Proposals being considered by the government “would widen the definition of extremists to those who hold views that clash with what the government defines as shared British values“. As part of a new “counter-terrorism strategy” the government would consider the following sufficient conditions for X-tremism:
- Belief in armed resistance (or ‘jihad’), anywhere in the world.
- Failure to condemn the killing of British soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Since my readings of the bones have in the past indicated not just an occasional support for armed resistance, but almost a general fondness for it in principle, and have never come anywhere near condemning the killing of soldiers in war, I suppose I am clearly an Islamic Extremist.
This amounts to saying that in any conflict in the world that the government decides to take a stance on, if you support the other side, you are ipso facto ‘extreme’. Obviously you’re not an extemist simply in virtue of, say, supporting armed occupation anywhere in the world, or failing to condemn the aerial massacre of non-British civilians in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Of course, the focus of all this is on Islamists. But we know that’s utter bollocks. Every piece of anti-terrorism legislation that’s been produced, supposedly to combat Islamists who wanted to kill civilians, has been used against others – such as against anarchists and environmentalists and animal rights-ists who have sought to damage property.
A final note on this idea of a “hate-filled ideology”. I don’t see anything wrong with a hate-filled ideology. Hatred of some things is appropriate; so is love, so is anger. It’s generally only people in power who have the luxury of ordering violent repression without being emotionally affected by it. Ernesto Guevara said, famously, “the true revolutionary is motivated by feelings of great love”, but also that they must become at times “a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate”. You might have various degrees of beef with Guevara, but I think it’s a useful point to bear in mind: any realistic appraisal of the world will prompt extreme feelings of all sorts. The important thing is not to repress or destroy your hatred – it’s to direct it onto the right targets, rather than onto bystanders, scapegoats, or rivals.