An Actual Nanny State?

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 7 2015 @ 4:52pm

Nico Hines passes along news that the British government is considering some extreme lengths to protect young children from their Jihadist-sympathizing parents:

Alarming images of young British children pictured with weapons in the so-called Islamic State prompted officials in London to say they would consider taking into care the offspring of men and women who had travelled abroad to join ISIS. Then, on New Year’s Eve, police took the two children, who landed at Luton airport with their mother, under child protection laws.

Plans drawn up by the Home Office would further extend the remit of child protection officials to include toddlers at risk of radicalization on home soil.  A 39-page document that accompanies the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill being considered by parliament says nurseries and early childcare providers, as well as universities and prisons, have a duty “to prevent people being drawn into terrorism.”

Charles C. W. Cooke admits that, in this particular instance, “on the face of it, the state may well have a case here.” But he’s worried about where this leads:

All in all, this does not quite come up to the level of asking the citizens to inform on their neighbors, but it is still a little too redolent of the “see something, say something” approach for my tastes. It is one thing for a nation in crisis to encourage the citizenry to be on the lookout for German spies, or for Irishmen boasting about planting bombs, or wannabe martyrs who are using their local mosque as a recruitment and training tool; but it is quite another for the state to recruit as its informants those men and women who have been charged with taking care of the country’s toddlers. Are staff “supposed to report some toddler who comes in praising a preacher deemed to be extreme?” the Conservative MP, David Davis, inquired derisively in the Telegraph this week. “I don’t think so.”

In all likelihood they will not, which raises a rather important question: What, exactly, does the government expect will change under this heightened level of suspicion? Had a child come into a British daycare a few weeks ago boasting that his parents were hoping to blow up a subway train or to move the whole family to Mesopotamia in search of honey and virgins, would his teachers not have made further inquiries?