Schools, colleges and universities are now supposed to have policies in place to prevent “radicalisation” of students and prevent students from being subjected to extremist ideas. It is an unfortunate use of language. A radical is simply someone who believes something that is not a generally held belief. An extremist is someone who simply wants to take his or her belief to the ultimate logical step.
The policies are not intended to prevent students being exposed to extreme Buddhism or radical Christianity. They are intended to avoid students from being influenced by propaganda emanating from a certain sections of Mohammedans. By its nature propaganda is untrue either because it contains direct lies or because it lies by omitting important and relevant information. It is propaganda that has caused distress to the people in the world, whereas being radical has generally led to the improvement of humanity’s lot.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth century radical thought was against slavery and the slave trade, it permitted the practice of religions which dissented from the norm, and was against child labour and corporal and capital punishment. If you were to express sentiments such as these in polite and influential society in London merely two hundred years ago. you would have been condemned and shunned as a mad person.
I am very much in favour of students being exposed to radical thought but very much against them being exposed to propaganda. What is more important than all these anti radicialisation and extremism policies is that when students are taught they are taught logical and critical thinking, and taught to be curious and enquire, rather that to accept spoon fed the ideas of the present elder generation, because without doubt many of those ideas will seem extreme and wrong in a hundred years from now.
What we call things is important. We should stop calling propaganda “radical” and extreme”. It may or may not be those; what is most important is that it is propaganda and untrue.