaimed and ground-breaking work. It is very impressive, straight to the point, links to all sources and is in many ways mind-boggling in its flow of conclusions. A perhaps unsurprising conclusion is that decision-makers, courts, security services and the “intelligentsia” in Britain, almost to a man and woman are in a state of determined denial. The video below sums up a little of what Ms Phillips is saying in her book. But it isn’t all even hinted at here. The book is a cogent and eye-opening indictment of several of the complex developments, decisions and events, political and societal that have brought Britain to where it is today. You may disagree with some of her analysis, as I probably will, when I finish reading it. But I am pleased that her extensive thought processes have led her to state words to this effect, at an early stage in the book:
Islamist terrorism is NOT a consequence of the Iraq war. Nor is it to be laid at the feet of Tony Blair.
Buy Melanie Phillips’s highly acclaimed Londonistan here
Londonistan – Melanie Phillips (6m 26s)
Uploaded by sandybeaches1234 — on 26 February 2008.
This interview would have taken place in August/September 2006, the year after the London bombings of July 2005, and just following the thwarted second attempted terror attack, August 2006. (both referred to below.)
Fox interviewer: I think that when a lot of Americans think of Britain and they see Tony Blair’s support for the US and the war in Iraq and they say Boy, thank heavens we have that ally in Europe on our side. But you argue in your book that that may not be really accurate. Why not?
Melanie Phillips: Well, it’s a shameful and shocking thing to report but Tony Blair is pretty well isolated in Britain. He’s isolated even within his own cabinet, he’s isolated within the Labour party, the ruling Labour party and he’s isolated within the population which believes that he is a poodle, in quotes, of George Bush’s America in the war in Iraq in particular. Britain is consumed at the moment by a virulent anti-Americanism and anti-Israel-ism which drives all common sense out of the window, I’m afraid, in public debate. And even though Tony Blair is very much onside about global terror and so on, the war in Iraq, I’m afraid he nevertheless has presided over an administration which continues to refuse to acknowledge the nature of the threat facing Britain. That is to say, clearly people in Britain are aware that Britain faces a very serious terrorist threat. The discovery of the appalling transatlantic plot a few days ago is proof enough of that. But what people in Britain, in our establishment, in our ruling political class, even in the security establishment – the police, the intelligent service – what they refuse to acknowledge is the nature of this terrorism, that it’s based in religion. That it’s based in the Islamic jihad, that what we are facing is a global war of religion. And because they refuse to acknowledge that for all kinds of reasons to do with minority rights and so forth of the kind that you have also in America, because they are refusing to acknowledge what this thing is, they are not taking the action that is needed to combat it. Not enough in my view to stop …
Fox interviewer: A year ago of course you had the successful attacks in London. But this year you have a foiled plot which looks at least from this vantage point as a big success. Are you saying that there is … that Britain is not making any progress on this front and that there is … we’re going to see more and more of this?
Melanie Phillips: Well, it’s certainly made some progress and all credit to our security authorities for foiling this appalling transatlantic plot but at the same time we are told there are literally dozens and dozens of other plots currently underway, currently being investigated by our security forces. And the point I’m making is this, that while Britain’s intelligence and security and policing people have undoubtedly wised up to the need to thwart these terrorist plots before they come to their appalling fruition, and break up terrorist cells, that in my view is not enough. What they have to be doing, what the country should be doing is addressing the ideas, the demented and paranoid ideas that are driving people to these monstrous and inhuman acts. And that is what Britain is not doing it is not saying we are simply not going to tolerate people in the Muslim community being preached and being taught hatred of Jews, hatred of America, hatred of the west, sedition, the desire to overturn the country, we’re not going to put up with that. We’re simply not saying that.
Fox interviewer: Are you saying that they should ban certain kinds of speech for example, they should go into mosques and say you cannot preach certain things. And isn’t that inconsistent with what we’ve come to understand is the Anglo-American tradition of free speech and free religion? You’re saying that those values ought to be put in some kind of jeopardy?
Melanie Phillips: Well, we are putting our whole civilisation in jeopardy unless we address the hatred and the lies that are driving people to mass murder. I think both Britain and America are both very hung up on this freedom of speech issue. Freedom of speech is rightly a very important value in our society but if it is abused so that our society is potentially destroyed that’s not very sensible. In the past we understood this. In the past we understood there were ideas that could kill, there were ideas that no society should be expected to tolerate if they were a direct threat to that society. We don’t tolerate in Britain, we’re supposed not to tolerate for example speech which incites racial hatred because we believe that the damage to individuals and society is so great it outweighs our rightful respect for freedom of speech. Yet when it comes to religious hatred, religiously based hatred of other people, Jews, Americans, the west, we somehow say oh we must back off because it’s religion, because it’s an ethnic minority, we must have nothing to do with this it’s kind of prejudice to interfere with it. Well I think this is madness because we are turning a blind eye to the ideas that are driving people to these monstrous and inhuman acts…
Fox interviewer: What about the analogy that some people draw between the lessons that the British might have learned in their long battle against the Irish Republican Army which used terrorism for years, and they say look we managed to get control over that problem, it was a long fight, and we can use the same methods against this kind of terror.
Melanie Phillips: Well, I think this is a misguided argument because we are facing a very different kind of terror. And this is in fact the British problem. The British do see this problem of the Islamic global jihad as a kind of souped-up Northern Irish problem, but it’s not. Northern Ireland’s terrorism, the IRA, Irish Republican terrorism was terrorism with a particular purpose. It was to achieve a united Ireland. It was not non-negotiable. One could say one should not have negotiated with the IRA but that’s not the point. It was not a non-negotiable position.
The Islamic jihad is a non-negotiable position. The Islamic jihad says we’re in the business of destroying western civilisation, of overturning western societies, of destroying America, of destroying Britain, and turning them into Islamic societies and of murdering large numbers of people to that end. Now that is a non-negotiable position.
And so we cannot possibly, in my view, adapt or adopt the same techniques that we have used in the past towards discrete, particular terrorist programmes which are a very different matter. I think what we are facing with the global islamic jihad is something we’ve never faced before. It’s not war as we understand it between states but it’s certainly not terrorism as we understand it. And this is the problem we face. We haven’t got the language to describe this. We’re facing a new phenomenon.
Fox interviewer: All right Melanie Phillips, thank you for that very provocative warning.
Buy Melanie Phillips’s highly acclaimed Londonistan here. The picture on the cover of the edition I am reading (July 2008) is of the suicide car bomb attack on Glasgow airport, 30th June 2007, a few days after Tony Blair gave way as prime minister to Gordon Brown. The attack failed, but killed one of the bombers.
If you have already read Londonistan, you are likely ready for Ms Phillips’ recently released The World Turned Upside Down
RECENT POSTS AT MELANIE PHILLIPS’ BLOG
- LIGHTS IN THE GATHERING DARKNESS -“The lynching of Israel”
- OWN GOAL – on John Crace at The Guardian reviewing “The World Upside Down”. This is Mr Crace’s effort at satire, if that’s what he calls it. I’d suggest puerile, juvenile floundering. Par for the Guardian course.
- THE ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE OF THE WESTERN LEFT – response to Gaza. Miliband of the David variety also raised my hackles with his one-sided nonsense over the Israeli response to the attacks by the flotilla ship activists on the Mavi Marmara.
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