To the white majority, who even now think of this country as a placid place, it will seem extraordinary that the author of this dramatic memoir was born in Southend. Maajid Nawaz is still only in his mid-thirties. He was brought up in a prosperous, middle-class, anglophile household of Pak origin. In his teens, he became an Essex ''b-boy'', and got into fights with Paki-bashing skinheads. In college in London, and later at its renowned School of Oriental and African Studies, he was an extreme Islamist activist. He was present when one of his fellow bully boyz stabbed an African student to death. He married at 21, and had a son.
Nawaz was a leading firebrand ...firebrands are noted more for audio volume and the quantity of spittle generated than for any actual logic in their arguments... in Hizb al-Tahrir (HT), the cut-thoat organization that wishes to overthrow all infidel regimes and establish a new Mohammedan Caliphate. Although it is not itself a terror organization, its ideology legitimises violence. The author traces what he calls its ''snail's trail'' all the way to al-Qaeda.
Nawaz did not agitate in Britannia alone. He went first to Denmark, and then to Pakistain, where HT was stirring up students and recruiting army officers of that newly nuclear nation to bring about an Islamist coup. Then he went to Mubarak's Egypt to spread the HT word there. He was jugged Drop the rosco and step away witcher hands up! , tortured and spent more than four years in prison. His arrest took place after September 11 2001. There is some suggestion that the British authorities were complicit.
When Nawaz was released in 2006, he returned to Britannia and a hero's welcome from the cut-thoats. But while he was in jail, a different story had been ''unfolding inside my own head''. Starting with his doubts about the motives of the HT leaders, he began to ask himself deeper questions. Despite his rhetorical devotion to Islam, he had been obsessively political, and knew little about the religion in whose name he had struggled and plotted. In jail, he studied. He also met lots of other people, including secularists, imprisoned for beliefs quite unlike his own. He found that he respected them. He concluded that his zealotry had not been truly religious, but a Mohammedan-coloured version of Western student revolt: ''We Islamists were the bastard children of colonialism.''
So Brother Maajid broke away from HT, even as he was being offered its British leadership, and even though the break brought his marriage to an end. Temporarily homeless, and sleeping at night in his Renault Clio parked in Tavistock Square, near the scene of the July 7 bombings of 2005, Nawaz conceived a mission to bring ''democratic awakening'' to Mohammedans here and abroad. He set up Quilliam, the first Mohammedan organization dedicated to confronting the bad boys. Nowadays, he is trying to create political pluralism in Pakistain, Egypt and Libya. He helped David Cameron ... has stated that he is certainly a big Thatcher fan, but I don't know whether that makes me a Thatcherite, which means he's not. Since he is not deeply ideological he lacks core principles and is easily led. He has been described as certainly not a Pitt, Elder or Younger, but he does wear a nice suit so maybe he's Beau Brummel ... with his important Munich speech on countering bad boy ideology.
It is a horrifying reflection on modern Britannia that a young man of Nawaz's talents and background should have had such a lurid life-history. It is clear from his story that this was not the result of bad parents or any personality disorder: thousands of able young Mohammedans were part of this fanaticism. (Many still are.) It is also clear that, at almost every turn, those in authority in white Britannia were grotesquely ignorant, overindulgent or just plain scared about what organizations like HT were up to. The liberal Left were particularly credulous: ''How we Islamists laughed at their naivety.''
In college, HT could easily turn the Islamic Society into its front organization, and students had no trouble carrying knives at all times. ''Hate speech'' which, Nawaz writes, would have been jumped on if it had come from the BNP, was indulged because it came from people with brown skin. In Pakistain, teaching English via the British Council was a recognised means of livelihood for HT agitators. Our host culture was so abject that it effectively incited attacks upon itself.
And yet, other, better things did rub off. At his grammar school in Essex, Nawaz records, he used to indulge in anti-homosexual rants in front of a teacher called Mr Moth who was, though young Maajid did not know it at the time, gay. By having faith in Maajid's academic ability, Mr Moth encouraged him to apply for the best at university. The author never forgot, and had "this overwhelming feeling that I didn't want to let Mr Moth down''. He also absorbed British ideas of freedom, justice and debate. Returning from prison in Egypt, Nawaz apostrophises London: ''How I despised you and loved you... head of the colonial snake that poisoned my people...yet also bastion of justice, the rule of law and fair play... I know that my boots are never safer than when resting in your green parks.''
Along with The Islamist, written by Nawaz's former colleague, Ed Husain, Radical does a huge public service in exposing how Islamism works, how terribly far it has got, and how it can be countered.
Because of its violent, continent-crossing story, this book seems quite out of the ordinary, but in its underlying tone, I find it reassuringly familiar. The author is brave, but he is not a prophet or a thinker. He is a bright, eloquent young man who wants to get on. It is one of the key tasks of a successful modern society to channel such people into beneficial or at least harmless directions. In the case of Maajid Mawaz, this seems to be working. On the final page, he reveals with bathetic pride that he has been approached to become a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament. How long before he is deputy prime minister?
'... He concluded that his zealotry had not been truly religious, but a Mohammedan-coloured version of Western student revolt: ''We Islamists were the bastard children of colonialism.'''
Probably some small amount (say 2%) of the brutality, homophobia, misogyny and antisemitism is related to colonialism but the vast majority of those qualities (say 98%) are from the Koran, the Sunna and the Hadith.
Posted by: lord garth ||
SOAS should have been closed down 20+ years ago , Bright Pebbles . A proper shithole full of nefarious deviants , cloaked and shielded by a bunch of academic halfwits
Sometimes, and in some places, in California I think we have nearly descended into Miller's dark vision -- especially the juxtaposition of occasional high technology with premodern notions of law and security. The state deficit is at $16 billion. Stockton went bankrupt; Fresno is rumored to be next. Unemployment stays over 10% and in the Central Valley is more like 15%. Seven out of the last eleven new Californians went on Medicaid, which is about broke. A third of the nation's welfare recipients are in California. In many areas, 40% of Central Valley high school students do not graduate -- and do not work, if the latest crisis in finding $10 an hour agricultural workers is any indication. And so on.
Our culprit out here was not the Bomb (and remember, Hiroshima looks a lot better today than does Detroit, despite the inverse in 1945). The condition is instead brought on by a perfect storm of events that have shred the veneer of sophisticated civilization. Add up the causes. One was the destruction of the California rural middle class. Manufacturing jobs, small family farms, and new businesses disappeared due to globalization, high taxes, and new regulations. A pyramidal society followed of a few absentee land barons and corporate grandees, and a mass of those on entitlements or working for government or employed at low-skilled service jobs. The guy with a viable 60 acres of almonds ceased to exist.
Illegal immigration did its share. No society can successfully absorb some 6-7 million illegal aliens, in less than two decades, the vast majority without English, legality, or education from the poorer provinces of Mexico, the arrivals subsidized by state entitlements while sending billions in remittances back to Mexico -- all in a politicized climate where dissent is demonized as racism. This state of affairs is especially true when the host has given up on assimilation, integration, the melting pot, and basic requirements of lawful citizenship.
Terrible governance was also a culprit, in the sense that the state worked like a lottery: those lucky enough by hook or by crook to get a state job thereby landed a bonanza of high wages, good benefits, no accountability, and rich pensions that eventually almost broke the larger and less well-compensated general society. When I see hordes of Highway Patrolmen writing tickets in a way they did not before 2008, I assume that these are revenue-based, not safety-based, protocols -- a little added fiscal insurance that pensions and benefits will not be cut.
A coarsening of popular culture -- a nationwide phenomenon -- was intensified, as it always is, in California. The internet, video games, and modern pop culture translated into a generation of youth that did not know the value of hard work or a weekend hike in the Sierra. They didn't learn how to open a good history book or poem, much less acquire even basic skills such as mowing the lawn or hammering a nail. But California's Generation X did know that they were "somebody" whom teachers and officials dared not reprimand, punish, prosecute, or otherwise pass judgment on for their anti-social behavior. Add all that up with a whiny, pampered, influential elite on the coast that was more worried about wind power, gay marriage, ending plastic bags in the grocery stores -- and, well, you get the present-day Road Warrior culture of California.
VDH ought to contrast the exodus of 18th-19th Century Euros to America to get away from the destructive and oppressive elites and their policies with the migration now occurring out of CA. Also throw a note in that those who stayed behind because they let things anchor them to the rotting carcass got to enjoy the experiences of the First and Second World War, up front and close.
A Clockwork Orange
Lord of the Flies
There are probably many other movie metaphors that signal the decline of a civilation in the cities and the coasts. Most of these areas are blue and have similar characteristics as Hanson so aptly described. Most of the problems come from too much government rather than too little government.
California reminds me most of Book 1 of Atlas Shrugged. Love, hate or remain indifferent towards Rand but I doubt anyone has hit it farther out of the park in setting forth the manner in which Western Civilization will die.
VDH is always a good read, and his section of The Valley is tired, at best, and uncomfortably close to where I live. We get some gang spillover and other nonsense.
Most of VDH's angst, I suspect, comes from watching the area of his family homestead and all that he and his ancestors worked for go into decline. I can relate. I was born in Oakland, and so was my father.
Still, as is said, that which cannot continue, won't. Cities are declaring bankruptcy, and the state may well have to in the future. These are good things. Apparently, it is only at the end of days time that liberals (who have a choke hold on the government) feel they have the leeway to buy a clue.
We'll see. My optimism may come from living in a county that tries to stay a step or two ahead of fiscal insanity. Our pension fund is sound and independent of the state, and new county workers are now employed in a more fiscally responsible tier. Voters in our county seat recently handed local police and fire a collective bargaining setback.
Life goes on.
"The Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing... after they have exhausted all other possibilities." -Winston Churchill
Cities are declaring bankruptcy, and the state may well have to in the future.
There exist no provisions under any current law allowing a state to declare bankruptcy. The theory, I think, being that as the states possess plenary taxing power they will always, by definition, be able to meet their obligations.
I agree with rjschwartz, the Gen X comment is incorrect. I think we were the last generation to have some semblance of traditional values and what was expected of us from society, employers, girlfriends/wives, etc.
Gen Y and Millenials are more dislocated than Gen X by far. Poor little buggars, them computer games done f*cked up their brains!
I am on the cusp of Gen X, born in 1961, with my youngest sibling born in 1964. We were the first to enjoy massive numbers of divorced parents, latchkey kids, and entering the job market just as it dried up -- my husband chose job over grad school (his life's dream), estimating correctly that the three jobs offered to him as #2 in his graduating engineering class in 1981 would dwindle to zero if he waited two more years. But we also were the first of whom less was demanded academically, according to all the grumbling I've read here at Rantburg, the first to have video games at home instead of pinball at wherever pinball machines lived, and American Pie, Carrie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and that stupid fraternity house flick were our films. So yes, we were handed a coarsened popular culture, and many of us revelled in the coarseness.
[Dawn] AT the Aspen Security Conference, Pak Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman and President B.O.'s special adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistain, Gen Douglas Lute (retd), squared off over cross-border raids on Saturday. When Ms Rehman complained about the rising incidents of cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistain, Mr Lute struck back with long-standing accusations that Pakistain was effectively sponsoring Afghan Taliban attacks inside Afghanistan from sanctuaries on the Pak side of the border. Who's right, who's wrong -- partisans can debate the subject endlessly. More independent observers would suggest that both sides are to blame. The recent attacks into Pakistain -- particularly the savage attacks in Dir in June, but also in Bajaur and Mohmand ... Named for the Mohmand clan of the Sarban Pahstuns, a truculent, quarrelsome lot. In Pakistain, the Mohmands infest their eponymous Agency, metastasizing as far as the plains of Beautiful Downtown Peshawar, Charsadda, and Mardan. Mohmands are also scattered throughout Pakistan in urban areas including Karachi, Lahore, and Quetta. In Afghanistan they are mainly found in Nangarhar and Kunar... agencies -- have clearly riled up the Pak security establishment, which believes that Afghan and American forces in Afghanistan have either looked the other way or not done enough to stop the attacks into Pakistain. It is an entirely plausible accusation and one that neither the Afghan government nor the Americans have done much to credibly distance themselves from.
The danger at present is that the low-level attacks into Pakistain could spiral out of control as Pakistain reacts and Afghanistan counter-reacts. In response to the killings and beheadings of Pak security personnel in Dir, the Pak security forces shelled villages along the border in Kunar where they believed the attacks emanated from. Angered by this, the Afghan forces have shown signs of increasingly turning to hot pursuit of Afghan faceless myrmidons with sanctuaries on this side of the border. If not checked, this cycle of violence and counter-violence could get out of control, particularly given acute mistrust on both sides of the border.
Unwelcome as the suggestion may be in Pak security circles, perhaps the first move toward ratcheting down the tension should come from the Pak side. Unpalatable as it is, Douglas Lute was closer to the truth than Ms Rehman's formulation when he said, "There's no comparison of the Pak Taliban's relatively recent, small-in-scale presence inside Afghanistan ... to the decades-long experience and relations between elements of the Pak government and the Afghan Taliban." The key, then, to resolving this -- or realistically, just managing the problem -- lies perhaps in North Wazoo. While the Haqqani network contributes no more than 15-20 per cent of attacks inside Afghanistan, it does carry out a disproportionately large number of the high-profile, headline-grabbing attacks. If something were to be done about that problem, perhaps cooperation from the Afghan side on problems that concern Pakistain would be forthcoming.
Romney is saying the right things to many of the right people. In regards to his comments about the Olympics; I don't think it is as big a foul up as the press would have everyone believe. After all Romney should know something about the Olympics and security. As it turned out later, to my understanding, the Brits agreed that they weren't quite ready. Our city hosted a World's Fair in the early 80's. They were putting on final touches, building things, painting, etc. even after the opening day.
Romney's comments on the Israelis vs Paleo Death Cult are spot-on. Remember the Gaza hothouses they left behind? If you aren't inflaming the Paleo sensitivities, you aren't saying the truth.
Posted by: Frank G ||
Press has been vile in their coverage. No mention of how popular he was in Israel, just comments on how unhappy the Palestinians are with his speach. Totally misrepresenting his comments on the Olympics.
I believe the press knew the Olympics were going to be a big plus for Romney so they are doing everything they can to besmirch him now to counter that.
They will attack his VP choice as badly as they did Palin until something sticks even if it is not true.
They will be totally vile during the republican national convention sending in protestors and shock troops (which will probably help the Republicans).
After the convention they'll probably have a ton of stories of people who were laid off from Bain capital or who claim to have been harrassed or something by Romney (or he VP since few would believe it of Romney).