RECOMMENDED READING: "Choosing Our Friends Wisely"


A new report by the U.K. Policy Exchange is a critique of the U.K. government’s official policy for “Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE). The introduction to the report, titled “Choosing Our Friends Wisely”, summarizes the case against PVE”

The central theoretical flaw in PVE is that it accepts the premise that non-violent extremists can be made to act as bulwarks againstviolent extremists. Some within governmentand the police service believe that only non-violent radicals – otherwise known as ‘political Islamists’ – possess the necessary ‘streetcred’ to control angry young Muslims. Genuine Muslim moderates are regularly dismissed by key authority figures as ‘spoken for’, and thus marginalised. Non-violent extremists have consequently become well dug in as partners of national and local government and the police. Some of the government’s chosen collaborators in ‘addressing grievances’ of angry young Muslims are themselves at the forefront of stoking those grievances against British foreign policy; western social values; and alleged state-sanctioned‘Islamophobia’. PVE is thus underwriting the very Islamist ideology which spawns an illiberal, intolerant and anti-western world view. Political and theological extremists, acting with the authority conferred by official recognition, are indoctrinating young people with an ideology of hostility to western values. This strategic error on the part of officialdom is born of a poverty of aspiration: the belief of the authorities that they cannot reasonably ask angry Muslims for much more than a pledge not to use violence in Britain. The effect has been to empower reactionaries within Muslim communities and to marginalise genuine moderates, thus increasing inter-community tensions and envenoming the publicspace.T he linkage between non-violent and violent extremism is habitually under-played in official documents produced by central government, local government and the police. Even MI5 publicly affirms that it does not currently deal with non-violent subversive threats.

The criticisms directed against the U.K. policy can equally be applied to attempts recommended reading in progress to implement similar policies in the U.S.

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