‘Terrorism expert’ Steve Emerson may have earned almost universal ridicule for his comments on Europe’s Muslim ‘no go zones’ last week, but not everyone is laughing. This morning I had the misfortune to be stuck in a car listening to Nigel Farage on the Today programme, telling an interviewer that there were parts of Britain, such as Rotherham, where the rule of law had broken down and sharia courts had taken its place.
These ‘ghettoes’, the Sage of Thanet explained, were the result of ‘multiculturalism’, which had promoted ‘division’ and needed to be replaced by something that he called ‘interculturalism’, which meant, as far as I could gather, the universal acceptance of our ‘Judeo-Christian culture.’
Farage has been saying this kind of thing for a long time, but the Paris attacks have clearly emboldened him and validated his views – in his eyes at least. These attacks also appear to have given his views new legitimacy in the eyes of people who should know better. For reasons known only to itself, Channel 4 News interviewed him on the day of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, where Farage talked of ‘fifth columns’ and attacked ‘multiculturalism’.
That same day he told Fox News, whose owner Rupert Murdoch is a big fan of Farage, that ‘a fifth column, mercifully few in numbers…. is out to destroy our whole civilisation and our way of life. The most sinister thing about today is, you know, what price now a cartoonist, a satirist, even a commentator? The implications on (sic) free speech and our democracy are very serious.’
No doubt, but Farage is not the man to get all statesmanlike about free speech. Last March UKIP tried to ban the ‘Stop UKIP Tour by the comic duo Jonny and the Baptists. In December UKIP MEP David Coburn threatened legal action to shut down a spoof twitter account Trumpton_UKIP based on the Trumpton animation, which its creator claimed was intended to ‘gently take the mickey out of UKIP.’
That same month Farage himself condemned an app produced by students at a Canterbury school in which a character called ‘Nicholas Fromage’ gains ‘racism points’ by kicking immigrants off the white cliffs of Dover. The app developers said that their game was intended to ‘make a mockery of extremist views’, but Farage described it as ‘risible’ and ‘pathetic’ and said that it ‘elements of the game appear to cross the line.’
Ah yes, the line. Where is that exactly Nigel? Hypocrisy however, is the least of the Sage of Thanet’s faults. Asked by his interviewer what had brought these fifth columns into Europe, Farage had no doubts. It was ‘ mass immigration’ accompanied by multiculturalism, which has allowed people to ‘come into our mosques heavily funded by some Middle Eastern states…pushing a deeply unpleasant and anti-Christian heritage culture.’
In allowing this to happen ‘We have promoted division within our societies. We have said to large numbers of people, ‘ you can come here from any part of the world, oh and please don’t bother to learn our language. Don’t integrate in any way at all. You can take over whole parts of our towns and cities and we’ll say it’s made us a wonderful diverse nation.’
Some people may wonder what government has ever said this or even thought it. Whoever it is, it certainly isn’t France, which has always had a strongly assimilationist immigration policy, but Fox News loves to hear this kind of stuff, and Farage has now become its go to politician for an ‘honest’ depiction of the sick Europe that has allowed itself to be taken over the Muslim hordes. Yesterday he painted the same dark picture on the Sean Hannity show of Islamic ‘no go zones’ proliferating across France and Britain, declaring:
‘ It isn’t just France. It’s happening right across Europe. We’ve got no go zones in most of the big French cities….in parts of northern England we’ve seen the sexual grooming scandal of underaged girls committed by Muslim men in the majority, and for all of these things we’re seeing the law not being applied equally. We’ve seen the police forces not actually doing their job because we’ve suffered from moral cowardice.’
This ‘moral cowardice’, Farage claimed, has resulted in a situation in which ‘ you see this blind eye being turned and you see the growth of ghettoes where the police and all the normal agents of the law have withdrawn and that is where sharia law has come in.’
These arguments are classic Farage – all insinuation and conflation with no actual substance. There are certainly some deprived neighborhoods in European cities that police are wary of entering, but that doesn’t mean that policing is absent from them, or that these neighborhoods are exclusively Muslim law, let alone that they live under ‘sharia law’.
So what’s the solution to these fantasy enclaves? Farage has the answer:
‘ I think we’ve got to be a bit more assertive about who we are and what are values are, and I’m not saying we should be forced to go to church on Sundays or anything like it, but we come from countries with Christian cultures and Christian constitutions and it’s about time we started standing up for that.’
Farage has been accused of opportunism and using the Paris attacks ‘to score political points’ by the main political party leaders, but what he has been doing is far worse than that. UKIP’s political rise owes much to Farage’s presentation of himself as a cheeky chappie maverick defying the entrenched Westminister class. But his utterly dishonest and fraudulent presentation of ‘no go areas’ governed by sharia law comes straight from the far-right Islamophobic canon, and there is nothing in his conflation of female genital mutilation, terrorism, Muslim fifth columns and multiculturalism that the BNP would disagree with.
Farage is a slicker and more cunning politician than Nick Griffin, and he is at pains to tell Fox News that the ‘vast majority of Muslims‘ are ‘law-abiding, and peaceable, and really good human beings who we’d be happy to have as our friends and our next door neighbors, so let’s be careful, let’s not stir up hatred against Muslims. That would be a terrible mistake.’
It would be, but Farage is doing it anyway, and the fact that even mainstream media outlets feel the need to seek his views is another demonstration of the extent to which far right views have permeated the political mainstream and acquired a new respectability. Because Farage is stirring up fear and hatred against Muslims and immigrants in general, while claiming that he isn’t doing it. He is deliberately fusing all kinds of issues together in order to promote a Eurabian fantasy of a Europe destroyed by ‘mass immigration’ and Muslim immigration in particular, to the point when whole neighborhoods have supposedly abandoned by the state and become enclaves of Islamic rule.
He is doing this calmly, shamelessly and with utter cynicism, using the hideous tragedy that took place last week to peddle bigotry, lies and fantasies. To do that requires you to be much more than a politician on the make or a cheeky chappie with a pint in your hand or an ‘opportunist.’.
It requires you to be a real jerk, and someone quite sinister, devious and fundamentally repellent.