Whether we like it or not, Campaign Islam’s response to the now infamous Honest Policy video will resonate with many young people, unable to sift through propaganda which presents Muslims as permanent, exclusive victims. Most of us have mellowed with the passing years and have forgotten that the young are often attracted to those who appear to be straight talking.
The middle-aged amongst us watched a few frames and found our in-built Omar Bakri Alarms going off. Long gone are the days plastering lampposts with sticky labels promoting Islam as a way of life. Today, whatever our view of style and substance, theirs is a social media just as creative as any Channel 4 Short.
Such is the effect of our aversion to the HT / Al-Muhajirun circus of the 1990s, that we can no longer listen to those who sing from a different hymn sheet. Women in niqab should be silent, we announce, without the faintest trace of irony. Women moved by the desperate lot of others elsewhere should direct all their energies in that direction, and leave the rest of us alone to enjoy our skinny lattes.
20 years ago, I was one of those annoying youth banging on about hideous slaughter in our midst: in my case it was genocide in Rwanda. I was found pinning up posters around my college, begging people to take notice and do “something”. But we were the Brit-pop generation — the Boo Radleys were singing, Wake Up Boo! — and few of us really cared about the world beyond our Walkman mix tape.
In truth, this debate is replayed in every generation between the gloriously entertained and the boringly serious. CND would march while Punk rocked. Bosnia burned as Blur and Oasis battled for another nation’s heart. The chasm between today’s Mipsters revelling in Islampop and their angry campaigning counterparts is hardly peculiar. Of course there is crossover: thousands have been moved to support the people of war-torn Syria whilst listening to Adam Saif perform live in concert. But that has always been the case too, from Band Aid in 1984 to U2’s Sarajevo Tour.
When we were young, we tended to think that only our way was right. Sometimes it is tiresome to encounter those who still believe that, but surely we are old enough now to accommodate competing voices, however much we may find ourselves disagreeing with both.