The victims will not have died in vain if the "identity-group grievance industry" suffers as a consequence of the London bombings. Free speech is as important during hostilities as during peace. Bitter things are being said on both sides. Of course there are ignorant non-Muslims blaming the entire Muslim community. So what? Such people hold all kinds of stupid opinions, but we don't take any notice of those. Why should we care about this particular one? On the other hand, on Sky News last night, I watched a Birmingham Muslim denounce Christian clergy for speaking about the London bombings when they had not spoken out about "the deaths of Muslims in Fallujah". How stupid was that?
That feelings run high is understandable. Such comments may be unfair, but it is far easier to argue with them if they are said openly. Repressing "incorrect" ideas merely strengthens them as they fester unexpressed (and unchallenged) in the breasts of their adherents. If 80 years of atheist Soviet repression could not stamp out Orthodox Christianity, I very much doubt if the government's new "anti-hate" legislation will eliminate negative views of Islam.
Of course no-one, Muslim or otherwise, is guilty until proven so. Of course no-one should hold any group collectively responsible for the actions of individuals within that group. But that applies to all groups, not just the favoured groups of the ruling Left. It was - to say the least - rather rude of the spokesmen for British Muslims that their first reaction to the London bombs was to warn about increased "islamophobia".
I don't think many Brits are islamophobic. Of course some are. In such difficult times, I confess to wondering myself - when the British immigration officer checking my passport is a veiled lady Muslim - whether she is really the best person to guard our borders from Muslim fanatics. I wonder how much she has really adapted to our society; in short where her true loyalties lie. Is that "islamophobic"? I don't know.
Islamophobic views will fade naturally as we are exposed to repeated positive experiences of Muslims. We are not going to hate our colleague at work or the nice man who serves us in the newsagents just because some moron who professes the same religion has done this horrible thing. That would be as crazy as blaming every Russian for Stalin's crimes. To suggest that we are so crazy is, frankly, offensive. Yet, as Steyn points out in the referenced article, that is what British ministers, policemen and Muslim leaders are doing.
There is an opportunity for Britain's Muslims now to show their true loyalties. Not only can they denounce the bombers, they can help catch them. If, as seems likely, the bombers live and work in Britain (why smuggle them across borders when there are thousands of nutcases at home?) someone, somewhere, has the information to convict them. I really hope that the people turn them in are Muslims. It would do more than any law could do to improve "community relations".
The Scots and Welsh may be obsessed by embittered ethnicity, but England has a proud history of tolerance. We have welcomed and absorbed so many immigrants that we have no ethnicity to defend. We are mongrels, identified not by our skin colour or religion but by a collection of ideas. Tolerance, justice and liberty are among the grander ones. Politeness, calmness under pressure and a sense of humour used to be among the smaller ones. I was proud to see them re-emerge in adversity as they did last Thursday.
Mark Steyn's comments may not be politically correct, but they are timely. Nothing is more likely to promote resentment against Muslim Britons than lying about them, or suppressing comments about them. It is - as Steyn says - "drivel" for a leading policeman to say "Islam and terrorism don't go together". There is no point lying about it. At this point in history, sadly, they do. It is for Muslims to show that they need not.
Telegraph | Opinion | Islam does incubate terrorism