What to do if you oppose the 2015 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act's impact on universities, and its potential requirement to monitor students comments, but also oppose Taliban supporters and jihadi fan groups such as Cage?
Earlier today, one of the most prominent academics within critical terrorism studies, Richard Jackson, circulated an email to academics looking to obtain signatories for a statement opposing the Act.
I consider the CTS Act illiberal, and an attack on the freedom of speech we should be working towards on campus. Unlike some others, I don't see universities today as centres of free speech and progressive values, only imperiled today by a needless moral panic about Islamic speakers. Universities have long restricted freedom of speech (most notably to those on the right of the political spectrum) and I see plenty to be wary of among some student Islamists. There is also a depressing history over the past two decades of student Islamists becoming involved in terrorism.
I just don't believe that requiring academics to 'report' those who we fear could become terrorists will work, nor do I believe it is the correct thing to do. We need more debate about the big issues of the day, not less. Theoretically, I should sign the statement Prof Jackson is emailing academics about.
However, I will not. Because it is written by Cage, and their Research Director, Asim Qureshi. There is no evidence Cage support academic freedom, or indeed any liberal values, other than as a tool to use on behalf of jihadists against western governments. Qureshi's own support for pretty much every jihad going is a matter of public record. His sympathy for Mohammed Emwazi, alias Jihadi John, needs to be seen to that backdrop. The jihadist groups he supports destroy, rather than build freedom, inflicting their religious beliefs and practices on women, minorities and all on the territory they control.
On principle, I will not sign a joint statement with Cage, or indeed anything initiated by Asim Qureshi. It is of course possible to walk and chew gum at the same time - to oppose Mrs May's policies, and to recognise that human rights abuses as bad or worse flow from the beliefs followed by Cage, and the organisations and individuals they so often support.
The irony here is that in working with Cage, an organisation everyone else has long since seen through, Prof Jackson ensures an easier ride from the general public for the government. That is strengthening Mrs May's hand, not weakening it.