Columnist and author Peter Hitchens has shared his views on ‘extremism’ in the Mail on Sunday:
As an extremist, I am very worried about the planned Extremism Bill, which our Prime Minister is about to ram through Parliament.
So should you be. You are probably extremists, too, or will soon become extremists.
You may well remember when many opinions now viewed as despicable and more or less criminal were freely expressed – often by the same people and media who now condemn them.
I certainly do. Much of the conservative patriotic Christianity which my parents’ generation saw as normal has now been driven underground, and those who express it – especially in the public sector – face discipline or the sack, and are sometimes prosecuted.
Many of the current establishment’s attacks on Labour aren’t disagreements among free people in a free society. They are demands for abject recantations expressed by people who clearly think such views should not be allowed.
And the expression ‘extremism’ doesn’t mean anything objective or measurable. It just means a view that is out of favour with the current government and establishment.
What’s more, new and startling evidence from France (barely noticed here) suggests strongly that all these ‘anti-extremist’ strategies are wholly useless anyway for their main stated purpose.
It’s not the robed and bearded Islamist zealots we need to fear at all. An undercover French journalist, who infiltrated a jihadi cell in Paris, described those he found there as ‘fast-food Islamists’ who knew nothing of their supposed religion.
‘I never saw any Islam in this affair,’ the reporter told Canal+ TV. The cell members had ‘no will to improve the world’ but were ‘lost, frustrated, suicidal, easily manipulated youths’.
This is what I have been pointing out for many months. Track the backgrounds of the perpetrators of these crimes, here and abroad, and you do not find fanatical Wahhabi hard men, trained in the arts of death.
You find, almost invariably, low-life drifters in a haze of dope, on the borders of mental illness (and sometimes beyond it), capable of murder because they have fried their brains for so long that they no longer know right from wrong, or fantasy from reality. Some of these commit crimes which they then justify with a political purpose; many just commit crimes.
This is where we should be looking – and what we should be discouraging by enforcing our criminal laws properly.
Yet, instead, we waste our time and destroy our freedom by futile attempts to control what people think.
Read the rest of Peter Hitchens’ column here.