Pure Racism: UKIP’s “Integration” Agenda

By Jason Michael

UKIP has unveiled a policy statement on integration in the United Kingdom, a document that is unparalleled in its flagrant Islamophobic and racist rhetoric in modern British politics. This is where the lurch to the right in the UK is taking us.

Integration is a deeply problematic concept for any multicultural society. It implies, and is often used by policymakers to force, the assimilation of minority cultures into “our” – or the dominant or hegemonic – culture. Defenders of integration will argue, as they do, that multiculturalism – the racial, religious, ethnic and cultural expression of difference – is intrinsically bad for Britain, for our way of life; suggesting that it poses a challenge to our values, and may even pose a threat to our national security. It does nothing of the sort. This insistence on cultural assimilation is nothing more than a slightly more nuanced form of racism and discrimination.

It is important to recognise that when the proponents of this integration use the term “multicultural,” they are referring only to the culture of non-white foreign communities. UKIP’s Integration Agenda, launched earlier today, could not make this clearer. Germany, France, and the United States, for example, have their own distinct national and regional cultures, but no one demands that German, French, and US citizens living in the United Kingdom compromise their cultural values to accommodate us. There is no expectation that people from white majority nations assimilate to our way of life and our social and cultural values. Their whiteness gives them a free pass.

This document also, and more interestingly, ignores the fact that the UK is – by definition – multicultural. As its name suggests, the United Kingdom is a composite state polity, a political union of nations as opposed to being itself a nation. Each of its component parts is home to distinct ethnic and national cultures and local and regional cultural variations – all of which are host to other minority communities.

Moreover, integration – as a cure for “dangerous” multiculturalism does not work. Research into antisemitism in Europe and North America has shown that assimilation actually aggravates racism. Where people have expressed anti-Semitic opinions, those opinions are more intense when they are directed towards Jews who “look and act like us.” Ask an Islamophobic racist who he or she hates the most – a Muslim in “traditional” Islamic attire, speaking Arabic, or a well-paid religious Muslim professional speaking with an educated British accent?

The problem is not difference or diversity. The problem – as it has always been – is racism, and racists will be racist no matter how the target of their hatred dresses or speaks. It is that simple.


UKIP Leader Paul Nuttall

Today Paul Nuttall, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, with his deputy Peter Whittle, UKIP’s Education spokesperson David Kurten, and its Women’s and Equality spokesperson Margot Parker, launched his party’s “Integration Agenda” in London. This document – 297 words of pure unmitigated racist bile – singles out only the British Muslim communities; claiming that it “addresses a wide range of cultural issues that have worked against communities coming together.” We shall briefly examine each of its eight paragraphs below.

Pass a law against the wearing of face coverings in public places. Face coverings are a deliberate barrier to integration and, in many contexts, a security risk too. The time has come to outlaw them. People should show their face in a public place.

No fear, this is not the proposal of a law against motorcycle helmets, wedding veils, or sun glasses. This is about religious face coverings – specifically the niqāb worn by a tiny minority of Muslim women in the UK. Like everything else in this rancid policy proposal, it is thinly veiled racism – intended to target Muslim women.

Abolish postal voting on demand and return to a higher threshold of demonstrable need before a postal vote is granted. Postal votes on demand have led to a boom in electoral fraud and vote-stealing, especially among minority communities.

Only minority communities, according to UKIP, are guilty of electoral fraud. Again we find that this is a pointed reference to Muslim communities – namely the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities accused of defrauding the postal voting system by Eric Pickles in 2016. While such a claim does need to be investigated by the authorities, as all electoral fraud should, it is far from representative of how the overwhelming majority of British Muslims behave during elections. Yet it has become a trope of Islamophobic racist ill-opinion in far-right discourse across the UK, and so has been taken up by UKIP in its appeal to the racist sentiment of its supporters.

Explicitly ban sharia – which is intended as a rival legal system and which undermines women’s rights – from being applied in the UK and establish a legal commission to draw up proposals to disband sharia courts.

Okay. In no sense is Islamic sharia law a “rival legal system” to British law. Sharia is a customary religious law derived from the Quran and the Hadith, and as such it is not entirely dissimilar to the Jewish religious law of halakha and Christian canon law, and its courts not unlike the Jewish beth din or a Christian ecclesiastical court.

Yes, law derived from the Quran – an ancient religious text – can be pretty barbaric, but, as is the case in Judaism and Christianity with their laws derived from a 2,500 year old religious text, reason and modernity trump strict adherence to the letter of the law. Just as it is in Christianity and Judaism, interpretation is what it’s all about, but – playing on people’s ignorance of Islamic theology and practice – UKIP is again whipping up racist opinion.

Implement school-based medical checks on girls from groups at high risk of suffering FGM. These should take place annually and whenever they return from trips overseas.

Mr Nuttall, concerned as he is for the wellbeing of little Muslim girls, would like to see their vaginas every time they have wandered out of his inspectorial sight. Female genital mutilation (FGM) or female circumcision is a custom stemming from pre-Islamic central-north Africa and – while it is not mentioned in either the Bible or the Quran – has been practiced by some African and Middle Eastern Christian, Muslim, and Jewish groups. In the main all three religions have condemned the practice, with the Islamic al-Azhar Supreme Council in Cairo ruling in 2007 that the practice has “no basis in core Islamic law or any of its partial provisions.”

That’s not good enough for Paul Nuttall, because – obviously – what Muslims do and say in the absence of good white men has to be inspected. Like little girls’ nether regions. In 1997 the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, and UNFPA defined FGM as the “partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” In this respect it is no different to MGM or male circumcision, still practiced by both Muslims and Jews – even in the UK. One gets the impression that had this practice been abandoned by Judaism – a far more well-established and, in some places, well-connected, minority community – Paul Nuttall would be down on this too.

Of course FGM is abhorrent – like MGM – and should be challenged by the law. But UKIP’s reasons for being on this bandwagon have precious little to do with the health and wellbeing of girls and women, and everything to do with finding yet another excuse to single out and victimise Muslims.

Make failure to report an instance of FGM by someone who has knowledge that it has taken place a criminal offence itself. The CPS to operate under a presumption of prosecution of any parent whose daughter has undergone FGM.

See above.

In cases where the victims of grooming gangs are of a different racial or religious group than the offenders, the CPS should cite this as an aggravating feature of the offence when prosecuting, opening the way to a longer sentence.

“Paki Grooming Gangs,” à la the coverage of a series of arrests of Pakistani men in Bradford in 2012 by the far-right’s favourite online forum Vanguard News Network, is another favourite trope in the mythological canon of racism in the UK. Making a reference to this incident is a real vote winner for UKIP, but it bears no resemblance to the morality of most Muslims in Britain or anywhere else. But this is Brexit Britain – the right-wing media has made it impossible for a great many people to differentiate Islam from child rape and predatory grooming. Nuttall is merely capitalising on another moral panic surrounding a tiny criminal element. It just so happens that the bad guys in this case were Muslims.

Knowing what we know of the culture of silence in the BBC pertaining to the behaviour of Jimmy Savile – where even Esther Rantzen knew what he was doing and said nothing – we have to ask why UKIP hasn’t asked that such grooming in contexts where the perpetrators belong to a different social class from their victims or who are media celebrities also be considered “an aggravating feature of the offence.” We know why – they’re not Muslims.

Immediate closure of schools where there is evidence of Islamist ideology being taught or imposed on children. A moratorium on new Islamic faith schools until substantial progress has been demonstrated in integrating Muslims into mainstream British society.

Muslims in the UK make up a meagre 4.4% of the population, but somehow it is Muslim faith schools and Muslim children that we should be most concerned about. Nuttall isn’t at all worried about the millions of other faith schools teaching children that it is a sin to be homosexual, that God made the world in six days, or that the world will soon be ending when the Jewish people take back their land in Palestine. There are far more biblical fundamentalist Christian faith schools in the UK, and what they are teaching their children is dangerous and has real world, geopolitical consequences. But they are white, or at least they’re not Muslim. UKIP isn’t interested in them.

Fundamentalism, fanaticism, and extremism exist in all religions, but this is only a tiny percentage of the religious expression of Islam and Christianity in Britain. Where it does exist, yes, we must have safeguards and laws in place. But by singling out Muslim schools UKIP is deliberately playing on the popular fears of Islam that have been manufactured by the British tabloid media. It is all directed to the ends of racism and intolerance.

CPS and police to be instructed to treat a so-called “honour” dimension of any act of violence as an aggravating factor, leading to it being accorded a higher priority for investigation and prosecution and not a lower one.

“Honour killings” and acts of violence with an “honour” dimension are only ever committed by Muslims and dark skinned people, have you noticed that? Good Christian white men are only ever charged and convicted of domestic violence in which they assault and sometimes kill their spouses or female relatives. “Honour” sounds that little bit more savage – so that’s what brown and Muslim men do. But, in reality, these are the same things, and – regardless of the term UKIP is using – we should all be in favour of protecting women and girls from abusive people; people like Paul Nuttall who want to peek beneath their underwear and people like Nigel Farage who has been reported to have given his wife a good ol’ British thrashing on a few occasions.

UKIP’s new policy agenda is nothing short of Islamophobic racism and an incitement to violence; cynically pointing out spurious charges against obscure Islamic teachings, and against individual and small groups of Muslims to create a general impression of the faith – and Muslim communities – as dangerous.


UKIP’s Paul Nuttall Wants Burka Ban | Good Morning Britain

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Theresa May’s Easter Message

By Jason Michael

At a time when the eyes of the world are on Britain, at a time when those in charge should be doing everything in their power to look as though they are in control, Theresa May gets into a tizzy about an Easter egg hunt. How did it ever get this bad?

Prime Minister Theresa May is a vicar’s daughter and we all know – in the Church of England – that more than qualifies one to preach sermons on the importance of Easter while off selling weapons to one of the world’s greatest human rights violators. Where can we begin to get our heads around the furore that has broken around the National Trust dropping the word “Easter” from its egg hunt poster – especially when it turns out it is the biggest word on the poster? The Prime Minister’s outrage has about as much to do with a poster campaign as chocolate eggs have to do with Easter.

No one remembers the scene in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ where, after being flogged down to rashers by a Roman, Jesus hurriedly opened up his Cadbury egg and stole a cheeky nibble before the end of Lent. No one remembers this bit in the film because it wasn’t in the film. It isn’t even in the book. Admittedly, eggs are a nice touch for an Easter tradition – chocolate eggs even more so – but they have squat to do with the life, death, and resurrection of a man in Palestine two thousand years ago. But when someone trolls the Archbishop of York, convincing him someone has pinched Easter from the egg hunt, England is up in arms.

I am one of those Christians who still says his prayer and reads his Bible. Every year I remember the Passion through Holy Week and light the wee bonfire at the Easter vigil. These things are important to me. So too is chocolate, mind you. But nothing of this has anything to do with Christianity or with a National Trust Easter egg hunt. It is all to do with Brexit – yes, Brexit – and what Theresa May is helping Britain to become. Little England’s idea of self-determination is all wrapped up in its fantasies of reclaiming its British identity and British values; coded xenophobia for reasserting white British supremacy over and against Europe and the immigrants they hate so much.

None of this is any different from the carry on we see in the fly-over states of the US with people getting upset over seasonal Starbucks cup designs and nativity scenes being removed from public spaces. It has nothing to do with religion whatsoever. This is a theatre of the great white culture war. Jesus has been appropriated in all of this is a symbol – a nationalistic and cultural symbol of white privilege and power, the very things the white majority in Brexit Britain and Tea Party America believe to be under threat from not-so-white outsiders.

The news flash here is that Jesus of Nazareth is more likely to have resembled Osama bin Laden than he was Theresa May’s old man. Okay, he never wore a bullet belt, carried an assault rifle, and gave orders to have people and things blown up. But, then, neither did he have a daughter who grew up to profess her Christian faith while on an arms industry junket to Saudi Arabia – a country that imprisons, tortures, and executes Christians, funds people like Osama bin Laden, and uses British munitions to murder innocent civilians in neighbouring Yemen.

Theresa May’s Christianity is paper thin. So thin and hypocritical, in fact, it makes the baby Jesus cry. She headed up the department that sent vans around London boroughs sided with billboards telling illegal immigrants to go home. What Christian can see another human being – made in the image and likeness of God – as “illegal?” Theresa May knows more than most how this populist rhetoric appeals to the new British values lobby – people who haven’t darkened the door of a church their entire lives – and how symbols like Easter can be used to great effect against victim communities.

Since religion has been brought into this, and since my own Christianity has been brought into this, I’ll say this of Theresa: There is much in the tradition of my faith I have rejected. I don’t believe the Bible is a scientific manual of how the world was created, and the whole “God is love (1 John 4:8)” thing led me to ditch ideas like hell and purgatory a long time ago. But the more I come to understand people like Theresa May, her Brexiteers, and the thugs they inspire, the more I truly wish I had the faith to believe in a place like hell – a molten, fiery abyss to where the hand of eternal justice will consign those who visit real suffering and misery upon the heads of the innocent.


Theresa May outraged at the word ‘Easter’ being dropped from eggs!

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Stephen Daisley: Scotland’s Bampot Sage

By Jason Michael

When the unionist outriders of Scotland are out of ideas they invariably return to the same vomit – religion. Well hasn’t Steve run clean out of ideas and gone for the backup, stirring up all religious tensions because Britain is more precious than peace.

Even if only for reasons of mental hygiene, writers like the Daily Mail’s Stephen Daisley should be avoided like the plague. The man is an incorrigible bam. Evading his crap has nothing to do with him being a diehard unionist; most fanatical yoon hacks make for some pretty entertaining reading. No, the reason that Daisley is to be treated like the literary equivalent of an irate skunk is that he – as his employment at the Mail should suggest – has absolutely no scruples. As an extremist true believer in the glories of the Union he is prepared and willing to use any and all weapons at his disposal to forge that ever illusive positive case for Britain.

Usually this blog is quite content to let him be. Most of his readers can see through is ideologically driven nonsense. But every so often he crosses the line; picking up and instrumentalising certain topics that, considering the history and social makeup of Scotland, should be banned by a UN Convention. This week the rabid defender of Israeli war crimes and human rights violations, Journo Stephen, has found Catholicism – and the Catholic Herald has even given him some column inches to muck about with his new toy.


Stephen Daisley on Scottish Catholics, Nationalism, and filthy Republicanism.

We remember when last year another great numpty of the Scottish unionist press, David Torrance, concocted his “Ulsterisation of Scotland.” Dragging the bitter feuds of old religious sectarianism and bigotry into the Scottish argument is nothing new. These people will do whatever it takes to safeguard the Union, even if that means bringing our country to its knees in a decades-long factionalised and violent conflict like that in Northern Ireland. And this is exactly where Daisley has returned. He has cunningly identified – read: imagined – Scotland’s Catholics as the stronghold of nationalism. He might be right in saying that 56 per cent of Catholics backed independence in 2014 and that only 40 per cent of Protestants did the same, but Catholics are no more than 16 per cent of the population – hardly a freaking stronghold.

Details, however, don’t matter in Daisley’s fantasy of a popish plot. Willing as ever to stir up a hornet’s nest, the clown has barged in there – all guns blazing. You Catholics, he explains, don’t understand your own religion, before going on to describe how the Catholics of Scotland should get back in their little box – just like “Mass-going, Celtic-daft Jim Murphy” – and start doing what their Church tells them to do. The Catholic Church, according to this nugget, is under threat from rampant Scottish nationalism; the cult of Nicola Sturgeon challenges the authority of the Pope and the dogma of the SNP undermines the teaching authority of the Church of Rome.

What is this, Steve, the sixteenth century? Less than a quarter of Catholics in Scotland, says the county’s Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference, even attend Mass. Unionists may prefer the Catholics of Scotland to shimmy back into the chapel and do what they are told by their clergy and bishops. Right now that would suit Daisley’s purposes because, sure, isn’t the SNP really just all about abortion and gay rights? Stephen Daisley, a spanner who routinely weaponises religion when it comes to defending poor little Israel, should maybe crack a book and learn something about Catholicism.

Since the Second Vatican Council and from the promulgation of Humane Vitae in particular Catholics, while largely continuing to identify with their cultural and religious roots, have voted with their feet when it comes to the harder edges of Catholic social and moral teaching. Even in West Belfast – a true Catholic stronghold if he’s looking for one – the chemist shops do a roaring trade in condoms of many colours. His buffoonery doesn’t stop at this. He sets in about the old divide, that subtle hairline fracture that runs between Scots Catholics – the old Scots Catholics and the new Scots Catholics who came from Ireland donkey’s years ago.

Quoting Composer James MacMillan – like composers are experts in the social dynamics of minority groups in small European countries – he writes, “The Catholic community in the west of Scotland still has a residue of the Irish republicanism of earlier generations.” Read that again, “a residue!” What he’s actually saying is that the Catholics of Glasgow are filth; filthy with the stain of republicanism. That’s what MacMillan is saying. Daisley seems to think all Catholics are – because they are rotten to the core with nationalism.

Throughout his dirty little article he weaves in delicious wee codes for those who understand them, dog whistles to sectarianism and inter-catholic division. Then he walks off and has the neck to blast us in the independence campaign as “divisive nationalists.” Scotland’s independence movement has been a trailblazer in bringing all Scots together. On this side of the national discussion religion and race don’t matter. We have our arms open to Rangers and Celtic fans alike. We don’t even mind Kilmarnock supporters for God’s sake. This is a movement for all people who call Scotland home, and we can do without this narrow, bigoted, and hateful crap from Daisley.


Thoughts on Sectarianism in Scotland

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Israel’s Claim on Jewish People

By Jason Michael

Being Jewish is not the same as being Israeli or even pro-Israel, but this is a line the State of Israel has always worked hard to blur. Israel’s nationalist ambitions and aspirations depend on solidifying the idea of Eretz Israel as a “Jewish State.”

Since the 1896 publication the Herzl’s Der Judenstaat the idea of Israel as a homeland for the Jews has exerted a growing claim on the loyalty of Jewish people living all around the world. As a nationalist political movement that emerged within the salad bowl of ethnicities and nationalisms that was the Austro-Hungarian Empire it was natural that Zionism would appeal to Jews internationally who perceived themselves as a people without a land. In this regard Jewish nationalism qua Zionism was already fully developed, albeit appealing to a minority of Jews at the turn of the twentieth century, before the Nazi genocide and the 1948 establishment of the State of Israel.

What this means is that the death camps did not create the desire for a Jewish homeland, and even in the aftermath of the Holocaust most Jewish survivors who emigrated from Europe opted for the United States over Israel. The reasons for this are many. By 1948 the new state of Israel and Zionism in general were not seen as essential components of Jewish faith and cultural identity. Rather, it was seen as a pioneer movement – even before the National Socialists came to power in Berlin – for secular Jewish nationalists; it was to this point viewed as a break from the longstanding traditional European Jewish historical, cultural, and religious identities. In order for Israel to become a more acceptable vision of a Jewish homeland the state Zionists were forced to construct a narrative in which primarily European Jewish identities, historic injustices, and ultimately the Holocaust were woven into the story of Palestine as “the Land of Israel.”

Almost seventy years on from the foundation of the State of Israel in Palestine this nation-building myth has gained traction, and most Jews now accept that to a greater or lesser extent their religio-ethnic identity is in some way connected with the physical landmass of cis-Jordanian Palestine. This latent, emerging, and fully fledged politico-cultural association has given rise to the idea of national identity and the ideology of occupation over and against the Palestinian people; a movement that has brought Israel closer to the point of annexing what remains of Gaza and the West Bank. While this analysis is highly contested by many Israelis it was spelt out in great detail by Theodor Herzl 120 years ago. It has always, at least for some state Zionists, been part of the plan.

In terms of current peace dialogue this forged union of state ideology with Jewish religious, ethnic, and cultural identities makes valid criticism of the State of Israel difficult without it being identified as a criticism of Jewish people or outright antisemitism. Again this is more of a design feature of the nation-building myth than an unfortunate by-product of historical developments. In order to maintain this hedge around the nation right-wing Israeli governments and various rightist elements within the state have worked tirelessly over decades to assert Israel’s claim over Jewish people outside the State of Israel, effectively maintaining a fifth column. Yet, by no means has this claim gone unchallenged by many Jewish people and communities around the world and inside Israel.

Jewish but not quite Israeli: Bearing an International Jewish Identity

Author: Jason Michael (@Jeggit)

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While Quirinius was Governor of Syria

By Jason Michael

Our greatest mystery is that we are time travellers. As often as we read these words and remember such things, we are taken on an anemnetic pilgrimage to a place in another time to see again the promised hope of justice and peace in a crib perfected.

Through the wee small hours this morning as we read the Gospel of the Christmas vigil Mass I was touched by the scenery. Nothing was to be seen in the pitch blackness of the night through the windows of our small chapel. Inside however, the stage was being set for the timeless drama of Bethlehem and the setting and scenery was set with the words: “While Quirinius was governor of Syria all went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth…” Our story begins with a reference to a place in time, two millennia ago and the Roman province of Syria where a certain Publius Sulpicius Quirinius had been appointed governor by the young Gaius Octavius – Emperor Caesar Augustus.

As often as I have read these words, and as familiar as they are to me, I have never realised the importance of Syria in these readings. It was important enough for the Evangelist St. Luke to record, and today I suppose – considering the place of Syria in all our minds – it is well worth a little of our attention. Now that I come to think of it, it was at Damascus in Syria that the scales fell from the eyes of St. Paul before he set out with the message of the Risen Lord. Syria then becomes a place of transition in the sacred scriptures of the Christian faith; it is where the story of the birth of Jesus begins and it is where the story of world’s largest religion begins. This Syria, the Syria of the Gospel, is never an end. It is a place of beginnings.

Right now Syria strikes us as a place of terrible and horrible endings, a country rent asunder by the violence of war and unimaginable bloodshed. We have heard of a revolution gone wrong, internecine sectarian conflicts, the brutality of a despotic state, and powerful foreign intervention on every side. As surely as the events of Joseph and Mary’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem were not in the official dispatches of Quirinius, neither are the countless present day Josephs and Marys in the reports coming from the many no-man’s-lands in this atrocious conflict. Their trials and fears are lost in the din of gunfire and aerial bombardment. Their helpless babies are all but unknown to us. Theirs is the Syria of dread and end.

“Glory to God in the highest”, tonight’s Gospel continues, “and on earth peace…” And on earth peace! When have we known peace from that time to this? When did this great messianic age of perfection and peace among all people dawn upon us? It never did, and Syria is the latest line and response in the ongoing litany of war that rages everywhere humanity sets its feet. Yet as the Gospel carries our small gathering to first century Syria once again the scales are made to slip from our eyes as we see a place of beginning – where today or tomorrow peace can begin. This isn’t the world peace of beauty pageants, but the peace that costs – that transcends all our understandings, and begins with something as wonderfully hopeful as a mother and father lovingly protecting their child.

Il Divo – O Holy Night

Author: Jason Michael (@Jeggit)

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