If, like me, you have ‘followed’ on Twitter the politically active and bellicose, you may have noticed that any one who is — or is not — anybody of worth has had something to say about Alexander Johnson’s ‘burqa article’, published earlier this week by The Daily Telegraph: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/05/denmark-has-got-wrong-yes-burka-oppressive-ridiculous-still/. If you have paid to access the article, hidden as it is behind a paywall, you may have found the article does not really merit dispensing the cash required to read it.
Make no mistake — I have detested the so-called ‘witch hunt’ which has ensured against Mr Johnson by the Tory Party and the self-righteous ‘Liberal’ media (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-45153483), for no more than uttering the opinion that ‘burqarism’ is an ultra-conservative political, social, and cultural norm. But the source of the opinion cannot help but matter: Mr Johnson, under the pretext of meeting an impending deadline, has written a provocative article for no reason other than deliberately causing as much offense as possible; in doing so, he can position himself against the ‘politically-correct’ May Government — which so happens to have ‘betrayed’ those who wanted a ‘clean’ withdrawal from the European Union (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/07/10/boris-johnsons-resignation-letter-theresa-mays-response-full/) — which has demanded that Mr Johnson apologise; and Mr Johnson has managed to alienate Britain’s Muslim population in the only way he knows how: with the insouciant high-handed duplicity and charlantry disguised by ill-formed attempts at humour.
Mr Johnson may have been well-educated, but that doesn’t thereby constitute that Mr Johnson is an intelligent human being. As Foreign Secretary, he regarded the People’s Republic of China, possibly the most frigtening police State in the world currently, as a ‘friend and a partner’ of Britain’s (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jun/07/boris-johnson-admits-there-may-be-a-brexit-meltdown), despite having been slapped down by the Chinese despotism one year earlier for comments regarding Hong Kong (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/hong-kong-boris-johnson-china-criticised-democracy-communist-party-sino-british-declaration-20th-a7817931.html). Yet, Mr Johnson cowered from a powerful, expansionist, Peking, and turned his ire towards a weak, defensive, and conservative political regime in Moscow, comparing Vladimir Putin and the 2018 Football World Cup to Adolf Hitler and the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games (https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/mar/21/boris-johnson-compares-russian-world-cup-to-hitlers-1936-olympics).
When one considers there are no serious-minded parallels between National Socialist Germany and the Russian Federation, which — incidentally — cannot really be considered ‘expansionist’ (as frequently claimed by Edward Lucas: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/we-must-wake-up-to-russia-s-shifting-threats-zzgqxt3n2) if it has settled many of its historical border disputes with the major Powers on its doorstep (as it has — see: https://www.ibtauris.com/books/society%20%20social%20sciences/politics%20%20government/frontline%20ukraine%20crisis%20in%20the%20borderlands), one has to question whether or not to discredit Mr Johnson. He’s always struck me as superfluous as a balloon: full of air and kept intact by a delicately-tied knot, but ultimately vulnerable, and likely to pop if pumped too much or pricked by the pin of sharp observation.
At no point since the disastrous 2016 ‘Brexit’ referendum campaign has Mr Johnson convinced me that he has any real knowledge of the European Union (https://policyexchange.org.uk/pxevents/the-road-to-brexit-a-united-kingdom-a-speech-by-the-rt-hon-boris-johnson-mp/), and the absorption of Britain’s domestic policy by that alien Power, as it surrenders its foreign policy to the United States; so who really believes him when he says he can find no reference to the burqa in the Koran? I doubt very much if he’s read the Koran. And, though I have not, I can admit so. Mr Johnson, on the other hand, is devoid of humility and self-awareness.
All this points to the simple observation that Mr Johnson has to defend himself with all his political might at present because he has nothing of interest to say. The basis of his article — that Denmark shouldn’t ban the intolerable — is one that any reasonable person knows (dare I say it) self-evidently. He could have made the case against ‘burqarism’ by saying that Islam is essentially a slave religion which treats women, homosexuals, Jews, Hindus, and Christians like chattel; and that Islam has been immune from criticism because it has been treated like a Third World cult. But he didn’t say anything of the sort. Instead, Mr Johnson observed that women who wear burkas look more like letter boxes or armed robbers than human beings. That joke, despite the protestations of veteran comedian Rowan Atkinson (whose character Edmund Blackadder, in the hilarious final series of Blackadder, did far more to explain the origins of the 1914–18 War than anything written by Paul Kennedy or Brendan Simms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DoM3sWkgfU), wasn’t especially funny. And, all the while, I give Mr Johnson more due than he deserves by virtue of this untrammelled lip service. What purpose does this serve other than to deliberately fan the flames of political controversy for personal gain? And does Mr Johnson know that a platform in which a nuanced argument against the prohibition of the burqa will be bastardised by lunatics and gangs who preach genuine intolerance? What might happen if Mr Johnson angled for ‘high office’ on the basis of an ‘anti-burqa/anti-Islamic’ campaign and gained real power? What blackmail would he face if he failed to impose those policies for which purpose he’d been elevated? What if he passed the appropriate legislation via Parliament or — in a moment’s panic — by emergency decree? (The Civil Contingencies Act of 2004 could justify the prohibition of the burqa if the Government of the time considered it a threat to security: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/36/pdfs/ukpga_20040036_en.pdf.) And what might happen if the so-called ‘liberals’ (many of whom are admittedly too quick to proverbially persecute the modern heretics) who saw a genuine anti-liberal regime emerge, were ‘banished’ from political discourse by association? Are we not all better off ignoring Mr Johnson?