Thursday, May 22, 2014

Will Mo Ansar Survive?

At this point, our good friend Mo Ansar has been thoroughly outed by a number of journalists (Nick Cohen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Jamie Bartlett) along with some well written and observant blogs. This will be my last observations on him, and in many ways I am not offering up a ton of new information, but hopefully a few things to think about. The question now that he has been outed is, what now? Will he weather this storm? Will be come out of this unscathed. Many careers have been dashed for far less than what Mo has done. But, is he a big enough "celebrity" to actually fall because of this? Or is he in that sweet spot where he's not big enough that enough people care about his lying and deceit but big enough that news organizations will continue to go to him and keep his career and ego afloat?

In the wake of observations and accurate allegations, Mo has been defiant and cocky, calling them all smears while not actually refuting any of it in the slightest. And, although the detractors are many with several strong voices, he does seem to have a loyal following and support which could keep him buoyed enough to prevent sinking too far. A recent video with Russell Brand, which came out at the same time as news of Mo's lying and deceit broke was poorly timed for critics and perfectly time for Mo, who suddenly gained a huge audience of devoted Russell Brand followers who seem oblivious to the controversy, and are more interested in conspiracy theories and off the wall ideas. (I do enjoy Russell Brand quite a lot, however, but some of his fans are tad bizarre).

So, what will happen with Mo. Will all of this egg on his face slide off to reveal a relatively unscathed fraudster who the media will still rely on when they need a costumed generic "Muslim Commentator" to discuss any issue remotely related to Muslims and Islam. Will Mo continue to be the voice of Muslims, despite being seemingly confused about Islam and most of the issues he chooses to speak on.

When the media need someone to discuss Halal meat, why on earth would they go to an expert who works in the Halal meat industry when they can call a generic "Muslim Commentator"? Folks, this is called laziness on the part of news organizations. And this is an important aspect of the Mo Ansar story that we should all be learning from. News organizations aren't always concerned about the information they put out as long as they are putting out information. That doesn't mean they are all bad or that there isn't good information that can be gleamed from what some people may call the "main stream media" which often is demonized and written off. There is a middle ground here where the MSM plays an important role and does provide good info, and then there is the reality of deadlines and a need for visuals and audio snippets. This is where Mo fits in and this is where news organizations prove to be lazy. As has been pointed out many times, the beauty of Mo Ansar to any news org is the fact that he is readily available at the drop of a little knit hat. He provides an authentic visual with his confusing costume, he is well spoken with a perfect English accent and provides exactly what they need, whether it be the info they want or a bit of drama. So, he is an attractive go to guy. As a result, ease of use trumps quality interview subjects and we are left with a generic commentator tackling almost any issue related to Muslims and Islam when someone else would be far more informative, interesting and valuable. Who is this helping? No one. It is not helping the Muslim community, it isn't helping non-Muslims striving to understand Muslims, it isn't helping our understanding of complex situations and it isn't helping to kill any stereotypes. We all lose. The only one who is gaining is Mo, whose ego continues to get stroked and who continues to be touted as someone he is not.

Again, we have a man who doesn't appear to possess most of the skills and experience that he claims to have. This goes beyond mere "sexing up" of a resume and goes right to creating a false identity. He has claimed to be a lawyer. He isn't a lawyer. He has claimed to be a visiting lecturer. There is no record of this. He has been a speaker at a few events, which is quite different than a visiting lecturer. He has claimed to be a theologian, but there doesn't seem to be any record of him studying anywhere or evidence that he has the knowledge and understanding you would expect a theologian to have. There seems to be no end to his claims, and no end to the lack of evidence backing up most of these claims.

It has been argued by Mo and his supporters that even if he is lying, though they deny that he is, he is still doing good by fighting Islamophobia, hate and doing good work for the community. Really? Is he? We are talking about a man who drops the word Islamophobia at the drop of a hat. He's rather like the boy who cried wolf in this sense, constantly accusing people of being Islamophobic. His constant demonizing of the UK, the US and the West hardly create an atmosphere of love, peace and unity. His very public battles with Tom Holland, Iain Dale, and Maajid Nawaz shows that he is willing to stoop pretty low to get revenge and he holds deep and dangerous grudges. He claims to have been an LGBT activist for 15 years, yet has publically said "Love the sinner, hate the sin". That, in no way, is a good LGBT activist. That is a cruel and ridiculous statement that, in my opinion, disqualifies him from being able to say he is an LGBT activist. Again, how is this helping the community? It isn't. And his seeming refusal to condemn homophobic speech by Muslim leaders or even backing Muslim leaders and organizations who are anti-gay raises serious concerns over his claims of LGBT activism. If he is an LGBT activist, it would appear that he is more of an enemy than an ally.

So, no, he is not on the road to creating peace, cohesion and fighting hate as he keeps claiming he is doing. In fact, he does the opposite. It does make one wonder what world he is living in. Does he ever actually listen to himself? Has he really deluded himself to believe that his rhetoric and actions are doing good as opposed to being divisive, frustrating, single minded, obsessive and often times just plain wrong? If he does know, then he keeps playing the game, acting as if he is the good guy and all his critics are bad guys, and in doing so continues to fool some. And, as long as people are fooled or distracted from asking important questions, blinded by some aspects of his character that some may say are charming, he will continue to act just like he is.

He also loves to rail against the "far right" which seems to include almost anyone who criticizes him, though the people who are calling him out on his lies are diverse and cover the entire political spectrum. What he seems to fail to see when he talks about the "far right" is just how right on the spectrum he is. Does he not understand that many of his statements are, in fact, quite conservative, socially and politically (when it comes to sticking up for ultra conservative religious players, his views on gender segregation in lectures at Universities, his REAL views on homosexuality, etc.)? He IS part of the right. His views ARE often right wing. So, his constant calling of everyone under the sun a right wing neo con once again rings hollow. This is a man that sucks all meaning out of terms like Islamophobia, Far Right and Neo Con. Does he not see this? Does he not realize that his everyday barrage of calling people these terms is not helpful? On this one, he seems truly clued out. He seems to believe that by calling everyone Islamophobic it is HELPING to end Islamophobia and bring cohesion and peace to communities. Really? Seriously? That's just ridiculous. It appears that the main way he uses these terms is to help belittle and demonize all detractors and people he doesn't like or agree with. Apparently, disagreeing with Mo means you hate 1.2 billion Muslims. Who knew? So, by using terms in such a way, he has rendered them meaningless. Overreactionary accusations of Islamophobia or being part of the EDL or UKIP or whatever way Mo chooses to deal with his critics isn't helping anyone. It just pisses people off and makes it harder for anyone to take these terms seriously. How does that help anyone?

And then, of course, there is the issue of his religion. He wants to play the role of pious Mo, the faithful Muslim. But, he seems to be missing the several passages in the Quran that tells Mo that lying, vengefulness, boastfulness, etc is bad and will not lead him to paradise. Interesting that. He, like pretty much every follower of a religion, cherry picks the hell out of the book that he holds be holy, stating that the Quran is the unchanged word of god down to the each and every period and comma. Well, this book he puts in such high esteem and loves to tell people offers the answers to the problems plaguing society, doesn't even seem to be able to be followed by him. If he won't follow the book and feels that it doesn't apply to him, why on earth should any one else follow it? If it's so damn perfect and is your guiding moral compass, then ignoring a big part of it means you are clearly off path. Don't pretend to be Mr. Pious if you ignore important parts of the book....yet still say it's okay to chop off hands in a perfect Islamic society.  He reminds me of people like Ted Haggard or Jim Bakker, who, even though they wish to give an out word identity of being godly and pious, are actually just lying scam artists using their religion for fame and profit more than as a guiding light. I'm sure he believes in his god. I'm sure he is happy to be Muslims. BUT, the religion really is more of a conduit to fame and a way to create an identity more than anything deep and spiritual.

Some of his supporters allege that all those critical of him just don't like him and will look for any reason to bring him down. Well, it cannot be denied, he has made a long list of enemies through some of his rhetoric and attacks on people. His own vengeful behaviour towards Maajid Nawez and Iain Dale are perfect examples of how low he will go and how he has managed to create enemies. But for the most part, people just don't like to be lied to and manipulated, especially by someone who is cocky and arrogant, which Mo most certainly is. And, quite frankly, he can be downright rude and ignorant on twitter. But in the end, whether people like him or hate him (there seems to be nothing inbetween), he has lied and deceived and that is a truth that won't change, regardless of what anyone thinks of him. And, he is now in the court of public opinion, which is where people who thrust themselves into the spot light are judged. If people disapprove of him or are tired of his antics, they will make it known...and they are. Now, the question is, where will this lead. Will this mean that Mo is off the TV and Radio for good? Time will tell. It is highly possible that he will weather this out and continue to be the easy go to guy for many news outlets. And, if that is so, we will have learned nothing. Mo will have learned nothing. News outlets will have learned nothing. And it is right back to status quo. 

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