The surrender of Joseph Harker

It would be tempting to accuse the Guardian’s assistant comments editor, Joseph Harker, of lacking the fortitude necessary to resist a radical ideology which openly seeks the West’s destruction, but the facts don’t really support such an attack.

The reason I couldn’t, in good faith, make such an accusation against Mr. Harker, based on his CiF column “Beware of the bearded white man“, is because to accuse him of surrendering to such reactionary forces would imply that he comprehended the threats posed by radical Islam and simply didn’t possess the strength to resist.

However, you can’t accuse someone of giving in to an enemy he or she doesn’t believe exists in the first place.

Harker’s piece, brimming with ugly racial undertones, mocks the efforts by British law enforcement to combat the myriad of active terrorist threats by Islamist cells operating within their borders, and vilifies those who expect moderate Muslims to denounce and distance themselves from such extremism practiced in their name.

Harker says:

Since I heard the news last week I’ve been terrified. Could it be him? Could it be her? Every time I get on the train or bus. Every time I go into a shop. There they are. Looking so ordinary – but are they about to blow themselves up, taking all us innocent passersby with them?

Yes, since the news emerged that two white British al-Qaida members had been killed in a US drone attack, I can’t help wondering if all white people are potential terrorists. I’m sure only a small minority are actively signed up to the jihadists; but what about the others? Are they sympathisers?…That young white man opposite me with the rucksack: what’s in there? Please, don’t make any sudden movements….Some look blatantly sinister, especially those with beards. The others: well, you just don’t know if they’re simply trying to blend in.

Harker’s attempt here is clear: to impute racist motives to those who acknowledge the undeniable fact that the overwhelming majority of terrorist threats in the UK are posed by radical Muslims  from Pakistan and other countries hospitable to al-Qaeda, and thus conflates race with religion and national origin. In fact, just today, the Telegraph reported that:

Latest estimates suggest 4,000 young British Muslims have been trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan, and with 400,000 British citizens visiting Pakistan each year, there are fears that many more will become radicalised.

But, if that was the worst of it, there still wouldn’t be much of a story. The criticism by Guardian commentators that the West engages in racial profiling is quite common.

It’s in the last paragraph where Harker pivots from quite predictable UK hard left racial politics, and descends into ideological territory which sets him apart from his peers.

If we refused to let the actions of a tiny few sway our judgment on millions of people. What then? If they didn’t feel threatened, vilified or scapegoated…maybe that would help to erode rather than magnify the sense of alienation underpinning the extremists’ message? But how would that help our politicians, or our media owners, or our security industry, who make their living from creating scares and exploiting the fears? [emphasis added]

To accuse Harker, in the preceding passage, of merely engaging in sophomoric rhetoric wouldn’t in any way do justice to what he’s saying. In Harker’s mind, UK political leaders, media owners, and the security industry are all exploiting our fears of a (non-existent) terrorist threat political or financial gain.

Harker has surrendered to the most facile ideas of his time – that those who openly seek his country’s destruction, those whose reactionary ideology is as far removed from the tolerant Western culture he was raised in as possible, are really just innocent victims – sensitive souls who are attracted to jihadism due to their alienation from a racist culture.

I’ve often said that ideas move the world.  As such, it should be noted that the free democratic world must continue to burden, and combat, not only the Islamist ideology which seeks its destruction, but those, like Joseph Harker, who have been tempted by, and ultimately surrendered to, the most extreme manifestations of Western masochism – toxic ideas which erode our resolve to resist a threat to the very progressive ideals we rightly view as sacred.

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