The ignorance, immaturity and hypocrisy of Mehdi Hasan
Polemic: controversial discussion; verbal or written attack, esp. on a political opponent (OED).
His Grace has had one or two blogging and twitter run-ins with Mehdi Hasan, the self-styled professional polemicist who writes under the guise of the New Statesman’s Senior Editor (politics). But it was only on last night’s Question Time that it became apparent to His Grace just how unpleasant, ignorant and utterly hypocritical the man is.
Pitching Mr Hasan against Douglas Murray (who appears to have had a falling out with Telegraph Blogs) was always going to have Question Time devotees reaching for the popcorn, and the dog-fight did not disappoint. But the manner of it was quite revealing. In the blue corner was Douglas Murray, who retained throughout a calm, professional, detached demeanour; he manifested an eloquent and erudite authority and was throughout in firm possession of his facts. In the red corner was Mehdi Hasan, who puffed and pouted, heaving and sighing with the tantrum temperament of a hormonal teenager. He shouted, bullied and rudely interrupted without any sense of propriety, and seemed quite incapable of listening to any thesis which conflicted with his preconceived absolutist view of the world.
Polemics have a place in political discourse, but the cultivation of controversy for its own sake is puerile.
He naturally jumped on the bandwagon, as Douglas Murray pointed out, of equating David Cameron’s Munich speech with a BNP narrative, quite disgusted that even that spawn of Satan Nick Griffin should find the speech ‘provocative’. What, he demanded, does this tell you about the ‘extreme right’ inclinations of our Prime Minister?
It’s a pity that Douglas Murray did not riposte with the damning correlation: what if Islamist extremists who seek to bomb us all to kingdom come find succour in the Islamic narrative of Mehdi Hasan? For they surely will, and they don’t need to read between the lines to do it. What does that tell us about the New Statesman’s Senior Editor (politics)?
No doubt he would splutter that this was a racist slur and an insult to Islam, quite unable to see the hypocrisy of his self-defence.
But His Grace would like to focus on one issue that Douglas Murray raised, and Mehdi Hasan swiped aside with such an absolute denial and vehement repudiation that one has to question how much he knows or any longer understands of the British Asian community, on whose behalf he purports to speak so authoritatively.
Mr Murray brought up the thorny issue of forced marriages, and mentioned 16-year-old girls who were carted off to Pakistan, never to be heard of again. Mr Hasan asserted that this takes place in no community at all: it is a myth, undoubtedly racist, propagated by neo-cons like Murray in order to bolster his Islamophobic obsession.
Douglas Murray was wrong, but on one point only: it is not only 16-year-old girls who are packed off to Pakistan to marry, but boys as well. And not only is it Muslims to Pakistan, but Hindus and Sikhs to the Panjab and environs. And if Mehdi Hasan takes issues with the concept of ‘forced’ marriage, he has absolutely no understanding of how some Asian families ‘assist’ their children to marry, and make it quite clear that if this ‘assistance’ is rejected, all hell will break loose. Perhaps Mr Hasan has never seen teenage girls weeping every day; the highly intelligent and intellectually-gifted potential doctors and lawyers who suddenly become sullen and withdrawn, almost overnight, because they have been told by their fathers, grandfathers, uncles and elder brothers that they must put all this nonsense out of their heads, for this is men’s business. She must marry, and here are four faces from whom she must choose. And if she does not, she will be beaten, and beaten, and beaten, and withdrawn from school and denied access to her friends. She will obey.
This is, for a great many Asian children, the reality of ‘assisted marriage’.
Not all, of course. Before Mehdi Hasan jumps upon this as a ‘bigoted’ and ‘racist’ rant (as he will anyway), there are thousands who have integrated and perfectly understand the meaning of liberty and equality. By Mehdi Hasan rejected last night that this practice takes place within any community in Britain: his ignorance is astonishing.
But doubtless he will say call the police and inform social services. And they are called and they are informed. But the family closes ranks and denies all knowledge of the allegations. And when the child is interviewed, he or she also denies that they are being forced to do anything.
Knowing, full well, that if they were to say otherwise, the offer of a room in a safe hostel would offer no security or safety at all.
And so the police withdraw, sensitive to the fact they are ‘institutionally racist’ and ought not to be seen to interfere in private matters of 'cultural diversity'. And social services say they will monitor, but they are powerless from the moment the child is despatched to Pakistan or India.
‘Honour killings’ are not a myth, Mr Hasan. You appear not to know that Asian girls – Muslim, Sikh and Hindu – sometimes find their lives cruelly curtailed because they refuse the ‘assistance’ of their families and the 'spiritual guidance' of their wider communities in the finding of a ‘suitable’ partner. Of course the police can then arrest the perpetrators of these horrors for murder, but it is too late for the girl.
Just as the Prime Minister seeks to end extremist acts of violence by tackling the Islamist ideology which state-multiculturalism has permitted to thrive, so ‘honour killings’ must be ended by confronting all the fluffy-sounding euphemisms for ‘forced marriage’. Be polemical, by all means, Mr Hasan. But when your blanket denials and crass repudiations facilitate child abuse, you might consider that a greater good might come of growing up and doing the job of a professional political editor.