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No chance for criticism: The NYT’s “Homegrown”, above, has been cancelled (©Helen Maybanks/National Youth Theatre)

When I heard Nadia Latif describe her new National Youth Theatre (NYT) play Homegrown, about British Muslims joining Islamic State, I could not wait to tear into it with the vim and vigour her sinister production deserved.

First, there was a small but telling point about her use of the English language. She did not love or respect it, even though she was a theatre director who relied on her mother tongue to put clothes on her back and food on her table. Any artist who could announce with a straight face that she wanted “to create a large-scale site-specific immersive play about the radicalisation of British Muslims” was a deserving target of satire.

Then there was her hypocrisy. Latif kept saying that her production was not agitprop, that it wanted to show complexity and nuance rather than follow a party line. Then she came out with this: “If the acceptable parameters of that discussion are to remain inarticulate mad mullahs in one corner and self-hating Ayaan Hirsi Alis in another, all mediated by think-tank dwellers like Maajid Nawaz, the conversation will go nowhere.”

Well, I thought, after that performance, I would have editors begging me to write. Perhaps they would start a bidding war, I mused, once again allowing hope to trump experience. No matter. They would take what I gave them in any event.

When a left-wing artist uses phrases like “mad mullahs”, she is being sarcastic. She mimics tabloid language to flag to her wised-up audience that they need not think about the mass oppression, rape and enslavement of women in the Middle East, about British Muslim volunteers throwing homosexuals off buildings, slitting the throats of charity workers, and persecuting Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims for their faith. To think about the slaughter and oppression clearly and condemn it without equivocation would be to announce to the world, or at least to your friends, that you are following the Daily Mail’s agenda and are therefore no longer part of the Left tribe. It is amazing how successfully partisans like Latif can deploy the fear of stepping out of line. Better to forget about the subjugation of women — never, of course, of you or your women friends — mass murder and the re-establishment of slave states in the 21st century than risk an uncomfortable argument with the person you met at the theatre bar five minutes ago and may never see again.

The “self-hating” description of Ayaan Hirsi Ali was not sarcastic, however. It was meant all too literally. In that phrase Latif revealed her worthlessness. A Somali woman who has experienced genital mutilation and been threatened with a forced marriage rebels and joins the fight for female equality. And she — what? — “hates” herself. She doesn’t hate the people who sliced her genitals or the Islamists, who want to murder her and did, in fact, murder her friend and Latif’s fellow artist Theo van Gogh. On no account should we see them as hateful. Only Hirsi Ali, the object of their violent lusts, is hateful; so hateful, indeed, she even hates herself.

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Anonymous
November 19th, 2015
1:11 PM
Here's a different view for you all - from one of the teenagers that was due to be in the production. Nadia Latif has also commented in this article. https://www.flicklearning.com/blog/nyt-homegrown-radicalisation

amcdonald
November 18th, 2015
5:11 PM
Debord`s film `The Society of the Spectacle` is now free on Vimeo. It has a new female narrator in english. With popular culture now leading the way (football fans at Wembley singing the french national anthem-and the Sun sticking it on the front page- and New Order dedicating songs to the people of Paris) the english `artworld` seems dull,provincial and inert. Islam is of no use to any human,animal,vegetable or mineral. At White Cube Gallery Gilbert and George are exhibiting `Burn That Book`. Douglas Murray is the `Churchill` of today not Cameron or the world leaders.

Observer of the Scene
November 5th, 2015
10:11 AM
One look at the vibrant faces at the top of Nick's article makes me wonder whether they're all firmly in favour of free speech for those with whom they disagree. "Lord knows, I understand the urge to laugh and say “I told you so, you bloody fools..." Yes, Nick. You've supported mass immigration all your life, so you know a bloody fool when you see one.

Anonymous
November 4th, 2015
9:11 AM
I don't agree with Ms. Latif's politics but it would be interesting to see her play. I also genuinely believe that art should never be censored for law-abiding adults. Another excellent article from Mr. Cohen. Thank you sir.

MoFoAnonymous
November 3rd, 2015
9:11 PM
Nick, its become a tradition amongst many commentators that if they write a piece that might be construed as ant-Muslim, they must add an anti-Israel comment to balance it. Is that why you added that bit about the "Israeli right"? I thought you were better than that.

Adloyadaonymous
November 1st, 2015
8:11 AM
Right. So Nick Cohen equates criticism by what he calls right wing Jews of Israeli compatriots who "criticise the Netanyahu government's treatment of the Palestinians" as self hating Jews with the left's readiness to stick the label "Islamophobes" on Muslim women who criticise Islam. Just like the BBC, the Foreign Office and a certain tendency amongst the Marxist Left, Nick Cohen feels the need to gratuitously schlep in and excoriate the guilt of the right wing Israeli government and show you he thinks its "treatment of Palestinians• is in the same league as Islamist throat slitting and the like. As if Israeli defenders of the Netanyahu government who call Netanyahu government hating Israeli Jews self haters are in the same league as defenders of ISIS who call fellow Muslims who attack them Islamophobes. What this repugnant equation by Nick Cohen shows is that he wants to portray the Palestinians as passive victims treated deplorably by the oppressive Netanyahu government. (I note by the way that I don't recall Nick Cohen ever having referered to the UK Coalition government or the present Tory government as "the Cameron government". So Cohen wants you to know that despite righteously excoriating the left defenders of Islamists he still "supports the Palestinians". Nice one, Nick Cohen. Only those Palestinians aren't passive victims with no agency. The official leadership of the Gazan Palestinians lady year ran a campaign of war crimes in the form of launching tens of thousands of rockets and missiles randomly at Israeli civil centres and deliberately at Israel's main airport and nuclear power station. That Gaza Hamas regime is dedicated to the extermination of the State of Israel and *of all Jews* and it has majority support amongst as Nick Cohen well knows. And the Fatah government of Ramallah's Palestinian Authority us currently running a campaign claiming falsely that that same "Netanyahu government" is planning to demolish the Al Aqsa Mosque. And their President Abbas made a speech at the UN urging his fellow Palestinians to ensure that "filthy Jewish feet" must be kept off the Temple Mount. PA and Hamas sources have been running disgusting antisemitic cartoons and videos urging young Palestinians to murder Israeli civilians on the street with knives and cars. And guess what? Young Palestinians have gone out and murdered old Jewish ladies and teens and got shot by the Israelis defending their fellow citizens. Yet there are still left wingers like Nick Cohen who see Jews who criticise their fellow apologists for these Palestinians as defenders of Israeli wrongdoing. But why did Nick Cohen need to pick Israeli right wing Jews as the ones who refer to "self hating Jews? Right here in the UK there are plenty of British Jews currently slamming as a self hating Jew the serving Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman who claims the Israi government is faking pictures of Palestinians stabbing Jews so they can cover their real job of gratuitously murdering innocent Palestinians on the street. As it happens, I don't think people like Kaufman are self haters. They are self-adoring narcissist Jews who want the world and especially the left to know how morally superior they are to the rest of us grubby, conniving murder-defending Jews.

CW
October 29th, 2015
1:10 PM
No Nick, I've changed my viewpoint. I'm no longer a soft touch for 'equal rights'- at least not when confronted with those who are abusing our democratic values and doing their utmost to destroy our hard won freedoms. Just as we are learning to ignore the ludicrous label 'Islamophobes', we can live with being called 'hypocrites' - that is to say, when the accusation comes from intolerant Islam. Islam and its Islamists are uniquely dangerous in our current era, and thus must be uniquely targeted and disempowered. Eventually we will have no choice but to censor Islamist voices whose sole aim is to destroy Western democracy. The sooner we start dismantling platforms for all-hating misogynistic Islamic voices, the better for all people on Earth, especially women.

amcdonald
October 29th, 2015
12:10 PM
Very true but when is Nick ( and Standpoint) going to support the great young english artist(and muslim) Sarah Maple ? Sky TV have awarded her a £30,000 arts scholarship - it`s all on her website/twitter. Some great posterworks/book at £15 and more expensive great paintings.

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