Madelaine Bunting critcises British Government Minister, Ruth Kelly, in
her approach of dealing with Muslim terrorists. This generated much online response,
to which I contributed. I’m unclear what Bunting’s actual proposal is,
except to ignore ‘armchair warriors and fantasists’. I suggest that
Government policy should be to stop deferring authority to ‘community
leaders’, and to start emphasising civic leadership.
post is the most considered and enlightened. Religiosity in society is
not incompatable with Enlightenment and reason. The separation of
church and state does not beget a Godless society. The point is that
religious freedom is confered to individuals, not ‘communities’.
And this is where Ruth Kelly and other Government ministers get it
all wrong. Consulting ‘community representatives’ for consent/greater
understanding of one’s public policies is to base community relations
on the strongest voice of any particular community.
The Government straight out telling ‘the Muslim community’ must sort
out its extremists is as absurd as telling ‘the Catholic community’ in
Northern Ireland to sort out its extremists during the Troubles. It
completely transfers responsibility to those law-abiding citizens who
have no truck with the violence of the extremists, but who certainly
are not going to react submissively to the wishes of other authorities.
If anything, the approach makes community relations even worse.
Instead, there should be no apology for living in an open society,
where tolerance is based on the knowledge that no sect will suppress
any other. Unfortunately, at times politicians as well as journalists
behave as though this is a weak principle under perilious threat. If we
remember what makes a diverse society actually work then we won’t
jeopardise its future.