- What is Extremism?
- Is extremism really a problem on campuses?
- How does anti-Muslim hate usually present itself?
- How does anti-Jewish hate appear in connection to Israel?
- Is the Far-Right a concern on campus?
- What are your views on ‘No-Platforming’ and Safe spaces?
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The UK government defines extremism as the vocal or active opposition to democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. Also included is calls for the deaths of our armed forces.
One can meet the threshold of extremism without committing a criminal offence. This is due to our Human Rights laws protecting freedom of thought and expression. Limits include inciting violence, racial hatred, inviting support for proscribed terrorist groups or glorifying terrorist acts.
Only in the last academic year we recorded 112 student-organised events of an extremist nature. (averaging around 12 per week).
Only 1 event attempted balance.
This means that students are presented with extremist opinions on sensitive topics with no opposition to counter or challenge their views.
These opinions are almost always presented as mainstream or the norm.
Anti-Muslim hate manifests in several ways. Often, it is the treatment of Muslims as a collective, homogenous group – the assumption that all Muslims think and act the same.
This could be that Muslims are blamed or held accountable for the actions of their co-religionists, usually Islamist extremists.
Holding Muslims to a different standard is also prejudiced. This includes neglecting the rights of intra-minority groups such as Shia, Ahmaadiya, female, or LGBT identifying Muslims.
A common way in which antisemitism is legitimised on campus is through the guise of Israel critique.
This is when anti-Semitic comments or accusations are made in the name of criticising the actions of Israel or the Israeli government. These include:
- Comparing Jews to Nazis or using Nazi symbolism
- Collectively blaming Jews and/or Israelis for the actions of the government
- Using anti-Semitic tropes/conspiracy theories
See here for a full definition of antisemitism.
Unfortunately, in recent years we have seen several instances of far-Right extremism on campus.
On the whole, students take a firm stance against the far-Right. Few speakers connected to the far-Right have been invited onto campus, and in such cases they are usually met with a very active opposition.
However, universities continue to be a target for white supremacist and fascist groups. Of most prominence, neo-Nazi group National Action has distributed material, graffitied campuses and threatened students, although they are now a proscribed terrorist organisation.
Nevertheless, front groups have emerged, and incidents of racism continue to be a concern.
We believe that the ‘No-Platforming’ tradition is neither positive nor effective in clamping down on extremism.
It has been used to stop controversial/unpopular voices from being heard, who are often the very people to challenge extremism or orthodox opinions.
Equally, we fear that a ‘Safe spaces’ policy has been used to ensure intellectual security. Students are not exposed to views that they find offensive or shocking, which are often the very basis for social change and progressivism.
Both policies are inherently discriminatory and patronising. They play on the ‘politics of identity’ where students are expected to be offended or protected in the same way as other members of their cultural or political group.
The best way to counter extremism is through balanced platforms, moderated debates and robust opposition.
See here for our page on free speech.