Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"The standards we had in this country"

The list of people banned from the UK tells us something we may not want to hear. The Home Secretary released 16 names precisely to send a public message: "I wanted to make the names of those people we had excluded public so that others understood the standards we had in this country."

If you think the Home Office wasn't counting the origins of these folks, you don't know much about politics, especially for something as symbolic as this list. So let's take a look at the numbers:

8 Islamic extremists (a couple of actual terrorists and lots of preachers)
5 Americans (a neo-Nazi, two "God hates fags" crusaders, a KKK grand wizard, and ... a right-wing talk show host)
2 Russian gangsters (2 racially motivated killers)
1 Israeli settler

So let's see if we can "understand the standards" the UK government is applying. It's actually pretty clear.

First, there's the balanced ticket. Muslim extremists are bad; nearly as bad are those right-wing Americans. Oh, and their Israeli sidekicks.

Here's another way to slice the list: killers v. talkers. The Americans and the Israelis are the only groups that don't include actual killers. The six Western talkers are treated as equivalent to a mix of ten killers and talkers from the East.

And one more cut: politics. Unless, like some on American campuses, you think that Islamic extremism must be leftist because it hates America, everyone on the list would be characterized as "right wing" or "fundamentalist," certainly by The Guardian. Environmental, anti-genetic-modification and animal rights extremists may have caused more damage in Britain recently than rightists, but they don't make the list. Neither do apologists for leftist violence on a mass scale. Raul Castro? Cambodian mass murderers? Don't be so twentieth century. There just wasn't room for them, given the threat posed by American talk show hosts.

So, from the European government that is closest in viewpoint to ours, internal politics requires treating the U.S. (and Israel) as morally equivalent to people who justify the 9/11 attacks, and ignoring the difference between talk and murder -- all in pursuit of "balance."

OK, thanks. That's what we needed. Now we understand the standards the UK government is applying.





1 comment:

the-pathogen said...

This clearly is not the equivalent of a "No-Fly List". This is not a "Terrorist Watch List".

This is a list of people that the British do not want coming to their nation.

Mass murders, dictators, and other terrorists are probably on another list.

The "1 Israeli settler" is a member of a terrorist organization.