Monday, January 11, 2010

Paul Sheehan, Anjem Choudary, wretched fundamentalists, human rights and the case for summary shootings

(Above: allegedly, these are images of a younger Anjem Choudary, now Muslim fundamentalist, at play. See here).

There's an argument that the world would be better served if the likes of Tim Blair took time out to think about the environment in which nine billion people might live in the future, rather than incessantly linking to mad climate change deniers.

And there's an argument that the world might be a calmer place if the likes of Paul Sheehan didn't whip themselves up into a lather about Islamic fundamentalists. At least when the result of the lathering is an incoherent frothing and foaming at the mouth.

Loon pond of course is the home for all kinds of fundamentalists, and we applaud the spirit of the Danish cartoons, if not the quality of the art, which is generally pretty poor. The work of satanic secular humanists is never done, whether confronted by Christian missionaries at work in Uganda helping to demonise and criminalise gays, or by fundamentalist Islamics who offer up gimmicks like 72 virgins as a reward for absolute stupidity (but what do the women get, I hear you cry and of course, as usual, it's the pleasure of a well satisfied man. As if that's any satisfaction at all).

It's as if the failed world of George W. Bush had never been, or having been, it was so glorious it must now be reinvented - first as a war, and then by reducing the society conducting the war to a pre-Geneva convention state of feral warriors.

The starting point for Sheehan's rant is the recent proposed demonstration at Wootton Bassett which has been peddled by Anjem Choudary.

Now Choudary is a perfect example of the noisiest kind of inhabitant of loon pond, and a profound irritant to anyone interested in a sensible, reasonable approach to life. And he's clearly got up Sheehan's nose:

After the media heard about the ritual it became an event. Inevitably, some parasites were attracted to the phenomenon. In Western society there is no greater parasite than the Islamic fundamentalist, who exploits everything from the West while respecting nothing. One such parasite is Anjem Choudary, an Englishman born and bred, and a lawyer. He is also an enemy of the state, protected by the freedoms he is committed to destroy.

Choudary has long supported Islamic militancy and separatism. He wants Islamic law for Muslims living in Britain. He has set up a system where Muslims in Britain can marry under sharia, bypassing civil law. He claims to have married 1800 couples and conducted hundreds of divorces.

Strangely enough, Sheehan doesn't bother to to drag up the youthful Choudary's activities, which are rumored to include drinking, casual sex, cannabis and LSD (The unholy past of the Muslim cleric demanding the Pope's execution). If you want some evocative pictures, and a little bit of Anjem Choudary bashing, why not head off to Swilling beer, smoking dope and leering at porn, the other side of hate preacher 'Andy' Choudary.

Now a ratbag like Choudary feeds on the oxygen of the media, and stunts like his plan to parade 500 empty coffins through Wootton Basset are designed to provoke the kind of knee jerk reaction Sheehan delivers in spades (To what extent does Anjem Choudary represent the Muslcim population). And the media, being chooks, will always gobble up the bread crumbs.

With his latest routine, Choudary predictably got a lot of people agitated including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Home Secretary Alan Johnson. And if there's a loon afoot in the land, surely the right way to combat the loon is to call him out, dub him a fringe extremist, and move on. Not according to Sheehan:

Mission accomplished. Choudary says he chose Wootton Basset to attract ''maximum attention''. His goal was to detonate a cultural bomb, and he succeeded. This provocation from a fringe-dweller in the wider Muslim ranks should never have been dignified with a response from the Prime Minister.

Not dignify him with a response? Yet dignify him with a response from Paul Sheehan?

Once again, the West's political, legal and media systems keep feeding the deluded and the perverted with the power of publicity. This is a cultural struggle that pits a large, wealthy and evolved Western civilisation against a relatively small and dispersed core of murderers and religious fanatics. The cost of containing and responding to the threat runs to billions of dollars, while the cost of imposing the threat is minute.

So Sheehan giving him oxygen, and ... follow closely this poncy reflexiveness ... anyone who writes about Sheehan writing about Choudray giving him more oxygen gives Choudray even more oxygen ... and the bill is adding up to squillions, and so what should we do? Send up Choudary shitless, maintain the rage about the Danish cartoons, ravage the stupidities of fundamentalist religionistas?

No, no, none of that.

Attack people interested in human rights.

That makes sense. It's all the fault of do gooder liberals and the legal system. And drag in an irrelevant red herring suggesting that it's all the fault of human rights gone mad that the CIA and other intelligence agencies in the USA totally stuffed up their reaction to information already to hand about the mad underpants bomber:

The greatest single burden in making a more effective response is the West's own legal system.

Well no, actually in the case of the underpants bomber, the greatest single burden was the failure of intelligence, and the catastrophic ineptness of the various security systems put in place after 9/11 (and if you want to read Christopher Buckley wondering how they manage to spend $42 billion on Homeland security, with so little result, try Homeland Security Too Big to Succeed).

Sheehan must be the only scribbler not to catch up with recent US talk of systemic failure, and wonder why it took a few brave souls on board to undo what the system had allowed to happen (which isn't to ignore that driving a car still remains more dangerous than catching a plane).

The most recent example was the near-murder of 278 people on board a US airliner on Christmas Day, in the name of Islamic jihad. MI5 has been accused of failing to alert US authorities to the extremist links of the Nigerian student, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to bomb the plane in mid-flight using a device secreted in his underwear.

Even though he had come to the attention of MI5, The Sunday Times yesterday reported the agency was advised by its legal department to withhold its file on Abdulmutallab out of concerns about breaching his human rights and privacy. The fear of a potential civil rights lawsuit by an African Muslim outweighed security concerns. The files were released only after he attempted to blow up the plane.

This is human rights gone mad.

Yep, forget the way his dad phoned in to dob in his son, forget how the underpants loon managed to board a plane on a one way ticket, paid for in cash, with no luggage, and so on and on. It's human rights gone mad. Or perhaps commentariat columnists gone stupid.

Because for a moment Sheehan sounds like he understands that past solutions were no solution at all:

One of the most damaging intellectual legacies of George Bush was his declaration of a ''war on terror'' and its invitation for jihad.

But his own solution is just as silly as the worst Guantanamo Bay excesses, along with the ineptly structured military tribunals devised by the Bush regime (The Trials of Guantanamo Bay).

But those who seek to wage war against a society should not have recourse to the civil laws of that society. Their activities should be examined by a tribunal, where the sifting of all evidence has primacy and the distractions and dissembling of a public trial have no audience and thus no point.

We have the capacity to create such a system, but not yet the will. It would be anathema to the human rights industry, and a winner with the electorate.

So we bung on another set of tribunals? Military, civil, or just plain old fashioned fascist?

Lordy, lordy, sifting what evidence? That we all dislike 'Andy' Choudary? Why bother with a tribunal? Case closed, drag him away, and send him down.

But for all his profound offensiveness, Choudary at the moment seemingly hasn't broken any law, and not for want of authorities trying to ping him. Never mind, send him down.

Does that mean when I find Paul Sheehan profoundly offensive, I can send him down too?

Golly, I guess Hitler was a winner with the electorate (now don't get too finicky about how many votes the Nazis won in the last relatively general election in Germany as they came to power, and for god's sake don't mention Godwin's Law, I'm already up for squillions). And of course Australia is justly proud that it's national icon has given its name to the concept of the kangaroo court.

Even so, the idea of rule by law is not to indulge in mob rule, though by golly if I was appointed to a decent tribunal, anybody who came before it with their god bothering insufferable ways would find themselves in heaps of trouble. Lots of paddy whacks for the ning nongs.

And you know, you can call me an old fashioned romantic, but I like the old fashioned notion of crime. If you try to blow up an aircraft people of people, or a building full of bureaucrats in Oklahoma, you're not some kind of revolutionary, or radical with a pure religious heart, or someone legitimately at war with the west, requiring 'outside the law' treatment of a special Sheehan kind.

Some might call you a common terrorist, but I fancy that along with term, you still remain a common criminal, and I would love you to serve some time experiencing a maximum security jail. Not so Sheehan:

Now we have Barack Obama deciding to try the surviving protagonists of the September 11 bombings in a civil trial in New York. It will be a legal three-ring circus. It is a political risk of the highest order. More insidiously, it is a conceptual blunder.

The decision also plays into the concept of ''lawfare'', where the laws of the West are used by those who despise the West and do not play by the rules of the West. The tactic is to clog up the courts, governments and media with lawsuits about human rights violations. The burgeoning and amorphous field of human rights has been a paradise for this practice, both in international and domestic law.

What? You mean they won't have enough evidence to nail the mad underpants bomber and send him down for several lifetimes? You mean a trial about an attempt to blow up a plane will just be about human rights violations?

Then all is lost, and Sheehan is right about human rights.

But before he gets too righteous about conceptual blunders, he should think about his own, which is to decry George Bush, and then urge a return to the tribunals which so signally failed Bush. Unless of course he's thinking of that Spanish tribunal that worked for the Catholic church so well many years ago, until people began to call it the Inquisition, or Chairman Stalin's tribunals, which worked very well for Chairman Stalin ... or perhaps even the kangaroo courts set up to catch the assassins alleged to have knocked over Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.

If you shoot a doctor who provides abortions, you should be sent down for a long time as a common criminal; if you try to murder hundreds of people on a plane, you're a common criminal and should be sent down for as long a time as possible, and if you're a commentariat columnist who tries to blame human rights and the legal system for systemic failures in intelligence, you should be taken out the back and summarily shot.

Oops, sorry, went a little Sheehan there for a moment. Perhaps you should be given a cursory show trial in a specially constructed tribunal, which will be subject to endless legal and constitutional appeal, and result in endless costs, and nothing settled, unless we suddenly acquire a fearless, potent leader not afraid of commentariat columnists ... and then be taken out the back and shot. In the eminently sensible way they manage in certain parts of China, and all parts of North Korea.

And if your last cry is 'but what about my human rights', let's hope that one of the squad of trained marksmen replies 'you gave up your human rights when you chose to write nonsense'.

I know that will mean there'll be a lot of work for the firing squad - loon pond will be first in line - but hey how else are we going to get back to the good old days of Romans v. the world?

Meantime, I'm quite happy that everybody from Gordon Brown down notes that Choudary is a loon ... say it often enough, and he might disappear into the woodwork in the way of all loons who crave the media spotlight, but eventually find the lights go out ...

(Below: as always, Monty Python has the perfect model for a decent, people driven, electorate friendly tribunal. And none of that tripe about human rights when there's a decent crusade on which to embark).

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