Television viewing – particularly in those countries that seek to export their ‘civilisation’ to other lands – is a dispiriting and irritating experience. There is rough tripartite division that can be applied to scheduled programming : it is either governmental propaganda, repeated material or just plain trash.
One item of fake indignation which effortlessly filled all three categories was recently broadcast by Britain’s Channel 4. Entitled ‘Return to Undercover Mosque’, the programme relied on the somewhat hackneyed device of infiltrating an incognito reporter into a women’s study group at a mosque. Channel 4′s first broadcast on this theme, ‘Undercover Mosque’, resulted in the TV channel paying out libel damages, but the station was not discouraged from a further excursion undercover at the mosque.
‘Undercover Mosque’ was so decidedly ‘anti’ as to be almost amusing, but on this topic even leftist commentaries often have an air of patronising presumption, akin to the sociological survey that asks : ‘Question 1: When did you stop beating your wife?’ The bias is ingrained and seldom noticed, as we also see in a slightly different context with Amnesty International – who are very eloquent about human rights transgressions in China, Burma or Belarus – but fail to respond to the far greater violations committed by the American-British-Israeli axis
It was evident from the start of the programme that the Muslims concerned were not representative of mainstream Islamic thought. Even so, the programme makers were unable to unmask any plots against the US Embassy, but only found evidence of preachers disseminating socially conservative ideas. Horror of horrors, these awful Muslims didn’t like homosexuals and didn’t want to integrate into British society. As to the first, isn’t this just an opinion, one shared by most of the older generation ; whatever happened to the freedom of thought that once was, before the age of thought crimes?
As to the second, we may justifiably ask: integration into what? Even assuming that integration is desirable, you cannot integrate into the disintegrated. British society is a shattered vessel, broken into jagged shards : cult of celebrity, mendacity and cruelty of the press, discredited institutions, shiny bank towers amid semi-dereliction, drunkenness and violence, division and atomisation under almighty capital.
Was this the best the producers of ‘Return to Undercover Mosque’ could do in their self-imposed task of revealing the supposed Muslim menace to the public? There was a little more, of course, with some coy references to the distribution of ‘offensive’ books and DVDs. ‘Offensive’ is often employed as a code word for pornography or erotica – but I scarcely imagine that these good ladies would have any possible interest in copies of Debbie Does Dubai.
“the reporter visits the bookshop and discovers books and DVDs still on sale, promoting extremist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic and intolerant messages”. Oh dear, that sort of offensive! However, the average human mind with its tendency to fairness and balance, should be capable of determining what is and what is not ‘offensive’, without any self-interested intermediaries blocking off access entirely.
But we know that anti-Semitic, extremist, misogynist and intolerant are highly elastic terms whose boundaries have already spread wide and continue to spread ever wider by the day. Incidentally, it should perhaps be noted that Channel 4 is also well-known as a patron and publicist of modern art. One representative modern artist is Mr Terence Koh, whose oeuvre includes the Pièce de Résistance of the ‘Peeing Madonna’, as well as saintly statues, newly augmented with large penises.
But television executives would never regard such items as offensive, instead seeing blasphemous art as a mildly amusing titillation suitable for sophisticated metropolitan tastes. One is reminded of the remarks by explorer and film-maker Matt Dickinson who said that : ‘TV is a dirty business. To survive in it, you have to be part weasel, part python and part wolf. To succeed in it, you have to be 99% great white shark. The capacity for bald-faced lying also comes in handy.’
The anti-Muslim propaganda offensive has seemingly slipped all bounds of logic and reason, a return to the days when Edwardian newspaper readers would gain a frisson of fear reading about the real or imagined activities of the ‘Mad’ Mullah*.
A year or so ago, the Daily Telegraph and Forward were much agitated by a supposed conspiracy involving no less than 45 jihadi Muslim doctors. No more has since been heard of this odd affair, which must indicate that this ‘doctor’s plot’ had about as much reality and validity as the one against J.V. Stalin – possibly even less.
The liquid bomb plot was a sheer impossibility ; a trained chemist with a PhD and a fully equipped lab could produce a liquid bomb, but not the hapless accused, fumbling away in an airline lavatory. Remember, the ‘scientific mastermind’ of the group was someone who had flunked out of an Earth Sciences course after a few months. No plan, no organisation and no passports either!
As far back as the start of World War Two, perceptive commentators noted that air raid exercises, gas attack rehearsals and the like, carried out during Britain’s ‘Phoney War’ of 1939-40, seemed designed to create fear, not dispel it. Urban, working-class populations could only be controlled by enforcing compliance through anxiety. ‘Strategy of tension’ is the phrase Daniele Ganser uses today to describe the same process. So the dutiful masses line up in the airport terminals to empty out their bottles of milk, shampoo and mineral water, while their masters secretly view as them as little more than pliant nitwits.
For proper effect, the fear and mistrust must be extended to almost all parts of the target group. So we had the recent Old Bailey trial of Hammaad Munshi, billed in the press as the ‘schoolboy fanatic’ or the ‘youngest terrorist’. Typically, that headline was untrue : the youngest convicted ‘terrorists’ in Britain were Vincent and Patrick Maguire Jr., a year or two younger than Munshi. Both were in fact entirely innocent – they were jailed because the authorities thought they were implicated in an IRA campaign against the British state. The ridiculous claim was made that their mother, Annie Maguire, was not the mild-mannered middle-aged housewife she appeared to be, but instead a ruthless and daring quartermaster for the IRA.
But the lessons of the destructive effects of enforced, state-sanctioned hysteria have not been digested, and Munshi was jailed for having information (undefined) likely be of use to a terrorist (also undefined), under a newly-minted New Labour law. This is a bad law, and also a dangerous one for what’s left of our civil liberties. There is no Muslim threat – apart from the phantasm created and sustained by interested parties – but the looming and upcoming national security state is a threat to us all.
*Mohammed bin Abdullah Hassan d. 1920 – certainly not mad and apparently not a mullah either.