30 May 2014

# culture # elliot rodger

Could Islamophobia be the 21st Century anti-Semitism?

Discrimination against ethnic minorities in a time of economic austerity. Sound familiar? It is an alarmingly similar situation to that which accompanied the rise of Hitler during the 1930s.

As I was walking home from a choir rehearsal this evening, I overheard a conversation between two men. “We’ve got enough of them already” said one, to which the other replied: “Yeah, fuck the foreigners.”

Currently, in the UK and in Europe, we are experiencing a rise of far-right political parties. After the recent results of the European Elections, seeing the successes of parties such as UKIP, Front Nationale in France and NPD in Germany, many people have been shocked into a sense of disarray at the situation that is facing European politics. Sadly, these parties have one extreme view in common, Islamophobia.

Nigel Farage stated he was “getting a bit tired” of his kids coming home from school “being taught about every other religion in the world” and that he would teach people the Judeo-Christian culture and “the good that it has done”. To me, this seems ignorant. I have been lucky enough to attend a school which has allowed me become a more rounded person and pursue my interests. To be confined to learning about our so-called Judeo-Christian culture would feel like an indoctrination, ringing alarm bells after having learnt about the indoctrination of youth through education in dictatorships such as Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia.

Farage also stated that if a country is not prepared to “stand up for your cultures and your values, then those cultures and values will be threatened”. Given the fact that Farage supports a banning of the Burka, it seems contradictory to infringe the cultures and values of a minority religion in England. Now, some might say that they should not have come here in the first place, but the fact is people have fled a war-torn country seeking asylum in to a democratic and just society, to now find ourselves in a state where UKIP representatives are saying that Islam “has no place in the UK [and] needs banning” is bigoted and disrespectful. To put it plainly, I am ashamed to live in a country where people vote for parties supporting these values.

It is not only the politicians who play a part in the growing Islamophobia of our nation. Whenever there are attacks by a Muslim person, the media are far too swift to label them as Muslim. Why do they need a religious identity in this situation? To put it in context, when there are attacks by white people, the media never make a point about their religion, possibly because religion is as not as strong in our society nowadays, so perhaps they should mention something a bit more relevant. The football club they support? Their favourite filter on Instagram? Seems silly doesn’t it… Furthermore, the British public jump far too quickly to blame an entire race and not the individual. Just as not all Christians are prudes and not all Germans were Nazis, funnily enough, not all Muslims are violent extremists who are threatening the culture of our society.

After reading an article on the killing spree of Elliot Rodger in California revealing excerpts from the 140 page manifesto of his ‘Day of Retribution’ in which he states he wanted to put women who are “vicious, evil and barbaric animals” into concentration camps and wipe them out for all the pain and suffering they have caused him. Rodger clearly has a vendetta against women, but this incident was named as an act of “mental illness” and no mention of his religious beliefs. People will say that his ideas would have never been allowed to catch on as they were sadistic thoughts of only one person. Allow me to refer once again back to Adolf Hitler. An individual, with extremist views who wiped out two thirds of European Jews. Of course, I am not likening Nigel Farage or any of the right-wing party leaders to Adolf Hitler, but the situation we are facing has some similarities.

We live in a globalised world where the influence of different cultures may be overwhelming for some people and there is a sense of lost identity. It seems that people are finding this identity by reverting to a fundamentalist attitude, through the media and popular opinions, such as UKIP and Islamophobia. However, people seem so wrapped up in this attitude that they have forgotten the good that immigrants have brought to our country. Since 2000, immigrants have made a net contribution to the economy of £20 billion and recent immigrants are 45% LESS likely to seek state benefits and tax credits to those native to the UK. We can’t forget the sporting contribution too! The beauty of our society was that it was diverse, accepting and compassionate. Sadly, now I don’t feel like I can say that.

It doesn’t help that the media is full of headlines that highlight comment after comment of UKIP MPs. Of course, not all of their policies are based on Islam but nor do they become more liberal. Many of UKIP’s intentions remain ambiguous, but the rumours that they will reduce maternity pay, increasing tax for the poorest 88% Britons and removing the UK from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. Our human rights are what define our society and our liberties, showing the advances we have made since the days of slavery in the days of the East India Company. We haven’t heard nearly as much from the Green Party as their campaign has been overlooked by the dominance of UKIP, be it good or bad. There is no such thing as bad publicity and as Oscar Wilde once said “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

Everyone is capable of having their prejudices and it is a sad fact of life that we judge someone before we hear them out. Have you ever heard someone speak and want to hit them in the face? For many, the answer will be a resounding ‘yes’ but, the majority of us don’t act on these feelings as we know our reasoning behind our dislike is based on a superficial and personal judgment about that person. However, politicians have ignored the growing aversion towards Muslims and European immigrants until now, when there is a very pressing issue of racism in our society that is sadly reminiscent of a certain war which changed the face of the modern world.

Europe has faced some difficult times during recent years. But I beg of you, no matter what your beliefs we cannot justify or condone voting for a party that breaches civil liberties and persecutes the minorities.

Stay Cultured.




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