A young Pakistani/British guy with a long beard etc from Bradford has just been poodling about in my kitchen, trying to fix our boiler. He seemed a bit shy/lonely at first, but then he commented on the maps plastered all over our kitchen walls, at the picture of Malcolm X; “Hey – it’s nice to see a family who are world-aware” and shortly after this, he remarked that he liked the little Nativity set that I put up there in the window every year. Finally – he left with a “Hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas.”
I got on the phone to the Prevent guys straight away in order to grass him up.
He is clearly one of those dangerous Christian extremists.
I’m being ultra-flippant of course. But there is a serious issue at hand here. And it’s all about *who* and *how*, *what* and *why* we perceive certain people and certain views to be ‘dangerous’. Or ‘radical’. Or ‘extremist.’
For example, many moons ago (before I saw a tad bit of sense) I engaged in what some folk might have considered to be very dodgy, off the wall, Christian extremist activities. I won’t go into detail here (because quite frankly, I’m hideously embarrassed that I ever believed in such OTT tosh). But no one was ever duly concerned about this 14 year old girl being ‘brainwashed,’ possessing radical views, acting in an isolated manner, reducing her circle of friends to those who shared her oh-so narrow-minded beliefs, the plotting and planning about overthrowing the evil, anti-Christian British state (okay, I exaggerate on the latter but if a secularist had encountered me at this point in my life – they may well have been a smidgen bit concerned about where the hell I was heading for. And I’m not referring to the big fiery pit.)
Yet no one called up Channel (the agency that teachers, youth, health workers and the like have to have their pupils referred to, when they’ve been identified as being ‘extremist’ or ‘radicalised’) in order to say that the powers that be, should be rifling through this teenage-radical’s knicker drawer for evidence of semtex.
Why? Because – in a nutshell – I’m white. Because I practised Christianity (well, I *thought* that I did, way back then …)
So, when I first began to hear about the Prevent agenda and all of this talk of ‘British Values’ – the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. It was like … reading about the beginnings, the origins of McCarthyism.
Now, you may well have not heard about Prevent. And if not, don’t beat yourself up about it (or indeed, plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament in outrage – or even joke about that kind of thing. They’ll ‘ave yer’ for that). Because there’s a good reason for this. You can read more here, about how and why the damned initiative has been introduced via stealth.
I’m chuffed to say that a few good men/women/in-betweeners are finally standing up to Prevent (just in time for it to hit the universities) and so I’ll leave you with the words of one of the bigger bravehearted educators, when it comes to their determination to resist Prevent;
“How are we safe [under Prevent] to voice our feelings, our opinions, to find solace for our angers or our fears in debate with like-minded individuals?
How are our children protected – who we have raised to think critically, to protest peacefully, to stand up for what they believe in – and to support others who suffer injustice or need a spot of help?
I am a keen educator. I am passionate about it. I have every qualification I should need to have the right to teach. My teacher training, like anyone else’s, included the duty to look for dangerous symptoms of all sorts that might harm our students themselves or our communities, and to find ways to combat this positively. Just as our legal system includes courts of law with due process and openness to deal with perpetrators of violence. There can be no decency found in closed door secret courts or in a fear culture of informing which generates concealment through fear. There is nothing to trust that has two faces.”