Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 17 Nov 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Derailing Muslim registration

There is a movement afoot, in America, to have a register of Muslims. I can’t do much to resist that, being a UK citizen and all, but I can outline what I would do if such a system was proposed here, by the kind of Tory MP who gets a chubber when people talk about hanging and by the kind of Labour MP who worries that he might lose his seat to some red-faced middle manager from UKIP who privately thinks that anyone darker than his orange wife should be shot. And it’s this.

I’d register as a Muslim. I’d take whatever counsel I needed to take from my local mosque to make the deception halfway convincing while, at the same time, making it clear that I was sending up the whole system. Since bureaucracy doesn’t do humour, or see shades of grey, it would have to see me as a Muslim and treat me accordingly. I think officialdom would stop some way short of making us all wear badges, because this is England and we like our racism to have a veneer of respectability, but the effect of people deciding that the system was obscene and starting to object would be that thousands of non-Muslims register as Muslims and officialdom would be thwarted. A system set up to tell them something would be deluged with too much information to function.

But the other reason why mass registration would be effective is that any idea of trying to single out one particular group relies on ‘othering’ people. By compelling people in Group X to notify the state that they exist, you’ve instantly dropped a wall between them and the rest of the populace. The people in Group X need to register, citizen, but you don’t. You’re one of us. Them? Well, we’re not so sure so we have to take precautions. You see, already, how this works. The people in Group X feel discriminated against and perhaps a few people kick against the system, which is taken by everyone else as a sign that they should be discriminated against. And if they don’t, but come quietly, they’ve let the state cow them into silence. It’s a win-win.

Yet it’s only a win-win if you play the game by their rules. If you don’t recognise the rules, then you can make it much more complex. Once you start shrouding the state in fog, it doesn’t know who to hit. If people are registered across the board, from little old ladies to teenagers, it doesn’t know who is a supposed enemy of the state and who is stringing them along. Briefings to journalists would be along the lines of mass registration being done by those irresponsible, evil liberals, but a concern for civil liberties cuts across the political divide and is way too broad a category to get any traction. If people who aren’t liberals but believe in civil rights register, then the governmental ranting has no meaning.

And there’s an even more serious point bound up in this. Asking people to register was the first step in a journey that led in a few short years to the Holocaust. Civil liberties were sliced away, the Jewish population was othered and then it was killed. Should the unthinkable happen and Trump be a two term President, this allows enough time for such a thing to reach the public agenda. From 1933 to 1941 was just eight years, plenty of time for the machinery of death to be oiled up and running, even if the mass exterminations hadn’t quite got into gear. Even if death isn’t where this is leading, it doesn’t take too much legislation before the daily lives of people targeted become impossible. The important thing, the MOST important thing, is that every step along the road to fascism is resisted good and early.

Why? Because they’re cowards. When the Nazis instituted the T4 euthanasia programme, people in the church and in communities across Germany started to push back. The people targeted by T4 were the mentally ill and sundry other voiceless supposed undesirables, but people didn’t want them killed. The Nazis lost heart and the programme was pulled. Even an all-conquering state was scared of what the reaction might be, so what might happen in societies where the state has nothing like the same power, but where people push back even more vehemently? I think they’d lose heart and something about them losing heart would sow the seeds of their destruction.Once they start appearing weak, you’ve got them.

Perhaps the registration idea is just mood music being put out by a future administration that wants to seem less reactionary and will do by not enacting it, but voices need to be raised in opposition on both sides of the Atlantic. To cite Martin Niemoller’s poem, just because they come for some other people today, it doesn’t mean your name won’t be on a list for the vans to bring in tomorrow. For God’s sakes, for pity’s sakes and for humanity’s sakes, this stuff has to be resisted.

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