If you question the government narrative about terror attacks like the one that occurred on September 11, or believe in religious prophecies about the end times, or dispute the legitimacy of your rulers, or hold any sort of views that politicians consider “extremist,” watch out. Last week, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron told the United Nations and its largely autocratic member regimes that the perpetual terror war requires far more than just crackdowns on violence and terrorism. Now, as the terror war becomes increasingly globalized and fanatical, what Cameron described as “non-violent extremism” all over the world is in the crosshairs, too.
Domestically in the United Kingdom, authorities are also plotting an intense crackdown on speech and ideas, with official plans that have been widely criticized and ridiculed by opponents as extreme, counterproductive, and repressive. For the fortunate “non-violent extremists,” authorities are planning to impose a censorship regime further curtailing free speech, in addition to close monitoring. Under an upcoming set of new “rules” to be inflicted on British subjects by Cameron’s self-styled Conservative Party, people considered to be “extremists” will have to seek approval from terror police simply to post messages on Facebook or Twitter.
According to the U.K. Telegraph, the so-called “Extremist Disruption Orders” will also prohibit “extremists” from speaking at public events if authorities decide they might represent a threat to the vaguely defined “functioning of democracy.” Top government officials said “extremists” would be barred from speaking on television or radio, too. If a group promotes or spreads what politicians consider “hatred” — biblical notions of marriage, perhaps, or the speeches of former U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill — its members and donors can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. The so-called “banning orders” purporting to prohibit organizations and speech the government disagrees with are reportedly part of a broader strategy dubbed “Prevent.”
The goal of the scheme, its proponents say, is to defeat “ideologies” and “non-violent extremism” that politicians claim can, possibly, somehow, maybe, foment a terror threat. For instance, anyone dubbed a “hate preacher” by authorities, despite having no violent or criminal intentions, would be targeted under the new “Extremism Disruption Orders” on top of "hate speech" laws already in place. In addition to curtailing what “extremists” say and think, even their movement could be limited under the upcoming anti-“extremism” regime being pushed by U.K. politicians.
The controversial scheming, which has been blasted even by some members of the Conservative Party, was outlined this week by British Home Secretary Theresa May. She told a party gathering that the rules were aimed at people who “spread poisonous hatred,” even within the already strict statutes purporting to criminalize various forms of speech. “The damage that extremists cause to our society is reason enough to act,” she argued, without putting a real definition on “extremism.”
The British government’s deeply controversial efforts to suppress free speech and free thought, however, will not be limited to her majesty’s increasingly Orwellian kingdom. Indeed, during a speech delivered to the UN General Assembly last week, U.K. Prime Minister Cameron suggested that the ever-more aggressive war on ideas and “extremism” was set to expand far beyond just terrorism — and far beyond the shores of Britain, with a new plot aimed at putting the United Nations in charge of battling supposed “extremism” around the globe.
To “defeat” terrorist organizations, Cameron told the assembled UN member regimes — at least some of which sponsor terrorism, according to Western governments — their “ideology” must be defeated in “all its forms.” As examples of ideas in the global terror war’s crosshairs, the embattled U.K. leader pointed to theories about the 9/11 and 7/7 London terror attacks that do not conform to the widely questioned official government narratives. Religious prophecies Cameron called “nonsense” should also be disallowed, he told his counterparts at the UN.
“We must be clear: to defeat the ideology of extremism we need to deal with all forms of extremism — not just violent extremism,” he explained, acknowledging that the machinations would not be entirely “compatible” with free speech and intellectual inquiry (Emphasis added). “For governments, there are some obvious ways we can do this.... We shouldn’t stand by and just allow any form of non-violent extremism. And we need the strongest possible international focus on tackling this ideology — which is why here at the United Nations, the United Kingdom is calling for a new Special Representative on extremism.”
A UN Special Representative on Extremism would sound like a funny joke, at least until taking a brief look at the global outfit’s extremely brutal member regimes — some of which the U.S. and U.K. governments label “state sponsors of terrorism.” Would the barbaric socialist and communist dictators ruling nations such as North Korea, Cuba, China, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Belarus, and Venezuela be placed in charge of defining extremism? Perhaps the Islamist autocracies ruling Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Iran could help, too? Virtually all of those regimes either serve or have served on UN outfits such as the “Human Rights” and “Women’s Rights” bodies, so keeping them off the “Extremism” panels would seem to be difficult, if not impossible.
In outlining the rules for domestic infringements on speech, thought, and movement, Home Secretary May said the proposed rules could be used to silence neo-National Socialists (Nazis), as well as “other radicals.” Of course, at the moment, however, most of the draconian schemes being proposed and unleashed by U.K. authorities purport to target Islamic fundamentalists and the Islamic State (ISIS) — for now, at least.
Considering recent developments in the United Kingdom, though, it becomes clear that the “ideology” of jihadists is far from the only target in the “non-violent extremism” crosshairs. Indeed, across virtually the entire Western world, government policy has been to foment jihadism in places like Libya and Syria while deliberately importing large numbers of Muslims into the West from the Middle East — and then using the threat those Muslims supposedly represent to justify attacking the liberties of everyone else as well.
In the United Kingdom, though, as The New American has documented, the war on speech and ideas the government disapproves of already extends well beyond self-styled Muslim terrorists and violent criminals. Among others in the crosshairs: Christians who quote the Bible, pro-life activists, and even people who question or reject imploding anthropogenic “global-warming” theories. In recent years, for instance, U.K. authorities have prosecuted thousands of British subjects merely for what they say online, using vague laws purporting to criminalize “insulting” or “offensive” comments.
In late 2012, an atheist who ripped up a Koran was prosecuted for “causing religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress, by demonstrating hostility based on membership of a particular religious group.” Before that, a 20-year-old Muslim was prosecuted and convicted for saying on Facebook that British troops should “die and go to hell” for their actions in Afghanistan. Numerous Christian street preachers have been jailed for describing homosexual activity as sinful. One man, the leader of the Liberty GB Party, was arrested for “hate speech” after quoting Winston Churchill, facing a potential two-year prison sentence.
Even a harmless octogenarian, Edward Atkinson, has been relentlessly persecuted for his peaceful pro-life activism on behalf of unborn children, going to jail on multiple occasions merely for sending information to abortionists. “I was trying to tell her about the abortion holocaust, all the murdered babies, but she couldn't face the truth apparently, so she went to the police and got me arrested,” the soft-spoken pensioner told The New American in an interview after one of his arrests for sending images of aborted children to a hospital. “We’re living in a country where all the laws have been inverted.”
In light of the most recent machinations to wage war on non-violent “extremism,” some critics have publicly wondered whether it could ensnare people like Indian non-violent revolutionary Mahatma Gandhi or WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. A wide range of religious groups known for their “extreme” pacifism, too, could theoretically be caught up in the “non-violent extremist” dragnet. Even many of the abolitionists of the 1800s fighting to end slavery peacefully could have been classified as “non-violent extremists” at the time.
Speaking to the BBC, Conservative U.K. lawmaker David Davis noted that “we have to be careful we don't end up like the people we are trying to defeat.” Indeed, as Western governments increasingly exploit various real and imagined pretexts to wage war on freedom, it is worth remembering that the purpose of government is to protect the God-given rights of individuals — and that includes the right to non-violently hold and propagate views that politicians consider extremist. Plus, with crushing debt burdens and more than enough violent extremism to deal with, wasting taxpayer funds to persecute non-violent individuals makes about as much sense as creating a UN “Special Representative on Extremism.”