Socialist Worker

Don't let the Tories play the race card

David Cameron choose last Saturday to launch a vicious attack on Muslims—just as the racist English Defence League were descending on Luton

Issue No. 2238

David Cameron has immersed himself in the politics of the sewer.

Faced with growing anger at Tory cuts, and the demands of his party faithful for more Thatcherite policies, he used a speech in Munich last week to launch a tirade against Muslims.

Addressing a security conference with European leaders who share his prejudices, Cameron called for a “muscular liberalism” that is not afraid to speak out against those who do not share so-called “British values”.

Even Muslims who emphatically reject violence were painted as “extremists”.

This is a dangerous strategy that threatens to legitimise the racist right, creating a climate of fear and stoking the already growing number of physical attacks on Muslims.

The Tory leader hopes that his crude attempts to smear Muslims as being predisposed to terrorism will divide his opposition—and unite a right wing rabble behind him.

Multiculturalism, Cameron said, had meant tolerating “segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values”.

He attacked those who argue that the terror threat has grown alongside the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as “accepting an extremist worldview”.

He said that even Muslims who reject all violence could be responsible for “radicalisation” that leads to suicide bombing.

The support of successive British governments for dictatorships, torture and oppression in the Middle East and beyond are “just contributory factors” in the radicalisation of young Muslim men, he claimed.

Instead, a “warped Islamic ideology” was to blame.

Behind these familiar warmongering retorts came a full on assault on those who have stood up against the tide of Islamophobia in the name of multiculturalism.

Cameron claims to rejoice in a Britain where people of different cultures live and work together.

However, in a sop to those whose hatred of Muslims is couched as a defence of liberty, he accused anti-racists of ignoring forced marriages and sexual oppression among Muslims.

“When a white person holds racist views, we rightly condemn them. But when equally unacceptable views or practices come from someone who isn’t white, we’ve been fearful to stand up to them,” Cameron said.

He seems not to have noticed the daily hounding of mosques and Muslim organisations by the media.According to the right wing press, no Muslim has ever done enough to stop the growth of “radicalism”.

It is almost as if before a Muslim can speak on any matter they must first renounce terror and proclaim their support of gay rights. These strictures are not applied to any other group.

Christian fundamentalists who attack gay people as “prone to paedophilia” are never hounded by Tory tabloid newspapers.

Instead they are lauded for “standing up to political correctness”.

Yet unless Muslim groups sign up to a checklist of “liberties” that many in the Tory party would not, they find themselves labelled as “extremist” and ­likened to the Nazi BNP.

“Would you allow the far right groups a share of public funds if they promise to help you lure young white men away from fascist terrorism?” Cameron asked rhetorically.

Many Muslims, he charged, had rejected “Britishness” and “British values” in favour of a separate Islamic identity—deliberately isolating themselves in ghettos.

Tradition

Yet far from wishing to live away from others, Muslims in Britain have a long tradition of mixing with those from all backgrounds.

This is illustrated by research by the University of Manchester. It shows that less than 20 percent of minorities born in Britain say they only have friends from their own ethnic group.

If any group is ethnically ­isolated, it is white people. Over half of white people say they only have white friends.

But don’t expect Cameron to chastise them for “ghettoising” themselves.

The prime minister’s family is so diverse that both he and his wife are related to royalty.

He wants all those who are horrified by his government’s cuts to turn against each other instead of against him.

Rather than see an effective opposition tackle their plans to smash public services, the Tories and their Lib Dem friends want to sow division.

This is despite knowing that once the genie of racism is out of the bottle, it could lead to an explosion of prejudice—one that could cost lives.

It is vital that we stop them. We must trump Cameron’s attempt to play the race card with our best hand—workers’ unity.


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