I have never been to the island of Guernsey. This is a large world and we have a finite amount of time on it and must make our decisions about where we visit based on necessarily limited information. We cannot know everything. I have never been to Japan, for example, because I do not wish to be crushed to death by a mass of jabbering humanity, nor take part in unpleasant sadomasochistic sex acts, nor watch people disembowelling themselves in order to affirm their masculinity. I realise that this is not all that Japan has to offer. There is also sushi, for example, and buttock-clenched politeness. I could get both of those things in Harrogate. So that’s Japan off my itinerary.
As far as Guernsey is concerned I have no interest in visiting somewhere which is not quite France and I am also suspicious of their bland and vapid cows. If I wished to look at cows I would rather that they were palpably decent Friesians, or perhaps those shaggy dark-brown lowering creatures the Scots find so alluring.
And yet a recent news story has made me wish to visit Guernsey immediately, because of what the schools there are getting up to. The parents are not happy about it. There is discord. I like visiting places where there is discord. Not too much discord, obviously. Not weaponised discord.
A school in Guernsey got the pupils to write an essay explaining to their parents that they had converted to the exciting, go-ahead religion of Islam and that as a consequence their life was much better. Excellent idea. I don’t know how long this essay had to be, but let me make a quick stab at it:
Dear Mum and Dad. At the behest of my school I have converted to the Religion of Peace, Islam. Life henceforth will be much better for all of us. I have already circumcised my sister with those secateurs Dad left in the garage. I have also decapitated our neighbour, Mr Goldberg, with a scimitar I bought with my pocket money. In future I would prefer it if Mum wore a hijab and was prevented from leaving the house unaccompanied. I am also saving up to go to a place called Raqqa, which I understand is lovely at this time of year. Oh — and our dog, Tyson. I caught him mounting the late Mr Goldberg’s poodle, which as you know is a male dog. So I pushed him off the roof. You may wish to clear up the mess before you mow the lawn again. Yours, insh-allah, Kevin (Now Mohammed al-St Peter’s Port).
I think that covers the bases, more or less. Of course I am well aware that there is more to Islam than this and that not every Muslim in the world believes in female genital mutilation or wishes to decapitate Mr Goldberg. Perhaps the students — aged 12 and 13, by the way — could adumbrate the more nuanced way in which rank anti-Semitism and female subjugation and homophobia is represented by the modern version of Islam and also explain the official view of us unbelievers, the kafirs. ‘Cattle’ is how I have heard it described — probably those bland Guernsey cattle, chewing the cud obliviously, waiting blindly for annihilation, a lesser species fit for slaughter.
I am also aware that it is a sort of non-sequitur to suggest that if in any Islamic country children were told to write an essay explaining why they had converted to Christianity and how absolutely bloody marvellous it was, all that uplifting Jesus stuff, the teachers would all be — at the very best — in jail before the muezzin’s evening wail. Why should we judge ourselves by their standards, etc? Good point, of course. We should not do so. But nor should we cringe and in the process lose our critical faculties. Why were the children enjoined to describe, exclusively, how converting to Islam would have been beneficial for their lives? Why were they not told to make up their own minds about the matter? Were they taught any of the, um, possible downsides of Islam? I bet they were not. But I bet they have been truly inculcated in the downsides of Christian belief.
So that’s Guernsey. Meanwhile, in another country I have never visited, one of the few in Europe, a man who compared the ideology of Islam to the ideology of the Nazis was arrested and prosecuted. In Denmark you can say whatever you like about the Jews, providing you are a Muslim. You can describe them as being lower than pigs and no legal action will be forthcoming. That is just one reason why Jewish people are getting the hell out of Europe at a faster rate than at any time since about 1936. But state your honestly held opinion about political Islam — not about Muslims, i.e. not about actual people, just about an ideology — and you will find yourself hauled before the courts. And convicted. And fined. This is what the defendant said: ‘The ideology of Islam is as loathsome, disgusting, oppressive and misanthropic as Nazism. The massive immigration of Islamists into Denmark is the most devastating thing to happen to Danish society in recent history.’
OK, I think he has overstated the case — but only slightly. And that last point seems to have struck a chord with the Danish government — which is no longer quite so welcoming to the massive influx of immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East as it once was. And yet as part of that Europe-wide cringe in the face of an ideology which is, itself, disinclined to cringing, the Danes prosecute someone for exercising their right to freedom of speech.