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No, the Tricolore Is Not Like the Swastika or the Banner of ISIS

29/12/2015 09:20 GMT | Updated 29/12/2016 10:12 GMT

That there is reason to write the headline of this piece should be concerning in itself. On Sunday, Rhodes Must Fall Oxford leader Ntokozo Qwabe described the Tricolore as a "violent symbol" comparable to the Swastika, and implied that France was no less morally repugnant than ISIS. Such a description is, frankly, obscene - and only shows how far the student activist Left has fallen.

The comparison of the flag of France to that of its occupiers in World War II seems by far the most disingenuous and offensive. There is quite simply no moral equivalence between France - a liberal democracy which, while under occupation was the site of many massacres and atrocities and lost 50,000 fighters who continued to resist during the occupation - and the Nazi regime which sent six million Jews ) to their deaths in the worst genocide in history. No more should need to be said on this matter.

But the statements of Mr. Qwabe which are perhaps more shocking in the current climate are those in which he refused to concede that ISIS was worse than France, instead contending that French bombs are "no less significant" - ultimately suggesting a moral equivalence. Lest we forget, only last month 130 people were killed in Paris in a series of bombings and shootings at the hands of ISIS. To suggest a moral equivalence between these attackers and the country they targeted is morally repugnant, yet it is not even unique; the first response of Stop the War Coalition to Paris (since deleted) contended that France was reaping its reward for military interventionism, and its response to Charlie Hebdo was equally disingenuous, arguing that such attacks should be happening more regularly because of "provocation" of Muslims.

When we move beyond France and into the wider world, the contrast between ISIS and France (predictably) grows even starker still. One is a pseudo-state which beheads and burns people alive on camera, executes other Muslims for "apostasy", forces minority women into sexual slavery (or kills them if they consider them to be too old), and destroys UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the other is a free, secular democracy where all citizens have equal rights protected by law.

And to deal with the contention that French airstrikes are "no less significant" than ISIS suicide bombs, the difference is in fact very clear. While ISIS wages a campaign of global terror and blows people up with the express aim of killing civilians, French airstrikes on ISIS aim to kill its members (who subject their territory to a reign of oppression), and every civilian death is a tragedy - not a goal. On a related point, it is interesting to note how Mr. Qwabe describes France as "bomb[ing] Afri[c]a... for its imperial interests" when France's last bombing campaign in Africa was in support of the Malian government against Islamist terrorists in the North at the request of the government, which hardly fits the description of terrorising the country unless - like Stop the War - you perceive all Western military intervention as inherently bad.

Again, however, attempts to cast the suicide bombs of ISIS as morally equivalent to the airstrikes aimed at debilitating and destroying the terror group are not unique and have been undertaken by Stop the War, which described Britain as being no less sociopathic than ISIS, and even went as far as to claim that those fighting for ISIS were closer to the spirit of the International Brigades than the government's efforts to stop them.

Unfortunately, this is far from the only blatant demonstration of the warped moral compass guiding the student "activist" far-left even this year. This is a moral compass that considers the very presence of a statue to be "violent", but doesn't reach the same conclusion on Tweets with the hashtag "kill all white men"; which sees Feminist and LGBTQ Societies standing "in solidarity" with Islamists attempting to shut down a talk by Maryam Namazie rather than with Namazie's right to free speech as an Ex-Muslim; and which considers the government's decision to bomb ISIS more worthy of condemnation than ISIS's terror attacks on Paris.

Yet the fallacy behind both this attack on the Tricolore and the RMF movement as a whole is the same; you have no right to browbeat an interpretation of the Tricolore as equivalent to the Nazi or ISIS flags any more than you have a right to do the same with an interpretation of Rhodes as "worse than Hitler" without being challenged. But until more of the opponents of such movements take up the challenge before them and criticise such groups in public - despite how loud and angry they are - they will only grow in confidence, influence on campus, and (it would appear) moral absurdity.