by Jamie Palmer
By supporting fundamentalists, the Left simply chooses one camp in a political struggle without acknowledging it.
Maryam Namazie, a trenchant campaigner against religious fundamentalism, made this observation last week during a fraught lecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. It would turn out to be pertinent.
Namazie’s appearance at Goldsmiths was causing trouble before the event had even begun. The day before the event, the university’s Islamic Society (ISOC) let it be known that they considered Namazie to be a “renowned Islamophobe” whose presence on campus would cause ISOC members to feel “extremely uncomfortable”, and constitute a violation of their “safe space”. Such a reaction was tiresome but unsurprising. Goldsmiths’ ISOC is, after all, an Islamist-led organization, dominated by people who hold precisely the kind of beliefs Namazie spends her days attacking.
When expressions of Islamist self-pity failed to get her disinvited, ISOC members resorted to childish disruption of the talk itself, giggling, talking, heckling, and interfering with her power-point as she tried to speak. The video of the event (which can be seen here) makes for a depressing watch.
But what followed was more depressing still, and offered an instructive example of the moral collapse of the activist Left to which Namazie had referred in her lecture. “Solidarity,” she had warned…
…has become increasingly defined, not in political terms, as collective action in pursuit of certain political ideals, but in terms of ethnicity or culture. And since those in power [within Muslim communities] determine the dominant culture, many student unions – those on the Left, and even feminists – side with Islamism at our expense.
And so it was that when ISOC misrepresented the event as an unhappy tale of marginalization and Islamophobia, both the Goldsmiths Feminist Society and the LGBTQ+ Society quickly released statements pledging their support and solidarity with ISOC.
“We support them,” FemSoc soberly declared:
…in condemning the actions of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society and agree that hosting known islamophobes at our university creates a climate of hatred.
Two days later, the LGBTQ+ Society came up with this:
We condemn AHS and online supporters for their islamophobic remarks, attitudes, and harassment. If they feel intimidated, we urge them to look at the underpinnings of their ideology. We find that personal and social harm enacted in the name of ‘free speech’ is foul, and detrimental to the wellbeing of students and staff on campus.
In a positively craven gesture, the Goldsmiths Student Union has since written to Namazie requesting that the recording of the event be removed from youtube. (She refused.)
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