Enjoying a breakfast consisting of a croissant and a cup of strong Turkish coffee, a person from Scotland informed me of the news of the day via a radio manufactured in Taiwan. With an elbow resting on the Swedish worktop, I poured another cup of Yemen`s finest from the stainless steel Spanish percolator and considered the question being asked on the radio. British values, it seems, are to be promoted in British schools and the questioner was asking what defines British values.
Responding to a non-existent plot to indoctrinate children into the ways of terrorism, Michael Gove now insists that British values will be actively promoted in schools. He helpfully added that British values include respect and tolerance and liberty and without any sense of shame or irony, the PM chimed in with talk of responsibility. The mouthful of coffee ended up all over the Chinese wok. Children and young people of school age might ponder exactly what values they have been taught up until now and might harbour a sense of disappointment at missing the lesson on how to disassemble, clean and then reassemble a Kalashnikov.
Thus far, the only credible evidence for a terrorist plot to infiltrate schools can be found in a book called Celsius 7/7 written in 2006 which describes a terrorist plot to infiltrate schools. The author was a certain Michael Gove. Either Gove is clairvoyant or the author of Celsius 7/7 and the anonymous author of the hoax Trojan horse letter might be linked by more than a common language. As a journalist in the pay of Rupert Murdoch, Michael must be aware of plagiarism but any investigation into the source of the hoax letter does not seem to be a priority as other witch hunts become increasingly hysterical.
Celsius 7/7 attracted a rave review from the Sunday Times and those paragons of respect and tolerance Melanie Phillips and Stephen Pollard almost swooned with joy as Gove compared “Islamism” with fascism and communism and described it in terms of a totalitarian ideology based on violence and oppression. Unfortunately for Mr Gove, other reviewers and academics not in the pay of Murdoch and who actually know something about Islam dismissed his magnum opus as being complete and utter drivel. To confuse a major world religion that is based on respect, tolerance and liberty with the actions of megalomaniac dictators and groups of barbaric zealots suggests that Mr Gove should not be in charge of a crayon let alone British education. It is almost as if he has no awareness of the crusades, subjugation and colonialism.
Listening to the politicians on the radio, it seems that respect, tolerance and liberty are uniquely British qualities and anyone unfortunate enough to be born outside of the United Kingdom can never even aspire to such noble values. Forgetting that our democracy is Greek in origin formed at a time when ancient Britons wishing to ascertain which way the river was flowing would stick their legs in to see which side the weeds would cling to, the radio rented gobs soon reverted to the stiff upper lip, playing with a straight bat, lilac gathering mythology of fantasy England. At this point I noticed that I had run out of coffee.
After making a shopping list, I went out to earn some daily bread with a mental note to self to call in at the German owned British supermarket on the way home. The roads were busy with cars proudly flying two or sometimes four flags of St George in anticipation of the sporting festival being staged in the Brazilian home of football. The internationalism of Engerland supporters was evident as the vehicles sporting the banner of the Roman Palestine saint who never visited England were manufactured in Bavaria, Turin, Rennes and Suzuka. For lunch, I picked up a French baguette with Brie and a cup of tea that might or might not have originated in Sri Lanka. The days labour done; I nipped into a pub for a pint of Belgian beer before boarding the Swedish built bus that would convey me to a facsimile of a retail outlet available on every continent except Antarctica. Thankfully, I took my Norwegian cagoule as protection against the forecasted thunderstorms.
Something was bothering me all day. I was trying to understand why Michael Gove had attacked and demonised one particular group of British citizens on the flimsy basis of faith. The only conclusions I came to suggested that either he is a dangerous idiot or he is desperate to save his own skin from political and moral oblivion by diverting attention away from his own inadequacy or, as is more likely, his actions are a combination of the two. The worry is; that by claiming to be combating radicalisation and fighting the good fight on behalf of British Christianity, he has put in place a recipe for an unholy war. Gove is encouraging me to view my Muslim friend and neighbour as a bloodthirsty terrorist and is encouraging my Muslim friend and neighbour to view me as a bloodthirsty racist. Gove and Ofsted have not uncovered a single hidden jihadists lurking in suburban English schools but the hysterical attack on teachers, governors and children is almost certain to create at least one or two. Well done, Michael Gove; you have radicalised generations of British people into division and bigotry simple to preserve your own pathetic career. This will not end well. I doubt he will be writing hoax letters exposing the infiltration of schools by evangelical oddballs who happen to donate to the party he is a member of.
In the supermarket, I worked through the shopping list. Friday night is curry night so Britain`s favourite dish Chicken Tikka Masala was on the menu. Saturday breakfast is Danish pastry and Portuguese orange juice. Prior to the Engerland game we will enjoy a moussaka with a feta salad and on Sunday morning we will go for the full English; Irish sausages, American hash browns, Spanish tomatoes, Welsh eggs, Danish bacon, Dutch mushrooms, baked beans from Guatemala, black pudding made from the blood of slaves and home-made bread using flour from Ukraine. Sunday dinner will be roast beef sourced from the strange exotic nation of Scotland and frozen Yorkshires from Iceland. The tea will be from Egypt and the coffee will be from Turkey. The mathematics and financial transactions involved in preparing these feasts is, sorry Mr Gove, Islamic as is the invention of coffee.
As has been repeated so many times that it must be true, Michael Gove should face arrest and charges of criminal damage and appear before a court of law with the powers to impose a custodial sentence. His holy war seems to have resulted in a backlog of passport applications from young British Muslims eager to fight in Syria and Iraq and young British Christians eager to get off their faces in Ibiza and sign up for a league that claims to defend Engerland. By attacking common sense and community, Gove has jeopardised national security in a way that is far more dangerous than the Sunni and the Shia knocking lumps out of each other in Bagdad, Damascus, Karachi and a number of local councils in the United Kingdom. As a self-confessed expert on Muslim extremism, Gove might not know that Sunni and Shia were not actually the artists that recorded the 1965 hit “I got you babe”, but are unequal rivals claiming the noble heritage of Islam. If the Secretary of State finds this historical concept difficult to grasp, then I suggest he should take a walk down the Falls Road in Belfast or take a peek into a septic tank behind a Catholic orphanage. Failing that, he might wish to make a fact finding mission to Mosul or Tikrit to learn a lesson in radicalisation. Spreading hatred and ignorance isn`t really going to help, is it Michael?
With the shopping safely unloaded, I went outside to retrieve the bins. By good fortune, my Muslim friend and neighbour was also doing his civic duty by bringing in his recently emptied bins. Communicating in a strange lingua franca cobbled together with bits of Ancient German, Old Norse, Normandy French, Latin and elements of hip hop, we did the usual British thing and talked about the weather. With an immaculate beard and wearing pristine Shalwar Kameez, he looked up at the dark clouds forming a thunderstorm to the west and said:
“It`s a bit black over Bill`s mothers, ay it our kid?”
I looked up at the gathering storm and could only nod in silent and sad agreement.