Britain’s House of Lords is our second, or revising, chamber.
Until the middle of the last century, the lords referred to were all hereditaries and many of their antecedents had had a seat in the English Parliament since its inception. It wasn’t a full time job and didn’t pay anything. Most lords had ancestral fortunes to conserve, ancestral lands to manage and family businesses to further. Some who lived in London attended fairly frequently, but most of the rest of them rolled up whenever there was a debate to which they could contribute something by way of their expertise. They got a little daily allowance – their lunch allowance and their train fare – and rolled back to the ancient pile.
In 1958, life peers (the title dies with the holder) were created as a means of widening the range of expertise in the Lords, and for rewarding those who had served the country. Such peers are created by the prime minister of the day.
It worked fairly well until Tony Blair got his grasping, febrile fingers on it. He created a number of life peers who have recently been found to have been selling access and favors for large amounts of dosh. As with all who subscribe to the Left in Britain, Blair professed to believe in “multiculturalism” and made cringe worthy, and destructive, obeisance to Islam. In this cause, he created a title for “Lord” Ahmed.
Lord Ahmed is a large, unexceptional fellow who has no gifts apparent to the naked eye – although texting while driving at 60 mph on the highway appears to be one of his skills. He admits to being behind the wheel, having sent and received five text messages, when he was involved in an accident on Christmas Day which left one person dead. He will be sentenced later his month.
Meanwhile, he keeps himself occupied attempting to destroy freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in Britain. A United Kingdom Independence Party – UKIP (they want Britain out of the European Union) peer invited conservative Dutch MP Geert Wilders to speak about Islam to peers in the House of Lords, and to show his short film “Fitna” which consists of quotes from the Q’ran spoken against scenes of Islamic terrorism, to the Lords. “Fitna” is Arabic for “disgreement and division among people:, and the film addresses the influence of Islam in Holland.
I am guessing that the “influence” of Islam in Holland has no more legitimacy than the “influence” of Islam in Britain. In other words, that which Lefty, submissive governments have ceded to the immigrants without consulting the indigenous owners of the country – and usually without putting the immigrants to the trouble of demanding these privileges.
Lord Ahmad, texter extraordinaire, according to The Spectator, threatened to mobilise 10,000 Muslims to block access to the House of Lords if they allowed Wilders into the building to show his film.
No insult to the Mother of Parliaments and ancient home of free speech could have been greater. The threat of blocking access of members to one of the two houses of Parliament where he legislature meets could hardly have been graver – or more illegal.
In shock, the Lords appeared to cede the point, but a day later found their spine and Wilders was re-invited.
Meanwhile, the politicized Home Office, stuffed with immigrant – not all of them legal – employees, ever ready to do its socialist master’s bidding, has now warned that Wilders, a perfectly respectable, duly elected member of the Parliament of Holland, will not be allowed into Britain citing “a threat to public safety”. (Unlike Lord Ahmad and his reported 10,000 Muslims planning to blockade the Houses of Parliament, I presume.)
The Dutch Foreign Secretary has called Home Office Minister to protest. It matters not. The Labour party line is that Islam is a “religion of peace” and it is us, the owners of the country, who are always stirring up trouble for these sensitive, peaceful people. The Home Office cited the socialist chimera of “community harmony” as their prompt. It was when Blair got into office 12 years ago that his party seized on the idea of using Muslim immigrants as a rod to beat the backs of the British with.
Puzzlingly, Ahmad is now claiming that he will not protest the showing of the film in the Lords in Mr Wilders’ absence, according to “The Times”. So the threat, reported in The Spectator, to mobilise the 10,000 Muslims must have been to protest Mr Wilders’ presence in Britain in general rather than in the House of Lords? How very very of him.
Meanwhile, a Baroness Cox, who seems to be in the thick of all this somehow, said the original decision not to show the film had not been in response to the reported threat by Lord Ahmad, but in response to Mr Wilders’ apparent proposal that Islam be banned. Mr Wilders is an outspoken, right wing MP and this has been his known stance for a number of years.
The Home Office, meanwhile, has taken upon itself the mantle of film critic saying it was simply endorsing the Dutch Government’s condemnation of the film, which they said “serves no useful purpose”. So now anything that does not serve the state is to be disallowed?
Will Dutch MP Wilders be admitted to Britain? Will “Fitna” be shown in the Mother of Parliaments without incident? Will Lord Ahmad be sentenced to prison for being involved in a fatal accident on Christmas Day? I’ll keep you posted.
21 thoughts on “British Lords A-Leaping – in outrage”
Ahmed appears to be a singularly uninspired choice to be a life peer. It is ironic, though that Wilders is complaining about censorship when his point in Fitna is that the Koran itself should be banned.
His Wikipedia entry says that he has gotten into trouble with the Dutch authorities for this position before, in 2007, when he compared the Koran to Mein Kampf and advocated for it to be banned. He appears to make no distinction between Islam and Islamism.
While it is true that Islamism as a political ideology tends towards violence, it is also true that the vast majority of practicing Muslims are peaceful people, not terrorists. Trying to ban the religion’s founding text is an extreme position that might get one a lot of publicity, but is unlikely to be constructive.
Seanf , you write that Wilders “appears to make no distinction between Islam and Islamism.”
He is correct is correct to eschew such a “distinction” because it doesn’t exist. “Islamism” is a neologism invented by the Left to imply that aggressive Islam is an unusual thread of Islam espoused by Islamic fanatics, at the same time implying that the main body of Islam is peaceful. Which it is not.
Other than peaceful and creative Sufism, which some claim is not really Islam at all, Islam is violent belief system. The way they define the world attests to this. Dar-es-Salaam – the House of Islam – is the Islamic world. Dar-al-Harb – the House of War – is the rest of us. Only when the entire world has become Dar-es-Salaam will this famous “peace” become apparent.
“…but is unlikely to be constructive.”
Whether I agree with that or not, it is not relevant to whether someone has free speech.
I cannot decide that someone else’s speech is not constructive and silence them.
The government cannot decide that someone’s speech is not constructive and silence them.
The answer to unconstructive speech is further speech, rebutting it.
That is how free people conduct their affairs, by public argument.
Using threats of violence to silence even the most despicable political speech is a “cure” far, far worse than the disease.
“the film, which they said serves no useful purpose”
Would it be more useful to ask whether the Home Office serves a useful purpose?
Verity said >>“Islamism” is a neologism invented by the Left to imply that aggressive Islam is an unusual thread of Islam espoused by Islamic fanatics, at the same time implying that the main body of Islam is peaceful. Which it is not.
That’s a positive statement and subject to fact-checking. Consider – the main body of practicing Islam is peaceful; the largest Muslim societies in the world, such as Indonesia, are not on an Islamist rampage. There are more Muslims than adherents of any other religion in the world save Christianity; were all Muslims Islamists, WW3 would already have happened.
>>Dar-al-Harb – the House of War – is the rest of us.
That distinction does not appear in the Koran/Hadith and has been expressly disdained by Islamic religious authorities. See, e.g., http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/FatwaE/FatwaE&cid=1119503544498.
In addition, citing just Dar-al-Islam and Dar-al-Harb is misleading. There are others in Islamic history such as Dar-al-Ahd or Hudna (peace treaty). The original distinction was based on whether Muslims in a given society had freedom of worship; if Muslims did not have religious freedom, it was the the obligation of other Muslims to make war on that society until it converted or granted freedom of worship to its Muslims.
The world is a complex place. While it’s occasionally helpful to have a simplified dualistic, us v. them view of the world (such as when fighting a war), I’m not sure that such a reductionist approach serves one well otherwise. There are more things under the heavens than can be correctly explained by our ideologies, left or right…
Seanf – I am not going to argue how many angels can dance on the head of a pin with you, but if you look at the history of Islam, it is one of unalloyed aggression. Last time they aggressed all the way to the Gates of Vienna, if you recall, in the cause of converting the world, by the sword if persuasion didn’t work, to the notion that Allah is the supreme being of the universe. They’re on the march again.
It is a primitive desert belief system – every man is entitled to four “wives” over whom he has absolute domain, in the cause of breeding warriors for Allah.
Indonesia is not a Muslim country, although it does indeed have the largest Muslim population in the world. But Islam does not hold a favoured place in its governance.
Among Muslims in the West, there are highly intelligent, motivated individuals, like Irshad Manji in Toronto, who push for Islam’s Reformation, without which Islam will continue to be regarded in the civilised world as an outcast, primitive belief system.
I am kicking myself for not having made some the points that Lexington Green jumped right onto. The British Government in the person of Labour suck-up Home Secretary Jacqui Smith – a woman not noted for her intelligence or quickness of thought or devotion to a set of principles – has taken up cause of a life peer who was all set to force his will on one of Britain’s two assemblies of legislature.
It is interesting to note, as a by the way, that today’s The Times has received a heavy postbag from Holland (and Denmark, whose prime minister, the wonderful Anders Fogh, defied the cartoon mullahs) all supporting Mr Wilders, although some of them disagree with his stance on Islam. But they are shocked that Britain would ban a speaker who had committed no crime. (Other than thought crimes, of course.)
Well, the heart sinks. Geert Wilders has been deported from Britain.
The Times has already received 99 letters, most of them supportive of freedom of speech – although a depressing number of people from the Land of The Free appear to agree with Britain’s Home Secretary. Many correspondents, though, have pointed out that the film “Fitna” is available on YouTube.
Mr Wilders is a democratically elected politician of a free country and has committed no crime other than the thought crime of speaking the truth. This is truly alarming. Let us hope that thought Fascist Jacqui Smith is forced out of office.
Very distressing but it does exemplify the inevitable predestined evolution of socialism to despotism. Once government gets in the a habit of controlling your economic/material existence, it sees no longer sees any reason not to control the rest of your existence as well.
Verity, that is a shame. In case it wasn’t clear, I deplore the Wilders deportation and the Fitna ban. My posts above are not meant to to defend either of those outcomes.
Although Wilders may stand for wingnut religious hate-mongering, at least in the eyes of some, supposed religious hate-mongerers have civil rights too – or should. If he directly incited violence, that would probably cross the line, as well as be legally actionable. But, he doesn’t appear to have done that.
I wonder if the UK has an equivalent of the ACLU that could sue on his behalf? Or if Wilders has some free speech rights in the UK through an EU Human Rights declaration? Makes one appreciate our 1st Am…
Seanf – Britain has had freedom of speech for around 1,200 years. We have no requirement of some “EU declaration”. Except Britain, the Scandinavians and the lowlands, as in Holland and Denmark, the “Europe” has only very recently come to the liberty to speak one’s mind.
That is what makes this more shameful.
Mr Wilders is a famous politician on the continent of Europe. Not just in Holland. He is a brave speaker against Islamic Fascism. If you’ve never heard of him, perhaps you have heard of the considerably more beautiful Aayan Hirsi Ali – until recently, another Dutch politician. Until she left Holland around two years ago and joined the American Enterprise Institute think tank, Ms Ali, a Muslim apostate, had been a staunch supporter of Mr Wilders over the film “Fitna”.
You may remember that she endured, as a Dutch MP, death threats herself for speaking against Islam and for her participation in the making of an anti-Islam film by Theo van Gogh, who was murdered by a Moroccan jihadi on the streets of Amsterdam as Van Gogh cycled to work. Pinned to his dying chest with a knife, was a threat that Ms Ali was next. So believable was the threat that she was placed under the same security team that protect the Dutch royal family.
No offence, Seanf, but I intuit that you are new to this story.
“Once government gets in the a habit of controlling your economic/material existence, it sees no longer sees any reason not to control the rest of your existence as well”…indeed, the distinction between the two is not as sharp as many people seem to think it is. Books, for instance, are not pure thought, they have a material existence…see my post below about the CPSIA.
Wilders’ position on freedom of speech is clear: As he said himself “Everything should be possible except to issue calls for violence” and is consistent with Dutch law on this issue. What is not consistent, says Wilders, is the current application of that law: If it is going to be applied to Mein Kampf (as it is in Europe) then to be consistent it should be applied to the Koran as well. Both books issue calls for violence.
It is not clear from his public statements whether or not Wilders agrees with the idea of banning books in principle. He may well disagree with book banning. In which case he is going about repealing the law in the correct way. The best way to get a bad law reversed is to apply it consistently.
I have written a great deal on the Wilders saga on EUReferendum and have even taken part in a programme on the BBC Russian Service. So, I am not getting involved in this discussion (as I rarely do in discussions about Britain) except for two points:
Mein Kampf should not be banned either but the ban in some European countries is meaningless. Nor should the Koran be banned. One does not have to agree with everything Wilders says; he has a range of policies.
Secondly, we all know the answer to this question:
Would it be more useful to ask whether the Home Office serves a useful purpose?
Oh dear, one more point. I really can’t stand ignorance. Mein Kampf is NOT banned in Europe, whatever you might mean by that. It is banned in SOME EUROPEAN COUNTRIES. It should not be. Similary, as I explained on the BBC, Holocaust denial is NOT a crime in Europe; it is a crime in SOME EUROPEAN COUNTRIES. It should not be. Again, I have written about this at great length on EURef. Can we please, stop talking about Europe as a single political entity?
For anyone interested, it turns out that the result in America actually wouldn’t be much different, despite the 1st Amendment. Rather disappointing.
The controlling precedent is Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972) (http://supreme.justia.com/us/408/753/case.html) under which the government can bar entry based on political viewpoint.
Perhaps the bigger point is that governments can generally be relied on to make prudential, if unprincipled, decisions.
Seanf – That may be so, and very depressing, in fact, but your laws are not British laws. Helen knows far more about this than I do, but there are binding agreements or treaties guaranteeing free movement between countries of citizens of EU countries. Even as a normal citizen, Mr Wilders’s rights have been breached. And, as a democratically-elected representative of a signatory country, his deportation is an affront to the Dutch voters and the Dutch Parliament as well.
Those binding rules within the EU do actually allow (though you wouldn’t believe it listening to some politicians) for member states keeping out individuals who are potentially dangerous or troublesome. So the Home Office was, kind of, within its right. The problem comes with definitions of what is dangerous or troublesome. There is a lot of bleating about us refusing to let Yussuf al-Quaradawi in a couple of years ago. The situation was quite different. He is not, in the first place, elected anything and does not, therefore, represent a sizeable proportion of a democratic country’s population. Secondly, he actually calls for violence (the exact word is “resistance” but that is irrelevant) whereas Wilders does not – it is his opponents who call for violence. Oh help! I have been drawn into this discussion.
Helen – and why would you not want to be drawn into this discussion? I, for one, am very interested in your opinion, specifically. I’ve looked through the few of your posts @EU (when I could fish them out of the stream of Richard’s – does this man ever sleep or eat?), but would appreciate more.
I’ve read Melanie Phillips’ article @Spectator and the consequent comments – very educational; couldn’t help thinking some of the House MPs should have done just that – maybe then they’d make a different decision.
Samizdata surprised me with relatively low (for their usually active audience) reaction in the comments.
Helen writes: “The problem comes with definitions of what is dangerous or troublesome.”
But, Helen, does what we laughingly call the Home Secretary have to tell us her self-serving definitions of “dangerous or troublesome”?
Seriously. Does she have to define her reasons for keeping an elected legislator of a friendly country out of Britain by force? Surely she must!
Might it be that she is not only bovine and vicious, but is trying to deflect attention from her current “expenses” situation?
To “bury bad news”? Socialist. So, yes. Remember her co-worker, Labour spinner Jo Moore who, while the WTC was burning and people were holding hands with strangers as they jumped off top floors to their deaths and rescue workers were risking their lives to fight their way upwards against the flames in this horror, wrote a chirpy memo round the Labour Party, “This would be a good day to bury bad news”…
Is fat incompetent Jacqui trying to hitchhike on the same vehicle?
May Jo Moore rot in hell, btw.
“Lord Ahmad, texter extraordinaire, according to The Spectator, threatened to mobilise 10,000 Muslims to block access to the House of Lords if they allowed Wilders into the building to show his film.”
This cannot be correct. In a civilized society, when a thug threatens to raise a mob to halt the proceeding of a parliament for daring to allow the unspeakable to speak, a civilized gentleman draws his sword or pistol to execute the thug immediately. Gentlemen do not cow before tyranny.
Richard does eat. I have seen it myself. Sleep I am not so sure of. ;)
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