Malia Bouattia is symbolic of the poison of the regressive Left
By Maajid Nawaz
April 20, 2016
Photo: Malia Bouattia at this week’s NUS conference where she was elected union president
The words below are not mine. But because of their gravity, it is important that you read them in full.
“The notion of resistance has been perhaps washed out of our understanding of how colonised people will obtain their physical emancipation...With mainstream, Zionist-led media outlets …resistance is presented as an act of terrorism.
“But instead of us remembering that this has always been the case throughout struggles against white supremacy, it’s become an accepted discourse among too many...
“Internalised Islamophobia has also enabled our obsession with convincing non-Muslims of our non-violent and peaceful nature, so we’re taking things a step further and dangerously condemning the resistance, branding groups and individuals as terrorists to disassociate from them, but at the same time supporting their liberation which is a very strange contradiction.
“There’s a need to change how we think about these things. After all, the alternative to resistance is what we’ve been observing over the last 20 years or so, which is ‘peace talks’… essentially the strengthening of the colonial project.
“To consider that Palestine will be free only by means of fundraising, non-violent protest and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is problematic… My issue is that whilst at time it’s tactically used, or presented as the non-violent option, it can be misunderstood as the alternative to resistance by the Palestinian people…
“We also need to remember the Palestinians on the ground… who are actively sustaining the fight and the resistance against occupation and perhaps there’s a need to …take orders if we are to really show some form of solidarity”.
These words are from a chilling speech, given in a calm and deliberated style, at a “Gaza and the Palestinian Revolution” event in September 2014 by Malia Bouattia, the new president of the National Union of Students (NUS). Ms Bouattia was speaking in her official capacity as NUS’s Black Student’s Officer.
The Union of Jewish Students is naturally alarmed at her new role as President of the NUS.
So should we all be.
The warning signs have been there for years for all to see. It was Malia Bouattia who led the charge at the NUS to block a motion that sought to condemn ISIS and show solidarity to the Kurds fighting them, because it was deemed “Islamophobic.”
At this same meeting the NUS did pass a motion to boycott UKIP, and agreed to email every student in the country on polling day telling them to do likewise. Thus, in a sign of the terrible times in which we live, Britain’s student leadership found it easier to condemn UKIP than ISIS.
And we wonder why the populist Right is on the rise?
Along with such regressive-Left apologia for jihadism, predictably antisemitism has been rearing its head among the student body. In 2011 Ms Bouattia co-authored a blog which lists a “large Jewish society” – by which she now insists she meant “Zionists” - as being one of the challenges at Birmingham University. But she even considers the UK government’s beleaguered Prevent strategy against extremism to be a result of the ‘Zionist lobby’.
Her bid for president was endorsed by the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK), a group that has been banned by the NUS since 2004 after publishing material on its website originally published on neo-Nazi and Holocaust Denial websites, as well as their own post entitled “Take your holocaust, roll it nice and tight and shove it up your (be creative)!” MPACUK’s endorsement of her candidacy would be less concerning if she hadn’t appeared to welcome it, by replying “Thank you :-))”.
The new NUS president insists her concerns revolve around Zionism, not Judaism, and that her arguments are political, not faith based. But in an atmosphere in which the far-left and far-right are competing for people’s increased anger, is it any surprise that the same conference that saw her elected president applauded a speaker who argued that the NUS should not commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, because “it’s not inclusive.”
The lessons learnt over decades by such leaders as Gandhi, Martin Luther King and even Malcolm X — after he openly recanted his earlier, anti-white views — are being all but forgotten. Indeed, true to form, let us remember who it was exactly who came to kill Malcolm X for repudiating his past racist-baiting rhetoric; it was those very same bitter, angry activists who claimed to be defending blacks.
“As true as we are standing here. They’ve tried it twice in the last two weeks,” said Malcolm in one of his final interviews before his assassination. In retracting his past, Malcolm X described his former self — the Malcolm that used racially-divisive language — as a “zombie.”
“Brother, remember the time that white college girl came into the restaurant, the one who wanted to help the Muslims and the whites get together, and I told her there wasn’t a ghost of a chance and she went away crying?”
“Well, I’ve lived to regret that incident. I did many things as a Muslim that I’m sorry for now. I was a zombie then… the sickness and madness of those days, I’m glad to be free of them.”
Yet to say that progressive politics is steadily being hijacked by the return of these “zombies”, who peddle racially-divisive language, would be an understatement. To those who I call Europe’s regressive-Left, by which I mean a non-progressive faction of the far-Left, jihadist terrorism has come to resemble an authentic expression of Muslim rage at Western colonial hegemony.
For - don’t you know? - we Muslims are angry. We are so angry, in fact, that we wish to enslave indigenous Yazidi women for sex, bury adulterers neck-deep in the ground and stone them to death, while throwing gays off tall buildings and burning our enemies alive. All because…Israel.
For this regressive-Left—which has now penetrated US circles too—we Muslims are not expected to be civilized. And Muslim upstarts who dare to challenge this theocratic and far-Left fascism are deemed nothing but an inconvenience to an uncannily pre-Nazi-like populism that screams simplistically: “It is all the West’s fault!”
It is my fellow Muslims who suffer most from such bad leadership. We should have had cause to be proud. We should have had reason to celebrate the election of Britain’s first female, Muslim, ethnic-minority NUS president.
Instead, the return of these zombies Malcolm X so wisely repudiated is shaming those of us who do not wish to define ourselves by how angry and aggrieved we are.
I too have lived a life of racism, anger and grievance. Does the fact that I’m not frothing at the mouth about it make me any less Muslim, or any less an ethnic-minority? Are only those who choose to allow their hate to define themselves Muslim enough, or black enough?
The regressive-Left sedative of victimhood encourages a perpetual state of opposition to society, which in turn stifles aspiration, tempers expectations and - because we Muslims have our own culture – only increases self-segregation and ghettoization. There is a natural fear among the Left that challenging Islamist extremism can only aid Europe’s populist Right. But the alternative must not be instead to empower Islamist ideologues, or far-Left proto-fascists. There is a way to challenge both those who want to impose Islam and those who wish to ban Islam. The militant politics of identity over humanity, division over discussion and violence over peace should concern not only Jews, but Muslims and everyone else, too.
History has shown us what happens when angry activists consumed by a sense of a monopoly on injustice shift too far to the left. A black mirror of their struggle emerges on the far-right, breeding nothing but mutual hostility, street-thuggery and, eventually, fascism.
But if the regressive-Left has its way, why worry about medieval punishments conducted in Islam’s name? As they would have it: Let us not become the Uncle Tom that Malcolm X became. Israel is the real enemy, after all.
Let’s keep it real, man.
Maajid Nawaz is an author and chairman of the Quilliam think tank