The United Nations' human rights committee this week came down hard on the United Kingdom. In particular, it criticized changes in the law that governs pretrial detention of terror suspects, from 28 to 42 days. And it asked for firm measures to combat "negative attitudes" toward Muslims that are growing within the general public.
Well, fair enough. No harm in asking, right? But let's be serious for a moment. A seven-week holding period for somebody you suspect was trying to, let's say, blow up the Houses of Parliament isn't really such a big deal, if you can use those seven weeks to either round up his confederates and build a case, or else establish his innocence. Keep him in a clean, well-lighted room, give him some books to read (Hume and Locke by preference) and carry on. It's not exactly Gitmo.
And as for asking the government to "combat negative attitudes," let's be careful. In a general way, asking the government to shape public perceptions strikes us as more than a little Big-Brotherish. In this case, we wonder whether those attitudes have been shaped by Muslims themselves, particularly those in Gaza, who broadcast children's TV show called Tomorrow's Pioneers, which features a gigantic bunny rabbit who encourages the little tykes to kill and eat Jews. (And Danes).
The show is broadcast via satellite, and can be seen in the UK. The host insists that her program does not spread extremism. She is either lying or stupid, but we have no idea which. Why, in the course of writing this post, we ourselves have become more extremist. 48 days now seems far too brief, and a clean room far too generous.
To their credit, Muslim leaders in Britain have begun to criticize this delightful bit of whimsy. And rightly so. But if the UN really wants to to protect Muslims in Britain (or anywhere else) from negative stereotyping by the general population, they ought to take it up not with HM's government, but with al-Aqsa TV and the lovely people at Hamas.