British Taxpayer-Funded Anti-Extremist Study Finds Shakespeare, Orwell, Tolkien "Key Texts" For "White Supremacists"
Several of the UK’s most respected TV shows, movies, and works of literature have been included in a list of works that could potentially encourage far-right sympathies, compiled by the taxpayer-funded and government-led ‘Prevent’ counter-terrorism program.
As The Daily Mail reports, works by some of the world’s greatest writers were included as examples of warning signs of potential extremism, including Shakespeare, Chaucer, Milton, Tennyson, Orwell, Huxley, Kipling and Edmund Burke.
The flagship Prevent scheme, recently the subject of a scathing audit, singled out comedies Yes Minister and The Thick Of It, the 1955 epic war film The Dam Busters, and even The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare as possible red flags of extremism.
Prevent is a key part of the UK's counter-terrorism strategy as a means to safeguard against "vulnerable people being drawn into criminal behavior".
In practical terms, it places public bodies, including schools and the police, under a legal duty to identify people who may turn to extremism, and intervene in their lives before it is too late.
If the local panels find someone who is at risk of becoming a terrorist, the Prevent teams use specialist mentors or other support programs to turn around their lives.
It said the works of fiction were "key texts" for "white nationalists/supremacists".
Right-leaning writer Douglas Murray obtained the full list and discovered that one of his books had been given a red flag by Prevent.
He wrote in The Spectator:
"A number of books are singled out, the possession or reading of which could point to severe wrongthink and therefore potential radicalisation.
It seems that RICU [Prevent’s Research Information and Communications Unit ] is so far off-track that it believes that books identifying the problem that it was itself set up to tackle are in fact a part of the problem."
House of Cards screenwriter Andrew Davies said:
"It almost seems like a joke. House Of Cards was actually a satirical view of Right-wing politics. This list includes more or less the entire classical canon of literature and some of the very best British television programs ever made."
The list has emerged following a major review criticized the Prevent scheme by William Shawcross.
His report, published earlier this month, criticised the £49million-a-year scheme Prevent scheme, saying it applied a ‘double standard’ to Islamist and far-Right threats, prioritizing the latter.
The BBC reports, Mr Shawcross said he had been consistently unable to determine how many community organisations receiving a slice of the Prevent budget were having any impact.
"Funding too often goes towards generic projects dealing with community cohesion and hate crime, and few [community organisations] could be seen publicly to contest extremist discourse.
"Some have promoted extremist narratives, including statements that appear sympathetic to the Taliban.
As The Mail reports, a Home Office spokesman said:
"The Home Secretary made clear that Prevent will now ensure it focuses on the key threat of Islamist terrorism, as well as remaining vigilant on emerging threats.
We’ve accepted all 34 recommendations [from the Shawcross review] and are committed to protecting our country from the threat posed by terrorism."
Home Secretary Suella Braverman told MPs that Prevent needs major reform: "Prevent has shown cultural timidity and an institutional hesitancy to tackle Islamism for fear of the charge of Islamophobia. Prevent's focus must be solely on security, not political correctness."