Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Monday, November 14, 2005
Internment and alternatives - Patrick Crozier responds.
My central point was that internment is essential when dealing with terrorist groups who can find refuge in unassimilated populations such as the Ulster Irish or (as may turn out to be the case) British Muslims. In the case of Ulster the rule seems clear enough; if you use internment (resolutely) you win: if you don’t you lose.
Read the whole thing. No one could say that Patrick allows conventional wisdom to dictate his thought. The proposal he makes later in his post reminds me of those divorces one hears of where one partner screams, "I want a divorce!" as an opening salvo before presenting a list of demands and then is taken aback when the other says, "Righty-ho." As such it has a certain immediate appeal. However I see difficulties. What about the non-Muslim population of those areas? What about the assimilated Muslim population, who would be put under the most frightful pressure? Once these enclaves were established how would their borders grow or shrink? The prospect of moving the borders by intimidation might appeal to both those inside and out.

It's not going to happen. However there is something about this idea that could be used in dilute form: obliging people to choose, to declare where they stood.

For the last few decades the PC ethos has meant that there was no social penalty for British Muslims (and others) if they loudly announced their disloyalty. Meanwhile any member of an ethnic minority who said he was British and proud of it was mocked as a naive fool in the Guardian or Independent or scorned as a sellout in the ethnic press. In this atmosphere Hamza and those like him thrived. The thing that rankled most was that at the very same time there were severe social penalties for anyone who made the slightest suggestion that any British Muslims were less than whole-hearted in their patriotism.

I approve of the introduction of citizenship ceremonies and oaths, even if the written test is a load of statist gibberish, as Michael Jennings (who is to take it soon) observed. People who have declared their loyalty tend to feel more of it. Of course these ceremonies only affect new citizens. However seeing new citizens take them is likely to have a good effect on some of our shakier old citizens, especially if the new citizens are the old citizens' relatives.

The difficulty arises when I ask myself exactly what level of obligation I had in mind when I spoke of "obliging people to choose, to declare where they stood." A structure that explicitly differentiated between Muslims and non-Muslims would be an outrage. I don't care if it has a differential effect on Muslims; assuming it was the right effect that would be the system doing its job. After the London bombs there is no point denying that a cloud of suspicion hangs over British Muslims at present. They would be the first beneficiaries of a system that dispersed the cloud. Alas, in this metaphor, cloud-dispersing and cloud-generating machines come in boxes that are hard to tell apart.

ADDED LATER: Drat. Re-reading this I can see it sounds too much like I'm advocating compulsory pro-government rallies or something. Not what I meant. I don't really know exactly what sort of loyalty-inducing structures I'm looking for, but they would come in two types or families. One would simply be increased social unacceptability for extreme anti-patriotism.

The other type of measure would work in a way akin to the way that sales of council houses moved the political centre. People who had bought their council house damn well were not going to vote for anyone who proposed to take it away from them. Or the way (effective politics, much as I loathe it) that the growth of the public sector has created a new class of public employees who will not vote for anyone who proposes to shrink the state. Although in this context I'm not talking about changing the way people vote, that is the sort of mechanism that might work: creating a constituency of self-declared Muslim pluralists.

YET ANOTHER ADDITION: ... and/or making it easier, safer and more beneficial for the existing Muslim pluralists to self-declare.

Scroll up to see some more optimistic thoughts about Muslims in Britain, courtesy of a link to Albion's Seedlings.