Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Bravery and banners.

Several times over the last few years Mrs R has mumbled to her family that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are seen as something completely different by some sections of the British and international community. That idea has been brought home, again, when a bunch of Muslims decided to shout and wave banners at soldiers of The Royal Anglian Regiment during their homecoming march in Barking - that's in Essex, England, by the way.

These Muslims shouted things such as
'British troops go to hell'
'murderers, murderers, murderers'
They also resorted to using Godwin's Law by mentioning Hitler and one protester, safe behind his Police protectors, apparently shouted:
'This is a protest against parading in a Muslim area. We love death the way you love life.'

As Mrs R has already said, Barking is in Essex, England. Let's quickly grab a bit of history from ever-reliable Wikipedia.
The manor of Barking was the site of Barking Abbey, a nunnery founded in 666 by Eorcenwald, bishop of London, destroyed by the Danes and reconstructed about a hundred years later in 970 by King Edgar. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536, Barking Abbey was demolished: the parish church, St Margaret's stands upon its site, where some walling and foundations are all that otherwise remain. The Norman church of St Margaret was where Captain James Cook married Elizabeth Batts of Shadwell in 1762.
Sounds to Mrs R as if it's a typically British sort of place, with ancient roots and quite a bit of Christian heritage too.

So, how come these relative newcomers to Britain reckon it's a Muslim town area? - Actually, Mrs R can't answer that, she doesn't recall visiting Barking and has only the Wikipedia article and other stuff on the internet to refer to and so, apart from deciding that they must think it's a 'Muslim town' because they're Muslims and happen to live there, she'll move on.

Quite a few bloggers are a bit miffed by the way this incident has been reported, as are one or two of the commenters in the Mail - but she won't say much about that either, except to simply show what's been written (my bold):-
The [40] Muslim protesters chanted ... as they had an uneasy stand-off against a [100-strong] mob, some waving St George's Crosses, Union flags and an English Defence League flag.
It would seem that the want-to-get-some-publicity protesters belong to a little group calling themselves 'Muslims against the Crusade'. Mrs R has taken a look at their website (No, you don't get a link, you'll have to find it for yourself). She noticed that the group doesn't seem to come from Barking, and she thought some of the things written on the site were quite inflammatory, with death threats and so on. It also had pictures of people in long robes attacking somebody who looked remarkably like a mediaeval Knight, and who was carrying a shield emblazoned with the Cross of St George - not the Union Flag. Historical stuff, stuff that happened centuries ago. There were winners and losers in those old battles, same as in all battles. It's history. Next!

Okay, umm, so what's next?

Just a few thoughts, and Mrs R's going to remind these brave, shouty, placard-waving, protesters what's going on in Afghanistan - where the Royal Anglians had been.

First of all she'll remind these 'protesters' that 15 men of the Royal Anglian Regiment, their ages ranging from 19 to 31 years, have lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2002. Many more Royal Anglians have been wounded, some suffering life-changing injuries.

Being incredibly simplistic, and probably wrong, it seems there are groups of 'my Islam is better than your Islam' who have for very many years been trying to make other groups of Afghan Muslims do as they're told. And they're quite nasty and brutal about it too, including stoning women to death for looking at a man and executing little children if they think they're spying for the other chaps.

Quite a lot of people left Afghanistan some years ago, on arriving in the 'West' whether it was Australia or USA they told terrible tales of oppression and brutality and asked their new countries to help those they'd left behind, so America and a few military chums from other countries, including Britain, decided to go riding to the rescue of those they thought were the least bad good guys. The idea was, they said, to get these arguing Muslims to stop fighting each other - to stop arguing, and be a bit more friendly towards each other. The idea was to try to get these different groups to 'live and let live' - something that's quite common outside the world of Islam, where lots of religious groups with all sorts of different ideas rub shoulders and tolerate get along with each other, mostly by minding their own business.

Trouble is that this idea of 'live and let live' seems to be seriously against the old values of some people who've now made their homes in Britain. Some of these don't like the idea of compromise and 'getting along', they want to be in charge and tell everybody else how to live their lives - and that's probably why these chaps were waving their placards and banners in Barking, and why they've got plans to wave them in other British (not only English) towns too. What these mostly-young men don't seem to have sussed out is that they're using a loud-mouthed argument that's a bit alien and unpleasant to many modern Brits, and they don't seem to understand that some people think they're a bit old-fashioned and silly - not least because in the western, non-Islamic, world women tend to have equal rights to western men these days, and don't like to be told what to do, what to wear and which deity to worship. Others think these noisy young men and their friends are almost, literally, biting the hand that feeds them and so they should go and live somewhere else, and take their protests with them and see what happens to them in a different country.

Those protesters are protesting in Britain because they can - that's all.

They're 'exercising their Freedom of Speech' too. It's one of those Human Rights, enshrined in International Law, but is something that's denied to many in Afghanistan by, possibly, the groups of Muslims these chaps claim to support. If so, it's a bit hypocritical, don't you think?

Mrs Rigby thinks there are other things these chaps could do, but they probably won't because she thinks they're cowards. By waving placards and name-calling they're doing exactly the same as many adolescents - making an easy point that makes some grown-ups a bit uncomfortable. After their little vociferous protest they walk, maybe get on the bus or train, or perhaps even drive their cars to their nice and cosy homes, where they'll be safe and sound - and then they can watch themselves on the television and pat themselves on the back for making their point so brilliantly. This is, naturally, the same sort of thing their peers in Afghanistan do, so much better than dodging bullets and not stepping on land mines whilst trying to grow their food.

Mrs R would like to tell these chaps of the Rigby's friends and neighbours youngsters - young people we've seen grow from almost nothing to near adulthood - who are planning to join the British Army, Navy or Air Force. She knows increasing maturity and increasing realism might change their minds, or their minds might be changed by a military assessment panel. Only time will tell.

Our young people are also also doing this 'because they can', because they're free to choose how to live their lives. Nobody's telling them to fight a war because of their religion, or lack of it. Nobody's telling them to go into the forces because 'it's the right thing to do' they're doing it because, for them, it's the right career choice - nothing more. On their way through their lives these young Brits have already made lifestyle choices. They've never been in too much trouble, have had part-time Saturday jobs and still managed to pass lots of exams and are now making near-adult decisions about what they will do with the rest of their lives - and, even if they don't end up in the forces, they don't plan to spend any part of the rest of their lives shouting, or waving threatening placards, at unarmed troops on the safe streets of Britain.

Frankly, Mrs R knows which of these groups of young men she'd trust if she was in trouble, or if there were a crisis - and it isn't the ones who, tucked safely behind a load of hi-vis jacketed British Bobbies, waved their banners and chanted their slogans whilst two hundred well-disciplined soldiers marched through the streets of Barking, Essex, England.


Cold Steel Rain said...

Very well put Mrs R

John R said...

Surely some of these anti-Army, anti-Britain chants and slogans fall under the anti-hate laws?

Should there not have been some arrests? Or is it only "WASP"s who can be hate criminals?

subrosa said...

Very well said Mrs R.

By the way I must apologise for not having you on my blogroll - just noticed. You're on my reader of course but I've now amended the blogroll.

Mrs Rigby said...

Thanks Subrosa

@ JohnR - Of course there should be arrests if they take things to far, but all they're doing is waving banners and shouting emotive words, hoping they'll get a reaction - and get cross when they don't get their own way. Typical testosterone-fuelled adolescent protesty sort of stuff. They could do with a healthy dose of reality, but it won't happen because they're nice and safe here, protected by the police and soldiers they vilify. Odd sort of thing to happen really, isn't it?

JuliaM said...

"...Actually, Mrs R can't answer that, she doesn't recall visiting Barking..."

You're lucky... ;)