I suppose it is human nature to desire a scapegoat, someone to blame, for every failing in society. Thus, questions are being asked about MI5 and our security services more generally and their ability to keep us safe. Given the nature of the world and the presence of a small band of determined fanatics, filled with hatred for our way of life, it is clear to me that we cannot expect the state alone to ensure our safety. We have to increase our own awareness.
How and where can we raise this awareness? It seems to me in the home, in the school and college, at work and in institutions, clubs, churches and the like.
It is a sad reflection on the world today but we are all going to have to be watchful and aware; more ready to challenge fanaticism in the home and, in the end, to take action to curtail it. Yes; we may have to “shop” a brother, a son, a father, a cousin to the authorities. Equally, those authorities will have to be visible, accessible and ready to listen. This will be hard for any family but doubly so for Moslems for whom the closeness of their family and their faith are still strong. However, given the expressions of revulsion for the recent barbarism in Woolwich from many Moslem spokesmen, there is a compelling need to impress on their followers the absolute duty to protect citizens and civilisation by not tolerating and not ignoring fanaticism that can lead to barbarism. This also points to a need for more wholesale integration of ethnic communities into their communities; for an end to households where English is never spoken; for a willingness to participate more generally in wide society and to end the practice of ethnic separation.
Schools and colleges as well as churches, mosques and other bodies face a similar challenge. It will take real leadership and courage to speak out against the fanatics and to deny them the oxygen of publicity for their hatred and the privacy of a closed group that prevents any moderation.
I am afraid the concepts of equality, fairness and non-discrimination which have been imposed on British society have probably blunted the ability of institutions to root out fanaticism. We all have a role here in rolling back political correctness and importing some commons sense again. We are, constitutionally, a Christian country that believes in the rule of law, in democracy, in the equality of men and women, in freedom to practice a religion but not to preach hatred and intolerance. It surely can’t be impossible to find a way of applying these fundamental principles but it will take the leadership, courage, humanity and common touch exhibited by those women of Woolwich to achieve it.