Comment

It is dangerous to ignore politicians because they have a comedic character

“If you look at all the psychological profiling about bombers, they typically will look at porn. They are literally wankers. Severe onanists”: free speech at its finest.
It is reassuring to read these words from our esteemed Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. In an interview with the Sun last week (truly a newspaper of the people) Boris aired his views loud and proud about bombers and terrorists in general. Recall Theresa May’s new anti-terror powers, the mayor’s cracked the case! A quick search of citizens’ browsing history on the look out for any rudey-doody websites and hey presto! Terrorists apprehended.

Forgive the saturated satirical cynicism, but consistently irresponsible words such as these from Johnson leave me in a state of disbelief. This is a man with great responsibilities in a public office. A man that has been tipped to be next leader of the Conservative party, and so a man that holds a high public profile. Some may view his words as just another amusing outburst from our quirky mayor (‘Boris is at it again!’…’Johnson for Prime Minister!’) but I find his superficially flippant remarks, in fact, rather calculated and damaging.

He has built his knight’s armour from a jester’s wardrobe, cladding himself in mildly-offensive-yet-quirkily-funny actions and words. It is easy to think of him as some harmless fool when chuckling to ourselves at sights of Boris stuck on a zip-wire. Let us not forget that he is a well-educated man who studied at Eton college (where he changed his name from Alex to the more eccentric Boris) and went on to read classics at Balliol College, Oxford. He was and is part of a generation of undergraduates at Oxford that have come to dominate British politics and the media today. I am impressed by his acting capabilities and ability to navigate this media-centric society so inventively. But we must keep in mind that this is an act and Boris Johnson is playing for the long game.

Our country does not need a new era of outlandish gentrified rulers calling the shots and showering us all in verbal diarrhoea. It is certainly not constructive to blame this radicalisation of British jihadis on the assumption they are “very badly adjusted in their relations with women”. Rather than playing up to the media exposure and adding to his wacky characterisation, Johnson could be far more productive by interacting and engaging with the wider British Muslim community; instead he is driving a wedge further into the wound, cackling as it festers.

I would have no problem with his desire to act the clown if it involved dressing up like a fat hippopotamus and dancing to Kate Bush. It would certainly add a new buzz to Saturday night entertainment on the BBC. But it is comments like this that I feel are Johnson’s method for sparking a reaction, whether it be that of disgust from people like myself or hilarity from others – neither of which are helping to find a solution to the growing recruitment of jihadis from many western countries.

Nor do I think it is simply a case of Muslim communities dealing with this burden alone. Yes, I agree that Muslim authorities and clerics hold far more sway and influence over young Muslims than western politicians, though we should be encouraging ties between our Muslim communities and the wider population. It is on increased education and unification of cultures that we should be focussing our energies; not trivialising the radicalised or piling the pressures of this widespread issue solely on the shoulders of Muslim authorities.

Perhaps Boris could swap job roles with the Chuckle brothers? At least more would be accomplished and less offence caused.

10/02/2015

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samnaylor



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