By E.F Nicholson
There only a few authors I really loathe. They aren’t the standard Bill O’Reilly type bigots, but rather the sanctimonious pseudo-liberals who seem really at home with The Guardian’s general tone and perception. Nick Cohen is one of these pious intellectuals on my “loathe list.” Nick boldly parades himself as a progressive whilst upholding and defending the core principle of the establishment. He supported the war in Iraq, so on some level, need I say more? Once again, Nick is doling out the same drivel and plastic polemic ideas. He is letting us know that he is brave enough to say that which can’t be mentioned. This isn’t the paedophile ring in the Tory party, but rather the extremist fascism of fundamentalist Islam. He profiles a Bangladeshi blogger who was recently murdered by Muslim extremists. It’s a harrowing story wherein an activist was murdered for daring to reject extremism in a country that obviously harboured extremists. Cohen hijacks this tragic tale to remind us what the real threat to western democracy is: “extremist Islam and our fear of speaking out against it.”
“Compare the bravery of Bangladeshi intellectuals with the attitude of the bulk of the western intelligentsia. Whole books could be written on why it failed to argue against the fascism of our age – indeed I’ve written a couple myself – but the decisive reason is a fear that dare not speak its name. They are frightened of accusations of racism, frightened of breaking with the consensus, frightened most of all of violence. They dare not admit they are afraid. So they struggle to produce justifications to excuse their dereliction of duty. They turn militant religion into a rational reaction to poverty or western foreign policy. They maintain there is a moral equivalence between militant religion and militant atheism.”
Cohen informs us of how limp-wristed is the western intelligentsia in their inability to openly criticise and condemn fundamentalist Islam. Brave Nick isn’t scared, brave Nick is willing to tell the truth that others are too frightened to put out there. Yet, like the Fox News “war on Christmas” annual crusade, the article tells us something isn’t happening that is, in fact, happening. There is no end to criticism and condemnation within the media and political class of fundamentalist Islam. Christ, they are even introducing a software in schools to stop it in its tracks. Any piece of news on the TV or story within a newspaper that has any reference to “Muslim extremism” by default sets up within a presumed narrative of “we are good guys; they are bad guys.” We are inundated with a deluge of commentators, pundits and western intelligentsia, like Mr. Cohen, who “dare speak its name” and speak its name on a regular basis.It’s astounding that it is always white middle class men, basking in their privilege, that love coming out with the trite of “actually we are the ones afraid to speak” whilst speaking.
The overall condemnation for the atrocities committed by groups like ISIS should rightfully be announced. They are barbaric, cowardly and reprehensible, yet what Nick seems to miss is: what really is the issue that “no one speaks its name?” What issue is overlooked, ignored and dismissed across the board by western intelligentsia? Could it be that our governments commit equally heinous and violent terrorism, but on a much wider scale, and our media operates a propaganda arm of that violent state apparatus? You will hear this discussed and explored on many progressive media outlets, but with the mainstream media (BBC, The Guardian, Channel 4, etc.), anything close to this just doesn’t get a glimpse. How could it, when its function is to ensure it never gets discussed and really brought to the forefront the public’s awareness?
Authors like Cohen play vital roles in maintaining the illusion that there is vigorous debate and opposing opinions, when, in fact, there is an absolute consensus of that which cannot be mentioned. They don’t mention it, not because of the threat of violence, but because of the vain and narcissistic desire to keep their jobs and maintain their status within the elevated western intelligentsia. If anyone deviates from this narrative, the component Noam Chomsky called “flak” comes immediately into play. Bye bye career writing for The Guardian, and expect Hadley Freeman to write a snarky piece on why.
In Bangladesh, it must take a lot of bravery to speak out against extremism knowing full well you may end up killed as a result. To be willing to sacrifice your own life to further truth and justice against the prevailing status quo is nothing but heroic. Yet, in the comfort and protection of good old “Great Britain,” it’s very easy to criticise these same people and point fingers at all those baddies out there. If Nick Cohen wants to emulate this man’s valour, he should be going after the equivalent here in the UK. It’s here we see his cowardliness and conceited nature in its full glory. There is nothing radical or controversial in what he is saying; quite the opposite, it’s just another round of the same old, same old, and what makes it even more pathetic is how his adulation of the status quo isn’t to protect his life, but is solely in service to the maintenance of his career.