Monday, 4 January 2010

Pressan Ambo






In their letter to to the people of Wootton Bassett, Islam4UK write:

We begin by inviting all non-Muslims to Islam, the perfect and most beautiful way of life, a favour from Allah (God) to mankind to take him out of the darkness of worshipping his own desires to the exclusive worship, submission and obedience of Allah alone, without partners and to testify the Messengership of the final Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). We urge you to embrace Islam and save yourselves and your family from the hellfire and not to believe the lies and distortions which the Western media and non-Islamic regimes would have you believe about Muslims and their true intentions. Islam means submission and the Muslim is the one who submits to the will of God in his life. Verily the Messenger Muhammad told us that whoever heard his name from the Jews and Christians and did not believe would be held accountable for that on the day of judgement.

Submission, obedience, hellfire, accountable...A nice line in threats. The march probably won't happen since everyone is against it from the Prime Minister down to the local mayor, but the threat has been made, and that changes things beyond the publicity grab of Anjem Choudary's pretty little group. Wootton Bassett becomes a symbol. Choudary has made it so.

I was thinking of Pressan Ambo in Auden and Isherwood's The Dog Beneath the Skin. Pressan Ambo was a microcosm of British rural hierarchy: what Auden and Isherwood felt they were up against. Today, Wootton Bassett is something else, but it has begun to assume a function beyond what it normally is and does. The town remains itself but it functions as an organ through which the stream of dead soldiers passes. Its people remain real people, best defined by themselves, but now, at another level, through the threats of Islam4UK, they become the people, or shall we say, an aspect of the people, of Britain. I don't think I am making this up: I suspect that is the inevitable role the town must now play, for however long or however briefly. That is the way its existence will be generally addressed, though in veiled terms, in public discourse. When people talk of Wootton Bassett they will mean more than a small Wiltshire town through which a route happens to pass.

So the question is: what is that aspect? What lines of power run through it? I will be thinking about this for a while yet. Maybe scribbling a bit too just to see where it leads.



14 comments:

Billy C said...

Maybe this is a good thing, George. Perhaps now we can draw the battle lines directly through Wootton Bassett and face the foe head on. For let there be no doubt, Radical Islam is the greatest threat to humanity since Adolph Hitler and it's time we faced that reality: all of us, including those who's religion they have stolen.

My biggest worry is that the media and officialdom will play this down for the sake of 'community relations'. If they do, I will curse every last one of them to hellfire. Why? Because another enemy within, the BNP, will cry 'foul' and use Wootton Bassett to take the high ground that belongs to every right thinking individual in the land. The BNP don't speak for me. Nor should they for everyone who believes this latest attack by the Radical Islamists on the very substance of what we are and which has taken centuries to achieve - a modern secular society - is beyond what we should tolerate. Our government should do that. Let us see, shall we.

George S said...

Radical Islam, like the BNP, like any extremist organisation, thrives on battle because it allows it to claim the front line and therefore to represent more people than it does. In doing so it divides and radicalises still further. That, I think. is an important - probably the main - part of Islam4UK's proclaimed intention to march through Wootton Bassett.

The first line of defence should be laughter, which is what they most hate because it makes them seem small and ridiculous. If Wootton Bassett were up to laughing I'd even think of allowing them through, specifically as a laughing stock. That is, of course, asking a lot of Wootton Bassett.

So I doubt whether that is possible, though I can always hope to be wrong. For a second best course the march should not be allowed but an alternative location, something suitably laughable and pointless, should be offered.

The situation as a whole is, as you say, far from laughable. Islam4UK and other such groups may have to be faced down the way Mosley was faced down in the East End, so that he might become ridiculous.

As a refugee to this country, I am fascinated by Wootton Bassett and all it holds and stands for, because, being a small market town, it is far from the centre and is a far from fashionable symbol to rally around.

Billy C said...

I don't think laughing at them will work either George. We've gone past that stage. Wootton Bassett has become a symbol for the nation to honour our returning dead. A focal point of our thoughts. Very much like they view the Koran. Perhaps we can explain it to them that way. It's the way their minds work. They might understand then that politicians are fair game but those who serve in our armed forces are beyond criticism unless they commit common crimes whilst serving.

George S said...

I don't know, Billy. You are probably right, though the business of explaining to 'them', when 'them' is acting out of malice will not be easy. I suspect they don't want to understand. Or that they understand all right, and that is the whole point.

The others, the majority of moderate Muslims, would be amenable to explanations, I believe, but maybe most of them don't need it explaining...

Anonymous said...

Its incredible how much power this man and his band of snarling cretins has. Everyone takes the bait. He really does not represent Muslims in Britain as he claims to - but subconsciously after his pronouncements many people think that he does, and the media help him every step of the way. The BNP also rub their hands with glee every time he opens his mouth. Remember, he and his organisation are absolutely marginal, are lunatics and madmen, and yet he singlehandedly has so much power because of the media. Maybe we should reflect on how much power we give to him by assenting to his silly games.

~ Jay ~

Billy C said...

Anonymouse...if only it were so simple then we could pretty much cure the problem immediately. But it isn't.

You say that he and his organization are absolutely marginal. Maybe so, but then from him down, there are various degres of the same thing. Even the moderates are reluctant to make a stand and therein lies the problem. It's the moderates who should be saying what I'm saying, but they remain shtum. Why? I know why: because loyalty to their faith comes above all things and very few of them want to be seen criticising anyone of their own faith. Until they change that perception in the eyes of the overwhelming majority of the citizens of this country, the BNP will make hay of it.

George S said...

Billy does have a point there, Anonymous Jay. The moderates - whatever that means in contemporary British Islam - do need to make some kind of gesture if they want to avoid the obvious, as outlined by Billy.

They may very well have opposed both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars - as a lot of British people did - and it may be hard for them to criticise people of their own faith, but one or other of their official bodies should distance themselves quite loudly and publicly from Choudary's lot.

Poet in Residence said...

Hello George, I tried the usual swearing, kicking and thumping which was no good. My ex- computer doctor diagnosed: Terminal. And so I sought a second opinion and a new computer quack. The insertion of a €50 note into a brown envelope appears to have resolved many problems.
I'm playing catch-up but this post of yours caught my eye, as I've just blogged a poem about a quasi-religious dream I had following (unmentioned) two bottles of porter ale and one of lager. The dream led me to the Upanishads,- for me new territory :
Whereas the Gods of the various -isms have other things such as: something must be done, something must not be done...do's and don'ts filling the texture of so-called religion...

The question of this dichotomy does not arise in the Upanishads. No angry Upanishadians are ever likely to demand our unswerving fear and obedience. I shall love them for it.

George S said...

Just caught up with this, Gwilym. Yes, one or two computers have died under me. Now I always keep a spare external hard drive turned on.

Yeats was very keen on the Upanishads. Didn't he translate some of them?

Mind you, it doesn't always take a religion for one person to start ordering another one about.

Poet in Residence said...

Thanks for the pointer Yeats. I have F A C Wilson's W B Yeats and Tradition - one of those delightful banana box bargains full of pencilled notes and underlinings - eg "preface p20 - Y found his symbols in waking reverie" - some anonymous genius has done all the work for us George! I shall glean it for all it's worth.
We're playing our Elvis cds full blast! It's his 75th. Currently on : It's Now or Never...
"Before Elvis there was nothing" John Lennon.

I take your point regarding agnostics and atheists et al. But the thin man in his white sheet is reassuring. The swami won't attack you or me because that would be attacking himself. I think that's the an important point of the Upanishads.

Poet in Residence said...

George, I have just this minute been told that the translator who translated the books of Hermann Hesse (Siddhartha, Steppenwolf, Narcissus & Goldmund etc.) has been arrested in Iran. I hope this is not true.

George S said...

I haven't heard about it, Gwilym. Had a quick check on the news and couldn't see it. Are you sure?

Poet in Residence said...

George, Good morning. I had to dash out last night.
On Reporters Without Borders, probably the best place to find out about these things, there are two recent cases of writers being imprisoned over there: Jan 4th - B A Amre 7yrs and 34 lashes, Jan 1st - (on appeal) A Zeydababi - 6yrs. Currently there are 42 writers in prison in that country. The report is likely in connection with the Amre case. By the way, RWB describes Iran as "the world's biggest journalist prison."

Poet in Residence said...

On the above mentioned site if you look at 'repression live' you will find under 'arrests on daily basis' 21 names (up to 8 January) of journalists, reporters, writers, lawyers, arrested so far this year. It's a shocking state of affairs. What are No.10, the EU, UNO, Uncle Sam, even Uncle Tom Cobley, saying about all this? The silence is almost deafening...but that's usual.