Many MPs want to shut Bri­tain’s bor­ders to the en­try of im­mi­grants, but not one has linked the ter­ror act with is­sue of Euro­pean im­mi­gra­tion, writes

New Straits Times - - Opinion - The writer is for­mer United King­dom min­is­ter of Europe and con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor at The Glob­al­ist

THE mood was som­bre in the House of Com­mons. United King­dom Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May faces that mo­ment every na­tional leader dreads. She has to rise to tell the na­tion of evil acts, in­no­cent peo­ple killed, an at­tack on the heart of democ­racy, against the Bri­tish Par­lia­ment where Win­ston Churchill united the Bri­tish peo­ple against Hitler. She has to find words of sor­row at the mur­der of a po­lice­man, a hus­band and fa­ther. May has to ex­plain that this act of ter­ror­ism is atro­cious. The ide­ol­ogy be­hind it must be con­fronted. But it stops at the in­di­vid­ual crim­i­nal and the ide­ol­ogy.

The Bri­tish prime min­is­ter sits along­side her min­is­ters, who are men and women, white and black, Catholic and Mus­lim. She knows her coun­try and how any act of di­vid­ing Bri­tain on the ba­sis of race or re­li­gion has al­ways been fu­tile. Al­ready, the Mus­lim Mayor of Lon­don Sadiq Khan has made an im­por­tant state­ment con­demn­ing the evil act. Up and down Bri­tain, the mosques of the Bri­tish Mus­lim community con­demn the at­tack on West­min­ster and the deaths and in­juries.

And then comes the mes­sage from an­other fe­male prime min­is­ter — Beata Szydlo of Poland. Her state­ment is not one of sol­i­dar­ity, of sor­row or sup­port. No. The mes­sage from War­saw is that this evil act was the fault of the Euro­pean Union’s im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy.

Szydlo is wrong on all counts, but liv­ing in the post-fac­tual world that she in­hab­its, that does not seem to in­hibit her much. Of note, the ter­ror­ist crim­i­nal who car­ried out the at­tack was born in Bri­tain, raised in Bri­tain and is as Bri­tish as May or David Beck­ham. Khalid Ma­sood was not an im­mi­grant. More­over, he has noth­ing to do with “Europe”. His mother was Bri­tish. He was born and grew up in south Eng­land, and has noth­ing to do with re­cent im­mi­gra­tion move­ments in Europe.

Szydlo ap­pears to live so much in­side her ide­o­log­i­cally tainted head that she is ap­par­ently com­pletely un­aware that the word “im­mi­grant” in Bri­tain, when it is used by the na­tion­al­ist pop­ulist dem­a­gogues in pol­i­tics or the press, more of­ten than not has the ad­jec­tive “Pol­ish” in front of it.

More­over, most an­a­lysts of the Brexit ref­er­en­dum in June last year ac­cept that the main driver for the Brexit vote was the mass ar­rival of Pol­ish cit­i­zens in the years since Poland joined the Euro­pean Union in 2016. So when Szydlo now con­demns EU im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, many if not most peo­ple in Bri­tain will think she is talk­ing about the right of a mil­lion Poles to come to Bri­tain. She is thus con­demn­ing her own peo­ple. Most poignantly, the top de­mand of the na­tion­al­ist Eu­roscep­tic forces in Bri­tain is to slow down, stop and even re­verse the num­ber of Poles and other Euro­pean “im­mi­grants” com­ing to Bri­tain.

In con­trast to the Pol­ish prime min­is­ter go­ing way low, the Bri­tish prime min­is­ter in­sisted to the House of Com­mons that Bri­tain would not bring in new mea­sures or seek to sin­gle out the Bri­tish Mus­lim community. And most Bri­tish peo­ple are ashamed of the xeno­pho­bic at­tacks on Euro­peans, in­clud­ing Poles, af­ter the tri­umph for pop­ulist na­tion­al­ist xeno­pho­bia in the Brexit cam­paign.

They dis­like Is­lamist ide­ol­ogy, with its em­pha­sis on the supremacy of one re­li­gion, its be­lief that women should stay at home to have chil­dren and obey their hus­bands, and its con­tempt for western demo­cratic ideals like a free press and an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­cial sys­tem.

The House of Com­mons has many MPs who are hard­line sup­port­ers of Brexit and who look for­ward to shut­ting Bri­tain’s bor­ders to stop Poles and other Euro­pean Union cit­i­zens com­ing freely to live, work, love and set­tle as free Euro­peans in a free Bri­tain. But not one of them in the Com­mons sought to link the ter­ror­ist act of an in­doc­tri­nated and wicked Bri­tish killer with the is­sue of Euro­pean im­mi­gra­tion.

That Szydlo has done so should al­ways be re­mem­bered in the an­nals of Euro­pean po­lit­i­cal dia­logue as a true mo­ment of in­famy.

That Szydlo low­ered her­self to the level of link­ing the West­min­is­ter ter­ror atroc­ity with the EU’s im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy is a mat­ter of true dis­grace.

Szydlo has not only shown her ide­o­log­i­cally tainted colours by reacting in a hasty, ill-judged man­ner, ap­par­ently aim­ing at sat­is­fy­ing a do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal need.

Worse, her at­ti­tude is also eerily akin to that of vi­cious com­mu­nist op­er­a­tors of the past. They could never re­sist the temp­ta­tion, cal­lously and with­out a hu­man heart, to use any and all cir­cum­stances to make real-world events fit their dis­torted world view.

That the sub-leader of a na­tion that has known so much Com­mu­nist and fas­cist ter­ror begs dis­be­lief. To­day’s ter­ror threat from Is­lamist ide­ol­ogy is the nega­tion of ev­ery­thing Europe and Poland stands for.

This ar­ti­cle first ap­peared in the­glob­al­ist.com.


Peo­ple leave trib­utes at Par­lia­ment Square for vic­tims

of the at­tack in West­min­ster. Pol­ish Prime Min­is­ter Beata Szydlo’s com­ments on the at­tack should al­ways be re­mem­bered in the an­nals of Euro­pean po­lit­i­cal dia­logue as a true mo­ment of in­famy.

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