Emergency! Everybody to get from street

Great news! The LSE Students’ Union has another statement out. It’s another pip. It’s about an urgent EGM on Thursday – which I take to be an Emergency General Meeting (but perhaps it’s Electric, or Elegant, or Educational, or Elevated*). Emergency, emergency! Why I bet we can guess what that is…

In light of recent events there will be two anti-discrimination motions being discussed and debated at an EGM this week, these are: No to racism – no to Islamophobia! and Stop Anti-Semitism Now.

Guessed right.

Stop racism no to Islamophobia! – in the form of a cartoon image of two guys having a beer on the Facebook page of a student group. That’s racism ‘n’ Islamophobia? No, but in studentworld, it’s so much like it that it’s worth punishing just the same.

Union believes

1. In the right to criticise religion,

2. In freedom of speech and thought,

3. It has a responsibility to protect its members from hate crime and hate speech,

4. Debate on religious matters should not be limited by what may be offensive to any particular religion, but the deliberate and persistent targeting of one religious group about any issue with the intent or effect of being Islamophobic (‘Islamophobia’ as defined below) will not be tolerated.

5. That Islamophobia is a form of anti-Islamic racism.

Union resolves

1.To define Islamophobia as “a form of racism expressed through the hatred or fear of Islam, Muslims, or Islamic culture, and the stereotyping, demonisation or harassment of Muslims, including but not limited to portraying Muslims as barbarians or terrorists, or attacking the Qur’an as a manual of hatred”,

2. To take a firm stance against all Islamophobic incidents at LSE and conduct internal investigations if and when they occur.

3. To publicly oppose actions on campus that are Islamophobic based on the aforementioned definition,

4. To ensure that all Islamophobic incidents aimed at or perpetrated by LSE students either verbal, physical or online are dealt with swiftly and effectively in conjunction with the School,

5. To work with the Pro-Director for Teaching and Learning and Deans to address Islamophobia and other forms of racism on campus and methods to alleviate it,

6. To ensure that this definition is used to promote and enhance legitimate debate regarding the morality and legitimacy of international conflicts and oppose illegitimate acts of Islamophobia on campus.

 4 is good. 4 is very special. Debate should not be limited, but it will not be tolerated.

5 too. A form of “anti-Islamic racism” – as if Islamic were a race. “A form of anti-Christian racism” – doesn’t work, does it. (Mind you, it might, in Nigeria or Egypt for instance. But are British Muslims being targeted the way Nigerian and Egyptian Christians are? Are they being blown up or shot down in large numbers? Not that I’ve heard.)

1 under Union resolves is good too. Hatred of “Islamic culture” is a form of racism. So, what, then? Hatred of the way many Saudis treat foreign servants for instance, is that racism? Hatred of laws against “adultery by force” that allow a raped woman to be sentenced to 12 years in jail, is that racism?

And then all the rest of it is good, because clearly the whole point is to lay the groundwork for sending the LSE ASH to Re-education Camp.

Especially 6. “Let’s agree to accept our definition so that we can define anything we want to as Islamophobia and then proceed to pitch exquisitely self-righteous fits whenever we find some. Let’s punish us some cartoons, man!”

* No: it’s Extraordinary. H/t Gareth Chan.



  1. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    The LSE Student Union has determined it’s permissible to criticize religion as long as the people practicing that religion don’t object. Then the criticism is racism and cannot be tolerated.

  2. platyhelminthe says

    I never realised that hating misogyny, homophobia and the death penalty made me racist.

    Ah well, learn something new every day.

  3. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Upon further consideration, I need to amend my post #1.

    The LSE Student Union has determined it’s permissible to comment on a religion as long as the people practicing that religion don’t object. Then the comments are racism and cannot be tolerated.

  4. Marta says

    Headline at the top of the LSE’s page at your link:

    “EGM on Thursday to discuss Emergancy Motions”.

    It’s the London School of Economics. They’ve misspelled emergency. I don’t know why it makes me laugh. It just does.

  5. says

    Some people collect stamps; some collect definitions of phobias: like the owner of the site linked to below. (BTW I suffer from htmlophobia.) They are alphabetically listed, like the I’s here:

    Iatrophobia- Fear of going to the doctor or of doctors.
    Ichthyophobia- Fear of fish.
    Ideophobia- Fear of ideas.
    Illyngophobia- Fear of vertigo or feeling dizzy when looking down.
    Iophobia- Fear of poison.
    Insectophobia – Fear of insects.
    Isolophobia- Fear of solitude, being alone.
    Isopterophobia- Fear of termites, insects that eat wood.
    Ithyphallophobia- Fear of seeing, thinking about or having an erect penis.

    You will notice that the site has been a bit slow off the blocks with ‘Islamophobia’, which is surprising, as its common definition is quite clear and not in the slightest way deliberately ambiguous. But using the techniques the creators of that term and the LSE Student Union have displayed so magnificently, I would add:

    Agoraphobia: morbid fear or dread of open spaces, and of the agriculture practiced in them, and of its products.

    Androphobia: fear of men, especially if their name is Andrew.

    Anglophobia: fear of Anglicans, esp. vicarage tea parties. Also of England, the English, the English language, and of anyone who uses it.

    Arithmophobia: fear of numbers, mathematicians, and of anything that can be counted.

    Automatonophobia- fear of ventriloquist’s dummies, animatronic creatures, wax statues, ayatollahs – anything that falsely represents a sentient being.

    Bibliophobia- fear of books, and of whatever is written in them.

    Chrometophobia: fear of money, and of anything that can be bought.

    Chromophobia: fear of colors, painters interior decorators and childrens’ colouring-in books.

    Claustrophobia: fear of confined spaces, chimneys and Santa Claus.

    Cyprianophobia: fear of prostitutes or venereal disease. (Strikes me as being a bit hard on Cyprus, and the Cyprians, especially in this day and age.)

    Hydrophobia: fear of water and therefore of skindivers, fish etc.

    I could go on. The possibilities are endless.

  6. evilDoug says

    EGM – Egregious General Meeting

    “or attacking the Qur’an as a manual of hatred”
    So now some damned handbook is elevated to the level of personhood?

    What is with this insane desperation to find a single word such as Islamophobia, or any of the others that have been suggested here at B&W over the past few days? To me is suggests that all things must fit, and WILL be fit, into either into bin A or bin B. Protecting people from mistreatment due to real prejudice is important – far too important to allow either/or binning.

    I presume the LSESU will be issuing a decree across the Earth that henceforth Islampohobia means what they, in their supreme arrogance, say it means. Well, LSESU, I am holding up my first and second fingers to you, in as gesture with which I am sure you are familiar.

  7. Gareth Chan says

    Trivia: EGM = “Extraordinary General Meeting”. Sadly, this doesn’t mean “fascinating/bizarre/amazing general meeting” but just “general meeting that isn’t part of the ordinary schedule of meetings”. When an EGM is called it’s usually because there’s something that can’t wait until the AGM (Annual General Meeting). Would love to be a fly on the wall at this one.

  8. unbound says

    So…you can criticize religion as long as you don’t actually criticize religion (because that would be hate). You can have freedom of speech and thought as long as you don’t actually speak or think about religion critically.

    Seriously, this is a higher education institute that isn’t religiously affiliated…and not in the US? Seriously?

  9. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Until a few days ago, I had the highest regard for LSE. My opinion of the university has dwindled somewhat.

  10. michaeld says

    We’ve got to get organised! *starts waveing a sword around* the Russians are coming the Russians are coming!!!!

  11. says

    The London School of Economics (LSE) was created by the prominent 19th C Fabian socialists Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Graham Wallas and George Bernard Shaw.The idea for it was hatched at a breakfast party at Borough Farm, near Milford, Surrey, on 4 August 1894. By 1900 it was recognised as an economics faculty of the University of London.

    “The School’s motto was adopted in February 1922. Suggested by Professor Edwin Cannan from Virgil’s Georgics, the phrase rerum cognoscere causas means to know the causes of things. The industrious beaver emblem was chosen in the same year.”

    Causes of things. Good stuff. But that equates to knowing the causes of various given effects. The effect of the present fracas is likely to be a dragging of the LSE, and with it the University of London, into global ridicule. Perhaps it’s time then to reconsider the motto and the emblem.

    As my Latin is minimal I’ll pass on the motto, but a hoop snake in the process of swallowing its own tail would be my suggestion for the emblem.


  12. karmakin says

    I tend to be a fairly non-conflict person. I don’t say this to put myself on a pedestal (exactly the opposite, I think it’s a personal flaw of mine, but whatever. It is who I am), so in a lot of these cases, I tend to have a reflexive leaning towards the non-conflict view.

    However, I do have a simple test for these cases. Is what is done, more or less objectively offensive than the concept of religious exclusivity. Is it more offensive than “Thou shalt have no gods before me”, or the equivalent in the Quran, or even just the cultural concept of such. Pretty simple, right? These are things that are generally widely believed and repeated. So, these things, for a majority of people are not offensive at all (although to be honest they, of course do offend me…but what do I matter?). They are culturally accepted.

    So does this cross that line? It doesn’t even come CLOSE. It doesn’t toe it, it’s not even on the same block. This is pure privilege and power play, nothing more, and nothing less. And everybody who rewards this sort of thing is encouraging, and not tapping down, more conflict in the future.

  13. Midnight Rambler says

    Can someone please explain what a student union is and why they have this kind of power over the societies? Having gone to school in the US, there was nothing like this; the only way a campus group could be influenced in this way was because you had to be “officially recognized” to get support money from the college, and I’m pretty sure a lot of our societies were way more offensive than this.

  14. Kevin Anthoney says

    portraying Muslims as barbarians or terrorists

    Does having a quiet pint with your mate come under the former or the latter?

  15. Tim Harris says

    I think they should all be made to read ‘The Open Society and its Enemies’ – Karl Popper taught there for years. And then to reflect a little.

  16. scotlyn says

    They have clearly learned from the master derailers – those who have punitively wielded the term ‘a nti-semitism for so many years to stifle all criticism of Israeli policy.

  17. Pen says

    #18 In Britain, membership of the Student’s Union gets you a card that identifies you as a student and allows you various discounts, benefits and free entries into museums, the right to occupy the student union bar (not that anyone every checks as far as I know), stuff like that. As such, membership is nigh on compulsory and it really does matter what views they are claiming to advocate for their all their members, e.g. everyone at LSE.

    As far as I can tell, the Student’s Union is also a bit of training ground for people who are interested in being active in politics. Most ordinary members don’t go beyond getting the card.

    As for affecting the whole of society, nah… I think this is being talked up because it is something people want to discuss at the moment, like a sort of test case. It doesn’t mean the protagonist of the test is especially all-important.

  18. Midnight Rambler says

    Pen, I didn’t mean society as a whole, but the student associations. All this back-and-forth strongly gives the impression that the LSESU has some kind of enforcement power over the ASH, otherwise the latter would tell the former to get stuffed, or at the least simply ignore them. I just don’t get where that power comes from given that it’s only the SU and not the administration involved. Is there some requirement for a student society to be authorized by the SU?

  19. Dave says

    Generally speaking, student societies in UK institutions are run as subsidiaries of the SU – and receive funding through the SU from the Uni for the activities, as part of the Uni’s contribution to making students’ life interesting. The SU also tends to control/manage/coordinate things like room bookings for meetings, hire of coaches, etc.

    So basically the SU does tend to assume it has the right to police the conduct of such societies – this has gone on for decades, with regular clashes over, e.g., whether the Rugby Club ought to be allowed to sing rude songs on the premises, whether a college common room is allowed to subscribe to newspapers with pictures of boobies in them, or more seriously, whether actual fascists should be allowed to speak at meetings.

    Buried deep within the controversy is the absurd premise that the sectarian left has inherited from its longer-term Christian roots, that if you ban something it ceases to exist. In this instance, we see clearly that local Islamists are latching onto this, prolonging a contradictory tactical alliance that now itself has several decades of history behind in, and is still as silly as it ever was.

  20. James says

    It might be worth noting that according to the Union’s constitution and bye laws the Trustees who run the Union must call a general meeting at if they receive a petition signed by: a) at least 15% of the members; or b) 250 members. The Trustees on their own can also call an EGM at any time.

    On past performance I wouldn’t bet against this being an initiative of the trustees (or at least that it has their support). However I wouldn’t discount the possibility of some of the Muslim students who have recently been so oppressed and harassed (by a freaking cartoon!) having collected 250 signatures.

    It’s also worth noting that those Trustees are elected. If I were a member of ASHS (or even just a student at LSE), I’d already be organising to replace the current Trustees with people prepared to stand up for freedom of expression at the next election. If they have called this EGM unprompted, or if they support the motion when it comes up, I’d be collecting signatures for another EGM to debate a motion of no confidence.

  21. dirigible says

    “EGM on Thursday to discuss Emergancy Motions”.

    They’ve also misspelt “motoons”. And “we are censorious supporters of religious privilege and opponents of free speech in an open society”.

    They’re making it impossible for themselves to back down without branding themselves racist islamophobes.

  22. Dunc says

    Regardless of whether you accept their definition of “Islamophobia” or not, I really can’t see how posting a Jesus & Mo cartoon on a FB page falls under it. It does not “[express] hatred or fear of Islam, Muslims, or Islamic culture”, engage in “stereotyping, demonisation or harassment of Muslims” (unless you’ve got a truly bizarre definition of “harassment”), and neither does it “[portray] Muslims as barbarians or terrorists, or [attack] the Qur’an as a manual of hatred”.

  23. maureen.brian says

    I wish to oppose Number 5 in the first set and to remark, yet again, that the ending of the teaching of Latin has had a deleterious effect upon the brains of the current students.

    Also, guys, it is Jesus and Mo – that’s two religions, count ’em. So, yes, it is a very mild satire on religion but it cannot possibly be an attack on one set of people identified by their religion.* Therefore Jesus and Mo cannot be treated as Islamophobic.

    Don’t they teach you to think these days?

    * The definition in the relevant legislation, Equality Act 2009

  24. Chris says

    I’m with Dunc – even with that definition I can’t see how it would catch Jesus and Mo, though I don’t think we can rule out a bizarre definition of harassment.

  25. Chris says

    I love the title too. I could hear the theme from Mission: Impossible playing as I read the statement.

  26. Chris says

    Having said all of that…

    There is a bit of a baby and bath water situation here. Yes, there are issues with the word islamophobia, and yes the term racism is being misused (though the dynamic of racism and anti-Muslim bigotry is similar, down to people being told to ‘go back to where you came from’), but I suspect a big part of the negative reaction we are having is we know about the attempts to take down the Jesus and Mo cartoons.

    The motions themselves, however, don’t say anything about cartoons. Even if you accept everything they’ve written, there is no reason to suppress the cartoons and good reason not to, as this would appear to go against several of the points. The questions these motions don’t answer, of course, is ‘who decides?’, and given events so far we have good reason to be suspicious.

    I suppose my point, such as it is, is that Muslims do face real harassment and discrimination and, on paper at least, I can see the attraction of the motions being put forward. If they are met with too negative a response it may look like people simply don’t care.

  27. Kevin Anthoney says

    Can I coin a new word? Antiislamophobia, the irrational fear and hatred of anybody who criticises Islam.

  28. Dave says

    “Muslims do face real harassment and discrimination and, on paper at least, I can see the attraction of the motions being put forward.”

    Of course, except that these motions have been put forward as a direct response to the J&M ‘affair’, and will be used to get ‘official’ SU support for branding the society as racists. Do you really not know how student politics, or any politics, works?

  29. Chris says


    Yeah, I know what they were in response to, and it’s been a while but I do have some first hand knowledge of student politics.

    Note that I said “can see the attraction of” not “agree with”. I can see why people would look at these motions and think they were OK. They will get support at the meeting based on what they say, rather than their likely purpose. I certainly wouldn’t vote for them but if they are simply opposed without a constructive engagement this will be seen as, and portrayed as, a lack of interest in the welfare of Muslim students.

    There is a potential political trap here, but I don’t think there is a clash between principles and politics. People just need to make clear why these motions have been put forward and remind the union that censoring cartoons is not actually looking after the welfare of students.

  30. maureen.brian says

    Looking back to the days when “studied at LSE” meant something, surely the work of R H Tawney – (lecturer 1917 – 1931) – would be more use than Popper in this instance.

    I’m thinking of the whole body of his work with its recurring themes of the potential for a conflict between religion and morality. That and the stress that the good society, however defined, requires constant work for its development and maintenance. It does not just happen by magic, once for all time, and requires at the very least student politicians open to the idea of politics as a means of managing change, rather than drawing screens around a cock fight.

  31. Matt Penfold says

    Looking back to the days when “studied at LSE” meant something, surely the work of R H Tawney – (lecturer 1917 – 1931) – would be more use than Popper in this instance.

    You must be very old 🙂

  32. maureen.brian says

    Love ya, Matt, but I’m not that old!

    I’ve got Machiavelli’s Il Principe on the shelf but it doesn’t mean I sat and watched him write it.

  33. F says

    I don’t think these people know what “harassment” means.

    That, and about fifty other things.

  34. Matt Penfold says

    Love ya, Matt, but I’m not that old!

    I’ve got Machiavelli’s Il Principe on the shelf but it doesn’t mean I sat and watched him write it.

    Actually I was thinking of being able to remember when the LSE meant something. That was sometime ago!

  35. interrobang says

    Wow, you guys are reading way too much into this. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to sanction someone for harrassing someone strictly because they’re Muslim, and/or call them a terrorist for exactly that reason. I also don’t see how this “stifles debate,” unless your idea of “debate” is yelling “nigger” in a crowded NAACP meeting.

    Then again, the crew here seems to single out Islam for especial criticism, when you don’t spend nearly the energy going after other religions. I don’t have any particular beef with Islam qua Islam. It is what it is, but I don’t actually think you can say it’s objectively worse than any of the other Abrahamic religions, or non-Abrahamic religions like Hinduism. It has a small minority of very vocal shit-disturber followers, but I don’t think they’re a huge problem compared to, say, some of the stuff the equivalent Christians pull. Oooh, someone got protests and death threats. I’m sure Barnett Slepian would be very impressed, if a violent Christer hadn’t shot him dead…

  36. Kevin Anthoney says

    I think it’s perfectly reasonable to sanction someone for harrassing someone strictly because they’re Muslim, and/or call them a terrorist for exactly that reason.

    Me too, but the ASH wasn’t harrassing anybody. It didn’t stop the student union going apeshit, though.

    Then again, the crew here seems to single out Islam for especial criticism

    Um, nope. Islam has been getting a lot more attention than usual here over the past week or so, but that’s just how it goies sometimes.

  37. maureen.brian says

    No, interrobang. The only people who have actually and beyond doubt been persecuted are the people who tried to hold a lecture at Queen Mary University of London. They, if you recall, were disrupted, threatened with violence and called the meeting off.

    There is no comparison between that and any number of over-excited nineteen-year-olds dashing about LSE and shouting, I IZ A VICTIM, I IZ BEING PERSECUTED, when a small – thumbnail, actually – illustration which they went looking for on purpose turns out to be not quite to their taste.

    If there are brothers (ha!) behind this – on past experience very likely – then they have set a trap and both SU leaders and anyone else within range has fallen into it. You remember the first rule of holes – stop digging – don’t you?

    Well, the rule before that is that if someone is digging an elephant trap you keep your eyes on the ground rather than your nose in the air.

    Someone is trying to create a situation in the University of London where Muslims have protections well beyond the already considerable protections they have in the law of the land. And all for want of someone to sit them down and ask, “Are you being persecuted or are you simply being teased? Did you go and look for that facebook page in order to be offended? Why do you think the university should give you privileges which no-one else has?”

    Mollycoddling them at this stage may seem like the easy way out – everybody calms down and we can get on with life. Except that the next time someone decides to make a fuss about something so trivial the baseline will have shifted, the officials will find themselves permanently on the back foot.

    This is not about any particular religion. Christians and others who have been “protected” from knowledge of evolution are already turning up to study biology with PZ Myers but in need of remedial education. Would-be Muslim doctors have been turning up at UCL for decades demanding to be taught “that other biology.” You know, the one which doesn’t mention evolution and thus has no explanation, no route-map for the diseases they plan to go on and cure!

    If the authorities give in to whinging this time, how long before someone equally motivated by religion demands that men and women be taught separately or that each lecture begins with a Christian prayer?

    No pasaran!

  38. Matt Penfold says

    The Jesus and Mo cartoons satirise and mock the disconnect between how religious believers claim they are told by their hold books to behave and how they actually do behave. They also point out just how silly some of their religious beliefs are.

    Now just imagine rather than cartoons about religion it was cartoons mocking and satirising both left and right wing politics. Do you really think the SU would take seriously a complaint from the student Lib-Dem group about a cartoon mocking Nick Clegg for abandoning all his principles to get into Government ? Of course not, and when you understand why that complaint should not be taken seriously, you will understand why the complaint about Jesus and Mo should not be taken seriously.

  39. evilDoug says

    Let’s go back and have another look at grand belief number 4:

    4. Debate on religious matters should not be limited by what may be offensive to any particular religion, but the deliberate and persistent targeting of one religious group about any issue with the intent or effect of being Islamophobic (‘Islamophobia’ as defined below) will not be tolerated.

    Looks fine to me, right up to comma. Past the comma, it is just one big stinking heap of very sloppy thought and gross incompetence with words.
    If I were a student at LSE, and persistently ranted about the pope being the antichrist, or, quite legitimately, about the pope being what I regard as evil for his stance on condom use and the resultant increase in the spread of HIV, I would most certainly be “targeting one religious group about (an) issue”. And I guess that would be OK, since my intent wouldn’t be “Islamophobic”. Somehow, “one religious group” has now come to mean, very specifically, Muslims. All are equal, but one is more equal that the others.
    I was going to say … but I just checked the list, and find that to say that would be in violation of Special Case 318.a.iv, words 14 through 29.

  40. says

    Article 19 of the UN Declaration of human rights states:

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    Another statement from the UN

    “Prohibitions of displays of lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with the covenant,” except in specific circumstances, it said, and States “should not prohibit criticism of institutions, such as the army or the administration.”

    “Freedom of expression is a necessary condition for the realization of the principles of transparency and accountability that are, in turn, essential for the promotion and protection of human rights,” the report said.

    “States parties should put in place effective measures to protect against attacks aimed at silencing those exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

  41. says

    Re: the title – my Russian-speaking XGF used to reference that line all the time (in the proper accent, i.e. “e-MAIR-gency”).

  42. says

    Thanks curmudgeon – it’s interesting to note that that statement also says

    that so-called “memory laws,” which it defined as “laws that penalize the expression of opinions about historical facts,” are also “ incompatible with the obligations that the covenant imposes on States parties in relation to the respect for freedom of opinion and expression.”

    [cough] France [cough] Turkey [cough]

  43. dirigible says

    “Also, guys, it is Jesus and Mo – that’s two religions, count ‘em.”

    Jesus is a prophet in Islam…

  44. lordshipmayhem says

    The pope has a voodoo doll of me.

    Thanks, Ophelia. Up to now, I was under the impression the Pope was a voodoo doll. The way his mother dresses him, and all that. ^_^

    I have been accused of racism for my criticism of Islam, and have turned around and blown their narrow little minds by stating that “It’s a RELIGION, that worships the same invisible sky-daddy as Christianity and like Christianity has adherents from pretty well every ethnic group on the planet. To be racist against Islam is to be racist against every single race of Man.”

  45. Trebuchet says

    Frivolous remark: I love it that at least michaeld (@ 15) and maybe one or two others recognized the title.

    One of my all-time favorites. Like Dave M, I read it with the original accent. “Everybody to get from strit!”

  46. says

    Yep, same here. Classic Alan Arkin.

    michaeld also reminded me of Paul Ford’s “We’ve got to get organized.” I’ve had that playing in my head all morning too. cackle

  47. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Matt Penfold #44

    Actually I was thinking of being able to remember when the LSE meant something. That was sometime ago!

    That was before people like Satoshi Kanazawa became LSE faculty.

  48. Chris says

    Further to my last post, interrobang is illustrating exactly the kind of attitude I was thinking of, and which we need to be ready for.


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